by Luther Edwards

An unusual thing is happening in connection with "The Revival" at Brownsville. Its leaders are lashing out strongly against critics. Now it's not unusual for someone to give a spirited defense of their position. But the Brownsville revivalists have gone beyond that; they are now pronouncing divine judgment on their critics, and strongly implying that misgivings of any kind could incur God's displeasure.

In a recent sermon John Kilpatrick lashed out against Christian apologist Hank Hanegraaff. After specifying that he was speaking as "the man of God" (that is, with God's authority) Kilpatrick announced from the Brownsville pulpit, "If you continue to bad-mouth the revival, within 90 days God will bring you down."

In the same sermon Kilpatrick warned that murmuring brings the judgment of God, and made a distinction between murmurers, who criticize the revival, and those who have the "Caleb spirit" and bring a good report. The implication is clear--those who voice criticism of any kind are the enemy and could face dire consequences. (These statements were made the weekend of April 6, 1997.)

Evangelist Steve Hill said virtually the same thing at the Sacred Assembly held in Springfield this March. He lashed out against those who "mock manifestations," and even gave examples of how God dealt with one mocker. He went on to mock those who run to the Bible for verification every time they see something unusual. In his sermon entitled "The God Seekers," Hill stated that God seekers are open to "new revelation." That is, those who are so hung up on the Bible that they can't receive new revelation do not qualify as "God seekers."

More and more we hear supporters of the Brownsville excitement categorizing doubters as Pharisees, resisters, and blasphemers of the Holy Spirit.

The effect of all of this has been to silence the sincere questions of Christians who are genuinely disturbed by the excesses which are occurring in connection with Brownsville. The leaders of the revival are clearly erecting a wall of defensiveness by attacking those who express concern about unscriptural manifestations. In some cases they have even questioned the authority of Scripture to judge such manifestations.

These attacks have had a chilling effect on the body of Christ. Many pastors and lay people are afraid to voice concerns which, in the past, would have been considered appropriate.

In a recent conversation a Christian young person expressed her frustration: "I'm afraid to say anything for fear of being labeled a Pharisee or a critic." Impressionable lay people are naturally reticent to engage in any behavior that might be labeled as "blaspheming the Holy Spirit." So, in spite of their misgivings, they remain silent, afraid to say anything lest they commit the unpardonable sin.

This repression is completely uncharacteristic of the Pentecostal movement. Pentecostals have always been willing to test spiritual phenomena against the plumb line of Scripture. In fact, this is one of the most important ways that Pentecostals have won over their opponents in the past. They have simply pointed critics to biblical passages which support their position.

Not so with Brownsville. We are now told not to be so hung up on biblical support. One senses that the leaders at Brownsville know that much that is happening cannot be defended on the basis of Scripture, and, therefore, there is an attempt to dispense with Scripture as a necessary control on experience.

In a recent lecture to students from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Michael Brown, the theologian in residence of the revival, defended using experience to interpret Scripture, and asserted that "Scripture is not to be worshipped." Does he equate holding to Scripture as the norm for Christian faith and practice with "worshipping the Bible?"

The controversy over manifestations at Brownsville is quickly becoming an issue of what will be our authority: the Bible? or experience?

The leaders at Brownsville have made much of "pastoring the revival," but they have not been clear about what they mean by this phrase. Pastoring conveys the idea of shepherding. A shepherd is responsible to feed and to protect the sheep. When Jesus asked Peter to prove his love, He said, "Feed my lambs" (John 21:15). It is the shepherd's responsibility to feed spiritual sheep the Word of God.

Apparently the Brownsville revivalists not only do not want to check out their teaching in the Word of God, but they positively threaten them with divine punishment if they do.

Any legitimate Christian ministry should welcome scriptural scrutiny. Instead, in the case of "The Revival" in Brownsville, we have the "silencing of the lambs."

We suggest you also read Pensacola Intimidation

Return to Homepage