| Rodney Howard-Browne: A Critical Examination of his Theology and Practice|
In another thread Todd asked me to discuss the theology and beliefs of Rodney Howard-Browne, and what makes him a heretic. This is NOT a personal attack on Rodney... this is a discussion of what he TEACHES, and why he is a false teacher/prophet.
For those who agree with me... do not post items concerning Rodney unless you can back it up with documentation.
For those who disagree with me, or think that discussing this is divisive... read the book [b]"Who Are You To Judge" by Erwin Lutzer[/b].
Now... I was asked by Todd to present evidence of Rodney's false teachings. Like everyone else, my knowledge of different teachers comes from different sources... either their books or TV shows... or from those who have takent the time to research these people and have written of their research.
I admit that I do not have time time today to put all of this into my own thoughts and words... so to kick this thread off I am posting an article that was written by someone else. It is very thorough, and is not a personal attack on Rodney.
Please read this, and let the discussion begin!
A Critical Examination of his Theology and Practice[/b]
By Stephen Sizer
Rodney Howard-Browne has been invited by some of the larger Charismatic churches in London to minister at an event called "Signs and Wonders 95" at Olympia.
Given his status as the "Controversial figure behind the Toronto Blessing" (Alpha, December 1994, p.3), it is important to examine his approach to ministry and theological understanding of this phenomena. There we find many disturbing parallels with other heretical "word-faith" teachers.
The following is an assessment of Rodney Howard-Browne's ministry based on an interview with him contained in Charisma Magazine in August 1994. The conclusions drawn are substantiated from material taken from videos of his ministry at Woodgate Church in Birmingham, England, in June 1994, and Kenneth Copeland's church in August 1994.
Rodney Howard-Browne claims to be the "Holy Ghost bar-tender", the man through whom God has been bringing an end-time revival to many parts of the world since 1989. He is also attributed to be the source of what has come to be known as the "Toronto Blessing".
[b] A DENIAL OF THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD[/b]
Howard-Browne clearly assumes he has the kind of relationship with God which enables him to order God about. Describing his "spiritual crisis" in 1979 he prayed, "Either You come down here or I will come up there and touch you." Suddenly he claims "his whole body felt like it was on fire. He began to laugh uncontrollably...I was plugged into heaven's electric supply, and since then my desire has been to go and plug other people in."
"Either you come down here or..." is certainly not the way the Bible instructs us to speak to the Lord God Almighty. In 1989 when he began his ministry in America, people began to fall out of their seats, laughing and crying. "The noise got so loud that Howard-Browne had to interrupt his sermon. "Lord, You're ruining my meeting," the evangelist complained. He says God replied: "The way your meetings have been going lately, they deserve to be ruined. I will move all the time if you allow Me to move."
So Howard-Browne believes his god is not only subservient but also dependent on him "if you allow me to move." This is not the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible.
[b] DENIGRATION OF THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT[/b]
Howard-Browne claims to have tapped into "heaven's electric supply" and has apparently "amazed long-time renewal leaders with his knack for dispensing the Spirit's power." He understands his ministry as that of a "bartender" who acts as a "spiritual conduit" in which the presence of the Holy Spirit is defined in terms of a "high-voltage" power current. Such irreverent language is distinctly contrary to the way Scripture speaks of the Holy Spirit working through someone.
The article further claims that Howard-Browne's view of spiritual power is similar to certain 1940's preachers such as Norman Vincent Peale and Peter Marshall, who taught that Christians can tap into the Holy Spirit's anointing like a divine current." This view of the Holy Spirit as a "great power" appears remarkably similar to that of Simon Magus the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-25). These "power encounters" of Howard-Browne cause people to shake, fall at his feet and convulse in uncontrollable laughter. "Many people lie on the floor giggling, sometimes for hours after he has touched them on the forehead. Some of them stumble out of their church hours later, as if intoxicated."
In contrast the Scriptures teach that one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit's presence is self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), something distinctly lacking in Howard-Browne's ministry.
[b] A DISREGARD FOR THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST[/b]
In what is a lengthy and detailed six page assessment of Howard-Browne's ministry there is only one reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is in the context of the claim that "He committed his life to Christ at age 5". In contrast there are eleven references to the Holy Spirit, and frequent mention of "revival" and "healing" .
For someone who claims to be an evangelist (that is who proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ), such an imbalance is disturbing when the express purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was to "glorify Christ" and make him known. (John 16:14; Acts 1:8). This however does not appear to be the emphasis of Howard-Browne's "evangelistic" ministry.
[b] A LACK OF SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT[/b]
Howard-Browne claims that "the proof that this is a move of God is that when I leave, it doesn't stop". He is merely the "Holy Ghost bartender. I just serve the new wine and invite them to drink." In fact all it "proves" is that there are spiritual forces at work.
Howard-Browne describes, for example, what happened at the Oral Roberts University. "One night I was preaching on hell and laughter just hit the whole place." "The more I told people what hell was like, the more they laughed...." Satan may laugh about hell, but not Jesus. The way Jesus spoke about hell was no laughing matter. There are several other references in the article to solemn liturgies and even sermons being "drowned out" by laughter, making "whatever is being said from the pulpit irrelevant." One advocate admitted that "laughter broke out during the consecratory prayer for the Eucharist (when we remember the body of Christ broken, and his blood shed), normally the most solemn part of the service." Are these the kind of things we should expect from a man who is full of the Holy Spirit, or an evil spirit?
[b] THE DISPARAGEMENT OF THE MIND AND CRITICAL FACULTIES[/b]
He is also prone to criticise those who question his ministry. "Howard-Browne disparages those who try and apply a theological test to his methods." "You can't understand what God is doing in these meetings with an analytical mind," he says. "The only way you're going to understand what God is doing is with your heart." "Words have become meaningless in our society," he says, "Signs and wonders are what must capture our attention."
This is in direct contradiction to what the Scriptures teach. For example,
"He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (Matthew 12:39)
"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38)
"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' " (Luke 16:31)
"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders," (2 Thes. 2:9)
This uncritical attitude of Rodney Howard-Browne is very dangerous and opens believers to demonic deception. God tells us in the Scriptures very specifically to "test the spirits" (1 John 4:1), to "accurately handle the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15), to understand the will of God through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2) and "refute" error (Titus 1:9).
[b] THE ESPOUSAL OF THE "HEALTH AND WEALTH" ERROR[/b]
In 1987, when Howard-Browne went to America to continue his ministry he ran out of money and was confronted by a hotel manager who wanted payment for his room. Just in time a friend came to the rescue with an American Express card (the one with no limit). "From then on," Howard-Brown claims, "we've never known want." His over-confident attitude towards prosperity is right in line with the false "Health and Wealth" prosperity gospel.
[b] IDENTIFICATION WITH FALSE TEACHERS[/b]
Howard-Browne was an associate pastor of Rhema church in Johannesburg, before moving to the United States in 1987, identifying with fellow Rhema Church leader, Kenneth Hagin, a person whose teaching has also been shown very clearly to be heretical (Hanegraaff :1993; Crenshaw: 1994). Oral Roberts is another "Word-Faith" teacher who espouses similar erroneous theological views.
Howard-Browne is happy however to identify with these people who rely on extra-biblical revelations, and distort the plain teaching of Scripture. For example, Oral Roberts has, according to Duin's article, "proclaimed that Howard-Browne's ministry signalled the arrival of "another level in the Holy Spirit." (p.24). One has to ask where in Scripture are we taught that there are "levels" in the Holy Spirit? --
[b] COMPARISONS WITH VOODOO ACTIVITY[/b]
A number of video recordings of Rodney Howard-Browne's ministry have been circulating in Britain. These have caused a good deal of controversy and serious accusations have been made comparing his ministry with voodoo.
"Howard-Browne then began to work on the whole audience, rhythmically pacing up and down in front of the stage, using a strange tongue which was never interpreted. This gradually became a mantra which climaxed in a piercing high-pitched sound which he held for a long time. Watching the video with me was an African pastor and a former missionary. Both immediately said they recognised this as identical with the voodoo call used by witch doctors in summoning up the demons." (Clifford Hill PWM Team Ministries Newsletter, 28 November 1994)
Danny Aguirre, and Warren Smith, writing in the Spiritual Counterfeits Project journal, SCP Newsletter (Fall 1994, Volume 19:2, p.14), make similar comparisons with phenomena associated with Ramakrishna, Bhagwhan Shree Rajneesh, African Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari and Qigong - ancient Chinese practices.
"Indian Guru Bhagvhan Shree Rajneesh was affectionately known by his followers as the "divine drunkard" because he was reputed to have drunk so deeply from the well of the "Divine". As a former follower of Rajneesh I met hundreds of Sannyasins who had flown to India "to drink" from "Bhagwan's wine." When followers were physically touched by Rajneesh, or even if they were merely in his presence, they would often experience feelings of great exhilaration and joy. Disciples of Swami Baba Muktanada would often manifest uncontrollable laughter after receiving Shaktipat (physical contact) from the guru. (p.13)
[b] EVIDENCE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL MANIPULATION[/b]
Dr Gaius Davies is a Christian and consultant psychiatrist at King's College Hospital, London. He was interviewed at the Carey Minister's Conference in January 1995, following the showing of part of a video of Rodney Howard-Browne's ministry. The substance of his clinical assessment of the video and of the "Toronto Blessing" were published in Reformation Today, (March/April 1995). In that interview, Dr Davies claimed,
"The video shows classic manipulation of the audience, just as at Nuremberg....The audience is repeatedly urged to suspend critical faculties and be open and receptive to a "blessing" . Meanwhile the audience itself is shouting and laughing and crying out for more. This is epidemic hysteria....This can be explained in purely psychological terms. There is no need to invoke the supernatural....The leaders are wicked men to abuse power in this way. The clearest signs of drunkenness in these meetings are that the leaders are drunk with power. There is no sign or care or concern for the people.....At HTB (Holy Trinity, Brompton) I saw individuals with a "pill rolling" action of their hands and others with serious psychological problems. These people were not being helped...They had come with real needs, but were just being manipulated." (pp.13-15)
Howard-Browne through his teaching, brazenly denies the sovereignty of God, denigrates the Holy Spirit, disregards the centrality of the Person of Jesus Christ, despises the use of the mind, and identifies with false teachers. This convinces me that the source of his ministry and the manifestations associated with it are not the work of the Holy Spirit, but some other spirit.
Why then do such people as Rodney Howard-Browne gain such a following? John F. MacArthur has said, in the foreword to Crenshaw's, Man as God: The Word of Faith Movement.
"They do it by intimidation, trickery, lies and most powerfully of all, teaching that appeals to the common lusts of humanity. After all, who would not like to believe that health, money, affluence, and success are ours for the claiming? In a culture that is selfish, materialistic, and proud, the Health and Wealth message is bound to be popular. People with itching ears heap to themselves teachers who make the promises they want to hear. Meanwhile, the tolerance for sound doctrine is dangerously low."
What are the "signs" of the authentic ministry of the Holy Spirit which should guide us in interpreting the "Toronto Blessing"?
"When the Holy Spirit comes to sinful men, he initially brings sorrow. ..There is much more to spirituality than a lifting of the spirits, an entering into the exuberant life, and in extending one's succession of thrilling experiences. Yet in many of the popular neo-Pentecostal societies you will look in vain for anything else. No one who has God's Spirit can walk through our world without deep groanings of sorrow and distress. When the stench of immorality fills his nostrils, the Spirit-filled man cannot be happy, happy, all the day....If the Spirit were to come powerfully [today] it would not be to make men clap their hands for joy but to make them smite their breasts in sorrow....He is not the "Jolly Spirit" but the Holy Spirit." (Chantry.99-101)
| 2005/7/15 7:44|
| Re: Rodney Howard-Browne: A Critical Examination of his Theology and Practice|
Who on earth is Rodney Howard-Browne? Where do these people come from and how is it that "christians" are listening to them? Is there no discernment alive today? Have we not yet learned to feed ourselves the Word of God and teach others as well? Or are we helpless infantiles who need someone to continually feed them and are helpless at what is put in their mouths?
I dont' know Rodney. I want to know Jesus. I want to read what Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, Jamess and others have to say about Jesus and His life. If the Holy Spirit cannot get the job done with the list that I stated, how is someone named Rodney going to help?
Furthermore, when we try to associate ourselves with someone like this person, what are we actually doing? We are seeking "status" as someone who is more "illumined" than others. Do we forget that the Devil disguises himself as an angel of light?
So who can we trust? Check again the list I posted above. Those you can trust. And you can also trust the Holy Spirit who is behind it all. If we but read and speak what these men wrote, we won't have to be concerned about the errors of these imposters. Our spirit will not be open to them.
If there is a living reformer here, let him/her encourage you to go back to the basics. God back to the Word. Throw down other books for the Book of Books. Set aside CD's and all else for time with the Holy Spirit. Those who know the truth cannot be tricked by these megga business charlatons.
If the light shines here, the darkness can't help but fade. Let us not disect and criticize in front of our readers. Let us speak truth and light from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He alone edifies the spirit of man. He alone satisfies. He is more than enough. He said that if He be lifted up, He would draw all men unto Himself. He said if the Holy Spirit was "present", the the Holy Spirit would testify of the Savior. Well saint, that is what I am encouraging all of us to do. Let the Spirit of God have His way with our fingers and type what He says. If we dont' have any moving in our hearts from Him, then let us become readers and not writers, readers of what He says, not some body named Rodney.
I'm sorry if I appear sharp here. I don't want to be that way. I myself get so drawn into these "minister critques" myself. But I have set my heart to not go there any longer. Yes of course we need to understand that not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" will enter in or speaks the truth in love. But if we cannot make that decision based on the truth of God's Word stored in our hearts, then we are helpless and defenseless indeed.
Jesus Christ = more than enough,
| 2005/7/15 8:03|
| Re: Rodney Howard-Browne: A Critical Examination of his Theology and Practice|
I should add that I have been to a Rodney Howard-Browne service back when I was first saved and bought into the Word-Faith heresy... and I can personally atest to the descriptions in this article of what one of his services is like.
| 2005/7/15 8:04|
Lahry... you are right on, brother! Christians dont read their Bibles anymore. Thats why the bookstores flourish... rather than read the Word, believers pick up the latest books and read them instead.
As to this critique, I had no intention of posting something like this. A discussion came up about Wolves Among Sheep, and some were saying that exposing error was divisive. In the course of the discussion I stated that when discussing someone like Rodney, it should always been done in a factual way, and not in a personal way. So someone challenged me to give an example... naming Rodney Howard-Browne. I said I would... and I have done so.
I take no pleasure in this, but in the church today... error exposure is very much needed because it is so prevelent.
But I wish more believers thought like you do, my friend... put the books down and pick up [b]THE Book[/b]!
| 2005/7/15 8:09|
Again, lol. This false teacher is coming to my city probly next week. **He isn't, i just checked in the middle of this post, PRAISE GOD!!!** But still is doing a 'signs and wonders' conferance in tampa. (Across the bay, of my city)
Okay, i never heard of this man, when i watched this stuff. Only all i knew was what he wrote in the book. (I truly think it was a good book 'The touch of God', but if that was really Browne, i think he has strayed from the book)
Now, at the meeting, the music was TOO LOUD, i sound like a grandma or something. But, it was almost deafing. *(i can stand people in the Spirit, when the music is loud, but not a 'loud noise')* It became a further distraction. I couldn't read the bible, i couldn't EVEN PRAY, it was THAT distracting.
He preached on Acts 2. I felt like he was beating a dead horse, we ALREADY knew what Pentacost was all about.
There was probly about 100 of people from his own church there, they (not the true believers) broke out in this 'laughter', (i wont call it holy, to even profane such things). And some believer, even me, kinda laughed. AT IT..lol. Cause some points, and some things he said was actually funny. But the people from his church 'took it too far'.
My spirit was doing a gymnastic spin. Jumping, running, wanting to get outta there. I almost felt sick, my spirit was that outta wack.
Then i heard from Browne 'I am God, I do these things' I wanted to stand up and curse the man. To say such things. (I actually have a list of things he said, can't find it, i have a messy room).
I ended up talking to a few people, and i was like 'there is a spirit above us, A SPIRIT, not thee spirit' i felt like he was laughing at me, anger built up in me, and i had to leave. And talked with another remant believer. Then a lady asked us to pray for her, cause she couldn't stay to get healed by Browne. I said 'sure'. My friend was like 'but they said we cant lay hands on people'.
I was in the mood of prayer, and God was really moving for this women. And i felt a dark figure walk next to me. I opened my eyes, looked (still praying) seeing it was someone from the ministreral staff of Browne's. And i lost the spirit of prayer. (took my eyes of Jesus) but still prayed.
We ended up getting kicked out, the guy interupted our prayer and said 'If your going to lay hands on people do it somewhere else.'
I said 'what?? laying hands?? she asked us to pray for her, i just had my hand on her arm, SHE IS IN A WHEEL CHAIR'. So he said 'then leave'.
We left. and me and my friend just started praying and praising God. Oh, fruit and water came outta our prayer together, more so than any 'mockery' they did.
| 2005/7/15 11:06|
Interesting experience you had.
I can tell you from my own experience that many of these types of false teachers have "plants" in their audience. People to get the "spirit moving". In many of these meetings there are people who are not deliberatly planted, but are predisposed to these kinds of odd behaviors, and when they get started others follow. It's interesting that you say a number of people from Rodney's church came, and they bursted out in laughter... which no doubt got the ball rolling. I'll stop short of saying they were deliberate plants, cuz I have no way of knowing whether they were or not... but deliberate or not... THEY were the ones that got things rolling that night.
It really is, in my opinion, crowd manipulation. I know... I used to be in that junk.
Thank God someone cared enough to get me into the Word. It's funny that the more I absorbed the Word, and nothing but the Word... the more this whole movement became distant to me in my spirit. I wanted to run from it.
| 2005/7/15 11:34|
I have never been in meetings as as you brethren described, praise the LORD! It blows my mind how any reasonable person could sit through such weird goings on and believe it comes from a Holy God!
Your declaration of how people need to get back to the Word and discard the tapes, CDs, books is right on. I say study the entire scriptures - comparing scripture with scripture - and it will teach you more in less time then reading the latest books issued about some social, spiritual, theological issue. In fact, I avoid them like a plague because of reasons mentioned, having experienced deception in my youth.
Thanks for posting...
| 2005/7/15 12:21||Profile|
Oh, i forgot one part of it all. Me and my friends 'went for prayer'. He didn't care, no compassion. I started to say to him 'im leading a youth para-ministry...can you pray for that'. He PUSHED ME AND MY FRIENDS OVER.
But, before i got prayer. There was a women possessed with demonS. Rodney said 'she has demons' well duh! you work with them. And the lady after getting prayer, spun down. And i was like 'i need to see her, cause the demons never left her, just eased down'. All in all i couldn't find her.
All Browne and 'his people' were caring about was the 'slain of the spirit' not the sense of awe, not God moving when we do/ or dont do stuff. The leader of that service was Browne and his ministry not the Lord and His people.
| 2005/7/15 12:36|
YeshuaIsMyGd ... thanx for sharing your experiences, and I can back up what you've said. One thing I dont want to do tho is speak only to the experiencial part. Let us stick to the teachings of the man. The things you are describing are not of God, to be sure, but they do fall on the subjective side of things. That means someone can come on here and debate that with you... but I want to see iron clad evidence of false teachings and prophecies. Quotes and documentation. Things that we can take to scripture and say "This is what he/she says... this is what scripture says..." and compare.
Once that is established, then a discussion of experiences at services will validate the documented false teachings. Understand what I'm saying?
Ginny... Consider yourself blessed to have never been in the middle of a service or crusade like what has been described. I have one word for it... [b]chaos[/b]. To me, if a worship service is chaotic... it isnt of God. God doesnt cause chaos. Satan is the author of confusion.
How can people be so easily led astray? I was led astray right after being saved. Didnt know the Bible, hadnt had any real discipleship, didnt know how to study my Bible (which was an NIV... I've since been convicted of that!), and so I went along with every wind of doctrine. Read all the guru books by Hagin, Hinn, etc etc... swallowed it all cuz I didnt know any better.
Satan preys on immature believers. Thats why it's so important for babes in Christ to immediately get grounded in the Word. But instead, today we give them entertainment. Is it any wonder?
| 2005/7/15 13:19|
| Re: Rodney Howard-Browne: A Critical Examination of his Theology and Practice|
| 2005/7/15 14:08||Profile|