googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Heidi Baker, drunk in the Spirit?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Heidi Baker, drunk in the Spirit?

Anyone who has reads my blog regularly could probably guess that I'm a cessationist. While I don't agree with the continuation of charismatic gifts (tongues, prophecy, etc), neither do I usually condemn too harshly people who feel they have these gifts. I believe many people who “speak in tongues,” for example, are likely simply overwhelmed emotionally and are acting out in the same way they've seen others act. It may not be genuine but it may still be sincere. However, there are other people who, I believe, are being deceitful.

I've seen many videos like this but here is another one I've come across recently. It features Heidi Baker acting, “drunk in the Spirit.” The whole notion of acting drunk is rooted from a verse in Acts 2. At Pentecost, when the apostles were gathered together in a room, the Holy Spirit came upon them like a flame of fire and they began speaking in tongues. The apostles were all Galilean but the people gathered there, from many different nations, could understand the apostles in their native language. They were amazed and perplexed by this sign but v. 13 tells us that some mocked them saying, “They are full of sweet wine (aka, “drunk”).” Some people in the charismatic movement understand this verse to mean the apostles must have appeared to be drunk while the Holy Spirit moved them.

I couldn't find a link to the original footage; this one has been edited down to about 20 minutes. Even though it's been edited, there are long segments of uninterrupted footage that are enough to convince me the edited video is likely a fair representation of the whole. As always, I invite you to watch the video for yourself. I would hate to be accused of mischaracterizing Ms. Baker's action. As you watch it, keep an eye out for the following tell-tale signs that make me think she's pretending the whole time.

First, Ms. Baker seems to have trouble standing. Sometimes, she's kneeling with her head against the lectern. Another time, she's lying prostrate on the floor with her hands beside her. Through all of this, though, she never seems to have any trouble keeping the microphone to her mouth. Isn't that interesting? I will admit, there have been a few times in my youth when I drank too much. I remember one time in particular that I couldn't seem to hold my glass upright. It seemed that if I just stood, holding the glass without paying attention, I would let the glass tilt and spill some drink. I wasn't even “falling down” drunk like Ms. Baker seems to be. If I couldn't keep from spilling my drink, I find it incredible she constantly remembered – and was able – to keep the microphone to her mouth.

I noticed too, at the end of the video, you can see the drummer has slipped into position behind her as she starts the invitation. What am I supposed to conclude from that? Does he have the gift of knowing exactly when someone's “anointing” will end? More likely, it was nearing the allotted time Ms. Baker was given to speak and he knew she was about to start wrapping it up. That's further evidence it was an act.

From a theological perspective, there were a few other things that concerned me. Acts 2 says the apostles, were speaking of the mighty deeds of God (v. 11). Ms. Baker spent the majority of her time speaking about herself. As if her actions weren't obvious enough, she would constantly say things like (paraphrasing), Look how “toasted” I am, You must think I'm weird, Why would the church allow someone like me speak? Imagine that someone is speaking in tongues, but keeps stopping to say, “Listen, I'm speaking in tongues!” That's how I see Ms. Baker's performance.

Finally, there is the matter of the “tongues” Ms. Baker continuously spoke. At Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in tongues, everyone gathered there understood what was being said. They heard the words in their own language – even their own dialect. Some of the words Ms. Baker spoke were gibberish. I certainly didn't understand them. Her performance didn't resemble at all the scene described in the Bible.

In the 1970s, Foster Brooks played a lovable drunk. He was funny. Ms. Baker? Not so much. I've heard she has done a lot of missionary work in Mozambique. I know that she and her husband started Iris Global ministries. But do I just ignore foolish displays like this because of the good work she's done? Folks like this claim they are being moved by the Spirit but when you can see they're not, it makes their claims blasphemy. They're taking the Lord's name in vain which is no small thing. I can't just sit by, watching behavior like this, and not say something.

I'm sadden most by the people who sit in services like this and laugh along. I'm reminded of 2 Timothy 4:3, the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. These people seem less interested in learning the word of God and more interested in being entertained. Ms. Baker was eager to oblige them. I implore people to be more Berean (Acts 17:11). Study your Bibles.  We should be anxious to hear the word whenever it is preached but we need to compare what is preached to the Scriptures to see if it is true!


Steven J. said...

When I was in high school, I had an algebra teacher who spoke in tongues. I only recall him doing it once in class (it came up right after a congressman had spoken to the assembled students and mentioned that prayer had not, strictly, been outlawed in schools). More commonly, he spoke on dispensational premillenialism, and the coming of the Antichrist (whom he figured was about our age at the time), the Great Tribulation, etc. Even the first time this happened, if I recall correctly, he was egged on by his students (he started it, with comments about how the Supreme Court had limited religious freedom, but the students kept asking questions and encouraging him), and afterwards, every discourse on the subject was deliberately provoked by student comments. I don't know how many of the students took him seriously, but I'm pretty sure for most it was just a matter of Hal Lindsey's and Jack Chick's eschatology being more interesting than algebra. Alas, news of his willingness to do this spread, and eventually, the vice-principal caught him preaching (as opposed to teaching math) to a different class, and he was dismissed.

I later ran across a news story (in a college newspaper, if I recall correctly) indicating that he had become a street preacher (whether full-time or in addition to some other job I do not know).

To bring this anecdote back to some relevance to your own column, I note that [a] his own speaking in tongues did not seem to be in any known language (he noted that he'd never found anyone who thought it was his own native language, but several had suggested that it might be various languages that they didn't speak themselves), and [b] he seemed able to initiate this with a little effort and concentration, and to break it off when he chose. So neither Ms. Baker's tendency to speak gibberish nor her ability to wrap up her performance on schedule is unique to her among charismatics (though I've never encountered the "acting drunk" bit before -- though I've read that charismatics have all sorts of odd and unedifying quirks.

I agree that this is not what is described in Acts 2, and indeed with your other points.

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

I've heard there is a popular expression used in churches that speak in tongues: “Fake it till you make it.” I guess they believe the anointing will eventually fall on everyone so they encourage people to just pretend to speak in tongues until it eventually happens. To me, the more likely explanation is that the people just practice it so much that it seems to come without effort. Maybe it's then that they think the Spirit leads them. As in the case of your algebra teacher, the ability to start and stop tongues on demand suggests it's the will of the person speaking and not the will of the Spirit.

If you want to see more examples of being “drunk in the Spirit,” search YouTube for “Kenneth Hagin drunk in the Spirit.” In the video, you can see an entire church acting like fools. It's very sad.

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!