Against Heresies by Clete Hux

Prophecy gone awry!  That’s how many would describe the some aspects of the charismatic experiential movement today.  There are so-called apostles and prophets coming out of the woodwork.  They can be found just about any place one cares to look. It used to be that evangelical Christians, for the most part, were suspicious of those claiming to be prophets.  However, over the last decade or so that has changed.  Due to a steady stream of the “miraculous” and the prominence of the Word-Faith Movement in the Christian media, many in the body of Christ have simply dropped their “discernment” guard.   As a result, they have accepted what we may call the “hyper-prophetic” as a normal part of Christianity.

Many self-proclaimed modern prophets, infected with this sensationalism, have given reports of out-of-body experiences, trips to heaven and hell, even personal encounters with biblical characters and face-to-face dialogues with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Whether it is through dreams or visions, today’s wave of prophets have become bolder, adamantly proclaiming that their experiences are from the Lord.  If anyone questions the divine origin of such experiences, they are looked upon with scorn.  Some of today’s prophets are claiming their revelations are equivalent to “thus saith the Lord.”

Enter super-prophet, Rick Joyner, whose MorningStar Fellowship Church is based in Fort Mill, South Carolina.  On September 27, 2004, it purchased most of what used to be Heritage USA, otherwise known as Jim Baker’s PTL.  In looking at Joyner’s website, not much is given about his personal background.  His testimony is that he was converted to Christianity in 1991.  Ever since, he has seen himself as a prophet with the ability to foresee certain future events accurately and know details about people’s problems and their particular spiritual callings.[1]

Space does not permit all that needs to be said in regards to his teachings.  So, we’ll only look at some of these and the concerns that have arisen as a result.  For the most part, the concerns come from what Joyner has said or taught in his two books, The Final Quest and The Call.  Both have been big sellers in the “experience craved” Christian circles that have forsaken the objective standard of the canonized word of God.  But, the Scriptures are our final rule of faith and practice and we are to “examine everything carefully and hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).

 

On Inspiration and Biblical Authority

The first concern is his view of inspiration.  When a writer states at the outset of a book that he is writing fantasy and he/she doesn’t depart from it, then we can take it as such.  Although Joyner’s Final Quest contains elements of allegory and fantasy, he claims it to be directly inspired, just as much so as Scripture.  He describes five different levels of inspiration.[2]  Level one is prophetic impressions which, while considered genuine revelations, are a vague and fallible sense of God’s speaking.  Level two, Joyner calls visions, which are subjective dreamlike revelations which require a measure of interpretation.  Level three is a conscious sense of the presence of the Lord or the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus “stands over one’s shoulder” (so to speak) guiding one’s thoughts and words.  Joyner believes this level was experienced by the apostles as they wrote the New Testament.  Level four is where open visions occur.  These, according to Joyner, are clear visions external to the mind—like watching a movie screen.  Lastly, the highest level is the trance.  Here the Spirit takes control of one’s body and mind and the prophet speaks with absolute authority.  It was at this level that Joyner claims he received his own visions and dreams.  It’s easy to see the immediate problem.  Joyner’s level of inspiration is higher than that of the apostles when they were writing the New Testament.  Thus, Joyner appears to supplant the authority of Scripture with his own “prophetic” authority.

But, adding to or subtracting from the complete and final revelation of God in Scripture carries serious consequences (Rev. 22:18-19).  Apparently, Joyner has turned away from this warning by treating his visions and dreams as inspired revelation and even higher revelation than that of the New Testament.

That Joyner puts his own (and others’) revelations above Scripture is made even clearer when he says, “Many Protestant and Reformed theologians not only hinder, but actually prohibit, Christians from knowing God’s voice.  These can be traced to the extreme interpretation of the prime Reformation motto solo scriptura, which means ‘Scripture alone.’”[3]  The insinuation is that there is more and higher revelation which can be found according to Joyner, in the “voice of the Lord” apart from the Bible.  The Scriptures are used only for establishing doctrine, while it is the “voice of the Lord” that gives us day-to-day guidance.[4]

In Final Quest, Joyner claims to have visited heaven where he met the apostle Paul who told Joyner that his letters in the New Testament were not meant to be part of the foundation of the Church – that only the gospels were foundational.[5]  This, of course does not square with the Church having been built on apostolic teaching (Eph. 2:19; cf. 1 John 4:6).  Joyner further claims that Paul went on to equate his (Joyner’s) writings with Paul’s.[6]  This is bad enough, but according to Joyner, the Lord Himself gave His approval: “…I looked at the Lord, and He nodded His affirmation, adding ‘It is right that Paul should say this to you.’”[7]  So, Joyner appears by this to be able to set aside apostolic teaching when it does not square with his own revelations.

 

On Failed Prophecy

Needless to say, Joyner believes that prophetic revelations continue today.  Yet, the Christian Canon of Scripture is closed.   No new prophecy is needed because Jesus is the final Word of God; he is the Alpha and Omega (Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 22:13).  But Joyner, as we have seen, believes that he receives direct revelation from God, revelations that are (at least sometimes) more authoritative than Scripture.  He writes, “Some of the revelation [I received] came in ‘open visions.’  These were visible, external visions that were like watching a cinema screen. . . .I now have frequent visions and dreams that were filled with symbolism requiring interpretation like most of the biblical visions, but these were not that way; many of the details that you read in this book I actually saw in visions. . . .Some of the understanding shared in this book came in literal conversation with the Lord.”[8]

Moreover, Joyner has also predicted future events that did not pan out such as revivals, natural disasters, etc.  For instance, he jumped on the Y2K bandwagon, claiming that the Lord spoke to him about it.  The Lord allegedly told Joyner that the most severe difficulties will come from the panic generated by the situation, and that Joyner should observe that the problems Y2K will cause in the natural world would be a reflection of the problems in the body of Christ.[9]

How did Joyner handle this failed prophecy?  Joyner, like some other modern prophecy advocates,[10] suggests that New Testament prophets (like himself) are different from Old Testament prophets.  The former can make mistakes; their prophecies are not (always) infallible and do not have to be 100% accurate in order to be valid.[11]   Appeal is sometimes made to 1 Corinthians 14:29 where Paul says, in speaking about prophetic messages in church, “Let the others judge.” This verse is interpreted to mean that a prophet’s message has to be sifted and evaluated in order to discern what was true from what was false.

This is a gross misunderstanding of the text, however.  What Paul is saying is that discernment must be made between true and false prophets.  As Thomas Edgar explains,

The world diakrino [judge, discern] does not imply that there is both good and bad to be sifted out.  It is often used in a context such as this in reference to rendering judgment between two people, that is, determining which one is right and which one is wrong. . . .[The view that] ‘discern’ refers to judging the prophecy itself, if correct, would mean to judge whether the entire prophecy were true or false.  It would not mean to sift out the good from the bad and consider the good parts as from God and the prophet as a genius prophet.  This is contrary to biblical practice.[12]

The Bible is clear from Genesis to Revelation that a true prophet of God must be 100% accurate.  If a prophetic prediction fails to come true, the one making the prediction is a false prophet (see Deut. 18:22).

 

On Necromancy

Joyner claims that, by direct inspiration, he has carried on conversations with many biblical characters.  These include Lot, Jonah, Abel, Adam, Paul, and others.[13]  He has even had a talk with “a famous reformer” and his wife.[14]   One problem with this is that it seems tantamount to engaging in the occultic practice of necromancy—interacting with the dead—which is condemned in the Bible (Deut. 18:9-12).

Joyner has tried to answer his critics by referencing the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration, claiming that his experience was analogous to that.[15]  But Joyner appears to put himself on the same level as God in this regard.  Certainly, God the Son can speak to the spirits of those who have gone to heaven to be with Him.  It is important to note that Moses and Elijah never spoke directly to the disciples, and they did not impart wisdom or make plain the Scriptures to them as Joyner claims for himself.  Therefore, there is a significant disanalogy between Joyner’s experience and what happened on the mount of transfiguration. Joyner also fails to mention the only instance in Scripture where someone does seek wisdom through communication with the dead.  In 1 Samuel 28, King Saul attempted to engage in necromancy when he appealed to the witch at Endor to call up the prophet Samuel.  The result was divine judgment on Saul who soon forfeited his own life.

 

Conclusion

There are many more issues that could be addressed in the teaching of Rick Joyner, but space is limited here.  Hopefully, I have been able to demonstrate that he teaches and claims things for himself that are contrary to the Word of God.  As we have seen, Joyner considers himself to be a prophet of God.  Such self-promotion is very prideful, especially when he appears to proud of his theological ignorance, stating that even though he has not been to Bible school, in many ways he would not trade his education for anyone’s.  Like Paul, Joyner says he did not receive his calling from men.[16]  Zechariah warns us against these type of self-assuming prophets (Zech. 13:4-5).  God’s Word (the Canon of Scripture) written by the prophets and apostles, has closed.  There are no more apostles or prophets which speak out or write the inerrant and infallible Word of God (1 Thes. 2:13; Eph. 3:5); Heb. 1:1-2).  If anyone pretends to add to the prophecies of the Scriptures a “curse” is added to them by God (Rev. 22:18).  We are to ignore the cheap imitations of this mystical prophetic movement because we already have the “sure word” of prophecy (2 Pet. 1:19-21).  Discerning Christians who care about the souls of others should warn those who are being influenced by him.

 

Clete Hux is the counter-cult specialist for the Apologetics Resource Center.

NOTES

[1]   Rick Joyner, The Harvest (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1989), 7.

[2]   Rick Joyner, The Final Quest (Charlotte, NC: MorningStar Publications, 1996), 9-11.

[3]   Rick Joyner, A Prophetic Vision for the 21st Century (Nashville, TN: Nelson Publishers, 1989), 80.

[4]   Ibid., 79.

[5]   Joyner, Final Quest, 134

[6]   Ibid., 135.

[7]   Ibid.

[8]   Joyner, The Harvest, 9-10.

[9]   Joyner, A Prophetic Vision for the 21st  Century, 49, 52.

[10] See, e.g., Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1988).  For a response to this view, see O. Palmer Robertson, The Final Word (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1993).

[11]   Article by Clay Walls, Preparing for End Times, (Dallas, TX, 2005), 3.

[12]   Thomas R. Edgar, Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Resources, 1996), 80-81.  See also, Robertson, The Final Word, 98-100.

[13]   Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, NC: MorningStar Publications, 1999), 42, 45, 71, 72.

[14]   See http://www.watch.pair.com/quest.html.

[15]   Joyner, The Call, 19-20.

[16]   Joyner, A Prophetic Vision for the 21st Century, 73.