The Crazy World of
[ Part two ] ... [ Part one ]
"We live in a crazy world" (Gerald Coates, The Vision,p16; Kingdom Now,p76)
This is the fourth article in this series looking at dubious teachings in the church. The doctrines of Benny Hinn and Nicky Gumbel (the Alpha Course) have been scrutinised in an attempt to gain a greater Biblical understanding of the beliefs that are shaping the visible church today. We now come to Gerald Coates. As I write these pieces, I feel increasingly burdened that we respond to the issues raised and the people concerned with discernment and compassion in equal measure. It is frighteningly easy to fall into either the camp of 'it's all over, the global deception is here' heresy hunters, or the 'welcome the new dawn of world revival' charismaniacs. The Truth Himself promised His Spirit, and that He would "guide us into all truth" (John 16:13). We must work, so hard at learning how to speak that truth in love, so that all sincere believers "may grow up in all things into him who is the head- Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). We all have a lot of growing up to do; some of us need to consider "whether we want to win [people over] or simply point out their error" (Coates, The Vision); others of us may want to think about whether we care about truth at all. We all need the Lord's tremendous grace that we might daily demonstrate that "love which covers over a multitude of sins" (Proverbs 10:12, 1 Peter 4:8).
For those (like me!) prone to seeing leaven in every lump, check out the admonition to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2. For others who tend to see more with rose-tinted specs than with the eyes of discernment, don't miss the message to the church in Pergamos in the same chapter (especially verse 15).
One final comment: if you come away from reading this concerned about Gerald Coates, put it into action in praying for him and those whom he influences. If you come away feeling offended or outraged, please pray for me!
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength and redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).
"Many Christians prefer to be spoilt by praise than saved by criticism" observes Gerald Coates in The Vision. This article fully intends to test Mr Coates' adherence to this principle! In an attempt to forestall the classic objection- 'yes, but have you read this by him '- every attempt has been made to build up as broad and thorough a picture of Gerald and his teachings as possible.
The sources used are therefore:
- 'Gerald Quotes' (Gerald Coates, 1984, Kingsway; hereafter GQ)
- An Intelligent Fire (Gerald Coates, 1991, Kingsway; hereafter IF)
Kingdom Now! (Gerald Coates, 1993, Kingsway; hereafter KN)
'Toronto' and Scripture (Gerald Coates, 1994, article in Renewal, reprinted in The Impact of Toronto edited by Wallace Boulton)
The Vision, an antidote to post-charismatic depression (Gerald Coates, 1995, Kingsway; abbv:Vis)
Nonreligious Christianity (Gerald Coates, 1995, Word Books, hereafter NC)
A Breath of Fresh Air (Mike Fearon, 1994, Eagle)
Charismatics and the Next Millennium (Nigel Scotland, 1995, Hodder & Stoughton; hence 'Sc')
Signs of Revival (Patrick Dixon, 1994, Kingsway)
The Pioneer website on the Internet (http://ds.dial.pipex.com/pioneerpeople/)
Evangelicals Now, July 1996 (Bulldog column) and February 1997 ('False prophecy today?')
Rumours of Revival video (presented by Coates,1995, Word videos)
Sowing the Seeds of Revival videos (May/June 1997, with Coates and Dale Gentry)
A brief talk with Mr Coates at a Sowing the Seeds of Revival meeting (25 June 1997)
Discussion on Radio 4's Sunday the morning after the Wembley Stadium gig The Champion of the World (28 June 1997)
Of this material, Scotland's Charismatics and the Next Millennium is highly recommended as an encyclopedia of the movement. Rumours of Revival is an inadvertently self-damning promotion of the Toronto Experience. An Intelligent Fire (Coates' autobiography) is probably the most astonishingly egotistical and self-regarding book I have ever read.
1. Gerald the Rebel - where he's coming from
The first factor we need to take into consideration when looking at Gerald Coates is his early involvement with the Plymouth Brethren. In the 1960s he attended the Gospel Hall in Cobham. He found that the church was:
* "opposed to anything remotely Pentecostal or charismatic" (Intelligent Fire, p45)
* engaged in a weekly "dreary half-hour of prayer from the same people, praying the same things" (IF, p45)
* hostile to the practice of (or even discussion about) tongues and miraculous spiritual gifts
* suspicious of the authenticity of conversion of any outside the Brethren movement
* organised such that "there was no leader, no music or instruments" (IF, p50)
* against women "speaking publicly or praying when men were present" (IF, p50)
* appearing to "believe in Roman Catholic transubstantiation" in their ambivalent stance over the Lord's supper (IF, p52)
* in general happy to "step over and around issues, even if it did make walking difficult" (IF, p53)
* under the impression that fulfilling the Divine Commission is solely street preaching and tract delivery, so that "they will never be able to say they never knew" (The Vision, p48)
In 1967, the church split and Gerald seems to have been disillusioned by the animosity and bitterness. Eventually he left the movement, and formed his own house church initially with 5 members.
For all of us, sadly, bad experiences shape and sometimes warp our view of things. If we watch a bogus TV evangelist trying to 'fleece the flock', we might be tempted to pass the offering bag along at a perfectly accountable church, for example. It is my conviction that Gerald's unhappy experiences with the Cobham Brethren (not that he is without praise for them) propelled him into having strange, even crazy views on the areas of:
* Revelation, the Bible and prophecy
* The sovereignty of God
* The nature of miraculous gifts and the operation of the Holy Spirit
* Preaching, evangelism, revival and the end-times
* Grace and the Law
* Reverence, joy and order
* Leadership, influence and the importance of the individual
* The purpose of the Lord's supper
* The role of women in ministry
* The place of music in worship
2. Gerald the Sophist - false reasoning about revelation and revival
Our view of Scripture is of absolutely primary importance to our Christian faith. The Holy Spirit teaches in 2 Timothy 3 that "the holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (v15). The 6th article of the Church of England considers the Bible to "contain all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or thought to be requisite or necessary to salvation". Gerald Coates himself rightly points out that:
"the only things we know about God are those things he has chosen to reveal about himself to us. I do not know anything about God, and nor do you, other than what he has chosen to reveal to us through creation, law, prophets, the rest of Scripture and Christ himself. We should never forget: God is under no obligation to reveal anything of himself to us in any way whatever" (The Vision, p120).
It is all the more grievous therefore that Gerald consistently denies this very doctrine of revelation!
Only a year or so after the above quote, he is adamant that "it is no more the primary purpose of the church to teach the scriptures than it is for British Rail to promote timetables" (Evangelicals Now, July 1996). This is the first among many ambiguities and contradictions in Gerald Coates' ministry.
He goes on to say in the aforementioned article that:
"we make a great mistake in assuming that the primary role of leadership is to read, teach and exegete [sic] the Scriptures . For while that is important, there is something far more important than that. In China and Africa, South America and parts of Eastern Europe they are experiencing revival".
Apart from blatantly defying 1 Timothy 4:13-16 ("Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine smeditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you"), these statements betray another fundamental flaw in Gerald Coates' pontifications. He has a chronic tendency to present sophistic arguments and false dichotomies. Let me try and explain in plainer English! A sophist is "a person who uses clever or quibbling arguments that are fundamentally unsound". Here is a common example of this in the church today:
fallacy: argumentum ad hominem, that is, deciding the validity of an experience on the basis of the person who is endorsing it, rather than on the teaching or the issue.
format: 'Yes I know he sounds a little controversial at times, but if you met him you'd see what a great man of God he is'.
for instance: "We went across to Birmingham where Rodney Howard-Browne was sharing. And I confess, I went that first day and for me it was shambolic. I mean awful. I thought, this is awful, all this going on, people laughing raucously, people falling down, crawling along the floor. I thought, this is dreadful. But inside myself, that voice we all come to know of God to ourselves said, 'This man is from me'. And despite all that was happening in the meeting, I felt integrity, I felt sincerity and purity in this man" (Bryn Jones in the Rumours of Revival video).
final outcome: we no longer assess things Biblically (1 John 4:1), but simply rely on whether the 'inner voice' responds to the personality at the front.
Gerald's particular speciality is false dichotomy. This involves taking two apparent 'opposites' and forcing your listener to choose between them. Frequent instances of this are:
Spirit or truth: "While truth can be a gateway that leads us to the Spirit, sacred ancient writings had told us that normally the Spirit leads us to the truth. We needed more of the Spirit" (IF, 62). The Bible teaches not only that we should worship God "in spirit and truth" (John 4:24), but that God's Spirit is Truth (1 John 5:6; cf. John 14:17;15:26;16:13).
1 "Sacred ancient writings" is an example of vague, personalised abstraction to add weight to an assertion. Further reading about fallacious reasoning: Conversational Terrorism http://www.best.com:~vandruff/art converse.html), Science vs Evolution (esp. Appendix 4, M. Bowden, 1991, Sovereign Publications), Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student (e.corbett, 1990, Oup).
Spirit or word: Often one hears quoted 2 Corinthians 3:6- "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life". This is used to support throwing the Bible away and being led by whatever comes into one's head at the time. It is also why Gerald is able to say that "it is often the biblically committed who are devoid of an outward experience of the Holy Spirit, who will oppose revival or a great awakening as much, if not more, than the unbeliever" (Vis.,113). Even more illogically: "We have taught people to be biblical, but to be biblical is to be led by the Spirit, not the Bible" (IF, 172). But the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). Just as God's Spirit is Truth, God's Word is Truth (John 17:17). Those motivated by the Word of God are driven by the Spirit and vice versa.
Grace or law: Gerald Coates wrote a booklet called Not Under Law. Philip Hill stated that it "provides a perfect excuse for libertinism and anarchy". Many believers are under the impression that being set free from the law means having permission to indulge our sinful appetites. One professing Christian leader apparently drove at 90mph through a built-up area, shouting 'Not under law!'. Even a cursory glance at Galatians or Romans 6-8 shows how God sent His Spirit so that we could be free to walk in obedience to Him, not in slavery to our old lusts. We are under grace that we might "fulfil the royal law according to Scripture, "you shall love your neighbour as yourself" (James 2:8).
In the EN article, Gerald's false dichotomy is between preaching the Word and revival. He says, preaching's important (but not a primary role!), but revival's far more important. This is ridiculous. Revival is a widespread response to the preaching of the Word- "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). We can only conclude that the kind of revival Gerald is talking about is not a revival of the Gospel of God if it is a separate thing from the preaching of the word. It is far more likely that 'The Champion of the World', 'Sowing the Seeds of Revival' and 'The March for Jesus' are content- and gospel-free productions desperate to stimulate flagging church attendance by shared ecstatic experiences, hype, triumphalism, music, emotionalism, autosuggestion, millennial fever and playing on the genuine hopes among Christians for the conversion of our nation, despite our shocking failure to "preach the word in season and out of season do the work of an evangelist" (2 Timothy 4:2,5).
Our nation will never see a revival of faith in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ until that glorious, unchanging message is preached unashamedly and without garnish.
We return to the reason for Gerald's flexible approach to the substance of the Gospel and its proclamation: he does not believe in the infallibility or sufficiency of the Bible:
The bizarre thing is that Gerald elsewhere claims that he does "give full authority to Scripture" [not sure about us giving authority to Scripture?!], and that "God's will is in his word. God's will is never found outside of his word. His word is utterly reliable and totally dependable. That is why evangelical Christians have such a high view of Scripture. But the God who has spoken is the God who still speaks " (An Intelligent Fire, 119).
1 Gerald is making a point about the need for fellowship, but nothing can warrant the suggestion that somehow God's Spirit and Word are not graciously sufficient for us (2Cor. 12:9). Indeed, valuable as Christian brothers and sisters are, sometimes all we have to rely on is our Lord God and Heavenly Father. The only reason why the Psalmist, our Saviour and the Apostle Paul could continue at certain times was because though "all forsook me...the Lord stood with me and strengthened me (2Tim. 4:16-17, cf Psalm 22).
Here is another vital fallacy in argument. Gerald is labouring under the delusion that the Bible is God's spoken word, yes, but for then, not now. So really, his statements about 'giving full authority to Scripture' are meaningless, because something without relevance has no authority. "There is not the slightest indication in Scripture to lead us to believe that God has nothing more to say than what he has already said", he says, notwithstanding Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:5,6; Revelation 22:18,19. But he has just argued that "God's will is never found outside his word". Gerald's world is indeed crazy. Again, he suggests that some "do not expect God to speak to them: they have the Bible"(The Vision, 139)!! This is an amazing piece of sophistry! It is like saying, I don't expect to hear anything from Him because I've got a perfect, totally sufficient letter from Him. Of course I hear from you, Lord! I can learn everything you want me to know about you from your chosen means of communication: the Bible illuminated by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is God speaking to us today. I cannot think of a more relevant, more alive book. "The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever" (Psalms 119:160).
To sum up this section:
Gerald's false dichotomies cause him to artificially differentiate between spirit and word, spirit and truth, grace and law, gospel and revival. The consequences:
A. No consistent doctrine of revelation or of Scripture. This means that Gerald is free to 'prophetically' contradict himself and the Bible whenever he likes, as there is no divine rule against which he can test himself.
B. Making God in our own image. "Has no static concept of God, but do have a living relationship" (Kingdom Now!, 32), which when translated reads, 'refuse to submit to the Biblical self-portrait of God, so create my own working model of him which changes at my convenience'. Splitting Spirit from Truth is even more disturbing when we consider that Jesus is Truth (John 14:6) and that God is Spirit (John 4:24). The worst case scenario of Gerald's schizophrenia is that we "divide the Substance" (Athanasius) of the eternally Triune God (hence Benny Hinn's weird tritheism, three gods in three persons- nine in all!).
C. A wrong view of freedom. "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men- as free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God" (1 Peter 2:15-16, cf Romans 6).
D. Preaching a gospel of shared religious experience, rather than the Gospel of the "narrow gate" of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 13:24). Jesus forewarned us that "many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practise lawlessness'" (Matthew 7:22). When I asked Gerald Coates whether he would be content to see a worldwide revival headed up under the leadership of the Pope, he said he wouldn't mind as everyone was sharing this 'common spirit' which he emphatically stressed was the one that had been stirred up in Toronto and transferred by the laying on of hands to the rest of the world.
The unity of the faith in Christ has been replaced by a shared experience which has no coherent body of truth behind it, and therefore will save nobody's soul from hell:
"the coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
3. Gerald the Fabulist
Following directly on from no fixed doctrine of revelation or of Scripture, and thence no clear understanding of the character of God, we examine Gerald's 'pick and mix' or 'make it up as you go along' approach to theology.
Gerald, like so many others, utterly reveres that "fat man just trying to get to heaven" (in his own words), John Wimber. This explains why Gerald goes firmly along with Wimber's "we are cataloguing all of our experiences so we can develop a theology". I suggest that the epidemic awe in which John Wimber is held by people like Gerald is not because of his sound, passionate Gospel preaching. It is not because of his soul-winning exposition of the Word of God. It is not because he has decided to glory in the cross of Christ (which initially was not mentioned in Power Evangelism!). It is because he gets 'results'. Jeremiah's lack of converts and Job's devastating losses would relegate both of them to the very bottom of the prophetic heap today. No, Wimber lives by faith, and look how big and successful Vineyard is. They have all the good music, and all the exotic experiences.
Gerald is also totally obsessed with numbers. What impresses him about Billy Graham is the 27,000 a night attendance (Earls Court, 1966). His unadvisedly-named 'Festival of Light' (is that a Hindu thing?) was fantastic because of the "30,000 who swelled Trafalgar Square [and] another group of several thousand" (IF, 83). Come Together ("a prophetic statement about the unity of the body of Christ" apparently) was held in Westminster Central Hall "crammed with over 2,500 people". We must commend Gerald for his incomparable ability to organise large groups of excitable people together, but numbers are very different from true spiritual fruit. And the hubris generated is unbearable:
"If the house church movement was the most significant movement in the church in the seventies, the Nationwide Festival of Light and Come Together were the two major projects of the decade" (IF, 93).
Strange that the two major projects of the decade were both run by Gerald Coates, and that he doesn't flinch from telling us so in his autobiography. (It takes a lot of chutzpah to find your self a worthy subject of a book in any case, but as Gerald cites Anatole France, "A writer is rarely so well inspired as when he talks about himself". Gerald really should read the Bible: "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips" [Proverbs 27:2].)
Gerald's ambition for big crowds following him about is seemingly insatiable. He's now succeeded in filling Wembley Stadium, the largest venue in the UK ('The Champion of the World', 28 June 1997). Where next?! But I have to confess, isn't there some confusion as to who the champion is? The Lord Jesus for His sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection, or Gerald for filling a stadium of happy clappers?
The problem with a results- and numbers-based theology is twofold.
First, "if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10) and "woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).
Second, when the numbers aren't there, what's going to become of us? Our security is not in the Lord, but in 'how many we can influence'. Gerald will increasingly find that in order to fill stadia, he will have to "heap up for them teachers and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Gerald is proud to be a storyteller, a fabulist if it gets bums on chairs- "I'm a prophet, not a Bible teacher".
But just what kind of prophet is Gerald?
Prophecy 1: "Dr Kendall in eighteen months from this month (April 1995) your church, Westminster Chapel, will be unrecognisable, completely and totally unrecognisable the Holy Spirit will increase in power. In 18 months (October 1996) the Spirit of God- not just upon Westminster Chapel, but upon Westminster itself, upon the high of the land, upon many who live in that area, is going to come on that place and many of your prayers- taxi drivers would get out of their taxis because the Spirit of God is so strong in that place- you're going to see them fulfilled. And it will come from the most unlikely sources, it will not come through the people you would like it to be through, it'll come through the most unlikely sources. And if you keep your heart and your eyes open the Spirit of God is going to surprise us all " (Given at Spring Harvest, April 20 1995; circulated by Kendall at West. Chap. in December 1995).
Outcome 1: "What has come of the prophecy [which] states in short that the area and the church will have been transformed by revival? It appears to be the complete reverse of what was promised. Far from experiencing joyous revival it is reported that over 100 people have left Westminster Chapel since Dr Kendall's well-publicised attempt to bring the Toronto Blessing on the church. There are the dwindling numbers in the church, the continuing lack of impact on the local community and the complete absence of a godly direction taken by many among the Parliamentary 'high of the land'. Sadly, in anyone's book, this is tantamount to the failure of the prediction. If the prophecy did not come from God, then are we not constrained by God's Word to declare that they are the vain imaginings of a false prophet?" (EN article as below). The writer of this article can verify this- I was one of the 100+ who left West Chap (ask to leave RT Kendall's office as the preacher raged at my daring to question the Biblical soundness of Toronto). West Chap is a shell of its former glory, and the preaching of the Word is mingled with abortive attempts to stir up the 'double anointing' that RT desperately craves as, sadly, his ministry flags.
1 Gerald doesn't seem to mind citing this comparison of him with a certain German chancellor... "Mr Gerald Coates, who kept the continuity between the different parts of the rally, often encouraged the audience to give its festival salute, in the form of a raised arm and hand, rather reminiscent of the salute performed at a different sort of rally just over thirty years ago."
2 How can the Holy Spirit of God increase in power? Only other spirits can have their influence enlarged or diminished by God's sovereign permission...
Here's what the Bible says:
1. If you prophesy something that doesn't happen, under Mosaic law, you are put to death.
"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
How does Gerald get round this? He has made a false prophecy, declared something in God's name which didn't happen and brought "the reproach of the heathen our enemies" (Nehemiah 5:9). Under Moses, he would already be dead. Is he sorry? Not a bit of it! He told me that West Chap was unrecognisable! Well in once sense he is right, if you want to destroy the significance of words forever. It's a bit like some builders coming round to do up your house and promising to leave it 'unrecognisable'. You didn't place quite the same emphasis on the word when they scarper leaving it a complete bombsite which is spiritually what Westminster Chapel is. Why can't Gerald face up to the fact that he's made a serious error (a resigning offence) and repent with humility? Because his ego and the credibility of his own word stand higher in his estimation that the warnings of Scripture and the plain facts of the matter.
2. Don't listen to prophets God hasn't sent, who fabricate fine prospects about the future with their imaginations. "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise me, 'The Lord has said, "You shall have peace"'; and to everyone who walks according to the imagination of his own heart, 'No evil shall come upon you' I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make my people forget my name by their dreams Behold I am against prophets who use their tongues and say, 'He says.' " (Jeremiah 23- more topical reading you will not find!!).
Prophecy 2: "In 1991 Mr Coates visited New Zealand where he informed local church leaders that God had spoken strongly to him about an earthquake that would devastate Lake Taupo. The leaders were told this would take place in April of that year. Local Elim leaders believed this prophecy and instigated a national media campaign to warn their nation. 44 Elim churches began taking survival courses. April came and went and nothing happened1. The secular press had a field day laughing at the church and particularly evangelicalism" (Alan Howe, 'False prophecy today?', Evangelicals Now, February 1997- essential reading).
Outcome 2: The earthquake didn't happen. IT DID NOT HAPPEN. What did Gerald tell me? "Because by the faith and the prayers of the leaders the earthquake was diverted"- without blinking twice! Why did they take survival courses then? Did Gerald mention anything about this in his prophecy? No.
Stunningly, Gerald decides to edit out of the Bible the bit about things not happening as being a mark of a false prophet: "No, the judgement of death on the prophet is not only given for words that do not come to pass, for there are several interpretations of what could have happened or might yet happen. A false prophet is one who leads God's people into open rebellion and idolatry. Rebellion against God and his word I would suggest that almost all prophecy is conditional if not all" (Kingdom Now, 129-130). This appalling doctrine of convenience is akin to the prosperity gospel 'if you're not healed, it's because you lack faith, not because I lack integrity or power'. As Alan Howe correctly points out:
"Taken to its logical conclusion, this argument makes all prophecies completely untestable".
And that's just the way Gerald wants it, especially seeing as he sets so much store by the bogus, discredited Kansas City Prophets- notably Paul Cain who "gave a prophecy which later caused great confusion and a fair amount of disillusionment among many thousands of Christians in Britain. He declared that revival would break out in London in October 1990" (Sc,151). Of course, Cain and Wimber (who supported the prophecy until it proved itself utterly untrue) wheedled their way out of it by saying that Wimber "had misunderstood Paul Cain who prophesied 'tokens of revival' as implying something of much greater proportions" (ibid.). The sheer nerve of Coates, Wimber and Cain takes one's breath away. They make up in audacity what they lack in veracity! They may be liars, but they're brilliant at following through the bluff
Prophecy 3: "There is no doubt that we are seeing the early stages of a world revival" (Patrick Dixon, Coates' 1 Nigel Scotland confirms this: "Gerald...prophesied that a volcano would errupt in NZ by a particular date. It Didn't Happen (Sc, 151) whitecoat henchman- great on medical ethics, terrible about the operation of the Holy Spirit 1).
'Revival'- now if that's not autosuggestion I don't know what is!
Outcome 3: Each successful wave of the false fringe of the charismatic movement has claimed that revival is 'just around the corner'. With rising disenchantment, Gerald has decided to manufacture his own revival, Rodney Howard-Browne style, in 'the heart of the UK', Westminster, and in Wembley Stadium, complete with Dale Gentry, the sub-Rodney double, asking for people to be in a "posture of receptivity" particularly to his demands for money which take up a substantial part of the meeting, where the preaching of the Gospel used to go in real revivals.
Rodney's line-'em-up-and-knock-em-down technique is enjoyed by many, as is widespread untranslated tongues ("But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God" 1 Corinthians 14:28). Gerald tries his hand at a bit of Benny Hinn 'blowing the anointing' but looks a bit disgruntled as he doesn't seem to have the same devastating effect as Hinn or his role model, Kathryn Kuhlman. In the absence of any message whatsoever (except that Delirious? are in the top 10), the only gospel that can be preached is the gospel of 'revival'- that is weird ecstatic experiences and general mayhem. Revival has replaced the Lord Jesus as the key word, as this picture reveals. The whole experience is a bizarre mixture of the terrifying and the unutterably boring, which seems to me the quintessence of hell. I tried to help a girl who was attempting to drink from a bottle, but could not because 'God' had made her jerk and shake so alarmingly she couldn't get it to her lips.
Many professing non-Christians went to the front to be zapped with the 'Holy Spirit' (despite the fact they haven't repented and don't know Christ at all), and got up again, completely none the wiser about the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only means of their salvation. Apart from anything else, a perfect opportunity for the true Gospel is disgustingly wasted every night (this is a 6-week revival, you see). The violence of Dale Gentry as he dragged people to the floor had to be seen to be believed, as well as his quite obvious use of kundalini yoga chakra points on people's bodies (especially the 'crown chakra' on the top of the head, which is said to govern spiritual receptivity and the chakras at the belly and the base of the spine). Kundalini may or may not be a genuine psychic/demonic power, but it certainly helps to push someone over if you've got a hand on their head, and the other on their back!
"And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words" (2 Peter 2:2-3).
Gerald, like Nicky Gumbel, does not acknowledge that there is false teaching in the church, only 'Pharisaism' from those who are earnest to discern "the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (1 John 4:6). The Pharisees were never interested in the Truth. They didn't even recognise Him when He was talking to them! In fact, their preoccupation with having a large group of followers was their downfall! "If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation" (John 11:48). The big-shot cult personalities have hijacked the term 'Pharisee' and have misapplied it to all those who dare to question their ministries. But the truth of the matter is that their fixation with empire-building and earthly recognition is far more Pharisaical than those they threaten.
We leave this section with a few quotes from Gerald that both he and we would do well to put into practice:
"We create a high trust factor [by] honouring our words and promises" (The Vision, 128)
"The Apostle Paul made it clear that even the prophetic church will only 'know' in part" (ibid.154)
"Some of the things I said, both privately and publicly, were what I wanted to believe had happened. Accountability was needed" (!!! An Intelligent Fire, 81) He also says in a couple of places how he rejects untranslated tongues (never mind the fact that the 'Sowing the Seeds of Revival' videos start with several minutes of it). He resents speakers with their 'thus sayeth the Lord' approach. Dale Gentry, however, is entirely backed by Coates as he proclaims that "the Holy Spirit spoke to me last Thursday and said, 'There's a revival in Westminster'". That is to say, we've given up waiting and hyping so let's just pretend it's here and if we shout loudly enough, maybe the people will believe us.
As Gerald quotes at the beginning of his chapter, 'The Visionary':
"Where there is no vision the people are unrestrained " (Proverbs 29:13, NASB).
Let us earnestly petition the Lord that He may restore restraint, truth, vision and real blessing to a church direly in need of Biblical reform, that we might "repent and do the first works", especially in proclaiming the simple power of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!
4. Gerald the Egoist
Gerald's story is about Gerald. He is a pioneer of himself. His boasting is not in the great achievement of Jesus at the cross, but in the great achievements of Gerald. Gerald's experimental theology is based on whatever successfully promotes him further as a public figure. These statements may sound harsh, but they are true, and I will prove them.
G... A 253-page autobiography before the age of 50.
G... The blurbs of his books covered with glowing tributes to himself:
Etc etc ad nauseam from Colin Dye (KT), Rosemary Conley, Steve Chalke (Oasis) et al. RT Kendall does his usual trick of ending up with a soundbite on the back of every book (why?)!
- "Brilliant. Controversial. Unpredictable. Quotable. Lovable. That's Gerald" (RT Kendall)
- "Gerald walks like he feels good about himself " (Jean Darnall)
- "When people are looking for values, Gerald never disappoints" (David Alton, MP [don't forget the MP!])
- "Gerald loves God, loves God's people and loves God's world" (Terry Virgo)
- "Gerald is a friend whose advice and opinion I greatly respect" (Cliff Richard [don't forget the pop star!])
- "I salute Gerald Coates as a kingdom seeker in an age of empire builders; a colourful troubadour in a world of grey men, and a house church leader committed to Christian unity" (Michael Green [don't forget the CoE!])
- "Gerald is a 'one-off'. We are not likely to see a repeat in this generation! Controversial but caring, he combines a passion for evangelical unity with a commitment to strip the veneer of religiosity from contemporary Christianity. I value his friendship, his wisdom, and all the trouble he causes me!" (Clive Calver, EA)
- "I'm sure on the day Gerald was born someone said, 'Let the controversy begin.' I think that is one of the things I love him for the most" (John Wimber [natch!])
Gerald Coates has no compunction about littering every available space with accolades to himself. Is there any room for any praise for the God who bought him with such a great price? Is there really any credit given to the 'Intelligent Fire' that he says guides him, or is all of it seized by this 'man ignited and inspired'?
It may interest to note that all these individuals have come out in favour of the psycho-religious counterfeit-Christian Toronto experience, "which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war" (Psalm 104:2) against the saving Gospel of Christ our God. The most telling quote I found about one of his jamborees was one by Rod Badams (which Gerald includes in his biography as an example of absurd criticism, p148): "An ambitious, enormous, grandiose nothing "
G... Gerald must be unique in this: even many of the epigraphs (little quotes before each chapter) in his book are by himself (usually reserved for witty aphorisms by sages and philosophers)!
G... Have a look on the Pioneer website on the Internet (http://ds.dial.pipex.com/pioneerpeople/). There are a few photos on it. Wonder who the subject of these portraits is?
G... The centrepiece to Gerald's story about himself, The Intelligent Fire, is the 'Photo Gallery'- namely Gerald with as many sub-celebrities as he could muster on film (Ugandan government minister, Sheila Walsh, Cliff Richard, David Steel MP, John Wimber, Gerald at the door of Number 10 [aha!], Gerald, Gerald, Gerald).
G... Gerald is startlingly akin to Harry Enfield's Smashie and Nicey, as he does a lot of work for charity but doesn't like to talk about it ("also worth mentioning is the fact that the church has given away over £2000 in outreach and to other ministries").
G... Gerald is alarmingly similar to TV spoof presenter Alan Partridge whose most authoritative and impressive statement is "I'm Alan Partridge" (cf IF192). (Amazingly, both are keen on telling us their CSE results!) There was none greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11), yet all he could say was self-effacing- "one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose" (Luke 3:15). That quality is entirely absent from all of Gerald's ministry, and Jesus is eclipsed instead of pointed to.
G... in 253 pages of Gerald, not once is a proper reference made to the goodness of God, or His character, or His Son's work, or of how wonderfully God works despite our weakness, or of prayers pleaded and answered [apart from when he is an answer!], or of exposition or even passages of Scripture, or of acts of genuine faith by other people, or a sense of sin, repentance or faith, or of God's holiness and sovereignty Read it for yourself 1 and please prove me wrong!!
G... The titles of the chapters:
'The Aspirer' ("God is going to use you in a very special way, young man- I just know it")
'The Pioneer' ("I know that you're [Gerald] the answer to my prayers", "We were having to be the model. If anyone had gone this way before, the path was not clear")
'The Prophet'("Some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon 'em" 2 )
'The Visionary' (prophecy: "You [Gerald] were in a large auditorium and anybody who was anybody was there")
'The Messenger' ("The first front-page spread in which I was featured [sic!!] copies in the newspaper were purchased.. in their thousands", "'Probably the best description of Gerald Coates is that he is a lovable maverick there can be no pearl without grit; and where would the oyster be without it?' I [Gerald] rather liked Derek Williams [who wrote that]" )
'The Media' (preaching to Catholics "2,500 people present heard a clear and direct message of salvation by faith alone which got a standing ovation", "God had given me aspirations to influence the influential" [God-given?!])
'The Pastor?' ("I am a generalist but I have surrounded myself with specialists")
'The Torch-bearers' ("We the triumvirate [a title given to Roman Emperors!]- Roger Forster, Lynn Green and Gerald") and so on.
Do they not show where this poor man's priorities lie? Apologies if this section may appear to be a potshot at Gerald, but I am hoping to demonstrate unequivocally the tremendous need he has for the Lord to show him the message of Colossians 3:1-3,
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God".
Gerald- please stop this name-dropping, this self-congratulation, this empire building. People listen to you, and they need to hear Jesus, not how great you are at collecting big names for your party list. Eternity is at stake.
G... Finally, what is most concerning is Gerald's view of himself vis-à-vis the Lord Jesus. "He saw me (Gerald) with a crown of thorns on my head. He spoke of suffering and mocking" (IF, 90).
1 Write into Vanguard if you want to borrow my copy (£6.99's not exactly a snip!)
2 Gerald completely misses the irony of quoting Malvolio (12th Night) who also had stupendous delutions of grandeur!!
"Jesus' philosophy in life seemed to be, 'Let's confuse as many people for as long as we can' he was an enigma. I felt I could have no better role model" (IF, 89).
This statement borders on blasphemy in two ways:
1. It suggests that Jesus, the Light of the World, was confusing and a kind of esoteric guru
2. "I felt I could have no better role model" is staggering. Gerald seems to be doing Jesus a favour in imitating Him. It's like saying, 'I looked around at all the various lamps and candles, and then decided that I could have no better light source than the sun'. Lucky old sun!
To sum up sections 3 and 4:
A. Gerald's experimental, experience- and results-based theology means that what draws the crowds is more important than what convicts man of sin and of his position before a holy God and that in the absence of a firm Biblical foundation, "the more bizarre it is, the more spiritual it is perceived" (Brian Edwards).
B. His view that "the prophetic ministry highlights truth in a way that cannot be achieved by reason alone, as with Bible teachers whose concern is proper exegesis and a fair and strict approach to the text" (KN, 116) means that he places his own imagination above the Word of God and the facts of life.
C. Gerald's love of human praise excludes him from drawing attention to the Lord Jesus "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2)
D. It also means he resents that which is truthful and not sycophantic calling it 'Pharisaical'
E. Gerald's firm conviction that the best he can be is to "resolve to be thyself, and know that he who finds himself loses his misery" (Thomas Hughes). The Bible teaches that by nature even the Apostle Paul was a "wretched man" who needed deliverance from this "body of death" by our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Romans 7:24ff). Gerald's own comment that "self-disillusionment is the key to spiritual maturity" (KN, 86) obviously includes everybody except him.
F. Gerald's love of 'friends in high places' excludes him from true fellowship of humble believers who care more about what he claims to- the kingdom of God- than earthly recognition
G. Gerald's willingness to listen to any prophecies that affirm him leads him further into deception, namely the Word-of-Faith/ Kundalini Yoga-based Toronto Experience, Latter Rain Restorationism, Roman Catholic ecumenism and ultimately, the Great Delusion of 2 Thessalonians 2 (at which he scoffs - 'as if all these reputable church leaders could be paving the way to the forthcoming global anti-christian system! Ridiculous!' (my paraphrase)). He scorns suggestions that "charismatic heresy [will] mix with Rome [and] be deceived by Roman Catholicism and its evils Stella Bartlett wrote another, similar article implying that Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, Bob Mumford and Gerald Coates were taking the new churches and the charismatic churches into the Roman Catholic church!" (IF, 169) What's that about speaking true words in jest?
The sad truth is this: from all we have seen, Gerald would be more pleased to be associated with such luminaries as Billy Graham and Mother Teresa than he would be concerned that the deception of the church was a real and present danger.
He seems to listen to any prophecy except those of almost every New Testament book- "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24). Our prayers for such a man are at the very least "our reasonable service". Let us continue to ask the Lord to give us a concerned love for those who pervert his Word so grievously, that they "should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 4:2).
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Appeared in Issue UK July 1997
"...contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" -- Jude v3