BOOK REVIEW by Jackie Alnor
This is the most complete analysis of the manifestations of the so-called Toronto Blessing (TB) I have ever read – and I think I’ve read just about all the books responding to TB. Ms. Davis came to faith in Jesus Christ at the height of the TB movement and her church in Canada was steeped in it. As a new believer, not yet grounded in God’s Word, she got swept up in it and experienced some of the tremors and carpet time associated with it. Yet she always thought something wasn’t right, but went along, trusting those more enlightened elders with her doubts.
“Initially, I was uncomfortable with and confused by the manifestations…As time went on, however, I grew more tolerant of the manifestations, partly because I was sure God was with us, and also because I trusted my leaders when they told me I should not be judgmental and opinionated…At another meeting, during ministry time, I went forward for prayer but was not receiving anything at all. I so wanted a touch from God! Then a person touched me on the belly and to my astonishment I felt a ‘force’ hit me there. An invisible force! I doubled over as though kicked and was knocked backwards to the floor where I lay feeling chilled and unhappy. I doubted this was from God, but could not deny the reality of it…Later I learned that the doubling-over phenomenon happens so often at the Toronto church that they have a name for it: it is called ‘crunching’ or ‘doing the crunch’” (pp. 13-15).
[I have seen the crunching myself and have always been reminded of the woman who Jesus delivered who was bowed over by an evil spirit and couldn’t straighten up. “And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, ‘Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.’ And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God” (Luke 13:11-13).]
Ms. Davis became more discerning as she studied the Bible on her own and began to see that the TB did not line up with Scripture. She began an outright investigation into all the manifestations connected with the Toronto Blessing and the parallels to the phenomenon that is seen in new age cults and occult practice. This book is the culmination of two years of investigation by a woman, who happens to be a lawyer, well acquainted with research methods. She is sharing her findings with the body of Christ without taking a profit from the book sales.
Rather than finding any TB manifestations listed in the Bibles’ list of the gifts of the Spirit, Davis found them listed in books of the occult and yoga. In fact, she came upon parallels in the occult for every occurrence she witnessed at TB churches. Some of the manifestations she singles out for in-depth comparisons are ‘crunching,’ electrical pulses, spiritual intoxication, spiritual impartations, gold dust, dream interpretation, necromansic visions, false prophesying, ‘carpet time,’ and uncontrollable shaking, laughing, weeping.
Davis has documented how people who have been involved with TB have experienced some horrible side-affects as a result. Many have had their lives endangered by driving in an intoxicated state without the use of alcohol. Others have had recurrences of falling out under the power in the worst possible situations. And many have come under demonic attack by poltergeist activity. In fact, the author points out that poltergeist activity seems to mark the leaders of TB practices who frequently testify of evil spirits attacking them in the middle of the night.
She quotes Benny Hinn’s testimony of his mother being physically thrown and knocked against the wall at the same time he was in his room “talking with the Holy Spirit.” [What she didn’t document was the time his wife was being invisibly choked by unseen hands, waking him up in bed in the middle of the night, as he testified to on TBN.]
Davis shows how the frequency of TB leaders coming under such demonic attacks, due to their messing with unclean spirits, has also led to the Spiritual Warfare movement that comes from the same stream of the church. That then developed into the prayer movement of Fuller’s C. Peter Wagner and Bill Hamon’s ‘School of the prophets.’ Davis documents how these false prophets and apostles have wedged themselves into Evangelicalism and claim apostolic authority in the body of Christ.
In the appendix, she shares a “declaration of a prophetic word delivered to the United States of America,” at the hand of Cindy Jacobs, from the January 28, 1999 conference of the “National School of the Prophets” held in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This group of “prophets” were spelling doom and gloom for America due to Y2K coming up at the end of the year. Jacobs declared, “The Lord was showing that we are not ready in any measure for what is coming and that it will be titanic in proportion.”
The chapter comparing spiritual predators to sexual predators is particularly powerful. The similarities are mind-boggling. Davis also delves into the subject of mysticism and contemplative prayer, a trend that is taking hold in the new “Emerging Church” movement that is becoming more and more popular today.
This is a very timely work and I highly recommend it. No doubt in the future there will be more movements with similar characteristics as the same leaders seek after more “new wine.” My only cautionary note is that Davis was not clear in addressing the real gifts of the Spirit and could leave the reader thinking there is no such thing. I don’t think she meant to convey that impression, but was trying to get across the fact that if it’s spiritual power someone is pursuing, the power they get will not be from God.
Reviewed by Jackie Alnor