Deep in the Spirit?

Last night I tweeted that instead of having Bible study the church got together to get some work done at our thrift shop. At one point my pastor had to run to Lowe’s in order to replace some missing hardware on a bed/desk we were assembling. During the break a nice little discussion/debate broke out between two of the brothers about Word of Faith theology.

During the course of events one brother relayed a testimony that Kenneth Hagin had given some years back. I don’t know the particulars but here’s the gist of it: Kenneth Hagin had an encounter (open vision?) with Jesus and a demon kept interrupting. Eventually Hagin cast the demon out and Jesus responded by saying something like, “Had you not cast that demon out I wouldn’t have been able to do it.” The basic point was that Jesus needed Hagin (or I suppose believers in general) in order to accomplish anything.

The other brother was vehemently opposed to this idea. He asked what in the world seemed scriptural about that testimony. He questioned why Jesus, Lord of the universe, God incarnate, would be in need of Kenneth Hagin or anyone else to do anything. When my pastor finally returned I gave him the summary of what he missed and he said he doesn’t think Jesus necessarily needs anyone but then raised a few questions concerning Jesus’ self-humiliation in the Incarnation (of course Jesus has been resurrected, exalted, and glorified so that’s kind of a moot point).

The one brother opposed to the testimony said that there’s no way Hagin could be right. My pastor suggested that if this is the case then we have to ask who it was that Hagin was talking to. Good question. If he couldn’t be right then he wasn’t talking to Jesus, right? But then he said something to the effect that a lot people who come against such testimonies are people who haven’t gone that “deep in the spirit (or is it Spirit?).” Maybe. Maybe not. I think it’s irrelevant either way. Ultimately we have to let Scripture be our plumb line. The devil can deceive—remember, he comes as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14)—spiritual experiences can be counterfeited.

I suggested that literally anyone could appeal to going “deep in the spirit” as a defense of whatever it was they were arguing. Many of us are familiar with Joseph Smith’s testimony that he saw both the Father and the Son (“two Personages” – History 1.17) and asked them which of all the sects, if any, was right. Now we read in Scripture that no man other than Jesus has seen the Father at any time (John 6:46; 1 John 4:12) so we can rightly dismiss Smith’s claim as being true. But if “going deep in the spirit” is a defense, then all one has to do is suggest that deniers simply haven’t gone as “deep” as Smith.

He took the point. Funnily enough, years ago when I was first saved, my pastor, before he was my pastor, was cutting a Mormon’s hair. He urged the Mormon to repent and believe the gospel. The Mormon kept saying that he once was where my pastor was at and that he had advanced past that. My pastor wasn’t biting, and rightly so. But we can understand the Mormon’s argument as basically saying that he’s gone “deeper in the spirit” and had insight and information that others who haven’t gone so “deep” didn’t have.



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