Bethel School Of Spiritual Drunkenness

By Rick Becker  25 July 2018

The doctrines and practices emanating from Bethel are as far removed from biblical Christianity as the east is from the west.  Leaders at BSSM channel their students into the dark world of mysticism, vain imaginations, and the demonic.  It takes little discernment to realize that what the BSSM promotes is evil.  The fact that they cannot see this indicates they have rejected truth; they have been given over to a delusion.  Our task is to contend for the faith by warning and praying for those caught up in this deception.

The official Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry School Planting website has recently published an article entitled “Overcoming Obstacles to Physical Manifestations of the Holy Spirit.”  Once again, it reveals the severely deluded state of the BSSM.  In Bethel terms “overcoming obstacles” really means ignoring scripture and taking risks in order to experience something supernatural regardless of the source.  Direct quotes from the article in italics, with my commentary below.

BSSM: “There are many manifestations of the Holy Spirit, both inward and outward. Manifestations are evidence of God’s Presence on people and can be an indicator of what God is doing in someone. But they are also different for everyone, and it’s important for us as leaders to help our students navigate them. Holy Spirit drunkenness may be one of the most misunderstood physical manifestations. It is clearly present in scripture as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:15), but, for some, it can be confusing on how to engage with it.”

“Holy Spirit drunkenness” is only misunderstood by those who don’t understand scripture.  The article is based on the assumption that the disciples were behaving like drunkards of the day of Pentecost.  Acts 2:15 is the text used to justify this: “For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day” 

Peter was giving the crowd an explanation of what had just occurred:
 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.  And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.  And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?  Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,  both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”  But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”  But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.”
Acts 2:4-14

The text does not say that the disciples experienced “Holy Spirit drunkenness” but that they were accused by some mockers as being drunk.  What had “bewildered” the multitudes?  The answer is in the text, the disciples were speaking in different languages (tongues) and those present heard their own “native language” being spoken.  The text does not say the disciples were staggering, incoherent, slurring their words, incapacitated, laughing or shrieking uncontrollably.  In other words the disciples were not behaving as if they had just walked through a “fire tunnel” at Bethel.  There were no Kundalini or seizure like manifestations. This gift of speaking in foreign languages was a miracle, and having no explanation some accused them of being drunk.  This is the response of some when encountering a miracle, or the truth. The word translated as “mocking” in verse 13, is used by the men of Athens in response to Paul’s teaching on the resurrection of the dead: “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”
One of the effects of the Spirit’s outpouring was boldness (not drunkenness) to preach the Gospel.  Peter had previously denied Christ on three occasions, but now he is able to face a crowd, and boldly proclaim truth.  How could he have delivered his first sermon in a state of drunkenness?  Why did he refute the allegation that they were drunk?  Why are the BSSM leaders trusting the opinion of unregenerated mockers?  Why would God’s Spirit be the cause of behaviour that is condemned in scripture?

Scripture reveals that a fruit of the Spirit is self control (Galatians 5:23) and that being full of the Spirit is the opposite of drunkenness:
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 5:15-20
Drunken people speak as fools, they are not circumspect, and their behaviour is uncontrollable. In stark contrast, the Spirit filled believer is circumspect, has understanding, and speaks coherently.

Drunken behaviour is never sanctioned in scripture.

Elders are expected to avoid drunkenness, and exhibit self control: 
For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined” Titus 1:7-8

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” I Corinthians 6:9-11

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.  So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 5-8

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.” Romans 13:12-13

Being drunk is in fact a sign of God’s judgement:

“The LORD has mingled within her a spirit of confusion, and they will make Egypt stagger in all its deeds, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit” Isaiah 19:14

“The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard and it totters like a shack, For its transgression is heavy upon it, And it will fall, never to rise again.”  Isaiah 24:20 

“They will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.”  Jeremiah 25:16

 “These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in visionthey stumble in giving judgmentFor all tables are full of filthy vomit, with no space left.”  Isaiah 28:7-8

Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And I will dash them one against another, fathers and sons together, declares the Lord. I will not pity or spare or have compassion, that I should not destroy them.’” Jeremiah 13:13-14

Mystical Babylon was intoxicated through murdering the saints :Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” Revelation 17:5b-6

“Spiritual drunkeness” was a sign that God has blinded or hardened those who have hated his words, and rebelled against him, as in the case of Israel:
Astonish yourselves and be astonished; blind yourselves and be blind! Be drunk, but not with wine;stagger, but not with strong drink! For the Lord has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes (the prophets),

and covered your heads (the seers).”  Isaiah 29:9-10

Today, those who reject the truth are similarly given over to delusion:
 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,  and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,  in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

BSSM: “Anne Collins is the Administrator for BSSM School Planting and has been at Bethel for five years. In this post, she shares part of her journey with the manifestation of Holy Spirit drunkenness and discusses how to embrace it and how to create a safe environment where your students feel free to engage with the Holy Spirit no matter the manifestation.”

The only “safe environment” for any form of ministry, is to operate within the confines of scripture.  Embracing what is clearly condemned in scripture is to reject God’s word, and grieve the Holy Spirit.  What these deluded people are embracing is another spirit, another Jesus, another gospel.  In their desperation to encounter the supernatural, BSSM leaders have condoned any manifestation, and many spirits are willing to comply.  When Paul wrote to the Corinthians regarding their abuse of the gifts, he gave clear instructions on how the gifts of the Spirit should displayed: So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:39-40.

The chaos and bizarre manifestations at Bethel and their BSSM plants are in clear contradiction of scripture.  Were there bizarre manifestations under the ministry of Jesus – certainly!  Were these manifestations exhibited by disciples of Christ ?  What we read of in one instance bears striking resemblance to what happens to victims of Bethel and the BSSM:
And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.  And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him.  And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”  While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God.”
Luke 9:38-43
You can watch a similar manifestation that takes place under the watch of Heidi Baker and Bill Johnson at Bethel here.  At the five minute mark, you will see a young man writhing and convulsing on the floor.

What Jesus cast out, Bethel embraces!

A popular belief in some charismatic circles is that when the Holy Spirit is moving, outsiders or those offended by what they witness should be ignored.   Paul however makes it clear in his letter that self control should be exhibited when the gifts are in operation: If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret.  But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God” 1 Corinthians 14:27-28
Failure to follow these instructions would result in outsiders and unbelievers being justified by thinking the believers are crazy:

“If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” 1 Corinthians 14:23
Keep in mind that what Paul is referring to here is the real gift of tongues!  The Corinthians were probably speaking in tongues simultaneously, without someone to interpret, and were focused on the miraculous in order to impress others. Speaking foreign languages in that manner would cause “outsiders and unbelievers” to consider the speakers crazy.  This is a similar charge brought against the disciples on the day of Pentecost, which shows that the gift of speaking in foreign languages may cause unbelievers to consider the speakers crazy, or even drunk.

BSSM:Like soaking, praying, or engaging in worship, “drinking in the Holy Spirit” is simply taking time to focus on the presence of God; to connect with His heart and receive.”
Search the scriptures – “soaking” does not exist.  It’s a form of mysticism that abandons objective truth in favour of subjective feelings and impressions.  In other words, it’s a gateway to your imagination or deceiving spirits.  Can you recall any new testament passage encouraging us to “connect” with God’s heart and “receive?”  Have we not all been baptized into one Spirit (1 Cor 12:13) and been supplied with all we need ? (2 Peter 1:3-4)  What BSSM mean by “receive,”  can only refer to manifestations, voices, impressions, and feelings – the very things we cannot trust in.

BSSM: “Drunkenness” is a term to describe the manifestation of how someone looks and feels in the Presence that can appear nearly identical to being drunk on alcohol. Our desire should never be for the manifestation, but for receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit. So the aim of Holy Spirit drinking is actually to encounter more of God.”

This is rank heresy at it’s finest!  Once again, there is no biblical text that compares a believer who is filled with the Spirit to a staggering drunkard.  Self control is a fruit of the Spirit;  incoherent behaviour and plain ridiculousness is an evil fruit.  When does God’s “presence” depart from a believer?  Does it mean that when we are “sober minded” as instructed by scripture, God’s presence has departed?  If we take the advice of the BSSM, and revel in drunkenness as a sign of God’s presence, someone will be waiting to take advantage of us: “ Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

BSSM: “Students should encounter God personally more than they learn facts about Him. And there are countless ways to interact with Him and to experience the presence of Holy Spirit. What makes drunkenness so unique and important is that it’s a way to experience God that completely bypasses our practical understanding. Though it can look intense and even chaotic, it ministers directly to our spirits, and through us to others. Drunkenness can be God’s way of re-prioritizing our spirit’s position above our soul, leading us to new places with God that our minds wouldn’t find on their own.”

This reads like a manual for paganism or mysticism. What makes drunkenness so very unique and important, is that it’s forbidden in scripture, and that spiritual drunkenness is a sign of judgement.  The prophetic word (scripture) is more sure than any mountain top experience, let alone pure mysticism.  What does scripture say about our minds? Should we bypass rational thought, dismiss the infallible and objective word of God, and hand our faculties over to a chaotic and drunken state?  Of course not.  We are instructed to “take every thought captive” (2 Cor 10:5) and “renew our minds” (Rom 12:2)  If we want to “re-prioritize” our spirit, then we need to be sober minded, and conform our lives and doctrine to scripture.  It’s the Holy Spirit who illuminates scripture, helping us to know God, but the BSSM bypass scripture and the Holy Spirit.  Students are paying dollars to receive scripture taken out of context, and are being introduced to another spirit.

BSSM: Anne’s Story – I have been in revival settings my entire life. I have loved the Lord my entire life, and I’ve experienced different levels of His presence and manifestations. But at 28 years old, I had never been drunk in the Holy Spirit. I was offered the chance to take a trip with a BSSM missions team to Mexico this spring, and I was jokingly warned beforehand, “This is a very drunk trip!” Despite feeling really uncomfortable with that, I knew the Lord wanted me on the trip and that He had something specific for me if I would say “yes” to whatever He was doing. One day early in the trip, a group of the students (who were already very drunk in the Spirit) gathered around me and encouraged me to join them. I was really uncomfortable, but I’d been around enough people drunk in the Holy Spirit that I knew how to “take it,” wait it out, and put my heart in a position to receive from the Lord.

Later that day, one of my friends asked me, “Was that okay, what we did to you?” This shocked me. I realized in all my years in revival meetings or in ministry school, no one had ever asked me if their manifestation or way of ministering in drunkenness was actually helping me receive. My friend apologized for behaving in a way that made me feel unsafe and encouraged me to speak up about what I needed in order to feel okay in those moments. He didn’t want to control or change how I received from the Lord, he just wanted me to have more of God!

That for me was life-changing. I’d grown up as a little girl in the midst of the influence of the Toronto outpouring, and most of my first experiences of God were that He was VERY REAL and He was TERRIFYING.  He made all of the safe adults in my world look crazy. Discovering that God and my friends were still safe in the midst of that craziness changed the way I experienced Holy Spirit, and actually led me to getting drunk with the team later that night! As the trip went on, Holy Spirit continued to pour out more. I learned that God was so much kinder than I’d believed. I learned that drunkenness was not a separate experience from God’s peace and joy and righteousness, but that it was a manifestation of all three.”

That’s not what scripture teaches.  Looking “crazy” is not a manifestation of righteousness, peace and joy, but a manifestation of deception in one of it’s highest forms.  God is kind by making his children lose all sense of reason and control?  Acting crazy is a fruit of the Spirit?  Anne said that God “had something specific for me if I would say “yes” to whatever He was doing”  Where does God bargain with, or bribe his children in this manner?  We have established that spiritual drunkenness is not from God, so who was Anne conversing with?  There are only two options – her imagination or a demon. 

BSSM: “The experience was new, but the God I was encountering was not. I was discovering a new part of a Person I’d known for years so it still felt safe, even as the manifestations got crazier. I also learned ways I’d been holding God back in my life due to my unhealthy fear of Him. But with each problem I discovered, God simply asked me to trust Him more than that fear. More fear left, every time, and I experienced more of His presence!”

The god conversing with Anne, is not the God of scripture.  A healthy fear of God would cause her to obey scripture, and serve him with fear and trembling, not involuntary and crazy manifestations.  Her whole encounter is based on her subjective feelings and manifestations.  How does she know she was experiencing more of God’s presence?  The only answer is by the way she felt.  Are there any scriptures instructing believers to measure the presence of God by how they feel, or their level or craziness?

BSSM:Overcoming Obstacles to Engaging with Holy Spirit.  Each of us can experience more of God when we choose to trust Him over our current understanding or fears. Below are a few areas that can set up barriers to experiencing more of Him. These not only apply to manifestations, but to every area of our lives in God.

Offense: When Holy Spirit shows up in ways we don’t expect or in ways we aren’t familiar with, it can trigger fear or offense. When we experience a manifestation apart from His nature, we can get offended or scared. The truth is, God is GOOD, and He’s bigger than both our experience and our understanding. He is always after our hearts, no matter what it looks like, and it is our choice if we will engage with Him in the way He’s moving.”

Any “manifestation apart from His nature” must surely imply that God is not the author of it.  How can God work outside of his own nature?  Ignorance of scripture, a seared conscience, and a desire for experiences will always result in delusion.  “No matter what it looks like” is a not a phrase used in scripture to describe the workings of the Holy Spirit in the church;  “what it looks like” mattered to Paul when addressing the Corinthians as we have noted.

BSSM: “Self-Righteousness: I learned that “being able to get drunk” was not a club that I wasn’t allowed to join. I learned that becoming a better receiver of His love made me a better drinker. If we believe we’re qualified to receive because of something we’ve done, we’ve missed the point of His love. If we believe we’ll receive because we’ll do great ministry because of what He gives, we’ve missed the point of His love. He doesn’t need us to be good at something or have intentions for good works before He can give to us. He just loves.”

God’s love has been poured into our hearts.  This is a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit, and it is based on fact – “Christ died for the ungodly.”  The Holy Spirit, through the word of God can illuminate this truth in our hearts; it is entirely His doing: “.and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5: 5-8
Anne is getting addicted to drunkenness, and as she casts aside restraint, she is being led deeper into delusion.  Anne is now teaching this to other students, and using her story to justify this deception.  Friends, this is serious, Anne is going to have to give an account before God one day for leading others into this deception.

BSSM: “Control: Sometimes, the things that we tell ourselves about ourselves actually aren’t true. I used to believe I was a very quiet person and that I’d never experience outward manifestations. But then God asked me, “Who told you you’re like that? Was it Me, or was it you?” Letting go of control is about responding to Him as He is, not as we think we are. We come to Holy Spirit with a hunger to discover Him, rather than with ready-made answers.”

One would think that if God was having conversations with Anne, he would have told her to flee from the BSSM, and that the only feeling she should have obeyed was when she felt “uncomfortable” about going on a “very drunk trip.”  By “Letting go of control” Anne has responded to the lies of Satan, and what she is hungering after is not the Holy Spirit, but an angel of light who will be only too happy to provide her with the feelings and encounters she desires. 

BSSM: “Overthinking: Just like God doesn’t need us to be perfect before He loves us or touches us, we don’t need to understand Him to encounter Him. That can feel risky. I didn’t understand the point of a manifestation that seemed loud and obnoxious and even dangerous. I didn’t have a grid for WHY someone would want to get drunk. But experiencing His love in it made me hungry for more, no matter what it looked like, and I had to lay down my desire to understand everything God was doing and just receive it.”

The problem here is not overthinking; it’s not thinking at all.  Anne does not have a grid to explain the motivation for spiritual drunkenness because the grid is called scripture.  Scripture comes second at Bethel, and even then it’s twisted to suit the heretical agenda of the New Apostolic Reformation.  What’s important at Bethel, is to follow the presence off the map into some form of encounter.  Paul was concerned when two people in the church spoke in tongues at the same time, but the BSSM are not concerned with “loud and obnoxious and even dangerous” manifestations. Someone is wrong here, and it’s not Paul.

BSSM: Being a Good Receiver  “It doesn’t matter what your drunk looks like. It just matters that you have one.” – Chuck Parry
The point of experiencing God is not to “get drunk” and look like it. The point is to aim your hunger at Him and receive whatever He has for you. He will speak to you, impact your heart, your mind, and your season. He will touch you in ways you will and will not comprehend. The goal is to let Him give; to be a good receiver; to quit trying to GET IT, and let Him love you.

Chuck’s wrong of course.  Chuck Parry is the Associate Director of Bethel’s healing rooms, and his biography reads like one of the real Apostles (except for the car story) –“over one winter his car got 320 miles to the gallon, he’s seen food multiplied on numerous occasions, storms move out of the way, miraculous finances and the supplies of Heaven released, dead people come back to life, metal dissolve from bodies, and countless sick and injured healed.”  Unfortunately for Chuck, we test a man’s doctrine by comparing it to scripture, not by how far he gets on a gallon of gas. Where does Paul encourage churches to experience spiritual drunkenness Chuck?  God has spoken, and he was very clear – be sober minded, exercise self control, take thoughts captive, meditate on the word of God.  God has never said “experience me through spiritual drunkenness.”

BSSM: “Drunkenness is what helps us get out of our world and into His world. It’s Heaven invading Earth. It’s the Presence invading your spirit and giving you a taste of what He’s like. Just like it says in the Psalms 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”

No no no…drunkenness is what leads you into deception, it’s hell invading your mind.  The Lord is good in that he has given us an objective standard by which to call out those who teach nonsense like this.  

BSSM: We encourage you to do some supernatural drinking. Teach your students what you are learning yourself. Open up a dialogue about manifestations and how people experience them. We bless your school to be even more full of the Spirit, to be a place for people to discover the depths and the joys of Heaven on Earth!”

I’d encourage anyone involved at Bethel, or any Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry course across the world to flee immediately from this perversion of the gospel.  You are drinking from a cup of delusion, are in danger of shipwrecking your faith, and are a partaker in their wickedness.

 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
2 Timothy 4:3-5

More articles on the Bethel School Of Supernatural Ministry:

BSSM – soaking, declaring and spinning into delusion

Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – Normalizing Mysticism

The new breed of crafty evangelists

The fruits of Bethel church – ashamed of the gospel, flirting with the occult

THE GRIP OF THE CULT-LIKE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION & CO

By Rick Becker  26 October 2017

You probably have friends and family caught up in New Apostolic Reformation churches (Bethel, Hillsong etc) and you have found it extremely difficult to persuade them they are being deceived.  You may have been accused of having a critical spirit, of being divisive, judgemental, or of being a heresy hunter when warning them of the false doctrines in this movement.  Why is it so difficult for those caught up in the New Apostolic Reformation, word of faith and prosperity gospel movements (NAR & CO) to break free?

These movements have characteristics similar to cults, making it almost equally difficult to come out from their grip and deception. There are reasons why it is so difficult for people to escape from these movements and churches that teach false doctrine. Firstly, we will look at some secondary reasons, and then note the two primary reasons why people struggle to break free from this deception.

A new priesthood has been established within the NAR & CO.  When the likes of Patricia King, Kris Vallotton or Bill Johnson claim to have a revelation for the body of Christ, a new strategy etc, who are you to question when God does not speak to you on such an intimate basis?  Like any cult leader, they claim to have special knowledge, immediately placing them on a level that is admired by their followers.  Leaders claim to have taken trips to heaven, talked with angels, received new downloads and impartations from an open heaven.  Their so called ability to receive new revelation has elevated them above their followers, in clear contradiction of 1 John 2:27: “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”  There is no difference between the manipulative priests and Popes of the Roman Catholic Church and this new breed of apostles, prophets and pastors.  They interpret scripture on our behalf, and through eisegesis twist the scriptures to promote their false doctrines.  They are rarely challenged by their own followers, and point two reveals why.

Submission induced through an unhealthy fear keeps followers in their place.  Questioning a particular teaching or any form of critical reasoning is frowned upon by the leaders and treated as a mutiny of sorts. Those who obey and submit are duly rewarded with positions in the ministry, mentions by name, and are allowed in the inner circle.  Those who ask legitimate questions concerning doctrine or practices are immediately dealt with.  Usually they will be accused of a number of things: having a rebellious spirit, acting out of personal hurts that they have not dealt with or not being in tune with the Holy Spirit and in doing so grieving him.  Some unfortunate souls will even receive threats in the form of  “prophetic words.”  Finally they will probably be threatened with the go to verse for all manipulative false teachers: “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!” Psalm 105:15. This verse does not mean it’s wrong to question a leader regarding their teachings. This verse meant that it would have been wrong for David to kill king Saul.  David had the opportunity but spared Saul ( 2 Sam 24:10-11) and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe.

Contrary to scripture, the leaders have ulterior motives and rule from their position at the top of their hierarchical structure.  Instead, leaders should: “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;  not for shameful gain, but eagerly;  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” 1 Peter 5:2-3

Pride prevents many from admitting their whole house has been built on the wrong foundation. Its embarrassing to admit much of what you have believed, practiced, and  taught has been based on a lie.  The longer a person has been in these movements the harder it is to break free.

4  People have invested heavily in their churches. Time and money have been spent,  and if they leave, all those spent resources would have been a waste.  What if they are about to receive that long awaited breakthrough?  After tithing faithfully for 15 years, God may be about to catapult their business to the level of success they have always dreamed of. Their leader has been given a prophetic word that this is “a season of suddenlies”  and “major shifts” – they don’t want to lose out!  Perhaps they are on the verge of being offered a leadership position, finally giving them the recognition they deserve.

Friendships are in jeopardy, despite a questionable leader and unsound doctrine, friendships are formed that can be as close as or even supersede family ties and provide a means of emotional support.  Perhaps the thing that they stand to lose the most are the friendships, and that is what makes breaking away so painful.  The thought of losing these friendships and the support they offer is often too much to bear for many, and so they remain, convincing themselves not to throw out the baby out with the bathwater.  But there is no baby in the waters of the NAR & CO –  a little leaven leavens the whole lump.

6  Many are simply too lazy to study the word for themselves, preferring to accept the flawed interpretations of their favorite celebrity teacher.  A Beth Moore or John Bevere bible study is far less work than digging into the word for yourself.  In this digital age there are literally thousands of free resources from commentaries and lexicons that enable us to understand the word in context.  Unfortunately many followers come to the point where they trust their leaders to such an extent that they never question what they are taught.  Those who do concede that there are some questionable teachings, simply shrug off any concerns and assure you that they “eat the meat and spit out the bones.”  This not a biblical text;  instead we are commanded to mark and avoid those who pervert the gospel.

7  It’s all they know.  Many are graciously saved by God despite being in these churches. However, expository preaching and working through actual chapters in context is foreign to them. Topical preaching, motivational messages and story telling are the order of the day.  Followers cannot discern the twisting of scripture through the narcigesis and eisegesis employed by their leaders.  Years of indoctrination have taken their toll.  Attempting to reason or discuss scripture with those caught up in these movements is often futile. Those who are believers, remain in a state of spiritual infancy: “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,  for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.  But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:11-14. 
For more on discernment and sound doctrine, listen to our  podcast

There are two main reasons why people stay in the NAR & CO even after being confronted with truth.:

1  Many are false converts, so don’t expect them to see the light when they are firmly entrenched in the kingdom of darkness and loving it. When Jesus said my sheep hear my voice he did not mean he will give you a new revelation during your quiet time; He meant true believers will hear and obey his voice.  His voice is clear, his voice has spoken, it’s called scripture. These false converts need the true gospel in order to repent and believe, before they can be able to discern the errors of the NAR & CO: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” 1 Corinthians 2:14
Don’t think for a second that many caught up in these movements are not passionate or sincere, but they are sincerely wrong.  Passion, crowds, testimonies, and even signs and wonders do not guarantee that God is involved.  Ultimately, God knows who are his, and what may fool men, never fools God: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’   And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7: 21-23

2  Many are simply feeding their own passions and are getting exactly what they desire – ear tickling messages.  It’s not so much a question of them being deceived by a teacher, but rather them finding a teacher who is as deceived as they are. Its hard to believe the message of the cross over a message that avoids the cross and elevates self – read more on that  here   We are quick to blame false teachers who are leading many astray, but these verses gives us the reason many are deceived:: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”  2 Timothy 4:3-4
Note the following:
The people will not want sound doctrine
The people already have itching ears
The people are the ones accumulating false teachers
The people are merely catering for their own carnal passions
The people are not interested in the truth

The prophets of the old testament also had to contend with false prophets, and a people who preferred satisfying their passions rather than obeying God:
An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it sobut what will you do when the end comes?” Jeremiah 5: 30-31

For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear
 the instruction of the Lord who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
 and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;  speak to us smooth things,
 prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 30: 9-11

Don’t be fooled by those in these movements, who by outward appearances seem to be devoted to God and his kingdom.  They seem so passionate and determined to make a difference in this world; they are bold, unashamed, and eager to spread their message.  Dig a little deeper however, and you will find that ultimately they are the ones who are exalted.  It’s a man centered gospel.  You will leave a legacy, you will usher in God’s kingdom, you will do greater things, you will be a world changer…God needs YOU.

Pray for those you know who are caught up in these movements.  God has graciously saved people in these churches, and that same grace will lead them out.  If you have an opportunity, speak the truth in love, keeping in mind that you were probably deceived by these movements to some degree in the past. The journey of those who have left these movements would have been painful.  The scars remain, but ultimately we have to be faithful to God and his word.

 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Jude 1: 22-23