(Reposted from the Apostasy Alert website – February 7, 2010)
|This is Not That: An Analysis of John Crowder’s
“The New Mystics” by Jackie Alnor
In analyzing a book that promotes itself as a manual on “how to become a part of the supernatural generation,” it must be approached with prayer and humility. The temptation to condemn everything in the book risks trampling upon holy things. John Crowder, in his book “Miracle Workers, Reformers and the New Mystics” mixes the holy with the profane. Discerning between the two, especially in gray areas, is a giant task for any believer to take on.
So this analysis will highlight the spiritual quicksand in the book so that fellow pilgrims won’t fall into the mire, just like the two travelers in the book, “Pilgrim’s Progress” put up a road sign warning others not to go the way leading to the Slough of Despond.
We must watch out for the schemes of the enemy of our souls and hold fast to the Word of God. God is supernatural and His gifts are not to be rejected. But the counterfeit powers of the spirit of antichrist are also metaphysical but are a snare to our souls leading many into spiritual quicksand.
In the parables of the kingdom of heaven in the 13th chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus told us ahead of time that the enemy would sow tares among the wheat while men slept. He also told His servants not to gather up the tares lest they uproot the wheat with them, but to wait until the harvest when all things would be revealed.
With that in mind, we can’t say whether the author of “The New Mystics” is a tare or a wheat. Nor can we say with authority what the final resting place is for the mystics he uplifts throughout the book. All we can do is test all things and hold fast to that which is good and reject what is false. Jesus said, “by their fruit you will know them.”
As the return of the Bridegroom nears, the work of the spirit of antichrist is in high gear. The antichrist comes with lying signs and wonders to fool even the elect. Yet at the same time our sovereign God is a God of the miraculous. The Holy Spirit is still working in our day and is our Guide into all truth. The unholy spirit, on the other hand, counterfeits the working of the true Spirit of God, but is worldly and carnal and those attributes can be recognized as unclean. We await the day when that unclean spirit is defeated:
“’It shall be in that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.’”
To understand where the author of The New Mystics is coming from, it is important to know the background of the movement from which he sprang. Crowder makes reference to this in his book.
During what is possibly the last major outpouring of the Holy Spirit in true revival, known as the Jesus Movement of the 1960s and 70s, two church leaders were in the forefront, Chuck Smith and John Wimber.
The devil immediately reacted to the move of God that began with a confused generation of hippies and spilled over into the long established denominations. He sowed tares that resembled the wheat on the outside, but who brought in the unholy spirit, resulting in metaphysical confusion. While true miracles were being wrought by the Holy Spirit, the unholy spirit counterfeited the power by convincing those who were not grounded in the Word that they could learn to do these miraculous things too through following methods and formulas. Gifts could be taught when not caught. This attack against righteousness is the devil’s pattern to destroy the works of God using his own servants of light. (See: 2 Cor. 11:13-15)
In the early days of the Jesus Movement, Pastor Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel was the place to be. John Wimber was one of his assistant pastors who was zealous about what he called “doing the stuff.” His focus was on the experience and he divided from Pastor Chuck who insisted on doing things orderly.
Wimber joined up with the Vineyard movement where no limitations were put upon any metaphysical manifestations, no matter how unruly. This split the Calvary Chapels between those who wanted to get grounded in the Word of God and those who wanted to operate unhindered in the supernatural. The former stayed with Calvary and the latter followed Wimber to the Vineyard.
After the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit ran its course, the former hippies, now grown-up with families of their own, faced a spiritual quandary. Should they focus on growing up in the faith by getting saturated in the Word of God or follow the wonder-workers and get saturated in the spirit of metaphysical experience? One way could lead to dead orthodoxy while the other path could lead to a never-ending quest for power.
For true servants of the Lord there is the narrow balanced road to keep in the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Put on the full armor of God in order to stand in this evil day. The armor includes the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, along with the shield of faith for quenching the fiery darts of the wicked one. A review of the 6th chapter of Ephesians reveals who the true enemy is – not one another, but the rulers of darkness of this world that disguise themselves as angels of light who come against us. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood.”
The end-times church that Jesus promised to keep from the time of trial that is soon coming upon this world did three things right: they kept His word, did not deny His name and had but a little power (see Revelation 3:8). The new mystics, as we shall see, do not follow that pattern.
Now we’ll look at the book, The New Mystics, the fruit of the late John Wimber and a backlash against the bible-centered position of Chuck Smith. It is a blueprint for the formation of the Great Harlot, Mystery Babylon, and a guide book for “doing the stuff” without the dunamis of the Holy Spirit.
Crowder attributes his theological understanding that is evident throughout “The New Mystics” to his favorite teacher, Rick Joyner. “Special recognition is due to Rick Joyner,” he writes in his acknowledgments, “whose thoughts one may find echoed in many respects throughout these pages; it comes from long years of saturating in his insightful writings.”
Joyner is the author of the book, “The Harvest,” subtitled, “Strategic Vision for Mobilizing the Army of God.” Joyner’s views of an end-times overcoming army of conquering saints stem from the heretical Latter Rain movement of the late 1940s. [For an understanding and history of the movement, read “The Latter Rain Legacy” by Charles S. Graves.]
The New Mystics gives a blueprint for the building of this end times army. Crowder targets young people who he sees as untainted by his perceived enemy: the old guard of the church that he characterizes as “the spirit of religion.” To attract the youth he glamorizes the things he thinks they will approve of, such as hip styles, tattoos, piercings, and ghetto talk and wields them as bait.
Crowder, as you may recall, made his splash upon the church scene during the height of the Lakeland Revival in 2008 that was headed up by his friend, Todd Bentley, the tattooed convicted child molester-turned-evangelist who pronounced healing upon people in the name of “God the father, son, and holy bam!” The “revival” ended when Bentley left his wife and children for a younger woman. The couple, now married and living in adultery, both serve under the authority of Joyner who has restored them to ministry.
Although The New Mystics was written in 2006, Crowder was fairly unknown until he took to YouTube during Lakeland with his blasphemous video, “Tokin’ the ghost,” in which he simulates smoking a joint as if filling up on the Holy Spirit. In fact, throughout the book Crowder consistently uses unseemly things to compare to the power of whatever spirit he imbibes. He compares his spiritual highs to getting “loaded,” “buzzed,” “plastered,” “sloshed,” and to heroine.
Consistent with the older Latter Rain ideas, Crowder and company look to the formation of this army that will triumph over the world before the coming of Christ. This new church rules the Kingdom without the physical presence of the King, puts down all God’s enemies, and performs great feats that impress the world. He explains:
“There is an upcoming generation which will carry these mantles of old, as well as new ones. They will walk in the spirit of Elijah, preparing the way for the return of the Lord…even as John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah before Jesus’ first coming, so will that same spirit rest on an entire church before His second coming. Even the least of us will be greater than John. This will be an entire age of forerunners” (pg. 21).
What are these “mantles of old” that he says the new church will carry? The so-called lost powers of the mystics and Catholic monks of the Dark Ages that he sees are the rightful property of the church that is ours for the taking.
Although John the Baptist showed no signs and did no miracles, this new “Elijah company” will astound all with their power and authority over the forces of nature. Though Elijah is recognized by Bible scholars as one of the two witnesses in the book of Revelation, along with a second witness whose bodies will lie in Jerusalem after being killed by the antichrist, a company of Elijahs is nowhere referred to in Bible prophecy. This idea came via extra-biblical revelation.
Crowder affirms the acceptance of postmodernism in the church that has taken on the label, the Emergent Church. Attractive to younger Christians and popularized by such universalist teachers as Brian McLaren, the emergents have rejected biblical inerrancy for a more liberal approach to the Bible, throwing out theology as something that puts God in a box. In exchange for known quantities, a return to mystery and unknowing has taken on more of an appeal for emergents who have resurrected ancient monastic practices in an effort to make some mystical connection with God through tangible sacramentals. These include the use of icons, candles, incense, relics, among other things, along with the rediscovery of contemplative prayer.
The New Mystics adapt the Emergent Church’s practices into the so-called apostolic/prophetic movement to create a new hybrid or long awaited new breed of saint to fulfill the latter rain prophecies of Joel’s Army, that in reality is identified as a demonic horde of locusts in Revelation 9. But Crowder goes way beyond Emergent leaders and adopts the darkest mystical practices that can be found in church history. The only thing missing, but still alluded to, is the return to the Inquisitions and open persecution of all opposition: the true saints.
This new church will be filled with those who aren’t interested in intensive Bible studies. “They are not seeking a religion of distant theological theory,” Crowder writes. “They want hands-on interaction with a tangible, emotive God….The age of pat answers is over” (pp. 365-366).
Crowder slams the age of rationalism that ended the Dark Ages saying that the use of reason in testing truth was a bad turn for the church.
“The tales of medieval miracles sound quite farfetched to the modern reader,” wrote Crowder, “and even the most Spirit-filled Christians are more apt to dismiss them as mythology than as legitimate history…We now use the word ‘legend’ or ‘legendary’ to describe something that is untrue or of fairy tale value” (p. 167).
On the next page he describes such a miracle that he feels is falsely called a “fairy tale.” He writes, “No doubt most of us would scoff to read that Nicholas of Tolentino…brought the partridges on his dinner plate back to life. But the medieval mind gave no thought to such a possibility when discussing the God of the universe. There is something remarkable about that” (p. 168).
So he concludes that “It is important to acknowledge the miracles of the Middle Ages, simply because many of them were completely off the charts…so it is good to know at least that God has worked in uncanny ways throughout history. In that sense, there is precedent. As in days of old, the coming revival will be marked by unusual miracles. Just as ‘God’ worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so will bizarre feats come through the hands of this people” (ibid).
The mantles to be reclaimed by the new mystics belonged to some very questionable characters from the past including:
• St. Francis of Assisi, who preached to animals, subdued nature, and displayed the stigmata (painful, bleeding nail prints of the crucifixion);
• Herman of Alaska, who stopped waves and befriended bears;
• Seraphim of Sarov, who was loved by wild animals, visited by dead people, angels and Jesus himself;
• Meister Eckhard, considered the father of German mysticism;
• St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who summoned Catholics to kill in the Crusades and had a gift of miracles;
• St. Joseph of Cupertino, the flying friar who levitated so much a rope had to be tied to him so he would not leave the atmosphere;
• St. Teresa of Avilla, mystic and stigmatist;
• St. Christina, who sat up in her coffin at her own funeral.
Crowder’s new breed will surpass the mystics of the Dark Ages in their powers and impress the world. Bi-location, levitation, interaction with dead saints, angels and demons and control over nature will mark the new Christians who “spit out fire” and “put new agers to shame.” Whole congregations will be able to fly as he says Adam could back in the Garden of Eden.
Today the new mantles, that Crowder says are a reclamation of the old ones, are being manifested by his heroes of the faith. These mantles were handed down by various 20th century movers and shakers who paved the way for the new breed. He refers to them as God’s Generals, a term attributed to Roberts Liardon’s book and video production of the same title. (Liardon has just recently been restored to ministry in England by Elim’s Colin Dye after being forced out of ministry due to a homosexual affair.)
These forerunners of the Elijah forerunners run the gamut from Charles Parham who “popularized tongue-talking” and fell from grace after his arrest on sodomy charges; to William Branham, the leader of the Voice of Healing Revival in the late 1940s who later in his ministry denied the doctrine of the Trinity saying it was a pagan concept. Other generals include an assortment of ministers in an assortment of scandals, from heavy drinking, adultery, homosexuality, spousal desertion, financial frauds. psychopaths to one who faked her own kidnapping to cover up an alleged extramarital affair.
From these dirty streams sprang more recent heroes of Crowder who not only walked in the same “anointing” of the earlier forerunners, but were plagued with the same immoral stumbling blocks. Crowder jokingly says that many great ones stumble on the “3 G’s” — gold, girls, glory.”
Crowder follows the progression from the early 20th century to today via revivals, movements and new revelation that has taken on a life of its own. But the streams are so muddy and lead to what he calls a big river that an honest onlooker could only identify as the River Styx, the name of the river descending into the underworld in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Crowder’s current hall of fame come out of disastrous moves of the unholy spirit such as the Kansas City (false) Prophets, the Toronto Blessing (curse), and the Lakeland Revival. He singles out the late John Wimber and Lonnie Frisbee (a hippie evangelist who broke from both Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard when he got too radical for either movement; an open homosexual, he died of A.I.D.S.) as the stream that led to others.
In fact, some of his most prominent mentors such as Paul Cain, Bob Jones, and Todd Bentley have been scandalized over sexual immorality. But that doesn’t deter Crowder from following their lead in spiritual matters.
UNITY OF THE NEW ORDER CHURCH
The author identifies certain key factors that are necessary for the new mystics to reach their goal of world domination and godlike powers in their kingless kingdom.
The key ingredient is altered states of consciousness by the practice of contemplative prayer or as he calls it, “soaking” prayer. He learned this tool from the writings of the late Trappist monk Thomas Merton who died in 1968 in Bangkok, Thailand as he was preparing to join up with some Buddhist monks. Merton (not to be confused with Merlin) was a follower of Zen that he felt was adaptable to Christianity. A recent obsession with Merton in Protestant circles is seen by the Roman Catholic hierarchy as a feather in their cap for claiming supremacy over non-Catholic Christians.
“The mystical dimensions of our faith are being reawakened,” writes Crowder. “A revival of contemplative, soaking prayer has been key in this hour, because the Lord is first of all returning us to the place of His presence. The place of intimate abiding, out of which all revelation flows” (p. 368).
And this is the bottom line of the new breed, Latter Rain church. It has access to God by way of a spiritual dimension one must access via an altered state of stillness. The Bible, as one of his heroes Tommy Tenney says in his book, The God Chasers, is the old words of yesterday and hanging out in the 3rd heaven is the new breed’s link to God. This is the paradigm shift that must take place in a professing Christian’s life to enter into the new breed status. He compares this silent place with God as the bed chamber and uses other sexual terms to describe the new breed’s relationship with the divine. He describes this “ultimate union” as an “erotic practicing the presence,” “rivers of pleasure,” and other colorful metaphors. The new breed is not bound to the earth realm. Crowder explains:
“Some of today’s leading prophets have regularly encountered the spirit of the Dalai Lama himself as they were being drawn by God through the second heavens, into a third heaven encounter. He was there, trying to block them from ascending. The second heavens, of course, are made up of that spiritual realm where the angelic and demonic wage war. Much of our low-level prophetic knowledge is from God, but it comes filtered from the second heaven” (p. 174).
He calls it a dark place where all sorts of evil things dwell, but that the new breed with embrace the darkness of this “wasteland.” There is no biblical precedence for this, but that doesn’t bother someone like Crowder who does not give the Bible as much authority as he does the current prophetic revelation he gets from the likes of false prophets like Bob Jones and Rick Joyner. Other like-minded prophets Crowder praises are John Sandford, Heidi Baker, Mike Bickle, C. Peter Wagner, Che Ahn, and Bill Johnson.
Another key is the willingness to accept things that are contradictory to the faith. “Sometimes we find ourselves rebuking a voice, just to find out it was really God,” Crowder says. “But an active and living faith will always be marked by paradigm shifts, in which our existing framework of faith is constantly challenged…Our faith is best stretched and grown, when we are challenged to step into areas that are seemingly contradictory to that faith” (p. 239).
The third key to the new breed is unity between Protestants and Catholics. We shouldn’t concern ourselves with the doctrinal errors of Catholicism he says, since all churches have error. Error should not be a deterrent to unity. He sees the acceptance of transubstantiation by non-Catholics as a key to unifying with Rome. When all the ancient streams of Catholicism join up with the river of Toronto, Kansas City, or anywhere else the circus spirit of signs and wonders operates, then the formation of the end times bride will be complete. Too bad that bride in reality is the Whore of Babylon, mystery religion.
After the unification of Christianity, Crowder indicates a unification of all mankind will be next. After all, there is truth in all religions he affirms. “Even false religions have practices and world views with some redeemable value,” he asserts (p. 159). “To say that Buddhism is completely void of truth is insane. There is plenty of wisdom and redeemable spiritual exercise there…What if our society was centered on Christian meditation, as Tibet is centered on Buddhist meditation? …We need to take back this ground….It will be those believers who arise from non-Christian cultures that will offer some of the most breathtaking new perspectives on the faith.”
WILL NOT TOLERATE JEZEBEL
Crowder sees the Bible Christian as the biggest opposition to the new mystics efforts to draw all men to themselves. He labels them Gnostics because they use the knowledge taught in Scripture to test all things – they put that knowledge, doctrine, above the mystical now-word of the spirit. Since the actual definition of gnosticism points a finger at the mystics, new and old, who claim higher knowledge from a mystical source, he no doubt threw that in there to throw off the unsuspecting.
Throughout the book Crowder criticizes all voices of reason and terms the “critical” and “judgmental.” He admonishes his readers to turn a deaf ear to all voices of warning. He writes:
“Now is not the time to hesitate. We must advance. Satan has sought to oppose this army even before its birth. Today, you can type ‘Joel’s Army’ into a search engine and a thousand heresy hunter Websites pop up, decrying the very mention of it. Religious spirits despise the fierce aggression with which this army will take ground.”
In fact, Crowder points to an authority in the prophetic movement who prophesied death will be the fate of the opposition. On page 295 he quotes the “prophecy”:
“‘When this army comes, it is large and it’s mighty. It’s so mighty that there’s never been anything like it before…they won’t be able to kill this army,’ says respected author and prophetic teacher Jack Deere. ‘Not only does Joel say this army is invincible. The Lord Himself will take the lives of those who oppose them.’”
Crowder uses the author Jesse Penn-Lewis as an example of the Jezebel Spirit that will no longer be tolerated by the new breed. He demonizes her efforts to assist evangelist Evan Roberts, who during the Welsh Revival of the early 20th century, was terrified by the works of an unclean spirit in his meetings. Mrs. Penn-Lewis took him in and ministered to him, resulting in the Christian classic book, War on the Saints. Crowder writes:
“Evan’s life is a classic example of a prophetic destiny being cut short by a Jezebel spirit…It will be important for the coming generation to learn how to defeat this foe. She is the killer of God’s prophets and the supporter of satan’s…One thing we must never do is make peace with her…Toleration is not an option” (pp 293.294).
There is a real war going on – a war not even mentioned in this book – the war to win souls to Christ before the time of trial approaches. As we see the day approach, the true church is driven to get the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ out to a dying world.
True Christians believe the words of the Master who told us that the world will not accept us, but will hate us, even as it hated Him. We will not impress the world by our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, but will be hated by all – an aroma of death to those who are perishing. But to those who are being saved, an aroma of life.
We, the body of Christ, will rule and reign with Christ Jesus when we return with Him at the end of the Tribulation. To demand that position now is certainly premature and not our mission. Those holding to the Latter Rain, Kingdom Now heresies will find themselves united into a spiritual whore that will be destroyed by the antichrist and judged by the God they think they’re communing with in the occultic stream in which they abide.
“The Invisible War,” written by the late Donald Grey Barnhouse in 1965, revealed the real war and exposed the devil’s opposition to “the kingdom of God by the direct act of the Lord” with two false views of the kingdom. He penned these words:
“The one effort has been to build a temporal religious kingdom and claim all the promises for it; the other has been to deny the material reality of the future kingdom and look for the gradual coming of some kingdom of sweetness and light by the efforts of man. The one has been largely Roman Catholic, the other has been largely Protestant…There is nothing more liberating than to be loosed from the blindness that makes men grope in the darkness of kingdom-building.”
The latest effort of kingdom-building by the new breed of the Latter Rain with its accompanying cheap signs and wonders goes way beyond the efforts of the past. This end time army has a very deplorable purpose and destiny as seen in Revelation. We can know them by their fruits – and can say without hesitation that when Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost, declaring this is that fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel regarding the outpouring of God’s Spirit, today the true church can look at the signs the new breed chases and say, this is NOT that; nothing holy can come out of something so filthy.
“These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 1:12-13).