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Slain in the Spirit

 
Paul  Wong

First of all I would like to make a confession.  I do not know too much about "Slaying in the Spirit."  In all my years in our church I have never seen it happened.  The few encounters that I have seen occurred in other churches and congregations.  In my personal investigation of this phenomenon I have yet to find a convincing answer for it.  I realize this is such a controversial subject that it may offend some of my readers.  If you have made up your mind and have set your beliefs on stone, please stop reading this article.  You will be only wasting your time.  But if you have an inquiring mind and would like to know what it is all about then please read on.

 

But first note these quotations:

 

John Wimber actually said:

 

                      "There's nothing in Scripture that supports these kinds of phenomena that I can see, and I can't think of anything throughout the church age that would,' Wimber writes. 'So I feel no obligation to try to explain it. It's just phenomena. It's just people responding to God.'"

                     "There is no place in the Bible where people were lined up and Jesus or Paul or anyone else went along and tapped them on the head and watched them go down, one after another, and somebody else ran along behind. Can you picture Peter and James -- "Hold it, hold it, hold it!" -- running along behind trying to catch them? And so the model that we're seeing, either on stage or on television, is totally different from anything that's in Scripture." (John Wimber, "Spiritual Phenomena: Slain In The Spirit -- Part 1," Vineyard Christian Felllowship, Anaheim, CA, 1981, audiotape)

 

Benny Hinn actually said:

 

                     "You have so much today that is pure flesh, yet people have labeled it as the Spirit. It's not the Spirit, because it's not centered on Christ. It's pure emotionalism. Some of what is happening today, some of these manifestations where people are barking, making sounds of animals - I can tell you, that is not the Holy Spirit. It is purely demonic. The Holy Ghost does not bark. Only a devil barks. If somebody barks in my meeting, I'll cast the devil out of that man."

                     "You watching TBN here. If you're doing such nonsense, get back to the Bible. And don't you dare experiment with what is not Scriptural, checking out if God is in it. My brother, if it's not in the Bible, He's not in it!! If it's not in the Word of God, He is not in it. (Benny Hinn Condemns Toronto Blessing/Pensacola Phenomena Praise The Lord July 4, 1997 videotape transcript)

 

 

My Personal Encounter

 

At one time I ministered at a Young Christians meeting in our church, a youth brought a friend called Sally (not her real name).  When we all knelt down to pray Sally grasped the pew in front of her very tightly.  After the service I asked why she did that.  She told me she was afraid she might fall backwards and hurt herself.  She said it had happened to her before in the other churches she had attended.  I assured her it would not happen in our church.  I have been in our church all my life and I have never seen people falling backwards and hurting themselves, not even once. 

 

If you have watched some religious programs on television you might have seen a minister touching the forehead of a person and he or she would fall backwards into the arms of two "catchers" to prevent injury.  This falling backwards is called "slaying in the Spirit." 

 

I have been to the Toronto Airport Christian (former Vineyard) Fellowship twice just for the sake of finding out what the "Toronto Blessing" is all about.  I have seen dozens of people falling backwards and being laid flat on their backs.  While on the floor many of them were laughing uncontrollably while others were either barking like dogs or making strange animal noises.

 

Their ministers walked all over the floor praying for people to "soak in the Holy Spirit."  When they came to the row where I was sitting they asked all the men to stand up.  I stood up.  They started praying but I did not want them to lay hands on me.  Several people in our row fell backwards and landed on their seats.  I kept standing.  They prayed again for those who were still standing.  More people fell backwards.  Only three people in our row were left standing.  I was one of them.  The ministers said we had just missed the "Toronto Blessing" because we had resisted the Spirit.  Did I really miss anything?

 

 

Is  Slaying  in  the  Spirit  Biblical?

 

I do not know the origin of this phrase "slain in the Spirit", but I find this terminology has conflicts with what the Bible teaches.  The English word "slain" literally means "struck down or killed."  Now compare it with what the Bible states. 

 

"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Rom. 8:11)  

 

 The Holy Spirit does not "slay" a believer; on the other hand He gives life. Some Bibles use the word "quickens" the body.

 

What I have seen is that people who were "slain in the Spirit" often lose their consciousness and were unable to act or respond to actions like a normal person.  During the meetings that I attended at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship those that were slain in the Spirit were making so much inordinate actions and noises that they were interrupting the sermons, and the preachers continued preaching like nothing happened.  I have never seen so much confusion in a religious meeting.  The Bible states:  "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.  For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." (1 Cor. 14:32-33) 

 

After the Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit the apostle Peter testified to the apostles and brethren in Jerusalem:  "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning." (Acts 11:15)  What Peter was testifying was the experience of the Disciples of Christ on the Day of Pentecost.  "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4)  If you read the whole chapter 2 of Acts of the Apostles you will not be able to find a single description of the Disciples having been slain in the Spirit.  If all the 120 Disciples had been slain in the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost they would have all injured themselves because there were to catchers at that time.

 

If you go through the Acts of the Apostles and read every incident that the Early Christians had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you will be unable to find even one verse that suggests or hints that the Disciples had been slain in the Spirit.

 

Scriptures  Used  to  Validate  Slaying  in  the  Spirit

 

Those that practice slaying in the Spirit often quote Bible verses to validate their claim that this phenomenal experience is scriptural.  I shall go through their favorite verses and see whether or not it is so.

 

Abraham's  Experience

When God made a promise to Abraham "a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him." (Gen. 15:12)  "Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 'As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations." (Gen. 17:1-4)

Objection:  A deep sleep is not "slaying in the Spirit."  When Abraham "fell on his face" God was talking with him.  It was a posture of worship to show total submission and humility (Ref. Lev. 9:24; Num. 22:31).  Falling on the face is the opposite posture of falling backwards with the face looking up as is the case of people who are slain in the Spirit. 

Joshua's  Experience

When Joshua met the Commander of the Army of the LORD he "fell on his face to the earth and worshiped," and said to Him, 'What does my Lord say to His servant." (Jos. 5:13-15) 

Objection:  Joshua was not slain in the Spirit.  He was worshiping God who came to him as the Commander.  His face was to the earth and not to the sky as in the case of people who are slain in the Spirit.  Joshua was fully conscious of all his faculties when he "fell on his face to the earth and worshiped."

Ezekiel's  Experience

There is a description of God's glory filling the newly-completed Temple. "The priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the House of God." (2 Chr. 5:13-14).  When the prophet Ezekiel saw "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD," he fell on his face and heard the voice of God speaking to him. (Ezek. 1:26-28) 

Objection:  Ezekiel was not slain in the Spirit but was overwhelmed by the heavenly vision and in awe of the "glory of the LORD."  He wrote: "So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking." (Ezek. 1:28)  In his other visions of the glory of God Ezekiel also fell on his face (Ezek. 43:1-5; 44:4)

Daniel's  Experience

Daniel saw the vision of a heavenly messenger.  He wrote: "Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground" (Dan. 10:7-9)

Objection:    Daniel's mind was alert and clear while he was in a deep sleep with his face to the ground.  This is a prostrated posture of worship not the slaying in the Spirit.

The Apostles at the Mountain of Transfiguration

At the Mountain of Transfiguration Peter, James and John saw the Lord Jesus Christ appearing with Moses and Elijah.  They also heard the voice of God saying: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  Hear Him!'  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid." (Mt. 17:5-6)

Objection:   The three disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were not slain in the Spirit but were frightened by what they saw and heard.  They did not fall backwards but  "fell on their faces".

The Betrayal of Jesus Christ

"Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.  Jesus therefore knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, 'Whom are you seeking?'  They answered Him, 'Jesus of Nazareth.'  Jesus said to them, 'I am He.'  And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Then -when He said to them, 'I am He.' - they drew back and fell to the ground." (Jn. 18:3-6)

Objection:    Of all the examples shown so far this is the only one that resembles the description of slaying in the Spirit.  This is the only incident in the Bible in which the people "drew back and fell to the ground." Although the people fell backwards they did not become unconscious because the following verse suggests that they were fully aware of what they were doing.  It must be noted that all those that fell backwards were enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ.  From this study we can see that the people of God fell forward with face towards the ground and the enemy of God fell backward with their face looking up.

Paul's Damascus Road Experience

"And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.  Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:3-4)

Objection:    Although the narrative does not state whether Paul fell forward or backward yet there are indications he was not thrown down by some external force.  He probably voluntarily or instinctively fell to the ground with face down by himself because of the bright light.  Paul described his experience as "a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me." (Acts 26:13)  In that situation Paul would have fallen with his face toward the ground to shield his eyes from the bright light.  If he had fallen backward he would have injured himself and would require someone to help him get up.  The narrative states: "Then Saul arose from the ground, . . ." (Acts 9:8)  Paul got up from the ground by himself to show that he fell forward and not backward.

 

Examples from Revelations

 

There are several examples of the postures of people worshiping the One True God. 

 

"And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, 'Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last." (Rev. 1:17)

"And all the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God." (Rev. 7:11)

"And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God.”  (Rev. 11:16)

"And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, 'Amen! Alleluia!” (Rev. 19:4)

"And I fell at his feet to worship him.  But he said to me, 'See that you did not do that!  I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus.  Worship God!  For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev. 19:10)

 

Objection:    The descriptions  "fell at His feet",  "fell on their faces",  "fell down and worshiped God", "fell at his feet to worship him" can only mean falling forward with the face down.  It is a posture of honoring and worshiping the One True God.  There is absolutely nothing to suggest that it is slaying in the Spirit.

 

Conclusion

 

We have exhausted all the Bible verses that might lend support to the practice of slaying in the Spirit.  There is no indication this practice is scriptural.  The Bible states:  "To the Law and to the Testimony!  If they do not speak according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8:20)  This is the conclusion.  What should we do?  "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with the using - according to the commandments and doctrines of men?  These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh." (Col. 2:21-23)

 

May God bless you

 

 

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This article is a presentation of Paul Wong

to the Ark Forum on November 20, 2003.

It was published on this Website on August 9, 2009

For comments please write first to:  arkpw@sbcglobal.net

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