Being Slain in the Spirit
By Nathan Busenitz
The actual term "slain in the Spirit" is never used in
Scripture. Nonetheless, it is a common practice of many charismatic groups
today. Possible biblical intimations of the practice are drawn from the
1. In Genesis 15:12 Abram falls into a deep sleep as God makes a covenant with Himself.
2. In 1 Samuel 19:23-24, Saul, while pursuing David, begins prophesying and lays down for a day and a night.
3. In Ezekiel 1:28 and 3:23, Ezekiel falls face down when confronted with the glory of the Lord.
4. In Daniel 8:17 and 10:9, Daniel falls face down when met by the angel Gabriel.
5. In Matthew 17:6, Peter, James, and John fall prostrate at the Transfiguration.
6. In John 18:6 the soldiers arresting Jesus fall flat when He says, "I Am."
7. In Acts 9, Paul, on the road to Damascus, falls down when confronted by the risen Jesus.
8. In Acts 10:10, Peter falls into a trance on the rooftop before meeting Cornelius’s men.
9. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Paul tells of a vision of paradise which he is privileged to see.
10. In Revelation 1:17, the Apostle John falls flat at the feet of Jesus.
A critical look at these verses quickly shows that they do not support being slain in the Spirit.
In none of them does one find a middle man who is doing the slaying. It is always God (or an angel from God — Daniel 8, 10; cf. Rev. 19:10) who, because of His glory, causes men to fall on their face.
Furthermore, in all but three of the above instances, the people remain completely conscious. For example, "Acts 9:3 describes Saul’s conversion encounter with Christ. Saul fell down – or was knocked down – but stayed conscious and alert as he conversed with the resurrected Christ. He was not out or in a fog or ‘slain in the Spirit...’"
Third, the people being slain consist of both believers and unbelievers. Thus, charismatics can not assert that such is a mark of a true Christian. For that matter, the soldiers who arrested Christ, were all in the process of sinning when they were knocked down.
Fourth, the "gift" of slaying in the spirit is never included in any list of gifts in the New Testament nor is anyone ever presented as having performed such an act on someone else. As John MacArthur notes, "The charismatic practice of slaying people in the Spirit has become so commonplace that many charismatics may be surprised to learn that Scripture is utterly silent about such a gift. There is no record that nay apostle or leader in the early church had the ability to knock people into a Spirit-filled catalepsy. Yet the practice typifies the charismatic movement’s obsession with paranormal gifts that are displayed in public with great commotion".
And, finally, such mindless behavior is actually more characteristic of non-Christians. In reference to the Corinthians, MacArthur further says, "As pagans, they used to get carried away in mindless, ecstatic, orgiastic kinds of activities, but that was not supposed to be true now. The truly spiritual person is not someone who is swept away into trances, ecstasies, and emotional frenzies. When a person is out of control, it is never because of the Spirit. Those who claim to have been slain in the Spirit may indeed have been 'slain,' but it is not by the Holy Spirit". After all, Galatians 5:22—23 says that the fruit of the Spirit is self-control (cf. 1 Cor. 14:40). And 1 Peter 1:13 commands believers to gird their minds for action. Mindlessly falling to the floor fails to meet that demand.
So what is really going on?
Yet, in the charismatic church today, many pastors claim to be able to slay people in the Spirit. Benny Hinn is one such individual. "There is no question that people fall over at Hinn’s services. But there is also no question that God isn’t the one knocking them over. More likely the tumbles can be explained by the predictable and traceable principles of group dynamics. The explicit or implicit expectations of forceful leaders, especially if these leaders convince the followers that they are the voice of God, can greatly influence an audience". In other words, "when Hinn’s followers call out for him to ‘wave’ or ‘throw’ the Holy Spirit at them, they know exactly what they are expected to do and how they are to respond. They ‘go with the flow,’ as many ex-practitioners readily confess".
The sad reality, then, is that being "slain in the Spirit" is simply another experiential delusion of some charismatic groups.
|There is no doubt that if a person
suddenly found themselves in the presence of God, or
if an angel appeared to a person, or
if the Holy Spirit suddenly and unexpectedly
overcame someone, then
that person would probably fall down out of fear, awe, humility or
worship. Or, if it was like the case of Ananias and
Saphira (Acts chapter 5), then that person would would probably fall
down....DEAD! This of course has happened and is recorded in the bible. But
they were relatively rare occurrences.
What's happening now is that many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches have taken those rare occurrences as a license to incorporate such happenings in their services on a regular and indeed organized way, except for trying to make people fall down dead that is, although I'd be surprised if it didn't happen sometime, (watch for the lawsuits).
This I believe is arrogant and unscriptural. It is like one Pentecostal church I attended that encouraged vigorous dancing during their singing, based on the fact that David danced before the Lord on one occasion in scripture. I guess if David had once eaten an ice cream while worshipping God, these same churches would give out ice creams to eat during their services, based on the same reasoning. At least their attendances would increase. After all, most people prefer ice creams to discipline and teaching don't they?
I have seen many people "slain in the spirit", but can't honestly say I have seen anyone change into a better Christian as a result, or become a better person as a result, or become a powerful preacher as a result, or even receive a physical healing as a result.
I have seen the same person repeatedly "slain in the spirit" over a number of weeks and years and never change in any way. One must therefore question the usefulness, validity and source of such an experience.
I myself have experienced it, but with hindsight, I believe it was "emotional preparation" and "mind manipulation" that bought it about. I can't think of any lasting benefit I received as a result of it. I've seen exactly the same phenomena occur at hypnotist's shows, put on for entertainment.
I was once present when a number of pastors were discussing a meeting the night before where people were being "slain" all over the place. Apparently one woman who had fallen over had severely injured her back. If God was truly seeking to bless this woman, why would He allow her to come away from His so called blessing, with a damaged back? Was it the "catchers" fault? (Catchers are those people given the task of helping those who fall over to do so in a safe and modest manner.) Was it just an accident on God's part? Anyway, where in scripture does it mention the necessity of "catchers" for people falling under God's power?
No, I knew at once the whole service must have been a sham and an insult to the Holy Spirit. I left that church soon after.
There is of course not ONE bible verse to support people "lining up" to be prayed for and then being "slain in the spirit" in a church service. Paul, who set most of the guidelines for church service behavior and procedure never mentioned it, sanctioned it or taught it.
my two cents worth ..... Keygar!
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