Please see also the related essay Are my personal experiences, dreams, visions, signs and wonders valid?
Have you noticed the similarity among some of the founders of the major false religions of what I call “prophetic fits”? Most cults in the world began from some kind of vision or direct revelation or visitation from celestial beings claiming to be Mary, Jesus, angels, and so on. I listed some below and more down further below.
Accompanying these visions and revelations and visits, are physical manifestations akin to epileptic seizures and fits that the recipients later report. The recipient of the revelation undergoes a physical trauma of, for example, flailing around, rapid heart beat, or no heartbeat, sweating, groaning, foaming at the mouth, high fevers, and the like. As I listened to one such physical fit that Muhammad had, founder of Islam, I was struck by its similarity to the incidents of demonic possession recorded in the Bible. I wondered if such fits were manifested by other cult founders during their visions or trances, and I learned that they did. Here are a few examples.
Muhammad – Founder of Islam. Muhammad notes that he was visited by an angel claiming to be Gabriel, who pressed or hugged Muhammad so hard that he couldn’t bear it. Three times this pressing hard on Muhammad occurred, though we have no record of any angelic visitation in the Bible where the angel manhandles the person to whom he is charged with bringing a message. Rather, each time, the angel unfailingly comforts or works to quell the fear in the person.
Muhammad was so spooked by the angel and his experience, initially he suspected the visions were from evil spirits. In addition to the previously reported physical manifestations, sometimes Muhammad growled like a camel, and streamed with perspiration even if it was cold. He saw a bright light quite often. The seizures were thorough and convincing. Adherents and critics alike acknowledged Muhammad did suffer from a physical manifestation of some kind. The only question among critics in his day and to this day, was whether Muhammad’s fits were genuinely divinely sent or were evidence of a demonic possession.
Joseph Smith, founder of the church of Latter Day Saints, AKA Mormons, also displayed physical symptoms in some kind of fit that coincided with his revelations, also supposedly from Gabriel. In addition to “Gabriel”, twenty-three other divinely sent visitors also revealed ‘truths’ to Joseph, including dead men such as Adam, Abraham, and Joseph’s own brother Alvin. These ghostly appearances of dead mortal men violate biblical verses in Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Leviticus 19:31, Leviticus 20:27, Deuteronomy 18:10-13 and several others.
When these revelations occurred, Joseph Smith was seized with a strange power, he was rendered speechless, and he fell on his back. He had visions of darkness and light, a light similarly described as Muhammad’s light.
Ellen G. White– This is the woman who is acknowledged as founding the Seventh Day Adventism cult. The following is from Wikipedia’s entry Criticism of Ellen G. White.
“Her physical experiences during the visions revolved around, becoming unconscious, losing control of her arms and legs, shallow breathing and visual phenomena all of which are symptoms of an epileptic fit such as automatic movements of the hands or mouth, altered ability to respond to others, unusual speech, or unusual behaviors all of which were experienced during these visions. Moreover, following each of these seizures, there is some period of recovery in which neurological function is altered. This is called the postictal state. These states were independently witnessed by Ellen G. White’s followers.”
Padre Pio– is a highly esteemed Catholic visionary of modern times. When he went into vision states, it is reported that perfume emanated from and outward off his body, (Catholics call this ‘odors of holiness’), Pio had many bleeding stigmata, high fevers (off the charts high), and, the usually manifested violent seizures.
Did any OT or NT prophet go into fits when they received an angelic visitation or divine revelation from Jesus or God? Did they flail about, become incoherent and insensible? Abraham fell down and entered a deep sleep after feeling a dread. The same with Daniel. That’s it.
Daniel manifested some physical symptoms, as described in Daniel 10. He lost his strength, and he fell face forward (not backward as the false prophets above did.) He was left afterward with no strength, and remarked he had barely any breath in him, either. (Daniel 10:17). The angel gave him strength. (Daniel 10:19). Daniel did tremble, but it was not in a seizure or fit, his trembling was in fear and anguish at the vision’s contents. When he was commanded to stand up, Daniel did. (Daniel 10:10-11).
Jacob dreamed of the ladder to heaven and then awoke and worshiped. (Genesis 28:10-17). Samuel heard God speak to him and listened. When morning came, Samuel opened the doors to the temple and went about his duties. There were no physical manifestations or seizure-like fits, no lengthy comas, just obedient listening, fully conscious with subsequent worship or attending to the task he was given. (1 Samuel 3:10-15). No seizure.
Balaam went into a trance, (Numbers 24:4) falling forward with his eyes open. No seizure.
Zacharias in the New Testament was visited by an angel, and Zacharias was afraid, but was comforted. He listened to the angel’s message about the upcoming birth of his son John the Baptist, and was conscious and sensible enough to ask his question. The angel rendered Zacharias mute for his impertinence. Zechariah finished his term of priestly duties as a mute and went to his home. Luke 1:5-23. No seizure.
Peter received a vision about the clean foods on the sheet, and no untoward flailing occurred along with the revelation. Same with Paul – no severe physical manifestations accompanied his several visions.
Now comparing the false visionaries such as Muhammad, Smith, and White, we see that the incidences of demon possession in the Bible more closely mirror their experiences than do the experiences of the Bible’s true prophets.
“Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid.” (Mark 9:17-18).
These are exactly the symptoms Muhammad exhibited, indeed, Muhammad himself often wondered that his fits were due to demonic spirits.
In Mark 5:3-5 we have the story of the demon possessed Gadarene, who exhibited superhuman strength, yelling, cutting himself, and craziness. We know he was out of his mind with lunacy because after Jesus sent the demons out, we read that the man returned to his right mind. (Mark 5:15).
Matthew 17:15 records that a father begged Jesus to heal his son, who was a lunatic and insensibly threw himself into the fire and the water constantly. Jesus sent the demon out of the boy. (Matthew 17:18).
It’s clear to see the difference between the false prophets’ visions and dreams, and the true prophets’ experiences. The Biblical prophets were sensible, conversed with the angel or with God in their right mind, did not flail about in fits like a lunatic, and were able to rise up afterward and either go about their duties or to worship, with the lone exception of Daniel who was mightily depleted at times from what he had seen. But we can’t blame him, Daniel was given horrific visions to see and record.
Today, we see false prophets of the Charismatic movement falling to the floor, writhing, foaming, screaming, laughing uncontrollably, exactly like those who were recorded as having demons in their body. John MacArthur sums this up:
I was watching the other day some behavior among Hindus who are a part of what’s called the Kundalini cult, the Kundalini cult. They have certain body movements that appear to be perhaps best explained by demon possession. And they’re the absolutely identical body movements to people in the charismatic movement in the extreme behaviors that we see in so-called revivals. This is paganism. This is the work of Satan. This is the work of the kingdom of darkness, and it is not to be attributed to the Holy Spirit. Source
Justin Peters has said, “It is not enough to believe in Jesus. You have to believe in the right Jesus.” (Source, video Devilish Puppet Master of the Word of Faith movement.)
Muhammad’s Islam, Joseph Smith’s Mormonism, Ellen G. White’s 7th Day Adventism, Padre Pio’s Catholicism, and all other cults that begin with a supposed vision from God, deliver a false Jesus. They say they believe in Jesus, but it is not the right Jesus. How can one tell if one is following the right Jesus? He will be the Jesus of the Bible.
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11 KJV).
It is very concerning that many women Bible teachers say they have had visions and are drifting toward Charismatic behavior with physical manifestations. One hallmark of a false vision is that true visions call upon people to repent. False visions never do. They’re always about one’s comfort and ease, or a new way to be a Christian, or some other puffery that will lead a person away from the only true word, the Bible.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
Most Dangerous Religious Cults: begun from visions and direct revelations from celestial beings claiming to be Mary, Jesus, angels, and so on. Beware those who claim to have had visions, dreams, and interactions with celestial beings! From these, some of the world’s most dangerous cults and false religions have sprung!
L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the cult of Scientology, started his cult on the basis of a near-death experience he had under the influence of nitrous oxide during a dental procedure. When he awakened and recovered, Hubbard said he had seen the secrets of life. (Source, his unpublished tome Excalibur, later re-worked into his more famous Dianetics book). Not that I can find particular evidence of any visionary manifestations of the physical, but with Hubbard I’m just noting that once again, a cult is built on personal revelations supposedly received from the divine or otherworldly source.
Unification Church members believe that Jesus appeared to Mun Yong-myong when he was 16 years old on Easter morning of 1935 (April 17) and asked him to accomplish the work left unfinished because of his crucifixion. After a period of prayer and consideration, Mun accepted the mission, later changing his name to Mun Son-myong (Sun Myung Moon). Source
The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was a breakaway religious movement from the Roman Catholic Church founded by Credonia Mwerinde, Joseph Kibweteere and Bee Tait in Uganda. It was formed in the late 1980s after Mwerinde, a brewer of banana beer, and Kibweteere, a politician, claimed that they had visions of the Virgin Mary. Source
Raëlism is rooted in the experiences of a French former automobile journalist and race car driver Claude Vorilhon. In his books The Book Which Tells the Truth (1974) and Extraterrestrials Took Me to their Planet (1975), Vorilhon had alien encounters with beings who gave him knowledge of the origins of all major religions. Source