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Test the spirits

Every Christian and every Christian leader must practice discernment because there are real deceptions and dangers to our faith. Historian and Bible teacher Eddie Hyatt brings a clear warning in this article originally titled “Angels of Light: Is the Spirit of Mormonism Being Revisited in the Contemporary Charismatic-Revival-Prophetic Movement?”


Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 Jn. 4:1).

Someone has rightly said, “Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are bound to repeat them”. I see the distinct possibility of this happening with the contemporary charismatic-revival-prophetic movement unless serious steps are taken to implement Biblical injunctions such as 1 Jn. 4:1 above. For example, did you know that the early Mormons experienced speaking in tongues, prophecy, falling under the power, visions, and angelic visitations—that this heretical cult emerged out of one of thee most powerful revivals in Christian history, the Second Great Awakening? In fact, an examination of their beginnings reveals many similarities with the present day charismatic-revival-prophetic movement. Their example is a wake-up call for all who embrace the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit to be diligent in carrying out the Biblical commands to test the spirits and to judge prophetic and supernatural manifestations. After all, Satan does not come in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork, he comes as an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14).

Peter Cartwright’s Autobiography

Peter Cartwright was a circuit-riding Methodist preacher and one of the most famous revivalists of the Second Great Awakening. His autobiography offers intriguing reading and provides valuable information concerning the religious landscape in early and mid-nineteenth century America. His autobiography also offers a personal glimpse into the origins of Mormonism and how it began in the milieu of religious revivalism. His account provides an historical example of the dangers of naively embracing everything sensational and the importance of obeying the Biblical injunction to test the spirits and to judge prophetic and spiritual manifestations.

The Mormons Speak in Tongues

Cartwright tells about a particular campmeeting he was conducting in which a certain group remained behind at the end of one of the services, singing, and praising God. Eventually one of the women began to “shout” and then “swooned away” and fell into the arms of her husband and lay as if in a trance. Her husband announced that she was in a trance and that when she came out of it she would speak in an unknown tongue and he would interpret. This was obviously not something new for them.

Image: Bruno Kelzer

By this time a large crowd had gathered and Cartwright decided to break up their meeting, as he believed they were merely drawing attention to themselves. As he walked into the midst of the group the woman in the trance suddenly opened her eyes, laid her hand on his arm, and said, “Dear friend, I have a message directly from God to you.” Cartwright, who was a gruff sort of personality, said, “I stopped her short and said, ‘I will have none of your message.'” The woman’s husband, who was to interpret the message, angrily replied, “Sir this is my wife, and I will defend her at the risk of my life.” Cartwright retorted, “Sir, this is my campmeeting, and I will maintain the good order of it as the risk of my life.” After a further exchange of emotionally charged words, the group finally left. Cartwright identified them as Mormons, followers of a “Joe Smith” with whom he had had several conversations.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2019

About the Author: Eddie L. Hyatt, D.Min. (Regent University), M.Div. and M.A. (Oral Roberts University), serves the body of Christ around the world by teaching with academic excellence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has authored several books, including 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity. His passion is to see authentic spiritual awakening transform the Church and impact the world in the Twenty-first century.

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