Here’s a new one for you: Grave-soaking, also known as grave-sucking. Closely related to the sport of mantle-grabbing, the idea is that the dearly departed leave behind whatever anointing they carried while alive in the box they’re buried in when deceased, free for the taking. Takers can either sit, stand, kneel or lie in front of, or on the grave of, those who are no longer sitting, standing, kneeling or lying and summon the vibes of saints whose bodies are six feet under. It’s a new and disturbingly creepy trend that some of your friends and fellow pew-warmers are engaging in.
Bethel Church, in Redding, California, the same church delivering the dubious ministry of Sozo (along with gold dust, diamonds and bird feathers) has long been known for a host of unholy behaviors and associations, but this one steals the show. Once you’re all cleaned up and cleaned out from Sozoing and Shabaring, you can embark on a church-endorsed field trip of grave-soaking (a.k.a. grave-sucking). A quick internet search pulls up disturbing images of the people from the church – leaders and youth included – draped over headstones or lying prone on slabs inscribed with the names of prominent, long-dead Christians.
As a result of all of the bad press Bethel has received due to the photos and videos on the internet, Beni Johnson (her birth name is Brenda) took to her Facebook page to make the following statement: “I am not what they call a grave-sucker. Just so you know. That’s creepy.” And yet, that’s Beni herself in the photo above, lying on the grave of C.S. Lewis. To give you an idea of the mindset of those perpetuating the practice, John Crowder (a Bethel associate, whose ministry is endorsed by the Johnsons) was taped while kneeling at the grave site of Alexander Dowie. Looking into the camera, he stated:
And we’ve just come to the grave today to release to you an impartation of healing revival; of city-building, restoration, city-taking anointing, master-building anointing, and so we just rip it right out of the ground; we just suck it right off his dead bones, in Jesus’ name, and loose it to you; a healing-revival-glory-master-building-apostolic anointing glory …
If this sounds to you like the confusing mess that it is, it’s simply a reflection of the New Apostolic Reformation and Third Wave movement that has been propagated by those who have declared themselves to be the new apostles and prophets of the end-time generation. People who flock to these movements are found on the Elijah List, in the Healing Rooms, and trying to work their way up the Seven Mountain Mandate. Think this can’t happen in your church? That surely your leaders are so rooted and grounded in scripture that they would see right through all of this? If your church is utilizing Sozo materials in their ‘Freedom and Deliverance Ministries’ then know that it has already happened – the lion is no longer at the door, but is roaming freely up and down the aisles, and in and out of our classrooms. The Bible is clear: Satan doesn’t appear to us with a pitchfork and horns, otherwise we would recognize him for who he is, but he appears instead as an angel of light, promising blessings, healing, and untold wealth and prosperity to those who are desperate, vulnerable, needy or blind. And the shepherds (the pastors, deacons and elders of the church) have a God-given mandate to protect the people entrusted to their care.
The lure of mysticism is subtle. Syncretism is that odd mix of the holy and the profane that we are seeing with ever-increasing frequency in our church services. Syncretism, as defined by Webster, is simply this: “the combination of different forms of belief or practice” and to syncretize is particularly telling: “to attempt to unite and harmonize, especially without critical examination or logical unity.” It appears to be a politically correct form of Christianity, not just in America, but one that has spread rapidly around the world. Celebrity Christians are selling ideas such as ‘contemplative prayer’ and the ‘breaking of soul-ties and generational curses’ to a people who are more interested in having an emotional experience with God than a solid, biblically accurate relationship with Him. The idea of soul ties and generational curses, along with the perpetual quest for inner healing are nothing more than New Age, occultic, and mystical teachings that have infiltrated the church to such a degree that people are signing up for (and paying for) counseling sessions and classes without batting an eye. Combining any false teaching with the Word of God is absolutely forbidden in scripture, which clearly commands that we are not to take away from or add to the written Word. When we do, we end up with a confused and unhealthy church; one that is both deceived and diseased, and we are left with nothing but a chimera for a God. We’re a group of people who can decree, declare, and rebuke everything right down to the consequences of our own foolish choices, but who can’t walk straight when the fog-and-light-show ends.
Bill Johnson, Beni’s husband, and the senior pastor at Bethel, believes that:
There are anointings, mantles, revelations, and mysteries that have lain unclaimed, literally where they were left because the generation that walked in them never passed them on. I believe it’s possible for us to recover realms of anointing, realms of insight, realms of God that have been untended for decades simply by choosing to reclaim them and perpetuate them for future generations.
Nothing in scripture supports this. The anointing of God is not just lying around unclaimed, waiting for us to soak it up at will. We don’t serve a hapless God who is sitting in the heavens wringing His hands, bemoaning the fact that we’re all down here stumbling over years of unclaimed anointings and mantles. Spiritual growth is not a Christian version of an Easter-egg hunt. We develop insight and spiritual maturity by spending time in the Word, not by laying on the graves of those who have already left the earth. If the normative Christian life were to include going back to suck the glory out of dead bones, wouldn’t the letters to the churches have been the logical place for the New Testament writers to tell us so? Instead, we’re told to learn from the heroes of the faith, and to emulate their faith, but we’re not told to try to dredge the rewards of their faithfulness for ourselves by lying on their graves.
Sunbathing on grave sites didn’t originate with the large church on the West Coast, however; Benny Hinn has been known to try to suck the leftover anointing out of the graves of Kathryn Kuhlman and Aimee Semple McPherson. The practice stems from the idea of transferable anointings, or mantles (a teaching made popular in the Word of Faith and Latter Rain movements of the last century), hence the term mantle-grabbing. These aren’t teachings you will find within the pages of scripture, however. What you will find is that necromancy is absolutely forbidden by God. In the Old testament (see Deuteronomy 18:10) those who practice it are called an abomination to God. This includes any form of communicating with the dead, whether it’s channeling, praying to a dead saint, calling up your beloved grandmother, or grave-soaking. Nor will you find that any mantle or anointing was ever transferred from a dead person to a live person in scripture. In fact, the only time a mantle or anointing is transferred from one person to another is through relationship, as in the case of Elijah and Elisha, so the next time you find yourself cozying up to a skeleton, you might want to stop and consider the health and depth of your relationship with your fragile friend. And while you’re down there, you might want to stop and think about the health and depth of your relationships and associations in general.
So shake off those mold spores and grow up. You’re not supposed to smell like a cemetery. You’re not supposed to sprout gold dust and feathers; to bark, foam at the mouth, roll on the floor, or shake and laugh hysterically, or participate in any of the other mindless activities associated with hyper-charismania. You don’t need to lay on the ground and try to work yourself into a trance by singing the same verse of a song over and over until your geese bump and your flesh tingles. (There’s actually a name for this unholy practice; it’s known as “carpet-time”). Read the New Testament carefully and you will find that not only is self-control listed as a Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:23) but in almost all of the letters to the churches we’re encouraged to control both our minds and our bodies. Christians are people who should be known for our resemblance to Christ. We’re not supposed to be known as people who post “selfies” of odd behaviors that nobody naming the name of Christ should be engaged in, but rather, we’re exhorted to conduct ourselves in a manner befitting the people of God.
2nd year BSSM students at the grave site of Evan Roberts.
“For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasant and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, and will turn aside from hearing the truth and will wander off into man-made fictions.” – 2 Timothy 4:3,4 (Amplified)
“Take no part in and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds and enterprises of darkness, but instead [let your lives be so in contrast as to] expose and reprove and convict them. For it is a shame even to speak of or mention the things that [such people] practice in secret. But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light, it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear, there is light. Therefore He says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine (make day dawn) upon you and give you light. Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”
– Ephesians 5:11-17 (Amplified)