The following blog post was originally posted here: Rodney Howard-Browne; the meaning of Spiritual Drunkenness
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.1 Peter 5:8-9
“Drink and get drunk on the “new wine of the Spirit.”” (Rodney Howard-Browne The Toronto Curse, Sydney Allen Hunter, 1996)
“I’m just the Holy Ghost bartender,” he informed us. “I just serve the new wine and tell them to come drink.” (“An Evening with Rodney Howard-Browne” (from the Newswatch column of the Christian Research Journal, Winter 1995, page 43) by Julia Duin)
About 25 years ago, a worldwide revival movement broke out among Charismatic and Pentecostals, which was supposed to bring new life and blessing to the declining churches, through mysticism, spiritual experience and especially through a phenomenon called “spiritual drunkenness”.
It was alternately known as “the Laughing revival”, “the Toronto Blessing”, and “the Brownsville revival”.
Unlike revivals of old, which were usually the result of heartfelt prayer, humble tears and deep confession of sin and iniquity, this new “revival” was a Postmodern affair, in full accord with the philosophy of our times.
By Postmodern I mean that it’s leaders held an almost visceral aversion to doctrine, (i.e. revealed Truth, as in scripture).
For example when I went to Toronto Canada in 1995 to research my book, WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING;putting the Toronto Blessing in context, hundreds of pastors from around the world were waiting in line for hours in subzero weather, to get a seat at the Toronto Airport Vineyard, where they would be able to participate in services where people shook uncontrollably, some barked like dogs, thrashed on the floor, staggered in drunken trances, and a host of other mystical experiences which would come upon them after “soaking prayer”.
I interviewed a good many pastors, asking them what would be the “message” they would be preaching when they returned home. Almost to the man they repudiated preaching, saying something like “We don’t preach anymore, we preached for years and it did no good, we have the Spirit now, and don’t need ‘doctrine’.”
The “revival”, very much the result of the ministry of Rodney Howard-Browne, was an experience based, anti doctrinal movement, “head Knowledge” was taboo, as was “dry dusty doctrine”.
In the place of Preaching and teaching Doctrine, Spiritual Drunkenness became the focal point of the Revival, thus Howard-Browne’s blasphemous title, “God’s Bartender”. He referred to his meetings as “An evening at Joel’s place”, nd called those who attended to “belly up to the Bar and have a drink”.
He actually led a congregation in an ad hoc drinking song in one service according to a witness, Julie Duin, a reporter for the Christian Research Journal,
…This set the stage for the rest of the meeting, as Howard-Browne began explaining how “holy laughter” has set his ministry apart. “I’m just the Holy Ghost bartender,” he informed us. “I just serve the new wine and tell them to come drink.”
Laughter, he explained, “bubbles up” from the same place the gift of tongues comes from. It was all in some deep spiritual reservoir that needed to be tapped the same way.
Howard-Browne then began pumping us up to do just that. He led us in a song with these words: “I am drunk, I am drunk. Every day of my life I am drunk. I’ve been drinking down at Joel’s place every night and every day. I am drunk on the new wine.”
Then he asked us all to lift our hands and “let that river of joy come out of your belly.”…(An Evening With Rodney Howard-Browne)
What exactly is Spiritual drunkenness? Has there ever been a Christian Revival based upon it? Have any true Prophets, Pastors or teachers of God ever stood in the name of God and attempted to induce congregations of God’s people into Spiritual drunkeness?
What does scripture even say about it?
Howard-Browne and the other apologists for this false revival usually cite the account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, as a justification for this false experience;
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.(Acts 2:1-4)
Indeed the Pentecostal experience is in the Bible, and it occurred as a “sign and a wonder” to Israel exactly as Joel and the other prophets predicted. But there was no spiritual drunkenness or simulations of inebriated behavior in this account.
But when Peter stood up to explain by scripture what was occurring, some bystanders mocked the Apostles, accusing them of drunkenness,
And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.(Acts 2:12-13)
Notice the accusation of drunkenness wasn’t serious, the Spirit tells us that they were mocking when they accused the Apostles of being drunk, there was no behavior which suggested drunkenness.
Peter was quick to rebut even the notion that there was any drunkenness whatsoever among the Apostles, Spiritual or otherwise,
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;(Acts 2:14-16)
The utter distortion of this passage by Howard-Browne and others, is a major foundation for why RHB considered himself “God’s Bartender” and his meetings of Spiritual drunkenness as being called “Joel’s Place”.
He and other false prophets of his ilk, have corrupted an entire segment of the Church, (i.e. Pentecostals,Charismatics, and some Evangelicals) , inducing them into mysticism, experienced based spirituality, humiliating public experiences in the name of the Holy Spirit, irrational laughter at inappropriate places, not mention drawing whole congregations far, far away from the Word of God.
Behold the following video and weep at the reduction to absurdity that these servants of Satan have reduced millions of unwary churches and Christians into.
All of this time these congregations could have been studying scripture, evangelizing, growing in grace and preparing for this very dark hour, but instead they have been swept away by vanity and lies, and are either non existent, backslidden, relegated to trivial nonentities that no serious person would pay any attention to, in a time when sinners desperately need churches and Christians full of the true Holy Spirit and the true Word of God, to show them the way.
The real meaning of Spiritual drunkenness, is that it is a judgment from God himself on unfaithful people.(Remember that Judgment begins in the house of God…).
I close with this excerpt from a book I wrote in 1995, Weighed And Found Wanting;Putting the Toronto Blessing in Context,
How are we to interpret spiritual drunkenness? What are we to make of “partying with God?” Is this a biblical concept? No doubt, it feels good, but is it really God honouring? To put the question in a different light, did Jesus and the disciples ever “turn people on” to this kind of intoxication? Can we really equate spiritual drunkenness with fullness of the Holy Spirit? I hope to fully explore these and other related aspects, and also to offer a biblical perspective of this experience for you to judge by.
Spiritual Drunkenness is Biblical
It is true, that the Bible speaks of the condition touted as “drunk in the Spirit.” But the interpretation, the significance of it, is different than the current one. The Old Testament prophets as well as Jesus and the apostles did speak of the phenomena, but warned of it as a judgement from God on an unbelieving people, which it would blind, deafen and render useless those so afflicted. The biblical descriptions of spiritual drunkenness given by the prophets are striking in their similarity to the manifestations I have seen in services and on videos.
Moses, for example, warned about the “man, woman, family or tribe” whose heart would turn away from the Lord to go after other gods, because of bitterness and discontent. Moses warned us that that one would actually “bless himself in his heart saying, “I shall have peace though I walk in the imagination of my heart,” and would go on to, “add drunkenness to thirst.” (See Deut 29:18-21). We have a lot of
people today, who have drifted away from the God of the Bible, to worship and seek the presence of a god who exists in their own imaginations.
But they have learned to “bless themselves” in their hearts, or reaffirm to themselves that everything’s all right. Because they have left off the fountain of living waters, to drink out of broken cisterns that can hold no water, a tremendous spiritual thirst has developed. But have they turned in repentance back to the God of the Bible? No way, that’s “bondage,” “doctrinal,” and even “religious.” Instead of doing that which would humble them, they have responded to thirst with drunkenness, exactly as Moses foretold.
Isaiah also speaks of this phenomena in stark terms.
Isaiah 28:7-8 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgement. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.
Notice, it is the strong drink and the wine that caused the people to err, and go out of the way. Even the priest and the prophet “err in vision and stumble in judgement.” I think that this is an extremely important thing to note, for much of the leadership of this “Mystical Revival” are composed of those who consider themselves to be prophets. Even if it were true that they are prophets, Isaiah warns us that those who participate in this become blind and go into error!
Isaiah is even stronger in his denunciation of this in his next chapter.
Isaiah 29:9-14 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine, they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot: for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
There are several remarkable details in this passage that I would like to emphasize.
• Verse 9 is a strong teaching that it is spiritual drunkenness and not alcoholism that is being condemned in this passage.
• Verse 10 tells us that this is a judgement, from the Lord, upon us, our “prophets,” rulers and seers. The judgement consists of blindness, slumber, and staggering drunkenness, especially on leaders. What really throws many people off these days is the fact that in many cases, seemingly sound, solid, respectable leadership are suddenly endorsing all of this as a move of God. Others may not endorse it, but are extremely reluctant to cry out against it. Now would be the “shining hour” for a group like the Assemblies of God to rise up and offer true leadership, as in days past, and soundly and scripturally take a stand against this heresy.
• Verses 11-12 teach us that confusion, indecisiveness and inability to understand have brought us to the point where even learned men aren’t sure what the Bible says, even though the people look for leadership. Eventually, the Bible is delivered to unlearned people, as verse 12 says. Notice that the unlearned don’t refuse to teach, they just say, “I am not learned.”
In other words, the time has come when theology and disciplined study of scripture is being held up as the antithesis of true spirituality and “unlearnedness” is being boasted of. As Rodney Howard Browne says,
A diploma can’t heal anyone. Place your doctorate on a wheelchair patient in the name of Jesus and see what happens. The devil’s not afraid of a diploma. When you show him that piece of paper, he’ll pull out his diploma and say, “Join the gang, you and I went to the same school!” The power of God is not going to flow through those who have theory, it’s going to flow through those who have revelation.1
Is there anyone who thought that a diploma could heal anyone? What does a doctorate have to do with the devil? Is knowing the scriptures mere theory, as opposed to revelation? This is called setting up a straw man so you can boldly kick it down, and this is what these teachers do all of the time. They posture themselves as champions for “revelation knowledge” and cast those who want to be doctrinally scrupulous as dried up, highly educated, “dead heads.” Jesus made no such distinction. It was He who said, You do err, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God. To Him, knowing the scriptures was equated with knowing the power of God!