DRUNKENNESS IN THE SPIRIT
A BLESSING OR A JUDGEMENT?
The self-proclaimed "prophets" of the renewal/laughter movement today tell us that we should "drink" in this "wine". Read this personal eyewitness account of drunkenness, quoted from Cathy Woods, photographer at the Brownsville Assemblies of God in Pensacola:
When I walked in the door my husband thought I had been accosted in the parking lot or something. He left only 30 minutes before they announced than PT members would get prayer (too bad,,, should have stayed!) I continued jerking and extremely deep inhaleing ??? so much that I had to sleep on the couch. It was the most awesome night. I would drift off to sleep and awaken with the biggest JERK! The breathing and pushing back of my head have continued today although not to the same degree. Oh.I just love being Filled with the Holy Ghost!! Hector said before he prayed for us that God wanted us to filled with the Holy Ghost even to the point of being drunk and that the world and even our natural mind would not understand. When a person is drunk, they are usually more bold and have less fears.
Cathy Woods is suggesting that this is something to be greatly desired.
In the introduction to his book "When the Heavens are Brass", John Kilpatrick of the Brownsville Assemblies of God church tells says:
Putting aside the rather incredulous statement that police officers would simply wave on drivers who are driving erratically, or in a drunken manner, or who are shaking and thus impaired, it is clear that John Kilpatrick wholeheartedly endorses the phenomena.
Further, I do not mean to focus solely on Brownsville. If you read the testimonies, take for example this excerpt from an email to Richard Riss dated July 30, 1995 from Beth McDuffie wrote:
Beth McDuffie points out that the drunkenness began after John Kilpatrick's wife visited what was then known as the Toronto Airport Vineyard (now the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship), and thus brought it back from the source of the movement. Reports of drunkenness in the spirit are widespread and the norm throughout this movement.
Because of the fact that it is impacting the church and we are being told that it is of the Holy Spirit, it is important that we be a Bereans (Acts 17:10-11), and go to scriptures to determine if these things are so.
In support of their contention that drunkenness is not only acceptable, but is of God, the proponents typically refer to Acts 2:
Clearly, a miracle had taken place. I will skip ahead a few verses, where we see the discussion about what exactly it was that had just taken place:
Note that the "mockers" were trying to discredit the events and the preaching of the gospel by suggesting that the apostles had consumed too much "new wine, and therefore were drunk.
Let's go on to what scripture tells us in response to the accusations of the mockers:
So, Peter is clear that the mockers were not presenting the reality of the situation by suggesting that they were drunk. Note that Peter does not qualify that statement by suggesting that it was not wine, no, he leaves no opening for any type of drunkenness. Further, and quite contrary to drunkenness was clear preaching of the gospel, as see in the part of the sermon which is transcribed in scripture in Acts 2:22-39.
Contrary to what we see in drunkenness in the spirit, we did not see any record of the preacher staggering, we do not see any record of slurred speech or inability to speak, quite the contrary. We see that the only people who even tried to bring forward such a false accusation were the mockers. We see that the apostles spoke the gospel so clearly, and so boldly, and we see a miracle such that all heard in their own language such that 3000 people were saved that day (Acts 2:41).
Those who make the accusation that the apostles were drunk in the spirit at Pentecost stand in harmony with the views of the mockers, not in harmony with the apostles as recorded in scripture.
Throughout the New Testament, we see many times that scripture mentions the infilling of the Holy Spirit, but never does it associate either the symptoms of or mention of drunkenness in the spirit as being associated with it. Indeed, we see admonitions in scripture to avoid drunkenness:
In 1 Peter 4:7, we see that scripture goes a step further, and urges us to keep a clear mind so that we can pray.
It is interesting that we find associated with this movement, exhortations not to pray during their "ministry" time. It appears that they have discovered what scripture says, and that is that God, prayer and drunkenness are not compatible, and indeed the spirit that causes drunkenness and the one true God are not compatible.
So, we see that the apostles were not drunk at Pentecost, in the spirit or otherwise, but does the Bible mention drunkenness, and if so what does it say about it? Lets go to another verse which is commonly used to support drunkenness in the spirit:
This passage is understood by many exegetes as having been written in the time of Zedekiah's reign, when false prophets (among others) sorely oppressed Jeremiah. As the Matthew Henry Commentary says,
There is no indication in this passage that Jeremiah was overcome by a spirit of drunkenness, rather it appears, as this commentary says, that he was so very distraught about what was happening, and about the judgement which would fall upon the people because of the false prophets that he liken his state to that of a drunken man.
If there be a connection between this passage, and it application to what we see today, it can only be with regard to a coming judgement due to false prophecy. In no way can it be suggested that this verse justifies an experience such as drunkenness in the spirit without taking the entire verse out of context.
Isaiah also speaks of drunkenness, but perhaps his references get closer to what we see happening today:
As can be seen in Isa. 6:9-10, Isaiah was very aware that his word wouldn't be accepted. Thus, in contrast to the Jeremiah who was a true prophet who was so distraught that he likened his state to that of a drunken man, those who are discussed in this passage of Isaiah's that are described as drunk the false prophets.
Further, what we see in this passage is that these false prophets are drunk and scripture is very specific that it is a judgement brought on them from the Lord, and that it is not as a result of drink, but rather it is a spiritual drunkenness. IT further says that they display the outward signs of drunkenness such as staggering.
The churches today who are in this movement are in large discouraging use of scripture in favour of new revelation from their prophets, many of whom are drunk and staggering in church from what we hear from reports from within the movement.
Isaiah also describes drunkenness in Chapter 63.
The use of this verse in opposing drunkenness in the spirit is questioned by some in the movement who say that this is not applicable because it refers to the coming of the Redeemer. As one person wrote to me:
Again, refers to drunkenness, though, and not positively. Still it is judgement. Whether it refers to a future event, and whether it refers to an event prior to or at the Second Coming is not valid, because God does not have situational ethics or morals. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).
So, where are there any positive references to drunkenness? I have not found any in scripture, and to date, no one has been able to come forward with any scriptural basis where we are exhorted to drunkenness or where God provides for, or the Holy Spirit causes or endorses, or any men of God speak positively of drunkenness in scriptures. Yet the movement promotes drunkenness in the spirit very strongly. So strongly that we see Rodney Howard-Browne call himself the "Holy Ghost Bartender", we see websites such as "Tim Gibson's Drinking Songs", and we see conferences titled or advertised in such ways as to promote drunkenness. We see men such as John Kilpatrick speak positively about drunkenness in the spirit, and we see testimonies everywhere about drunkenness.
What does scripture tell us that Jesus will give us to drink? Living water. (John 4:10) Note, not intoxicating drink, but living water.
Read what God says about substituting his living water for another source of drink in Jeremiah 2:13.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
We need to look only to Jesus for the living water. Not to be seeking to dig our own cisterns, to seek our own sources of water in replacement of his by seeking experiences such as drunkenness in the spirit. Hold true to His word, and seek only the joy of His spirit. As they say in advertisements, accept no substitutes or imitations.
Tom Smith, April 20, 1998 (updated March 30, 2002) Send email to Tom Smith
1) Cathy Woods (Photography for Brownsville Assemblies of God), July 14, 1996 Sisterwood Report, http://www.info.net/~oflare
2) When the Heavens are Brass, John Kilpatrick (Brownsville Assemblies of God), Revival Press, 1997
3) Beth McDuffie, Email to Richard Riss dated July 30, 1995, as reported in "A History of the Revival 1992-1995", Item 27, Richard Riss, 1995.
4) Matthew Henry Commentary, Zondervan, 1976 (pages 979 and 1641).