A Tiny Indicator Of Charismatic Influence…

This post has been updated, expanded and re-posted here.  Just fyi.

Aftermath

(source)

So in the StrangeFire aftermath, one of the complaints that has been lodged at the conference and the whole cessationist case is that we always grab the “low hanging fruit” on the fringe of the movement as some sort of normative representation of the movement as a whole.  We’re told that we grab absurd examples and try to pass them off as some sort of example of the mainstream.  The level-headed folks are the obvious mainstream representatives, and the entranced glossolalaholics and Fletch-clone healers are the fringe, right?

fletch_healing(source)

This argument has always made me puzzled since it’s so horribly obvious to me that the theologically absurd charismatic church of 20,000 obviously has far more influence in the movement and “on the street” than the theologically restrained charismatic church of 2,000 (and that’s being generous since the theologically absurd churches aren’t just bigger, but far more numerous).

So, I thought to myself, how can I give some sort of objective measure of influence? How can we say who is mainstream and who is fringe? Then I had an idea. Its not a great idea, but an idea none the less. I’m going to look at online presence in  the form of Twitter reach (as measured by followers) as a general indicator of just how many people are paying attention to whom.

This does not indicate, in any way, the truth claims of any person/organization or the biblical conformity of their doctrine.

This is not an attempt to show who’s right, but rather who’s being listened to.

So, let’s look at the theologically cautious vs. theologically absurd crowd and see who the folks on the streets are listening to, shall we? (be warned: this is a link fest that will have you reading for a long time…)

A. The Theologically Cautious Crowd:

I’m going to list (as best I can) all the “remotely respectable” charismatics with over 100,000 followers (using that number to keep the list reflective of those with widespread influence), and the numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand (and accurate as of November 13, 2013):

1. Rick Warren – 1.223 million followers

2. John Piper – 558 k followers

3. Mark Driscoll – 435k

4. Beth Moore – 415k

5. Louie Giglio – 407k

6. Matt Chandler – 245k

7. David Platt – 226k (I wish all Charismatics were as level-headed and honest as Platt.  I disagree with him, but if you read his 63 page take on the Holy Spirit and his gifts, I’m sure you’ll agree that he’s in a way different league than people in the theologically absurd list below.)

8. Desiring God – 213k

9. Craig Groeschel -182k

10. Bill Hybels – 174k

11. Scott Williams – 147k (Craig Croeschel’s worship pastor)

12. Pete Wilson – 128k

13.  Passion Conference – 120k

14. Priscilla Shirer – 117k

15. Ed Stetzer – 106k

16. Paul Washer – 106k (Yup, he’s a charismatic…no wait.  He contacted me and told me that he’s not.  My mistake.  I still included him in this list to be nice to the continuationists and pad out the list in their favor a bit.  I’m a nice guy that way!)

17. Perry Noble – 103k

If I’ve missed any  theological cautious charismatics with over 100k followers, please drop the names in the comment feed and I’ll add them.

Notice how that list doesn’t include some of the people that many think would be more influential: James McDonald (86k), Tim Keller (81k), Ann Voskamp (78k), Josh Harris (78k), Greg Laurie (75k), Mars Hill Church (60k), Robert Morris (53k), JD Grear (38k), CJ Mahaney (38k), Steve Mays (37k), Kevin DeYoung (36k),  Jud Wilhite (33k), the Acts 29 network (31k), Leonard Sweet (30k), Josh McDowell (27k), Justin Taylor (27k), Miles McPherson (26k), Scot McKnight (23k), N.T. Wright (21k), Frank Viola (20k), Adrian Warnock (16k), J.I. Packer (14k), James Robison (13k), Bob Coy (12k), Jim Cymbala (12k), Miroslav Volf (11k), Michael Youssef (10k),  D.A. Carson (9k), Francis Chan (8k), Bruxy Cavey (8k) Dr Michael Brown (6k), Brian Brodersen (5k), Tope Koleoso (5k), Francis Frangipane (5k), Skip Heitzig (5k), Kevin Meyers (5k), Sam Storms (3k).

You’ll also see that the previous list is very generous regarding who’s included among the “theologically cautious” charismatics.  I included both John Piper and DesiringGod, as well as charismatics who basically never address the issue or have continuationist beliefs that they never act out (like Rick Warren, Craig Groeschel, Scott Williams, Bill Hybels or Perry Noble).

Also, it’s worth noting that Craig Keener, Vern Poythress, Gordon Fee and Wayne Grudem aren’t on Twitter at all.  Good thing they’re the academic defenders of the movement; I’m sure everyone in Africa is fully versed in the nuance of their theological defenses.

So, if we total all the “theologically cautious” charismatic followers with 100k+ we get 4.905 million followers.

For the record, that number is 3.076 million followers without including Rick Warren, Craig Groeschel, Scott Williams, Bill Hybels or Perry Noble.

obamaandwarren(source – And let’s be honest. Rick Warren doesn’t have time to talk about Charismatic issues.  He’s too busy “keeping it real”…)

B. The Theologically Absurd Crowd:

I’m going to list (as best I can) all the “clearly non-evangelical” charismatics (namely prosperity hacks, false prophets and theological clowns) with over 100,000 followers (using that number to keep the list reflective of those with widespread influence), and the numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand (and accurate as of November 13, 2013):

1.  The Pope – 3.243 million followers (Considering that 1/4 of all Charismatics are Catholic, the Pope is an unquestionable false prophet/false teacher, both Benedict XVI and John Paul II have officially endorsed the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the current pope has officially endorsed the Catholic Charismatic Revival and is already seen as a defender of it, I include him.  To learn more about the Catholic Charismatic movement, check out this [best official resource], and this, and this, and this and this).

2. Joyce Meyer – 2.465 M

3.  Joel Osteen – 2.198 M

4.  Chris Oyakhilome – 1.308 M (“Pastor” of Christ Embassy International in Lagos, Nigeria and otherwise known as “the Benny Hinn of Africa”…)

5.  TD Jakes – 1.274 M

6.  Marcos Witt – 714k (previous Spanish ministries pastor at Lakewood, moved on in 2012).

7.  Hillsong United – 687k

8.  Silas Malafaia – 675k (Brazil’s version of Pat Robertson…except around 1,000x as popular… He makes jaw-dropping political statements that make Pat Robertson look like an example of self control.  He’s the founder of the denomination Assemblies of God: Victory in Christ and notorious prosperity preacher).

9.  Carlos “Cash” Luna – 441k (Guatemala’s version of Creflo Dollar; here’s a little video that shows just how insanely large this church is…)

10.  Hillsong Church – 423k

11. Marco Barrientos – 382k (prosperity pastor of Centro Internacional Aliento)

12.  Danilo Montero (Current Spanish ministries pastor at Lakewood) – 367k

13.  Darlene Zschech – 383k

14.  Jesus Culture – 328k

15.  Brian Houston – 308k

16.  Creflo Dollar – 298k

17. Judah Smith – 271k

18. Matthew Barnett – 269k

19. Benny Hinn – 256k

20. Victoria Osteen – 247k

21. Paula White – 243k

22. Matt Redman – 232k

23. Hillsong Live – 200k

24.  Edir Macedo – 196k (Brazilian prosperity preacher worth $1.1 Billion dollars who is no stranger to controversy)

25. Steven Furtick – 185k

26.  Deitrich Haddon – 183k

27.  Joseph Prince – 182k

28.  Israel Houghton – 179k

29.  Bishop Noel Jones – 169k

30. Christine Caine – 153k

31.  Estevam Hernandes – 152k (Brazilian prosperity preacher who started the “March for Jesus” craze and pastors the Igreja Apostólica Renascer em Cristo, which apparently has a network of 500 churches with around 2 million members. He got arrested in 2007 when he tried to illegally sneak $56,467 into the U.S., partly by shoving $9,000 in his Bible…and he served 5 months in a U.S. prison)

32.  Kim Walker-Smith – 149k

33.  Mike Murdock – 149k

I will confess.  Every time I hear his name, I can only think of this picture:

ateamlaborpains040910-01

34. Jentezen Franklin – 142k

35.  Sidney Mohede – 149k (worship pastor at Jakarta Praise Community Church)

36. John Bevere – 138k

37.  John P. Kee – 136k

38.  Jaeson Ma – 133k (Asian New Apostolic Reformation star who was mentored under no less a shining example than M.C. Hammer…seriously)

39. Steve Munsey – 114k

40. Hillsong London – 112k

41.  John Hagee – 112k

42. Reinhard Bonnke – 106k

43.  Enoch Adeboye – 104k (“pastor” of Redeemed Christian Church of God in Lagos, Nigeria)

44.  Marcelo Rossi – 103k (Brazilian Catholic Charismatic)

45.  Bill Johnson – 103k

46.  Kenneth Copeland – 100k

47.  Lisa Bevere – 100k

You’ll also see that the previous list is very generous regarding who’s included among the “theologically absurd” charismatics: I’ve only basically included the ones that I’m aware of, and a few in South America that I’ve learned about while writing this.  If I had around 600 hours to do research, that list would be a lot larger.

Notice how the list doesn’t include some of the lesser lights (who still have over 50k followers) like Sam Adeyemi (99k), Otoniel Font (96k), Bishop Charles Blake (94k), Bishop Paul Morton (92k), Kong Hee (92k), Bishop IV Hilliard (92k), Bobbi Houston (89k), Lakewood Church (84k),  Taffi Dollar (84k), Carl Lentz (81k), PlanetShakers (80k),  R.R. Soares (75k), Jesse Duplantis (73k), Tim Hughes (67k), Rod Parsley (66k), Chris Quilala (64k), Brian Welch (58k), Cindy Jacobs (54k), Kimberly Jones (54k), Bishop Eddie Long (54k), Tommy Tenney (53k).

Of honorable mention here are a few people whose influence is clearly not indicated by their twitter presence:

1.  César Castellanos – 49k and pastor of one of the largest churches in South America: Misión Carismática Internacional, which is a church in Bogota, Columbia.  It has over a quarter million members…you read that right…

2.  Valdemiro Santiago – 30k and pastor of what is likely the largest church in South America: The World Church of the Power of God, which is a church in Sao Paulo, Brazil that has well over a million members that runs a network of 4,000+ churches and has recently completed a building that seats 150,000.

There are a whole lot more people who deserve honorable mention, but I am cutting things short because I want to actually put this post online sometime today…

I also didn’t even include “small fries” with less than 50k followers like IHOP (47k) or Mike Bickle (39k) or Lou Engle (34k) or  Banning Liebscher (33k) or even relative “nobodies” like Steve Murrell (19k followers and pastors the largest church in the Phillipines with over 60,000+ attenders) or TL Osborne (17k followers and is a globally-traveled faith healer who, well, really looks like a vampire) or At Boshoff (15k followers and pastors a multi-site church of 48,000 in South Africa) or Todd Bentley (12k followers, even after he basically yelled “I am a false teacher!” for several years straight).

I also didn’t include the “even smaller fries” that you’ve never heard of like Chuck Pierce (10k) Chuck is a professional false teacher (explore this) and is currently making sheep stew in old stomping grounds:

Nor did I include other “even smaller fries” that you’ve never heard of like Sunday Adelaja (10k)…even though he’s more widely followed than D.A. Carson and pastors one of the largest charismatic churches in Europe, let alone the Ukraine; The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations.  If you’re wondering exactly where he’s at theologically, watch this video and explore the rest of their church website.  That skoubalon is being peddled in the Ukraine under the guise of “Christianity”.  Here’s a picture of a typical church service there:

Sunday Adelaja Church

(Source – These guys would have no influence in the Ukraine, being a church of only 25,000+ and having planted 700+ churches, right?)

If I included all the “small fries” like Phil Pringle (38k followers and he’s behind the global C3 church movement, started by the gigantic C3 Church in Australia and branching out into over 300 churches worldwide), the list would be thousands long.

So, if we total all the “theologically absurd” charismatics with 100k+ followers we get 20.379 million followers.

For the record, that number is 17.033 million followers if we don’t include the 2 Catholics (the Pope and Marcelo Rossi).

At best, there are 4.155x more absurd charismatic followers than cautious ( 20.379 /4.905 = 4.155).

At worst, there are 5.537x more absurd charismatic followers than cautious (17.033 / 3.076 = 5.537).

On the basis of that, I’d suggest, on the basis of the numbers, that the “level headed” continuationists are the obvious fringe.  They’re quite outnumbered by the theological circus acts that composes the mainstream and usually ends up looking like this:

Brownsville(Source)

So when people cry “foul” when people like Creflo Dollar or Benny Hinn are used as an example of something reflective of the charismatic norm, simply ask them “Why is your theologically cautious church of 500 as the norm and the theologically absurd church of 25,000 the break from the norm?”

I think the real problem lies in the fact that the level-headed continuationists can’t really critique their movement because the minute they pull out the sword of scripture and start hacking away at the frauds in their movement, that same sword will be turned against them and in the end there will be no survivors.

Sword Fight(source)

Neither side has theology that can stand up to serious biblical evaluation, so there’s a general ceasefire until someone has a public moral failure.

I have more thoughts, but I’ll save them for another post.  This one has been eye-opening enough for me and I don’t think I can take much more of learning just how insane the charismatic mainstream is in South America.

Until Next time,

Lyndon “the Spirit-filled Cessationist” Unger

*Update – November 16th – I had included Tony Evans in the “Theologically absurd” category, which was a mistake that I’m openly admitting.  I don’t remember how he ended up on there and I think I confused him with Eddie Long, for some reason.  He only has 77k followers and wasn’t part of the tally (and thereby the mistake doesn’t effect the numerical tallies either way), but I’ve removed him from both lists.  I’m also not going to provide individual defenses for my placing of certain people on certain lists (i.e. Paul Washer).  You all have Google too and can type things like “Paul Washer Tongues” and find resources that will answer those questions.

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87 thoughts on “A Tiny Indicator Of Charismatic Influence…

  1. I am probably showing my naivety (ignorance? Ha) here, but I am surprised to see Beth Moore and Rick Warren listed as charismatics.

    Full disclosure, I am not a fan of Warrens seeker influence. At. All. But I did think he was Souhthern Baptist.

    And until recently (before I became aware of how little I was really vetting Bible teachers) I was a full supporter of Beth Moore. Now I’m not so sure about her anymore. Honestly though, how do you “verify” someone on the Internet? Which sources are realiable etc? (I didn’t realize she is classified as charismatic either)

    I’m finding myself trying to be much more cautious about the teachers I listen too.

    Are the terms “charismatics” and “continuationist” synonymous?

    And I know I’ve asked this before, but where is the “line”? For instance, Piper is respected by MacArthur, they differ on this issue, but I wouldn’t think this issue would cause either one from fellowshipping or worshipping together.

    Honestly I’ve never had to consider this issue so much as I haven’t ever really been faced with it so I’m trying to figure things out.

    Appreciate all the time you put into your blog and your articles!

    • Hey Abby! Thanks for the good questions!

      I’ll try to answer you in point form and you can ask for clarification with whatever is unclear or insufficiently answered.

      – Rick Warren and Beth Moore are what you’d call “continuationists” (which I’d call “practical cessationists” – their doctrine in practice is inconsistent with their doctrine on paper). The term “continuationist” as a synonym for “reformed charismatic” and is often used for someone who’s biblically savvy and attempts to actually be aware of, and closely follow, the biblical rules for spiritual gifts (i.e. only 1 person speaks in tongues at a time – 1 Cor. 14:27). Also, continuationists don’t usually teach some of the “hallmark” doctrines of the “charismatic crowd” (i.e. that physical healing is provided in the atonement, or that tongues is the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit), but rather would stand with their feet firmly planted in the biblical gospel (i.e. justification by faith) and would actually be able to define the gospel biblically. For a good representation of continuationism, I’d read the David Plat e-book I linked.

      Beth Moore is a practitioner of “listening prayer”, which is a form of prophecy where someone reads the Bible or prays and then God “speaks” to you through and tells you what that Bible passage means or responds to whatever prayer request (usually not audibly, but more as an internal impression). I’ve reviewed a fairly typical book on listening prayer here.

      Rick Warren simply is open to prophecy and tongues, but I don’t think he actually has ever done either (and people in his church don’t, though it’s a HUGE church and there’s likely a small charismatic network at Saddleback). I’ve written on Warren here.

      Both of them are lightyears away from anyone you’d ever see on TBN.

      – If you’re researching on the web, there’s a simple rule to help you:

      “Ad Fontes!”

      That’s Latin, and it means “to the source!”

      Namely, you try to read firsthand stuff from the person in question. In my whole charismatic primer series, I tried to actually use documents from the churches themselves to help me readers see what their positions were on various issues. If you’re reading any information on a website and find something amazing/shocking/whatever, there’s another rule:

      “Ad Fontes!”

      Namely, go to the source of the information. Any writer worth his/her salt will provide links or references to back up their claims. It’s the online equivalent of footnoting, and if someone ever makes bold claims without a verifiable reference, basically ignore it.

      I’ll give you an example: there’s a quote online from Benny Hinn about how he visits the graves of Kathryn Kuhlman and Aimee Semple McPherson and receives “their anointing” from time to time. It’s a zinger, if true…but I cannot find out if it’s true. There is no mp3/audio online (that I have been able to find) and the only reference I could find online regarding the quote was this:

      Benny Hinn sermon, Double Portion Anointing, Part #3, Orlando Christian Center, Orlando, Fla., April 7, 1991. From the series, Holy Ghost Invasion. TV#309

      Now, the quote appears on dozens of websites but seeing as I cannot verify the reference and actually hear the sermon quote (as it’s on tape somewhere that I don’t have access to and it’s never been archived to the web), I never mentioned it a blog post where his name was going to come up. It may be true, but 98% of the stuff on the internet isn’t true and unless I can actually verify the reference, I won’t post it or mention it.

      – As for “the line” between Continuationist and Charismatic is a difficult one, but there’s a few telltale signs:

      a. Continuationists get the gospel right and it involves sin, repentance, and justification.

      b. Continuationists tend to have generally decent hermeneutics that attempt to build their doctrine from the actual words of scripture, unlike a recent exchange I had with a charismatic where the last thing he wanted to do was actually crack open a bible and carefully work through the text of scripture…

      c. Continuationists tend to focus more on Christ than they do the manifestations of the Spirit.

      d. Continuationists tend to be reformed in their soteriology and have a far higher view of the sovereignty of God (this regularly comes as a result of point ‘b’).

      e. Continuationists tend to have far deeper and biblically consistent doctrine.

      f. Continuationists tend to only speak in tongues in private.

      g. Continuationists tend to pray for healing but understand that a majority of prayers for healing are answered with a “no”, but only because God is the one who brings sickness (which most Charismatics deny).

      h. Continuationists tend to think of prophecy as some sort of “word from God” that’s more encouraging or discerning rather than predictive or authoritatively commanding (i.e. continuationist churches rarely have young men getting “a word from the Lord” regarding whom they’re supposed to marry).

      i. Continuationists tend to submit their experience to the scripture and pay less attention to dreams and impressions.

      j. Continuationists tent to generally be far more level-headed and even-keeled than charismatics.

      I hope that helps somewhat.

      • YES! Thank you for this! This helps tremendously. (Thank you for answering in “point” form, it makes it easier to respond and refer back to)

        Also, thank you SO much for the link on listening prayer..I’ve heard the term just recently and have been trying to sort through it. I had also started reading Platt’s ebook last night but have just scratched the surface (translation: I’m on e-page 3 ha!) Thank you as well for your link on Warren.

        So let’s see if I am understanding correctly.

        Continuation (aka “Reformed Charismatic”) is a more conservative/balanced form of charismatic. A person who believes in continuation generally teaches/preaches the true Gospel but would differ in regards to the gifts of the Holy Spirit pertaining to tongues and prophecy. Do I have it right?

        Can I just say that “Ad Fontes!” is just fun to say as well as good advice/wisdom.

        I can only imagine how many sermons, websites and pdfs you must sift through to produce articles like this. Your efforts are truly appreciated and your time has not been wasted. Thank you.

        (and btw, the last part of your point “b” made me laugh!)

      • P.S. I have no idea what would have happened to my comment on Onesimus’ blog, if it isn’t there he must have taken in down for some reason..odd, indeed.

      • According to Acts 29’s site, there are theoretically non-continuationist members but based on the vitriol Driscoll has said about cessationists, I am not sure how an even slightly convinced cessationist would be comfortable in the organization. Maybe with Chandler as the leader now it is different.

    • Abby,

      Some time ago I did a lengthy review of Beth Moore. She regularly includes her “prophetic” visions in her books, articles, and speaking engagements. She also regularly abuses the Scripture and has a hard time defining the gospel. She welcomes Roman Catholics as Christians and even dabbles in a lukewarm version of the prosperity gospel.

      You can find my full report on Beth Moore and 4 individual book reviews at:

      http://thekingsdale.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/beth-moore-false-teacher/

      Regards,

      Dale

  2. It would be interesting to do a follow up post on the number of twitter followers for well known cessationists.

    Thanks for doing the amazing research on this post, Menno!

    • I did look at a few, and McArthur has 84k followers. Everyone is less than him; as in way less. RC Sproul has 14k, Phil Johnson has 13k, Steve Lawson has 8k, Frank Turk and Dan Philips have 3k, and Conrad Mbewe has 2k. The cessationists aren’t exactly taking over.

  3. Lyndon —

    As we shared on Twitter, I almost wrote this post at TeamPyro the week after StrangeFire and deleted the draft after the first draft. I have a couple-three reasons for that which I wanted to share:

    1. I think there’s a lot of multiple counting on this list on both sides. As I think about it, that is the singular reason I wouldn’t trust the 5:1 or 4:1 ratios at all as being useful for anything. There’s no way to tell, for example, what the TBN effect or TGC effect is to either list — meaning that someone who follows one person in one network probably follows many in the same network due to proximity.

    2. I think the question of the effect of age/generation effects both lists in untested ways. I think it’s likely that one side has many more young and technologically-current adherents and the other has a more luddite older demographic.

    3. How do you split the difference between (as you did) a Perry Nobel and a Steven Furtick? That is, how does one place the contestants on the spectrum? I think that split tells us we need a better objective measure of the spectrum from Platt to the fringe barking extreme.

    But, that said, while I think that prevents us from showing a 5:1 or 4:1 ratio crazy:cautious with any reliability, I think your rehearsal of the evidence here is directionally correct. That is: this is a very fast and dirty way to make sense of the cessationist complaint of the scope of influence of the extreme practicioners.

    I’d also point out that not only the the cautious side have fewer followers, we should look closely at the geographic extent of their influence. Maybe Piper and Warren have a global stage from which they influence — maybe. But as you dive down the list, those are mostly English-speaking white guys who have their books in the Anglosphere only. The non-cautious side runs deep and wide into Asia, Africa, and South America where, frankly, there are actually more people.

    The claims by the continualist side that MacArthur’s complaint is somehow too broad can only be substantiated by living in a closet. Even if that’s a prayer closet, it doesn’t prove the point.

    This is good work, and I am bookmarking it for future reference.

    • Agreed on all counts Frank.

      It’s not really concretely indicative research for the reasons you said.

      It is telling, in a small way, regarding who is being listened to by whom (i.e. the young tech savvy crowd) and where (i.e. south America and Africa).

      As for the Furtick/Noble split, that only was made on the basis of 2 things I found in my research:

      a. Being openly vocal about charismatic issues.
      b. Being associated openly with prosperity preachers. Furtick speaks EVERYWHERE, including all over South America, and almost exclusively in prosperity churches.

      My only real hope was to provide a response to the “broad brush” complaint in the form of something beyond “Yo MAMA!”

      I hope I did!

    • I would add other examples in the fuzzy gray area that you attempt to do. I think you made a great attempt! But I am just not sure looking at twitter counts is going to show much.

      You list Passion, Giglio, and Groeschel all on the “cautious” side but but then you list Matt Redman, Judah Smith and Jesus Culture on the “crazy” side, both of which spoke/performed at Passion this year. Redman seems to be the musician most closely associated with Giglio and Passion outside of Chris Tomlin (curious to know where you would put Tomlin! He has 500K twitter followers). Smith and Jesus Culture were both featured at Passion this year as well. Groeschel endorsed Smith’s book. Further, Groeschel has called Furtick his “son” and Furtick refers to their relationship like as in a family or as if Groeschel was his pastor.

      • It’s not an inspired document. I only went with what I know of people or could find online in an hour or less.

        I was being gracious with Giglio et al, but only because I have insufficient reason to place them in the second category. They’re charismatic, but I don’t know them as goofballs.

        Redman I certainly do. Same with Smith and Culture.

        Guilty by passing association is not guilty enough.

  4. Just a proofreading note that I thought you’d like to see (NOT masquerading as a substantive comment (Rule #8)):
    I think you meant “deviation from the norm” instead of “derivation from the norm”, but I’m not absolutely certain. If I’m right and it’s just a typo, feel free to remove this comment.

    • SBC is very wide ranging in theology. Their missions org officially banned their missionaries from tongues-prayer, but there is dispute about the rules’ legitimacy and enforcement (I think one of the past presidents confessed to regularly praying in tongues). Regardless, for anyone not a paid missionary, there is no stance either way. The two main conservative distinctives that all SBC leaders hold is a ban on practicing-homosexual pastors and female pastors.

  5. Thanks Lyndon! I appreciate the work you did researching this. Being originally from Brazil, I know how bad things are down there.

    Frank… “The claims by the continualist side that MacArthur’s complaint is somehow too broad can only be substantiated by living in a closet.” Or, as my daughter used to do when she was very small everytime we’d play hide-and-seek, she would simply close her eyes.

  6. Wow Mr. Unger…what an incredible gathering of statistics that puts it at a very tangible way the astounding numbers of those who are on the so called fringe are not the fringe of the Charismatic movement…

  7. How did Tony Evans end up on the absurd side? I’ve heard him several times and never heard anything that sent up any red flags to me.

  8. Good work on mentioning all the prosperity preachers in Latin America that often get overlooked. What about all of the apostolics who call themselves Christian? They’re huge in Latin America. I wouldn’t consider them Christians either but they’re big on signs and wonders especially prophecy.

    • Thanks Ivan! I simply didn’t have the time to research and list everyone who is off the rails in Brazil, let alone the other countries. If there’s anyone with 100K+ Twitter followers, send me some info on them and I’ll add them to the list.

      • Here’s a link to this cult who call themselves Christian. I mention them because their background is in Pentecostalism from the U.S. and they claim to have over 5 million members worldwide.

        They set up their churches in impoverished neighborhoods so they can prey on those less fortunate by bringing them a false message of hope through their Apostle Samuel Joaquín Flores.

        http://www.lldmusa.org/2012/english/
        https://twitter.com/lldm_usa

        They don’t have large twitter followers maybe due to demographics but that is probably true of many smaller Pentecostal churches not mentioned in your article.

  9. Pingback: Some Clarification on the Indicator of Charismatic Influence | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

  10. I appreciated this post and want to thank you for your effort and research – it is helpful to the discerning to have this type of assistance. How about a follow-up post listing some of the “safe house” leader/ministry types?

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      I don’t know about a “safe ministry” list, mostly because everyone has differing ideas about what is “safe”.

      If I list Grace To You, all the Charismatics, Arminians, Covenant Theologians and Amillennialists will be up in arms.

      If I list Ligonier Ministries, the Dispensationalists and Premillennialism’s will get upset.

      If I list someone from Calvary Chapel (and there ARE some solid guys in that movement) or William Lane Craig, the reformed guys will get their knickers in a knot…

      And so on…

      • Yes, I understand the predicament. It reminds me of what Robert Kennedy said years ago, “All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”

      • I second this request 😉

        Also when I see it all typed out in front of me, it is amazing all the different schools of thought…and the funny thing, though I know what my personal views are, I have books from someone in all of those “camps” (John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, WLC) and respect their wisdom while at the same time respectfully agreeing to disagree on other things.

        Sorry, that last part was really neither here nor there..I was just thinking out loud.

  11. I’d be curious to see a comparison between Cessationists and cautious charismatics.

    Can you just knock that out real quick?

    K thanks

  12. Your list is flawed because you assume that “followers” of a certain personality have no discernment. . Your list is flawed because you fail to mention that many understand I Corinthians 3:4 and would never invest too much in any spiritual leader.

    • Thanks for your thoughts.

      I don’t know how you learned my assumptions, but congratulations on being a mind reader via a blog.

      Your comment is flawed in that you assume false teachers would qualify as a “Paul” or an “Apollos”.

      What were you saying about discernment?

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  14. Thanks for your mention of a small portion of the latin american false teachers. I think it is easier to prove the heresy down in Latin America than in Africa. the guys in Latin America are more prone to publish or advertise their movements and is more evident.

    • Thanks for the comment! I have to admit that, due to the language barrier, I’ve been generally unaware of just how bad the situation is down in Latin America. I only discovered that all 2 days before I posted the blog, and I did a massive re-vamp to include Cash Luna, the Lakewood Spanish Ministries crowd and the Brazilian crazy-folks.

      My heart truly breaks for the church in Latin America.

      I had no idea it was as bad as it is.

      There are a bunch of pastors in America that have the darkest, hottest spot in Hell reserved for them for the damage to the church that they’ve sponsored and financed by exporting their heresies and downplaying their own error.

  15. Warnock, Packer, Carson, Brown, Koleoso, Storms, Keener, Poythress, Fee, and Grudem have less Twitter reach, combined, than Church Curmudgeon.

    Yeah, this is a real quick and dirty method, and doesn’t account for radio, TV, books, and other media (although I’m guessing the kooks dominate there, too). But really, these are the guys who are supposedly the all-powerful restraining voices of sanity in this global movement of hundreds of millions, and they have fewer combined followers than a cranky anon.

  16. Just a comment about your adding and not anything in support of anything. You say there are 20 million absurd charasmatics by adding all of the followers of each group. That number can not be accurate as some followers of one would be followers of another. Example- followers of joyce myers could also be followers of Joel and that would make for a lot of double counting. Once someone likes a style of preaching they will like many pastors that say the same message. Your numbers could be way off.

    • Sherry T,

      Thanks for that good catch. I added the word “followers” so as to not insinuate that all the followers on Twitter were actually sharing a person’s beliefs. I tried to make it clear in the opening that I was measuring reach, not theology, but I saw what you meant there and made what will be (hopefully) clarifying edits. I agree that the numbers could be off by 50% or so, but that also counts for both sets of numbers. If you cut both lists by half, or even the second list by half, the point still stands.

      Thanks for helping me clarify things, at least somewhat.

  17. Pingback: What Was The Point of the Strange Fire Conference Anyway? | The Truth of The Matter

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  19. Outstanding work!

    As a churchplanter in a rural village of southern Africa I want to challenge all continuationists to come live and minister in the rural areas–not the cities, and see what they find. “Christianity” is everywhere; godtalk is ubiquitous; but they are lost. There is no love for Christ, no hatred for sin, no interest in learning the Bible. I speak Tsonga and a little Venda and Shona; we’ve lived here for nearly ten years; I spoke with about half a dozen “pastors” just this morning at a funeral–the gospel that is here is nearly 100% prosperity garbage. In the rural areas of the world charismaticism and prosperity theology are identical.

    Reformed charismatics should be firing all their artillery at the Copeland’s, Dollar’s, and TBN charlatans who are leading the great majority of my village (merely a representative of thousands of others) to Hell. I cannot account for their angering silence while they profess to love the Five Solas and the souls of men.

  20. Jim Cymbala is in the wrong Category. many of the people you listed in the extreme category minister at his church, like Christine Caine, Steven Furtick, Sydney Mohede, Israel Houton as well as Oneness Pentecostals Phillips Craig and Dean.

  21. You must have had too much time to be so bored to actually go and research all of this. Stop looking at other people/pastors you don’t even know personally. God will do the judgement one day if their intentions are false. Rather make sure your life is in order.

  22. I don’t know how or why Robert Morris of Gateway Church, Southlake, TX is not on your list of the Theologically Absurd, but I beg you to reconsider. Morris uses the euphemism “spirit filled” for himself and Gateway. This term appears to a code word for “Post-modern Word-of-Faith Miracle-Healing Tithing/Prosperity Pentecostalism.” He pastors the THIRD largest church in the United States. Their revenues exceeded $104 million in 2014 alone. Morris claims God declared to him “in a dream” that he will convert 300,000,000 people. He is one of the most influential leaders of Empowered 21 (E21) the world organization that seeks to convert all 7 billion earthlings to Pentecostalism prior to the Second Pentecost in 2033. In preparation for this, in May 2015, Gateway will be leading worship for and having their in-house NAR and Holy Spirit channeling expert Pastor Tim Ross (TD Jakes’ former protege/former porn addict/professional stand-up comedian from L.A/flunked out of bible college after 1 semester, GW pastor) headline E-21’s powerful Pentecostal “Jerusalem 2015” Conference.

    Additionally, this past Dec/Jan 2015 Robert Morris, Creflo Dollar and Jimmy Evans jointly created and co-marketed a big prosperity gospel media package on Daystar tv (on GW Apostolic elder James Robison’s tv show Life Today) for $120 or $1,200 for the deluxe edition. Creflo Dollar is the man asking for over $60 million for a new jet and believes that non-tithers should be lined up against a wall in church and executed by Uzi toting ushers. Jimmy, who is also fond of private aircraft and peddling prosperity gospel, is from television’s Marriage Today and is the Lead Apostolic elder of GW.

    On May 12, 2015 Robert’s book Truly Free drops, which is all about how practicing, saved Christians can and are regularly possessed by demons, just like Peter, Job and King Ahab were, of their own doing (they fell to the “snares that entangle” allowing themselves to be possessed). Naturally, Morris teaches that failure to tithe is a leading cause of demonic possession. The book is based on the time he and GW Apostolic Elder James Robison spent touring the South with carpet cleaner/exorcist Milton Green selling exorcisms to desperate people in hotel convention centers. Their followers were called “Greenies”. This was in part why the Baptists parted ways with Robison, who chose to eschew Baptist doctrine in favor of the more lucrative Pentecostalism. Milton Green was a criminal and drug addict who was certified insane and committed to insane asylums multiple times against his will. The giant advance from Thomas Nelson for this book, co-written by the famous ghost writer Marcus Brotherton, just paid for Morris’ third massive estate, a custom built state of the art hunting and fishing lodge with night vision cameras and motion sensors and its own private professionally stocked lake.

    Morris recently bought the financially floundering The King’s University (TKU) from Pentecostal “godfather” and GW Apostolic elder, Jack Hayford. This purchase took the responsibility of running the uni off Jack’s hands but oddly resulted in Hayford’s compensation increasing by $142,500 per year despite the uni moving away from Jack in CA to GW in TX. Work less and make a fortune. The last few years, GW has also had to pour almost $20 million of tithers’ money into Hayford’s school. TKU was the first and most influential Pentecostal college/seminary /university West of the Mississippi. Morris is raising up a new generation of Pentecostal ministry workers. Morris recently partnered TKU with the hyper-Pentecostal Teen Mania (currently in foreclosure due to abuse scandals) and hired disgraced leader Ron Luce to teach as part of TKU’s staff. He also employs as an Executive Pastor, Mike Guzzardo, who double dips as Teen Mania/Acquire the Fire’s most popular speaker. GW also provided NAR pastor Ted Haggard’s church their replacement after Ted’s scandal. GW Pastor Brady Boyd is their new head pastor and GW elders provide that church, New Life (of Desperation Band fame) with their oversight. GW is also heavily connected to Hillsong and Robert personally counseled Mark Driscoll on resigning and gave him his only post resignation speaking gig to date.

    TKU also awarded Morris his honorary doctor of letters which Morris unilaterally upgraded to a doctorate in literature. He touts himself as Dr Morris at speaking gigs and in his books, despite his only having attended East Texas Baptist University for 2 measly semesters as an 18 yr old. He also admitted that he had to have his fiancé (now wife) cheat for him by signing him in to classes he did not attend. He also admitted to being highly gifted at singling out and preying on girls who had “daddy issues” so he could have sex with them, including while he was a married professional preacher. He also admits to abusing and dealing cocaine, meth and weed for several years including while he was a married professional preacher. He admitted this Easter he was “strung out on drugs the night he got saved” which was at a hotel he was staying at WHILE he was preaching revivals. He further admitted this year that he was so immersed in heavy drug use that when someone told him about gospel tracts he assumed it was like when the police wanted to check his arms for heroin tracks. He was also professionally preaching during this time.

    Morris teaches his Blessed Life tithing heresy all over the world. Daystar’s Joni and Marcus Lamb are revered GW members whose daughters attend TKU. Daystar airs Morris’ show as does TBN. Morris claims his show is SEEN in 100 million homes. Although Morris down plays some of the more outlandish Pentecostal practices, he admits that he speaks in tongues prior to every sermon he gives. He also hears direct revelations from God daily and even argues with God. Jack Hayford has called Morris The Fourth Member of the Trinity. Morris has also conducted mass exorcisms and has a department called Freedom Ministries that specifically engages in demonic exorcisms year round. Children are not permitted to have parents with them during group bondage sessions (Kid’s Kairos) which begin at age 6 although indoctrination begins at birth.

    Morris’ also claims to have overseen 372 CONFIRMED miracles in just 2014 and on May 17, 2015, GW is kicking off an even larger miracle crusade. GW’s head of PR/Media/Crisis Mgmt, Lawrence Swicegood, was Benny Hinn’s PR man who had to defend Hinn’s miracle healings that were under investigation. Morris also heads two giant pastor conferences a year at GW where he teaches over 4,000 pastors to be just like him. He and Jimmy Evans also run a private Pastor School on the side for cash.

    The list goes on… I can provide links to every single statement above. With Morris adding “affiliate churches” (existing churches sack their preaching pastor then just simulcast Morris’ sermons for a fee) in 2015, his reach seems unlimited. As you can see, in addition to absurd theology this man has a sketchy character issue. I would posit that Robert Morris not only deserves to be on your Theologically Absurd list, but he should be heading it given the amount of influence this dangerous man quietly wields.

    • I’ve written more posts than this one and have addressed Robert Morris.

      I don’t go back and update posts constantly…that kinda defeats the purpose of blogging. Writing one large post and constantly updating it is a sure way for no readers since people usually come back for new posts and assume the old ones have not changed.

      Also, I know Morris is a theological Muppet. That is proved by what he says, not who he associates with.

      I’m sure you have friends who are crazy, but you would probably be mad if someone damned you on the basis of your associations. Those associations give an idea of what sort of person Morris finds in his company, but the heresies of someone like Creflo Dollar cannot rightly be used to condemn Morris as a heretic.

      They may condemn Morris as a man who lacks discernment, but being a fool and being a heretic are two significantly different categories.

      • Thanks Mennoknight for responding. My main concern was that I found your blog for the first time yesterday because someone linked specifically to THIS post. I was really impressed by your level of research and the comprehensiveness of your study. Looking at the criteria you used to put this list together, it seemed natural that Morris, as the charismatic head pastor of the third largest church in the US who preaches all over the world, would have surely been considered for your list. Therefore, his exclusion seemed to infer that he was considered but not even deemed “theologically cautious” let alone “theologically absurd”. I realized that a number of other readers might be finding your blog through this same link and I was duly concerned they would misinterpret his exclusion as a clean bill of health from a writer who seems to be amazing at tracking the influence of the charismatic movement.

        Morris is a stealth player, which is one reason I felt he may have been overlooked or not even considered. Heck, he’s so stealth I attended his church for years and didn’t know for a long time that he is completely pentecostal, so maybe you could understand why I thought he could be overlooked. Most of his newer congregants, and practically none of his out of state ones know how deep into the Four Square ethos he really is. He is deceptive on that front. He is, nevertheless, highly influential as he uses his more than $100 million a year revenue to fuel this movement. This is why I was very specific in my comments. It was not just for you, but so that your readers might also be enlightened.

        As for Creflo… I truly appreciate what you are saying and agree with it in concept, but Morris has yielded his pulpit to this man and done so for his congregation’s most important conference of the year that sets the tone for his church for the whole year. This was not some off topic sermon and Creflo is more than just a whacky friend. Creflo has also paid Morris to speak at his church, World Changers. Just a few months ago Morris specifically teamed up with Creflo and Jimmy Evans to produce and then promote their prosperity gospel teaching package. All three men spent many days on James Robison’s show plugging this product. Robert and Jimmy both had high praises for Creflo and his TEACHINGS as Creflo did for theirs. This isn’t a Christmas card friendship. I didn’t post of picture of them together at a restaurant or a golf course. I referred to them teaming up, preparing false doctrine and then selling it together to their collective flocks. For cash. $1,200 for the deluxe edition! For all I care, Robert could go out golfing every week with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. I do not care what Morris does on his personal time. But I think it would say something different if Morris surrendered his pulpit to Abu, or co-wrote and promoted a book about the value of beheadings as an incentive for conversion then sold it to his congregants. I hope you will reconsider and acquit me of engaging in guilt by association. Robert hangs out with and even speaks at the same venues with plenty of sketchy characters and I did NOT mention any of them in my comments. I also feel that with a solid list like the above, I do not need to indict him based on his social affiliations. When I wrote about Creflo, I wrote specifically about their group project. It’s entirely possible that they don’t even like each other and that the kind words they both offer on the air are only for show/profit.

        From what I have read so far, I think you are doing amazing work on one of the most important topics of our lifetime. If you were put off by my comments I apologize and I hope that won’t stop you from considering Morris should you pull together any future lists. I hope you might also reconsider that believing Morris is just a muppet is like thinking Billy the Saw Puppet is just a Cabbage Patch Kid. I wouldn’t be wasting my time on this if he weren’t dangerous to people’s spiritual and financial well-being. I only decided to write to you after I saw that you DID make amendments to this very list. Thanks for writing the blog and thanks for taking the time to respond to your readers.

        • Wait. Morris is in the list. He simply didn’t have enough Twitter influence to make the grade at the time of writing. He only had 53k followers at the time of writing and list placement required 100k+

          Secondly, I understand that giving your pulpit to a major heretic is a bad sign. It’s even damning, but I make effort to address heresies as peddled by a person directly.

          If he has coauthored a book with someone, then that would be a source that could be cited. I am unaware of such things, and am also unaware of Morris’ co-working with James Robison and others.

          I did edit this list for one reason: I was directly contacted by someone because I unknowingly misrepresented them.

          If you search for “Robert Morris” on this blog, you will find another post where I address Morris more fully.

          I’m currently attempting to get away from the Charismatic topic for a little while since it has taken over this blog and I have NO desire to become some sort of myopic “discernment ministry” with a one-string banjo.

          I’m preparing to shift topics into something entirely different in the future that would involve a positive contribution to this whole scenario. Documenting heretics is good and necessary but it’s not the gospel.

  23. Thanks so much for responding. I read your other posts. They were great. Your screen grabs are epic. I’m glad Morris’ lack of Twitter footprint was what kept him off. His project with Creflo and Jimmy Evans was something he did quietly for cash. He did not cross promote it at Gateway. He deliberately kept it on the DL choosing to market it exclusively on Daystar where prosperity heresy sells like Tim Horton’s poutine up North. But there it is on James Robison’s show. http://lifetoday.org/video/.

    Robison’s show Life Today! is 30 minutes long. The Christmas season is a prime slot because people give more. This co-written and co-marketed media package ($120 or $1,200 deluxe) featured Robert Morris, Creflo Dollar and Jimmy Evans discussing their prosperity teachings in sit down interviews with separate, distinct interviews airing on December 20,22,23,24,25,26,27,29,30 and 31st. Plus January 1,2,3,5,6,7,8 and 9th. That is 18 consecutive days Morris’ BFF and GW apostolic elder James Robison dedicated to flogging this prosperity package. I’m not sure anyone’s ever gotten that many consecutive Life Today! airing spots.

    I don’t know how much more it would take to prove Morris and Creflo are in cahoots (see how I’m trying to use commonwealth lingo for you ; ) My point was, in part, that Morris despite being uber stealthy is still one of the most powerful Pentecostals out there. And the fact that people don’t witness his E-21 fringe stuff is what allows him to head the third largest church in the US. That’s why it’s so bloody hard to find evidence like this, and why I thought he might have been overlooked. Thank you so very kindly for allowing these comments. I hope they help others. Your Driscoll stuff is quite compelling btw. I look forward to reading your new topic.

  24. I should have mentioned that the media package they are selling is entitled:
    “Your Path to Financial FREEDOM – the Best of the Blessed Principles for Money Matters” “READ/WATCH/LISTEN” by Jimmy Evans, Robert Morris and Creflo Dollar.

    It contains books with audio and video on a USB drive. Eighteen videos are a lot to slog through but readers can click on the “transcripts” button on the life today link and quickly read that on every one of the 18 days, the sellers emphasize that this is a fully integrated group teaching of the prosperity gospel by Morris, Evans and Creflo. Thanks again for allowing these comments.

    I can’t post a screen grab here but if you go to 2:14 on this video http://lifetoday.org/video/the-god-who-blesses-2/ you will see the package. It has a bright turquoise sky with colorful balloons in the foreground on the cover.

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