(Kevin Reeves www.theothersideoftheriver.com)
The Call – Rick Joyner
A Review of Rick Joyner’s “The Call”
By Kevin Reeves May 2001
A.W. Tozer said, “I am a Bible Christian and if an archangel with a wingspread as broad as a constellation, shining like the sun, were to come and offer me some new truth, I’d ask him for a reference. If he could not show me where it is found in the Bible, I’d bow him out and say, ‘I’m awfully sorry. You don’t bring any references with you’”.
The last decade has seen a tremendous explosion of self-proclaimed “prophets”, who have claimed such fantastic experiences as journeys to heaven, trips to hell, and lengthy, intimate dialogue with the risen Lord Jesus. To list every one who has claimed these privileges, great and small, would take a volume. Purported dreams and visions have grabbed center stage, enthralling multitudes of sincere Christians to the point where even common sense is overridden in favor of the sensational.
While God certainly has in the past moved in ways that defy natural human understanding, and can indeed continue to do so, it should go without saying that He does not fear scrutiny. If a miracle, dream, vision, or prophecy comes forth from any quarter of the Christian world, it needs to be tested. For both the integrity of the name of Christ and the safety of His flock, all such experiences must be verified as to their source. Without this security, the sheep wander in the wilderness, torn by every beast of the field. The shepherd who will not take the oversight has relinquished his God-given responsibility and has become a mere hireling (John 10:12-13). The church member who will not heed the warnings in the Scriptures about deception among the elect will himself fall prey to the fraudulent (Acts 20:28-31).
Having just exited, after twelve years, a congregation steeped in false teaching, I know firsthand the damage it can accomplish within the body of Christ. As a church group we had literally ridden every “wave” that came along, including the one initiated by “The Final Quest”. This book was taught as doctrine in a home group led by our pastor, heavily promoted within our ranks as “the word of the Lord”, and nearly required reading if one was in leadership. As an elder of some years standing I heard no end of praise for this book, but no one was interested in dealing with specific questions that periodically arose about its content. If an issue was raised (and it was a rare enough occurrence), the person’s concern was basically dismissed as spiritual immaturity. I had often personally been on the receiving end of this one.
It is no coincidence that Paul spoke of the leavening effect of sin (1 Corinthians 5:6). Unless dealt with immediately, false doctrine spreads like a cancer (1 Timothy 2:16-18), and as truth is obviously the first casualty, the congregation will turn ever more away from the simple knowledge of Jesus Christ and indulge in attractive fabrications ( 2 Timothy 4:3-4) meant to stimulate sensual experience. This road is an inevitable downward spiral, and the epistles are replete with warnings to the Church to hold fast the truth in a world of compromise and unceasing spiritual decay.
The purpose in writing this review is not to provoke controversy or to accuse. It is to critically examine what many are accepting as doctrine, to bring it into the light of the Scriptures. We are admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” Nor do I think that my observations are infallible. But the Scriptures should speak for themselves. The Scriptures are our plumbline, our unmoving standard of measure for all things spiritual. Without them, we are moved by “every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14), and readily enter the realm of the experiential. Experiences are fine, but they need to be held in context with the Bible, the Word of God. We are “not to exceed what is written.” (1 Corinthians 4:6). I have gone through “The Call” painstakingly, compared it with Rick Joyner’s previous book, “The Final Quest”, and contrasted them both with the Word of God. In the final analysis, and in my opinion, both the Bible and Rick Joyner’s “vision” cannot both be true. If any “revelation” doesn’t measure up to the inerrant Word of God, then the “revelation” is false, for it is written in Romans 3:4, “Let God be true, though every man be found a liar.”
It is very important to realize that in the prologue to “The Call”, Rick Joyner indicates that he received some questioning response from people who read the first installment, “ The Final Quest”, and that he is out to set the record straight. This means that he has had to defend the remarks and doctrines that he set forth in “The Final Quest”, as it seems it may have provoked a fair amount of controversy among the reading public, despite press to the contrary from the greater Charismatic world. He flatly contradicts many of the previous statements he made in “The Final Quest”, even though the “vision” was supposed to be in the “trance level”, or two levels higher than the level of inspiration under which the apostles wrote the New Testament! He states this exact thing in the first few pages of “The Final Quest”. “The Call” also takes place on this supposed “fourth level” of revelation, and discloses quite a bit more of Joyner’s Latter Rain teachings than his previous work. Latter Rain doctrine was condemned by the General Council of the Assemblies of God in 1949, because of the move’s aberrant teachings. In the forefront of the Latter Rain doctrine are a denial of the rapture for believers, the false teaching that the Church is built upon the foundation of present-day apostles and prophets, and the dominion mandate, which states that the Church must overcome the world and destroy all evil preventing the return of Jesus, and when all enemies of the faith are finally dealt with by the Church, Christ will be released from heaven to return, at which time Christians will present the world to Him as His footstool.
Even a cursory reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 reveals a rapture of believers to the Lord; the passage is so clear as to defy contrary interpretation. Ephesians 2:20 says that the Church has already been built upon the foundation of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles of the first-century Church, who established the doctrine of the now-closed canon of Scripture. This passage has nothing to do with the so-called “present day” apostles and prophets. And as for dominion, Hebrews 1:13 says that it is the Father who will present the enemies of Christ as His footstool.
There are many other aberrant teachings that came out of the Latter Rain movement and have transposed into the modern Church. The above are merely a sampling. The whole issue here is one of personal power. Let’s face it—most people would much rather walk in power, “anointing” and overcoming authority to crush the opposition (as Latter Rain asserts), than be as the “scum of the world”, as 1 Corinthians 4:13 states. We indeed are empowered by the Holy Spirit for the work of the ministry, but as for taking control of the world, sorry, Church, it ain’t gonna happen. Christ has reserved that piece of judgement for Himself.
If it seems that my remarks are cutting, they are not meant that way. As a Pentecostal believer who fully adheres to the New Testament doctrine of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the operation of the gifts of the Spirit for today, I have no axe to grind. I merely desire to critically assay Rick Joyner’s doctrine as set forth in “The Call”. Remember, he claims that this was a direct vision from God, that he was taken to the third heaven in response to a decades-long prayer, and that he met Jesus Christ face-to-face. As Christians, we are faced with a very simple choice—either Rick Joyner did have these visions, and he is a genuine prophet of God, or he did not have them and he is either deluded or lying. If he is a prophet, then we need to heed every word he has written in “The Final Quest” and “The Call”, for they are the Word of the Lord for His Church. If Joyner did not have these visions, or if they are from a lying spirit, they need to be exposed for what they are, and the Church of Jesus Christ has to be warned against them. This is in adherence to the stern injunction found in Ephesians 5:11, which states, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”
Looking at Rick Joyner’s “The Call”
Pg. 13 — Joyner speaks about false versus true prophecy. He says that God wants us to learn discernment between true and false, and that whatever is real will be tested by whatever is false, so that the truth can be purified. This is an enigmatic statement. That which is true is already pure, and does not need further purifying.
Pg. 14 — Joyner notes that lovers of the truth will discern what is true. This must be understood in relation to his “vision”, and it begs the question, “by what measure do we discern?” It used to be by the Scriptures. And —if this is a trance/vision, is some of this not true? The suggestion by the author seems to indicate that this is a strong possibility, as he admonishes us to discern the accuracy of the vision.
Pg. 16 — Joyner gives a strong indication where he is coming from in both “The Final Quest” and “The Call”, when he states here that much of his life and ministry is based outright on prophetic utterances over him. This includes direction for physical ministry, i.e. where he is to travel. Is this Scriptural, or should we lean more on the revealed Word of God for our decisions? If I had taken to heart every “prophetic word” spoken over me in the past dozen years, I would be the most “anointed”, incredible believer that I would know personally, walking in devil-stomping, evangelistic, miraculous power in my everyday life. Needless to say, although I walk in some measure of the above, most of these so-called “words of the Lord” fell flat. Deuteronomy 18:22 might well come into play here.
Pg. 17 — He states that the word of God (the Scriptures) “was never intended to replace prophecy.” What does he mean by this? Is prophecy indispensable when placed next to the Word? To my understanding, we are “…not to exceed the things that are written.” (1 Corinthians 4:6 ). He has clearly done this, repeatedly, going beyond Scripture in asserting things that are at best unprovable.
Pgs. 19-20 — Here Joyner gets to one of the most crucial facets of his written work-answering those with questions about his communion with the spirits of the departed saints. He references the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the mountain with Jesus, and His speaking with them. He then suggest a comparison between what he (Joyner) experienced when taken up to the “third heaven”, and Christ’s interaction on the mount. But that realm belongs to God, and Jesus is God. Certainly God speaks with the spirits of those who have gone to heaven, for He is in constant communion with them. But Moses, and Elijah (who did not die but was raptured to heaven) never spoke directly to the disciples to impart wisdom to them or make plain the Scriptures. This area of communication is reserved for God alone. Joyner neglects to mention the only portion of Scripture specifically that shows someone seeking wisdom from the dead (King Saul contacting a medium in 1 Samuel 28), and being forfeit of his life on account of it.
Pg. 20 — Same scenario. Mentions that many who read his book (although he doesn’t say who they are) had thought of the apostle John as the precursor to Joyner’s experiences in interaction with spirits of departed saints. But it is never intimated in Revelation 22:8 that the one John prostrated himself before was anything less than an angelic being. I’ve never personally thought that this being was the spirit of a departed saint, nor do I know anyone else who has interpreted this passage that way. Not one place in Scripture even hints that we are to receive revelation from the spirits of the dead, either while we are on earth, or even if caught up to the third heaven. In my opinion, Joyner’s attempt to make the angel in Revelation into a deceased saint is an excuse for questionable doctrines asserted in “The Final Quest.”
Pg. 20 — Here he says that he doubts that during the vision he was speaking with actual people. Why does he doubt now? He was sure in “The Final Quest.” He said so without hesitation. And he asserted that Jesus took him to the third heaven in answer to a 25 year long prayer of Joyner’s. He had Jesus say exactly that on page 45 of “The Final Quest.” The “third heaven” is not an allegory but an actual place inhabited by very real beings. Now does he say that Jesus was mistaken in what he told Joyner?
Pg. 21 — He reiterates his previous statements by saying that he now is beginning to believe that maybe these parts of the “vision” were only “prophetic experiences” and that he did not engage in actual dialogue with real people. But he was adamant about it in “The Final Quest.” These were the real people—Paul, people he had known (including one deceased person of whose death he had been unaware), and great reformers. He states this without compromise in “The Final Quest.” Why change his mind now?
He notes, too, that it all began to fade very quickly, to the extent that he was unsure of the reliability of his testimony.
These statements pose some real problems when compared with his repeated assertions in “The Final Quest”, that he received the bulk of these revelations in a trance state, which, according to Joyner, is the highest level of prophetic revelation. Could anyone possibly forget these visions? And, if that was a real concern of Joyner’s, that he would forget, then he should have kept these revelations to himself instead of letting the reading public figure out what was accurate and what was mistaken.
Remember, he stated over and over that he spoke with the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face, and that these were Christ’s words. Would you forget a face-to-face encounter with the risen Lord of glory?
Pg.22 — Questioning his own reliability, he states here that “my own pet doctrines and prejudices” could “easily” have influenced the content of “The Call”. I hope the Apostles, who wrote down the inerrant Scriptures at a “lower level” of revelation, got things right before the revelation began to fade!
Pg.22 — Here we are told to “discard” anything in the book that might not be from the Lord. But Joyner said in “The Final Quest” that the revelation or trance was by the Spirit of God, that he spoke to Jesus face-to-face, drank from his cup, fellowshiped with angels and the spirits of the saints, and he says NOW that some of that may be false!?
This underscores a great problem with current Charismatic practice. I can’t tell you how many times we were exhorted from the pulpit to “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” I am ashamed to admit that I preached it myself before coming out of all this deception. Tell me, where is this kind of reasoning found in the Scriptures? On the contrary, we are warned repeatedly to make sure our doctrine is pure (2 Timothy 3:16-17), stay away from foolish questions that cause strife (1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 2:23), and not to mix flesh and Spirit (Romans 8:7, Galatians 5:17). To lay on the Church member, or the reading public, as Joyner does, the onus for sifting through teaching in order to strain out the true from the false is a complete abandonment of the accountability of the Biblical teacher (James 3:1).
Either Joyner did or did not see and converse with the living Christ. For him to insist that he did, yet got some of the message from Christ wrong, is unbelievable! Is the Lord Jesus able to see to it that His servants are faithful in transcribing the very thoughts and instructions of God? If not, He is not the Jesus of the Bible.
He talks about “impressions” on page 9 of “The Final Quest” — Again, much talk about “levels”, something that the writers of Scripture knew nothing about. When God dictated His word, it was faithfully transcribed, whether the experience was through a trance, vision, dream, or meditation upon Him. Joyner states that on the “level” of “impressions”, anyone can be influenced by his own feelings, desires, leanings in doctrine, etc. He also says that he made it a habit to not use the term, “Thus saith the LORD.” BUT, by his own assertion, he was on “level 4”, supposedly the highest plateau of revelation, and frequently relates that Jesus Himself told him many things, which he recorded in both books. What is the difference between “the Lord said,” and “Thus saith the Lord?” Let me suggest that there is none. In “The Final Quest”, he gave the unqualified impression that on this level of revelation there can be no mistake in what he received.
On page 11 of “The Final Quest” he reiterates, that, overwhelmingly, these revelations were received in the trance state. On page 12 of “The Final Quest” he states that he experienced— “…greatly magnified gifts of discernment and words of knowledge.” More clearly than when in “real life”, validating yet again the authenticity of the vision. Also, he states that he prayed for 25 years to be caught up to the 3rd heaven, and in this vision the Lord verifies that he has indeed done this in answer to Joyner’s prayer. Would you forget any part of being caught up to the third heaven? Fourteen years after the apostle Paul was caught up into the third heaven, he remembered it in detail, and it still awed him to the point where he couldn’t even express it (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).
Pg.37 — He cried out to the Lord and almost immediately was face-to-face with Christ. New Testament examples of encounters with the risen Christ are extremely rare and the impact of the revelation lasts a lifetime. Compare this with both “The Final Quest” and “The Call”, where Joyner’s encounters with Christ are frequent and the revelations fade quickly, so that he questions the accuracy of the vision.
It is imperative we understand that “The Final Quest” has become a runaway best seller on the Christian market. It has found its way into the hands of possibly millions of believers, as we can reasonably count on a single copy being passed from person to person, as it did in my former congregation. To say now that some of the teaching set forth in the book may well be false, yet not be willing to recall the book and warn people of its contents, is unconscionable. Both “The Final Quest” and “The Call” are treated by many in the Charismatic realm as pure doctrine, and is vehemently defended as “the word of the Lord for the Church today.”
Pg. 42 — Meets Lot
Pg.45 — Meets Jonah, who tells Joyner that God’s presence revealed sin in him and therefore he felt he needed to run to Tarshish. Rather, the Scriptures seem to indicate strongly that Jonah ran from the Lord, not because his sin was revealed, but because Jonah didn’t want to prophesy to Nineveh (Jonah 3:10-4:1-2).
Pg.52 — Jonah speaks about the power of preaching that will be given the church in the last days that will turn many to God. Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, 2 Timothy 4:1-4 all state otherwise.
Pg. 71 — Meets Abel
Pg. 72 — Meets Adam — The famous Biblical personages with whom Joyner claims to have spoken strains credibility. An interesting note is that he mentions by name the Bible characters, but does not do so in “The Final Quest” when he meets the famous reformers of the church ages. Why not?
Pg. 75 — This super-apostle teaching is echoed in Joyner’s asking of Adam about the famines, earthquakes, and wars that would be released upon the world by, not God, but—you guessed it—the elite group of exalted, last days, overcoming believers. Again, this belongs to God alone. The book of Revelation clearly states in Revelation 16:1 that the angels pour out the bowls of God’s wrath on the unbelievers, and then only at the command of the voice which thunders from the temple in heaven. We can surmise Who that is, and it’s not the “apostles” and “prophets” of the end times. It is very telling to note that these spirits of departed saints tell Joyner, while he is in the “third heaven,” about these Christian supermen, but the idea that such a people would exist is completely foreign to the Bible.
Pg. 77 — Joyner appears to be privy to more revelation of the prophets than any man who ever lived! Adam describes his earthly life—this far exceeds Scriptural boundaries.
Pg. 78 — Adam awes Joyner with more of the supposed exploits of the end-times company of Christians. This part is actually a bit scary, because Adam states that although the devil has bragged about Christ not being able to change men, during the evil in the last days God’s chosen would openly demonstrate that they are not only redeemed from sin, but that “…He (God) also removed sin from them.” He goes on to say that through God’s anointed, “…He will remove sin from the whole earth.”
Will God use men to remove sin from the face of the earth? We really need to think this one over. Orthodox Christianity has stated for two millennia that, at the end of the age, Christ will return bodily to set up His kingdom among men, and that God would make Christ’s enemies a footstool for His feet (Hebrews 1:13). To suggest that a sinless Church (see 1 John 1:8), walking in supernatural power of a type never before witnessed, will do away with sin from this world is completely contradictory to the inerrant Word of God.
Throughout both “The Final Quest” and “The Call”, the focus is removed from Christ and placed on the elite group of apostles and prophets that Joyner says will be raised up in the last days. This is completely contrary to the Scriptures. According to Joyner, this last days group will have more power and walk in more “anointing” than any previous generation. Compare this to Matthew 24, in which Jesus states that the last days will be a time of great tribulation, and “you shall be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” (Verse 9). Compare this to the gospel of Mark, Chapter 13, and Luke chapter 17, 2 Timothy 3:12. All gospel accounts and epistles, when speaking of the last days, foretell trial and testing for the faithful believer in Christ. As for invincible apostles, consider Paul’s description of his life and those with him in 1 Corinthians 4:9- 13 — “For, I think God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirst, and are pooly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless, and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.”
Read this job description and then try to match it up with the one in “The Call”. Do we honestly believe that God has changed His standard of apostleship?
On page 79 we find the same last days power theme. Adam again tells Joyner of the company of prophets raised up in the last days who will determine the places He pours out either His mercy or His wrath. However, this is an area reserved for God alone. Man does not dispense the lovingkindness or retribution of God. The Scriptures in Exodus 33:19 say, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” and echoed in Romans 9:16. On this same page Adam has God revealing Himself through the exploits of His “chosen ones”.Over and over Joyner states that there will be a company, an elite group of apostles, prophets and overcomers who will be raised up to take authority and cause nations to submit to them. Absolutely nowhere in the New Testament can you find support for this. Rather, we are told that the beast (the antichrist) will be given authority “…to make war with the saints and overcome them…” (Revelation 13:7)
Pg. 83 — According to Joyner, the Lord said that “…the words you write will have you in them,” because He was not dictating Scripture to Joyner. But, Joyner is supposedly on a higher level of revelation than the apostles when they wrote the inerrant Scriptures, so Joyner’s words should logically carry more weight that even the writings of the apostles.
Pg. 116 — In speaking to a young black man in his “vision”, Joyner tells him that Jesus was not the God of the Caucasian, for Christ Himself was not even a white man. The Scriptures are silent on this. As there are light skinned Arabs and Israelis even today, there may have been in Jesus‘ time. This is extra-Biblical.
On page 203 Joyner declares, “I saw the Father.” He describes God in detail, which, to my knowledge, even the writers of the Bible never did. The first chapter of the gospel of John, the 18th verse says that “No man has seen God at any time.” A case could be made that since Joyner was in the spirit, this Scripture doesn’t apply, but at best that is only theory or supposition. Exodus 33:20 also has God saying that “No man can see me and live.” According to Joyner, he saw even the Father’s face, for he says he specifically mentions the crown on the Father’s head.
Pg. 213 — Paul the apostle is speaking with Joyner, and telling him things of which the Church has been unaware for two thousand years, i.e. that Paul felt like a failure toward the end of his life. Remembering the martyrdom of Stephen at his (Paul’s) feet years earlier, Paul says, allowed the grace of God to flow to him, and his last earthly day was wonderful. A couple of things strike me here. For one thing, it has never been fully confirmed, either through Scripture or historical references, that Paul was definitely executed. There is a likelihood that he was, but again, Joyner has made the jump from probability to certainty, and we are to base our trust on his word alone. Plus, and this may be a minor point made tongue-in-cheek, but the Scriptures never state that Stephen died at Paul’s feet. Rather, it states in Acts 7:58, “And when they had driven him (Stephen) out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” It was not the body of Stephen at Paul’s feet, but clothing! Being a religious Jew of the highest caliber (Philippians 3:4-6), Paul likely would not have gone near a dead body and risk touching it, and so become unclean. If Joyner’s “Paul” couldn’t remember such a minor detail, I’d hesitate to trust him on the important matters.
Also, Joyner’s Paul says he felt like a failure, but 2 Timothy 4:7-8 sounds more like a trumpet of victory. He knew where he was going and was satisfied that he had “…fought the good fight.”
Pgs.215-217 has Joyner taking off the mantle of humility and all the saints disappear. Jesus says that because of Joyner’s removing the mantle that he had missed “an important revelation.” Who was going to do the revealing? If from the departed saints, then this is forbidden in the Scriptures. If Christ, then does He punish someone for a mistake and withhold some revelation that would enhance the person’s spiritual walk?
In my opinion, there are great problems with both of Joyner’s books concerning this “vision”. He would have us accept that Jesus took him to the 3rd heaven, that he spoke face-to- face with Christ, that spirits of great Christian reformers and even people from his own time who had died spoke with him and revealed their hidden earthly lives, and that he was being guided by and having wisdom imparted to him from angels, and all this taking place in what he calls the highest level of revelation, and then he tells us in “The Call” that we have to sort through all this and decide which portions he is relating are true and which are not! When you say, “The Lord said,” (as Joyner did repeatedly in both books), you are giving the weight of heaven to your testimony. But if in the next breath you deny the certainty of the revelations, you effectively dismantle your own testimony.
Question — If Rick Joyner’s books were to be weighed on the basis of their testimony alone, would they stand intact before a court of inquiry?