Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Discussion:Slain in the Spirit

I ran across this video, Let the Bodies Hit the Floor, this morning which got me thinking about this topic. (HT to Randy.) And one of my first thoughts was that I'd love to hear what you all think.



If you have time, watch the video first so that you have a context for some of the comments. Then join in the discussion below. All opinions are welcome, just be kind to one another.

I'm not that familiar with Benny Hinn's ministry, and I'd rather not discuss him personally, but I would like to hear your ideas about this manifestation of the spirit.

To start the ball rolling...Often things like this are written off as charismatic hype. Many charismatics would be the first to admit that it looks pretty strange. Sometimes it is obvious that a minister is actually pushing people over. Sometimes being slain is attributed to the power of suggestion or emotionalism.

If you've watched the video, I don't think either of these explains a 250-pound man being body-slammed to the stage with the wave of a hand. If it isn't the power of God causing this physical response, then what is the explanation?

So that's the question, power of God or what?

27 comments:

Chase said...

It can be. I think one thing that needs to be know is what is being said. If the person who is "waving" his hand at people is praising God, and giving all the glory to God what else can it be? I don't think satin would let a demon give praise to God while he does his work do you?

Lily said...

A couple initial thoughts on your post:

1) God *can* work through anyone if He absolutely has to.
2) This manifestation *can* be real
3) This manifestation can be any of the other things you mentioned: pushing, emotional hype, or just plain fake.

I was at a conference once (uh, yeah) and at the end they had everyone file to the front, row by row, in order to be anointed and prayed for. The vast majority were being slain in the spirit, but I had never been "slain before" (still haven't)so and as I was waiting in line ...

[there is something inherently wrong with waiting in line so some *special* person can pray for you and anoint you, but these were my charismaniac days, what can I say?]

... I told my friend "I refuse to fall down". She said "Don't try to stop what God wants to do". I said "I don't think God cares all that much if I fall down or not".

I didn't fall down, and a few minutes later I looked around at all the people on the floor, covered with blankets, apparetnly asleep, and I asked the prophetic leader from our church (who was at the conference with us), "Is all this real?"

She gave the best answer I have heard so far. She winked at me and grinned and said:

"God loves to watch His children play."

If God touches people this way, cool. If people think they've been touched by God this way, cool. If people fall on purpose so others will *think* they've been touched by God this way, well, whatever. I do think it can seem like a lot of nuts and bolts, but I don't think it really hurts anything.

Well, except maybe people's bums and backs and knees when they hit the ground.

Joanne said...

I have not experienced this myself, but people I know very well and consider very grounded have, and I am convinced it *can* be a true and valid experience.

But like most things that happen when the spiritual realm is operating (and we see it in scriptures too), it's the old Spirit/flesh/enemy operating side by side type of viewpoint as far as I am concerned. I have seen what appears to be people just dropping because others are. And sometimes I believe people have 'hit the floor' because the enemy is taking them down to avoid other types of ministry or for other reasons. But as I said, I believe it can also be a true manifestation of the power of God.

I am open to it, not afraid of it, but nor do I feel like I must be missing the mark because I haven't experienced it, nor do I feel pressure to seek it out.

The thing that I don't like about it is when the focus becomes the sensationalism of it. I don't think it should be like a freak show.

Joanne

grace said...

Thanks for jumping in! I've decided not to respond individually to comments on this post. I want to allow people's opinions to speak for themselves.

However, I probably will add a few of my own comments.

First, I was so surprised when my kids watched the video. They were like, "Wow, freaky, does stuff like that really happen?"

And I was thinking, "Where have you been all my charismatic life? Are you kidding, you've never seen this?"

During the late 90's we attended many wild meetings at our church and others. Apparently the kids were home with the sitter. This was all new to them.

David Cho said...

If it is real, why should there be people spotting you? Get slain by the Spirit while cracking your skull? Why would God let that happen?

I don't know, but it's just my gutt fealing. The whole thing looks fake and slimy.

But I will say this. Heavily emphasized in my conservative Evangelical church was "great teaching." But to most, nothing really changed after walking out of the santuary following a great sermon other than increased head knowledge.

If nothing changes in their lives after getting slain by the Spirit, then well, nothing changes.

Chaes said...

I was slain once, I resisted it a lot. I tried to keep standing up, i tried to not fall, but I still did. Than I lied on the floor for a few minutes and after asking God to keep pouring out his spirit into my life I stood up.

"If nothing changes in their lives after getting slain by the Spirit, then well, nothing changes."

That is an interesting point, though I would not say it means being slain is bad, but what is the point of it if nothing really happens?

Robbymac said...

David Cho,

You said, "If nothing changes in their lives after getting slain by the Spirit, then well, nothing changes."

Believe it or not, that's what John Wimber used to say in the Vineyard all the time! It was his way of keeping us Vineyardites focused on seeking the Spirit for transformation and empowering for service, and not just for "experience".

KSG said...

I'm not up on Benny Hinn (nor do I ever want to be - sorry but watching that stuff just creeps me out) but in my church we do the "slain in the spirit" thing, and throughout the late 90's to early 2000's experienced a great move of the Spirit (revival a la toronto/pensacola or any other place that embraced it) and at that time saw and experienced all kinds of stuff. Some of it was obviously God and produced obvious results and some of it looked like God and produced some results and some of it was not God and therefore produced no results.

Grace, I'm wondering, if the stuff you experienced in the late 90's was a (presumably) great time, why didn't you include your children in it? My parents did that with my brother and I when they were enjoying the charismatic renewal - tongues, healings, miracles. It's impacted me for life. One of my biggest concerns with the journey my wife and I are on is that we bring our children with us (spiritually).

grace said...

ksg,
Good question, I asked myself the same thing today. I thought we had included them, so I was surprised that this seemed foreign to them.

We taught them the spirit-filled life, and they were familiar with it to the extent of what happened in our home - prayer, worship, prophecy, etc.

But they don't remember much about the Toronto-style meetings. On Sunday morning meetings, they were probably in children's church. We always hired sitters for our kids for evening meetings when they were little, and this would have been when the four of them were about 4-8 years old.

These renewal services often went really late, ending when we could either get the last person standing or find people to drive them home. For the most part the children weren't included.

I'm glad your experience with renewal made a positive impact on you. I completely agree with bringing the children along spiritually.

PJ said...

Grace-
I have been a part of the Pentecostal movement all my life. I saw what I would consider "true being slain in the spirit" and then the false ones too. I myself have been "slain in the spirit" each time not wanting to fall or go over, but not being able to keep it up. I find Benny Hinn to be a show. I believe that you can be "slain in the spirit", but I agree to what robbymac stated about John Wimber. If you fall down and nothing changes then you have just fallen down. I think in the Pentecostal/Charismatic realm today people are mostly like lemmings and fall over because it makes them look spiritual. I am not sure God ever intended for this to be something to which would happen all the time can't say I find that in scripture, but just a theory

iggy14u said...

Grace,

This is how my wife came to Christ....

There was a traveling evangelist... (The pastor's brother) who came to town... his theme was the eleventh hour... will you be ready?

He was able to pull a tear out at the exact right moment.

He had an alter call and my wife’s twin sister who had gone forward the night before grabbed my wife’s hand and pulled her toward the alter... saying, "My sister wants to accept Jesus!" My wife was a bit confused at all of this and thought it better to just go along with it as I had come back to the Lord and her sister was now "saved", she felt out numbered.

Even though I thought this guy an obvious charlatan, I also went forward and was told to raise my arms and begin to “babble”… yet something did happen… and it was strange and to this day been sort of an experience I shared rarely for years… even hid it for quite a few… I spoke in tongues…

While this was happening I joyfully looked over at my wife, who was also hold her hands out and trying to do as they said, yet she seemed a bit frustrated… then it happened… the evangelist walked up to her and with his palm hit her on the forehead… her head went back and she………


Said…..

OUCH!

He went to try again and she just looked at him like, “try it again buster!” It was so funny… but in that time somehow we see that time period… not that event that she found the true Jesus and was released from the New Age Jesus….

So, I see Benny Hinn as a fraud… but God is real. God does miracles everyday… big and small… God healed my back about two months ago… he heals our hearts every day…

God is good often in spite of the charlatans….

Blessings,
iggy

Anonymous said...

I have not read any of the above comments yet, I wanted to write my first impressions before doing so. I consider myself to be a charismatic Christian and come from a stream where praying for people is done in a much more gentle manner. Sometimes those people fall to the floor, sometimes not. At a conference once with a somewhat well known pastor preached, many came up for prayer and so the pastor prayed a general prayer over the group and those of us who were prayer ministers just went and blessed the people by reaching out our hands over them and blessing them (most were not physically touched by anyone) and many were "slain" in the spirit. I was amazed. This was not suggestion or emotionalism (these were mostly of Scandinavian and German ancestry and were mostly Lutheran in theology). We are taught to NEVER push anyone and to always ask if it is ok to touch a person on the head (don't mess up the do) or on the shoulder or to hold their hand. Weren't the Quakers and the Shakers called those names because of the manifestation of the Spirit caused them to often do just that? I have seen Benny Hinn live and once in a great while on TV. His style does not resonate with me (to put it mildly) and so I pretty much ignore him. I do like your last question though. I am a 250 pound (or more) man and I know I would not do that to myself for love nor money nor emotionalism nor suggestion. If it happens to me it is either God or some NFL linebacker crushing me. I have logged in as anonymous because it wont let me use my blogger account (Inheritor Of Heaven)

Robbymac said...

Grace,

As someone who has also (like other commenters here) experienced the power of God in ways that were at times unexpected and yet wonderful, what I find really disappointing is that many people who have never experienced some kind of power encounter with God automatically equate all these encounters with Hinn or others of his ilk.

And I've just never liked the phrase "slain in the spirit". Does anybody know where this phrase came from in the first place, and why oh why it's a sacred cow that cannot be slaughtered?

grace said...

I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments.

My husband watched the video yesterday, and we've been talking about it quite a bit ourselves.

We love the supernatural stuff. Yes, it's usually mixed in with flaky stuff too, but I'm willing to look past the flaky stuff to be around the real power of God.

It bothers me though that this is scary and offensive to people. I wonder about when and where things like this should occur.

We've talked about why manifestations like this happen in certain meetings and with particular ministers. Let's assume the purpose of the manifestion is for God to touch something in the person's heart. Then why doesn't God body slam the guy at home?

Being touched in a supernatural way by the power of God (regardless of the manifestation) is an awesome thing. And it can make one a bit of a junkie, always looking for more.

This is where we can get off track in just chasing the experience. David made an excellent point about being changed by the experience.

I have had several life-changing supernatural encounters with God. One was during a time of prayer ministry with no manifestation at all, aside from the fact that my life was completely changed. On the other hand, another life-changing encounter left me on the floor in another time zone for several hours.

Sometimes, I think we don't understand the changes until later, and others, I think we simply enjoy a little time in God's presence, which hopefully helps in our ongoing transformation.

The first time someone was "slain" when I was the pray-er was kind of freaky. I thought maybe they were faking it. Regarding catchers, I was always thankful for them. Basically, if it's likely there will be manifestations like that happening, it's nice to catch people before they hit the floor.

Speaking of catchers, I wonder why they don't get zapped also. I was a little worried about the guy on the video at the edge of the stage.

Anyway, along the lines of what inheritor shared, I don't think it has to be a show. If it happens, fine, if not that's okay too.

That's more than enough from me for now. :)

Anonymous said...

Grace,

This road that God has me on has gone through some pentacostal/charismatic moments. I kinda wonder as you do why such manifestations would happen only at conventions or with certain preachers/teachers? I've never heard of anyone at home watching TV "slain" or while at their bedside pouring their heart out to God, or at any other individual life altering momenmt with God. Now just cause i haven't heard of such things in now way means it doesn't happen.

I also like you am concerened that stuff like this scares the crap out of people. I can remember in my own history being with a leadership team where the pastor had to speak to a few folks about scaring people - RED FLAG!

I know in my own life on occasion God has to do something to get my attention so i will listen, but i tend to think that congregations kinda get caught up in the moment of whats happening. Kinda like in "The LIfe of Brian" where everyone following Brian takes off their left shoe. - Your milage may vary

hmmmm... I can't sign in with my blogger account either... i'll have to be anonymous

Mark
http://revrdmarksmind.blogspot.com/

Pam Hogeweide said...

Ok, I had blogger issues, too, until my good friend Lily informed me that this is blogger's way of getting us to convert to the new beta blogger. I just did and it was quite easy and painless, and now I can once again have my voice back in the blogosphere...just sign in on your regular blogger account and check your dashboard for instructions on what to do. You have to establish a google blooger account which is very simple. They walk you through it...

ok, now that announcements are over...

slain in the Spirit, yes, Robby asks a good question. Where did this expression come from?

I think the dialogue here is fairly representative of my thoughts on the whole thing. I have seen all of the above: the Real Thing, the faked thing, the hyped thing, the Peer Pressure thing, the trying-to-appear-truly-spiritual thing. My bottom line on all of it is this: falling down in the presence of God is a physical response for some people when God "comes on them." Some people cry; some shake and quake, as noted earlier; some fall down and wiggle and twitch...and some just stand there, stoic, like me, and go deep inside of ourselves as we encounter the presence of the Living God.

I agree with the sentiment that it doesn't matter so much if you fall or whatever - it's what happens when you get up and walk out the door and go home. That's the manifestation I'm interested in, the manifestation of the Love of God in everyday life.

Pam Hogeweide said...

i said blooger.

i crack myself up.

grace said...

you crack me up too!

and thanks for the blooger explanation. I hate it that people are having trouble commenting. And that I have to sign in every time I turn around.

Pam Hogeweide said...

blooger.

i still crack myself up.

Chris said...

Grace - catching up on your conversation here a bit late...

For background, I "grew up" spiritually in the early Vineyard movement - so the Benny Hinn style stuff is pretty repelling, but I've seen much of the more gentle style. I agree with most of the comments above - some was undeniably God, some was our humanness searching after the experience of something transcendent, and various other motivations as well.

One question that has had my mind searching for answers in the last ten years or so: During the early/mid 80's, as we were experiencing this "great move of God", there was much concern about "New Age religions" experiencing very similar phenomena. We were taught that if the name of Jesus was proclaimed (in just the proper way) then it was of God. Otherwise it was a counterfeit and of the Devil.

Now - I question the black and white-ness of this distinction. It seems like (and this is a vague impression, not a well researched opinion) there are very similar experiences of phenomena in belief systems that do not hold to the same conservate beliefs about Jesus. It seems like there is also much healing and transformation that happens in some of these mostly non-Christian belief systems.

I have a hard time dividing the world up the way that we used to (i.e. If we profess the name of Jesus and the correct creeds - then these experiences are of God. Otherwise - it's straight from the Devil). When we see through time how many of those/us claiming to have had the "correct beliefs" have made such painful errors - as you have experienced yourself - I go back to look at these old distinctions and have many questions...

grace said...

welcome to the conversation chris.

fr'nklin said...

The question: "pwer of God or what?"

I'm going with "or what".

iggy said...

Chris,

You bring up some great points... my wife's family was getting involved in a cult and saw people being "healed" in the name of Jesus... but this was not our Jesus... this was the metiphysical new Age "I Am that I Am" Jesus.

they believed that they themselves were Christs also... and Jesus was reincarnated to perfection and that was what we were to seek also...

And in Jesus name they healed!

Blessings,
iggy

grace said...

Franklin,
I'm open to the possibility of "or what" but I can't figure out what the feasible explanation would be.

Trailady said...

It is hard to judge this as being legit or illegitimate. I certainly believe it's possible, but I've never experienced it myself- I find it kinda creepy.
However, sometimes the things of God are strange. For example, God told Abraham to cut up a bunch of animals, lay them out on the ground and walk between their body parts. It doesn't get any stranger than that, but it was of God.

I don't put a whole lot of stock in any of the big-wig tele-evangelists. I've heard Benny Hinn on TV and felt he was full of himself, so I stopped watching. Christians set up fellow Christians for disillusionment by making big heroes out of them. The evangelist eventually succumbs to the pride of being a hero, falls into some sin, dramatically confesses, then watches as all or most of his faithful followers abandon him for another hero. Sad.

So, anyway, I cannot judge whether what Benny H. does is legit, but it makes me feel funny to watch those people falling all over the place.

Saint said...

Personally, having been involved with numerous "renewal" meetings where this sort of thing (and much, much weirder stuff) was occurring, left, right and centre, I have come to re-examine my experiences and also to inject a certain realism into the whole thing.

I don't think that there is any real mystery to these events, the vast majority of the time. A person who is by themselves, contemplating an experience, has the luxury of saying "I would never do something out of emotionalism", however, the straight fact is that the effects of mob-mentality are very well-documented and cover just this sort of experience.

When an unruly mob rises up after the home-team loses a soccer match (a well-known occurence in the UK, for instance), and the mobs begins to riot, smash, turn over cars, etc, it is not an act of individual will -- the people involved have not, in their minds, decided that it is okay to do these horrible things, but they are a part of a mob, and what the mob wants, the mob gets.

The very same thing happens at most church services, revival meetings and Benny Hinn conferences. The mob, which is already pre-disposed to apply "faith" to whatever the "pastor" wants to tell them, naturally responds to the suggestion that if they want to receive the lord they must fall down. So, the mob falls down, and the individuals within that mob are no more able to control themselves than they can stop themselves falling over niagra falls after unwittingly being pushed over the brink.

grace said...

Trailady,
The hero syndrome is sad and sadly often predictable.

Saint,
I've tried to apply that same objectivity. I agree that some of the falling over could be due to mob mentality. However, I have trouble believing that the dramatic body-slamming could be emotionalism or mob mentality.

I have no trouble believing that the power of God can overpower human flesh. I do wonder why it would happen in these kind of circus-type atmospheres.