Reinhard Bonnke has been able to sort of hide out from the Western media till now and even discernment ministry attention has been diverted due to two factors. First, he is out of the Western countries a lot on the road in the Two Thirds world. Secondly, he preaches enough of the gospel to have most of the church leave him alone. I personally don’t believe he is really preaching the gospel, and if he is he certainly is snatching those seeds away with his “healing” show and false doctrines that follow.
Reinhard Willi Gottfried Bonnke was born on April 19, 1940 in Koenigsberg, East Germany. WWII was already underway. As a youth Bonnke knew the horrors of war, hunger, fear, and the cold of refugee camps. At nine years old he finally found his dad and a home.” 2
The HBO special made a connection between Benny Hinn and Reinhard Bonnke in that they had both been refugees, though Bonnke clearly had the worst of it. HBO had a scientific study that showed that refugee children can grow up with a need for power. I suspect that this is probably not the whole picture but certainly part of their psychological landscape. Bonnke saw many terrible things in his youth and I’m sure it gave him more compassion for refuges, the poor and the persecuted. But there also seems to be a great need in him to try to be a sort of “savior” in the flesh. This probably stems from a vision that was presented to him as a young boy.
“A visitor who was present reported that she had a vision in which she saw a small boy with thousands of black humans following him. To Reinhard, whose favorite reading besides the Bible consisted of biographies of mission, this vision was of interest. One year afterwards, at eleven years old, Reinhard experienced the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” after his father had preached on the subject. Reinhard kneeled down with others to receive the spirit baptism, of which Bonnke said “the strength of God poured over me and into me inside. An inexpressible joy filled my heart, and I began to speak in tongues as the Holy Spirit gave me utterance.” 3 (emphasis mine)
These types of visions guided his entire ministry from that point on. Later Bonnke would have another vision.
“He saw a map of Africa, which had blood poured all over it, which Bonnke interpreted as the blood of Jesus, and that Africa would be cleaned: there would be a blood-washed Africa. In addition Bonnke heard a voice which he interpreted as that of the Holy Spirit that said “Africa will be saved”.4 (emphasis mine)
We all hope and pray for many souls to be saved in Africa, but Africa is hardly likely to be completely saved, and is not to this day. Also, the blood of Jesus Christ is shed for people, not continents. Nevertheless, the point is that Reinhard went to South Africa on the basis of these kinds of visions.
Bonnke later became “a pastor of the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) in South Africa.”5 Bonnke was not allowed to do the kind of work he wanted to do in South Africa so he received permission from the AFM to build up a work in Lesotho. It was there in Lesotho that the Lord purportedly gave him another vision.
“In prayer Bonnke asked God to give him one million souls … one millions souls for the sky. It was from this prayer that Bonnke later developed his “war call”: “We want to plunder the population of hell for the sky!” But one millions souls were not “saved” in Lesotho. Bonnke therefore returned again to South Africa.6 (emphasis mine)
Later Bonnke rented a large hall but only 100 people came. He pulled out all the stops and did a big show with “slain in the spirit” claiming healings. The word got around and later the stadium was filled with about a thousand people clamoring to be healed. His biographer, Ron Steele, was quite blunt when he stated that the ”human attraction to the events were the reports of healings and miracles.” 6 Bonnke interpreted this as success. It is clear that Bonnke uses the same “slain in the spirit” techniques to attract crowds like his counterparts in the Third Wave. He has also made big shows out of having people bring objects they think have demons connected to them, piling them on stage, and having a big bonfire.
Bonnke has many links to the Third Wave.
“Bonnke met with Yonngi Cho in 1982 in Seoul. In 1983 he visited … T.L. Osborn in the USA. When Bonnke was ready to leave he asked T.L. Osborn to pray for him. “No brother”, said T.L. “you pray for me.” This meant that Bonnke was the leader in T.L. Osborne’s way of thinking. Pat Robertson of CBN endorsed Bonnke. C. Peter Wagner, the head of the the spiritual warfare movement of the Third Wave started to be interested in Bonnke. Bonnke is very much influenced by Wagner in his concept of “apostolic warfare” a concept which assumes that evangelization can only be successful if the target area is rid of demonic powers in advance through “combat prayer” …“ 7 (emphasis mine)
“Charles Peter Wagner bent Bonnke in his later years towards a spiritual warfare model and this can be seen in the fact that Bonnke now sees spiritual warfare as a condition for evangelization success.” 8 (emphasis mine)
So we can see clearly that Bonnke has influenced and been influenced by the most well known leaders of the Third Wave. He is also a big proponent of spiritual warfare, spiritual mapping, etc. Speaking of spiritual mapping, which is promoted by C. Peter Wagner, George Otis, Jr. and YWAM on an international scale, Bonnke also seems to have the same ethic as YWAM and Benny Hinn when it comes to miracles and salvation:
“Bonnke’s activity in Nigeria is remarkable in that in his meetings he encountered Nigerian Muslims who expressed a lot of interest, and Muslims reported healings without feeling the need to turn to Christianity.” 9 (emphasis mine)
We have seen Benny Hinn slay non-believers in the spirit who claim healing and YWAM is sending Muslims back to their mosques and calling them “Messianic Muslims” if they profess faith in Jesus Christ. What kind of evangelism is this?
Bonnke claims that ”miracles are proof of the presence of the power of God”.10That may or may not be true. They can just as easily be proof of a manipulation, a scam or demonic activity. The problem comes when Bonnke is asked to produce proof of true miracles.
“Respectable medical people examined one of the miracles from Bonnke and found there was little help. The problem is … the public is presented with cases of people who were not previously diagnosed and the former health status is unknown …” 11 (emphasis mine)
“Bonnke’s healings are naturally highly disputed. … there were no legs growing longer and none smaller … the glorification of miracles which are often not checked or are not medically provable, is to be rejected as irresponsible …” 12 (emphasis mine)
The HBO special also detailed a number of healings by Bonnke that were clearly not healings at all. He was asked to provide documentation to HBO but no medical documentation was provided as far as we know. This is par for the course with faith healers.
Though I am not aware that Bonnke has claimed He is Christ as has Benny Hinn on numerous occasions, he has definitely claimed he has the same power as God to speak healing into existence. Listen to his testimony at Brownsville Assembly Of God, Pensacola, FL where he has been invited more than once to speak.
“During his message the Lord spoke to his heart and informed him that it was time to pray for the sick. “Have all those who are totally blind be prayed for first.” the Lord informed him. As you can imagine, the enemy spoke directly also and said to him, “what if they don’t get healed? (Then you will be made to look the fool!”) I think we have all heard that from time to time here in America. Could it be that the same devil is in Africa and America? His response to the enemy was immediate, and this is what struck me. “It doesn’t matter if they get healed or not, what matters is that the Lord wants the blind to be prayed for now.” (It is His business anyway if they get healed, we obviously have nothing to do with that anyway.)
The Word is sure, “the Word of God” Jesus spoke to him “is as powerful in My mouth as it is in your mouth.” Reinhard said to himself, “that sounds like heresy.” The Lord repeated Himself, “My Word in My mouth is as powerful as My word in your mouth!” Wow again!13 (emphasis mine)
Reinhard Bonnke is clearly teaching Word-Faith doctrines so he is clearly teaching heresy just like Benny Hinn and all the rest!
If the Word of God Bonnke was referring to was the Scriptures, then I could agree. But what Bonnke is referring to is healing then this is clear, unadulterated Word-Faith “confession” doctrine. Bonnke has been associated with Word-Faith teachers for some time. Though he keeps out of controversies by being out of the West a lot, his purpose for being at Brownsville in 1998 and many other US Pentecostal churches was clearly to raise money.
“When the money is raised for us to reach our country, and a booklet is mailed, each household in the entire United States and Canada will receive this booklet within a guaranteed 7 days! Think of that! When a decision card is mailed in, the person will be contacted with a letter telling them several things including the closest church in their area who previously responded to his campaign by agreeing to a simple evangelistic statement with the churches address and phone number. A letter will also be sent to the pastor informing him of the person soon to be showing up at his church. No denomination. Just the local church! Wow!” 14 (emphasis mine)
What churches was Bonnke steering those who signed the decision card toward? Third Wave churches who agreed with his platform, of course! All this raising money from Word-Faith and Third Wave churches has made it impossible for Bonnke to speak out against them, even if he wanted to. In fact he has been seen raising money with the likes of Bishop Earl Paulk. When he was confronted about it directly by another discernment ministry, the secretary was quick to phone back and say that Bonnke “did not believe what Earl Paulk believes, but was using the occasion to raise funds for his ministry.” 15The discernment ministry argued with the secretary that by associating with Earl Paulk, Bonnke was giving Paulk credibility and helping spread a false gospel. Would the Apostle Paul take money from the temple prostitutes or the false Jews to support his ministry?
Reinhard Bonnke has been around the Word-Faith revival movement since its inception. In the beginning of the official history of the counterfeit revival movement, Richard Riss details who, early on, laid hands on Rodney Howard-Browne. Howard-Browne later got Randy Clark involved who was one of the people who got John Arnott of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (The Toronto “Blessing”) finally into the river. We all know the story from there. Benny Hinn was instrumental in getting Howard-Browne to spread the laughter movement which looks like it was something Hinn cooked up around 1986 which is shown on our new video called “Spirit of Truth Or Spirit of Error – Part 1 – Benny Hinn”. Howard-Browne also got impartations from Kenneth Copeland, and this was also caught on video. But let’s go all the way back to Bonnke who apparently gave a “real impartation” to Rodney Howard Browne back in 1991.
According to Bob Roach, prior to the awakening associated with Rodney Howard-Browne’s ministry and that of the Toronto Airport Vineyard, when LaVerne and Edith Tripp visited Calvary Worship Center, LaVerne was slain in the Spirit as soon as he arrived, and had to be carried into the sanctuary to preach. At the time he said, “your church is the best kept secret in America.” Bob Roach said that “there has been a move across the United States in smaller churches that nobody really knows anything about that has preceded the more visible signs of awakenings. In one case, Stan Johnson, formerly a professional ball player with the New York Yankees, visited and taught on the anointing for a 6 or 7 hour service. People came in stretchers and were raised up, and this was recorded on video. Many prophets come in and out of that church, including Ed Corley, whose ministry is very similar to that of Derek Prince, and Mike Connors, who was at one time A. A. Allen’s associate, and who is also a friend of Wade Taylor’s at Pinecrest. We want to make sure that it’s God working in our midst, and we’re seeing so many lives change and marriages put back together, and pastors going back to their churches restored and refreshed. In 1991 or 1992, Dr. Ron Shaw brought in Reinhardt Bonnke (Shaw’s brother-in-law), and there was a tremendous impartation given to the pastors who were there, including Rodney Howard-Browne, who was visiting from Karl Strader’s Church (the first time he was there). Rodney did the offering at that time, and was one of many, many pastors and leaders who received a real impartation from Bonnke.” 16 (emphasis mine)
So here we also have clear proof that Bonnke has been promoting a false transferable anointing that is not Scriptural for many, many years. He is also here claimed to be one of the father’s of the Toronto “Blessing” which also spawned the Brownsville AoG “Outpouring”. How much more involved can you get in the apostate church?
There has also been a story floating around for many years about Reinhard Bonnke making a prophesy that Christ was going to appear and do something miraculous, and within days a man identified as Maitreya appeared in the same area. I was not able to verify this story until I ran across the account in a German article talking about Share International and Benjamin Creme. Here is the English translation of the German text, a little hard to read, but I will give you the gist of it in a moment.
“In June 1988 a great evangelism effort by the mission Christ For All Nations with the healing healer Reinhard Bonnke took place in Nairobi. Bonnke ministered in exactly the same area as (Mary) Akatsa, healing people, and promising the same performance, supernatural healing in the context of mass meetings. Mary Akatsa saw herself confronted, in the meantime in June 1988, with the situation of competition from a sound preacher … Bonnke emphasized the date of June 11 separately, at which time Christ would in a special way point Himself. In Bonnke’s language this announcement meant that Christ would evidence Himself by unusually numerous miracles during the service. In addition, on June 11 Mary Akatsa also made a marvelous announcement. She explained to her public during the service that they could expect a miracle, because a very important guest would come and give her a vital message. A white-dressed man of southern Arab decent appeared on the stage, appearing to the simple public in Nairobi like a Palestinian. … The shape (of this “Jesus” figure) legitimized Mary Akatsa as a “true representative of the Highest One”, which to Akatsa was very useful in her competition with Bonnke … In summary, the appearance of ” Jesus ” in the Church Of Bethlehem in Nairobi on 11 June 1988 has a high probability of being a publicity campaign of the Predigerin Mary Akatsa in her competition with Bonnke. …” 17 (emphasis mine)
This is one of the news accounts where the rumours started. Unfortunately it is impossible from this account to tell if Bonnke said Jesus Christ would appear or if He would manifest Himself in miracles. I would love to hear from someone who was there who has what he said on tape. Mary Akatsa was able to use this prideful statement and now we have pictures all over the web of Maitreya’s appearance in Nairobi. It may very well be that Akatsa was jealous of Bonnke and used his prophesy to her advantage. But I would like to point out that when prophetic statements are made from the stage which the Lord has not ordained, this is exactly the type of advantage we can expect the enemy to take of that kind of situation. Let this be a lesson to everyone who claims to speak a thing in the name of the Lord!
It doesn’t really matter that Reinhard Bonnke allegedly preaches the gospel, although I have yet to hear him do so on the tapes I have seen.
- What matters are his false miracles well documented in the HBO special.
- What matters is that even if he is preaching the gospel he is throwing dirt on it by doing fake healer tricks like Morris Cerrulo and Benny Hinn as seen on the HBO special.
- What matters is that he further muddies the gospel when he hangs around with Word-Faith teachers and takes money from them in support of his ministry.
- What matters is that he buries the gospel with a false impartation that was never mandated or taught in Scripture. In fact in Exodus it is made very clear that our anointing (pictured in the oil) is for each individual alone and attempted impartation of the true anointing of the Holy Spirit is an abomination to the Lord. It also cannot be done “by” human hands because the Holy Spirit of God is sovereign and moves where He wills, not at the command of people. The few times during Pentecost when the Spirit was given separately from salvation He indwelt the new believers “at” the laying on of hands, not “by” the laying on of hands. The fact that no power transfer was possible “by” the Apostles became evident when Simon Magus tried to buy the power for himself and was roundly rebuked.
- And finally, what matters is that Bonnke completely covers over the gospel when he adds the Word-Faith “confession” doctrine of demons.
We can only pray that Reinhard Bonnke will repent of all the false doctrines and false healings he has done, leading millions of Two Thirds world peoples away from the true Gospel message and into deadly error.
Is Bonnke a minister of the Gospel today? Hardly!
by Sandy Simpson
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