Who are the Kansas City Prophets, and what is their connection
with the church of Christ? The Kansas City Prophets are a group
of evangelistic preachers who claim to have the miraculous power
of prophecy. They eschew the title "prophet," and prefer
to be called "prophetically gifted ministers." The Kansas
City Fellowship was established by Mike Bickle in 1984. Bickle
does not claim to be a prophet, but says God has spoken personally
to him delivering apocalyptic revelations.
The strange connections between the KCP and the church of Christ
is established through Gary Holloway, Michael Weed, Rubel Shelly,
and Randy Harris. These brethren are indirectly tied in with the
Kansas City Prophets through personal contacts and their articles
addressing Bickle, Wagner, and Wimber. The common denominator
is the Pentecostal "Third Wave" theology.
The KCP have been creating quite a stir inside charismatic circles
in recent years. They claim that prophetic gifts of prophecy can
be restored to the churches, and that prophecy is a natural biblical
means for God to speak to his people in these "last days."
John Wimber tells how he came in contact with the KCP in 1988
through Paul Cain. Paul Cain is said to be a "ten" on
the prophetic scale of ten. His peers say Cain is never wrong
in his prophetic utterances. Wimber said Cain stirred him to new
levels of concern for holiness and the prophetic ministry which
he had not taken seriously.
The Story of Paul Cain
His story is like a lost apocryphal book from the Bible filled
with miracles, visions, angels, and God's pervasive presence!
We pause to insert the word "weird" without which the
story of the Kansas City Prophets would lose much of its apocalyptic
and eschatological mysticism.
The legend of Paul Cain begins with a miraculous birth. He claims
his mother was pregnant in her mid forties and terminally ill
with tuberculosis and cancer. Cain tells that she purportedly
was visited by an angel who promised that she would be healed
and give birth to a son who would be called Paul. The sign would
be that she would live to a very old age. She died at a 104.
Paul Cain tells his first visit came from the Lord when he was
eight. He was told he would have a great ministry if he kept himself
pure. He also tells the story that he was engaged to be married
to a young woman. He said that the Lord appeared to him on the
passenger side of his Cadillac saying he was jealous of Cain's
companion. He called upon him to give her up and lead a life of
Cain's prophecies are unusual to say the least. He says that "Signs
and Wonders" will increase when the united churches, Protestants
and Catholics, will do even greater works than Jesus did. He tells
of seeing a parade of children marching into a hospital and healing
whole wards of sick people. Cain saw religious broadcasts when
a billion would be saved at one time. The dead will be raised.
limbs restored, and the lame will leap from their wheel chairs.
In 1990, the Kansas City Fellowship joined the Vineyard
Christian Fellowship by invitation of John Wimber. Wimber
no doubt saw in the KCP a Pentecostal revival of the miracle of
prophecy which fitted right into Wimber's "Signs and Wonders"
third wave scheme of things. [See C. Peter Wagner's The Third
Wave of the Holy Spirit in which he sets up the Pentecostal
rage of this century,
Firm Foundation, Mar. 1997, 14]
The "Third Wave" is identified in particular with the
"Signs and Wonders" (miracles) of John Wimber's Vineyard
Christian Fellowship. Wimber claims that the age of miracles
has not ceased, and are being performed today. The blind see,
demons are exorcised, and the dead climb out of their coffins.
John Wimber and Jack Deere, former professor at the Dallas
Theological Seminary and presently the "scholar in residence"
with the "Vineyards," admit the whole thing is weird.
As a matter of fact, some of the harshest critics of The KCP come
from the ranks of the Pentecostal spokesmen who perceive the weirdness
of it all.
Ernie Gruen, pastor of the Full Faith Church of Love is
one. Gruen accuses the KCP of false prophecy and misconduct
common to the practices of the charismatic charlatans who know
how to manipulate an audience and to create a state of mind termed
in Pentecostal circles as "slain by the Spirit."
Gruen is fed up with the false predictions, mysticism, and erroneous
teachings of the KCP! A popular criticism of the KCP is the promotion
of predictions after they have come true. The critics say Cain
would have to go back to the 1950s to cite documentation to give
any credibility to the preposterous claims that Cain makes about
his birth and childhood. The Pentecostal critics of Cain, Wimber,
et al, say they use every trick found in the bag of the charismatic
Hot on the Trail for the Kansas City Prophets
The claim of the KCP is that the gift of prophecy, a power which
some had during the apostolic period, should be restored to the
church. This explains why and how the KCP fit into Wagner's "Third
Wave," and with Wimber's "Signs and Wonders' movement.
The KCP has two distinct sides: The first addresses the present
prophetic utterances with claims that they are being fulfilled
today. The second side is that this unprecedented third wave advent
of the of the Holy Spirit is the apocalyptic clan that the Second
Coming of Christ will be at any moment in this generation even
today [Shades of the 19th century "Millerites"].
And another question is raised that once the Kansas City Prophets
are identified, why should conservative churches of Christ be
interested? There are indeed critical reasons why the churches
should be deeply concerned.
We first meet the Kansas City Prophets and their founder, Mike
Bickle, April 1996 in Florence, Alabama. The occasion was the
MidSouth 1996 Conference on Spiritual Renewal. The conference
theme was "Preparing the Bride." Mike Bickle was a key
note speaker, and so was Rubel Shelly.
Bickle and Shelly were billed as International Christian Statesmen
ministering to the worldwide body of Christ in these words: "These
men are God's appointed men for this conference, coming with a
fresh word from the Father." Are we to assume that Ruble
Shelly thinks that he is now speaking ex cathedra (from God's
very throne)? The language explicitly says so!
The leaders in the churches of Christ in the Florence, Ala., area,
which I like to refer to as "Tolbert Fanning country,"
and as the first cradle of the Restoration Movement with reference
to churches of Christ, must awaken to the fact that the "change
agents" have your churches especially targeted because the
churches are numerous and influential. The idea is to set up a
domino strategy in Middle Tennessee and North Alabama and then
pick up the pieces.
To learn more about the tactics of these barracudas of change,
read Lynn Anderson's book Navigating the Winds of Change. Such
pious brethren do not establish churches preferring to take the
churches over "ready made" which includes gullible memberships
and the real Property earned by others. And, moreover, these brethren
would not consider the "take overs" to be "the
work of Satan."
Shelly's Connections with the KCP Is Circumstantial
That Dr. Shelly was a principal speaker for the 1996 Conference
does not mean that the Woodmont Family of God will be joining
the Kansas City Fellowship. As a matter of fact, he never mentions
the KCP, nor do any of the "Holy Ghost" practitioners
in churches of Christ. The ubiquitous presence of Rubel Shelly
is sighted in wide and disparate settings from Florence to Calgary
embracing contradictory theological ideas.
A second connection with the KCP comes through Randy Harris, a
DLU professor. He makes a special reference to Jack Deere in a
recent issue of Wineskins with obvious approval.
The third connection of the church of Christ with the KCP comes
by way of John Wimber's Vineyard and the "Third Wave."
Gary Holloway and Michael Weed read a paper May 1995 before the
Disciple of Christ Historical Society in Nashville in which they
suggest three paradigmatic models for the Church of Christ. Of
one they write: "The other model influencing Churches of
Christ is third wave charismatic worship described by church growth
expert C. Peter Wagner and others." Need we say more?
As a church historian, a major intent of this article is to provide
a simple understanding of these weird new paradigms which are
being introduced surreptitiously into unsuspecting churches of
Christ. The documentations are indisputable. Does it ever occur
to the liberal element that they have kept the conservative churches
of Christ under harsh attack for thirtyfive years with little
opposition? "A worm squirms in hot ashes." Let the facts
speak for themselves. Enough is enough!
Feature Book: Among the Scholars
by David W. Hester
Paperback, 167 pages
$7.99 + shipping and tax if applicable
Click here to order