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The EN "Features Database" contains feature articles and reviews from 1996 up to the latest issue !

 
Issue February 1997
Feature writer or reviewer Mr Alan Howe Type of article Feature article Page No. 12
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Article or book title

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False prophecy today?

Concerning a prophecy given by Gerald Coates to Dr R T Kendall in April 1995 about Westminster Chapel

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In the contemporary church, we seem to be witnessing a marked growth in false prophecy and false teaching, largely as a result of the inability of the wider Church to 'earnestly contend for the faith' (Jude 3) against these things.
The Bible has two vivid and fundamental tests which may be applied to the words of any person who claims to be a prophet. These are:

1. If the event predicted does not come to pass, the person claiming to be a prophet is no such thing - Deuteronomy 18. 20- 22.

2. Even if the event predicted comes to pass, this does not validate the person's prophetic claims if the person concerned leads believers towards other gods (by which we may understand that we are being warned about false teachings masquerading as God's truth) - Deuteronomy 13. 1-3.

Through his word, therefore, God teaches us that there is the test of accurate fulfilment and also the test of false doctrine. The seriousness with which God warns us to hold accountable those who presumptuously speak in his name should not be underestimated.
It is with reluctance that we take the step of openly questioning the teaching of brothers in EN, nonetheless we believe it is our Christian responsibility to call each other to be accountable for our actions. While we do not call into question the sincerity of those we mention, there are issues which need to be honestly addressed.

What Gerald said

On April 20 1995 before 4,000 Christians at Spring Harvest, Gerald Coates, leader of the Pioneer network of charismatic churches, delivered the following prediction to Dr. R.T. Kendall, pastor of Westminster Chapel. Dr. Kendall believed it and circulated a letter containing the text of the prophecy to every member of his home congregation (dated December 16 1995). The full text of the prophecy is as follows:

I wonder Dr. Kendall if you could come here please.
God has put such a deep concern - the seed in your heart for that place of Westminster. Not just the Chapel but for all of those that live in it - within its shadow. I see that God has narrowed you down and narrowed you down and narrowed you down and the cry has gone up so long as you walk the streets on a Saturday morning, as you've been at home in your apartment - 'How long, how long, how long, how long, how long, how long?' God has continued to narrow you down and narrow you down and narrow you down. He's beginning to take away everything that you thought you could trust in, all the things that were safe, but the Spirit of the Lord is upon you. The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in increasing power, but you need to understand that over these next eighteen months although many attacks will come, that if you are faithful to God, faithful to all that He's taught you, faithful to your brothers and not seek to achieve in human strength what only God can achieve by His Holy Spirit, in eighteen months from this month, in eighteen months from April 1995 your church, Westminster Chapel, will be unrecognisable, completely utterly and totally unrecognisable. And as you walk with your God and allow Him to narrow you down and narrow you down, you will indeed become a man of great laughter and many tears, and as a result of that humility that God will bring about your attempts to bring about the things that you long to see will diminish and the Holy Spirit will increase in power. In eighteen months, in eighteen months, in eighteen months, in eighteen months the Spirit of God - not just upon Westminster Chapel, but upon Westminster itself, upon the high of the land, upon many who live in that area, is going to come on that place and many of your prayers - taxi drivers would get out of their taxis because the Spirit of God is so strong in that place - you're going to see them fulfilled. And it will come from the most unlikely sources, it will not come through the people you would like it to be through, it'll come through the most unlikely sources. And if you keep your heart and your eyes open the Spirit of God is going to surprise us all. The Spirit of God is going to surprise us all. I ask, Lord, for my friend Dr. Kendall, that You will fill him with Your Holy Spirit from the top of his head to the toes of his feet, fill with the presence of God, saturated and learning to carry that presence in his heart and his mind, in Jesus' Name.

What has happened?

The 18 months have now passed. What has come of the prophecy? The Scriptures now call for the wider church to judge whether the prophecy is true or not. The prophecy states that Westminster Chapel, those in authority (locally) and those who live in the surrounding area will have changed 'out of all recognition' by the end of October 1996. In short, the area and church will have been transformed by revival. Now, months after the prophecy was due to be fulfilled, what is the true situation at the Chapel? It appears to be the complete reverse of what was promised.
Far from experiencing joyous revival it is reported that over 100 people have left Westminster Chapel since Dr Kendall's well-publicised attempt to bring the Toronto Blessing on the church. There are the dwindling numbers in the church, the continuing lack of impact on the local community and the complete absence of a godly direction taken by many among the Parliamentary 'high of the land'. Sadly, in anyone's book, this is tantamount to the failure of the prediction. If the prophecy did not come from God, then are we not constrained by God's Word to declare that they are the vain imaginings of a false prophet?
Defenders of these 'prophecies' often retort that the prediction is true, it's just the timing that is wrong. But taken to its logical conclusion, this argument makes all prophecies completely untestable. 

New Zealand earthquake?

Neither is this the first time that Mr Coates's prophecies have been questioned. In 1991 Mr. Coates visited New Zealand where he informed local church leaders that God had spoken strongly to him about an earthquake that would devastate Lake Taupo. The leaders were told this would take place in April of that year. Local Elim leaders believed this prophecy and instigated a national media campaign to warn their nation. 44 Elim churches began taking survival courses. April came and went and nothing happened. The secular press had a field day laughing at the church and particularly evangelicalism. 
But also we should not lose sight of the bigger picture. The context of the Coates-Kendall link-up is, of course, the hype of the Toronto Blessing. After three years of Torontoism (anniversary January 20), where is the revival prophesied extensively as the 'culmination of all revivals'? Millions of pounds of Christian money have gone into this predicted revival, on innumerable revival conferences, books, tapes, glossy magazines, etc. What has it achieved? 

Word-Faith links

Mr. Coates is one of the highest-profile proponents of the Toronto Blessing heresy in this country, with its direct links to teachers in the Word-Faith camp, including Rodney Howard-Browne, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland, with their extravagant deviations from orthodox Christian doctrine. Dr. Kendall, it appears, has also accepted Torontoism, having 'fallen' under the 'ministry' of a member of the Rev. Sandy Millar's team from Holy Trinity, Brompton (perhaps the main centre of 'the blessing' in the south) in 1994 (see Renewal Magazine, October 1994, p.13). Dr. Kendall has also recently endorsed Rodney Howard-Browne's book, The Touch of God (Nelson Word, 1995) in the September 1996 issue of Renewal. In this review Kendall states that the book 'describes the embryonic phase of something to come that will be even more awesome', bigger even than Toronto.
What characterises these claims to revival? First, the apparent failure of prophecies such as that of Gerald Coates; and secondly, its very roots in the teachings of another highly questionable prophet (who has been prophesying the culmination of all revivals since 1990), Rodney Howard-Browne. Howard-Browne's 'prophetic wisdom' leads him to teach 'Feel, don't think', 'Do not analyse' and 'Just experience it'. In other words, disconnect your mind. Howard-Browne makes this all too clear: 'The mind is never going to understand what God is doing.' The Scriptures, however, teach something diametrically opposed: '... be transformed by the renewing of your mind.' (Romans 12.2), and the apostle John warns us: 'Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.' Why? 'Because many false prophets have gone out into the world.' (1 John 4.1).
In Howard-Browne's book The Touch Of God the author expresses views about the person and work of Christ that most Christians would not recognise as being biblical. For example: 'Nothing Jesus did was because He was the Son of God. The Bible says He laid aside His royal robes of deity and when He walked the earth He did so as a prophet under the Abrahamic covenant' (p.26). Yet the correct interpretation of Jesus' life and miracles is that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew16.16). In other words, the Christ of Howard-Browne is another Christ, not the Christ of the Scriptures. 

Test all things

We do ourselves and the church no favours at all in the eyes of our Lord by failing to publicly test and refute false prophecy and teachers in today's church. God has already warned us that he allows such teaching within the church for the very purpose of testing us and determining whether we are prepared to stand firm upon his eternal Word. 
Given the current widespread departure from orthodox practice and belief among evangelicals, we have been failing this test for some time. Radical Christianity was never anything to do with spiritual pyrotechnics or wacky practices and beliefs full of 'secret insights'. It was always the determination to obey God's (already given) words to us until Jesus returns - against all the odds. 
If we truly want to live as radical Christians, we will need to identify false teaching for what it is. Let us name false prophets and do so publicly, just as they teach publicly. 

Alan Howe
Christian Research Network
 

EN did try to contact Gerald Coates for comment, but he was unavailable.
 

Dr. R.T. Kendall's response

Just over 40 years ago I came home from Trevecca Nazarene College with a discovery of what I can only call insight into the Word and Spirit. To my amazement, I discovered what I later came to understand as the doctrines of grace - election, predestination, perseverance, etc. My father was not pleased. I related to him, however, that God had also shown me things concerning my own ministry - namely, that one day I would have an international ministry.
He was displeased with my insights into the knowledge of grace, but was interested in the thought that his son might be used widely one day. So he looked at me and said: 'When?' I replied: 'In one year'. That is where the flesh got in.
In other words, I have no doubt that God revealed truth to me in those early days that I have come to treasure and have never doubted, but I wanted my dad to see it so much that, when pressed, I put a time limit on it. The truth is, one year from then I wasn't even preaching - I was working as a salesman in the secular world. It was many, many years before my father could look at me and say that he now believed God's hand was upon me after all.
It is my view that Gerald Coates saw things that God wants to do and I trust will do at Westminster Chapel. I was not prepared for his prophecy any more than anyone else. But I was of the opinion that there was something in it, though I always worried about the fact that he put a time limit on it.
I believe that Gerald Coates is a godly man, and his prophecy to us was a great encouragement. It could also be argued that in some ways Westminster Chapel is 'unrecognisable' compared to the way we were 18 months ago. But I promised my church a long time ago that, when it had emerged that Gerald made this prophecy, I would not explain it away and say that it happened when it didn't.
So, it didn't happen. But there is more to come in my opinion.
 

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