The Other Side of the River
By Kevin Reeves
Lighthouse Trails Publ.,2007. 222pp.
'There's no quicker way to start a fight with a friend than to tell him that some of his most fervent beliefs are wrong.' But a true friend will take the risk when it comes to things that matter. And this is what Kevin Reeves attempts in this auto-biographical account of his own charismatic church's move away from 'the primacy of the Word of God into the nebulous, self-defining atmosphere of experience.'
He writes as an encouragement to those who have begun to recognize the errors creeping into the hyper-charismatic arm of the Church, and as an eye-opening warning to others. Based on careful research, in-depth Bible study, and his own involvement, he candidly demonstrates the lure, the pitfalls, and the misguided teaching involved in the River Revival movement and other tributary 'moves of God'. His assessment, though pointed, is not bitter, vindictive or mocking, but politely objective, challenging the reader to evaluate everything by the Word of God. His perceptions are especially relevant because he himself was an enthusiastic participant and leader in the practices and teachings he now warns against.
Topics considered include: the "Word-Faith" movement, 'spiritual warfare', modern 'revivals', prophetic 'words', 'holy laughter', being 'slain in the Spirit' and the use of manipulative music in worship, among many others. But beyond cross-examining actual practices and teachings Reeves offers keen insights explaining the strong appeal of these teachings even to well-intentioned, passionate believers.
'River' life is not all it seems to be at the first dip of the big toe. This author has straggled out on the far shore with a wealth of wisdom. I applaud his diligence and courage in presenting his findings for the sake of the Body of Christ. And I commend his book to the reader willing to "test all things" and "hold fast what is good" (I Th.5:21) even when it runs contrary to personal experience and cherished beliefs that just may be in error.
And now for a wealth of quotes which capture the book's essence…
(Bold lettering is not in original text)
"Many today have gone the way of Esau and for the sake of a fleeting sensuality are in the process of exchanging their incomparable inheritance in Christ for a bellyful of fleshly experiences."(12)
"…but there was an underlying factor, a premise woven throughout the fabric of our church…elitism. We were the fortunate ones, called to walk in the authority that the church was so bereft of in these last days…it was up to us at New Covenant [Church] to demonstrate that God's kingdom power was real and available to every Christian in our town. This prideful mindset was a recipe for disaster…"(18)
"Names like hypocrites, Sanhedrin, and God mockers are merely a sampling of the invective aimed at Christians who are concerned about doctrinal error. Nobody wants to be labeled a Pharisee or heresy hunter. But that is often the penalty for daring to step out and ask for a public, biblical accounting of doctrine and practice." (21)
"A current river is flowing, which many believe to be of God…but overstepping the sanctity of scriptural boundaries, this passage [Ezekiel 47] has been reshaped into the comfortable doctrines of the easy believism and sensual manifestations that mark a massive shift in the church. As believer, we have taken a hairpin turn from the preeminence of the Word of God to a relative, experiential, and terribly apostate faith." (22)
"We examined virtually nothing. We didn’t' need to, remember? We were in church, and only good things happen in church. We held fast, not only to that which we knew to be good, but to that which appeared good. And what seemed good often appealed to our quest for power and wisdom." (59)
"As much as we spoke about personal holiness, power was still a key goal in our congregation. Power to heal, cast out demons…and war against principalities and powers. But that's what happens when people detour from clear biblical teaching to follow what they believe is the Holy Spirit, Who, in truth, always confirms the Scriptures. The voice, impression, leading—whatever—becomes the final arbiter. Scripture is put on the back burner, or made to fit the experience via a set of proof texts." (71)
"While the Bible does refer to an anointing (I Jn.2:27), it has in these days of sensual faith been contorted almost beyond recognition….it has been placed in the realm of something that needs to be reached for, pursued, or worked up in order to be obtained." (80)
"To say,…'the anointing is now present for healing,' or prophecy, or whatever, is to replace the indwelling Spirit with a physical feeling, emotion, or experience, and to separate Him from His ministry….What this kind of thinking promotes is…the idea that we need something more than we already possess as believers in Christ. This is precisely the original temptation in the Garden of Eden….The fact is, if the Holy Spirit resides in us…, then His power is there as well, to enable us to do what He wants us to do. Anything added to what God has already provided is a counterfeit."(83)
"But I have yet to know of anyone, myself included, who, because of being slain experienced a changed life characterized by a love for the truth and a knowledge of God in agreement with the Scriptures. In my experience, the exact opposite has happened. When folks get touched with this kind of power, they routinely become almost unteachable, preferring the experience to the Word of God. I can't relate how many times I've heard, "Well, maybe I can't find it in the Scriptures, but it happened to me, so it's real!"(84)
"Why does God take false prophecy so seriously? Because it always dishonors His name and leads the people to worship a false image rather than the true God." (89)
"In Scripture, the validity of any prophetic office was directly proportional to its exposure of false teaching."(89)
"Without firm adherence to objective truth—the Bible—we have no scale on which to weigh doctrine at all. One man's guess becomes another's rigid belief."(112)
"This is a very common notion these days, that Christians are actually preventing the Second Coming by our refusal to lower doctrinal walls…But tearing down of denominational boundaries straight across the board has been a most successful tactic utilized these days to introduce heretical doctrines into church fellowship. This kind of contrived unity short-circuits honest discussion and refutation."(115)
"If I can't speak about what I believe for fear of offending you and neither can you, and neither of us can break company with the other no matter how false our personal doctrines, then this unity is not what Jesus prayed for."(115)
"Feasting on the fantastic, our appetites were never quite sated. We were always left craving just one more spiritual high brought about by the newest teachings, tales of the miraculous, and face-to-face encounters with God, angels, and demons. No claim was too wild for us to believe. From the prophetic to the power signs, this religious wild goose chase made certain we always had our running shoes on, ever ready to sprint in whichever direction the spiritual wind happened to be blowing at the moment….(Eph.4:14)" (125)
"I mostly spoke of power, not the Gospel that saves men from eternal death. I guess I felt that the average guy on the street wouldn't listen to solid spiritual truth without seeing a demonstration of signs and wonders. Funny, we had forgotten the words of our Lord: "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign." (Mt.12:39) (131)
"Although it is an extremely unpopular message these days, fleshly abandon in the name of the Most High God cannot be sanctified or made contextually holy. ‘Because the carnal mind is enmity against God.’”(Romans 8:7)" (139)
"We can judge without being judgmental. Peripheral issues we can overlook, knowing full well the sole reservoir of truth does not rest with us.
But in the presentation of Christ, there can be no leeway. A false image of the Savior—His character, words or deeds—will lead us away from the truth, and consequently, away from God. And eventually, that is what every fraudulent vision will do—take away from the person of Christ and demand our attention and adherence to its personalized message." (151,2)
"The Bible offers no precedent for gathering a collection of spiritual experiences and allowing them to determine personal or corporate direction for a body of believers. The only volume we have need of has already been given to us, and it has ably resisted the systematic onslaught from the kingdom of darkness for millennia."(152)
"My spiritual legs became heavy from running after every "wind of doctrine" that blew through our ranks. There was never a place of satisfaction, that Sabbath rest spoken of in Hebrews 4. While the anointing we pursued promised to be refreshing, all it did was hone, razor-sharp, the craving for another spiritual high." (200)
"Pitting the Word against the Holy Spirit is the easiest way in the world to get a Christian to believe that he is missing out. Since there are no reference points in Scripture from which to validate these manifestations, visions, dreams, and experiences, the best way to get around the issue is to declare the Bible relatively obsolete, or somehow detached from the Spirit's present leading." (205)
"It is a simple fact that right doctrine cannot be divorced from right practice. To admit to a whole new assembly line of manifestations and what-have-you because of eagerness to enter some new frontier of spirituality is to remove oneself from the only objective measuring rod in the church's possession." (205)
"Given a Christian twist, the foundations of elitism, religious sensuality, ingratiating personal prophecy, and false signs and wonders all made sense at the time, despite the inner promptings that consistently pointed me to the Scriptures that bade me examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good (I Thessalonians 5:21)." (213)
"We have to come to grips with reality. As believers, we have never lacked anything that could give us a deep and satisfying walk with Christ. We have always, since the moment of our salvation, been complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). We have been made partakers of the divine nature through the magnificent promises of God (II Peter 1:3-4), and He is able to make all grace wonderfully abound toward us so that we have all sufficiency in every area of our lives (II Corinthians 9:8). We have the assurance of Scripture." (207)
The Other Side of the River by Kevin Reeves is available from Lighthouse Trails Publishing. Eureka, Montana. www.lighthousetrails.com or via the author's own website: http://theothersideoftheriver.com/index.shtml
[If you’re local, I’d be glad to loan you my copy! –LS]