Years back, I came across two videos on YouTube that show an atheist hypnotist in action, “converting” people to a belief in God based on what they feel and experience at his gathering. It is in two parts. If you watch, be sure to watch them in order.
The first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhIGmAzCqFY
The second: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm9cFrnrR7Q
I am sharing these as some food for thought. Many, especially those from Pentecostal type churches, have come to accept whatever happens in a church service as being from God. If it happens at church, it must be sanctioned and orchestrated by God. That simply is untrue. We are told to try the spirits and to use discernment.
These videos are a good example of how people can be manipulated (in this instance through hypnosis or the power of suggestion) and then believe what they experienced was from God, when in fact it was not. There’s a lot that happens in some church gatherings that is far from being of God, yet is readily accepted as such.
If Derren can do this, and it obviously isn’t God touching these people, then we need to take care in not blindly accepting anything that happens in a church gathering. Don’t allow experiences to become your focus and govern your spirituality. Experiences can and do mislead people, so be discerning.
For those that simply dismiss this thought, perhaps you would consider a real-life example that happened in a church from Washington state that had several satellite churches in the USA and abroad. Membership in part consisted of many professionals such as lawyers, dentists, chiropractors, businessmen, and doctors. Community Chapel was a type of Oneness Pentecostal church, but different from what the United Pentecostal Church and similar groups teach.
They appear to have started out well and had a Bible college. They began focusing on experiences, which the pastor, Donald Barnett, claimed would bring them closer to Jesus. Those became more and more extreme and eventually very harmful, causing a great many marriages to end in divorce and friendships to dissolve. People were disfellowshipped. There were suicides. One person who was there shared that many experienced “horrific emotional upheaval”.
They sang ‘in the Spirit’ and focused on demons and deliverance. They started dancing together. This eventually led to what was termed as ‘spiritual connections’ and gazing into each others’ eyes to see Jesus. That escalated into fornication and adultery. The church scandal made headlines, it split and eventually folded. What happened there was by no means sanctioned and orchestrated by God as it left devastation in its wake.
The first three books below pertain to Community Chapel. The third is not recommended as it is penned by the pastor’s wife, who at the time still supported spiritual connections.