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Coming Out Of The Toronto Deception

The following is a telling admission by a former Toronto Vineyard pastor, about the excesses and deception of what was dubbed the Toronto Blessing. Renewed Christians flocked to
Toronto like Catholics have made pilgrimages to Lourdes or Medjugorje in search of healing, or like Muslims flock to Mecca.

One of the early warnings in Exodus is not to follow the crowd in doing wrong. But then, the crowd doesn’t think it is doing wrong. It thinks it is right. The sheep instinct is a very strong pull.

Deception is often hard to recognise. Otherwise it would not be deception. And harder still it is for many to come out of, being protected by pride and a reluctance to be corrected or humbled. Yet that is the principal reason God permits it. He consigns people to error and delusion, that He might eventually have mercy on all – all, that is, who are willing to humble themselves and repent.

It takes courage to make such a move, but it is a sign of a true believer. There is no other route into the Kingdom of God, other than repentance and turning away from heresy and false practice.

It is the prophets’ lot to call believers to repentance where they are out of step with God. And God sends prophets to sound the alarm, even though the majority of believers don’t accept them or heed their words. The true prophets are lone voices ‘on the hills’, shut out of the assemblies, consigned to ignominy and ignoble deprecation.

Yet their warnings come from a true heart that cares for those trapped by delusion and the devil’s cunning. God gives them discernment.

Between 1994 and 2000, I observed the Toronto phenomenon from a distance, read what others related, and allowed God to lead my mind to understand. I wrote up my findings in various articles that are now compiled under one cover in Testing The Spirits.

I explained that the Toronto ‘Blessing’ was a phenomenon which God instigated, but which rapidly degenerated into an experiential, fleshly, demonic pit. Where people do not want full truth, God sends a strong (demonic) delusion that they may believe a lie:

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion that they might believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thes 2:9-12).

[Introduction by Malcolm B Heap.]

The following account is by Paul Gowdy, formerly a Toronto Vineyard pastor:

It has taken me nine years to actually come to the place where I would write this story. Part of the reason was because I was not fully convinced that it is appropriate to speak out against weaknesses in the body of Christ publicly. [But how else can you warn gullible sheep?] Another reason is because it has taken years of soul searching to become convinced that what happened in the Toronto Airport Church was actually all bad or at least more bad than good!

For the past number of years I have called it a mixed blessing. I think James A. Beverly called it this in his book Holy Laughter and the Toronto Blessing 1994. Today I would call it a mixed curse concluding that any individual good that came from this experience is far outweighed by much harm and satanic deception. I suppose that therein has been my dilemma. I have tried to live my life in the fear of the Lord and Jesus told us that the unforgivable sin is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Attributing to Satan what was in fact a work of God. [The unforgivable sin is a deliberate malicious accusation, not one made mistakenly in innocent ignorance.] If pressed as to whether or not the Toronto blessing is all God or all Devil I will still be hedgy, but I am convinced that Satan has used this experience to blind people to the historical doctrines of God, to produce fruit in keeping with repentance, to failing to test and discern the spirits and failing to test prophecy.

After three years of being in the thick of the Toronto blessing our Vineyard assembly in Scar- borough (East Toronto) just about self-destructed. We devoured one another, with gossip, backstabbing, division, sects, criticism etc. After three years of 'soaking,' praying for people, shaking, rolling, laughing, roaring, ministering at TACF (Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) on their prayer team, leading worship at TACF, preaching at TACF, basically living at TACF, we were the most carnal, immature and deceived Christians that I know. I remember saying to my friend and senior pastor at Scarborough Vineyard Church in 1997 that ever since the Toronto blessing came we have just about fallen to bits! He agreed! [1]

My experience has been that the manifestation of spiritual gifts mentioned in 1st Corinthians 12 was much more common in our assembly before January 1994 (when the Toronto blessing started) than during this period of supposed Holy Spirit visitation.

During 1992-1993 when praying for people we would experience what I believe was genuine prophecy, deliverance and much grace and favour from the Lord. After the Toronto Blessing started, all ministry time changed, the only prayers were 'More Lord, MORE', the shouting of 'Fire', the jerky shaking of the body with the 'ooh ooh OOH WOOOAAH' prayer. (I kid you not!)

On January 20th 1994 about 15 people from our church traveled over to Toronto Airport Vineyard in order to listen to Randy Clark, a Vineyard pastor from the USA. John Arnott had called our senior pastor to invite us. He communicated that Randy had been to the Rodney Howard Browne[2] meetings and that the stuff had broken out in his church in the following weeks. John was hoping that something might break out with us too. We were only too happy to travel over. We were a church plant out of the Toronto Airport and we started in 1992. In those days there were three Vineyard Churches in Toronto. One Down Town church, Scarborough Vineyard church to the east, and the Airport church. We were one big happy family. Because we were small in number we did special meetings, conferences etc, together.

The year before, most of our leadership teams joined and had headed to Nicaragua for a short term missions trip. We had genuine love and fellowship with each other. Since leaving the Vineyard churches I have read a fair bit of analysis from the critics. Some make out that the Toronto Blessing was one huge conspiracy to lead the body of Christ into heresy. Heresy and apostasy I suspect may well be the result, but none of these destinations were intentional. I am honestly convinced that the leaders in the Vineyard churches are genuine born-again Christians who love the Lord, but have fallen into deception.[3] They have not loved the Lord enough to keep His commandments. They have failed to obey the scriptures and have been led astray by our longing for something bigger and brighter and more exciting and dynamic. I am guilty of this sin also. I have preached renewal in Korea, the United Kingdom, the USA and here in Canada. I am genuinely repentant and in writing this story I would ask you the bride and body of Christ to forgive me. Especially the Pentecostal / Charismatic Christians among you, for you are my immediate family theologically. I am an evangelical Christian, I always have been but I do not believe in the cessation of the spiritual gifts at the end of the apostolic era. I believe that it was my evangelical roots (my family are Baptists and I was born again in the Presbyterian Church.) that started to open my eyes to problems with this so called renewal. In hindsight I look back and think how could I have been so blind? I laughed at people acting like dogs and pretending to urinate on the columns of the TACF building. I watched people pretend to be animals, bark, roar, cluck, pretend to fly as if they had wings, perpetually act drunk and sing silly songs. How I thought that any of this was from the Holy Spirit of God amazes me today. It was loud irreverent and blasphemous to the Holy God of the Bible. I suppose in my mind I reasoned that as long as they did not teach any thing in direct violation to scripture then it was what we called the exotic. This is a buzz word for manifestations that could not be justified from a biblical perspective. I was taught from the pulpit that we had two options. The order of the nursery full of life and messy, or the order of the graveyard, very orderly but dead! As a young immature pastor I wanted life with mess. I failed to remember that God wants us to become mature and grow up in him. I became disconcerted by the prophetic words that came forth especially one by Carol Arnott in which she had her bride experience where she was taken into the very presence of Jesus and said that the love that she experienced was even better than sex! I was shocked in my spirit and thought how can one compare the love of God with sex? When we suspected that demons were running riot in our services John Arnott would teach that we should ask are they coming or going.  If they are leaving then that is ok! John would defend the chaos by saying that we ought not be afraid of being deceived, if we have asked the Holy Spirit to come and fill us then how could Satan come and deceive us? This would make Satan very strong and God very weak! He said that we needed to have more faith in a Big God to protect us than in a Big Devil to deceive us.

This sounded very convincing but was totally contrary to scripture for Jesus and Paul and Peter and John all warn us about the power of deceiving spirits and especially so in the last days. Again we did not love God enough to obey His Word and the result was that we opened ourselves up to lying spirits. May God have mercy upon us!

Finally the penny dropped for me as I was rolling around one night 'drunk in the Spirit' as we would say. I started singing and as I rolled around the floor the Nursery Rhyme 'Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow' came to mind. I sang this in a mocking spirit and instantly my heart told me this was a demon. [The demon was mocking Jesus.] Instantly I repented and was in total shock. How could a demon get into me? Did I not love God? Was I not zealous for the things of God? Was I not nuts about Jesus? I knew that an unclean spirit had just manifested through me and I was guilty of great sin. After this experience I stayed away from TACF. I did not go back there any more. I did not possess the conviction to denounce the whole experience but thought that we were failing to pastor the Blessing well enough.

Even after I stopped going over to TACF, I had to pastor the fruit of it. One example was when some of our people returned from a meeting there asking us if we had all received the golden sword of the Lord? I asked them what they were talking about thinking that it was some prophetic reference to the Holy Scriptures but they said, 'no, it's not the Bible, it's an invisible golden sword that only the really pure can receive.’ If taken in an unrighteous fashion then the Lord would kill you. But if you are holy enough to receive it then you can wield this sword and it will heal AIDS, Cancer etc. and bring salvation. How one wielded this sword was by pretending to have this invisible sword in your hand and motioning to strike people with it when in prayer! I thought while even in deception at this time that the TACF had become Looney bins! This was purportedly first received by Carol Arnott and then given to the ones holy enough to receive it! Another thing was the golden fillings in the teeth. We had people in our assembly peeping down one another's throats looking for the gold fillings that God had placed there to show how much he loved them!

In all my time there I only heard one message on repentance given by a visiting speaker from Hong Kong named Jackie Pullinger. It went over like a lead balloon. We were not there to repent, we were there to party in the Lord! After one year into the blessing I spoke out at a pastors meeting and said 'guys we have shaken, rattled, rolled, laughed cried and bought the tee-shirt. But we have no revival, no salvation, no fruit and no increased evangelism so what's the deal?' I was soundly rebuked – who was I to expect to see fruit when the Lord was healing his broken people? We had been legalistic long enough and God was spending this time restoring his wounded and freeing us from legalism, I was told not to push the Lord and the harvest would come in his time.'

I knew this was wrong because the Lord had commanded us to go into all the earth and make disciples! Not that everyone should take a sabbatical for who knows how long, while God does some strange new thing! Ultimately I left over something as controversial as the ordination of women. Personally I believe from scripture that women should not be pastors/elders in a local assembly. I could be wrong on this[4] and there is much debate in the Church today but that is my conviction and in the Vineyard churches they were ordaining all the pastors' wives to co-pastor with them. I am certainly for women in ministry but believe that the elder / pastor role in a local assembly has been reserved for men. I did not write scripture but God willing I will have the grace from now on to obey it.

So there is my story. I could go on and document much excess, folly, sin and latter day reign [rain?] teaching that manifest from the prophetic end of this Blessing but others have already done that. We sang about Joel's army and the billion soul revival as if it were one of the Ten Commandments, and as always it was just around the corner. Next month, next year etc. Jesus said that when the son of man returns will he find faith upon the earth? And if he did not return when he will, no flesh would be saved, but for the sake of the elect he comes. This is a far cry from the dominionism that is being taught all through the vineyard / prophetic / spiritual warfare movement. I honestly think that they think they are going to take over the whole world! While in the Vineyard I embraced a life verse from the Apostle Paul – the phrase do not go beyond what is written!

To finish I just want to say sorry for the damage, that I have personally done by teaching things that are not correct biblically. I repent before men as I already have before God. I will not excuse my falling into deception. I did not bother to test things when the scriptures commanded us to do so. Everyone who was there when this thing started knows that what I write is true, they would just come to different conclusions especially if they are still promoting the 'river!'

To those in the river I would say swim out, there are things living in the water that will bite you real good! I love the people of TACF and the Vineyard movement but I think that we have much to answer for and may the Lord open your eyes sooner rather than later. I suspect that when this letter goes online I will get bombarded by emails from both camps, some damning me for still believing in the ministry of the Holy Spirit and still walking in deception and some old friends damning me for exposing dirt or being negative about the Lord’s anointed! Well, the Lord knows my heart and by his grace he will guide me into all truth as I seek to know Christ and him crucified! If you believe that I walk in sin and error please pray for me that the Lord would forgive me and open my eyes. I will study the word to show myself a workman approved! I would call on all who read this to pray that the Lord would open the eyes of all who have been involved in this deception. Whether leader or follower, we are loved and the Lord is a forgiving God. He says if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I believe we are like the church in Laodicea, we think that we are rich, have prospered and need nothing, we do not realise that we are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. We must take the Counsel of Jesus and buy gold refined in the fire (which is his suffering, not a false spirit!), white garments to clothe our shameful nakedness and salve for our eyes that we might see again. Jesus is calling us to repentance and thank the Lord that he is, for it will lead us to true restoration with our Father! If God has forgiven me and  opened my eyes then he can do it for all those caught in deception too. I will finish with a warning from Paul, he says if you think you are standing firm be careful lest you fall.

Sincerely, Paul Gowdy.

Paul Gowdy's article © 2004-2006. Discernment Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Some Testimonies

1. About being "drunk", my humble testimony:

I remember quite well in 1993, a few days after knowing Jesus and being baptised in the Spirit: I spent the whole day praising and worshipping Jesus, at work, in the street, even in the train on my way back home, I was so full of the joy of salvation, my heart filled with tremendous gratefulness. So, at the end of the day when I arrived at my parents home, a strange thing happened, I could not walk correctly anymore, it was as if I was drunk, really. And my parents were mighty puzzled. I was full with joy and could hardly stand on my feet. I believe it was a sign for my parents [I was an alcoholic before knowing Jesus and they had worried so many times about that and cried to God for me.] It was in 1993 and nobody in France knew anything about Toronto at this time. The year after, we have seen the huge difference, between a real joy that comes from the Lord and the laughing phenomenon that began to disturb the meetings.

At times, God can bless His children in an unusual way, but these things should not be taught [sought for their own sake].... No wonder we Christians can be victims of delusion, because the Holy way is not preached and therefore Christians don't walk in the Holy way. There is so much joy on this way, though.   Debonnaire

2. A friend of mine with a powerful ministry delivered a very high up warlock out of the occult. The warlock, after being born again, was evicted from Howard Browne's meeting because he challenged him publicly. When asked by my friend later why he did it, the warlock responded by saying that he was deceiving the people because he was moving in the same manifestations and spirit that they moved in in the occult.

The higher levels of the occult know about this counterfeit Holy Ghost (called Asherah, or the daughter of Egypt; Jeremiah 46). Psalm 119 is counterfeited in the occult where they use 22 tarot cards to represent the 22 stanzas of 8 verses of Psalm 119. A few of the tarot cards depict this woman, who is discussed on occult websites. Also the woman riding the beast in Revelation 17. Do a search on Google on Psalm 119 and tarot and you will be amazed what you will find.

Finally on songs, in the church I was pastoring, I used to do all this new Hillsong modern music abominations in 2004. We went into a season of extended prayer and seeking the face of God on getting a breakthrough. One of the first things he did was speak to us about bringing back the old songs (hymns, Scripture in Song) which challenged me at the time because I felt we were going backwards. He gave Jeremiah 6:16 about restoring the ancient paths, the good old way. Once we did it, the presence of God and anointing increased in our services. We saw a cripple healed soon afterwards and similar miracles. God Bless. Warren

3. I had the opportunity to attend a Rodney Howard- Browne meeting at Christian City Church, Sydney in 1998. I was a new Christian at the time. To this day I have never seen a more powerful display of spiritual power. The night started out with some reasonable preaching of the gospel mixed with a call to Joel's army and a hint of dominionism to pull on the pride of man. In the mean time there where out breaks of sardonic laughter from individual women in the crowd that sounded like you would expect from a witch. (I believe they were satanic plants). After an altar call for salvation with those going forward for counselling, which the people there were honestly seeking to help people, then the "party" started. Different songs were led by Rodney – ‘we’re drinking of the new wine’ and from memory he spoke of or sung about being the Holy Ghost bar-tender.

Things got pretty bad once the music was paused for different spectaculars, so to speak, of people being slain in waves across the room filled with approx 1,500 people. I didn't see people crawling or barking but the laughter was uncontrol- able and the stand-out thing was the contortion of some people’s bodies was weird. One guy was so bad I thought he was seriously handicapped but after the show, I looked over at this guy as he was leaving and he now looked totally normal...

After my personal research while being a new Christian and thirsty for the truth I feel that this drinking deal has a Bacchanite root. Bacchus or Baccus is the god of wine and was celebrated with drunken orgies. While doing my research I feel this root is a big player in a lot of the big name hard rock bands like Kiss and AC DC that infected many during the late 70's & 80's. These bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones have done a deal with Satan to find their platform, fame and riches, much like the apostates with the fruit of their followers producing similar behaviour. (From www.revivalschool.com.)

Some Further Reading From Midnight Ministries
A Message To The Charismatic Church (£2.00)  God’s Church – Whose Authority? (£3.00). The Faith Once Delivered (£1.00).
Apostasy In God’s Church! (£2.00).   Testing The Spirits (£6.00)
The Subtlety Of Pride (£1.00).   Meetings With Jesus (£2.00)

Midnight In America
PO Box 8493, Warner Robins, GA 31095-8493, USA

[1]   Indeed, Jesus said that a spiritual matter is known by its fruits (Matt 12:33), and that a false minister is known by his fruits (Matt 7:15-20). He was talking about spiritual fruits (Gal 5:22-26). This is expounded fully in Midnight Ministries’ book Testing The Spirits (£6.00).

[2]   Rodney Howard-Browne is a South African ‘evangelist’ who has many deceiving spirits inspiring his ministry. Characteristic of many of his meetings have been outbreaks of uncontrollable laughter which spread like contagion over the audience, even at times which should require our sobriety and reverence for the holy things of God or of (for example) the awesome sacrifice of Jesus to atone for our sins.

[3]   I wouldn’t be so confident of this. When you take into account all that Jesus said warning about false ministers who would rise up, as well as His warnings to beware of men (Matt 24:4,11; 7:15-23), and the fact that half the virgins do not make it into the Kingdom of God because they are ‘foolish’ (Matt 25:2); and add to those stark warnings similar austere words from Peter about false ministers (2 Pet 2), from Jude (Jude 3-16), from Paul (Acts 20:27-31), and from John who was thrown out of the assemblies by an impostor (3 Jn 9, 10), I am soberly reminded that leaders are generally more prone to apostasy, defilement and disqualification (1 Cor 9:27) than the ‘average’ humble ‘member’. Greater standards are required of leaders! What has been demonstrated at Toronto (and other similar places) is evidence of falsity of motive, which disqualifies such people from God’s Kingdom.       

[4]   God is not sexist. There is gross misunderstanding on this issue. The truth is laid out in The Woman Question (£2.00). Part of the misconception is due to a wrong appreciation of government in the church, fully explained in God’s Church – Whose Authority? (£3.00.)


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