The so called Toronto Blessing is a movement which originated in Toronto, Canada, in 1994, at the Airport Vineyard Church (now called the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship – TACF). In case you aren’t familiar with this term ‘Vineyard Church,’ a Vineyard Church is a fellowship that belongs to the network of churches which look to the late John Wimber as their founder. Wimber was an American charismatic preacher who became well-known in the 1980’s for his emphasis on miraculous healing and on signs and wonders as a necessary part of effective evangelism. The Toronto Blessing has spread in many Churches all over the world. There are adherents of this movement even here in Italy.
The reason why this movement is called Toronto Blessing is that its adherents put emphasis on a ‘blessing’ which manifested in Toronto in 1994, whose hallmarks are these: 1) falling to the ground; 2) shaking and trembling, twitching and convulsive bodily movements; 3) uncontrollable laughter (also called ‘holy laughter’); 4) apparent drunkenness; 5) animal sounds. All these physical characteristics are regarded as signs of the spiritual renewal or revival which God has sent in these last times.
The origins of the Toronto Blessing
At the root of the Toronto Blessing with its peculiar manifestations there are two men.
The former is a South African Pentecostal evangelist called Rodney Howard-Browne, who was an associate pastor of Rhema church in Johannesburg, before moving to the United States in 1987. Among other things, he preaches the prosperity message, that is, that message which substantially affirms that poverty is a curse and Christians must be rich materially for this is the will of God (this message is preached also by Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and his wife, and many others). Rodney calls himself the ‘Holy Spirit bartender’, for he claims to be the vessel chosen by God to serve ‘the new wine’ (that is, the Blessing) to the saints and to invite them to drink! Without any doubt the fact that this man calls himself the ‘Holy Spirit bartender’ shows that he is an arrogant man. His words are rash words. However, there are other rash words Rodney has spoken, for he has said to his critics: ‘But I’d rather be in a church where the devil and the flesh are manifesting than in a church where nothing is happening because people are too afraid to manifest anything. Every time there is a move of God, a few people will get excited, go overboard, and get in the flesh. Other believers will get upset, saying that couldn’t be of God. Don’t worry about it, either. Rejoice, because at least something is happening. … and if the devil manifests, don’t worry about that, either. Rejoice, because at least something is happening … If someone comes in the meeting, rolls around on the floor, laughs in the Holy Spirit, or does it in the flesh, at least he’s not getting drunk or taking dope’ (Howard-Browne, The Coming Revival. Louisville, KY: R.H.B.E.A. Publications, 1991, p. 6, 8). In addition to this, Rodney Browne says to those who search the Scriptures in order to see whether his methods he uses to conduct his meetings (which methods induce people to laugh uncontrollably, to fall to the ground, to make animal noises, and so on) are scriptural or not: ‘You can’t understand what God is doing in these meetings with an analytical mind. The only way you’re going to understand what God is doing is with your heart.’ As you can see, these words also are a proof of his arrogance, but also of his folly. Yet this man is at the root of the Toronto Blessing, and he is invited by many pastors to preach to their churches. His way of doing things and of speaking has influenced many pastors all over the world. This man tells a lot of jokes and rattles off one-liners before encouraging people to let the spirit flow ‘out of the belly’ in holy laughter.
The latter is Randy Clark, who is the founding pastor of the Vineyard Church in St. Louis, Missouri. According to Bill Jackson’s account of how the Toronto Blessing began, after years of seeing little fruit and power in his ministry. Randy Clark became desperately hungry for God. Hearing of unusual manifestations of God’s presence (tremblings, uncontrollable laughters, animal noises, people who fell to the ground, etc.) through the ministry of South African evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne, Randy attended one of Rodney’s meetings in Tulsa Oklahoma (at a pastors conference put on at Kenneth Hagin’s Rhema Bible College). Randy was powerfully touched and, in going home, began to see a similar outbreak of the Spirit among his people. That was in August 1993. So the ‘anointing’ and the spiritual phenomena linked with it, which had been going on for some time under Rodney Howard-Browne, were now transmitted to Randy Clark. Having received the blessing himself, Randy Clark then passed it on to the Toronto Airport Vineyard, at the invitation of its pastor John Arnott, in January 1994. The meetings that Clark held in Toronto lasted 90 days, and were so powerful that the movement took off within the Vineyard network of churches, and acquired the nickname ‘the Toronto Blessing.’ The Toronto Blessing was given huge publicity, and Pentecostals from all over the world began flocking to Toronto to see what God was doing, to catch the blessing and take it back to their own churches. The Toronto Blessing swiftly became a global phenomenon, striking roots in Britain, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, everywhere.
The physical characteristics of the Toronto blessing
Let us speak now in detail of the physical characteristics of the Toronto Blessing, and let us see what the proponents of the Toronto Blessing say to support biblically these signs. However, first of all I want to say a few words about the meetings in which the Toronto Blessing is preached. During these meetings tongues are used (however, very often the following Scripture is violated, which says: “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret” 1 Corinthians 14:27 – NKJV); and some prophesy. Some songs are sung (usually they are contemporary songs, and not hymns), and some prayers are addressed to God and even to the Holy Spirit (please note that praying to the Holy Spirit is a practice without Biblical support). A sermon is preached, whose purpose is to defend biblically this Blessing and to persuade the sceptics who are present to accept this Blessing. The church leaders put much emphasis on the manifestations of the Blessing. Often the Gospel is not preached, even when unbelievers are numerous. Often, a few scattered Bible verses are used as proof texts of the physical manifestations which are part of the Toronto Blessing, but no coherent Bible teaching is given. The Word is being marginalised, it is not preached as it should. All are in search of these so called manifestations of the Spirit, therefore there is no place for the preaching of the Word of God. Then there is a time in which those who have already experienced the Blessing give their personal testimony about the Blessing, and finally there is a time called ‘ministry time’ during which attenders are instructed to stack their chairs around the edges of the room, and during which the members of the ‘ministry team’ pray over or for those who wish to receive the blessing. Then one can see the following manifestations, which are regarded as the work of the Holy Spirit.
1) Falling to the ground. People start to sway, fall, or their legs weaken and crumple, and they drop back into the arms of strategically-placed ‘catchers’. This experience is described by those who fall to the ground as ‘falling under the weight of God’s glory, being ‘overcome by the Spirit’ so that they may ‘rest in the Spirit’. While people are on the floor, some roll or flail about, some move their bodies rapidly and rhythmically, even erotically, some twitch, some sob, and some laugh hysterically. People often report that that they feel physically anaesthetised, weighted-down or, sometimes, weightless, unable to get up, sometimes for hours, even when they try. This experience is generally considered pleasurable. How is this experience supported biblically by the adherents of the Toronto Blessing? The biblical passages quoted to support this experience are the following ones:
● “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face … “ (Ezekiel 1:28);
● “Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground” (Daniel 10:9);
● “And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid” (Matthew 17:6);
● “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead” (Revelation 1:17);
● “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:3-4).
2) Trembling and shaking. Before or after the person falls, or independently of this, their body may twitch or shake uncontrollably. Sometimes this may resemble an epileptic seizure. The biblical passages quoted to support this experience are these:
● “Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness” (Jeremiah 23:9);
● “The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble” (Psalm 99:1);
● “Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob” (Psalm 114:7);
● “When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops” (Habakkuk 3:16);
● “Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold” (Acts 7:32).
3) Uncontrollable laughter. Those who claim to receive the Blessing start to laugh uncontrollably. The biblical passages quoted are these:
● “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them” (Psalm 126:2);
● “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11);
● “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.” (Isaiah 9:2-3);
● “And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 13:52).
4) Animal sounds. Sometimes the Blessing involves a person making animal sounds. People roar like lions, bark like dogs, and even bray like donkeys. To support biblically the ‘roaring lion’ phenomenon the advocates of the Toronto Blessing affirm that Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (cf. Revelation 5:5) and they quote this passage written in the book of the prophet Hosea: “They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west” (Hosea 11:10).
5) Apparent drunkenness. Some people just feel a little giddy, others lose control of their limbs, as if drunk, and are unable to walk in a straight line or even stand. Some are unable even to speak. The signs of this spiritual drunkenness are supported biblically in this way. Paul said to the Ephesians: “Do not be drunk with wine …., but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 – NKJV), which means that we must get drunk with the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is compared to the new wine which must be put into new wineskins. Therefore, this apparent drunkenness is the work of the new wine, that is, the Holy Spirit. Even the apostles experienced the signs of this apparent drunkenness, for on the day of Pentecost some Jews said: “They are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13 – NKJV). Many conclude from this passage that the reason why those Jews said those words about the apostles was that they saw that the apostles were acting like drunks, that is, were unable to walk, to stand and to speak!
Now I am going to refute the physical characteristics of the Toronto Blessing.
1) Falling to the ground. The falling to the ground which occurs in these Churches is not of God because it is not the same phenomenon recorded in the Bible. Let me explain to you why. Ezekiel, Daniel, the disciples of Jesus, John and Saul of Tarsus fell to the ground after they had a heavenly vision.
Particularly, I want you to notice that Ezekiel and Saul fell to the ground before they heard the voice of the Lord, while Daniel and the disciples of Jesus on the holy mountain fell to the ground when they heard a voice (as for the vision that Daniel had, we are not told who was the heavenly being who appeared to Daniel and spoke to him, while the voice that was heard by the disciples of Jesus on the holy mountain was God’s voice). Concerning John, the Scripture says that he fell to the ground not when he heard behind him a loud voice speaking with him, but after he turned and saw the Lord. Therefore, we must not be surprised at the fact that today those who have such visions fall to the ground, for in these circumstances the power of God is so great that they have no strength left, their legs begin to tremble and shake, they breathe with difficulty and it is impossible for them to stand. So I believe that before such visions a believer may fall or rather will fall to the ground by the power of God.
However, I am talking about people who fall to the ground because of visions, that is, because of things that come from heaven, things that come from the Holy Spirit, which are therefore unforeseeable because they can occur all of a sudden. For you can have a heavenly vision from God while you are in the countryside, at home, while you are praying, while you are standing, but that is a glorious phenomenon that comes from God.
However, with regard to the fall to the ground which occurs in these Churches, we have to say that it does not come from God for people fall to the ground because they are influenced by preachers who are present at the meetings or because they are pushed and so they fall to the ground (the preachers lay their hands on their heads or their shoulders and in the meantime they push them, so many people think that what they do is biblical)
But let us look closely at the atmosphere which is in these meetings. People are introduced to the idea of the blessing by means of introductory talks by the leadership and personal testimonies by recipients of the experience, therefore the hearers have been already told that they will fall to the ground; so those who attend these meetings expect to fall to the ground in order to receive the ‘Blessing’, that is, ‘to rest in the Spirit’. In some places of worship chairs are removed before people are called forward to receive the ‘blessing’ (while many are standing to receive the blessing or have already fallen). It really seems that those who attend these meetings must fall to the ground – whether they like or not – as a result most of the people who attend these meetings know that during the service they must expect to fall to the ground!!! After the introductory talks by the leadership and personal testimonies by recipients of the experience, people are called forward where there are several pastors or elders or preachers who are ready to lay their hands on people to let them receive ‘the blessing.’ What happens at this point? It happens that those who lay their hands on people begin to pray. However, it must be said that very often the laying on of hands is nothing but a push, as a result suddenly those who are looking for ‘the blessing’ begin to fall to the ground one after the other!! However, they don’t fall on their faces as it happened to Daniel, Ezekiel and the disciples of Jesus, but they fall to the ground backward, and their fall is controlled by some assistants who are behind them to help them to fall carefully especially if they have back problems, pregnancy or fear of falling.
We can’t help saying that these behaviours are not supported by the Word of God, rather they are condemned by it. This phenomenon of ‘falling’ is the result of the power of suggestion exercised over people; and since people – including many believers – are easily influenced, no wonder that many of them fall to the ground. Therefore we cannot say that they fall to the ground under the weight of God’s glory, but we must say that they fall to the ground because of the craftiness of astute and unscrupulous preachers in their deceitful scheming. It may happen that some fall to the ground because of the excitement caused by these unscrupulous preachers but the fact is that they don’t fall to the ground by the power of God. So this fall to the ground is not a manifestation of the power of God.
I say it again, in order to avoid misunderstandings: I am convinced that when God manifest Himself with power, it may happen that some believers or even some unbelievers fall to the ground. Sometimes they fall to the ground because God strikes them for some sins they have committed. Yet, between this fall to the ground and the fall to the ground which occurs in these churches there is a big difference because the former occurs without any form of suggestion while the latter occurs by the power of suggestion (or by hypnotic induction) exercised by some unscrupulous preachers: the former is true, while the latter is false.
I want to tell you the testimony of a sister who many years ago told me personally what had happened to her during a meeting in Switzerland conducted by one of these preachers who lay hands on people and they fall to the ground. Since she wanted to quit smoking, after she heard from this preacher that the Lord can set man free from all sorts of vices (the paradox is that this preacher is slave of smoking, but at that time this sister did not know it) she went forward to ask him to pray over her. While she was in line, she saw that many fell to the ground. When her turn came, it came to pass that this preacher – who is quite tall – put his hand on her head and while he was praying for her he began to push her with his long fingers to make her fall to the ground (those who were present at that meeting could not perceive that he was pushing her because he was pushing her cunningly) and his pressure was so strong that at a certain point she found herself on her heels and she was on the point of falling to the ground, but she did not fall to the ground. Yet this preacher is considered by many a powerful preacher!! However, his push was not seen by those who were present, but there are some preachers whose pushes can be clearly seen by everybody and sometimes these preachers even slap people. Obviously, their fellow workers are behind people to help them to fall to the ground and so to prevent them from hurting themselves!!! Furthermore, there are preachers who breathe on people to make them fall to the ground and many people fall to the ground!! How could we believe that all these things are the work of the Holy Spirit? You must be really blind to believe such a thing!
Therefore beware of all those preachers who push people and breathe on them to make them fall to the ground. Beware of this fashion which has became a dogma in many churches, so many have come to the conclusion that if in a Church nobody falls to the ground that means that the power of God is not in that Church!!!
2) Trembling and shaking. As for trembling, we are convinced that God can make people tremble, whether they are believing people or not; He is the One who ought to be feared, the Fear of Isaac, the Almighty, and He makes people tremble when He wishes. In the Scripture we find clear examples of how God makes people tremble. I will cite just one of them. The apostle Matthew wrote: “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:2-4 – NKJV).
However, we can’t take the biblical examples of people who trembled because they saw a wonder or a vision of God in order to make a doctrine from them, as the adherents of the Toronto Blessing have done. For this trembling also is one of the signs of the Blessing; as if in order to be blessed by God one must begin to tremble. Of course, one can begin to tremble while God blesses him, there is nothing to be surprised at. But far be it from us to think that trembling or shaking is one of the signs by which one realizes that a person has received the Holy Spirit or that the Holy Spirit has come upon him, as the adherents of the Toronto Blessing affirm, for this is not scriptural. As for the trembling, too, present in the Toronto Blessing it must be said that it is caused mainly by suggestion and in certain cases by evil spirits.
3) Uncontrollable laughter. No doubt God fills us with joy, for it is written: “For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work” (Psalm 92:4 – NKJV). Jesus Himself rejoiced in the Spirit in seeing that His Father had revealed the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God to babes and hidden them from the wise and prudent (cf. Luke 10:21). We can say together with the Psalmist that in the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy (cf. Psalm 16:11). However, when we speak of the joy which the Lord gives to us, we must always keep in mind that it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and therefore it is a true joy, and that when the saints gather together to worship the Lord they must rejoice with trembling, as it is written: “Rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11 – NKJV), which means that we must rejoice with self control. On the other hand the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, so if one rejoices in the Spirit he must have self-control. The place of worship is not a theatre, nor must it become a theatre; the saints must rejoice when they hear about the wonders of God or see God work signs and wonders, but they must not exceed the right measure, because the Scripture affirms: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40 – NKJV). Disorder and excess do not proceed from God but are just carnal manifestations. During the meetings held by the Toronto Blessing’s preachers this uncontrollable laughter does not build up but rather it grieves the Holy Spirit. Why then should one laugh in seeing that these Churches and their leaders have made peace with the world. Ah, in these days so difficult for the Church, in these days on which many church leaders do not restrain the people of God who plays the harlot with the world and as a consequence those who are led by these leaders are salt which has lost its flavour, the message which must be preached to these rebellious believers is not ‘Rejoice’ but rather “Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom” (James 4:9 – NKJV). On the contrary, these rebellious Christians laugh. Laugh, laugh, rebels, but know this, that your laughter is like the crackling of thorns under a pot. Instead, as for me, I will weep in seeing your laugh or in hearing you laugh for I know that this laughter is false.
4) Animal sounds. What shall we say about the lion’s roar which is uttered by some of the Toronto Blessing’s adherents. Of course, we believers are sons of the living God who roars from Zion, but the Scripture does not say that we should roar or that when the Spirit of God comes upon us He causes us to roar. The passage of the book of Hosea which is quoted to confirm this manifestation does not indicate that it is right for us to roar like a lion or that when the Lord blesses us we should start roaring like a lion. The way this passage of Hosea is interpreted by the Toronto Blessing’s preachers indicates that those who want to introduce strange doctrines into the Church manage through all kinds of misinterpretation to pass a false teaching off as a biblical doctrine. Therefore we refuse to accept the roar of the lion as a sign attesting the blessing of God upon the believer. The same thing must be said about the sounds of the other animals (dogs, donkeys, wolves, ducks, etc.) which are uttered in the meetings held by the Toronto Blessing’s preachers: they are improper manifestations which have nothing, and I say it again, nothing, to do with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Have these people forgotten that the Spirit of God is holy? How do they dare to attribute these strange behaviours to the Holy Spirit? Brothers, let no one deceive you with empty words; these sounds come from the flesh and not from the Spirit.
5) Apparent drunkenness. We firmly believe that in the light of the Holy Scriptures this apparent drunkenness cannot be accepted as something which comes from the Holy Spirit. First of all Paul says: “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 – NKJV), and not: ‘Be drunk with the Spirit’. The fact that Paul, before saying that we must be filled with the Spirit, affirms: “Do not be drunk with wine” is not by chance for the apostle means that a believer, instead of being filled with wine which leads to debauchery, must be filled with the Spirit who leads him to sing and make music in his heart to the Lord. Therefore Paul uses these expressions to show us how much better is to be filled with the Spirit than to be drunk on wine. Furthermore, I want to say that it is not true that those Jews said that the disciples were filled with new wine for they saw that they were acting like drunks, that is, for they saw that the disciples were unable to walk, to stand and to speak, for the words “They are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13 – NKJV) were sneering words the Jews spoke against the disciples of the Lord, for they, knowing that the disciples of the Lord were Galileans, could not understand how they could speak in other tongues and thus, not knowing what that phenomenon was, attributed their speaking in tongues to drunkenness. But Peter, immediately after he heard those foolish words, stood up straight and spoke fluently (and he was full of the Holy Spirit), and told those Jews that what they had seen was not the result of drunkenness but it was the fulfilment of the words of the prophet Joel. Therefore the Toronto Blessing’ adherents, in attributing their acts of apparent drunkenness to the Holy Spirit saying that they are ‘drunk on the Spirit’, are greatly mistaken for the term drunk is a negative term which indicates that a person has drunk too much and as a consequence he cannot control himself and as a consequence it cannot be applied to a person full of the Holy Spirit for the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. I mean it is absolutely wrong to use the expression ‘to be drunk on the Spirit’ to say that a believer is full of the Holy Spirit for in this way one defines a person full of the Spirit as a drunk person and thus as a person which is led to behave in a strange way because there is too much Spirit in him. By saying so I do not mean that the people of this world will not say of us that we are drunk; for many, in seeing the manifestation of the Spirit in our midst, will say that we are drunk; but the point is that they certainly will not say that we are drunk on the Spirit (for they do not know Him nor do they receive the things of the Spirit) but rather they will say that we are drunk on wine. Why then should some believers who know the Spirit say, ‘We are drunk on the Spirit’ rather than, ‘We are full of the Spirit’? When the Scripture describes a person who was filled with the Spirit or was full of the Spirit it uses the expressions ‘was filled with’ or ‘was full of’ or the like; here are some examples: “Then Jesus being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1 – NKJV); “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41 – NKJV); “Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied ….” (Luke 1:67 – NKJV); “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them ….” (Acts 4:8 – NKJV); “… and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit ….” (Acts 4:31 – NKJV); “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit ….” (Acts 2:4 – NKJV). So let us speak like the Scripture speaks.
In conclusion I want to speak some words to those who attend these meetings where the Toronto Blessing is preached as well as to those who have never attended these meetings.
Brothers, you who have been caught up in the whirl of the Toronto Blessing for you have been deceived with the empty words of these skilful preachers, stop attending these meetings for in them confusion is celebrated, and God is not a God of confusion but of peace; and besides this, in these meetings are practiced suggestion and autosuggestion, and certainly many believers, having ceased to watch and pray, have fallen under the influence of seducing spirits; yes, because one of the things that the Toronto Blessing’s preachers tell believers is that they must not examine what they see and hear in the light of the Scriptures nor should they try to understand what they see and hear in the light of the Scriptures, but they must accept it with all their heart without any hesitation (as we saw before, Rodney Browne has affirmed: You can’t understand what God is doing in these meetings with an analytical mind. The only way you’re going to understand what God is doing is with your heart.’), and they also tell believers not to pray for prayer hinders believers from receiving these manifestations. Here is what John Arnott, pastor of the Toronto Vineyard, says: “Another thing that hinders is people pray all the time. Praying in English or even praying in tongues. Mention the Holy Spirit and they start praying in tongues, you know. Our experience is that that will hinder substantially your ability to receive. And so I say to people, `Look don’t pray.’ It’s hard to pour out and to pour in at the same time. It’s like a bucket that’s got a hole in it because you are pouring out in prayer. Stop and receive and let the Holy Spirit fill you. Be like a sponge and desire the Lord with everything that’s within you. Every case that does that, they are on the floor receiving. People pray for you, that’s your time to receive. Pray on the way out, you can pray later. Don’t take control, you can take control later. The whole deal is, you lose control, He takes control. He gets you out of your comfort zone, makes you feel vulnerable, right? You can analyze it later can’t you?” (John Arnott, at Holy Trinity Brompton, England, February 14, 1995). So in this way it is much easier for these preachers to induce believers to accept the strangest manifestations and the most carnal experiences as things coming from God, for it is only by watching and praying that believers are restrained from accepting strange doctrines and practices. Know this, brothers, that every time believers cease to watch – and thus they cease to examine the Scripture to see if what is preached or practiced is true, that is, to see if what is preached or practiced must be accepted or rejected – and pray, the devil takes advantage of this situation and introduces the strangest and most destructive practices and doctrines into the Church. Therefore, brothers, I urge you with all my heart to stop following these manifestations of the flesh, which are the fruit of the human foolishness and in many cases the work of the devil. They are all manifestations which are not supported by the Scripture, for as we have seen all the biblical passages quoted to support the Toronto Blessing are simply quoted out of their context and misinterpreted. And furthermore they discredit the way of truth. What do you think unbelievers say when they see some Christians making animal sounds? Don’t you think they say that they are crazy, they have lost their mind? And bear in mind that what unbelievers say in this case cannot be put on a same level with what unbelievers say when they enter a place of worship and see all believers speak in other tongues, for in the latter case speaking in tongues is from God but their conduct is wrong for the Scripture says: “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret” (1 Corinthians 14:27 – NKJV); therefore it is not the phenomena (that is, the speaking in tongues) in itself which is wrong but the way believers speak in tongues (that is, all together and not two or at the most three each in turn). But as for the animal sounds, the uncontrollable laughter, and so on, they are not of God in that they are carnal phenomenon, the fruit of human foolishness.
Instead, I say to you brothers who fear God and have never attended these meetings even if you have been invited to them: know this, that by not attending these meetings you are missing nothing, that is to say, you are not missing any blessing, but you are just avoiding confusion, for going to these meetings is like going to the theatre, rather it is probably worse than that. If you should go to one of these meetings you would be troubled in the spirit and you would return home sad and downcast. And you would run the risk of being caught up in the whirl of the Toronto Blessing, from which it is not easy to come out. I assure you that you are doing well to avoid this so called Blessing. I urge you to expose it through the Scripture so that it may stop spreading about all the more. Watch and pray; see to it that you divide the word of God rightly, lest you be confused like the preachers of the Toronto Blessing, and see that you test what you see and hear. Do what the believers of Berea did, that is, search the Scripture to see if what you see and hear is from God and you will be blessed for your biblical research (which is well pleasing to God) will keep you from accepting strange doctrines and practices, which unfortunately exist among the Churches, which are passed off as true when they are untrue. And who are those who pass off false things as true? All those teachers who live according to their desires, who don’t endure sound doctrine and have turned their ears away from the truth and turned aside to fables (cf. 2 Timothy 4:3-4). Be very careful, therefore, do not lower your guard, times are difficult, and there are many idle talkers and seducers of minds among the Churches, who, by smooth words and flattering speech, deceive the hearts of the simple.