SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT: WHOSE SPIRIT?
By: Bodé Adeboyejo
“How easy it is to make people believe a lie and how hard it is to undo that work again!” - Mark Twain
“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” – Acts 17:11
For many of you, this article is going to be a tough teaching; hard to receive. However, before you disregard what I have to say, or even shout, “Crucify him!” or “Blasphemy!” may I ask that you be patient in reading through the entire article. And when you are done, before you form your opinion about me or this piece, may I also ask you to do what Apostle Paul said the Jews in Berea did when they heard him teach. (Acts 17:11) In other words, they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was so.
That’s all I ask you to do: search the Scriptures for yourself. Don’t rely on what Evangelist, Pastor, Prophet or Apostle so and so said about the issue. Neither should you believe me too! Just search the Scriptures for yourself.
Having said that; now let the Lord open your eyes of understanding…
If you belong to a Pentecostal or a Charismatic church (or something in between) or perhaps visited one, you probably are familiar with the phrase slain in the spirit. If not, you may at least have seen it on TV. But just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, the slain in the spirit phenomenon is the practice where a minister or someone lays hands on a person, and the person falls backward but is caught by a ‘catcher’ to break the person’s fall.
Within Christian circles, in the Pentecostal and Charismatic circles especially, it is believed that the practice of being slain in the spirit is the handiwork of the Holy Spirit. That is, whenever a person falls backwards he or she is believed to be experiencing or yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit.
However, there’s been some controversy within the Church circle about this “slain in the spirit” phenomenon. There are those who wonder if there’s any such thing as being slain in the spirit. They question if truly the people being slain in the spirit are slain by the power of the Holy Spirit or by the power of suggestiveness or peer pressure.
Even though I have heard the argument of those who don’t believe in it, as a believer, I never thought much about their argument. After all, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I mean, it looks like the normal thing to do – fall when the Holy Spirit touches you.
Albeit, in light of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 that says, “Test all things, hold fast to what is good,” I decided to test this practice in light of Scriptures. What exactly does the Bible say about being slain in the spirit? Is there any such thing in the Bible as being slain in the spirit? If not, is there any thing that seems to suggest or explain this phenomenon? Is the Holy Spirit, as being accused, responsible for slaying people in the spirit? Or are people falling backward due to peer pressure because they don’t want to be seen as not receiving the power or anointing of the Holy Spirit?
Well, since I have learned not to take too seriously anything, any practice, doctrine or theology that cannot be supported in the Bible, no matter how popular that practice, doctrine, or theology is, let me say right off the bat that I’m not of the opinion that being slain is the handiwork of the Holy Spirit. Why? For the simple reason that I could not find any scriptural basis, precedence or justification for it. And may I say that I searched the scriptures to find a scriptural example or similarity to the notion of being slain in the spirit, but I found none. Or let me say that I’ve found none yet (since I don’t know everything in the Bible). No. Not one instance!
Not even when the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. At least you would expect that if the power or force that came from the hem of Jesus’ garment could heal an infirmity of 12 years (Mark 5:25), the least it would have done was slay the woman in the spirit or knock the woman off her feet. But not so with the power that emanated from Christ’s garment or Christ Himself.
If people were healed by the shadows of Peter, the least the power from such shadows could have done was slay the people in the spirit or knock them off their feet. But not so with the Apostles or righteous men of the Bible. Even the disciples did not fall backwards or slain in the spirit the first time they were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
“…So that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” Acts 5:15-16
Now, there are several instances in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, where people fell forward (bowed down) when they were in God’s presence. So, if people are supposed to react or respond to the power of the Holy Spirit, the direction they should be falling should be forward (in reverence) not backwards.
The only time people fell backwards, if you will, as a result of the Holy Spirit, they dropped dead, without Peter touching them (Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-10).
So, if Jesus (the Anointed One) touched people to heal them or was touched by people and were not slain in the spirit or knocked off their feet, do you mean to tell me that some minister or evangelist (a little peon compared to Jesus) with an unction of anointing can touch or wave his hand at a crowd and make them rubber-kneed? You be the judge!
Perhaps you ask, “If truly the Holy Spirit is not responsible for slaying people in the spirit, what is it that knocks me (or other people off their feet) when a minister or evangelist lays his hands on me?”
Three reasons may be responsible for this:
a) The Power of Peer Pressure – Some people may fall because they see others fall. For a long time I used to think that I didn’t get the fullness of the anointing (like those that fell) because I didn’t fall when a minister laid hands on me.
b) Forceful Pushing – Some people are forcefully pushed or coerced into falling by the minister who tells the person to relax, let go and not resist the power of the Holy Spirit. As if any person can really resist the power of the Holy Spirit!
c) Other Powers other than the Holy Spirit – for instance voodoo or magic.
“Voodoo?” “Magic?” I can hear you exclaim. And by now, perhaps you are convinced that I’ve lost it! No, I haven’t. Let me explain what I mean by voodoo or magic...
One thing you have to realize is that voodoo is real. Magic is real. You don’t have to practice it to believe it. But it’s real and does exist. Even the Bible acknowledges the fact. In Exodus for instance, when Moses and Aaron worked miracles in front of Pharaoh to convince him that the Lord sent them to deliver the Israelites, Pharaoh’s magicians performed ‘miracles’ too (Exodus 7)!
Jesus even warned us His followers, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders, to deceive if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24. Now, if false christs and false prophets can show great signs and wonders, and they are not of Christ, by whose authority or power are they able to perform such great signs?
“Now, what has this got to do with people being slain in the spirit?” You ask. Here’s what…
In Nigeria for instance, especially among the Yoruba tribe, the people believe there’s a magic amulet someone can wear to fight his opponents, more so, to keep them away from striking at a person with a blow. It is believed that this amulet makes your opponents to fall every time they come near you to strike you. Every time they come near you to strike you they fall; get up, fall, get up, fall; never knowing why they are falling. It is called Aluwo.
I’m not saying that this is what some of these preachers use to make people fall backward. All I’m trying to prove is that yes, it’s possible to fall under another power other than the power of the Holy Spirit! So, don’t be fooled that some preachers don’t even come near the people before they fall, like Benny Hinn, and some other preachers are known to wave their hands or blow their breath over a crowd and you see people falling like dominos.
Finally, let me also say that some churches with this practice are not necessarily bad churches. No! This practice is not what makes a church a bad church. It’s the teachings of a church that make a church a bad church, especially if the teachings are contrary to the Bible, essential Christian doctrine or if the teachings are not “profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Matter of fact, I have seen this same practice before in my own church (even though I haven’t seen it in awhile). Yet, I go to a good, well balanced, Word-based church.
Rather, all I’m trying to say is that this practice, like some other practices, doctrines or theologies in most churches, is not scriptural, and should not be attributed to the Holy Spirit. If not, there should be at least one scriptural example either in the life of Jesus or the Apostles.