In 1948 a movement was born that remains a blight on the church to this day. It sprung out of a revival that was known as the “Latter Rain” revival. Heresy crept into this movement which shortly thereafter condemned by the Assemblies of God upon which it had a great effect. The erroneous doctrine known as the “Manifest Sons of God” (or Manifested Sons of God) was embraced by these “Latter Rain” proponents. This doctrine teaches an extreme eschatological view that the saints would be “glorified”, even “deified” right here on this earth before the resurrection. Other names by which this system of beliefs is identified include “Kingdom Now”, “Dominion Theology” or “Joel’s Army”. Proponents of this heresy believe that the end-time move of the spirit (prophesied by Joel) started with the Pentecostal movement, then the Charismatic Movement (which is now passé) and is now finally at what is being called “the Third Wave.”
One of the hallmarks of this movement is a de-emphasis on the scriptures and of doctrine. The Bible has become allegorical, and interpretations become subjective (1). Many within the third-wave movement have been conditioned, by the lack of sound biblical teaching, to believe that doctrine is unimportant. Leaders will often state that “relationship” is far more important than doctrine.
"For the last several years people have started to gather around fathers instead of doctrine." - Bill Johnson, Bethel Church
Who are they today?
It would take a book to document the connection between various players in the Manifest Sons movement today. Suffice to say, it would read like a who’s-who of conference speakers who are feeding the third-wave church (and especially the leadership and the elite) today.
Vineyard is one movement that has appropriated these beliefs. John Wimber, who in the early 70’s was a Quaker pastor, is credited with starting the Vineyard movement. Quakers teach that “every man has an inward light that was sufficient in itself to lead him to know God.”(2) By 1977 Wimber had started the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, which initially was associated with Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel. They left that association (because of their de-emphasis of the Word and various doctrinal problems)(3) and joined with seven other churches in the Vineyard Fellowships. Wimber became the leader of that association in the early 1980’s and remained leader until his death.
Wimber later became leader over a group known as the “Kansas City Prophets” at a time when they were under attack for their doctrinal positions and practices.(4) This major confrontation was resolved when Wimber stepped in and said he would deal with the problems and take them under his covering. As is typical within the third-wave movement, those problems were never really dealt with.
The Kansas City prophets included such internationally known “prophets” and conference speakers as Mike Bickle, Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson, Paul Cain, and Bob Jones. Affiliated with them, especially through his close working relationship with Bob Jones, is Rick Joyner of Morningstar. Francis Frangipane, Bobby Conner and Jill Austin (deceased) were in close association with all of the others. Prophecies from these persons are frequently shared on e-mail lists and web-sites.(5)
Paul Cain was revered by the others as the most significant, or true, Prophet. Cain was closely affiliated with William Branham, a proponent of the oneness doctrine (“Jesus only”) which denies the trinity. Branham is known as the father of the Latter Rain movement. Cain, although revered as a true prophet by many, has been discredited by most because of problems with alcohol and homosexuality. However, he was welcomed warmly to a "revival" meeting in Florida by revivalist Todd Bentley, who was later exposed as an adulterer when that revival "crashed and burned."
Also identified with the Kansas City Prophets and the Vineyard movement is Randy Clark (Global Awakening, Harrisburg, PA). Clark was instrumental in bringing the “Laughing Revival” to Toronto.(6) Clark was told by Rodney Howard-Browne to “lay hands on everything that moved.” Clark is well connected to Heidi Baker, who aside from her missions work is best known for her manifestations of "spiritual drunkenness."
The connections between these various “prophets” are well known and established. Reportedly, most, if not all, are part of the secret “Prophetic Roundtable” meetings which may still be hosted annually by Joyner (7). Core to their belief is the belief that they alone are to be trusted with God’s revelation. This is the same spirit of elitism seen in their sword rituals. Joyner himself likens the rest of the church to prisoners:
“The darkness from the cloud of vultures made it so hard for these prisoners to see that they naively accepted every-thing that happened to them as being from the Lord. They felt that those who stumbled were under God’s judgment. The only food provided for these prisoners was the vomit from the vultures. Those who refused to eat it simply weakened until they fell ... After drinking the bitter waters they would begin to vomit on the others. When one of the prisoners began to do this, a demon that was waiting for a ride would climb up on him, and would ride him up to one of the front divisions. Even worse than the vomit from the vultures was a repulsive slime that these demons were urinating and defecating upon the Christians they rode.”(8)
Although this quote was taken from one of Joyner’s works of fiction, Joyner himself does not call this book a work of fiction, but claims that it was given to him by divine revelation direct from God.
What They Believe
Latter Rain theology is a deep, all encompassing theology that can only be fully understood by careful review of the teachings and prophecies of those involved in it. It is not taught by these churches in a systematic manner, in fact all doctrine and theology is de-emphasized in contemporary “third-wave” congregations. Most will belittle those to whom “right thinking” is important. It is likely that many third-wave leaders don’t even fully understand their own system of beliefs and how these beliefs translate into practice.
“While we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
Paramount to their theology is a ridicule of those who await the return of Christ, who will return for his church and take it away. This concept is known as the “Rapture”, a basic tenet of the Bible (9). Granted, the timing of the Rapture has always been a point of discussion.
The Manifest Son’s position is best defined by “prophet/apostle” Bill Hamon:
“When Jesus comes to translate His Church, it will not be God’s heavenly helicopter coming to air-lift the saints all out before they backslide or before the Devil has overrun their camp. When Jesus comes it will not be because the battle is too great for the army of the Lord. Neither will it be to jerk the Church out before the Antichrist system detours it; nor a retreat of an emergency rapture to preserve the Church from extinction… Those who preach the maturity of the Church and restoration of all scriptural truths believe the purpose of the rapture-translation is strictly for the immortalization of the saints.” (10)The promise of the “Blessed Hope” is not an escapist mentality (just holding out until the helicopter escape), but rather one which should encourage us to share the Gospel with others before it is too late.
Manifest Sons believe that God is establishing a church that will grow stronger and stronger in the last days. It will be an overcoming church. There will be a restoration of the church to all truths that Satan had robbed her of. The offices of the prophets and apostles will be restored to the church. Through this the church would be led into greater truth.
Most alarming is Joyner’s belief (embraced by Bob Jones and Steve Thompson) that there are “seven hidden gospels”. These gospels will be revealed to the church in the last days. This, of course, explains the need to restore the offices of the prophets and the apostles, as the canon of the New Testament was delivered to the apostles (ones who had actually seen Jesus). Naturally, spirit travel will be required for today’s apostles to see Jesus face-to-face. Several, including Joyner and Jones, have claimed this authority. Says Joyner:
“The apostolic ministry that opened the church age will be raised up at the end to complete it.” (11)
Mike Bickle says “I think there will be 35 like unto Paul… There would be 35 whom the Lord would separate in the highest way. The government rests on the apostles and prophets.”(12) Contrast this with Isaiah 9:6 (“the government shall be upon HIS shoulder”) and you will see where this is going.
Seven Hidden Gospels? Listen to Joyner’s own words:
"The 'good word of God' is the message of the kingdom. John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus preached this message. However, just as many of the most important doctrines of the faith were obscured after the first century A.D., the true gospel of the kingdom is yet to be recovered and preached by the last day church. This message is also represented in Revelation 11:15 as the seventh trumpet".(13)
Morningstar's Steve Thompson, who wrote the book "That all may Prophesy", has also made reference to the seven hidden gospels in the context of the seven thunders in Revelation 10:14. This is where John ate the scrolls, sweet to the taste but bitter to the stomach. The belief that more scriptures are to be revealed is behind the doctrines and practices of “levels of prophecy” and the restoration of the office of the apostle.(15) One of Joyner’s books is in fact entitled “the Apostolic Ministry”.(16)
Bill Hamon states that “the Lord Jesus” gave him a vision in which he was shown a great book. The Book was titled “The Book of the Mortal Church on Earth”. He was shown this book so that he could make the progressive purpose of God known to the corporate Church.(17) If not one of the seven hidden gospels, it is still Joseph Smithesque in its nature.
To the Manifest Sons’ the rapture will not be the pre-millenial rapture suggested by an examination of the scripture. It will not even be an actual rapture where the saints are “caught up” into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Allegory, as usual, takes over. Instead of leaving the earth for the marriage supper of the Lamb, the church stays behind and will become increasingly militant. It will become stronger and prevail during the tribulation. John Wimber tells us that this militant “Joel’s Army” will overcome opposition to the gospel and will eventually subdue the nations until they gain power and authority throughout the world. “The government of the nations shall be upon their shoulders and when all secular authorities, governments, princes and kings have finally submitted to them, Christ will return and they will present the kingdom to Him.” (18)
The concept of this dominant church (Dominion theology) may seem appealing. But is it scriptural? The bulk of the evidence says that it is not. But the theology goes far beyond this. Drawing on Romans 8:19, which talks of the “manifestation of the sons of God”, they make the quantum leap into Mormonic theology, where they believe we will not only undergo a translation into immortalization (see Hamon quote above) but moreover we will become divine.
It is this very belief that we will somehow become a super-race of divine “Manifest Sons” that is the keystone of this apostasy. Strong words? Yes. Listen to the voice of Bob Jones; these words are even stronger:
“They themselves (the church) will be the generation that’s raised up to put death itself underneath their feet.” (19)
Biblical Christianity believes that JESUS has put death under HIS feet. Any other belief denies the completed work of Christ.(20) Jones’ comment is similar to the earlier one concerning the government being on the shoulders of the prophets and apostles. Both reflect the Manifest Sons belief that we shall attain deity, we (the corporate church) shall become the Christ.
Note an emphasis in third-wave teachings that Christ means “the anointed one” and that we, implicitly, can become anointed and become “Christs”. Somehow, in this theology, the church morphs into the Christ, negating the need for Christ’s return in any but an allegorical sense. As part of this system of beliefs, they teach that Christ was a pattern (for us), and that we will exceed the example that he set, as we become the “uber-Christs."
"Jesus was the pattern son, the “firstborn son”…the time has come again for the woman to be “delivered”, to travail and bring forth” … In the time of the corporate Messiah- Christ being formed in a people." (21)
And as we shall see in our next article, these beliefs correspond with some rather unusual practices, and these practices are being embraced by third-wave churches across the world.
Go to Part 2.
1 For instance the popular concept (and book title) “You May All Prophesy”, taken from 1 Cor 14:31, is used to promote the idea that everybody should prophesy. Verse 29 is left out of that discussion, which says “Let the prophets speak two or three..” The meaning of verse 31, which says “you may all prophesy one by one” is that all (three) should take turns and not all speak at the same time. Proponents of the belief that all should prophesy will respond by stating that they are not talking about prophesying during a service, neglecting to note that the scripture they use to support this notion is talking about decorum during the assembly of the saints.
2 Bill Randles :Weighed and Found Wanting”, St. Matthew Publications 1995. pg 77.
3 Problems included reports of levitating, aura reading, along with other occult practices to which Wimber responded “God is above His Word” and “God is not limited by His word”, both Quaker beliefs.
4 See http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/kcp/Abberent%20Practises.pdf
5 Commonly by small private email distribution lists. These “prophetic” words are also available on-line at www.elijahlist.com , although it now appears that the false prophecies concerning Y2K are no longer archived.
6 For $3640 (2004) you can spend two weeks in Africa on a missions trip with Clark.
7 The existence of these meetings is well known but it is hard to determine who actually takes part in them even though they make authoritative prophetic declarations to the global church.
8 Rick Joyner “The Final Quest” .
9 A good paper on “the rapture” may be found at http://ag.org/top/beliefs/position_papers/4182_rapture.cfm
10 Bill Hamon “The Eternal Church”, p.114.
11 Rick Joyner, “Mobilizing the Army of God” pp.14-215.
12 Mike Bickle, audio tape “Visions and Revelations”
13 Rick Joyner, “Mobilizing the Army of God” p. 45
15 An excellent paper on the topic of Apostles and Prophets may be found at
16 Steve Thomson’s latest book is entitled “A 20th century Apostle”.
17 Bill Hamon “Apostles, Prophets, and the Coming Moves of God”, p. 131.
18 Clifford Hill, “Prophecy Today”
19 Bob Jones, “Visions and Revelations” Fall 1988.
20 For references see I Cor. 15:27 also vs. 55, Ephesians 1:22 and Hebrews 2:8.
21 Kelly Varner, “The Time of the Messiah”, p. 75.