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Statement of Faith
Lying Signs & Wonders
Church as a Business
The End Times
In September of 1997 at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO, I attended a Sunday night service at the urging of a family member who had heard great things about a traveling evangelist who was scheduled to visit. The evangelist's name was David Hogan. The church had promoted the man as a great healer and was excited to have him come. Not knowing the man, I trusted popular opinion and came to the church that night hoping to have the Holy Spirit minister to me through him.
After a time of praise and worship the American minister (dressed in Western-style clothing) was given control of the service. The self-described apostle shared with the congregation how he had established churches throughout regions in Mexico. I also learned first-hand that Hogan's claim to fame were his stories about how God had used his ministry to raise people from the dead. He testified to having been present for 23 incidents where people were brought back to life after being dead. (Members of his Freedom Ministries claim to have participated in over 200 resurrection miracles.) Though there wasn't any substantiating evidence to support his claims I nonetheless applauded his various stories, as did the majority of the people in attendance. After all, believing in the power of God and that the man's endorsement by my church indicated his credibility, I found no reason to doubt his words.
The man spent a lot of time sharing with the congregation the things he claimed God was doing through his ministry. I learned that the "slain in the Spirit" phenomenon (where people fall backwards and lie on the ground for often long periods of time) was the predominant sign of his ministry (an interesting sign considering that the practice was nonexistent in the biblical ministry accounts of the early Christians but is associated with people who belong to various sects that hold heretical beliefs). He elaborated about the many times human bodies were "plastered" on the grounds at the places he had "ministered" (which is the same kind of prefatory speech other modern-day "revivalists" use to condition their audiences for the purpose of making them desire the experience). But having heard the man's "carpet time" stories in addition to his resurrection tales I did find it odd when he joyously exclaimed that for the first time in his life he was happy. It was strange to me that he would mention his newfound happiness during his report about, not being in the presence of what he claimed were miracles or in developing a close intimacy with the Lord, but in the context of the description he gave about his large ranch that he spent a lot of time talking about. (I don't know about you, but if I was God's instrument in raising people from the dead there wouldn't be anything, especially a material possession, that could divert my attention from relaying the resurrection miracles!)
There were only a few minutes devoted to reading and teaching from the Scriptures, that is, if you count the time Hogan was distracted from his preaching by episodes of uncontrollable laughter (called "holy" laughter by many Charismatics). He didn't seem to have any problem with the interruptions, though, nor did some in the congregation who found it amusing. At first it surprised me that there were people who didn't find Hogan's bizarre behavior offensive. I then remembered that there exists "Christians" who don't place the premium on God's Word that they should. It was troubling to know that I was sitting among some of them. Hogan's lack of respect in reading from the Scriptures was tolerated because he wasn't invited to the church to teach from God's Word. The church marketed him as a healer, not a teacher. He was invited to put on a show. A show that was said to be inspired by the "Spirit" (but which spirit really? ... read on to find out).
A very unusual thing happened just before Hogan ended his "preaching". The man turned in my direction of the crowd and spoke some words that I believe may have been directed at me. Though some of his mumbling was hard to understand I remember that he called me by my first name (that would be Brian) and told me to wait around for something to happen, and that I would not be disappointed if I did. I had never met the man before and wondered if I had heard him correctly. Some of the people sitting near to me responded by looking from side to side uncertain as to who he was addressing. Even though I believed his words sounded manipulative (and downright creepy), I nodded my head in agreement not to leave the service. His stare seemed fixed right at me, and only after I nodded my head did he finally turn away and continue on with the service. (?)
Hogan concluded his public remarks by inviting the sick to come forward to receive healing. With that invitation I watched what could have been a few hundred people (out of a few thousand in attendance) rush to the front of the church in an attempt to get near the man. Those who were able to attract his attention became the recipients of having a handkerchief waved at their bodies while the command of "Fire!" was shouted at them. From what I observed, personal attention was not given to anyone. (What I mean is that the man did not attempt to engage in meaningful conversation with anyone). People became the impersonal objects of the man's theatrics.
The "ministry" of Hogan continued for quite some time (to the backdrop of music led by the church's worship team). Hogan was positioned at the bottom of the steps at the center of the stage where he remained for a long time. The frenzy of people made it difficult to get near the man. Occasionally those people who came in contact with him would fall backwards into the arms of "catchers" who would then help these "slain" onto the floor where some remained for a long time (much to the excitement of some of the younger onlookers). I noticed a little man and a little woman (displaying what I can only describe as haughty looks of self-importance) walking around other areas of the front sanctuary looking for people they could "slay" onto the ground in imitation of the visiting man (with stern looks on their faces, looking individuals up and down, they were scoping out people as part of a power play -- what vultures!). Some of the people they "prayed over" (or preyed upon) fell backwards. Despite being in the prayer line and in need of prayer the couple only briefly glanced my way and then passed me by. (Maybe it was because I didn't have the look of vulnerability.)
As the service progressed (or further deteriorated) I positioned myself near to where Hogan was "ministering" so that I could watch him more carefully as he interacted with the people who were continually crowding around him. (Some in the church did not join the frenzy. They either left the church or remained in the building to talk with others -- acting like nothing was out of the ordinary.) Because I was standing in close proximity to the man I was given a cup of water designated for him. Strangely enough (strange was the theme of the night), the man's strength began to fail him and his balance had to be supported by others as he tried to remain standing. Seeing this prompted me to try and help him. But when I offered him the cup of water through a gesture the only response I received was an empty stare followed by a quick shrug away from me. That shrug happened, though, after the both of us had glanced at one another and I was able to clearly see the hideous look in his eyes. This made me shudder with a feeling of shame for knowing that I had earlier in the night desired him to pray for me. I don't believe the kind of personal anguish I saw in his face and darkness in his eyes was expressive of the spirit residing within a man who is truly anointed. (In retrospect I probably should have splashed the water in his face!)
One of the most interesting spectacles I witnessed from the man was the second of two actions (that directly contradicted the first). At the start of the service Hogan made a specific point to jump up and down on the stage to show people how great he was feeling. In sharp contrast, though, nearing the end of the service he was drained of all energy, his speech became soft and slurred, and he could no longer stand with his own strength! But it was not a natural exhaustion. Something happened to bring him to a point of complete futility. (What exactly it was that happened makes for an interesting topic of debate and speculation. Many will tell you that "spiritual drunkenness" is a blessing, but it is a phenomenon associated with the worst kind of proven deceivers.) He also lost the effect to "slay" people. A chair was offered to him so he could sit down. (Can you imagine what a horrible testimony it would have made if the original true disciples of Jesus Christ became sick while attempting to heal others?!)
Hogan's deteriorating condition rendered him useless. This prompted his entourage to end the service and drag him (literally) out of the church leaving behind people who were in need of prayer. (Two men had to physically support him as he tried to walk, one man on each side of him . . . similar to how athletic trainers assist injured football players off the playing field.) I followed the man and his associates to the back
of the sanctuary where they met up with the pastor of New Life, Ted Haggard. The pastor (who was widely hailed by the undiscerning as a leading Evangelical before his gay sex and drug scandals became public knowledge in 2006) had attended a meeting in another room of the church during the time he allowed the traveling minister to preside over his congregation. (Talk about giving your flock over to a wolf!) I initially was baffled to see and hear the pastor laugh about the minister's sickly appearance. I thought it was just as bizarre to hear the pastor joke about how it was illegal to drive in such a poor condition. It became apparent to me that the goofy little pastor did not think it was a problem to see his guest ministry leader look and act like the town drunk! (During my observation I remembered Ted's own bad behavior throughout the years and it then made more sense to me why he would bask in the foolishness and tragedy of the moment.)
I further followed Hogan and the men who assisted him outside of the church where they headed off to a van in the parking lot. Before they left the building a woman in the foyer thanked the man for coming to the church. (I had to wonder what it was she thanked him for.) Interestingly enough, I was the one who held the door open for the man to leave the building, again exchanging a brief glace with the irreverent showman. (I like to think of my action motioning him outside the church as symbolic considering that I am a person who deplores the intrusion of such people into places that are supposed to be houses of God.)
I came to the church that night in a very depressed state of mind longing for some good Holy Spirit-inspired Bible teaching and meaningful personal prayer. What I found instead was a crazy circus-like event masquerading as a Christian revival. I walked away from the church feeling betrayed and spiritually starved for not receiving any Godly nourishment in the more than three hours I spent in the building. New Life was my home church for most of the 1990's but the ungodly behavior I witnessed from that service proved to be the last straw for me. My moral and financial support for the church ended that night. (The decision of the church to allow Hogan to appear as a star performer was definitely not the first time the church leadership had seriously erred in the area of discernment.)
The Lord Jesus Christ was not glorified at New Life Church on that September evening. The emphasis was on David Hogan and not on the Lord. Hogan was unquestionably the center of attention at the church service I attended. He was the one sought after for a miracle touch. (Ironically, from what I saw it appeared as though he was the one most in need of healing!) I consider it very tragic how the man dupes people into believing that he is a conduit for God's power. This means that it may be the Lord who takes the blame from some of the people who walk away from the man's performances wondering why they were not healed from their afflictions. Some may blame themselves thinking they did not have enough faith to warrant healing.
Hogan makes these remarkable and outlandish claims of great power performed in Mexico, yet, as I have learned after seeing him in person, he cannot produce any of the same results in American, Canadian, English, Australian or New Zealand churches. Nor can he produce any verification of his healing claims at all, which, by the way, should be numerous if he is the active healer he portrays himself to be.
If the unChrist-like conduct I witnessed is representative of the man's overall ministry (which after further research I have determined it to be) then a legitimate concern must also be raised regarding the spiritual health of the churches he has founded. Yet Hogan's worldwide traveling schedule seems to suggest that he has little or no concern for those churches he claims to have established. A real apostle and Godly shepherd, on the other hand, would devote himself to strengthening his flocks with sound teaching from the Bible supplemented with Godly practice. But I suppose it is more desirable for the man to acquire the generous "love" gifts he is receiving from the many large churches he is invited to visit. It is my belief that he will probably want to make some improvements on his beloved ranch.
Christians, beware! . . .
"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light."
(2 Corinthians 11:13-14)
"For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."
"Judge righteous judgement." (John 7:24)
[As opposed to the hypocritical judgement described in Matthew 7.]
"Expel the wicked man from among you."
(1 Corinthians 5:13)
Excerpt from an e-mail sent by a Charismatic believer (June 2004):
My husband and I went this past Friday evening to hear David Hogan. Our experience resonates with much of the very same critic you gave your experience. In my spirit something didn't seem right. I was begining to think I was the only one who had a contrary opinion of David Hogan as those around me seemed to think he was great. I also witnessed the blank eery expression in his eyes up close as he prayed for me a very short prayer. He looked sickly but seemed strong at the beginning but like your encounter, but in the middle of praying for the people he left unannounced much in the same manner you described, having to be helped to the car. I wondered what most of the people were thinking who needed prayer and had been standing in line thought. Had he been under the annointing of the Holy Spirit, I believe God would have given him supernatural strength to finish. I found it stange also that if he had a gift of healing that I didn't see any of what he bragged about happening in our meeting to verify this. Why does he wear those thick glasses, shouldn't he have been healed? I was glad we weren't led to give in the offering which was taken at the beginning. When David was asked "who should the checks be made out too", he said "leave it blank" but was corrected by one of the church officials. I found that strange. He did very little teaching, read portions of about 3-4 scriptures and said he had prepared a teaching but wouldn't be giving it. Said he was feeling very aggressive. He started out the meeting saying he didn't like or trust any of us and didn't care what we thought about him. He introduced his wife but would not give her first name because he didn't trust us. Weird. He spent most of the time making us feel bad and boasting of the miracles at his hands and the places he would be teaching, that of course seemed more important than him being with us. Anyway, suffice it to say that we personally felt it disappointing.
God bless you, Gail
It appears that David Hogan personally instructed me to stay around for the end of the service. So what was the result of his advice? The longer I stayed the worse I felt. It was as though something was attacking my mind and for the first and only time in all of my years of church attendance I left the service with painful suicidal thoughts pounding in my head that were not with me before the service. In the parking lot before I could drive home I had to pray for God's healing from the evil that was afflicting my mind. I am fully convinced that I was the recipient of a satanic prophecy and demonic oppression.
The service was recorded on audio cassette (before the church converted to CDs) and may or may not still be available to the public. If you listen to the tape you may notice that in addition to addressing me by my first name Hogan also mentioned the depression I was suffering from at the time. I was very depressed because a few weeks earlier I had quit my job at James Dobson's Focus on the Family after I discovered that the Focus management was lying to their employees and the public (the story of this is related elsewhere on this website).
Those malicious persons who have tried to discredit me by suggesting that my depression was caused from a lack of belief in God and His Holy Word are presumptuous and ignorant. My Christian faith has always been solid. But keep your "love" letters coming.
Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire
The January-March 2000 edition of The Quarterly Journal from the Personal Freedom Outreach organization featured a well-researched and fully documented biblical exposition on the overall "ministry" and life of David Hogan. (Hogan's heretical teachings guarantee that he is not God's miracle man. And if you believe Hogan owns a four-wheel vehicle that can drive underwater you have lost touch with reality.)
My response to the criticism I have received for writing this article: Correspondence on the Credibility of David Hogan
People Respond to Hogan's Deceit
What mindsets contribute to the popularity of false ministers?: Understanding the Phenomenon of Tom Papania. (Much of what is written in this letter applies to people who believe in Dave Hogan).
One of the best and very sobering reality-based / Scripturally sound instructional video productions you will ever see: "The Signs & Wonders Movement Exposed" DVD.
Some background info on Ted Haggard: Ted Haggard's Deception. (If Hogan were a true man of God he would rebuke Haggard instead of milking New Life for money. I wrote this statement years before Haggard's scandals came to light.)
Private Investigator Implicates New Life Church in Numerous Sex Abuses