Movie Review: Holy Ghost

Recently I was given the opportunity to watch this movie for the purpose of reviewing it.   It made me very uncomfortable.  I’m going to break the movie down into 4 very specific sections, but first let me explain the purpose of the movie.

The concept of the movie, is the director wants to film a movie (documentary style) completely led by the Holy Spirit.  Going where the spirit leads him, encountering those whom the spirit wants them to encounter, and doing what the spirit leads them to do.

In essence, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

There are 4 sections in the movie’s progression:

Section 1:  2 Men head into a city which is predominantly Mormon.  They are claiming to heal people, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Section 2:  We head to an interview with Brian Head Welch from the band Korn, who became a Christian.  We get some personal testimonies of God healing people from addictions.  As part of this portion, they head into the crowds before a concert to perform healings, again through the Holy Spirit.

Section 3:   The team heads out of the country to Italy, where they are to have an adventure with a boat.  While there, there are are some prayers for healing (physical and emotional).

Section 4:  The team heads to India, to an incredibly dangerous area for Christians.  To share the gospel.  Healing prayers occur, but not as much of the main focus.  In fact, most of the focus here is simply that they are doing something dangerous and being protected by the Holy Spirit.

We are called to test the spirits, to discern false spirits.  We are told to test the word, to discern lies and misrepresentation.  I also need to acknowledge that I am a very skeptical, skeptical person.  It’s not that I don’t believe that divine healing is possible, or that God doesn’t still give us the gift of healing today.  However, I also don’t believe every instance we see proclaimed on television is real.  In part, because we have seen this exposed in the past.

In the end, after reflecting on the movie, doing some research, and prayer… I can NOT recommend this movie.  Let me explain why, section by section.

Section 1)  I am very suspect of the “healings” we see her, but rather lean toward these are tools of the power of suggestion.

  • There is no sharing of the Gospel in this portion.  In the scriptures, every healing was a tool to share the gospel.  Jesus revealed in the healing, and in ministry after Jesus final ascension into heaven… healings were a tool of the Gospel. Additionally there were instances were people were not healed, Peter, for the glory of God.
  • In their “prayers” for this healing they Command the Holy Spirit to heal, they are not asking.  In fact in one of their prayers, the person praying said “Holy Spirit, I give you permission to enter this man’s ministry.” – At what point do we as humans give the Holy Spirit PERMISSION to do anything?
  • In their prayers, only one did they ask for the healing in the name of Jesus.
  • In the actual acts of healing, the men are essentially having to convince the person they are being healed.  This is a power of persuasion.  In all but 1 account in the scriptures, was healing not instantaneous.  A woman was completely healed of her illness by touching the hem of his garment.  In this movie, the accounts of healing take repetitive suggestion.  Do you feel a difference?  No.   — pray again— How about now?  Do you notice any difference?  A little. — pray again— How about now?  A little bit?  — pray again — How about now?.      In scriptural healings it was that miraculous total healing that got the person’s attention.  Jesus and his disciples didn’t have to coax a healing.  Not one time.

Section 2)  Section two really started out well done.  We get an opportunity to hear the personal testimony of someone who was rescued (instantly) from a life of addiction.  Brian Head Welch’s testimony, and that of his bandmate, could have stood on it’s own.  It would have been a big redeeming from Section 1 of the movie. Unfortunately, the directors toss in another “healer” and they begin the same tactics as Section 1, but in the crowd of people at one of the concerts.

  • I question the legitimacy of the prayer healing tactic, because in the case of celebrity status… these are fans, and they’d say just about anything to be close to the two members of the band.
  • The “healing” tactic used on the atheist man’s is a well known deceptive technique.  He is positioned in such a way to give an illusion of healing (known as leg pulling).  Fact is, if the Holy Spirit wanted to heal this man… sitting was not required.
  • Again, the Gospel was not shown.  Instead we heal a bunch of people, and because you buy this… let’s accept Christ as your savior.   While I can hope that this illusion would at least plant a seed, to make any of these people dig deeper into belief.   I’m suspect.  And, when the atheist finds in a matter of days or weeks that he isn’t healed… this show did more harm than good toward leading him to Christ.  It becomes further evidence that we are just another bunk religion.
  • I also believe that this takes some of the creditability away from Brian Head Welch’s testimony, being associated with this production.

Section 3)  So, this big “boat adventure” is nothing, really.  They see the boat, they get on the boat, and then almost immediately leave the boat.  The rest of the section takes place elsewhere in the city. On the docks, in a restaurant, in a bar.  If the Holy Spirit tells you directly, that you are going to have an adventure on a boat, you have an adventure on a boat.   You don’t visit a boat.  The Holy Spirit didn’t tell them you will encounter someone with a boat.  Or, you will know them by their boat.  Their clear “divine” instructions were that they would have an adventure on a boat.

  • The boat, the whole inspiration for this trip, is totally inconsequential.
  • The boat owner, becomes their shift to explain the deviance from their original mission… is also really inconsequential.  I felt more like what I was seeing was a make shift therapy session & not a spiritual divine appointment.  People, have problems. It isn’t hard to find a person who doesn’t have some sort of struggle.
  • The other encounters (3) on this “adventure” were also inconsequential, and we are given no real explanation of how this was important to the Gospel.
  • There was no sharing of the Gospel message.

Now, before I move on to the 4th section, I also want to point out that there was ZERO follow up with any of these people who they “healed”.  They showed us only their initial encounters with these people, but not any follow up with whether or not these healings lasted.  In the scope of a documentary, they had to get permission (legal contract) to show this… so, there is no reason for them to NOT have contact information to follow up with these people.

This creates a feeling of suspicion in me, because if you were trying to PROVE something… you need evidence.  There is NO evidence.  No interviews later to see if the person was still healed, no interviews with their doctors to see if the doctors could explain it, etc.  This calls us to get caught up in the emotions that sensationalism evokes.

We want miraculous healing.  We want to believe it to be true.  We HOPE that it is.  As, believers, we also KNOW it is possible.  And because of all of these wants, hopes and belief… we are susceptible to the power of suggestion.

Jesus and his disciples healings had hard evidential proof.  A man born blind, that the entire community knew, healed… instantly.  This was not some random stranger that everyone had to simply believe his word that he was healed.  They knew him, they knew him since childhood.  They knew he was blind, without a shadow of doubt.  And he was healed.   In this particular case, there is evidence that the healing stuck, because a week later he was questioned by the Jewish Leaders.

This movie offers not a SINGLE evidence of proof toward of their healings.

Section 4)  The trip to India… this could have been the ENTIRE MOVIE for me, and done much more toward evidencing the proof of the Holy Ghost than the rest of the movie.   Overall, I agree with the amount of protection this DIFFERENT team had in their trip.  I cannot explain how they were not harassed, or how they were allowed into some of the areas they accessed.  Even the on the ground missionaries were shocked and didn’t believe them until they noted they had video of it.

  • Healing prayers were a very small amount of this portion of the film.  Only once, was there even a claim of immediate healing.  The difference, between the previous healings… it was IMMEDIATE, the reaction of the man was total shock and surprise.  Of all the healings in the movie, this is the ONLY ONE, that had at least some credibility.  The man’s response seemed genuine and it got the attention of those around him.
  • There was SOME Gospel introduction here, a stark difference to the rest of the movie.
  • While they exalted some of the moments were an local temple high priest was singing along with their worship music… I can’t ignore my skeptical side that wondered … did he know what he was singing, or just repeating words?  There are plenty of songs in Spanish that I enjoy and sing along to… but I have no clue what they are saying.  (I should probably look into that, ha.)
  • There was one point, where the crowd grows pretty big & at least someone from the crowd gets a bit aggressive.  They leave.  I don’t know if this counters that they were “protected by the Holy Spirit” or part of the protection, knowing that it is time to leave. So I can’t really give a solid opinion on that scenario.

When I watched the movie… at first, I was caught up in the emotions of it.  Even a skeptic like me.  However, as time passed, and I was detached from the emotional response… reservations begin to settle in.

Even when I searched for the youtube trailer, I began to find a LOT of videos and articles that debunked the movie.  These were well documented, well researched, and biblical sound arguments against the claims and behaviors in the movie.

In my own research in the scriptures, what they do here is not in alignment with how healing occurs in the scriptures.  It is also not in alignment with WHY healing was used in the scriptures.

You may ask… was there ANYTHING redeeming in the movie?  A little bit, but it is outweighed by the things that concerned me.  Which is what concerns me the MOST about the movie.  A little bit of truth can make a lie, misrepresentation, con, or manipulation seem TRUE.

I actually think this is a very dangerous movie.

That said, if there is anything positive I can pull from it is this…. THESE PEOPLE WERE BOLD.  They may fully believe that they are doing these things under the spirit, they may not be intentionally trying to scam or manipulate people.  But, there tactics are easily debunked.  The gospel is excluded from their mission.  There is no part of what they are doing that is in full concert with the scriptures.

But, they were bold.  I was very convicted by my own lack of boldness.  When those who are doing things outside of the scriptures are THIS BOLD… we as Christians need to be BOLDER.  Jesus was not timid when it came to calling out false teachers, false prophets.

If you are person strong in your faith, I think you could watch this movie and not be persuaded by it.

However, if you are a new believer, weak in your faith, or a long time believer who is not well versed in the scripture… this could be very damaging to your walk.

* The movie Holy Ghost was given to me by Family Christian for the sake of the review.  The opinions in this review are entirely mine, and not influenced by Family Christian or those who are involved in the making/production of this movie.  I received no cash payment for this review.

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Living Proof Event w/ Beth Moore

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First of all, I love seeing Beth Moore live.  Every (and I do mean EVERY) time I have seen her live, there has been something very specific God has been moving me toward & it is as if Beth Moore is speaking affirmations directly to me.  Literally every time, as if God cued into the things going on in my life & set her right before me…. only the two of us in a room… and she was saying “Gena, you need to do this”  (or stop doing… or keep doing).

I have a hard time participating in her studies, which makes me crazy.  Why?  Because, they are so full of information and she goes into such great detail that her studies are a long term commitment.   Having a family with ever changing schedules makes it really difficult for me to plug into a small group doing Beth Moore studies, because I can’t guarantee I can stay the long haul.

So, when the opportunity presents itself to go to a day long even (live or recorded), I go to as many as I can.  I am always uplifted by her zeal for Christ, I am comforted by her transparency, embraced by her love (that I believe is genuine) to every person she is speaking to, and her sense of humor (which is akin to my own).    Most importantly, I love how she goes where The Spirit leads her.  If God wants her to disengage from her prepared notes and go off on a new path… she goes.  Something I struggle with, I have to admit.

Recently I went to the 2014 Living Proof Live Simulcast, my church was a host site.  Let me just say, I came home with a lot on my mind and in my notes to mull over.  I know that she is still traveling, putting on more live events, so I don’t want to spoil the event for any readers.

What I do want to say is that it was a blessed event, that once again brought to light some things I still need to deal with in my life from my past.  Things that I allowed to keep to tight a grip on me, and I need to truly let it go.   I also got a lot of affirmation about what direction God has been moving me.  I was certain, no doubt, that I was being moved.  I just didn’t understand where to, and even when.  This event shed a bit more light and I see the pathway narrowing.

If you have the opportunity to get to one of these Beth Moore Living Proof Live 2014 events, GO.  Don’t walk.  Run.  Sign up.  I assure you, there will not be a second of regret.  Daughter of the King, you are valuable and worthy and important to God… and we are valuable, worthy and important to each other as Sisters in Christ.  Bring your brokenness, bring your hardened heart, bring your vulnerability and simply take God’s hand. He is your rock, your fortress, your protector, your provider, your healer, your loving & faithful God. His word never fails.  Blessed is she who believes.

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What decision did I make at the Simulcast?  I created my own box.  [x] UNBOUND.

 

BOOK REVIEW: PROOF

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I find that most books I read fall into one of three categories.  Inspiring, like when I am reading someone’s testimony.  Motivating, the books that get you off your duff and into action.  Challenging, which are the books the make you stop & really think.  The ones where you find yourself re-reading the same chapter a few times because it is SO good, opened your eyes or challenged your preconceived notions about everything.

PROOF is without a doubt a Challenging book.  If I had to guess, I probably earmarked about every third page.  It was that good.  I’ve been reading a lot more lately, as I find myself in a season of life where my kids are more independent.  Recent reads have been lending them to identity, that we are image bearers of God and our identity in Christ comes before our ethnicity, gender, position or passion.  I think it is by no mistake that I would following those books up with PROOF, a book about God’s grace, given to those He has claimed as His own.

About the Authors:  Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones

PROOF is a well written book that has substance that is presented in a very easy to read manner.  The authors make cultural reference that my age & a bit younger would relate to.  This makes this a great book for my generation and the next, because it is applicable and current.  You can identify each author by their own writing styles, but they give the reader the courtesy of identifying themselves as they hand off the baton.  They manage a solid balance between personal experiences and biblical truths, sticking to the subject and staying on course from beginning to end.

About the Book:   PROOF:  Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

With a title like that, where can it go wrong!  Without a doubt, this book will stop and make you think…. but you will walk away encouraged and, frankly, happier as you embrace grace gifted to you by God.  The authors have a very concise view on grace, that they spell out throughout the chapters.  PROOF isn’t just a title, it is an acronym for the elements of God given grace.  Scripture has a strong presence to back up their point of view & will challenge readers to examine their own views on what grace is & what it isn’t.

The book also discusses predestination, which for this reader, was a HUGE challenge.  I came into the book with a clear opinion on predestination.  While I can’t say that my opinion has definitively changed, the authors made valid points that are worth my further study.  I would recommend that you not allow your own opinions on predestination to keep you from reading this book.  Whether you agree with them or not, you will find yourself referencing and considering the scriptures as you read through their position.  A book that points you to further study the word…. YES PLEASE!  Like I said, this is a book I would categorize as a challenging.  Carve out some time to read through it carefully, refer to scripture as needed, and get ready to embrace the freedom of grace.

Highlights from the Text:

“Sometimes idols happen to be physical images of created beings, but not always.  Idols are also found in less obvious locations – in the balance of your bank account, in the praises of your peers, in the delusion that you can control your destiny.”    (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“If God waited to give the gift of salvation until one of us made the right response, we would all be damned.  That’s because, left to ourselves, none of us will ever desire what Jesus requires.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“God gives his grace according to his own sovereign design, and his design has never depended on any potential he saw in us.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

“Many of us remain completely addicted to a legal method of salvation that tries to barter our best deeds for divine blessing.”  (Excerpt from PROOF, by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones)

Purchase Information:

BOOK:   PROOF – Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

AUTHORS:   Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones

PUBLISHER:  Zondervan

ISBN: 978-0-310-51389-6