During my days in the Jesus People movement, when we really did see miracles, I never heard or experienced anything like the ‘miracles’ described by Rodney Howard-Browne or Paul Cain.
These ‘miracles’ they attribute to their ‘anointing’ (see ET, April 2014). However, I have had conversations with those involved in eastern spiritual practices that sound very much like Howard-Browne’s anointing. These are of an occult nature and similar, in particular, to Kundalini.
In Wikipedia, Kundalini is described as ‘an indwelling spiritual energy that can be awakened in order to purify the “subtle system” and ultimately bestow the state of Yoga, or Divine Union, upon the “seeker” of truth’.
‘The Yoga Upanishads describe Kundalini as lying “coiled” at the base of the spine, represented as either a goddess or sleeping serpent waiting to be awakened’.
In physical terms, one commonly reported Kundalini experience is a feeling like an electric current running along the spine. It can be awakened by shaktipat — spiritual transmission by a Guru or teacher — or by spiritual practices like yoga or meditation.
Sometimes Kundalini is said to awaken spontaneously as the result of physical or psychological trauma, or for no apparent reason. One man said he felt an activity at the base of his spine starting to flow, so he relaxed and allowed it to happen.
A feeling of surging energy began travelling up his back. At each chakra he felt an orgasmic electric feeling, like every nerve trunk on his spine beginning to fire.
A second man describes a similar experience, but accompanied by a wave of euphoria and happiness softly permeating his being. He described the surging energy as being similar to electricity travelling from the base of his spine to the top of his head. He said the more he analysed the experience, the less it occurred.
Kundalini can be triggered by intense personal experiences, such as accidents, near-death experiences, childbirth, emotional trauma and extreme mental stress. Some sources attribute its spontaneous awakenings to past religious experiences.
Psychiatric literature notes that, since the influx of eastern spiritual practices and rising popularity of meditation in the 1960s, many people in the West have experienced a variety of psychological difficulties either while engaged in intensive ‘spiritual’ practice or occurring ‘spontaneously’.
I could go on, but I think the above is enough. However, one further observation might be of value. On the fourth page of the Wikipedia article on Kundalini is a section headed, ‘Physical and psychological effects’. In this, the ‘Kundalini syndrome’ is described.
This causes involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling and crawling sensations; energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body; intense heat or cold; trance-like and altered states of consciousness; disrupted sleep patterns; loss of appetite or overeating; and mood swings, with periods of depression or mania.
In short, one does not need to embrace Christianity in order to obtain some of the experiences mediated today by Charismatic religion.
Certainly, Howard-Browne and any of the Kansas City Prophets, including those associated with Rick Joyner of Morningstar in North Carolina; Mike Bickle of International House of Prayer in Kansas City; Bill Johnson at Bethel Church in Redding, California — or anyone else associated with the Third Wave — would not knowingly embrace Kundalini or shaktipat. But there does seem to be a correlation, if not a direct connection. That correlation looks remarkably like a quest for power.
Power is the one great overriding drive behind the occult, and it is a great lure. So much of the tragedy of humanity has been the direct result of a striving to acquire and retain power.
The quest for magical powers to heal drives shamanism and syncretistic religions like Santeria. Neo-pagan religions like Wicca also focus on power to heal and perform magic.
Anyone who has either read of or experienced first-hand a true moving of the Holy Spirit desires to see such a movement happen again. But it can so easily become something that, in our thinking, we think we can accomplish or precipitate ourselves.
We can go to extremes and ‘work up’ the crowd with music and great expectations of miracles, and then pass off the resulting phenomena as a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. In my view, the epitome of such error is the concept of an individual church leader containing ‘an anointing’ — a special and rare gift of the Holy Spirit.
How thin the line can be that separates the pagan from the biblically orthodox! But one sure way of identifying authentic Christianity, in contrast to man-centred religion, is that, in the first, Jesus Christ and him crucified is front and centre.
But then I think, ‘No. Wait a minute! These guys up in Redding at Bethel and in Kansas City say we are “off the charts”. Their prophets declare that these are the last days and the Bible is not so important anymore’.
After all, some (they claim) are now conversing with angels, even big name angels! Some are even speaking directly with Jesus, as one would in a phone call. And people like Kat Kerr (and Sarah Young, in books like Jesus calling) are going direct to God, bypassing angels all together!
Yes, face to face meetings with the Creator of heaven and earth, in the ‘throne room’ — to get the real scoop for the last of the last days (apparently, we are only a few seconds before midnight on the great cosmic clock)!
Am I making fun? Yes, I am to a degree; in order to highlight the ridiculousness of the whole thing. And one wonders, what comes next? I mean, how can such superlative miracles be ‘topped’?
After hearing from God personally and getting the definitive word about the wrap-up of history from the ‘Big Guy’, everything else seems second rate, not to mention a waste of time.
A Christian friend living near the Bethel Church in Redding, who has followed the whole enterprise up to the present day, said to me two months ago that there has been a shift into a ‘corporate’ mode to fill the ‘signs and wonders’ void that could now open up.
By that, he meant the selling of products — everything from worship music, dietary supplements, t-shirts and other kinds of clothing, paperback books, and who knows what else that these entrepreneurs will concoct.
But is it possible for the newly and self-ordained apostles and prophets to really change course? Think of the humiliation and embarrassment — and decrease in salary!
Think of the invitations to speak drying up, the rejections, the falling book sales, the effect on payments due for the property improvements! And what about the praise of the crowds?
What do you do? Retire, repent, step down, and confess, with your whole life exposed as a fraud? What do you do after making shipwreck of your faith, and of many thousands of others as well? Here is where miracles are really needed!
I am one who has made many errors in my life and ministry, and for these I am greatly pained and will be until I get home. Indeed, the sufferings of this present time, whether the result of the Fall or my folly, are not worth comparing with what God has prepared for us.
My repenting will last my life, yet I take confidence that all my sin has been atoned for through the shedding of the precious blood of the Lamb.
So, with confidence, I continue following Jesus and rejoicing in the ability to be a servant in his kingdom. The audience, after all, is not in the pews, but in heaven.
The author is pastor of Miller Avenue Baptist Church, Mill Valley, California, and director of Earthen Vessel Publishing.