By Mary Danielsen
When speaking of spiritual things, what goes around comes around. This is true of every false movement within Christianity, especially in the last days, because the enemy is not going to let a perfectly good deception go to waste but rather will redesign anything to appeal to a subsequent generation. If a particular aberrant teaching is not rejected by the church when it first appears on the horizon by those who perceived it with spiritual eyes, then this movement or aberrant teaching will continue to lead people astray into a future generation.
Add to that the current social media technology wherein deception can attain an unprecedented level of exposure through multi-media, blogs, and conferences, and you have the recipe for a perfect storm of apostasy containing every unbiblical element imaginable. The latter-rain prophet movement is a perfect example of how this works. Regardless of the teaching, or how absurd it is, there will always be a following due to the church’s death of discernment today. With that in mind, I present to you some information of the current crop of “prophets” and “apostles” within the evangelical church. You can file this subject under “Last Days Deception,” along with everything else in Satan’s bag of tricks.
I’m goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.—Fats DominoBack in the mid 1980s, a modest tremblor rattled many churches in the midwest when Kansas City Fellowship registered on the Christian Richter scale. The buzz we experienced here in Wisconsin was that there was a “great move of the Lord” going on there, and the movers and shakers were prophesying and prognosticating the path or direction of people’s lives and the church as a whole. Enter a strange form of spiritual peer pressure, which proposed that if you wanted to follow the Spirit, you needed to go there because, well, you never know where it might lead and you don’t want to miss out “on what God is doing.”
People began to flock to Kansas and return to their hometown churches with dramatic tales of miracles, signs, wonders, and forthtelling. While this move was preceded by the Latter Rain movement of the 1940s, along with the Manifest Sons of God, Kingdom Now theology, the Word/Faith behemoth, and the five-fold ministry, the Kansas City Prophet movement seemed to catalyze it all, taking previous Pentecostal excesses, spinning them in some sort of spiritual centrifuge, and spewing it all forward for a new generation. Those who embraced a “more is better” version of Christianity found themselves prone to seeking out an experiential spirituality.
The core team of Mike Bickle, Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson, Rick Joyner, and Paul Cain became the primary prophetic celebrities. The very first aberration, that continues to this day in this and offspring movements, is the emphasis on raising up personalities who claim to have certain prophetic or apostolic authority. The instruction and prophecy of the Bible takes a back seat while through the elevation of man and the emphasis on experience, Scripture is no longer considered the final authority. In this storm of apostasy, the cult of church celebrity takes a back seat to no one here, to the great peril of the church. This is a foundational problem, and so you can expect everything to skew from that point, and skew it does.
Regarding the forthtelling by Kansas City Fellowship, a couple questions need to be asked. First, is God revealing new and shiny future revelations to mortals, and second, is this additional information meant for more than just a few select? If so, it is a big deal. A very big deal. Now, if He is not doing this and these people are deceived deceivers, that is very big deal #2. Which is it, and is the church sufficiently concerned about either premise? When all this started out, the church was not concerned at all; if it had been, we wouldn’t have half the mess we have today. I hope that by providing some background and history of the KC prophets, you may be able to come up with some answers.
Mike Bickle and John Wimber
Back in 1982, Mike Bickle claimed to receive a prophecy in Egypt, which started The Mess. According to the IHOP (International House of Prayer) website,
While visiting Cairo, Egypt, Mike Bickle heard the audible voice of the Lord say, “I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in one generation.”1“God” told Bickle to move to Kansas City and begin a global work. Thus the Kansas City Fellowship was born; it is worth noting that this has been the formula for the genesis of nearly every major cult in the 19th and 20th centuries. A young man (or woman) receives a prophecy or sees an angel telling him he is chosen to do A,B,C or D, which usually involves starting a church or movement. See Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, William Branham (founder of the Divine Healing Movement), and so forth.
Around the same time Bickle was entertaining voices and angels, a man named John Wimber was bringing his version of church-growth mathematics into the evangelical church. The paths of Wimber and Bickle intersect significantly later on. But starting back in the ’70s, after leaving the Quaker church, Bickle moved on to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California to study church growth. He came to believe that the Pentecostals and charismatics were leading the way in church-growth models, so he sought to incorporate signs and wonders, believing “that the Gospel is largely ineffective without signs and wonders.”2
During his time at Fuller, Bickle was greatly influenced by C. Peter Wagner, who is considered by most to be the father of church-growth methodology. This methodology spread across state lines to Illinois, home of Bill Hybels’ mega-growth model, Willow Creek. Wagner, also father of all things related to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), brought the church another gift in the ’80s and ’90s—the “territorial spiritual warfare” falsehood, which taught a generation that we can “take cities for God” and rid the planet of demons so Jesus can return. This strange “warfare theology” and bad eschatology has been around long enough for any sane person to see that our cities and byways are no more “Christian” than they were before and in fact are rapidly degenerating; thus, the fruit of that movement is non-existent. But that too does not keep an entire generation from believing in and giving their hard-earned money to false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing.
C. Peter Wagner himself will say that John Wimber was his mentor and parrots Wimber’s view that the only way churches will grow and produce revival is if they are accompanied by signs and wonders.3 So regardless of what cart came before which horse, what happened to Wimber? Let’s pick up there so we can move forward to our KC prophets.
The Vineyard churches actually began in 1977 when Wimber resigned from Fuller and began to pastor. He requested that Calvary Chapel (a fast-growing group of evangelical churches under the leadership of founder and pastor, the late Chuck Smith) be his covering. However, Wimber sought increasing spiritual power through a combination of psychology and charismatic practices, looking for signs and wonders to explain every imaginable problem known to humans. His church began heading in a direction that was not compatible with Calvary Chapel (according to Chuck Smith’s “distinctives”) as Wimber was drawn to practices that emphasized being “slain in the Spirit,” aura reading, visualization, and other Eastern mystical practices.4 As he shifted completely to an experiential approach to ministry, with nothing off limits including everything from name-it-and-claim-it prosperity teachings to Catholic validity of miracles, Chuck Smith challenged him on his low view of Scriptures and increasingly bizarre practices. Seeing two possible directions for the church under his care to go, one being to stress the systematic teaching of Scripture, the other, to rely on signs and wonders to extrapolate and confirm subjective truth, Chuck Smith offered other Calvarys the choice to stay or go, but he maintained a stand to protect the flock from hyper-charismaticism.
Wimber went on to start the Vineyard churches, which went global. Incidentally, the “Toronto Blessing” was birthed at a Vineyard church—Toronto Airport Vineyard—which not only is proof of the fruit of their deeds but highlights the danger of emphasizing what is perceived as the Holy Spirit’s work over the atoning work of Christ. After founding the Vineyard movement, Wimber left to continue his studies at Fuller, further validating his spiritual worldview in a class he taught called “Signs and Wonders and Church Growth.”
The “Day of the Lord” is re-interpreted by the false prophets to mean that Christ will come to His Church and incarnate (become God in flesh) an army of believers—thus giving them supernatural qualities to execute judgment on the Church.5—Jewel Grewe, Discernment MinistriesAccording to Ernest Gruen, a Kansas City pastor and “contemporary” (for lack of a better word) of the KC pastors:
Bickle was already convinced early on then, that this was a special movement and the beginning of a “new order” of things. He believed that this “worldwide movement” would see over a billion conversions, headed up by 12 different key churches in America. Kansas City would “cross-pollinate” with Vineyard and become a training center for end-time prophets and apostles. He believed that the KC movement had been established by the “two resurrection angels” which were present at Jesus’ tomb.6In addition to such a mindset, Bickle believed that in the last days, God would raise up 300,000 to be leaders in “Joel’s Army”; hundreds of apostles would be trained there, and an “authority structure” would be put into place to oversee the end-time church and handle all the prophecies and signs and wonders.7
“Prophet” Jack Deere, who served with John Wimber at Vineyard Christian Fellowship, explains their view of this end-time army of God:
How is God going to bring judgment upon His Church and then judgment upon the land after His Church? He’s going to do it with a large and mighty army.8Hey, if you are going to dream, dream big or go home, I say. Who has time for just studying the Word, praying, serving the flock, and worshiping the King? Small potatoes if you have a mind so puffed up you cease to even make sense at some point.
Bob Jones’ Visions
Enter Bob Jones at this point. Bob’s is an interesting story. The fact that he was a major influence and mentor to Lakeland, Florida’s hyper-charismatic Todd Bentley should be enough information for those who follow such antics to make a decision to change course. Bob’s bizarre visions could fill a book, but back in the KC day, he was said to have had between three to five visions and bodily translations every night.
Jones’ visions began when he was only nine years old when the angel Gabriel supposedly appeared to him and presented a bull skin mantle, signifying his future office of a “seer.” He describes his young adult life as being one continuous alcohol binge, getting into trouble, and ending up in a mental institution for a brief stay. At that low point, he says that when he cried out to Jesus, “a voice spoke to me,” saying, ‘I can’t help you Bob, until you forgive them [people in his past]. Go kill them or forgive them.”9 His visions and interpretations of bizarre spiritual experiences, which are far too numerous to recount here, were foundational to the KC movement, and this is important to understand. Nevertheless, that did not prevent Bickle and his prophesying cohort Jones from laying hands on people and throwing “thus sayeth the Lord” around like softballs—believe me, it affected the personal lives of many.
Ernest Gruen, a Kansas City pastor and “contemporary” (for lack of a better word) of the KC pastors, wrote a very extensive exposé of the KC mess titled “What’s the Problem?” He also authored a 250-page indictment titled, “Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship.” In this document, he outlines numerous power abuses, false prophecies, Scripture manipulation, and outright heresies that were engaged in by the leadership there.
From that report, Gruen explains how one Kansas City psychologist, who counseled with well over a hundred persons who attended KC fellowship, gives a glimpse into the harm that was done in the name of advancing the interests of Kansas City Fellowship (later renamed Grace Ministries). Over a short span of time, he heard of many personal prophecies predicting sudden deaths, illness, financial ruin, and other impending physical issues, which all proved to be false. Needless to say, there appeared to be zero regard for the spiritual safety of the flock.10
Another brave soul who came out with a well-done exposé was Albert Dager, author of the newsletter, “Media Spotlight.” Dager was one of the first in a line of discerning believers who began to see heresy and apostasy being birthed in the church back in the 80s. His article, “Latter Day Prophets—the Kansas City Connection” is a thorough treatment of the excesses and abuses that many suffered at the hands of supposedly “godly men.”
Children were also led into the fray as these men taught that God was raising up a “super generation” of powerful humans who would usher in the end times. Children in their charge were taught to have out-of-body experiences, see angels, be slain in the Spirit, or be drunk in the Spirit.11
As if this weren’t bad enough (again, barely a surface scratch here), we also have exponential false teaching through Paul Cain, Rick Joyner, Francis Frangipane, John Paul Jackson, Jim Goll, and David Parker, all ready to oversee and manipulate a congregation that went from a handful of people, to over 3000 in a very short period of time, in six congregations.
Paul Cain, a Scotsman and contemporary of Latter Rain guru William Branham, believes he was visited by Jesus Himself at age eight and again at eighteen years old and called to hold healing services. He held all the same convictions of Jones and Bickle when it came to manifestations of spiritual power. As researcher Mike Oppenheimer points out, Cain said William Branham was, “[t]he greatest prophet that ever lived in any of my generations or any of the generations of revival I’ve lived through.”12
Cain was referred to by Bob Jones as a prophet’s prophet of sorts, and Cain’s prophetic record is as abysmal as the rest. At least one of his prophecies revolved around a time when he said all sporting events would be canceled and stadiums used for revivals, displaying resurrections and healings on a global scale.13 He claimed to have regular visitations from the Lord and that every hypocritical TV preacher would be exposed by the end of the ’80s.
Rick Joyner, founder of Morningstar Publications and Ministries, has been and remains an enigma on the Christian scene. In addition to Joyner’s significant role with this gang of prophets, he is a Supreme Council member of an organization called “The Knights of Malta” (an ecumenical—Orthodox, Evangelical, Catholic and Protestant—order). His own website confirms this to be true.14 According to an article by author and lecturer Roger Oakland,
The [Knights of Malta] order is sanctioned and “blessed” by the Vatican. . . . Pope Benedict XVI “invokes . . . the continued protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Each “Knight” . . . is required to take a vow. In this vow, the Knight pledges himself to “be guided by the ideas of the Sovereign Order of St John of Jerusalem (started in 1090 and is the predecessor of the Knights of Malta).15Joyner believes he is one of the warriors who will come against the Islamic horde on American soil. He is yet another self-proclaimed new breed of “super prophet” and “super-apostle,” all who intend to set up their earthly “kingdom of God” while redefining Christianity.
Where Are They today?
According to a 2005 Charisma Magazine article, Paul Cain admitted to being “involved in long-term homosexual activity and often got drunk, sometimes in public.”16 Bob Jones was discredited in 1991 when he was caught in a sexual misconduct scandal.17 He passed away in February of 2014 to glowing eulogies from his former contemporaries. John Paul Jackson has his own ministry today involving visions and dream interpretation. Mike Bickle, perhaps the highest profile prophet of them all, developed IHOP in 1999 (International House of Prayer) and continues on in his “prophetic” ways to this day. In addition to his heretical “prophetic ministry,” he has come out as a strong advocate for contemplative prayer (a prayer practice that involves eastern religion practices).18
John Wimber’s health began to spiral down in 1993 after being diagnosed with cancer. He suffered a stroke some time later, followed by bypass surgery. He died of a brain hemorrhage in 1997 after a fall at age 63.
Following all the prophet and apostle mayhem of the ’80s and ’90s, the “Seven Mountains (or Spheres) of Culture” is the latest deceptive fiasco by the NAR to rally evangelicals around their latter-day dominion-promoting theology with a mandate to “take back” the culture. Personalities like Bob Buford, C Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs (head prophetess of the movement), and Chuck Pierce continue to press their bizarre spiritual schemes. Included in this Seven Mountain teaching is legislating a form of morality in which all peoples will follow the Mosaic Law. Given the right political and cultural scenario, things could become remarkably dark and evil as we approach the consummation of this present age.
This assigns a different meaning to “go and make disciples of all nations.” By coercion? Through political channels? The church should reject the dominionism of these false prophets outright in favor of waiting for the return of Jesus Christ for His church, in a world completely ripe for judgment and mass deception.
This booklet is just the tip of the iceberg in exposing the Kansas City Prophets and other “prophetic” voices speaking to the church today. I hope this is enough information to show that this prophets and apostles movement is out-of-control and unbiblical. I encourage you to examine this more closely and weigh these things against Scripture. I have listed some helpful resources on the last page of this booklet.
The Bible warns that in the last days, there will be much deception and delusion.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15)To order copies of The Perfect Storm of Apostasy – An Introduction to The Kansas City Prophets and Other Latter-Day Prognosticators, click here.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
Endnotes – see below
Resources to learn more about the Kansas City Prophets, IHOP, and the NAR
Let Us Reason Ministries with Mike Oppenheimer: www.letusreason.org.
Herescope Blog: http://herescope.blogspot.com.
Believers in Grace with Pastor Bill Randles: http://www.believersingrace.com.
Media Spotlight with Al Dager: http://mediaspotlight.org.
Deception in the Church with Sandy Simpson: www.deceptioninthechurch.com.
Other Related Booklet Tracts by Lighthouse Trails
What You Need to Know About Jim Wallis and the Social-Justice Gospel by Mary Danielsen
I Just Had a Vision!” by Kevin Reeves
False Revival Coming? – Holy Laugher or Strong Delusion? by Warren B. Smith
The New Age Propensities of Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson by John Lanagan
10 Questions for those who claim The “Supreme Beings” of the Nations Are the True God by Sandy Simpson
2. Albert Dager, “The Vineyard: History, Teachings, and Practices” (Media Spotlight, 1996,http://www.mediaspotlight.org/pdfs/The%20Vineyard.pdf), p. 6.
4. Albert Dager, “The Vineyard: History, Teachings, and Practices,” op. cit., p. 11.
5. Jewel Grewe (Discernment Ministries), “Joel’s Army” (http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/02/joels-army-day-of-lord.html).
6. Pastor Ernest Gruen and staff, “Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship,” Section II: The Movement; Part B. (http://www.banner.org.uk/kcp/Abberent%20Practises.pdf).
8. Jack Deere, “It Sounds Like the Mother of All Battles “Joel’s Army” (Vineyard Ministries International. 1990, audiocassette message); as quoted in “Joel’s Army” by Mike Oppenheimer: http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain10.htm.
9. Mike Bickle with Bob Jones, “Visions and Revelations” transcript, series of five tapes (http://www.ihopnetwork.com/ihop/BobIHOP/FullText.pdf, 1988).
10. Pastor Ernest Gruen, “Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship,” op. cit.
12. Paul Cain, “Selections from Kansas City Prophets,” taken from Mike Oppenheimer’s article “Prophet Paul Cain” (http://letusreason.org/Latrain5.htm).
13. A talk given by Paul Cain at Christ Chapel in Florence, Alabama on August 30, 1995 (evening session); see: “The Significance of Filled Stadiums” by Ed Tarkowski, http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/pgn3_sd2.htm.
15. Read Roger Oakland’s article “Will the Evangelical Church Sell out the Gospel for a Dominionist Political Agenda?,”http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=7114.
16. J. Lee Grady, “Prophetic Minister Paul Cain Issues Public Apology for Immoral Lifestyle” (Charisma Magazine,http://www.charismamag.com/site-archives/154-peopleevents/people-and-events/1514-prophetic-minister-paul-cain-issues-public-apology-for-immoral-lifestyle).
17. “Pam Sollner, “Minister removed after confession of sexual misconduct” (The Olathe Daily News, November 13, 1991; http://www.religionnewsblog.com/16929/minister-removed-after-confession-of-sexual-misconduct).
18. See John Lanagan’s article “Mike Bickle of IHOP-KC Instructs followers on Contemplative Prayer”;http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=7574.
To order copies of The Perfect Storm of Apostasy – An Introduction to The Kansas City Prophets and Other Latter-Day Prognosticators, click here.