Puritan Gems

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book Review: Counterfeit Revival by Hank Hanegraaff

Man is, by nature, a spiritual being. In western society, particularly in America, that sense of spiritual longing too often leads to a desire for fleshly manifestations. Having previously been part of the charismatic movement myself, I can easily identify with the ease that these manifestations can delude those who forsake the use of Scripture as the only infallible rule of faith and practice in favor of esoteric experiences, thus mistaking those experiences as genuine encounters with the living God.

Using the appropriate acronym FLESH, Hanegraaff outline the pretenses and methods on which these counterfeit revivals are based.

Fabrications, Fantasies, and Frauds
Lying Signs and Wonders
Endtimes Restorationism
Slain in the Spirit

Hanegraaff's expose is a tough indictment against many of the founders of Counterfeit Revivals; names who are considered to be Spiritual giants in the world of Pentecostalism including Parham, Wigglesworth, Seymore, and MacPherson. Hanegraaff traces the movement from those early roots to modern day false prophets such as Hinn, Kilpatrick, Hill, Arnott, and Wimber. While most charismatics are familiar with many of the aforementioned names, they are not familiar with the selective book keeping that attempts to make saints out of these charlatans. Hanegraaff's historical study takes us on a journey of deception, phony miracles, historical revisionism, questionable teachings, lifestyles of excess, drugs, sex scandals, millennial heresies, false prophets, and just plain old skinflintary.

One common thread in counterfeit revivals is the ridiculous theology and practice surrounding the "anointing" of the Holy Spirit. Vineyard founder John Arnott explains:

"Many times Carol and I will be praying for people, we're soakin' 'em, soakin' 'em, soakin' 'em, feel the anointing going in. Next thing you know the guy that's supposed to be catching goes flying back 'cause it just kind of, it's got to go somewhere. If the person doesn't take it, it goes to the catcher, or it rebounds back on the person praying, or something where they can't take it." - CR p. 50

So rather than being the powerful God who created the universe, the Holy Spirit is reduced to some sort of cosmic energy looking for a person to rest in. False prophet Benny Hinn can constantly be seen on TV throwing the Holy Spirit at people like a dodgeball. In contrast, John's wife Carol actually claims to have a conversation with the person of the Holy Spirit, where "the spirit that spoke with her communicated sorrow over being separated from Jesus:

"You know, the Father, and Jesus and I have been together for all of eternity. But when Jesus went back to heaven to be with God the Father, I came to earth." And he said, "I am so lonely for Jesus." He said, "So that when people really, really love Jesus, and really honor him, and really worship him," he said, "I love to be around those kinds of people.. . He misses Jesus, and he misses the Father" - CR p. 125

Hanegraaff boldly chronicles the nonsense being pushed forth by counterfeit revivalists who claim to be led by the Spirit of God, while taking the full blunt of the charges leveled by these false prophets that he is "resisting the Spirit". Consider the following televised "prophecy" from John Kilpatrick.

"I got a word from the Lord last night. . . . The Lord gave me a word last night that I'm going to share with you in a few minutes. . . . It's what he said to me last night. And I heard the Lord, friend. If I didn't hear God I'd tell you, but I heard the Lord... I want to say something this morning to Hank Hanegraaff.... If you want to keep any kind of a semblance of a ministry, you better back off from this revival and what God is doing. You better back off, because I am going to prophesy to you that if you don't, and you continue to put your tongue and your mouth on this move of God, within ninety days the Holy Ghost will bring you down. I said within ninety days the Holy Ghost will bring you down. And I speak that as a man of God. I don't speak that out of vengeance, I don't speak it out of selfishness, and I don't speak it out of a hurt feeling, because my feelings are not hurt. I feel as normal today as I've ever felt. I don't have a chip on my shoulder, I don't have an ax to grind, but this is a move of God and you better leave it alone... And I want to tell you something else, if you don't want your head to start shaking—you make fun of someone in the choir shaking—come here a minute, girl. Come down here a minute. Hurry up. Hurry up. If you don't want your head to do like this, you better lay your mouth off of her... Mr. Hanegraaff, and all other devils, listen up..." - CR pp. 279-80

Kilpatrick later apologized to Hanegraaff and admitted that this was not a word from the Lord. Such prophecies, however, are quite common among Charismatics against their critics.

Learn the truth about...

  • How unbiblical practices such as Holy laughter, "passing the anointing", acting and sounding like animals, and being "slain in the Spirit" have more in common with Hindu Ashrams and mesmerism than with Christianity.

  • How false revivalists revise history by appealing to the preachers of the Great Awakening and fabricating justification for their unbiblical practices.

  • How false revivalists rely on esoteric experiences over the authority of Scripture, despise the church of Christ, and compromise essential Christian doctrines such as the Trinity.

  • How Benny Hinn receives "the anointing" from the bones of the false prophets Aimee McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman by visiting their graves.

  • How a lady was killed during a false revival when someone was "slain in the spirit" and fell on her.

  • How counterfeit revivalists see numbers, football scores, and cartoon characters as omens by which Scriptures should be interpreted.

  • How false revivalists manipulate their followers by accusing critics of "resisting the Holy Spirit" in an effort to shield themselves from the biblical mandate to "test the Spirits".

  • How missionary A.G. Garr, after receiving the "gift of tongues", moved to India in an attempt to preach to the natives in their own language, but unlike the Apostles, he was unable to do so.

  • How false revivals have disillusioned many, resulting is people being pushed away from Christ as opposed to being drawn in.

As important as it is to identify false prophets, Hanegraaff also gives us the all important characteristics of true revival:

"...While the Counterfeit Revival is founded on fabrications, fantasies, and frauds, genuine revival always rests firmly on the foundation of faith and facts...While the Counterfeit Revival finds its validation in lying signs and wonders, genuine revival always finds its genesis in the Living Word...While the Counterfeit Revival presumes an endtime restoration, genuine revival is predicated on earnest repentance...While the Counterfeit Revival is fixated on sensational manifestations like being "slain in the spirit," genuine revival is focused on salvation and sanctification in the Spirit...While leaders of the Counterfeit Revival enslave devotees through hypnotic schemes, leaders of genuine revival enlighten disciples through Holy Scripture.” - CR pp. 14-17

The new expanded edition includes several useful Appendices where Hanegraaff responds to critics, of which there is no shortage of. In a biblically illiterate culture where people are eager to grab anything that seems "spiritual", and where snake oil salesmen like Benny Hinn can still sell out an auditorium, Hannegraff's book "Counterfeit Revival", however unpopular it may be to the sensitivities of American evangelicalism, is much needed medicine. I would encourage anyone involved in the charismatic movement, and love the truth, to take it.

Easy Reading.
375 pages.
Highly Recommended.


Caron said...

Its a great book. It really is. I also came out of the charismatic movement years ago.

Check out the work of Justin Peters.
and watch the video. Peters gave the full length seminar on this topic at my church and comes highly recommended by my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur

Prodigal said...

I have read the previous version. I came out of a prosperity church which taught this stuff in spades. . . Hanegraaff's book is comprehensive and I can attest to the truth therein.

Anonymous said...

Have not read the book yet. However I believe that as much as the author is right in some cases, I have seen to many things that I am sure were God to throw out all of the "Holy Spirit" stuff. Just can't do it

Puritan Lad said...


No need to "throw out all of the Holy Spirit stuff". Just make sure that you honor the Biblical Commandment to test the Spirits, and Scripture is the final authority. That is the only way to know if something is truly of God. The move of the Spirit is objective, not subjective.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the whole book, but what I read was spot-on. I, too, attended a charismatic church that seemed to just veer further and further off course during the four months or so I went. I thank God that by His grace, he directed me to some reformed and Puritan authors during that time. Of course, reading the Bible regularly is probably the best defense against some of the clearly misinformed teachings so pervasive today.

As someone else noted, Justin Peters ministry is absolutely phenomenal. I think anyone involved in a "charismatic" church or movement would do well to watch his DVD presentation and read this work by Hanegraaff and/or Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur.

Peace & Blessings,
Simple Mann

Puritan Lad said...

Thanks Simplemann,

Charismatic Chaos is a good book as well. If one wants a book that deals with the theological issues at hand, I would highly recommend O. Palmer Robertson's "The Final Word".

Prodigal said...

Also, I might add that Mark Driscoll has some great teaching out there, and interestingly enough he is both reformed and charasmatic. Or as he describes; "charasmatic with a seat belt."
Check out or the Mars Hill Church website (and not Rob Bell's Mars Hill)

Anna Lisa said...

I stumbled upon this blog while Googling commentaries on the Psalms by Charles Spurgeon. Just after reading the last 5 or 6 posts I have been so blessed and encouraged by everything. All these issues sometimes seem like things that only me and a handful of my friends care about. It's SO awesome to see that there are writers left in America who care about the Truth.
I'm definitely bookmarking this.
Thank you so much!