Perry Stone, an ordained Bishop with the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee),1 which is a charismatic Pentecostal denomination that affirms essentials doctrines such as the inspiration of the Bible, the Trinity, and salvation through Christ;2 however, much of what he propagates through his ministry is controversial and, at points, heretical.
Divine Healing through Communion and Prayer Cloths. Stone teaches that divine physical healings are normative for Christians. He teaches that healing can happen through daily communion in a book entitled The Meal That Heals: Enjoying Intimate Daily Communion with God (Charisma House, 2008). The book description on his Website says, “Through a daily, personal Communion service with God — right in your own home — you can experience spiritual renewal and physical healing in your life.”3
Stone appears to be arguing that if one takes daily communion that God will guarantee healing. This is a stronger statement then even Stone himself makes in his statement of faith when he says that “healing is provided for all through the sufferings of Christ.”4 The frequency in which the Lord’s Supper is to be partaken is a secondary issue that Christians can debate but not divide (Please contact us again for additional information of the frequency of partaking in the Lord’s Supper).
Many who endorse modern-day prayer cloths — such as Stone in the above quote — reason that if you say God does not use prayer cloths, you are denying His power, as well as Scripture, for He used the handkerchiefs and aprons that Paul touched to heal the sick in Acts 19:11-12. However, this response is inappropriate for several reasons. First, despite many modern claims that people today possess the same prophetic or apostolic authority as Paul and the other apostles, the Scriptures do not support this claim. (Please access “Are There Apostles and Prophets Today?”, and “Fivefold Ministry Makes A Comeback” at our Web site for this information.) Second the text specifically indicates that “God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hand of Paul” (Acts. 19:11, UNASB); therefore, this was not meant to be normative, or a regular occurrence. Third, God used these miracles as an evidence to attest to the unique role that Paul had as apostle to the Gentiles. Fourth, one must realize the cultural setting in which God worked these miracles through Paul. This miracle, along with the others in Acts 19, occurred around the town of Ephesus, which “was widely reputed for its trade in magic and the need for exorcisms and protection against evil spirits.”5 So strong was Ephesus’ connection to magic and superstition that the “phrase ‘Ephesian writings’ (Epheisa grammata) was common in antiquity for documents containing spells and magical formulae.”6 It is within this cultural setting that the original recipients and readers after the fact can see that one need not trust in pagan superstition or magic, but that our trust should be in the God of the Bible.
Therefore, no one is denying that God used handkerchiefs for some type of healing in the time of the apostles; however, these healings were not normative, but were usually done to illustrate an apostle’s authority and presence in a certain region, and were for a specific purpose.
God can and does heal. Many believe healing is provided for in the atonement but it is by no means guaranteed, as Stone suggest (see “Does God Always Heal?” and “Healing: Does God Always Heal?”).
Deliverance Spiritual Warfare. Stone also propagates an erroneous deliverance model of spiritual warfare. He communicates the idea that believers that harbor unforgivness can be tormented by demons. In regards to Matthew 18:35, he points out that “if you, as a believer, do not forgive a person who has wronged you, you’ll be delivered over to a tormentor,” but then goes on to say, “the example is King Saul — a tormenting spirit.”7 What Stone apparently missed was that the order of this event for King Saul was very important. The evil spirit didn’t torment King Saul until after the Holy Spirit left him. This is extremely important because the Bible says we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). Also, demons cannot touch a believer because they have the Holy Spirit in them and they can’t coexist at the same time (John 8:49). The more accurate interpretation of Matthew 18:35 regarding forgiveness is that sin does separate us from God and others in a relation way. If we harbor unforgiveness towards others when we have been forgiven this will harm our relationship both with God and that other person.
Stone moreover affirms that Christians can be unduly influence by “generational patterns and spirits” in two CD’s he offers entitled “Reversing the Family Curse”8 and “Breaking Familiar Spirits”9. Although he does make the distinction that only the unsaved and not Christians can experience “generational curses,” the whole idea of generational curses is foreign to the biblical text.
There is no evidence in Scripture that demons are automatically transferred from one generation to another. We never see Jesus, Paul, or anyone else casting out generational spirits. Leviticus 20:6 and related passages speak of “familiar spirits” (NKVJ). These spirits are wrongly understood to mean a “family” spirit. Actually, the Hebrew word used here (‘ovb) refers to a python by whom people were believed to be possessed. In essence, it carries the meaning of a soothsaying demon.10 1 Samuel 28:7-11: Saul requests the medium of Endor to divine to him “by the familiar spirit” (v. 8, KJV). He then requests that Samuel be conjured up. Obviously, Saul did not consider Samuel to be a blood relative. Hence, the concept of “familiar” equals “family” spirit falls apart. Although it is true that the punishment of sin is carried on to future generations of haters of God (Exod. 20:5; 34:7; Num. 14:18), there is no evidence that the generational punishment necessarily consists of demonic possession or oppression. Yet, if children follow in the occultic practices of their parents, or if such parents dedicate their unregenerate children to the forces of darkness, then such possession or oppression is more likely.
Bible Codes. Stone also endorses the highly faulty concept of the Bible Codes, even championing himself as somewhat of trailblazer saying that “a decade before most Americans had ever heard of the Bible code, Perry had not only heard of it, but had begun informing churches about this now famous phenomena.”11 The use of Bible Codes, while sensationalistic and fanciful, abandon sound methods of biblical interpretation, offer no new revelation to its practitioners, and comes directly out of the world of the occult (see “Magic Apologetics” and “Back to the Future? Does “Bible Code” offer New Clues to Coming Events?”)
Newspaper Eschatology. Stone practices “newspaper eschatology,” which involves lining up current events with certain passages from Scripture as a way of forecasting the time of Christ Second Coming, particularly the propagating of sensationalistic stories to establish Bible prophecy are presently being fulfilled in modern Israel. He purports to be one of the first Americans to confirm and publicize on the search for the ashes of the Red Heifer, as well as the first to present to the American people the ideas of “the earthquake fault line under the Mount of Olives, the huge birds of prey in the Golan, and the healing of the Dead Sea.”12 The Newspaper Eschatology, employed by Stone and many others, is a faulty method of interpreting Bible prophecy, which comes as the result of having a fundamental misunderstanding of how to read the Bible for all its worth. Although not addressing Stone’s teaching in particular, Hank Hanegraaff tackles the serous problem of Newspaper Eschatology in principle in The Apocalypse Code (Nelson, 2007), which is available through the Christian Research Institute. (For further information on the errors of newspaper eschatology please access “Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong,” “D-Day Declarations”and “The Perils of Newspaper Eschatology.”)
Given the abovementioned problems, CRI does not recommend the teachings of Perry Stone. For further study on related issues, please consider the following bookstore resources:
The Apocalypse Code (Paperback)
Christianity in Crisis 21st Century
1. Voice of Evangelism, “About International Evangelist Perry Stone” (http://www.voe.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=48).
2. Voice of Evangelism, “Statement of Faith,” (http://www.voe.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=35), accessed on 12/19/08. Cf. also Church of God, “The Church of God is…” (http://www.churchofgod.org/about/church_is.cfm).
3. Voice of Evangelism, “Meals that Heal,” (https://store.voe.org/p-457-meal-that-heals-hardcover.aspx).
4. Voice of Evangelism “Statement of Faith,”
5. Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarstity Press, 1993), 378.
6. Richard N. Longenecker, “Acts” The Expositors Bible Commentary: John-Acts, vol. 9, gen. ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Publishing House, 1981), 496.
7. Praise the Lord, TBN, May 16, 2004.
8. Voice of Evangelism, “Reversing the Family Curse,” (https://store.voe.org/p-426-cd-reversing-the-family-curse-2cd066.aspx).
9. Voice of Evangelism, “Breaking Familiar Spirits” (https://store.voe.org/p-147-cd-breaking-familiar-spirits.aspx).
10. H. W. F. Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, trans. by S. P. Tregelles (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 18.
11. Voice of Evangelism, “About International Evangelist Perry Stone”