The Toronto Blessing – An Overview

“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 
(2 Cor 2:11)


Excellent Article on the Origins of The Toronto Blessing

Article published in The Shepherd “The Toronto Blessing” by Nick Needham

At the foot of this page, there some excellent books on the Toronto Blessing including “Strange Fire” and “Weighed and Found Wanting”, available as a free one-click download, along with links to more excellent articles and further information under the heading “Another Gospel Another Jesus”.

The Toronto blessing, a term coined by British newspapers, describes the revival and resulting phenomena that began in January 1994 at the Toronto Airport Vineyard church, a neo-charismatic evangelical Christian church located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Pastors John and Carol Arnott founded the Toronto Airport Vineyard church around 1988.   It met in various rented locations throughout Toronto until the early 1990s when the church found a more permanent home near the Lester B. Pearson Airport.  On 20th January 1994, Randy Clark, a Vineyard pastor from St. Louis, Missouri, was invited by TACF’s pastor, John Arnott, to lead a local church revival.  The rest, as commonly said, ‘is history’.

In 1995 the church joined John Wimber’s Vineyard Movement and became known as Toronto Airport Vineyard Church, now known as the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship or TACF, a multi-site church with campuses meeting in various venues throughout the Greater Toronto Area.  TACF Airport is the primary and largest campus.

After the break with Wimber and the Vineyard in 1995, the church founded “Partners in Harvest”, a group of churches that shared similar beliefs. Their website is: http://partnersinharvest.org/about.

The “Toronto Blessing” represents the latest phase of the larger pentecostal/charismatic movement, an approach that even in 1995 (Cox) was said to account for one out of four Christians worldwide. Beginning with the Welsh Revival (1903-04), escalating with the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles (190607), and rekindled through the Latter Rain Movement (1948), the Charismatic Movement in the 1960s and 1970s, the Third Wave in the 1980s, and now the “Toronto Blessing” (1994), the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 20th century America may be characterized as a religious movement struggling against the forces of institutionalization.

It needs to be mentioned here that the The Azusa Street revival was

John Arnott heard that Clark had attended a conference with Rodney Howard-Browne and had been greatly impacted by Howard-Browne’s ministry. The revival started during Clark’s two month visit but continued after he left. Some Christian leaders criticized the church and revival because of the teachings and manifestations that occurred. Wimber initially defended the Airport Vineyard saying “Nearly everything we’ve seen—falling, weeping, laughing, shaking—has been seen before, not only in our own memory, but in revivals all over the world.”

Nevertheless, the church withdrew or was expelled, according to some, from the Vineyard. Wimber explained the circumstances surrounding the split in a Christianity Today interview, saying that the revival at Toronto was “changing our definition of renewal in Vineyard” and that “the [Vineyard’s] decision was to withdraw endorsement; [TACF’s] decision was to resign”.

Wimber passed away in 1997 but worked for many years before his death with Mike Bickle and the Kansas City Prophets and later with C. Peter Wagner, both of whom have proved to be adept at mainstreaming their ideology.

Catch the Fire (Wikipedia)

In 2006, the Arnotts resigned as senior pastors of TACF to pursue a new ministry, ‘Catch the Fire’.  In 2010, Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship was renamed to “Catch The Fire Toronto”, to reflect the ‘fire’ of God spreading to other congregations around the world, unifying them, to go along with its new international church planting vision.    (TACF) is a non-denominational neocharismatic Christian church in Toronto, Canada. It is affiliated with Catch The Fire and with Partners in Harvest group of churches. The church is famous as the birthplace and centre of the Toronto Blessing, a prominent religious revival and phenomenon in charismatic Christianity during the 1990s.

Participants in the conferences and meetings sponsored by TACF have reported healings, incidents of personal transformation and a greater awareness of God’s love. It has also been referred to as the Father’s Blessing, the Anointing, the Awakening, the River, the Outpouring and the Fire.

The blessing has become known for ecstatic worship, including what is known as falling or resting  in the Spirit, laughter, shaking, and crying.  “Holy laughter” was a hallmark manifestation and there were also instances of participants roaring like lions. Another “manifestation of the spirit” encountered at these meetings was a gesture commonly called “crunching” consisting of a vomit-like heaving to “cleanse” and “release” negative experiences.  Leaders and participants claim that these are physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power.  One TACF teaching, the golden Spoon prophecy, has been spreading among charismatic churches.

Some Christian leaders were enthusiastic about what they saw as a renewal in North Wales Christianity, while others saw it as hysterical and spiritually dangerous. Critics referred to it as “self-centred and evil” and cited the strange manifestations as warning signs.  Others defended the blessing as historically rooted in earlier revivals, such as those seen by pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards, and as having positive effects in the lives of participants. In his book, Counterfeit Revival, Hank Hanegraaff makes the case that the revival has done more damage than good, saying that Toronto (the film) was a matter of people being slaved into altered states of consciousness where they obscure reality and enshrine absurdity.

The New Apostolic Reformation (Wikipedia)

The New Apostolic Reformation is a movement in Protestant Christianity largely associated with the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. The basic thesis asserts that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle.  The New Apostolic Reformation has Pentecostal and Charismatic origins, with those traditions’ interpretations of the nature of the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit within each believer. Unlike some parts of Protestant Christianity, these include the direct revelation of Christ to each believer, prophecy, and the performance of miracles such as healing.  Although the movement regards the church as the true body of saved believers, as most Evangelical Protestants do, it differs from the broader Protestant tradition in its view on the nature of church leadership, specifically the doctrine of Five-Fold Ministry, which is based upon a non traditional interpretation of Ephesians 4:11.

Forrest Wilder, an environment issues writer for the Texas Observer, describes the New Apostolic  Reformation as having “taken Pentecostalism, with its emphasis on ecstatic worship and the supernatural, and given it an adrenaline shot.” Wilder adds that beliefs of people associated with the movement “can tend toward the bizarre” and that it has “taken biblical literalism to an extreme.”  It has become increasingly involved with government and political activism.

Question: “What is the Toronto Blessing?”

Answer: The Toronto Blessing refers to the supposed outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the people attending the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship Church, which at the time was the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. On January 20, 1994, a Pentecostal pastor named Randy Clark spoke at the church and gave his testimony of how he would get drunk in the Spirit and laugh uncontrollably. In response to this testimony, the congregation erupted in pandemonium with people laughing, growling, dancing, shaking, barking like dogs, and even some even being stuck in positions of paralysis. These experiences were attributed to the Holy Spirit entering people’s bodies. The pastor of the church, John Arnott, referred to it as a big Holy Spirit party. The moniker “Toronto Blessing” was given, and the church was soon in the international spotlight.

When this “blessing” is held to the light of Scripture, however, it can scarcely be called a blessing; abomination, maybe, but not blessing. Absolutely nowhere in Scripture can one find any precedent for what was happening at the Toronto Airport church, except, perhaps, the physical conditions demon-possessed people suffered. In fact, the Toronto Airport church became so embroiled in emotional outbursts and psychological displays that Pastor Arnott ceased preaching salvation, and instead preached about the party of the Holy Spirit. Experiences were being held in higher authority than Scripture. This was even too much for the already extremely charismatic Vineyard movement, which severed ties with the Toronto Airport church in 1995, prompting the name change to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship.

A believer’s focus needs to be Jesus Christ, the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), not on oneself, one’s experiences, or even the Holy Spirit. The Toronto Blessing focuses on the last, to the detriment of biblical faith. Believers can have fun, dance, sing, even shout to the Lord. However, when a worship service resembles the dream of a demented schizophrenic and attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit, only one word comes to mind: heresy.

Just as it says will happen in the Last Days, there are now many false prophets and false teachers and many claiming to be chosen, etc.  What has come to be known as “The Toronto Blessing” but is also known as “Third Wave” “covers a group of many people and groups of people linked to and rooted in the Vineyard, involving a network of Christian evangelists and churches and their followers which has now spread, through very different routes including the ecumenical movement, all over the world, and therefore merits special attention.

The false spirit (Satan) will focus on himself through signs and wonders and the Holy Spirit, these things being easy to manipulate, rather than Jesus and the Gospel.  Scripture clearly states that the true Holy Spirit will NOT focus on Himself, but rather the Gospel and then primarily to glorify Christ:

“A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” (Matthew 16:4)

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26)

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; Of sin, because they believe not on me;  Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.  I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.  Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.  He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.  All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”  (John 16:7-15)

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 3:10-11)

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Tim. 6)

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Cor. 13-15)

REBLOG:

Posted by JOB: So, the FAITHFUL who know well and good that God can perform miracles on the natural order … we praise and glorify God over those things true, but those are not the things that we focus on, not the least because evil spirits can emulate those. Do not be offended! Evil spirits emulated several of the signs and wonders of YHWH in Egypt during their contest with Moses. People follow false religions for a reason! And the Bible itself says that the antiChrist will deceive the whole world with his evil fantastic works, and that but for the grace of God even the very elect would be deceived by him also! 

So no, those who truly believe in God are not after by angel feathers, gold dust, and jewels popping up out of thin air! We are not after new visions, revelations, and secrets. Why? The reason is that those things, while impressive to behold, have no lasting value. They are not the things that the kingdom of heaven is built on. So what true believers love to see and hear about are CHANGED HEARTS as evidenced by CHANGED BEHAVIOR.

Unbelievers hearing the gospel and getting saved. People confessing their sins and turning from them rather than using their works, church membership, background, or “anointing” to justify remaining in them. People overcoming the grief of losing a loved one. People forgiving those that have done them grievously wrong. The fearful becoming bold, the haters becoming lovers. THAT is what Christians should seek after and try to participate in. And those are what we Christians should be after.

For it is a certainty that demons can motivate tongues and private prayer languages. That goes on in Hindu temples all the time! I have no doubt that a demon can cure – or at least temporarily alleviate – physical ailments. Were that not the case witch doctors, rootworkers, medicine men and women, etc. would go out of business tomorrow. The same with the diviners, necromancers, fortune tellers, etc. People have been seeking out mighty wonders, strange works, new revelations, etc. ever since man rejected the knowledge of God as Paul told us in Romans 1:1832 for a reason! Not a few missionaries can relate dark spiritual happenings involving the demons that work through those false religions that would curl your hair even if you were bald! Check out “And The Word Came With Power” by missionary Jo Anne Shetler if you doubt.

But an evil spirit cannot save someone’s soul or change their heart! So why put all the emphasis on the things that Satan can imitate while ignoring the things that he cannot?  I don’t know about you, but while hearing testimonies about people delivered from asthma personally touch me because I was healed of the same, what I really love hearing about is testimonies of God delivering them from selfishness, hate, pride, lying, meanness, sloth, lust, and irresponsibility, for those character flaws and many more I had them, and let me tell you they were much more destructive to me and those around me than my asthma was!  POSTED by JOB

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13 Responses to The Toronto Blessing – An Overview

  1. Chris Cole says:

    It’s great that you have a heart to warn people against false doctrines, but can I give a couple of verses which counter your argument against the Toronto blessing.

    2 Cor 3:17 says ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’. There are countless testimonies from Catch the Fire and from people being freed from deep past hurts, meeting their Heavenly Father for the first time, being healed physically, being touched by the Lord to forgive those against whom they have long held bitterness and judgements, healing brocken marriages, finding a deeper relationship with God and finding deeper and deeping freedom.

    The enemy is the one who chains people up – and if it were the enemy working in this move of God then the fruit would be more chained up people. Matt 7:16 says ‘By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?’. When you look at the fruit of this ministry it is only good. Jesus Himself said – “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Matt 12:25. He said this when people said the works that He was doing was from the devil.

    In Acts 2:

    These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
    In order for them to be accused of being drunk, they must have been acting like this is some way.

    Jn 14:16 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– This other Counselor is the Holy Spirit who has been given in order to lead us to truth, lead to Jesus, lead us the Father, lead us to repentance, lead us into intimacy with the God who longs to have intimacy with His children. (Rom 8:16 – The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.) .

    Luke 11:11-13 says – “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” In Toronto they are asking constantly for more of the Holy Spirit – so it is impossible according to scripture for our Father to give us the devil when we ask for the Holy Spirit. It it His good pleasure to pour our His Holy Spirit on us.

    I agree that we are not to seek after angel feathers, gold dust, and jewels etc. but after the Lord, but what is to stop our Heavenly Father, if he so desires to manifest His presence in a physically tangible way and show us His grace, love and favour in a way that shows the church and shows the world that He is with us. We don’t ask for these things, but he gives them in His love. And as for visions, this is just the Lord speaking directly to our heart in a way that changes our lives. I don’t know about you, but I definately want to hear the Lord’s voice and for Him to speak to me personally. And the fruit of all this, more love for the Lord, deeper sense of acceptance, knowing that we are loved by our Heavenly Father, more passion for His Word, more passionate prayer life – and a burning desire to reach the lost with His love. The more we are touched by His love, the more He can touch those around us…who don’t know His love.

    I have personally been really blessed by what I see as a powerful move of God.

    God bless you my brother and I pray that you are powerfully touched by His love and His Presence.

  2. Bree says:

    I’ve been to this church a few times and a conference. I feel ok, or out of place. I guess i’m asking for help. I’m not sure.

    • Truth in Reality says:

      Hi Bree

      Thank you for you comment. I can do no better than to advise you to carefully read something you will find on this blog called “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” which is a list of KJV scripture warning us about false teachers and how easy it is for us to be deceived. We must test the spirits to see that it is the spirit of God as the devil is the great deceiver who if it were possible would deceive the very elect.

      This article appears about half way down of the list at the top right of the blog page and is very revealing. It is in a downloadable format from the Box.net box in the sidebar near the search box.

      The Bible doesn’t say there will be many false teachers in the Last Days, it says MOST will be false teachers. As they will be tickling people’s ears and telling them what they want to hear, they will be more than able to successfully deceive a large number of people. This is why were were told to test the spirits to see if they are of God.

      Watch and pray, and be careful for the devil walks around like a raging lion seeking who he may devour, and Satan only comes to steal, kill and destroy.

      If we are obedient to God’s word, we know to study the scripture to discern the good from the bad and we will not be deceived, but it is vital that we are careful in who we listen to and what we believe.

      The Toronto Blessing is a Christian cult with tentacles all over the world, including the ministries of the Copelands, Bill Johnson, Patricia King, and many others who are less obviously associated with them, such as Heidi Baker. Also there is a hierarchical network which will filter down to your ordinary local pastor.

      We can pray to ask for more discernment and I would ask you to listen to Milton Green’s sermon on discerning false teachers, which can be found on this blog, here:

      https://truthinreality.com/2013/10/10/discerning-false-teachers-by-milton-green/

      There are many articles on this blog, including prayers which many people have found helpful (located in “Prayers of Release”). Other helpful sites, videos and free books can be found on links at the foot of the page and the search box is useful to help find things.

      If you would like further assistance, please email me using the contact form.

  3. Steve says:

    my wife got brainwashed and doesn’t want to listen to anything else…HELP!!

    • Truth in Reality says:

      HI Steve,

      I am sorry to hear that. The Toronto Blessing phenomena – for the want of a better word – is of a very deceiving spirit that entices people to the many ministries based on this false teaching which seems to have spread its tentacles throughout the world weaving its way also through some hitherto ordinary Baptist churches.

      I would suggest that the best option would be to search the internet and find some written and/or video testimonies of people who were themselves deceived by ministries founded in the Toronto Blessing, and what happened to them.

      There are some here: https://truthinreality.com/2012/07/20/the-toronto-blessing-testimonies/

      If you could find someone who would speak to your wife personally that would be even better. You could tell her that you’d like her to meet someone…

      It is common for family members to find it difficult to listen to their own family and much easier to hear something from an acquaintance or stranger. Why that is, I don’t know. The answer might be on Google!

      The best thing is for you is to concentrate on keeping yourself strong and pray against it as this false doctrine comes with some nasty demons – some say kundalini demons – so you need to do some spiritual warfare and perhaps step up whatever you have been doing. Cover yourself in the Blood and forbid transference of spirits, and so on.

      It would help to speak to a good pastor who understands what is wrong with the Toronto Blessing – or at least what isn’t right with it.

      I would also recommend you enquire at other online deliverance ministries. Shannon Davis of Omega Man Radio has a list of deliverance ministries on his website. There you will find some powerful deliverance ministers and proper pastors who give advice and guidance and you may find something that helps. Agape fellowship is one ministry with some free deliverance MP3s on their site and if you email with your specific problem they ought to be able to help.

      http://www.agapebible.org/

      I do hope this helps and please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

      In Christ

      • Steve says:

        I’ve sent her links many times but she doesn’t even want to open it. I try to get her to listen with me to some preachers but she doesn’t want to. The catch the fire is the only thing she believe in. I think that there are so many people like this.
        When we came to Canada we were catholics, somebody introduced us to one of those churches and we did believe what pastors were saying……without checking the bible…

  4. Rose says:

    Luke 11 NKJV
    Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking

    9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread[d] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

    • Laurie napolin says:

      In Acts Philip was transported from one place to another. How does that fit in with what you are saying? David danced naked in front of people. How does that fit? He came as a mighty wind with tongues of fire. How does that fit in? If Jesus is same today as yesterday can these things not fit in with what He does today. I agree with the jewels etc and the devil can bring false signs. I have seen them in the past in yoga. Let’s not put the Holy Spirit in a box and deny His power in our lives. Laurie

  5. Kim says:

    My mother was introduced to this “church” last year by someone not well known by the rest of the family. It has torn our family apart. It started becoming very alarming when she had contributed thousands of dollars to this “church” without informing my father. When asked she became very defensive and outraged. She is going to their conference tonight and indiacted she had to bring $60 to enter…we had tried to get her to speak with our original curch’s pastor but she is not rational at all. Catch the Fire is destroying my family…

  6. grankyyyy says:

    how do I remove hair from my toes

  7. Erica says:

    Thank you for writing this. I grew up in the 1990s in a neo-charismatic church in southern Oregon that was entirely modeled on the 1994 Toronto revival and followed every word and movement of the Kansas City Prophets. Almost every service was as strange as the events of the Toronto Blessing you describe. As a child I accepted it as normal because I was told to and I knew nothing different. My parents spent excessive amounts of money supporting guest speakers, donating to the church, hosting VIPs, and chasing every conference or revival meeting with the label “healing, signs, prophetic” etc. As a child I was “homeschooled” so this was my life. We never read the Bible. We were never taught Biblical narratives, parables, or principles. I didn’t understand theology, or even what salvation was or why Jesus died for me. I was never taught the gospel. The only scripture I really knew was from the good natured Sunday school teachers who volunteered at our church, who did in fact read the Bible. But they eventually left because of abuse. I was never taught ethics, such as what true humility is or why it’s important to be honest. Instead, I learned that God was a distant entity who spoke to prophets at varying levels, that the Holy Spirit was a force that manifested in bizarre ways, that this concept of the Holy Spirit was the most important part of the trinity, that you needed to pay money and fly out to conferences in order to hear God, who only spoke to you if you were elite enough to hear him. I learned a lot of strange lingo. I learned that prayer was a big flashy show that usually involved physical demonstrations and wild performances. I had no idea even how to read the Bible because my mom, and these leaders, read it in a spotty, proof-texty order. I learned that I would repeatedly lose things I loved simply because a “prophet” criticized it. I also saw that these “elite” men would repeatedly verbally abuse my mom, yet she continued to view their words as though they really were directly from God himself. They were never just human beings who could be wrong like all of us. This led to abuse without accountability.

    In my opinion it is obvious that the movement that started in Toronto was focused on the wrong things and lost sight of all the things I believe mattered most to Jesus and the core reasons why he lived and died. But I’m not interested in debating whether it had a basis in scripture or in church history, or whether any part of it was orthodox or heresy, since I spent my entire childhood surrounded by people justifying it. What I do want to say is that I lived and grew up in the very real negative consequences of this movement, this way of thinking about God and spirituality, and it was truly destructive to my life and my family. If I were to sum up why in a few words, it was because it elevated the words of humans to the status of the divine and encouraged people to practice uncritical acceptance and blind faith. Regardless of how one attempts to justify it, this is always dangerous and harmful.

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