Sunday, 10 August 2008

Toronto blessing or deception?

This is not recent news though it is the first I have heard of it. I could not find the original source.* It has been placed on the Discernment Ministries website.

Paul Gowdy was apparently a pastor at Scarborough Vineyard Church in Toronto and his church had connections to Toronto Airport Vineyard Church, the location of the Toronto blessing.

In hindsight, Gowdy does not seem to think that much of what went on was of God.
Today I would call it a mixed curse concluding that any individual good that came from this experience is far outweighed by much harm and satanic deception. I suppose that therein has been my dilemma. I have tried to live my life in the fear of the Lord and Jesus told us that the unforgivable sin was the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Attributing to Satan what was in fact a work of God. If pressed as to whether or not the Toronto blessing is all God or all Devil I will still be hedgy, but I am convinced that Satan has used this experience to blind people to the historical doctrines of God, to produce fruit in keeping with repentance, to failing to test and discern the spirits and failing to test prophecy.
My theology is decidedly charismatic and I do not think Scripture gives any reason to subscribe to cessationism. Even so, I can be somewhat sceptical of claims people make about God talking to them. The desire to experience God seems to encourage people to mistake emotion and counterfeit for the real thing. Unfortunately the presence of counterfeit leads others to dismiss charismatic claims wholesale. Others may quench the Spirit because he moves in ways that make them uncomfortable.

We should desire God move in power. We cannot limit the Holy Spirit to our expectations. Yet it is legitimate to test the spirits; Scripture is meant to aid us in knowing God and rejecting counterfeit. I am no expert on moves of God but reading some revival material and Scripture it seems that:
  • People should be repentant of sin;
  • People should become more Christ-like;
  • God's revelation through people will not contradict his word; and
  • Holy Spirit manifestations will be Christ honouring.
Gowdy's analysis and confession is well worth a read.

*I would appreciate any confirmatory material or websites.

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