Wild Fire, False Fire and the Holy Fire: Why I left the prophetic movement once and for all
I have seen in all in the prophetic movement. I have been around the biggest names and have spoken at meetings. I have spend nights giving words of knowledge to strangers. However, I stand here almost 20 years later with one harsh reality: I am done with the prophetic movement. I am done with the false fires of outpouring and I am done with the wild fires of revival.
My journey in the prophetic movement pre-dates even my salvation encounter in 1996. Being from Kansas City, I had encounters with what people call the Kansas City Prophets. I had received prophetic words from there and after I got radical saved, it is a natural fit for me to be around people who believed in the extremes of the Spirit. My salvation was not your Al Bundy “I never really sinned” story. It just wasn’t.
I valued worship. I valued prayer. I valued the voice of God. I valued the supernatural. It seems that I just valued everything that the prophetic movement valued. I think I did at the time. However, time changed people.
Like every movement in history, the longer it goes on; the crazier the idea tends to get. The amount of witchcraft and wiccan thinking that I saw come out of some people’s “prophetic ministries” is hard to even wrap my mind around to be honest.
Elephant in the room: Theological Challenges
One thing I knew was when people value hearing from God, it is important to have a baseline. I was not going to throw away the sound doctrine I was raised on in the Assembly of God in the name of experience. It was my check and balance system. It is not that the 16 Fundamental Truths are straight from God. (They are not the 10 Commandments!) It is more they are the beginning of discernment of any prophetic word or experience someone claimed to have.
This became a serious point of tension in the prophetic movement. There was people wanting me to throw away the foundation I had for “deeper revelation.” This was especially true concerning Eschatology. Many in the prophetic movement disagree with the “Rapture,” and they expect anyone that believes in it to change to a Post-Trib point of view. (In more recent times, it has got even more crazy with Partial Preterism)
It was not just about the End times, either. There was a lot of people that wanted Pentecostals to curse their foundation cardinal doctrines about the Holy Spirit. For someone to stand up and state that “the initial physical evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was praying in unknown languages” was not going acceptable. They were quickly silenced and people were told that was not what people in the prophetic movement believe.
As times went on, even more basic truth was called into question like the need for repentance. Many of the “prophets” were preaching a false gospel known as hyper grace. They were giving prophetic words from the view of this false ideology. There was no need to be holy, sanctified or live in light of eternity with their prophetic people giving words.
As things got more and more out there theologically, I found myself reaching for my Systematic Theology book from Bible College often. I might not agree with everything in it but I found it a great source for understanding the nonsense flying around in the name of the “prophetic ministry.”
A hermeneutic failure
For all the talk about prophecy in the meetings and the use of scriptures to justify it; the lack of biblical hermeneutics concerning it is quite shameful. Part of this could be because of the lack of formal education of many “prophets” or the lack of true desire to understand the reality of the early church in practice.
1 Corinthians 14:3 states that prophecy should be encouraging. Therefore, many in the prophetic movement have preached this as truth for all prophetic ministry in the New Testament. However, it is has several contextual problems that any serious student to scriptures would see.
The first of them is that starts with the word, “but.” What is the writer trying to tell the people at Corith as a whole. It is clear that this was part of a larger discussion from the apostolic leader. Paul was telling them to walk in love about tongues and prophecy. It seems that the message that Paul wanted to get across is the while tongues is for prayer, prophecy is for proclamation.
The second thing a serious student will see is WHY Paul said that prophecy should be encouraging to the people at Corith. We do not see this same instruction to the people at any other city. It seems that he saw a need to give them some protocol due to the problems present at Corith concerning spiritual gifts.
The third thing that is clear is Paul clearly gave the believers in Rome a different set of instructions about spiritual gifts. In Romans 12, he makes it clear that prophecy and encouragement are two different gifts. In other words, not all prophecy is encouraging and not all encouragement is prophetic.
This become important because there is been a lot of teaching in the prophetic movement that says all prophecy is positive. It makes people who have had prophetic encounters that seem negative (earthquakes for example) to feel they did not have a valid experience because of bad teaching from popular speakers in the the prophetic movement.
Why I become disconnected from the Prophetic movement
It really started over a decade ago. I left the International House of Prayer in Kansas City under a cloud. It was partly because God was sending me out as an evangelist and partly because of major issues between a leader and myself over theology (end times).
However, there was two events that was not connected to IHOP that really made me to start questioning a lot of what I was seeing in the name of the prophetic movement. One of them was a former leader in Kansas City but the other did not have ties at all.
The first one was at a conference in Dallas, Texas when I was given access to John Paul Jackson. He lead Streams, a ministry that teaches people to “interpret dreams.” I had my concerns about John Paul and they were partly due to the information I was allowed to know as part of the core at IHOP. However, I walked into the private meeting open to whatever God would do.
John Paul Jackson gave me a “word” that was so far off that I could not help but laugh at it on the spot. It was just not “it might not be now” type; it was the “dude, you missed God completely” type. The problem was not just he missed God and gave a soulish word. The word was actually demonic in nature. It was to caused condemnation to rise up again. It was nothing more than a familiar spirit.
The second major thing that happened that made me to start question the prophetic movement was in Baguio City, Philippines. I was there when Cindy Jacobs stood up and prophesied that a church leader of a charismatic network would be the next President of a majority Catholic nation. The reality is he ran the next two elections and lost horribly both times. This was straight up witchcraft. There is no way around it, it was a false prophecy and Cindy Jacobs should be treated as a false prophet.
After the next few years, I watch the prophetic movement unravel before my eyes. Leader after leader to be exposed for their lack of authenticity concerning the prophetic. One word after the other would fall to the ground. It was really sad watching them try and cover up all the failed prophetic words that would happening.
What about false fires?
As these prophetic words started to fall to the ground, a few of them gathered around Todd Bentley and manufactured a few false fires in Texas and Canada. It is interesting because of the wild fire that happen in in Lakeland was led by the name man that was faking revival fire in Canada, Texas and California. It was nothing more than a cover up for failed prophetic words and marketing materials.
Around this time, I saw another false fire starting at World Revival Church with Steve Gray and J.D. King. They wanted in on the hype and trying to get people to pull out their wallet as well. This was the most disappointing of them all as I have known them closely. They partnered with a demonic spirit to try and build them a kingdom instead of preparing people for God’s coming kingdom!
False fires are not a new thing. It happened in the early days of Pentecost too. There are people trying to do things to get crowds and faking a revival was common as early as 1915. Later, William Branham and A.A. Allen became well known for the practice, sadly.
The reality is that many in the prophetic movement today are having false fires just to get people to come to their meetings and buy their books. It is not the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit falling like it did in Brownsville or Toronto. It is just another marketing scam with all the language of revival.
and the wild fires?
There has been some real revivals that started right but quickly because false fires. These are commonly known as wild fires. They are not protected by any form of biblical guidelines and they are just “Bless me, Jesus” meetings. I have been part of two of these revivals. Both of them ended horribly too.
The first one was back in 1996. A real revival broke out in Smithton, Missouri. It became known as the Smithton Outpouring. In the beginning, it was all about the fire of God and things were great. However, the enemy got into the head of the leaders, namely Steve Gray and everything for weird. In the end, they became a cult, moved to Kansas City and hurt a lot of people in the process.
The second revival that started right but ended very wrong was known as the Lakeland revival in 2009. Todd Bentley, with all his flaws, was leading a biblical revival in an Assembly of God church. However, it quickly turned into wild fire and Todd could not be controlled by the Holy Spirit or anyone else. He was driven by the success and the fame of the movement. It was wild fire within weeks.
The way forward….
One of the things that I find, despite its religiousity and legalism, is when I go to a classic Pentecostal church; I do not have to question the wild fire, false fire of a prophetic word. It will be tested. Many Pentecostal churches need revival more than ever but they do seek to be biblical grounded while allowing the Holy Spirit to move. They are open minded but their brain has not fallen out (as the prophetic movement has).
Calling the Pentecostal movement to revival is no easy task but it is a doctrinally sound one. They have value for the Word and they are solid people. The truth is they don’t want the wild fire or the false fire. They want the holy fire or no fire at all.
After walking all the years that I have with the prophetic movement, I can understand the concern and I want the holy fire of revival more today than ever. I am sure every classic Pentecostal wants the authentic holy fire just as much. They have just been burnt by the false and wild fires.
I never understood why pastors would tell me that “the prophetic is the pathetic” for years. However, looking back at the prophetic movement; I can see why they felt the way they did. They want the true prophetic word of the Lord and all they saw was weak and in some cases, false prophetic words. I get it.