[anzac] Was 'TORONTO' a "TEST"? - Andrew Strom

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 2005 15:11:38 -0500
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Was 'TORONTO' a "TEST"? - How it affected the 'Prophetic'.
-by Andrew Strom.

It is now over ten years since the outbreak of the "Toronto Blessing"
movement which swept the Charismatic church beginning in 1994.
I believe it is now possible to look back with quite a bit of clarity -
as to what happened and the effect it had. For those who were 
involved with the Prophetic movement in those days (-as I was), 
you would have to agree that 'Toronto' had an enormous impact. 
The difference between the Prophetic "before" and 'after' 1994 was startling.

As is well-known - and well-documented - the Toronto movement 
actually sprang from the ministry of Rodney Howard-Browne (-a 
Prosperity preacher from South Africa). In brief, a Vineyard pastor 
named Randy Clark was prayed-for and 'touched' at one of Rodney's 
meetings, and then took that same 'blessing' into the Toronto Airport 
church. And it all exploded from there.

What did this movement involve? Well, as most people remember,
it was largely about 'experiences' and manifestations - many of 
which seemed a little bizarre. People in their hundreds were being 
struck with uncontrollable laughter, "jerking", shaking, bending, 
'drunkenness', etc - for hours at a time. Some would strut around 
like chickens, or roar like lions. And sensible well-trained ministers 
from around the world were rushing to "get it" and take it back to 
their church. Believe me, there was real spiritual "power" associated
with this thing.

Why was everyone so quick to assume that it "had to be God"?  
Well, you have to realize that this was being promoted by two of 
the most respected movements in the Charismatic world at that 
time - the Vineyard movement and the Prophetic movement. (-Not 
to mention the 'Word of Faith' movement under Copeland, etc.)

I myself had a lot of respect for the Vineyard in the early 1990's.
The leader of the Vineyard, John Wimber, was holding huge 
meetings all over the world on 'Power Evangelism' and restoring
Body ministry - getting ordinary Christians ministering in the power
of the Holy Spirit, etc. A lot of it had been excellent. But I think by 
1994 there was already a bit of a decline setting in. The same was 
true of the Prophetic movement. The 1980's and early 1990's had 
been the "glory" years - but there had been a big disaster and break-
up in Kansas City in 1991. I believe this left the Prophetic somewhat
"blind-sided" and a little desperate.

If you were around during that time, you will remember what a
hunger for 'Revival' was in the air. The prophets had been prophesying 
a massive Awakening and Harvest for some years. People were 
longing for something - almost ANYTHING - to happen. And then 
along came Toronto. Perhaps this was the answer?

And so a whole lot of hungry people got caught up in it. The big-
name prophets were advocating it, and much of the Vineyard also. 
(-The Vineyard actually threw it out a couple of years later - but by 
that time it was far too late. However, the Prophetic NEVER threw 
it out. -Quite the reverse, in fact).

I don't know if you have ever ministered in a church where the pastor 
jerks his head suddenly every few moments when he talks, and 
emits a little 'yelp'. -Yes, I have preached in a church like that. Or I 
don't know if you have been in meetings where you almost felt like 
you were in a Zoo - because so many strange 'manifestations' were 
occurring all over the room. Yes, I have attended those too.

It very quickly got to the point where the Prophetic movement
became almost the main "carrier" and proponent of 'Toronto'.
Everywhere you looked, you would see the big prophets and the 
big Toronto guys ministering together. After awhile it was almost
like they melded into one movement. And the "peer pressure" was
incredible. If you didn't go along with it, you were in trouble. 

Speaking personally, from the moment I saw Toronto I was deeply
disturbed by it. In fact, every ounce of discernment within me 
screamed out that it was not of God. I felt immediately that this 
was the "counterfeit" that was sweeping through before the real 
Revival. I felt it was a 'test' - to see if the prophets truly were "lovers 
of truth" and also to see if they could be entrusted to lead thousands 
of young converts in a full-blown Revival. There is no doubt in my 
mind that overall, the Prophetic movement utterly failed this test. 
And it has led directly to all the flakiness that we see today. -This 
is where it really began.

As someone who was around in those days, I want to tell you that
there has never been anything in the Prophetic movement as
damaging as 'Toronto'.  Before it came along there was at least a
modicum of common sense and basic discernment operating. But
afterwards it was like a "dog's breakfast". The most wild things 
were occurring - and being completely accepted as being "from God". 
People were manifesting in such a way that clearly would have 
been considered "demonic" before - but was now accepted as 
somehow being "of the Spirit". It was like a kind-of nightmare. I 
could hardly believe it. And the pressure to 'conform' was incredible.

Of course, the basic mantra of the whole thing was "not to judge"
these things with your mind. -But to simply "open yourself up" to
them. But isn't this exactly what the New Age teaches? What kind 
of 'discernment' is that?

I did some research, and found that none of this stuff was new. 
These manifestations had invaded the church before. In fact, if you 
do some study you will find that two of the greatest Awakenings in 
history were virtually wrecked by them (ie. the First Great 
Awakening in America, and also the aftermath of the 1904 Welsh
Revival - an absolute mess). Plus, the Second Great Awakening
at Cane Ridge was almost destroyed by these exact same 
manifestations at its inception in 1801 - and barely managed to 
survive. (-Look it up!)

As the well-known Revival Leader John Wesley declared: "At the 
first, revival is true and pure, but after a few weeks watch for 
counterfeits."  He also said:  "Be not alarmed that Satan sows 
tares among the wheat.... he will always ape, and endeavor to 
counteract the work of the Spirit of Christ."  

And as Charles Finney wrote: "God's Spirit leads men by the 
intelligence, not through mere impressions... I have known some 
cases where persons have rendered themselves highly ridiculous,
have greatly injured their own souls, and the cause of God, by 
giving themselves up to an enthusiastic and fanatical following of
impressions." 

The old Revivalists had to deal with these kinds of false manifest-
ations all the time - as you will see when you look through their 
writings. They always had to be on the lookout - lest the Revival be 
destroyed. (However, stomping on 'trivial' things was even more 
damaging. -They had to keep a very fine balance).

When I first published my findings on 'Toronto' in 1996, I was
immediately attacked bitterly from every direction - especially from
within the Prophetic movement (-which I was part of at that time). 
They didn't want anyone spoiling the "party". And so the wreckage 
continued.
 
The total lack of discernment amongst so many 'prophets' today, 
the silly and unbiblical practices, etc - so much of it originated in 
that movement. There is actually a kind "blindness" that develops. 
For if someone persists in 'believing a lie' then eventually they will 
be given over to it. And this is even more true of prophets. For 
prophets are supposed to LOVE THE TRUTH.

So was Toronto a "test"? -I believe it was. And I am convinced that
many of those who led their people to partake of it will be literally
DISQUALIFIED from leadership in the coming move of God. If that
is you, my friend, all I can say is "REPENT - and throw yourself 
on the mercy of God."  I am convinced that He must have 
DISCERNING leaders for the young converts in the next Revival.

Since Toronto, of course, many similar fads have come down the 
pike - mainly from the same crowd. There was the spiritual "drunken-
ness" fad, the 'gold dust' fad, the manifestations of "bubbles and 
feathers" fad, etc. Now there is "visualizing the third heaven", 
'partnering with angels', and all kinds of other things. As I say, 
most of it comes from the same deceived crowd - and I look at the 
"source" and immediately find it all very suspect. I am sorry, but I 
will not receive a 'new spirit' from people who have demonstrated 
such an utter lack of discernment in the past.

I would advise you to be very careful also, my friends. The next
move of God will not be simply another round of flakey "experience".
It will be a deep move of CONVICTION OF SIN and TRUE 
REPENTANCE. -That is what real Revival has always been about.

To respond to this article, please send any feedback to-
prophetic@...

God bless you all.

Kindest regards in Christ,

Andrew Strom.