Slain in the Spirit… by an Atheist?
Some of us here at de-conversion, as well as many of our readers, come from, or are affected by, Pentecostal/Neo-Pentecostal movements. HeIsSailing reminisced on several posts, including one on glossolalia, and another on self-exposed charlatan, Marjoe Gortner; The de-Convert also posted a humorous clip by an infamous prosperity gospel teacher. If you are in the United States, even your politics are infused with Charismatic non-theology. The dynamic attributes of the movement has obviously led to a relatively flexible belief system which is all loosely based on a few passages in the New Testament. Some Pentecostals take a more “moderate” stance, accepting Biblical priority, whereas others prefer the voice and actions of the Spirit. A few follow the disciple’s example of living a poverty-stricken life, while many flock to the health-and-wealth promises of Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, and Joyce Meyer.
However, if people want wealth from their religion, Christianity isn’t usually the place to start – just taking a look at the first book of the New Testament should be enough to scare away any religious gold-diggers. No, charismatic Pentecostals do not win converts by Biblical exegesis or even appealing to the heart: they proselytize via the sensations. I know many moderate Pentecostals. I have lived with Pentecostals. I often ask these religionists very intimate questions concerning their conversion experiences. The vast majority that I have “interviewed” (about 80-85% of over two dozen – all from at least five different churches on three different continents) came to their Pentecostal faith through a “miraculous event” held at some sort of revival or mini-revival: prophecies, faith healing, speaking in tongues, slain in spirit, etc. Only two were “born-again” Christians before being “baptized again” – the rest were from either non-religious, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or “nominal” Christian backgrounds.
I have also attended a few of these smaller mini-revivals, usually in Pentecostal or non-denominational churches in the late evening – although nothing like a big tent Benny bash. I have had words of prophecy spoken to me, an attempted slaying, and a friend beside me alternate between whispering and shouting various unintelligible syllables. They say (who, I cannot remember, nor is it important) that around 20% of the general population is pre-disposed to not to be hypnotized – I think I am one of the five. Why? It isn’t that I don’t feel anything, because I do. It is because from a very young age I learned that the senses play tricks. I watched old Moody Institute videos on how people feel things that aren’t there or that don’t happen. I learned that the power of suggestion is greater than the majority of people are capable of admitting.
So, knowing all this – knowing that this charismatic charade could very well be anything from a well-intentioned hoax to purposeful deception to a the genuine work of the Almighty – could a non-believer “convert” another non-believer? Could someone attuned to the psychological workings of the Charismatic “slay” someone without any help from Above? Almost three years ago, an “atheist” British psycho-illusionist, Derren Brown gave it a whirl (granted, it is a video clip and be a fraud due to editing):
The pastor at that church did not end up endorsing Derren Brown. Any thoughts?