The Anointing. The Anointing. The Anointing.
The Anointing -- this is the whole thing, isn't it?”
That is what I heard Paul Cain say some ten years ago at a nearby Pentecostal church.
Reverend Cain is a big name among the so-called Kansas City Prophets, along with a number of others like Bob Jones, Mike Bickel, Rick Joiner, John Paul Jackson, Francis Frangipane, Lou Engle, and James Goll. The Apostolic-Prophetic Movement 1, sometimes known as the Third Wave, was to be the re-establishment of the Five-Fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher as found in Ephesians 4 2. These leaders saw themselves as part of the reconstitution of the fabled biblical model meant to operate in the “last days.” And for such a grand vision, a special and super powerful anointing would be required.
Rodney M. Howard-Browne
I was wondering, then, if the anointing Cain talked about was the same that Rodney M. Howard-Browne purportedly brought to America from his home in South Africa. It was Howard-Browned who strongly influenced the "revival" that came to the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church in Canada. It was there that Randy Clark received the anointing from Howard align="center"> Howard-Browne, in his books Flowing in the Holy Ghost (FHG) and Flowing in the Holy Spirit (FHS), describes that anointing. 3 It is essential and necessary to define what Howard-Browne means by anointing as presented in the two books mentioned above.
In FHG he says, "the anointing is the presence of God. . .that will come and begin to touch people" (p. 13). "I wait for the unction all the time; I wait for the burning of the Spirit of God within. That burning, that churning, bubbles like a boiling pot inside, because that's what the word 'prophesy' means" (p. 14).
Howard-Browne says, "you must stir yourself up for the gifts to begin to operate" (p. 14). Therefore, after stirring, "it will happen automatically. God will begin to move" (p. 15).
In a section labeled "When the Anointing Falls" he says, "I began to speak supernaturally. I became another person!...It's almost like I'm standing outside my body, hearing myself prophesy...People begin to shake and fall out under the power of God in their seats as the word of the Lord comes forth. No one touches them" (p. 31). He goes on: "You can't say, 'I'm going to get up and prophesy now.' However, you can prepare for the anointing to prophesy. You do this by stirring yourself up, by preparing your heart, and by waiting on the Spirit of God. Then, when the anointing comes, you flow with it. But you can only prophesy when the anointing comes!'" (p. 31).
Not everyone got the anointing, not even those who actually touched Browne. Randy Clark, who had reportedly gotten the anointing, was also able to pass it on to others, or so it was claimed. He also met with those in Toronto, and people touched him – some got it, but most did not.
A contingent from our local ministerial association visited Toronto, and after they returned we gathered in a meeting. There we were, expecting something big. But even for those who got close to the “anointed” people and even touched one of them, nothing happened. Though disappointed, we planned another trip.
I saw Randy Clark personally some years ago in Redding, California, when he visited the Bethel Church pastored by Bill Johnson, whom I guessed had gotten the anointing. The anointing was power, and power was what it was all about – the power to heal and do miracles. Many of those present had miracle stories: crowns of gold on teeth; gold dust in their hair; feathers mysteriously floating down from the ceiling; people raised from the dead (none were confirmed); people healed from stomach and back pain or from chronic migraines; youth healed instantaneously from addictions to pot and pills. Oddly, the two members of Bethel who brought me there, both with some serious bodily ailments, were never themselves healed, nor did they know anyone personally who had actually been healed. The miracle stories circulated around town, surfacing occasionally, but somehow those who were healed could not be located. This was no doubt a miracle, too.
Do I sound irreverent or judgmental? Am I being a God mocker and thus in danger of committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? 4 Could I be standing against the flowing of the river of the Spirit now moving in these last days? Am I foolishly, even rebelliously, refusing to ride the wave? Frankly, these kinds of mind-think, conformist charges are enough to shame and shut-up most questioners, but not everyone is falling in line or is so lacking in confidence in the saving grace of Jesus that they stop thinking and evaluating.
Paul Cain rambled on for an hour and finally starting indicating that he was about to reveal the biggie, the real deal, the ultimate, that one great thing that meant absolutely everything. Wow, the anticipation was palpable. Cain moved toward the front of the stage. He stood stone still. He stretched out his left arm, his brown eyes scanning the congregation, now speechless, motionless, while we waited without a sound. And then it came, what we were all waiting for: "The Anointing. The Anointing. The Anointing." He said it was the anointing.
To demonstrate the anointing he stared at a number of the faithful sitting in the front row. 5 One by one he told their fortunes. He said he saw a television set-like thing over each one's head and could watch their futures unfold before his very eyes. One would be a great prophet in Africa. Another would be greatly used of God in Asia as a healer. One young lady would found a school for orphans in South America. Without exception, each person would do something wonderful in the kingdom of God. Cain could see it on the television screens. It was the anointing that made it all happen.
Kundalini and Shaktipat
Over the years I've talked with a number of so-called prophets and healers who spoke like Howard-Browne. A burning power rising up in their bodies that gave them power to do miracles. During my days in the Jesus People Movement, when we did see miracles, I never experienced or heard about anything like what Howard-Browne described. However, I have had and continue to have conversations with those involved in various spiritual practices that do sound like what Howard-Browne described. I turned to Wikipedia for the material I suspected I would find:
Kundalini is described within eastern religious or spiritual traditions as “an indwelling spiritual energy that can be awakened in order to purify the subtle system and ultimately to bestow the state of Yoga, or Divine Union, upon the 'seeker' of truth." "The Yoga Upanishads describe Kundalini as lying 'coiled' at the base of the spine, represented as either a goddess or sleeping serpent waiting to be awakened." In physical terms, one commonly reported Kundalini experience is a feeling like electric current running along the spine.
Kundalini can be awakened by shaktipat – spiritual transmission by a Guru or teacher – or by spiritual practices such as yoga or meditation. Sometimes Kundalini reportedly awakens spontaneously as the result of physical or psychological trauma, or even for no apparent reason.
One man said he felt an activity at the base of his spine starting to flow, so he relaxed and allowed it to happen. A feeling of surging energy began traveling up his back, and at each chakra he felt an orgasmic electric feeling like every nerve trunk on his spine beginning to fire. A second man described a similar experience but accompanied by a wave of euphoria and happiness softly permeating his being. He described the surging energy as being like electricity traveling from the base of his spine to the top of his head. He said the more he analyzed the experience, the less it occurred.
Kundalini can also awaken spontaneously, for no obvious reason, or be triggered by intense personal experiences such as accidents, near death experiences, childbirth, emotional trauma, extreme mental stress, and so on. Some sources attribute spontaneous awakenings to the "grace of God," or possibly to spiritual practice in past lives.
The popularization of eastern spiritual practices has been associated with psychological problems in the West. Psychiatric literature notes that "since the influx of eastern spiritual practices and the rising popularity of meditation starting in the 1960s, many people have experienced a variety of psychological difficulties, either while engaged in intensive spiritual practice or 'spontaneously’.
I could go on, but I think the above is enough. However, one last observation might be of value. On the fourth page of the Wikipedia article on Kundalini is a section with the heading, "Physical and psychological effects." In brief, I list some of the items which are referred to as the "Kundalini syndrome:"
... involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling, and crawling sensations; energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body; intense heat (heating) or cold; trance-like and altered states of consciousness; disrupted sleep pattern; loss of appetite or overeating; mood swings with periods of depression or mania.
The quest for power
Certainly Howard-Browne and any of the Kansas City Prophets and those associated with Rick Joyner of Morningstar in North Carolina, Mike Bickle of IHOP in Kansas City, Bill Johnson at Bethel Church in Redding, California, or anyone else associated with the Third Wave would not knowingly embrace anything to do with Kundalini or shaktipat, but there is an obvious association if not direct connection. That association could well be the quest for power.
Power, the one great and overriding drive behind the occult, is the great lure. So much of the tragedy of humanity has been the direct result of striving to acquire and retain power. The quest for magical powers to heal drives shamanism and religions like Santería. The neo-pagan religions like Wicca also focus on power to heal and perform magic. How thin the line can be that separates the occult and pagan from the biblically orthodox.
Anyone who has either read of or experienced firsthand a great moving of the Holy Spirit desires to see it happen again. In our impatience and longing for the excitement of such times, we attempt to "work up" such a revival or awakening ourselves. We can go to extremes and "work up" the crowd with music and great expectations of miracles and pass them off as a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. In my view, the epitome of error is the concept of deliberately obtaining an anointing, which is a special and rare gift of the Holy Spirit and not ours for the grabbing. One way of identifying authentic Christianity is that Jesus Christ and Him crucified is front and center.
Off the charts
But then I think: no, wait a minute. These guys up in Redding at Bethel and in Kansas City say we are “off the charts.” Their prophets declare that these are the last days, and the Bible is not so important anymore. After all, many are conversing with angels now, even big name angels, and some are speaking directly with Jesus as one would in a phone call. 6 People like Kat Kerr are going directly to God, bypassing angels altogether. Yes, she reports face to face meetings with the Creator of heaven and earth in the "throne room" where she gets the real scoop about the last of the last days. Apparently, we are right up there at a few seconds before midnight on the great cosmic clock. Wow, I'm a believer!
Am I making fun? Yes I am to a degree, in order to highlight the ridiculousness of the whole thing. And one wonders, what comes next? I mean, where can you go next? After hearing from God personally and getting the definitive word about the wrap-up of history from the Big Guy, everything else seems second rate, not to mention a waste of time. Someone who has followed the whole enterprise in Redding surmised that they have shifted into "corporate" mode to fill a possible void, by which he meant the peddling of products – everything from books, videos, and worship music, which one would expect, to dietary supplements, clothing, exercise plans and equipment, and whatever else these entrepreneurs think will sell. God help us.
Could the newly and self-ordained apostles and prophets walk away from all of this, with the requirement to denounce it? Think of the humiliation, embarrassment, sinking salaries, dried up speaking engagements, rejections, tongue-wagging, falling book sales, mounting property payments, and the disappearing praise of the crowds? What would they do – retire, repent, step down, and confess, with their lives and ministries exposed as a fraud? What do they do after making shipwreck of their faith and the faith of many thousands of others? Here is where the miracles are needed.
I am one who has made major errors in my life and ministry, and from these I am yet greatly pained and will be until I get home. Indeed, the sufferings of this present time, whether the result of the Fall or my own rebellious folly, are not worth comparing with what God has prepared for us. My repenting will last my whole life, and though I may be embarrassed in certain circles, yet I take confidence that all my sin has been atoned for through the shedding of the precious blood of the Lamb. Thus it is with confidence that I continue following Jesus and rejoicing in the ability to yet be a servant in His kingdom. The audience, after all, is not in the pews but in heaven.
Kent Philpott, July 2014
1 C. Peter Wagner is often recognized as an "apostle" in the recreation of the "Five Fold Ministry," and by virtue of his position as a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and his part in launching the Church Growth seminars at Fuller (of which I was a part), he provided prestige and clout to the fledgling “Third Wave” revival.
2 Rather than five ministries of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher, many combine pastor and teacher, since the two are joined by the Greek co-coordinating conjunction kai or “and.” More correctly, it is the four-fold ministry. And it may be noted that, while these ministries or offices may not always have been formally established, they have never be absent in the long history of the Church.
4 The God Mockers is the title of a book written by Stephen Hill who was the principle evangelist for the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida during the mid-1990s. All those who rejected the idea that it was a genuine outpouring of the Holy Spirit he so labeled.
5 I had gotten in place early and was a little surprised at how ushers brought in, paraded might be a better word, a group of people and seated them directly in front of the platform. The reason for this became clear later on.