Friday, August 19, 2011

The Shroud of Turin: What Does the Bible Say About It?

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
– 1 Jn. 5:20-21

To be brief, the image on the Shroud of Turin is not that of Jesus Christ – and there are at least two reasons why.  The first is because the image on the Shroud doesn’t fit the biblical account of what Jesus looked like at the time of his death, and the second is that the existence of the Shroud itself, as in accepting the possibility that it came from the body of Jesus, or is of Christian origin in general, is unbiblical.  We’ll justify these two positions by first comparing the results of the biblical account of the crucifixion with that of the image on the Shroud.
  
·        In the Bible, the headpiece was separate from the rest of the grave clothes (Jn. 11:44, 20:7); and yet, the Shroud is a single sheet of linen which shows the headpiece as part of the whole sheet and not as separate.
·        In the Bible, when the Jews prepared a body for burial, they would take individual strips of linen and wrap the arms and legs separate from the body instead of all together.[1]  This would explain how Lazarus was able to walk out of his tomb.[2]  If his legs would have been wrapped together, then he wouldn’t have been able to do this.
  
During that same event, the Bible also records that Lazarus needed help removing his grave clothes (Jn. 11:44).  This suggests that there’s much more involved in preparing a body than just laying a sheet over a body.  You don’t need help to remove a flat sheet.       
·        God’s Word teaches that myrrh and aloes were used to prepare a body for burial (Jn. 19:39).  These two, when mixed together, form a hard shell around the body.  The Shroud is a flat, pliable, sheet.
·        Much has been said about the damage on the shoulder blades.  The conclusion held by many is that it was caused by the cross as Jesus carried it on the way to Calvary.  However, when comparing Mt. 27:32; Mk. 15:21; Lu. 23:26, and Jn. 19:17, you’ll find that Jesus never publicly carried his cross.  He only carried it in the courtyard of the Praetorium.  It’s therefore unlikely that such a short trip would have caused that much damage. 
·        In speaking of the crucifixion, God’s Word teaches us in Isaiah 50:6 that Jesus had his beard plucked from his face.  The man on the Shroud has a full beard.  Therefore, the man on the Shroud cannot be that of Jesus Christ. 
·        And finally, in speaking of the crucifixion, Isaiah teaches us that Jesus’ face was so badly beaten that you wouldn’t have recognized him (Is. 52:13-15).  The Shroud shows the face of the man whose features are clearly distinguishable with no evidence of a beating having taken place, other than the possibility of a broken nose.      

Thus, the biblical account of the crucifixion doesn’t match up with the image on the Shroud; or, should I say that the image on the Shroud doesn’t match the biblical account?  Either way, the net effect is that the image on the Shroud is not and cannot be that of Jesus Christ.  Any one of these comparisons is proof enough, much less the entire group – if you believe the Bible that is.  We’ll now turn our attention to discerning whether the existence of the Shroud itself is biblical.  To do so, we need to look no further than the Second Commandment. 

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God,…  – Ex. 20:4-5a

As you can see, God’s definition of idol worship is slightly different than ours.  We have the tendency to emphasize the latter while overlooking the former: we have the tendency to emphasize the admonition not to worship images while ignoring or rejecting the other admonition not to even make them; but God’s definition includes both the manufacture and the worship of these images. 
Of course many would disagree, but no amount of human rationality can deter the simple wording found in this commandment.  The fact remains that the image of the man on the Shroud doesn’t fit the biblical account of what Jesus looked like at the time of his crucifixion and so it must be rejected.  It must also be rejected because its very existence is an abomination as expressed by the Second Commandment.  And finally, having been asked for a sign by spiritually unregenerate religious leaders of his day, Jesus replies:     

But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:  For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. – Mt. 12:39-40

Thus, Jesus has given them, and us, one, and only one, proof or sign of his deity: his resurrection.  That means that there is none other – including the Shroud of Turin.  Jesus’ response also serves to enlighten and to warn. The good news is that we serve a living God who isn’t made by the hands of men (Acts 17:29): the warning is that there are those who would have us believe otherwise: we should therefore be wary of them.  Selah. 

Also, over the years, many documentaries have been produced using scientific methods to prove or disprove the authenticity of the Shroud.  But of all these tests, please note that the best that they could ever hope to prove is that the Shroud isn’t a forgery; but proving the Shroud isn’t a forgery isn’t the same thing as proving that it came from the body of Jesus Christ.

The single best proof that’s been offered is that the image on the Shroud could only have been produced by a sudden and very intense burst of light.  Now whether this is possible or not is unknown to this author (not that it matters anyway), but what is known is that a 50/50 mixture of myrrh and aloe will produce the exact same effect, and so there’s nothing to be added to their argument from this.  Many of their findings may in fact be correct.  But what needs to be remembered is that science doesn’t establish God’s Word; rather, it bears witness to it.  And so while the science may be correct in its findings, it’s incorrect in its final interpretation.  Indeed there’s an image of a man who’s been crucified on the Shroud: it’s just not that of Jesus Christ.  Selah.





[1]Cp. Mt. 27:59; Mk. 15:46; Lu. 23:53a, Jn. 19:40, and Acts 5:6.
[2]On this point, some may argue that Jesus could have been wrapped with the linen strips, then “sandwiched” in between a single flat sheet.  But for this to be true, assuredly some of the overlapping of the individual linen straps would have shown up in the photographic negative, but they do not.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Phenomenon of Being Slain in the Spirit


The practice of “slaying people in the Spirit” has been with us for quite some time now; so long in fact that most have come to view it as a normal part of the Christian experience.  But it really isn’t anything new because non-Christians have been practicing it for years – just watch any ritualistic voodoo video and you’ll see the similarities.  This alone should be cause for alarm; but as it often happens, people have the tendency to interpret Scripture based upon their experiences instead of interpreting their experiences in light of God’s Word.  This is a destructive mindset that replaces the truth of God’s Word with our own private interpretations, which are little more than extensions of these (often) subjective experiences.  It elevates our limited understanding to that of being above reproach, of being more important and more authoritative than Scripture.  Where our experiences become truth, even when they contradict Scripture.  And so when the proponents of this practice approach Scripture, they do so in a fashion that will justify their preconceived notions; or, at least they’re going to try.    

But the situation worsens.  Since proponents of this see it as a legitimate outpouring of the Holy Spirit, anyone expressing any measure of doubt or hesitation is immediately ostracized.  Valid and legitimate questions are often viewed as personal insults and an attack upon their ministry; and so what we have here are people who don’t want to be questioned about a belief of which they have no biblical evidence, and in turn accuse and malign those who do.  Oppressive, to say the least.  But because of their stance, God has blinded them to the truth even though they’re convinced otherwise.  They do offer Scriptural support; and even though they do so as an afterthought, their claims should be examined.  Yes, the Holy Spirit can do unusual things; but as we’ll soon see, this practice isn’t so unusual that it’s escaped the mind of God. 

But of course, we need to remind ourselves that not everyone involved in this is unsaved or a false prophet or teacher, although many of them are.  But it also needs to be remembered that what’s commonly popular with the (church) masses is seldom popular with God.  And so what follows is a biblical study of slaying, or being slain, in the Spirit.  It’s a common practice heralded by many as a sign of the presence of God when it’s really nothing more than a lie and a deception; but it’s a lie and deception that’s been tolerated by the church for so long that few question its validity.  This is further endorsed and the problem compounded by many who’d testify of its benefits: perceived or otherwise.  But ironically, the very verses used to justify this practice are the very ones that condemn it – that, and much more.  But let’s have a closer look.  


Their Proofs

What follows are the verses and passages of Scripture that they use to justify this practice.  
             
Gen. 15:12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.


In Genesis 15, God provides Abram with some insight concerning the coming Messiah.  The smoking pot that walked between the animal halves represented God (Ex. 19:18) and the burning lamp represented Jesus: The Light of the world (Ex. 19:18; Jn. 8:12 etc.).  Covenants are made in blood, and since Spirits don’t bleed, God was teaching Abram that one day God would become a man who would then “cut the covenant” with God.  Only Jesus as both God and man can accomplish this because only he can perfectly represent both sides.  He is both God and the perfect man to represent all of mankind  because he is the only one who was tempted in all points and prevailed.  And so this whole occasion was a prophetic event designed to teach Abram (and us) of the coming Messiah.  But before walking between the animal halves, the fowls (Satan) came and attempted to carry away the sacrifice.  Fearing, Abram tries to shoo them away.  But had God allowed this to continue, it would have altered the lesson; it would have implied that man plays a part in his salvation (i.e. salvation by works).  And so not wanting to leave man with this impression, God puts Abram to sleep, but allows him to witness the ceremony in a vision.  God deals with people in dreams and visions and so this shouldn’t seem unusual.  

But as it pertains to this subject, did you notice that Abram was put to sleep for disciplinary reasons?  And so if you want to use this verse as an example of people being slain in the spirit, then you must teach that it’s done for disciplinary reasons.  So for those of you falling backwards, how does this make you feel?  And unlike those who are slain in the spirit can testify, Abram actually received something tangible from the Lord: he did receive a son, God did make of him a great nation, they did inherit the land of Israel, etc.    
   
Gen. 17:1-3 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.  And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,…

The LORD has again appeared to Abram to speak of the covenant.  And when he does, Abram falls on his face – indicative of the direction he fell: forward.  Not backward!  Later in v. 17, Abram once again “fell upon his face,” but this time in laughter.  Evidently after the first time he’d stood back up.  And note that he didn’t fall as the result of the overwhelmingly presence of God: it was in laughter due to the humor he saw in such an old couple being able to produce a child.  And as opposed to those who are slain, Abram never lost consciousness.  In fact he held a conversation.

Josh. 5:13-15 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

Joshua has met the captain of the LORD’s host: Jesus.  When he realized to whom he was speaking, he reacted in a manner befitting any good Christian.  He fell face-forward in worship!  And after prostrating himself, he spoke, and so there’s no indication that he was ever overcome to the extent that he became faint – as those whom are slain do.  

2 Chr. 5:13-14 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.

Solomon has completed the Temple and God has descended and filled it with his glory – so much so that the priests couldn’t “stand to minister” due to the intensity of the cloud.[1]  But just because the priests couldn’t “stand to minister” doesn’t mean they were slain.  The verse itself tells you why they couldn’t minister: it was because of the cloud and darkness (2 Chr. 6:1).  And so there’s nothing here to support people falling backward.  In addition, the Hebrew word for “stand” could just have as equally been translated “serve,” which makes perfect sense.  In plain terms, the priests couldn’t minister (serve) because they couldn’t see.  So if you want to use this passage as an example of people being slain in the Spirit, then you must also teach that a cloud and darkness are to appear.  But there’s more. 

The Old Testament priests were the Bible teachers of their day.  So if you want to use this as an example, then you must also teach that it’s the ministers who should be falling down and not those in the audience.  And in reading the rest of the passage, you’ll in fact discover that others were present with no indication that any of them ever fell down.  
 
Eze. 1:28-2:2 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, and I heard a voice of one that spake. 2:1And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. 2:2And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.

Having seen the glory of the LORD, Ezekiel falls forward on his face in worship.  He’s then told to stand up.  And as he does, the Spirit of the Lord enters into him and sets him upon his feet so that he could hear better.  So from this example we’re reminded that God’s people fall forward in worship, that the Spirit lifts them up rather than knocking them down, and the reason for this is so God can engage in a real-life conversation instead of laying comatose on the ground. The Spirit of God lifts God’s people up; it doesn’t knock them down – quite the contrast to being slain.  Many of these same examples occur later in Ezekiel Chapters 43 and 44. 

Dan. 8:15-18 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man.  And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision.  Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright.

Dan. 10:8-11 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.  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.  And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.  And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.

Assuredly under the weight of the presence of God’s Word, Daniel falls forward and into a deep sleep.  He’s then brought to his knees and then stood upright so that he could engage in conversation.  Again, vastly different from what we’re being led to believe today.     

Mt. 17:5-8[2] While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

Repeating the pattern of the Old Testament, Jesus’ disciples reacted in much the same way as their brethren before them.  The reason for this is because God is consistent in his dealings with man and so the response of the believers of Jesus Christ throughout the ages has always been the same.  When Peter and John heard the voice of God, they fell forward and there’s absolutely no evidence that they ever lost consciousness.  They could hear God speak.  They could hear Jesus speak.  And just as it was in the days of Old, they were quickly told to arise.  When Jesus touched them, did they fall out “under the power?”  No they didn't.  Rather, along with his words, it brought peace and comfort.  So as you can see, there just isn’t any place for this practice.

Rev. 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:    

Again, the wording here leaves a lot to be desired.  There isn’t any evidence that John ever lost consciousness or that he fell backwards.  The biblical pattern is that God’s people fall forward in worship – which is exactly what John did here.  John could hear and so that would also rule out any thought of him being unconscious.  Falling at the feet of Jesus as though dead isn’t the same thing as being unconscious.  Many become paralyzed with fear in certain circumstances and so this should come as no surprise.  We too will one day react much the same, and so there’s no reason to read into this any more than what’s stated in plain English (Php. 2:5-11). 

Concluding, remember that these are the verses that they offer as proofs of people being slain the spirit.  But upon closer examination, it should be easy to discern that what the Bible teaches is nowhere close to what they’d have us believe.  As mentioned earlier, they approach the Scriptures not to test their experiences, but to justify them by twisting Scripture; and so as a result, God blinds them to the Truth.         

But What About Those Who Fall Backward?

Jn. 18:4-7 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?  5They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.  6As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground7Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
              
When asked who he was, Jesus answered “I Am” (Ex. 3:14).  By this he was identifying himself as God (come in the flesh) and the authority of that statement caused these unregenerate men to fall backwards.  But in this mixed crowd, note that it was only these unregenerate men who fell backwards and NOT Jesus’ disciples.  Also note that there was no evidence of them ever losing consciousness (they began to question him after getting back up) nor was there a change in their hearts as a result (they got right back up and promptly arrested him vv. 12-13).  So despite claims that the Spirit is doing a work in you while you’re laying on your back unconscious, this example proves otherwise. 

Acts 9:3-9 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? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.


If this is to be accepted as an example of people being slain in the spirit, then you must also teach that it equally affects lost people and that there’s no requirement for a change of heart to have occurred when they arise from the ground (similar to John 18).  Scripture doesn’t say which direction he fell, no one touched him to cause him to fall, and there’s no indication that he lost consciousness; and when Jesus gave a command, it was to “arise” and not fall down.  So if you want to use this as an example, you must also teach that a bright light should appear, that you will go blind, and that those around you can hear God’s voice but only you can see him.  As you can see this is silly, but being slain in the spirit is being taught and practiced as truth, and this is one of the passages used for its justification; and unfortunately, many are being succumbed by it.
           
According to the biblical narrative, those who fell forward in the presence of the Lord did so in voluntary submission as an act of worship.  This is because Christians know and understand whom it is they serve.  On the other hand, there were also those who fell backward.  And when they fell, it was in judgment or as a testimony against them.  The following verses substantiate this view; but ultimately, at the end of the age, every knee will bow in God’s presence (Rom. 14:11-12; Php. 2:9-11).         

Gen. 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

1 Sam. 4:18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he [Eli] fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

Ps. 40:13-14 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.
Is. 1:4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

Is. 28:13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

Jer. 7:24 But they [Israel] hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

Jer. 15:6 Thou [Jerusalem] hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

Jn. 18:6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they [those who came to arrest Jesus] went backward, and fell to the ground

As you can see, falling backward in the Bible is essentially reserved for those who are under some form of judgment or involved in some sort of sin.  There are many false prophets and teachers operating freely in the church today and there are many Christians who’ve been caught up in their dissimulation.  Fortunately, God’s Word will provide us with the answers that we need to live a spirit-filled life full of obedience – if we choose to believe his Word. 

The Laying On of Hands

People who “slay” often do so by laying their hands upon an individual, or sometimes they just wave their hand or blow on them.  But no matter how it’s done, the end result is much the same.  Listed below is virtually every instance in which Jesus or his disciples laid their hands on people and the subsequent result.  In contrast to what we see today, the Bible doesn’t reveal anything even remotely resembling slaying.  And in stark contrast to what we see today, the Bible provides ample evidence showing that those who had hands laid on them actually received something with no evidence of anyone ever falling backward.    

·       After Jesus had healed Peter’s mother-in-law, she then stood and began to minister unto them (cp., Mt. 8:14-15; Mk. 1:29-31; Lu. 4:38-39).
·       Shortly after the above, Jesus laid his hands on those who were sick and healed every one (cp., Mt. 8:16-17; Mk. 1:32-34; Lu. 4:40-41).  
·       When Jesus healed a leper, he told him to go and offer a gift as a testimony to those who wouldn’t believe (cp., Mt. 8:1-4; Mk. 1:40-44; Lu. 5:12-14).  Perhaps those who are healed by the laying on of hands without being slain should go and offer a gift to those who are slaying people as a testimony against them and their inflated reports of those they’ve healed, or claimed were healed as a result of their ministry.
·       When Jesus laid hands on Jairus’ daughter (cp., Mt. 9:18-26; Mk. 5:21-43; Lu. 8:40-56), she came back to life and then stood and began to walk around.  How often does this happen when people are slain today?
·       In Matthew 9:27-31, Jesus touches the eyes of two blind men and they receive their sight.  They then depart – conscious.   
·       At the time of Jesus’ second rejection in Nazareth, he again lays his hands on the people and heals them (cp., Mt. 13:54-58; Mk. 6:1-6).  No mention of any one being slain.
·       When Jesus was asked to lay his hands on the children and to pray for them (cp., Mt. 19:13-15; Mk. 10:13-16; Lu. 18:15-17), none were slain.
·       In Luke 13:10-17, Jesus heals the woman who had had an infirmity for 18 years.  She then stood upright!
·       In Matthew 15:29-31 (cf. Mk. 7:31-37), Jesus heals one who was deaf and had a speech impediment.  He begins to speak and tell others of Christ.  When we see people being slain, do they have such a testimony?  Does it encourage them to testify of the true gospel or to speak of the signs and wonders performed by such-and-such minister?
·       In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus heals a blind man by putting his hands on his eyes.  People who are slain pass-out with their eyes closed.  They can’t see half as well as this man can.
·       On another occasion (cp., Mt. 20:29-34; Mk. 10:46-52; Lu. 18:35-43), Jesus once again heals two blind men – one of them being Bartimaeus.  He touches their eyes and they begin to see.  Their faith was in Jesus Christ and it was that faith in him and his goodness which caused them to see.  Their faith wasn’t in signs and wonders, but in Jesus.
·       In Luke 22:49-51, Jesus heals the man whose ear Peter had cut off. 
·       In Acts 6:1-6, deacons were chosen and the elders laid their hands upon them to commend them and their service to the Lord.  They didn’t “fall out under the power.”
·       In Acts 8:14-17, Peter and John lay hands on the people and they receive the Holy Ghost.  No one “fell out under the power.”
·       When Paul and Barnabus were separated by the Holy Spirit in Antioch (Acts 13:1-4), the elders laid their hands on them and commended them on their journey.  No one fell.    
·       In Acts 19:1-7, Paul lays his hands on those who are desirous to receive the Holy Spirit and they do.  No one fell.  In fact, they began to speak in tongues and prophesy.  So when those who lay their hands on others to be slain, how come they don’t begin to speak in tongues or prophesy, but rather fall down unconscious?  The answer is obvious.
·       On the island of Melita (Acts 28:7-10), Paul laid his hands on the sick and they recovered.  No one “slain.”
·       In issuing the Great Commission (cp., Mt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16:15-18), Jesus taught that we’d lay hands on the sick and they’d recover – not fall down risking personal injury.
·       In calling for the elders of the church to pray for those who are sick, there is no mention of this (Ja. 5:13-15). 

So as you can see, the laying on of hands has nothing to do with slaying people in or by the Holy Spirit.  It’s just that simple. 

But How Do They Do This?

People have the tendency to conform to the thoughts and actions of those around them, especially those new to a group or area.  So when exposed to something such as this for any length of time, the tendency is to conform.  Everyone wants to be liked, and there exists the real fear of being accused of “making waves” or “causing division,” or even worse, being accused of “interfering with the work of the Holy Spirit,” and so the tendency is to say nothing.  I mean, how can so many people be so wrong about something for so long!?  The answer is, easily.  And so this all begins in the form of peer pressure.  But that aside, how do they do it?

It’s a combination of several things.  Peer pressure is closely followed by the need to place people into a hyper-suggestible state of mind: a point at which their minds are so open to all that’s around them that they’ll accept the mere suggestion of anything.  This is where both anticipation and expectation have become fever-pitched.  For those who believe in this, they’re already predisposed to coming under its influence and so they fall easily.  For those more doubtful, they need to be convinced.  So they’re told to come to church “expecting,” to “stay until they get something from God;” that God wants to do “something special” and that you “don’t want to miss it” etc. 

Needless to say there’s all kinds of problems with this.  First, there’s the assumption that God is going to show up and demonstrate the miraculous.  It’s already been established that this isn’t a biblical practice, and so to assume that God is going to show up in a miraculous manner is both an assumption and a presumption.  It also implies that God has to show up.  It reverses the servant mindset that we’re supposed to have and presupposes that God is at our beck and call to do and please as we would have him to do.  Secondly, it gives the impression that God is there and that if you’re slain, then you’re spiritual.  Third, it gives the impression that God is there and that if you aren’t slain, then God isn’t pleased with you that you aren’t very spiritual.  Fourth, it encourages an unhealthy loyalty to the preacher or a particular body of believers because they’re considered “spiritual,” where the focus is on the man and not God.  Many religious leaders have set themselves up as the religious equivalent of Hollywood movie stars, and just like them, they have their groupies and devotees that will follow and defend them no matter what they do – just like what the secular world does.  Don’t believe me?  Try and get them to open their Bibles and consider the information provided in this study.      

But as it is with any great lie, there’s always a sliver of truth.  We should go to church expecting to hear the Word of God, etc.  But not every message and not every meeting should or will minister to you.  The reason for this is because maturity is supposed to be taking place and not every message is geared to address everyone.  “Milk” is for the young believers while “meat” is for those who are more seasoned.  Is there anything wrong with the milk of the Word?  No.  But at the same time, it won’t minister to those who’ve been feeding on meat.  And so the first step is to create a hyper-suggestible mind.
           
This is closely followed by “atmospherics.”  Large crowds enhance peer pressure and the service itself helps bring people into a hyper-suggestible state of mind.  Low lighting, long services, accompanied by protracted mantra-like singing helps to dull the senses and numb the mind.  So when someone’s brought on stage, whether through the excitement of expectancy or exhaustion from all of their dull droning, they just faint.  Of course, many have been slain in less than ideal conditions; and there are many who’d still testify to its benefits.  But this is all moot.  The simple question is, Are we going to interpret God’s Word by our experiences or are we going to let our experiences be interpreted by God’s Word? 
             

Other Observations

·       There is no sort or type of “slain in the Spirit” phraseology found in the Bible.
·       There are no biblical cases which show that being “slain” was sought or expected.
·       It is in the presence of God or the angels in which men fell to the ground and never other men.
·       No hand contact was ever made which caused men to fall.
·       There is no biblical account of anyone being “slain” repeatedly on the same occasion much less more than once at separate times. 
·       In not one of the examples used as evidence for being slain in the Spirit did it ever occur in a New Testament church setting. 
·       Nowhere in Scripture does anyone ever serve as a “catcher.”  Are we to conclude that the Holy Spirit has the power to knock people down but no power to “catch” them? 
·       The only people who fell to the ground in the New Testament were demon possessed.[3]
·       When Jesus was baptized and the Spirit descended upon him, it lifted him up out of the water and not the other way around (cf. Mt. 3:16-17; Mk. 1:9-11; Lu. 3:21-22). 
·       Jesus performed all of his miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 5:19-20; 14:10 etc); and yet, not once did he or any others line people up and have them fall “under the power,” nor did Jesus himself ever “fall out” to “receive an anointing.”
·       Being found in the presence of God or an angel, the response was that of godly fear and awe, not laughter.  Hence, God’s opinion of “holy laughter.”
·       Joel 2:28-32 cannot be used as justification for this practice because the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon all flesh is defined as the indwelling and baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).
·       Practitioners of voodoo have been documented producing the same affect.  Selah. 

Conclusion

From the verses used to justify this practice, note that on every occasion they occur in the literal presence of God, Jesus Christ, or an angel; but nowhere at any time was such power given to men to cause another to be slain.  Nowhere.  Hence, from their own examples they’re subtly claiming to be God because they’re claiming to issue forth a power of which they themselves are not subject: they’re claiming to issue forth a power that’s been solely reserved for God while in his presence and not the presence of other men, and so these evildoers are indeed claiming to be “gods,” even if they don’t realize it.  And in one final thought on the subject, the Bible speaks of them and their work(s).                

Gal. 5:19-23 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Based upon the above, Scripture teaches that we should be temperate and sober[4] and not drunk (Eph. 5:19-19).  To be drunk is to be incorrigible, without inhibition, and lacking motor skills.  To be full of the Spirit is to be temperate and under the authority and control of the Holy Spirit.  Being drunk and being filled with the Spirit are two completely separate thoughts and should never be confused with one another; and yet, many would have us believe that we’re to be “drunk” in the Holy Spirit, willing to lower our inhibitions to “receive” all that God would give us as we lay on the floor, passed out in a drunken stupor – and all under the guise of being “slain in the spirit.”

But other excesses have occurred during these sessions.  They range from the usual episodes of fainting and falling backward to the more grotesque which may involve uncontrollable spasmodic movements, lewd behavior, animalistic noises, and yelling and crying out.  This would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.  The joy of the Lord is our strength, not our weakness (Neh. 8:10).  But we’ve given ourselves over to following signs and wonders instead of allowing them to follow us as a sign to the unbelieving, and as a result of brought shame to our Lord and hurt to our testimony.  Signs and wonders should follow the believer (Mk. 16:15-20), but it’s also true that we are to test the spirits (1 Jn. 4:1), lay hands on no man suddenly (1 Tim. 5:22), and to know those who labor among us (1 Thess. 5:12).  But given the popularity of being "slain," it will no doubt remain for quite some time.  And much to our detriment, the admonition above will go unheeded.  Simply put: slaying people in the spirit is a work of the flesh and not a work of God.  Not so much of a phenomena, is it?  Selah.     




[1] Cf. 1 Ki. 8:10-12; 2 Chr. 7:1-3.  These corroborate this view.
[2] Cf. Mt. 17:1-9; Mk. 9:2-10; Lu. 9:28-36 for greater detail. 
[3] See the demon-possessed boy (cf. Mt. 17:14-21; Mk. 9:14-29; Lu. 9:37-43) and the man at the Gadarenes (cf. Mt. 8:28-34; Mk. 5:1-20; Lu. 8:26-39). 
[4] E.g.  1 Cor. 9:25; 1 Thess. 5:4‑9; Tit. 2:1‑6; 1 Pet. 1:13, 4:7, 5:8