Over the past few months, I have come out of the “TB” (Toronto Blessing), and have realised what a sad state the Church is in. I am 20 years old and have only been a Christian for 18 months, having come out of drugs, the occult and new age, etc.
I experienced the TB when I first visited Brighton at Terry Virgo’s church, Church of Christ the King, 13 months ago. In hindsight, I was sucked in totally. Among many things that occurred, I was required to be “discipled”. This I found out just two days ago was a lie. I was listening to your [Banner Ministries] tape on Restoration churches and shepherding. This described that part of my experience totally!
I experienced all the manifestations, from falling, to swimming, to growling, laughing, crying, convulsing, shaking — the works. I really thought I was going through life-changing spiritual experiences. But the fruits were superficial. I had a “love” for Jesus, I sang of His kisses, of seeing Him run over mountains and peer through doors. Yet I always seemed to wonder where my “lover” was. I experienced times of absolute depression and anxiety. I would start crying for no reason. I would scream at God and swear at Him. I couldn’t understand where this “God of love” was when I felt like that. At times my anxiety would become physical and I had one or two panic attacks.
Sometimes the depression and anxiety would come at the same time. It was unbearable. Many times, during this time, I considered turning away from God and returning to my old life.
I struggled too, with my quiet times. I just never had any! I couldn’t spend time with God, it was such a struggle. I really thought I had missed the mark, I thought that there was something really wrong with me. I thought: “I fall, I shake, I laugh, I do all of this and I can’t spend some time on my own with God.”
I was hearing testimonies like: “my life is wonderful”; “I feel so close to God”. These didn’t really encourage me, but only seemed to lower my esteem.
I still had many hurts from my past inside of me, and I guessed from people and what they said that the TB would be a release for me. But it only served to make me look at these hurts and feel even worse. I kept shouting at God to take them away, still I shook, etc, but they remained.
Looking back, I can now see that my walk with God took a real and serious nosedive. I was falling into sin and feeling far away from my Saviour. I couldn’t get out of the sin, and yet I was being convinced that I was meeting with God and my life was changing. During this time, two close friends of mine left the Fellowship because of things being taught, and because of the TB. I was advised not to have any contact with them, or receive ministry from them because they were “in rebellion” and because I was under the authority of the person discipling/shepherding me, so I stayed away.
Occasionally I would see them, yet because I was told these people were wrong, I felt very uncomfortable and judgmental. This didn’t feel right, again, but because I was told this about them, I figured it was a reaction of the Holy Spirit in me, reacting to the “spirit of rebellion” in them. It was frowned upon by a few people that I still saw them at all.
Something happened though, when I visited them. They asked me firstly why I believe in revival. I couldn’t really give an answer. I just assumed that because it was preached at church, it must be true. Over a period of time, they gently brought me to a point of questioning the TB. So I did. (Now this is where the fun begins!)
They had brought me to the point where I actually went to church with a questioning heart. I did manifest, but not as much as I normally would. (I took note.) I would see people rolling about and it just didn’t ring true with me. I was horrified when Terry Virgo encouraged us to get together in a circle and hold hands as a sign of “unity” and to let the power flow through us.
I remember the final turning point really came when I asked God to protect me. I don’t know why I did it, I just did. The meeting ended up in the usual TB standard. When an elder who prayed for me was manifesting (I peeked) I just stood there while he “prayed” and nothing happened at all!!! Praise God! Later on, someone else prayed for me and even started to push. Still nothing happened. A little later, an elder called for a group of people to be prayed for. I was
included in this group. He boldly declared that “we are going to see the power of God come upon these people”, I waited with baited breath. People were falling, convulsing and groaning. There I was…standing. I was convinced!
I decided to look into this a bit more. I read literature and saw a video by Alan Morrison. I felt thoroughly sick. I called up a ministry in America, Ariel Ministries run by Arnold Fruchtenbaum. I was told that they would send me some material, but it would take 4-6 WEEKS to reach me. FIVE DAYS later, it popped through my door! Now I was hungry for more, and some answers to some questions. I was then introduced to your [Banner Ministries] tapes.
It was a testing time. My life was turned upside down. Everything I had taken for granted was utterly destroyed. I really cried out to God: “Help. Lord!”. He spoke Proverbs 3 -5:6 to me. [“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”.] All I had to do was trust Him, so I did. I decided to write a letter to the elders at church declaring my feeling and also my concerns. I suggested a meeting.
By this time, my “shepherd” was condemning my two friends, which hurt me, so I laid my heart on the line with him. Our friendship wasn’t quite the same after that.
Anyway, I met up with an elder, armed with scripture and questions. He came up with two conclusions: (1) the Bible is a book of principles. (2) I was a “dispensationalist”/pre-millennialist. He referred me to the Senior Pastor. I came away from that first meeting frustrated. No answers. (He also told me that if in a year I was still the same, my position in the church would be questioned. I.e., I was put on probation. Is that biblical?)
Within two weeks, I was in the Senior Pastor’s office. (He is John Hosier.) As I understood it, he’s a Greek scholar and a Theologian. Again, I went in with questions and scriptures. To my utter amazement, HE NEVER ONCE OPENED A BIBLE. All he said, in an hour, was experientially: “people did strange things when the Holy Spirit came upon them in the Bible”; and “auto-suggestion does take place” and “keep the spirit of unity”. Also, what came across was that he didn’t really care what I thought as long as I didn’t rock the boat.
I came away from that meeting totally crushed. So I wrote him a letter almost demanding some biblical answers. Four days later I left the church.
When I finally made the decision to leave, it was as if my eyes were totally opened. The last meeting I attended was awful. False prophecy, trimphalism, TB, Word-of-Faith preached and not the Word of God. It was awful.
My life since leaving has improved so much. In only two months I spend time with God every morning (mostly). I read the Word, I study the Bible, the Cross has become totally central to my life. I repent more, I am aware of my sin, I have real fellowship with my Lord, I feel I really know my Lord. My zeal for evangelism has returned and so has my zeal to seek God’s will more and more.
I am now in a lovely fellowship. The Pastor and I see eye to eye on this issue which is such a blessing. I really feel in my heart that God is calling me to keep my eyes open in this fellowship for deception. I have discussed this with the Pastor and he is okay about it. I am now looking forward to my life with the Lord as I walk with Him along the narrow path.
I apologise for the length of my letter but I felt in my heart to share my experiences with you. To be honest, I don’t know why, but I would like you to feel free to share any part of my testimony with others if you feel led to do so. All I want is to see people come out of their deception and set free, and if this can be used to do that, then please feel free to do so.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let your heart be troubled not, neither let it be afraid.”
(signed) Matt D.