"Slain in the Spirit," non-Christian and unbiblical!

Slain in the Spirit:

Does The Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit"? By Robert Liichow

Comparison of Charismatics and the Bible


Comparison Chart

  What produces(ed) the "falling" Purpose of the "falling" How did/do people "fall"
Being slain in the spirit according to charismatic Christians

human imposition of hands

the individuals who fall (1) fake it, (2) are pushed over, (3) are under a form of hypnotic suggestion, (4) demonic force weakens them physically

many diverse reasons, physical & emotional healing, giving of "gifts," anointing for service 99% fall backwards, there is the need for others to "catch" them when they fall. Women who fall have their legs covered with clothes due to immodest positions they fall in
Biblical accounts of people falling supernatural appearance of angels, or God Himself revelation of Gods will, usually set down in the canon of Scripture All fell forward, no one "caught" them, no women fell in the Scriptures


Does The Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit"?

By Robert Liichow

The following is a copy of my booklet "Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit?  You may purchase this book by sending me a e-mail at Bliichow"juno.com for more information.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from Truth Matters, 15005 E. Jefferson, Suite 1, Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan 48230.


Being Slain in the spirit"

    This booklet will set forth the charismatic attempt to prove Biblically that the manifestations people are experiencing are in fact Scriptural. However, it will become evident to the reader that what they have done is to twist the Scripture, wrest It from its context, in a vain attempt to validate the emergence of fleshly and demonic activity in their midst.

    To many who have not ever been to a charismatic service the terminology may be unfamiliar so I will begin with a definition, historical background, their misuse of Scripture, and what the Bible actually says regarding the issue at hand.

Being Slain in the Spirit Defined

    Being slain in the spirit denotes the phenomena that occurs when hands are laid on an individual and they swoon or fall to the ground in an altered state of consciousness. It can happen without hands physically being laid on one. Generally people "fall out" due to direct ministry of another, either individually or in a group.

A relatively modern expression denoting a religious phenomenon in which an individual falls down; the cause of this is attributed the Holy Spirit. The phenomenon is known within modern Pentecostalism and charismatic renewal under various names, including "falling under the power," "overcome by the Spirit," and "resting in the Spirit." Within the discipline of the sociology of religion "slain in the spirit" might fall under the general rubric of "possession trance,"

    While ministering in charismatic circles my wife and I laid hands on over 1,000 people for various reasons. Many time when praying for peoples physical healing we would lay hands on them and they would fall down on the ground for a period of time and then regain their senses, stand up and return to their seats.

    I can testify when many times when people fall it is due to a genuine power entering into them or at least affecting their body to the degree they cannot stand. I have fallen down many times and I was not "faking" it. I felt a power, a tingling, something akin to electricity flow into me and upon yielding to this power I would fall down.

    How is this explained? The Toronto Airport Church Fellowship (TACF) says this occurs when Gods presence comes on the human body. The body simply cannot stand the weight of Gods presence and thus fall.

Falls are commonly much less violent and may be backward (common) or forward (less common and in my observation more frequent in pastors and ministers). Falls may be associated with further violent movements, with head-banging, tremors, movements suggestive of epilepsy, but commonly with a total absence of movement. Subject may have no experience beyond a pleasant sense of calm, may experience visions, or may feel they are being crushed. One man told me he felt as though a massive weight was crushing the life out of him, making it impossible for him to breath...Many people may be affected simultaneously. When this is so, the precise timing suggest supernatural choreography rather than mass hysteria.

The Toronto Airport Church Explanation

    Toronto's answer is that when a person is slain in the spirit it is simply a physical response to the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the individual. What does the Pensacola vortex of revival have to say about this matter?

There are several incidents in the Bible which demonstrate that the immediate presence of God is more than the human body can physically stand. . .One of the most significant examples is John 18:4-6, where we read of Jesus` arrest. When Jesus identified Himself to the soldiers who were arresting Him, we're told they "drew back and fell to the ground." These troops (who were pagan unbelievers and only view Jesus as another criminal to arrest) were involuntarily smitten by His moment unleashing of His inherent power as God. Even these ungodly men could not physically stand up in the presence of His holiness and glory.

    Again, we read of the "fact" that the human body just cannot stand the presence of God and so human bodies fall down. Let me ask two questions: (1) if this is true then why don't those laying hands on people fall too? If God's presence is manifest why doesn't everybody fall?  (2) In the account in John, Jesus, the completely unique One, did unveil His glory by stating "I am." The sinners did fall down. However, the account does not say the believers fell down, it is remarkably silent about anyone else being slain in the spirit.

The "Ministry" of the Catchers

    If the power of God is knocking people down and placing them in an altered state of consciousness, then why do these churches employ the use of catchers? A catcher is a man (usually) who stands behind those receiving prayer. Their job is to "catch" the people who are being slain in the spirit. Why do these ministries have catchers? For the simple reason that people falling flat on their backs from an upright position are very liable to hurt themselves or others. The catchers job is to make sure the person being "blessed" does not harm to themselves or those around them. Charismatic congregations even have written guidelines for catchers:

Tips For Catching People:

1. Do not touch the person being prayed for, but reassure them that there is someone behind the.
2. You dont have to take a hold of their shoulders as if you are going to help God.
3. As the person moves down, move back and then facilitate their move.
4. Men- be careful when touching women.
5. Get them to fall back, not forward.
6. Catchers - ONLY catch, do not pray. Do not wave your hands, only stand and be ready to catch.
7. Please do not push or pull anyone over. God does not need any help and it will ultimately backfire.
8. Do not hold anyone up by grabbing their shoulders or upper back.

    The obvious question is this - if God is knocking people down, why do we need to catch them? We have just read that they explain this manifestation as being directly caused by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. If this is so, He is not mighty enough to see to it that those He sovereingly knocks down are unhurt by His blessing? These churches employ catchers because (1) they know people fake falling many times, it is a programmed response. (2) They lack faith in their own stated beliefs. Obviously God is not big enough to safeguard His people.

    Also along with the catchers we had sisters (something other men) who came along beside or behind the catchers with large sheets of material. Their ministry was to place these sheets over the womens legs and bodies. Why? Because many times when women would be slain in the spirit they would fall in very immodest positions.

    We had events where some unfortunate women fell their dresses would be hiked up their bodies quite a bit, and their legs would be splayed out at inappropriate angles. When the Lord chose to embarrass His daughters in this manner we had to be there to quickly cover up their shame. Does this really sound like something the Lord God would do to His daughters?

    Not only can being slain in the spirit prove to be embarrassing to a woman, it can prove deadly as well. Mrs. Ella Peppard died as a result of someone falling on her who had been slain in the spirit.

The ushers quickly pulled her off the stage and sat her in a pew where she cried out in pain for 20 minutes. . .The woman's family alleged the ushers refused to call an ambulance because an ambulance would not look good at a miracle service. A lawsuit was settled out of court. Hinn say he never knew the woman was injured or he would have sought medical help.

According to charismatic theology the Holy Spirit will place women in morally embarrassing positions, and at times allow some people to be hurt and/or killed.

    I know from past experience (I used to be a catcher) that when there was no one standing behind a saint receiving prayer nine times out of ten they would not fall down. This alone proves to me that what is taking place is not a sovereign move of the power of God. There is a power involved at times but it is not of God.

The Historical Roots of the Phenomenon

    I cited Stanley Burgesss definition above and it is a good one except for one point - he says it is a relatively modern expression. This is not correct. People have been allegedly falling under the power since the 1760's. It was a common expression among the Shakers. It was one of the signs in the ministry of Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924) the trance evangelist.

Yesterday during the afternoon meeting the Lord Jesus bowed the heaven and came down. Many went under the power. Two women and a girl were struck down unconscious, and lay on the floor...The second woman lay unconscious for about two and one-half hours, with both arms raised to heaven. When she was recovering she sang praises unto God in the spirit."

    Her ministry manifestations began in 1885 years before the Azusa Arevival." She received a spiritual renewal at a Friends meeting in 1879. So basically what we have is a woman, who received some type of spiritual power from a Quaker meeting. Keep in mind that the Society of Friends, the Quakers, were originally a non-orthodox sect. She would go into trances, people came to her while she was in a trance state and allegedly got "saved." She had the ability to lay hands on others and place them in a similar trance-state.

    The practice was not was widespread in Pentecostal circles after her death until the advent of another woman minister named Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944). She was a traveling evangelist and she too had people fall out under the power in her ministry (long footnote citing the book about her life). She was very controversial and she founded the Foursquare Gospel denomination, she died of a barbiturate overdose in 1944. To this day charismatic believers ignore the fact that she was divorcee, most likely faked her own kidnapping in order to spend time in an adulterous liaison (1926), and then died of a drug overdose. Yet the power of God is supposed to have flowed mightily through during all of her life!

    The next major figure whose ministry was earmarked by multitudes being slain in the spirit was Kathryn Khulman (1907-1976). Kathryn committed adultery with a married man, who left his wife and children to marry Kathryn. A few years later Kathryn divorced him and never remarried. I bring these distasteful facets up because it shows some of the character of these mighty Pentecostal/Charismatic giants of the faith. I am not saying these people were not saved, nor that they did not sincerely repent of their sins. However, character does matter in ministry.

Apart from the well-documented healings, the most sensational phenomena associated with Khulman was "going under the power" (sometimes referred to as "slain in the Spirit") as people fell when she prayed for them. This sometimes happened to dozens at a time and occasionally hundreds.

    Her ministry was international in scope. Well received by almost all Pentecostals and the fledgling charismatic renewal movement of the 1960's. She is the individual responsible for popularizing the practice of slaying people in the spirit which became common in almost all charismatic churches to this day.

    As an interesting side-bar: Dr. Lester Sumrall, who is widely accepted as a true apostle among Pentecostal and Charismatic believers never fell under the power of God. He had the giants of Pentecostalism lay hands on him for almost 80 years and never fell once.

    I have witnessed brother Kenneth Hagin senior have a long line of people hold hands and he lay hands on the head of the first person and then the entire line fall down. I have personally seen Benny Hinn whirl around and "throw" a wave of anointing in his meetings and multitudes have fallen, as if shot on several occasions.

    As recently as August 1, 1997 my wife and I were at the Toronto Airport Church and we witnessed multitudes being slain in the spirit as John and Carol Arnott laid hands on people.

The Phenomenon Is Universally Accepted

    This experience is almost universal to all Charismatic's. If you know any, ask them if they have ever been slain in the spirit and what it was like. This practice and manifestation is accepted de facto due in large part to the following:

The long history behind it, i.e. God has always done this.

Their own experience of it, they got "blessed."

They have been taught that the Bible clearly teaches this is a legitimate experience of what takes place when Gods power comes on an individual.


The Revivalists Apology for the Manifestation

The Toronto Blessing FAQ

Revised April 1997

FALLING IN THE HOLY SPIRIT- this is when we fall to the ground because we can no longer remain standing when the power of God is on us!!! Sometimes we remain on the ground from several minutes up to several hours, our body simply cannot move very much because our flesh is corrupt and cannot stand in God's full presence!!

II CHRONICLES 5:11-14 - And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy [place]: (for all the priests [that were] present were sanctified, [and] did not [then] wait by course: Also the Levites [which were] the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, [being] arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers [were] as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up [their] voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, [saying], For [he is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever: that [then] the house was filled with a cloud, [even] the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.

MATTHEW 17:5-7: While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard [it], they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

JOHN 18:5-6: They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am [he]. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground.

ACTS 9:3-4: And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

A Biblical Examination

    To begin with whenever you make comparisons, for them to be honest correlation's you must, obviously, compare "apples to apples." None of the above texts resemble anything remotely close to what happens when believers are slain in the spirit today. My wife and I have observed less than 10 people fall under the power with no human intervention of some variety in 30 years of combined charismatic experience. When people get slain it is due to the direct ministry of another person, not a sovereign act of God, as we see in 2 Chronicles 5:11-14.

    Invariably, charismatic people fall down when hands are laid on them. There are no examples of people falling down when hands were laid on them in the Bible which is the exact model which is to be compared.

    In Chronicles we read of the dedication of Solomons temple. In that dispensation God manifested His presence to His covenant people Israel. This case was no exception, God manifested His presence to demonstrate His approval of the temple. After that initial service, His presence was confined to residing above the ark of the covenant. Note also that all the priest fell down, not just some. There is no record of a Pentecostal or charismatic service where all the people fell out under the power of God simultaneously. Also keep in mind the amount of priests at the dedication numbered in the hundreds and all had the exact same experience.

    Matthew 17 gives us the incident where Jesus took Peter, John and James up to the mountain top where He was transfigured before them. There is nothing in the text which indicates that God slayed them in the spirit. The text states "they fell on their face, sore afraid" it does not say "the presence of God was so strong they could not stand." Nor does it say "the power of the Holy Spirit knocked them on their faces." It says "they fell," Peter, John, and James chose to fall. Why? They were afraid! It was a voluntary act on their part, not a sovereign act of God upon their bodies. Please note also, that at no time were they unaware of their surroundings, i.e. they did not loose consciousness, which is common with todays spurious manifestation.

    Also, in Mark and Lukes account we read of Peter seeing Moses, Elijah and Jesus and then Peter speaking with Jesus. These two accounts do not even mention them falling down at all. It does mention them being afraid, but no falling. It is textually impossible to validate what happens in charismatic services from Matthews account.

    The last text they use to shore up their doctrine is the account of Paul encountering the Lord on the road to Damascus. What is interesting in the Acts 9 account is that only Paul is slain, i.e. falls off of his horse. The men with Paul, were (1) speechless, (2) heard a voice, (3) saw no one, and (4) did not fall down. Another facet of this account is the fact that this extraordinary manifestation is Pauls call into apostleship. This text cannot legitimately be used to prove the machinations taking place in charismatic circles. No one laid hands on Paul. According to the Biblical record this was not a regular occurrence in his life or ministry. Paul himself never testifies to laying hands on anyone and having them slain in the spirit, nor do any of the other writes of the New Testament, or Old Testament for that matter. Paul never lost consciousness, his faculties were very sharp, he was able to speak, he rationally answered the Lord.

    John White used the following two verses in his book When The Spirit Comes With Power to justify falling down under the Holy Spirits power:

Daniel 10:9-10 But the sound of his words came to my ears, and on hearing his voice I went into a deep sleep with my face to the earth. Then a hand gave me a touch, awaking me, and putting me on my knees and my hands.

Rev. 1:17 - And when I saw him, I went down on my face at his feet as one dead. And he put his right hand on me, saying, Have no fear; I am the first and the last and the Living one;

    In the event in Daniel we encounter the writing prophet at the banks of the Tigris. He alone sees the angelic being who has come to deliver to Daniel a sweeping revelation concerning the prophetic economy of God. This Old Testament account is totally devoid of any comparison of what takes place in Pentecostalism. First, Daniel was a writing prophet and as such the Lord manifested His Word to those prophets in various ways (dreams, visions, divine appearances, etc.). Second, Daniels experience was unexpected, whereas people fully expect to be slain in the spirit. The purpose of the manifestation was to reveal a significant prophetic word to Gods prophet. Next, while Daniel was overcome the angel touched him and gave him strength. This is something we do not see in todays services. I have seen multitudes fall, but none receiving supernatural strength. Note also that Daniel fell face forward, almost one hundred percent of charismatics who are slain fall backward, thus the reason for catchers (it is very difficult to catch people who are falling forward). It is interesting to note that in the Biblical accounts when people have fallen, it is the sinners who fall backwards (Jh. 18:6).

    There simply is no legitimate manner in which this verse can be used to shore up a doctrine of being slain in the spirit.

    The text in Revelation 1:17 also fails to meet the test when examined. John the beloved was an apostle of the Lamb. There are no more apostles today. Secondly, John saw the resurrected Lord which was the reason he fell. The purpose for the Lord Jesus appearing to John was to give him the final installment of the canon of Scripture. John was given a revelation of immense importance. John never lost consciousness and also fell face forward.

Comparison Chart

  What produces(ed) the "falling" Purpose of the "falling" How did/do people "fall"
Being slain in the spirit according to charismatic Christians

human imposition of hands

the individuals who fall (1) fake it, (2) are pushed over, (3) are under a form of hypnotic suggestion, (4) demonic force weakens them physically

many diverse reasons, physical & emotional healing, giving of "gifts," anointing for service 99% fall backwards, there is the need for others to "catch" them when they fall. Women who fall have their legs covered with clothes due to immodest positions they fall in
Biblical accounts of people falling supernatural appearance of angels, or God Himself revelation of Gods will, usually set down in the canon of Scripture All fell forward, no one "caught" them, no women fell in the Scriptures


The falling of people in todays services, especially in this latest revival has no relationship whatsoever to the few Biblical accounts they attempt to use to prove their beliefs. Every text they have tried to use is taken completely out of its context and these leaders are guilty of wresting the Scriptures in a vain attempt to validate their practice.

    The leaders of the Holy Laughter movement prove nothing by the Scriptures they use except that they do not know how to properly interpret the Scriptures. They are attempting to compare apples-to-oranges and not apples-to-apples. The simple fact of the matter is that they have no contextual evidence to prove what is happening is Biblical. Try as they might, the best they can do is to twist the Scriptures in an attempt to make "a round peg fit into a square hole." The Biblical accounts and what transpires today simply do not compare with one another.

    Pastor John Arnott said the following (paraphrased) regarding people laying on the floor (slain in the spirit) screaming out:

1. The Holy Spirit could be expelling demons from the person, so we say "more Lord."

2. The Holy Spirit is bringing back past painful memories to heal them, and the person is screaming out in agony, so we say "more Lord."

3. The Holy Spirit is blessing the individual so tremendously they are screaming out under His power, we dont want to stop that do we?

4. The person is simply faking it to fit it.

5. The Holy Spirit is doing something prophetic in the persons life and we do not want to interfere with that do we?

    The only problem with Johns definitions was that he used absolutely no Scriptures to validate any of his five points. In fact he contradicted himself on the video when he said that upon asking people what was happening to them while on the floor the people responded "we dont know, but we know the Lord was doing something." If the slain individuals did not know what was taking place how in the world does John Arnott?

Sometimes Truth makes Love hurt

"But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth" John 8:40

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