The Rev. John Kilpatrick's pronouncements of dire divine judgment on those who dare to question the Pensacola Brownsville Revival have caused quite a stir nationwide.
Luther Edwards, the pen name of an Assembly of God pastor in the Midwest, calls Kilpatrick's actions: "The Silencing of the Lambs."
That is the title of a paper Edwards submitted this year to Contemporary Pentecostal Issues an Internet forum in which Pentecostal and charismatic Christians can discuss and debate issues of their faith, doctrines and practices.
"A prophecy is an inspired utterance," Edwards said in an interview with the News Journal. "In Pentecostal circles, we differentiate between primary revelation, which is the Bible and which we consider infallible, and secondary revelation prophetic utterances that we do not consider infallible.
"The purpose of prophecy 1 Corinthians 14 is edification, exhortation and comfort. The use of prophecy is not supposed to be for what Kilpatrick did to make a prophecy for the downfall of other people. It is not in the best tradition of Pentecostal history."
Kilpatrick made his prophecy about Hank Hanegraaff at Brownsville Assembly of God in a televised revival message on April 6.
Hanegraaff is president of the Christian Research Institute in Southern California and host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Bible Answer Man."
He was on the April 4 episode of "Larry King Live" talking about his book "Counterfeit Revival: Looking for God in All the Wrong Places" and about how some Christian denominations use sociopsychological techniques to manipulate followers.
Kilpatrick, who said he did not see this "Larry King Live" episode, said he became angry after someone who saw the show told him that Hanegraaff compared the revival to the Heaven's Gate cult.
On April 6 he made this prophecy against Hanegraaff:
"I want to say something this morning to Hank Hanegraaff:
"You better back off, because I am going to prophesy to you that if you don't, and you continue to put your tongue in your mouth on this move of God, within 90 days the Holy Ghost will bring you down.
"I said: Within 90 days the Holy Ghost will bring you down!
"And I speak that as a man of God. ... This is a move of God and you better leave it alone."
Hanegraaff told the News Journal: "Kilpatrick wildly distorted what I said, and he is making pronouncements under the auspices of the Holy Spirit.
On June 18 -- 72 days after he prophesied that the Holy Spirit would smote Hanegraaff -- Kilpatrick recanted and apologized.
Kilpatrick recently told the News Journal that looking back, he thinks he showed poor judgment.
"I was wrong with Hank Hanegraaff -- I called him and apologized," said Kilpatrick during a recent interview at his home in Seminole Landing in Baldwin County, Ala.
"What I said was not a prophecy."
Kilpatrick's change of heart is good and bad, Edwards said.
"He is admitting that he spoke falsely in the name of the Lord, that he spoke presumptuously. The fact that he has apologized is laudable.
"But when he says he wasn't really making a prophecy --that is disingenuous. The transcript shows he did."
Christian critics also are concerned about some other remarks Kilpatrick made during that April 6 service.
Saying that he was addressing "Hanegraaff, and all other devils, Kilpatrick made a number of what he termed proclamations. They included:
- "No weapon that is formed against me or Steve Hill or this major outpouring of the Holy Spirit shall prosper.
- "I'm not worried about no bomb ... I'm going to make this proclamation in the ears of God: Let 'em wire one. Let 'em get 'em Hertz or U-Haul and put it up outside in the front with fertilizer and all that mess. It won't go off ... I'm saying this in the ears of God: Father, let some heathen, let some devil-possessed person load up a truck of explosives or put a bomb in a bag. Let 'em do it ... I make a proclamation, Lord, it shall never, ever go off in the name of Jesus.
- "The church known as Brownsville Assembly of God shall maintain its integrity and anybody that the devil tries to bring into this congregation for the wrong purpose shall fall away and never be heard from again and will have no effect whatsoever on this church in a negative way.
- "The supernatural, divine, Holy Ghost healings and deliverances and signs and wonders begin to drastically increase as to leave no doubts that God is still in the miracle-working business."
Hearing those statements, Edwards said, he cannot keep silent about what he called Kilpatrick's false prophecies and threats.
Edwards, who has studied the sermon transcript, said: "The implication is clear: Those who voice criticism of any kind are the enemy and could face dire consequences."
As an Assembly of God pastor, he said, "I am concerned that some of what is happening at Brownsville is not representative of Pentecostalism.
He said he was not attacking the Assemblies of God leadership or the revival but was raising questions about "the tendency to stifle dissent -- the whole idea that if you question this revival God is going to get you."
Edwards, who identified himself to the News Journal, said he prefers to write under a pen name because he is concerned about retaliation from the national organization, which has endorsed the revival.
"To go against church leadership would be viewed by them as disloyal and divisive," said Edwards, and that could cause a pastor or church member to be ostracized.