WALKING IN THE SHADOW OF THE
THE PROPHETIC MINISTRY AND VISIONS OF FRANCIS FRANGIPANE
by G. Richard Fisher
Apologist Robert Bowman argues that "the task of doctrinal discernment is an ongoing necessity in the Christian church."1
"History repeats itself," we are told. That is never more true than in the realm of heresy and theological error. Old lies and distortions of Scripture are constantly being recycled under new guises and new window dressing. The name of Jesus is used, but the doctrines of Jesus are convoluted and spun to meet utopian agendas.
Francis Frangipane is the senior minister of the River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He also heads up a television and radio ministry called In Christ's Image.2 For nearly two years, Frangipane had a monthly feature in Charisma magazine called "Thy Kingdom Come."3 The articles were sermonettes, part of which were published as the book, The Days of His Presence.
His books' biographical sections contain no hint of any formal Bible education. This occurs far too often in the modern prophetic movement. PFO sent a letter of inquiry to Frangipane's organization regarding his educational credentials (such as high school, college, Bible college, or seminary degrees), but received no response. One has to wonder about Frangipane's biblical training, given his propensity to mispronounce theological words. For example, when he tries to pronounce "eschatalogical," it comes out as "escalatogical."
Frangipane said that in 1980 he dropped out of ministry after a woman that he prayed for died. He attributed it to a "stronghold of unbelief" within himself. Three years later, he joined a "Faith church" and claimed: "During that following year, our church saw people healed of cancers, deaf ears and arthritis! So even though I never officially joined the Faith movement, I am thankful to God for what He gave me through it."4 Frangipane does not name the church or document the claims.
In the Charismatic world, perhaps one could say that Frangipane is still in "Triple A" but rising fast to the Major League level. He appears with and hosts some of the big guns in the prophetic movement, including the Kansas City Prophets and Manifest Sons of God promoters. Frangipane is hailed and placed in a very elite class by such men. Rick Joyner5 says of Frangipane:
"Francis is one of those few, like the Apostle John, who leans on the Lord's breast and listens to His heart... ."6
The Apologetics Index web site also confirms Frangipane's solidarity with those prominent in today's prophetic arena: "Teacher/prophet with close connections to Rick Joyner and the Kansas City Prophets. Promotes Toronto Blessing."7 Frangipane obviously endorses Joyner in that he sells Joyner's audiotape, Into the Glory (available on Frangipane's web site), and refers to Joyner as a "prophetic leader."
Frangipane's commitment to Joyner is obvious and overt, as well, in his book, The Power of Covenant Prayer, where he states: "Several years ago, Rick Joyner's book The Harvest unlocked hope for tens of thousands of discouraged church leaders."8
Frangipane's cross pollination with Joyner is both interesting and troubling as is the endorsement by Tommy Tenney of Frangipane's book, The Days of His Presence. Tenney admits to a Oneness Pentecostal background (denying the Trinity) and promotes ongoing divine revelations. However, the endorsements appear to be reciprocal because Frangipane sells an audiotape of Tenney.
One can also find audiotapes on Frangipane's web site by Kansas City prophet Mike Bickle.9
Like someone playing theological Twister, Frangipane has hands and feet in different colored doctrinal spots. Author Gershom Gorenberg is correct in his observation that: "You can know people best by their contradictions."10
Frangipane has made big blunders in the past, which would make anyone question his abilities and discernment. Teaching at the Hood River Assembly of God in Oregon, Frangipane told his audience that they should "take cities," and used the unique case of Jonah as a paradigm for the Church.11
He then referred to televangelist Larry Lea as an illustration of taking a city. Frangipane cited as an example the report of Lea's alleged Christian conversion of pagan and witch Eric Pryor. However, the illustration in no way fits the point because Pryor was an individual and not a city and, more importantly, Pryor's conversion was bogus. Lea is a sorry example of discernment and spiritual warfare. Lea's is a scandal ridden ministry. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
"At first, Lea acknowledged that he was paying Pryor $1,000 a month. Later, he changed the story, saying it was really $500 a month to help Pryor pay the rent when he moved to San Jose from San Francisco, joined Jubilee Christian Center and enrolled in its Bible school. ... PrimeTime also showed part of a homemade video of a wedding ceremony in which [JCC Pastor Dick] Bernal appears to be marrying Pryor and his girlfriend. Both the pastor and the ex pagan knew, however, that Pryor was still legally married to another woman. 'It wasn't a civil ceremony. It was just a spiritual covenant,' said Bernal, conceding that he probably made a mistake performing the service. 'They had been living together as common law man and wife.'"12
Ole Anthony, of the televangelist watchdog Trinity Foundation, said that "Lea
was still marketing the phony 'witch that switched' tape in 1997."13
Yet, the Pryor saga gets worse. While Pryor was receiving up to $20,000 per appearance he was arrested in 1994 for spousal abuse and assault with a deadly weapon. Shortly after, he went back to drugs and the occult.14 In October 1998, Pryor, the wife beating occultist, was charged with battery, spousal abuse, and being under the influence of narcotics.15 Pryor is a habitual batterer and criminal.
DOES THE DEVIL HAVE A ZIP CODE?
Pastor and author Bill Randles discusses the claimed power of Frangipane and others as they make grandiose, but unprovable pronouncements regarding demons. According to Randles, this new breed of demon busters has the ability to do far more than just cast them out:
"And like everything else our generation approaches, we don't do it in run of the mill fashion, casting one low level demon imp out of one lowly person! We really do it on a big scale, we cast demons out of whole cities! ... Through the teachings of C. Peter Wagner, Dick Bernal, Francis Frangipane, John Dawson and a host of others, a dualistic Spiritual Warfare doctrine has developed. By that I mean, that there is the concept that we are to battle directly with the principalities, to the point where we name them, researching the history of cities and even nations, to learn the characteristics of these 'strongmen' so that we could dislodge them, and 'take the city for God.'"16
Biblically taking cities for God by crippling and disarming the demons of the city is nowhere taught in Scripture. Paul preached the Gospel in each city without dramatics or evasive claims. We do not find Paul doing "prayer walks" and spiritual stakeouts. Logic tells us that for all the time the "demon busters" have been at it, they should have had these cities all under control by now and demon free.
In the new theatrics of demon busting, one word, "stronghold," has been taken out of 2 Corinthians 10 and used to create an entire theology. The context of chapter 10 is confronting false belief. If anyone is tearing down strongholds, it is the counter cult and apologetic movement. Dualistic demonism is in itself a stronghold of error and false teaching.
An article entitled, "Encountering Territorial Spirits," informs us:
"[George] Otis, [C. Peter] Wagner, and others have more recently associated with their views of demon activity practices like 'spiritual mapping,' identifying and exorcising 'territorial spirits,' and 'territorial staking.' While they seek to support their approach to such ministries with Scripture, much of what they do is so extreme as to be disturbing to many in the Christian world. A study of their material indicates that far too much of their teaching has human experience and even pagan theology as its base."17
The author of this fine article upholds the sufficiency of the Scripture for life and doctrine, and then says:
"In fact, current demonologists use the account in Daniel as a major proof text on battling territorial spirits. However, [Robert] Priest, [Thomas] Campbell, and [Bradford] Mullen observe, 'Daniel had no knowledge of the details of the battle, such as who is fighting whom, or even knowledge that there is a battle until he is told later. He simply prays and trusts God for the unseen dimension of things'. They then conclude, 'Daniel does not "discern," "map," "bind," or "pray against" a territorial spirit.'"18
It is not only spiritually healthy, but also a protection to remind ourselves that there are enemies to the truth in our world. These are false prophets, false apostles, and false teachers (Matthew 24:24, 2 Peter 2:1, 2 Corinthians 11:13, Revelation 2:2, 1 Timothy 1:7, Acts 20:28 30).
Frangipane, like many other hyper Charismatics, has repackaged old Latter Rain movement heresies and is peddling them to the public.
The modern prophets are an example of history folding back on itself and merging the heresies of the 1940s with those of the 1990s. The Latter Rain movement cemented a foundation of Charismatic mythology that is like the Energizer Bunny. It just keeps going and going.
Apologist Albert Dager reminds us of the extreme teaching of the 1940s' Latter Rain dominion teaching:
"Some two decades before Pentecostalism found its way into the denominations as the Charismatic Renewal, it experienced a new surge of experience oriented theology within its own ranks. It was from this neo Pentecostal experiencewhat came to be called the 'Latter Rain Movement'that Charismatic Dominionism sprang. The more prominent leaders of that movement blended Pentecostal fervor with teachings that the Church was on the brink of a worldwide revival. That revival would result in a victorious Church without spot or wrinkle, and the saints (or a number of saints called 'overcomers') would attain sinless perfection. Thus perfected, the Church would inherit the earth and rule over the nations with a rod of iron."19
Dager goes on to describe the wild and extreme ideas of Latter Rain leader Franklin Hall:
"Hall's main point in his immortalization theory is that 'the sleeping, so called, unfoundationally built church' must awaken to 'a real cause and calling, that when God's word is completely acted upon and complied with, will result in bringing about the real gushers and torrents of the long, past due, RAIN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. A rain of IMMORTALITY UPON THE EARTH that so many prophets have written about and portrayed in their prophecies.' (Hall's emphasis) Hall's premise is not based on God's promise of immortality after the resurrection, but on the idea that those who apply Hall's teachings will become immortal while in their present flesh and blood bodies."20
Along with the above, Latter Rain teachers insisted on "Impartation," that is, that somehow the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit could be imparted by laying on of hands thus, creating the foundation for power centers where sign seekers could go to get the blessing and carry it away to impart to others. The idea of impartation was officially condemned by the Assemblies of God in the 1940s.21 People will travel many miles to "get it" which is shorthand for spasms, altered states of consciousness, slaying experiences, uncontrollable laughing, hypnotic states, and bodily gyrations. They return again and again, becoming addicted to impartations. Some, like Mike Bickle, even claim that prophecy can be imparted.
The Latter Rain teaching of Kingdom Now is a mirror image of the long forgotten and failed Cargo Cults. Gershom Gorenberg recounts the events around the late 19th century, millennial movements known as "cargo cults." He says they:
"... appeared among South Pacific islanders. Assaulted by European rule, by the ideas of Christian missionaries, by the sight of material wealth brought from afar, islanders turned to a vision: A new age would dawn with the arrival of great vessels, carrying their dead ancestors and Cargothe wealth they deserved. Islanders built 'docks' or 'landing strips,' assuming they would thereby bring the Cargo bearing ships or planes. ... the islanders weren't irrational: They reached reasonable conclusions from fragmented information."22
The docks and the landing strips for Latter Rain followers and today's hyper Charismatics are the books and tapes by their leaders, the hallucinatory expectations, the mythical claims, and the proclaimed ability to know the future. It is all fed furiously by wild claims made on television broadcasts. It all sells, but the "cargo" of dead risings and perfect healing, along with the wealth of the wicked coming to the righteous, is long overdue. That's because it will all only happen in the Resurrection (Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15).
YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET
Frangipane may try to distance himself from the Latter Rain by pointing out some of their more wild and extreme doctrines. Yet, in typical Latter Rain fashion, he promises something far greater than we have ever seen or experienced before in the Church:
"As this age ends, God's promise to us is that we too shall receive a 'double portion' (Isa. 61:7; John 14:12). What can this mean but that the Lord is going to reveal Himself to us in glories we have never known before. Do not despair if you find yourself in a time of desolation. In truth, with God, our desolation is but preparation for a new beginning of power and service."23
Though the heretical Manifest Sons of God doctrine teaches present glorification and escape from death (which Frangipane does not), Frangipane still comes close in many other ways.
Notice, too, the sloppy use of Scripture to try to bolster a premise. Isaiah 61:7 has to do with the Messiah bringing salvation to Israel (vv. 1 3). It then talks of a future rebuilding and restoration of Israel and her land (vv. 4 7). Verse 7 and the possessing of double the land, has to do with God promising Israel permanent increases in the amount of geography it possesses. Just as Job received double the goods and family he had, Isaiah 61:7 has a specific and pointed context. Whether one believes in the restoration of Israel or not is not the point. One still must observe the context and not try to apply these verses to some illusive miracle period for the Church just around the corner. The imminency of Christ's return is destroyed by this view in that a new "signs and wonders" period has to be ushered in first. This view tries to create a new and unbiblical dispensation.
John 14:12 is another ruse, since the "greater works" mentioned there always have been understood by most Bible scholars as meaning greater in extent. It is a far greater exposure of the Gospel and salvation worldwide (that is, to the uttermost parts of the earth). Neither Frangipane nor any of his colleagues are walking on water, raising the dead, multiplying food, healing lepers, or doing greater miracles (either in extent or quantity) than Christ has done. Their rhetoric does not match the reality.
There is no denying that Frangipane uses the delusionary, overblown hype and terminology of the Latter Rain:
"Any sickness can be healed; any demon can be cast out. Any sinner, friend, or relative can be saved. He said, 'Whatever you ask.' Who is to stop our faith from reaching even a greater fulfillment? Not only can any person be healed, but also any city, not merely can any demon be cast out, but any principality be brought down. The ends of the earth await the awakening of our faith to Christ's promise!"24
Frangipane makes astounding claims for himself in boasting of visions and powers. In The Power of Covenant Prayer, he confesses to dramatic visions:
"For me, the hope of a national harvest began in 1971. In a night vision, the Lord showed me a city shrouded in terrible darkness, one similar to the blackness that descended upon Egypt. The darkness could be touched. I found myself outside the city. I was with people who had been purified, literally 'baptized' in the glory of God. In the vision, I actually felt the power of God's glory, which was surging like brilliant bolts of lightning through us all. The vision ended with great multitudes leaving the darkness and surrendering their lives to Christ."25
In another of his visions, Frangipane claims to have "gained an understanding of Christ's expansive Presence."26 Frangipane also claims to have seen "His glory," along with angels and saints in heaven while having a vision of the night.27
With all of the Charismatic superstars, authors, and televangelists claiming visions and sojourns to heaven, these phenomenal experiences seem to happen on a regular basis to everyone but the "average Joe" in the pew. God, it seems, is a respecter of persons and only an elite class of superstars gets into the really big show. Only best selling authors and television stars seem to be granted the privilege. Even more troubling is that the heavenly visions and visitations produce contradictory information in the details of the supernatural.28 Somebody is pulling our leg. The Church had best heed Peter's warning (2 Peter 2:3).
These kinds of "visions" claimed by Frangipane can fit into the category that Peter Worsley labels as "spongy prophecies." Worsley explains:
"All events are thus held to constitute fractional symbolic confirmations of the wider cosmic beliefs: particular wars, or local murders, as manifestations of the coming (or perhaps already present) 'Reign of the Beast'; the belief is so vague, so ambiguous, so generalized, that no particular event can possibly constitute a falsification of it. Conversely, given a spongy enough style of prophecy, all events can be interpreted as positive confirmation of the prophecy."29
Frangipane's vision of the night and subsequent interpretation fit into the "spongy prophecy" category. It is general enough to give it any interpretation one wants.
Frangipane alleges other powers as well:
"It also means that when I pray, there is a power attached to my intercession that demands strongholds of religious and cultural pride to fall before God's purposes. ... The door to the realm where all things are possible is swinging open before us! ... God has prepared blessings for us in the heavenly places. What are these blessings? They represent all we behold in the life of Jesus: the blessing of healing and miracles, of virtue and deliverance. ... Whether it is the Jordan ceasing its flow as our feet touch the water or the sick coming forth for healing, all things are ours because of the covenant of God with Christ."30
POOR LONELY GOD AND OTHER MISCONCEPTIONS
To listen to Frangipane, one would think that God could hardly get along without him. After Frangipane began cutting back his devotion time, it seems to have left God in a blue funk:
"One day an intercessor called who prayed regularly for me. He told me that during the night the Lord spoke to him in a dream concerning me. I was eager to hear what the Lord had spoken to my friend, thinking perhaps He was going to increase our outreach or maybe supply some needed finances. I asked Him [sic] to tell me the dream. What the Lord said had nothing to do with the things that were consuming my time. He simply said, 'Tell Francis I miss him."31
What a wonderful thing to be in an elite class of people and to have God on instant message. This melancholy God/Jesus theme is even carried further by Frangipane as he teaches that our limitations are actually limitations to Christ and that the Lord will change the situation only at a later date:
"Yet if we think about it, is it not equally astonishing that the rule of Christ in His church is, at least in part, subject to our initiatives? He submits Himself to our schedules and to our service times. He works within the confinements of our weaknesses and temperaments. ... However, the fact that Jesus will accommodate and submit Himself to the conditions we offer Him does not mean that He has approved of our limitations upon Him. ... we have assumed that Christ will continue to exist in 'subjection' to us. He will not. For as Jesus arises in His Lordship, to save us He must first deliver us from our efforts to control Him."32
RUNNING IN CIRCLES
Frangipane at times seems to have trouble making up his mind, which makes one wonder why anyone should have confidence in him. The Charisma News Brief for September 2, 1999, reported Frangipane's flip flop on deciding if he would run for mayor of his city:
"A week after the surprise announcement that he intended to run for mayor of his Iowa hometown, author and international speaker Francis Frangipane has stepped out of the race. He withdrew his nomination Tuesday, less than an hour before the deadline for standing down. The senior pastor at River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids made the U turn after realizing that he would be unable to continue his writing if he was appointed to the two year office. 'I felt I had reached the boundaries of what God wanted me to surrender,' he explained in a message written for this weekend's church bulletin."33
Charisma reported that in a convoluted explanation, Frangipane claimed he was initially running but not really running:
"He entered the process 'not of running for mayor, but of surrender,' he writes. 'Outwardly I was going through the motions of one who was running for office; inwardly, however, I was surrendering to Jesus my comforts and being stretched beyond my fears."34
The above rambling on the part of Frangipane makes absolutely no sense. Whatever happened to James' admonition: "Let your yes be yes and your no, no"? (5:12) I am runningbut I'm not runningI am runningbut I am actually surrendering, etc., sounds more like the "swelling words of emptiness" mentioned in 2 Peter 2:18. It smacks more of a public relations ploy or rife indecision than a spiritual exercise. Presenting our bodies in Romans 12 has to do with soberly evaluating our giftedness and serving others in the body of Christ in a loving, thoughtful, self sacrificing, humble way. Referring to our goofs, gaffes, and inability to decide as "surrender" is a stretch and is an affront to the intelligence of others. Playing around the edges of political office can hardly be morphed, mutated, and hand shaped into "surrender."
Though some may think that this is much ado about nothing, they should think twice. If there is a discernible pattern of imprecision and misuse of Bible terms it should shake our confidence as to whether a teacher's whole system is on shaky ground. It ought to at least make us cautious.
Frangipane was connected to the Church of The Living Word for about eight years. This movement was informally called "The Walk" and was founded by John Robert Stevens (1919 1983). Stevens was defrocked by both the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and the Assemblies of God. Stevens taught the re emergence of Apostles and Prophets. He also taught that God limited Himself totally to the prayers of His people who would accomplish things well beyond the Apostles once they put their minds to it.35 Frangipane, as we have seen, teaches that God is limited in some fashion by our schedules.
Stevens put his new knowledge and prophecies above the Scripture and expected followers to be under both him and his elders for every decision of daily life even to job options, marriage, and so forth.36
Another very troubling teaching of Stevens was the view that he and his followers were the manifestation of the Second Coming of Jesus and, in some sense, he was greater than Christ. Stevens taught that Christ's return was a "Presence" among Walk followers for signs and wonders. As well, there were conspicuous occultic practices. Stevens took the teaching of "conformed to the image of Christ" to insane extremes. He viewed it as not just becoming more like Christ but the Church becoming Christ!37
Albert Dager refers to Frangipane's connection to Stevens and the Latter Rain delusions:
"Besides John Robert Stevens and Sam Fife, there were many apostles that came out of the Manifest Sons of God, such as George Warnock, Francis Frangipane, Royal Cronquist, and Bill Britton. Some still survive and are working within other churches to spread their doctrines."38
To what degree was Frangipane molded and influenced by Stevens and his teaching? How deeply does one get infected or affected by living in a seedbed of extreme Latter Rain heresies for eight years? Did Frangipane emerge from Stevens' petrie dish unscathed? Are there residual effects?
In fairness, it must be acknowledged that Frangipane left the Living Word organization. An administrative assistant for Frangipane told PFO that "At first, Francis considered John Robert Stevens to simply be an imperfect leader ... However, Stevens eventually became a false prophet and ... spiritual darkness settled upon this entire organization."39 However, no specifics were given.
Having said that and listening to the disclaimers of Frangipane in trying to distance himself from Stevens, it must be noted that in some areas of teaching, Frangipane may not have moved far enough away. I once knew people who worked in a tobacco factory. When they arrived home every evening they smelled like tobacco because the odor had permeated their clothes, hair and skin. They left the factory, but some of the factory went with them.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
Stevens' strange and mystical doctrine of complete identification with Christ, and the extremes of seeing the Church in some sense as a part of the Second Coming may have not completely died in Frangipane's thinking because there is evidence of a finessed version in his writings. In The Stronghold of God, Frangipane uses Galatians 4:19 ("That Christ may be formed in you").40 He, in the earlier pages of this book, had already built up baggage. While most Christians and Christian writers have understood Galatians 4:19 in its simplicity as another way of saying what the hymn says, "Be like Jesus, this my song," Frangipane tries to package in a lot more.
From Revelation 12, Frangipane talks about Christ being "truly birthed in our service to God."41 Earlier he envisioned an actual incarnation and a merging of the believer into Christ by asserting: "To abide in Him is to live in ceaseless fusion with His passions."42
It becomes even more troubling as he blurs the line between the Creator and the created. Frangipane writes:
"...even as He and the Father are One, so we become one with Him. ... Like the Son's relationship with the Father, so we do nothing from our own initiative unless it is something we see Him do."43
The words "even as" mean, in exactly the same way or just like. Do we become one with Christ just like He is one with the Father? Are we truly united to Christ in the same way the members of the Godhead are united? To ask the question is to answer it. The members of the Trinity are ontologically one, something that cannot be said of us. Is Frangipane being imprecise or does he really believe that we become one with Christ "even as He and the Father are One"?
Frangipane muddies the water even more in his statement from his book, The Days of His Presence when he says:
"In the most profound way I understood that only Christ could live like Christ. God's plan was not to improve me but to remove me so that the Lord Jesus Himself could actually live His life through me (Galatians 2:20)."44
Frangipane carries this on:
"For whatever inhibits the fusion of our lives with Christ will be consumed like chaff in the fire of His Presence. ... We will know the fulness of Christ. ... He must increase and we must decrease until His Presence fills everything, everywhere, with Himself."45
Frangipane's use of the word "fusion,"46 twice cited above, is also troubling. The word means a melting together. When there is a melting together there is also a melding together so that substances are indistinguishable and inseparable. Separate identities are merged by fusion.47 Scrambled eggs would be an example. Is the believer melted together with Christ to the degree that he or she becomes one with Christ "even as He and the Father are One"? Is the believer "fused" as in two "different things into one"? Such a thought is outrageous and shocking. The Trinity will ever remain the Trinity and never become a quartet.
Galatians 4:19 says literally "until you have taken the form of Christ."48 It has to do with changes in our character and conduct so as to reflect Christ. It is a conformity to the ways of Christ. It is to be like Jesus.
Greek scholar and linguist Kenneth Wuest unpacks the phrase:
"These to whom Paul was writing, were truly saved. The Lord Jesus was resident in their hearts. But there was little of His beauty in their lives. The word again tells us that at one time He was clearly and abundantly evident in their experience. But now He ceased to be seen in the lives of the Galatian Christians. ... The passive voice of the verb 'be formed,' tells us that the Lord Jesus dwells in the heart of a Christian in a passive way, and thus does not express Himself through the Christian. He has given that ministry over to the Holy Spirit. He said, referring to the Spirit, 'That One shall glorify Me' (John 16:14). The Holy Spirit was not being recognized and depended upon by the Galatians. Consequently He was not able to minister the Lord Jesus to and through the Galatians in a full measure."49
Paul is using an obvious metaphor. He is not literally "laboring in birth" as the verse says, nor are the Galatians becoming Christ, nor is Christ literally being formed in the believer. The birthing metaphor is usually used in a negative way of struggle. Note the word "again" in Galatians 4:19. It is as if Paul is saying do I have to go into labor all over again to birth you (bring you to conversion again) and nurse you into growth so that it might be evident that you belong to Christ?
History is repeating itself here, and in the history of heresy the idea of fusion has taken many forms. From the mystical absorption (into the Godhead) ideas of Madam Guyon (and other mystics), to the polytheistic fusion (little gods) of Word Faith, to the Christological fusion (becoming Christ) of Norman Grubb.50
While we can be one in purpose with God, we can never in any sense be one in nature or essence. Isaiah 40:46 assures us that God is wholly other and totally unlike us in every way. We can share the blessings of God and be Christlike, but never say: "even as He and the Father are One so we become one with Him." Such thoughts are absurd and unbiblical.
Anyone familiar with the New Testament knows that Jesus is in His glorified body in heaven. Frangipane takes the New Testament description of the Church as the "body of Christ" and pushes it to an extreme. He insists that it is "more than a metaphor" or figurative and concludes:
"Though He is not on earth in His own glorious, eternal body, He is on earth in our bodies. ... we transcend the limitations of our fallen humanity and become His body, His bride, His temple, His branchesthe very extensions of Himself in the earth!"51
Since we are not literally a bride, a temple or literal branches, how are we to understand the biblical figure of being the "body of Christ"? Know it or not, Frangipane takes a straight Roman Catholic line in the way he views and explains the idea of the Church as the body of Christ. Baker's Dictionary of Theology expresses the concept quite well and we need to carefully consider its explanation:
"The Church as the Body of Christ. The most prominent theological use of the NT term soma is in relation to the doctrine of the church. The church is called 'the body of Christ'... Some interpret the phrase 'body of Christ' literally. On this view, the church is 'the extension of the incarnation,' the 'larger incarnation of Christ.' In the main, this is the view of most Catholic writers. To them the term 'body of Christ' is more than a metaphor. As once Christ manifested Himself through a human body (i.e., in his incarnate life), so now he manifests himself through his body the church, and especially in its sacraments."52
The dictionary proceeds to show the difference with evangelical scholars:
"Most evangelical writers tend to interpret the phrase less strictly, in terms of fellowship. As the human body is one but with many members, and as it lives by the co ordination of all its members, so believers, as members of Christ, are also members of one another. On this view, the church is the body of Christ analogically but not by strict equation. Christ is manifested to the world by the lives and service of his people; under his leadership, and with the power of his indwelling Spirit, they do his work and thus manifest him to the world."53
So the figure of the body is used to teach us: first, the unity and fellowship with other believers in service and ministry; and second, that we are to take our orders and direction from our "Head." Christ is the "Head" in the sense of leader and commander.
If the metaphor of the branches shows us that we have the life of Christ
and the bride metaphor shows us that we have the love of Christ, the
body metaphor shows us that we have linkage to all others joined to the
Savior. We are linked to them and so should love them and live for them in service
If we were in any way the literal or near literal body of Christ, Paul could not refer to our bodies as "vile" (Philippians 3:21) and in need of change. The whole Church exists in bodies that are perishable, dishonorable, natural, earthy, and weak (1 Corinthians 15:42 50). There is no comparison to the resurrected, immortal, glorified body of Jesus. This side of eternity, we will never transcend "the limitations of our fallen humanity," as Frangipane asserts.
Pastor and author David Kirkwood warns us about pushing metaphors too far:
"We must not forget, however, that every comparison is imperfect, because the two things compared are not usually identical in every respect. A metaphor is defined as a comparison of things basically unlike but having some striking similarities. For this reason, we must be cautious that we do not force a meaning upon a metaphor that God never intended."54
Frangipane is right when he says:
"Even a true doctrine with an overly exaggerated emphasis can sidetrack us from Christlikeness. ... Correct and balanced doctrinal understanding is fundamental to our spiritual well being."55
NOW YOU SEE HIM, NOW YOU DON'T
John Robert Stevens taught that the increasing Presence of Christ and His glory in the Church constituted the Second Coming of Jesus, and that the world would see in the Church, the glorified Christ long before His actual return.56 Frangipane sounds like a slightly nuanced Stevens when he teaches:
"Yet, before He appears, while He is near but still invisible, that same radiance of glory will be poured out on 'all flesh' (Acts 2:17 21). For as He is in power and glory when He appears, so He is beforehand though unseen! And it is this out raying Presence which will grow ever more resplendent in the church prior to His second coming. ... The church will be beautified with His glory and filled with His radiance before He physically comes for her! ... Many promises given to the church, formerly thought impossible, will be fulfilled by the fulness of Christ in us."57
This indeed is warmed over John Robert Stevens and very much his "invisible Christ." It is not only a radical postmillenialism but a post postmillenialism.
A spiritual Second Coming (or phase of the Second Coming) is not a "coming" at all, but a falsely created concept of Kingdom Now thinkers. This cannot even be equated with the rapture (for the dispensationalists) since in the rapture Christ is visible to the Church and in His glorified body.
The doctrine of a secret presence for a few fortunate Charismatic believers is not scriptural, but more at home with groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses. Frangipane, like Stevens, sees the presence of Christ in the Church intensified in a full, immediate, and dramatic way. What he calls the "Parousia" and a phase of the Second Coming, Frangipane promises is imminent and assures us that the "church of Jesus Christ is about to enter a season of extraordinary manifestations of God's glory."58 Lest we forget, The Days of His Presence was first written in 1995. How many years is "about to"? Perhaps it depends on what "about to" means.
This increased presence of Christ, according to Frangipane, resulting from the Parousia, will issue out in great experiences of glory and dramatic miracles of immense proportions. Stevens would have called his Parousia (secretly in the Church) the Second Coming, where Frangipane hints his Parousia could be "a certain phase of the final days."59 Frangipane further asserts:
"Indeed, to know the Lord will increasingly manifest Himself in His Presence before He physically returns is to hear the whisper of God's truth as He leads us to the fountain of His glory."60
REALLY, REALLY THERE
Frangipane simply cannot sustain his view biblically. While Parousia can be translated "presence" or "coming," it is used of a physical presence in contrast to one's absence as in Philippians 2:12. Christ's glorified actual physical presence on the Mount of Transfiguration is called a Parousia. The word also means a coming alongside.61
In his Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Gerhard Kittel assures us that Parousia is a title "for the 'coming' of Christ in Messianic glory."62 Frangipane offers a lame appeal to Roman Catholic amillenialism to try to bolster this new idea of Parousia.63 It is a confused attempt at comparing apples with bananas.
In his address to the Hood River Assembly of God church, Frangipane dogmatizes: "I'm not sure who knowsI know I don't knowexactly how Jesus will return." Bible believing Christians can beg to differ. If we read the Bible, we will know exactly how Jesus will return. He will return in His body because He is forever the God man (1 Timothy 2:5). Note that the coming of Jesus will be "Just (or in the same way) as you have seen Him go" (Acts 1:11). His return will be physical and is referred to as "His appearing" (1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 1:10; 4:1, 8; Titus 2:10). Frangipane mirrors Stevens here more than the clear teachings of the Bible.
On that dramatic visible return of Jesus, Alva McClain offers us this:
"In this final promise of a second coming of the Messianic King (Acts 1:11), the angelic messengers seem almost to exhaust the resources of human language in declaring the reality and visibility of that grand event. The coming One will be 'this same Jesus [houtos, this very one], which is taken up.' He will 'so [houtos, in this way] come in like manner [hon tropon] as ye have seen Him go.' The language grows in impressiveness when we recall that the great purpose of His second advent will be to establish the Kingdom on earth. If the coming of the King will be something fully tangible in the realm of sense experience, as affirmed by the angels, there remains no sound reason for denying the same reality to the Kingdom which He will bring. So the apostles understood, and so they taught."64
Dr. John Walvoord, quoted by Dwight Pentecost, supplies this further careful evaluation:
"The word most frequently used in the Scriptures to describe the return of Christ is [parousia] ... it occurs twenty four times in the New Testament in a variety of connections. As its etymology indicates the word means to be near or alongside. ... It involves all that the English word presence connotes. ... It has come to mean not simply presence but the act by which the presence is brought about, i.e., by the coming of the individual ... That it is used frequently of the rapture of the church is clear in the following references (1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1 (?); James 5:7, 8; 2 Pet. 3:4 (?); 1 John 2:29). ... The word is also used, however, of the return of Christ to the earth with the church in a number of passages. ... The conclusion is inevitable that the same word is used in all these passages in a general and not specific sense. Its contribution to the doctrine is to emphasize the bodily presence of Christ."65
Scottish Bible scholar F.F. Bruce concludes:
"The parousia of Christ is closely associated in the NT with the resurrection of his people (and more generally with the resurrection of mankind) and with the judgment of the world."66
Frangipane admits that his feelings and emotions misled him in the past. For all intents and purposes he could be branded a false prophet for his 1975 prediction that the comet Kohoutek would bring the end of the world:
"I felt certain that this was a 'sign in the heavens' confirming the end was near. Compelled by my inner convictions, I began to warn every church in Detroit, all 1,200 of them, that the world would end that Christmas. I even managed to become a guest on the most watched morning talk show in Detroit, where I warned as many as three million people of God's imminent wrath. Christmas came and went and nothing happened. The comet was an overexaggerated astronomical flop. I had been so sure of my insights, so fearfully compelled by the signs of the times, yet so wrongly informed."67
The same could be said of Frangipane's Parousia doctrine. It is an invention of Stevens, and Frangipane is as certain and sure of Stevens' insights as he was of the failed comet. Stevens is just another "wandering star" (Jude 13).
This contrived "presence" of Jesus without His actual physical return is an illusion, a Latter Rain hoax. Stevens played the end time remnant and Parousia theme over and over, and it stuck in the thinking of Frangipane. Though Frangipane reshapes the idea a bit, he is still living off Stevens' foundation. We cannot have a return of Christ, in any form or fashion, without Christ Himself visible and victorious. Jesus made that crystal clear in Matthew's gospel:
"Then if anyone says to you, 'look here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets shall rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible even the elect. See I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:23 27).
Christ is saying clearly: Accept no teaching of a secret presence.
Since necessity is the mother of invention, it would be easy to see Frangipane and followers of the Kingdom Now ideas trying to create a Parousia or deluding themselves through altered states of consciousness into thinking Christ had arrived spiritually. Any bodily manifestations or new "visions" could certainly "prove" it. It would not be the first time that a spiritual return has been claimed.
Peter Worsley explains why people keep their delusions going:
"The hysterical and paranoid phenomena mass possession, trances, fantasies, twitching, and so on which we have found in so many movements are thus no mere accidental features. They are the product, firstly, of the lack of means to satisfy enormously inflated wants."68
Without a shred of exegetical or hermeneutical reasoning, Frangipane (trying to build a secret presence/Parousia) alleges that "On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus revealed the day of power and glory that precedes the rapture."69 All of Frangipane's convoluted reinterpretations of the Transfiguration in The Days of His Presence70 cannot do away with the one unmistakable fact that Christ was there physically in the Transfiguration. He manifested His glory out of His physical presence with them on the Mount. He did not present Himself in stages or without a body. What is Frangipane talking about? The Transfiguration is a preview of the one dramatic event we call the Second Coming. Christ did not promise a secret presence with signs and wonders but rather, "When the Son of Man comes shall He find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8).
Alva McClain says of the Transfiguration event:
"In this prevision of 'the Son of man coming in his kingdom,' certain things were made crystal clear. First, when the Kingdom comes at the second advent of Christ, it will be tangibly evident to sense experience: men will see the 'majesty' of the King and 'hear' His voice."71
We used to warn people against opening the Bible randomly and taking the first verse that they saw as direction. Such out of context verses would mislead more often than not. Frangipane goes a step further and involves himself in speculative nonsense, getting divine direction from license plates. He recalls:
"In December, family matters took me to Davenport in Scott County, Iowa. As I entered the city, I was listening to a teaching on tape and had just heard, 'We need to stand in the gap for President Clinton.' Immediately, a car pulled in front of me from the left lane. Next to the three numbers on its license plate were the letters G A P. Below the word 'GAP' was the name of a county north of Scott where the plate was issued: Clinton. If that were not enough, three seconds later, a pickup truck passed me on the right and pulled alongside the car in front. It too was from Clinton County. Unbelievably, next to its numbers were the same three letters. G A P. Within no more than 30 seconds, as I heard the words, 'stand in the gap for President Clinton,' two vehicles appeared with exactly the same words on their plates: GAP Clinton! ... it is a revealed word from God, confirmed by the Holy Spirit through three witnesses."72
When is the last time you got a "revealed word from God" from a license plate? I would not recommend that you try because I have faith in God's Word as our guidance system for life (2 Timothy 3:16 17).
Frangipane seems to be a man with an overactive imagination and time on his hands. The interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. My interpretation would be that Bill Clinton has caused a gap between the righteous and the unrighteous a gap between dignity in his former office and lack of dignity. With Clinton's die hard stand on abortion, and even partial birth abortion, he has created a big gap in the moral standard of our nation.
Certainly opinions on Frangipane vary. One who is very familiar with the work and teachings of Frangipane (and for a number of reasons wishes to remain anonymous) shared: "Be advised that Frangipane has been seeking mainstream respectability for years, and has gravitated to more 'acceptable' errors."73
With the shadow and fingerprints of John Robert Stevens all over Frangipane's teaching, and because much of what Frangipane teaches and endorses is subjective and imaginative, the reader will have to decide if the "errors" are more acceptable or not.
1. Robert M. Bowman Jr., Orthodoxy and Heresy. Grand
Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1992, pg. 56.
2. Details on the media ministry of Francis Frangipane may be obtained on his organization's web site: www.frangipane.org.
3. The monthly articles appeared in Charisma from October 1993 to July 1995.
4. Francis Frangipane, "It's a Package Deal," Charisma, April 1994, pg. 18.
5. See further, G. Richard Fisher, "The Higher Life of Rick Joyner," The Quarterly Journal, October December 2000, pp. 4 15.
6. Francis Frangipane, The Days of His Presence. Mansfield, Pa.: Fire Wind, 2000, back cover (endorsement by Rick Joyner).
7. See Apologetics Index web site at: www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex/f00.html.
8. Francis Frangipane, The Power of Covenant Prayer. Lake Mary, Fla.: Creation House, 1998, pg. 136.
9. See further, G. Richard Fisher, "Growing Pains in the PropheticMike Bickle as the 'Don King' of Modern Day Prophets," The Quarterly Journal, July September 2001, pp. 1, 13 20; and Hank Hanegraaff, Counterfeit Revival. Dallas: Word Publishers, 1998, pp. 146 151.
10. Gershom Gorenberg, The End of Days. New York: Free Press, 2000, pg. 19.
11. Francis Frangipane, Hood River Assembly of God sermon, exact date unknown, c. 1991, tape 2.
12. Don Lattin, "S.F.'s Halloween Preacher in Trouble," San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 10, 1992.
13. Michael Santa Rita, "Lea relocates 'prayer army' to New Life Church," Sherman Denison, Texas, Herald Democrat, April 12, 1998.
14. "The Witch Who Switched Back to SATAN Again," available online at: www.angelfire.com/biz/epryor/pryor9843.html.
15. "Pryor Convictions, November 5 11, 1998," available online at: www.angelfire.com/biz/epryor/pryornews1198.html.
16. Bill Randles, Beware: The New Prophets. Marion, Iowa: self published, 1999, pg. 92.
17. "Encountering Territorial Spirits," available online at: www.biblical integrity.com/territorial_spirits.htm, pg. 1.
18. Ibid., pg. 15.
19. Albert James Dager, Vengeance Is Ours. Redmond, Wash.: Sword Publishers, 1990, pg. 49.
20. Ibid., pg. 51.
21. See further, M. Kurt Goedelman with G. Richard Fisher, "The Latter Rain Movement: Showering Heresy on the Church for Nearly Fifty Years," The Quarterly Journal, April June 1995, pp. 4, 10 12.
22. The End of Days, op. cit., pg. 154, italic in original.
23. Francis Frangipane, The Stronghold of God. Lake Mary, Fla.: Creation House, 1998, pg. 16.
24. Ibid., pg. 67.
25. The Power of Covenant Prayer, op. cit., pg. 136.
26. The Days of His Presence, op. cit., pg. 31.
27. Ibid., pp. 30 32.
28. See further, William Alnor, Heaven Can't Wait, A Survey of Alleged Trips to Heaven. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1996.
29. Peter Worsley, The Trumpet Shall Sound. New York: Schoken Books, 1968, pg. xix.
30. The Power of Covenant Prayer, op. cit., pp. 45, 57, 65, 67, italics in original.
31. The Days of His Presence, op. cit., pg. 128, italics in original.
32. Ibid., pg. 100, italic in original.
33. "Francis Frangipane Drops Out of Mayoral Race," Charisma News Service, Sept. 2, 1999.
35. See further, J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Triumph Books, 1991, Vol. 1, pg. 454.
36. See further, "John Robert Stevens and the Church of the Living Word ('The Walk')," Spiritual Counterfeits Project Newsletter, September 1976; and Todd Ehrenborg in Walter Martin, The New Cults. Santa Ana, Calif.: Vision House, 1980, chapter 8.
37. See further, Eric Pement, "The Walk," Cornerstone, Nov. Dec., 1981, Vol. 10, Issue 57, pp. 30 34.
38. Vengeance Is Ours, op. cit., pg. 70.
39. Correspondence to author from Frangipane's organization, 11/21/2000.
40. The Stronghold of God, op. cit., pg. 115.
41. Ibid., pg. 117.
42. Ibid., pg. 63.
43. Ibid., pg. 64.
44. The Days of His Presence, op. cit., pg. 31.
45. Ibid., pg. 36, italics in original.
46. The Stronghold of God, op. cit., pg. 63.
47. For example, "fusion" is defined as "The act or process of uniting different things into one" in The Complete Christian Dictionary. Ventura, Calif.: Gospel Light, 1992, pg. 268.
48. Joseph B. Lightfoot, The Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing, no date, pg. 178.
49. Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest's Word Studies From the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973, Vol. 1, Galatians, pp. 129 130, italic in original.
50. See further, G. Richard Fisher, "The Mindless Mysticism of Madame Guyon," The Quarterly Journal, January March 1997, pp. 4, 12 15.
51. Francis Frangipane, "When Christ Is Formed in Us," Charisma, November 1993, pg. 10, italics in original.
52. Everett F. Harrison, editor, Baker's Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1973, pg. 102.
54. David Kirkwood, Modern Myths About Satan and Spiritual Warfare. Pittsburgh: Ethnos Press, 1994, pp. 81 82, italics in original.
55. Francis Frangipane, "Rising to Christ's Stature," Charisma, December 1994, pg. 18.
56. See further, "The Walk," (Cornerstone), op. cit., pg. 32.
57. The Days of His Presence, op. cit., pg. 35, italics and bold in original.
58. Ibid., pg. 17.
59. Ibid., pg. 153.
60. Ibid., pg. 60, italic in original.
61. See further, W.E. Vine, Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984, "Coming," pp. 200 201.
62. Gerhard Kittel, editor, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972, Vol. 5, pg. 865.
63. The Days of His Presence, op. cit., pg. 153.
64. Alva McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom. Chicago: Moody Press, 1968, pp. 396 397.
65. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Dunham Publishers, 1967, pp. 156 157, italics and ellipses in original.
66. Frederick F. Bruce in Baker's Dictionary of Theology, op. cit., pg. 193.
67. The Days of His Presence, op. cit., pp. 82 83.
68. The Trumpet Shall Sound, op. cit., pg. 247.
69. The Days of His Presence, op. cit., pg. 65, italic in original.
70. Ibid., pp. 64 66.
71. The Greatness of the Kingdom, op. cit., pg. 337.
72. River of Life Newsletter, Vol. 12, No. 1, February 1999, pg. 5.
73. E mail correspondence on file.
© 2002 - PFO. All rights reserved by Personal Freedom Outreach. This article
may not be stored on BBS or Internet sites without permission. Reproduction
is prohibited, except for portions intended for personal use and non-commercial
purposes. For reproduction permission contact: Personal Freedom Outreach, P.O.
Box 26062, Saint Louis, Missouri 63136.