Slowly we see the puzzle of Pentecostal practice come together piece by piece. It began with mysticism which encouraged extra-Biblical revelation. These errors led to emotionalism and feeling as either more reliable or equally reliable to Scripture for discerning truth. We then add to that practice the separation of “heart and head” in the Quakers and Shakers and then Eastern mystical meditation “quietism” in prayer (which leads to more mysticism). This Quietism then joined with a self-sufficient practice of righteousness in the form of Pietism which then gave rise to Arminianism (self-effort cooperation with God).
As if those non-Biblical doctrines were not enough to wreak spiritual havoc and deception in a person’s life, add to that, the bizarre salvation doctrine of Dominionism – the theological belief that the church must make itself holy through dominion over the world “mountains” of influence in order to enable or free Jesus to come back, and Perfectionism – the idea that Christians are somehow made magically and invisibly perfect with no further need of sanctification (becoming more mature in Christ and thus more like Christ). All of these errors have been covered in parts 1-5 of our series “Puzzle of Pentecostal Practice” and with all this, we are still 100 years before Topeka and Azusa events which most believe to be the “birth” of Pentecostalism.
Now in part 6 we turn our gaze on yet another piece in the Pentecostal puzzle – the focus and practice of revivals as “events” and the introduction of Hindu Krya (jerks) as a supposed manifestation of the Holy Spirit. In this article we examine a man named Barton Stone and his “Cane Ridge Revival” event which would go on to become the event by which all other Holiness and later Pentecostal “revival meetings” would be measured.
Barton Stone: Prototypical Revivalist and Unbeliever.
Barton stone was a Presbyterian preacher who did not believe that Jesus was God incarnate and did not hold that the Holy Spirit was a “person” but rather some sort of “Divine Source” for power (c.f. Jehovah’s Witness). He slowly grew disenchanted also with the Calvinist view of predestination to which his denomination adhered firmly. Despite this, he was given two congregations to oversee – Concord and Cane Ridge Churches.
George Whitfield pioneered theatrical preaching in an outdoor setting as a means to hold attention en masse but a fire and brimstone preacher named James McGready expanded the outdoor service from “show” to hyper-emotional experiential “event” which it is among Pentecostals today. This new invention of the camp meeting revival impacted Barton Stone immensely as he heard the fiery preaching of James McGready. Barton would later recall of the experience:
“My mind was chained by him, and followed him closely in his rounds of heaven, earth, and hell with feelings indescribable.””
McGready’s meetings were full of groaning, shrieking, crying ecstatic emotionalism just as Shakers and Quakers experienced several decades before. When Barton saw this, he immediately assumed it was from the Lord and he did not inquire of the Lord about it with a ready heart to hear God’s answer in His word the Bible. This was to be expected of a man who was not a believer in the God of the Bible to begin with.
Neither Stone nor modern day Pentecostals sought to hear from the Lord by going to His word, the Bible because, in keeping with Pentecostal, Holiness, and Revivalist practice and teaching, these Pastors (and Stone) had been convinced that God speaks through emotion and experience just as loudly and accurately as the Bible, if not more. As a result of this failure to discern the spirits, which the Scriptures admonish us to do, Barton Stone would go on to state the following regarding McGready’s camp meeting revival:
“The scene to me was new and passing strange. … Many, very many fell down, as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state—sometimes for a few moments reviving, and exhibiting symptoms of life by a deep groan, or piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy most fervently uttered. … With astonishment did I hear men, women, and children declaring the wonderful works of God.”
Stone brought this “experience” back to his church at Cane Ridge that they might experience the same. His three day meeting drew nearly 20,000 and overwhelmed the 500 seat meeting house and surrounding areas. The meetings had all the same ecstatic preaching and emotionalism as McGready’s meetings except things seemed to get even wilder as each day drew on.
The remarkable thing about the McGready to Stone to Event transferring of experience is in its similarity to the Toronto Blessing of the early nineties where John Arnott witnessed similar bizarre manifestations by way of Rodney Howard Browne’s preaching at Lakeland, Florida and instead of asking the Lord and waiting on Him in His word, he moved in “Barton-like” presumption and carried it back to Toronto Vineyard and almost identical demonic manifestations would take place there as well!
Barton Stone simply acted as a spectator-host, never reigning in wild manipulation tactics of preachers but simply allowing things to descend into chaos, all in the name of “glorifying” the Lord. This is in opposition to Scripture which clearly states (specifically with regard to spiritual practice) that God is not a God of confusion but of order. This specific passage has been quoted by Bible-believing Christians to Charismatics yet this passage is sneered and mocked (as most other Scripture) by the Charismatics as they believe that God only wants us to feel good and do what feels and “seems” best in our services. This is clearly a different worship of a different god than the God of the Bible.
As the shrieking, moaning, slain in the spirit, screaming overwhelmed the crowd, a very odd practice emerged which still plagues the likes of Bethel church meetings and other Charismatic meetings today: The Hindu Kriya. Among Hindus, the Kriya is an outward manifestation of jerking the head back suddenly, uncontrollably, and lurching in a spasm which, Hindus believe is evidence of a “Kundalini Awakening”. This exact experience is happening all over the world among two groups only: avid Hindu practitioners and Charismatics.
Keeping the above definition in mind of the Hindu Kriya have a look at the following report from 1801 of an eye witness to the Cane Ridge “Revival”:
“Their (Cane Ridge attendees) heads would jerk back suddenly, frequently causing them to yelp, or make some other involuntary noise. … Sometimes the head would fly every way so quickly that their features could not be recognized. I have seen their heads fly back and forward so quickly that the hair of females would be made to crack like a carriage whip, but not very loud.”
There were reports of the surrounding fields being laid out with the “slain” like a battlefield and sadly, one of Stone’s chosen guest preachers would proclaim while in a deeply emotional excited state that the people were hearing a “new gospel” (Christian History Issue #45 in 1995).
I agree with this eccentric pastor’s quote completely. They were indeed hearing a new gospel at Cane Ridge and it would be one which would plague the holiness and Pentecostal movements down to our current day. To safeguard against such deception the Apostle Paul writes in his epistle to the Galatians:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” – Galatians 1:8
Charismatics today hearken back to Cane Ridge as a proof positive of a genuine “revival” accompanied with what they call “signs and wonders” but which are really manifestations of delusion or worse, the demonic. Charismatics cry, “Lord make it like Cane Ridge” – but are completely unaware that this was the hype of an unbelieving Presbyterian “pastor” and the doors that were opened were to a god who is different to the God of the Bible.
The Stone-Campbell Movement
After the three day Cane Ridge explosion subsided, Barton Stone would become more ecumenical and anti-denominational in his position. In 1804 he, and other Presbyterian ministers would sign what they called the “Last Will and Testament” which renounced their service to the Presbyterian denomination. Despite disbelief in the Deity of Jesus and the Person of the Holy Spirit, Stone would still accumulate a following from those rallying to his revolutionary creed of “No creed but the Bible” (which, oddly enough, is itself a creed) and “No name but the Name of Christ”.
What seemed to matter most to Stone and his companions was unity by way of ridding the church of denominations as opposed to unity around the truthful doctrine delivered by the Apostles in Scripture. Stone would refer to his new followers simply as “Christians” and the church as simply the “Church of Christ”. Without realizing it, Barton Stone was the founder of a non-denominational denomination called the “Church of Christ” which is still going strong today.
Please understand, if you are truly seeking the Lord, to know Him, to find Him, to embrace His forgiveness for you at the cross of Calvary and yet, you find yourself at a Pentecostal or Charismatic church – I am not attacking you or some other person, rather I am a former pentecostal/charismatic, warning anyone and everyone to either avoid or leave any church which focuses on “signs, wonders, feelings, experiences, and/or emotion” and those churches which do not preach the full sufficiency of Scripture for a believing Christian. These churches are dangerous as they will only draw followers into further deception with a “different” gospel being offered than that delivered to us by the Apostles.
In our next article we enter we see the next puzzle piece to fit the charismatic puzzle, the “Birth of Anti-Cessation and Tongues on Two Continents” as we examine the Pentecostal pioneering in England at the hands of Edward Irving, John McCleod Campbell, and AJ Scott.