It’s been quite an interesting exercise, to transcribe the full and exact text of Pastor Smith’s sermon about “The Anointing” (please note: “Pastor Smith” is a pseudonym, as are “Living Word Church” and all other names – aside from those of celebrities – in this post). We mentioned this in a comment following our last post, but it bears repeating: hearing Pastor Smith live and in person is a radically different experience than reading a transcript of his preaching. It’s even different than listening to him on a CD.
We’ve come to realize that Pastor Smith possesses the gift of being able to present almost anything in a manner that sounds profound and full of authority. Plus, he talks really fast, and with a great deal of enthusiasm, so that it’s easy to quit following his exact words and instead just get caught up in the emotion of what he says. But if you stop to analyze his statements and, more importantly, compare them to what the BIBLE says…well, it can be a shockingly eye-opening exercise!
If you haven’t already done so, we’d like you to go back to our previous post and read the full transcript of Pastor Smith’s “Anointing” sermon. Yes, it’s a LOT to read. We really debated about how to post the transcript, because it is so long. At first, we thought we’d put it up in segments, to make it easier to wade through. But then we decided that it needed to be up in its entirety. Otherwise, a reader wouldn’t get the full effect, and the possibility would exist that perhaps we’d taken something he said out of context.
At any rate, here are some of our immediate reactions. We went ahead and numbered the paragraphs, to make it easier to follow where the various thoughts fit into the sermon as a whole. We appreciate the input of our readers, so please post your comments and add any thoughts that you may have. Special thanks go to reader “AJS,” who, where noted, gave us his input.
The first eleven paragraphs of Smith’s sermon really don’t contain much of great significance. Pastor Smith begins by reading three passages of Scripture – I Samuel 10:6-7, I Samuel 16:13, and Acts 10:38. As usual, Smith uses the King James Version of the Bible. We don’t think there’s really anything “suspect” about Smith’s favoring the KJV. We’re pretty sure he does so because it’s the Bible he grew up with and it’s what he’s familiar with. However, using a more formidable, difficult-to-understand translation such as the KJV does have the effect of making Smith’s congregation more dependent upon what Smith says about the Scriptures, rather than encouraging them to read the passages for themselves. It’s easy to get hampered by the archaic language of the KJV, and it’s so much simpler, if you’re an average member of the audience, to shut off your mind and let the “expert” (Pastor Smith) give you the interpretation of the verse.
Smith then goes on to give several paragraphs of introductory remarks. He promises that in this new series of teachings, he is going to discuss what the anointing is, why we need the anointing, and why we should desire it.
Our first real red flag goes up at paragraph 12, which says:
(12) Now how many believe you’re saved for MORE than just getting’ to heaven? Wuh, no, I, no, I got about half of you on that. I said, how many believe you’re saved for MORE than just getting to heaven? This is important to me because a lot of Christians look at this as, “OK, I’m, I’m a believer, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna get to heaven, and that’s the, the heighth and depth and breadth of. But how many believe the Word said, “He that believeth in me, the works that I do you shall be able to do also and greater works than these shall you do.” It said, “He that believeth in me, as the Scriptures sayeth, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
Here, in paragraph 12, we see a common theme of “Charismaniac” preaching – that somehow, the Christian life is about MORE than the salvation of our souls, is about MORE than “getting to heaven.”
On the surface, this sounds good. It appeals to our flesh, because as humans, our primary desire is to have a nice life in the here and now. But think for a moment. The whole premise of the Gospel, as outlined in ALL of Scripture, is that there is MORE to life than just what we can see in the flesh. And this “more” is that there is a hereafter. There is an unseen world, and an unseen but very real Creator. This Creator has full rights to set all the rules, and in His holiness, He has taken offense to our sin, sin that we’ve inherited from the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. Yet in His great love and mercy, this Creator made a way for us to be reconciled to Himself, by sending His Son Jesus. Jesus died for our sins – took our rightful place on the Cross – and then rose again 3 days later.
Our ONLY hope in life and death is that there IS more to this life than just what we can see, and that God has made a way for us, through Christ, to go to heaven and not to hell as we deserve. But Pastor Smith, in this one statement (“How many believe that we’re saved for MORE than just gettin’ to heaven?”) turns the Gospel upside down.
Search through the entire Bible, and you will find that this is heresy. Our salvation IS about heaven. It IS about the bodily resurrection of the dead. This life is short. If the Gospel is mostly about the here and now, then all the Apostles really missed the boat, because they enjoyed NONE of the wealth, prosperity, and earthly clout (“favor”) that Pastor Smith so often touts as the REAL benefits of the Christian life.
Moving on, alarms continue to go off for us in the very next paragraph, paragraph 13:
(13) What is it that transforms a teenager in the shepherd field into somebody that could be the most influential king in the history of Israel? What is it that takes a man named Jesus and puts the power of God on him so strongly that everybody he prayed for, every oppressed person that he ministered to was delivered, everywhere that he went, miraculous things happened? What happens when you take a young man named Oral Roberts who was dying of tuberculosis, uh, had a speech impediment and the power of God come upon him, heals his disease, heals his speech impediment, and has right now over one million documented healings that were medically proven and verified to be exactly what was said. They were healed by the power of God. What happens to a person to be able to take them from one place and then everybody’s sayin, all you’re gonna do is die, and if you live, you’ll never make an impact, and turn them into somebody that changes the world around them. It’s not your I.Q., it’s not the ivy league college you went to, it’s the anointing of God.
If we could stand up in the middle of a Smith sermon and shout out our honest reaction, here is what we would say: WHAT??? So now Jesus is just a ‘man’?? Uh, NO, Jesus did what He did because He is GOD!! He was God from the moment that He was born into an earthly body, because He’s always BEEN God. More heresy! This one brings down Jesus’ miracles to our human level.
This is another common “Charismaniac” ploy. Charismaniacs like to over-emphasize Jesus’ humanity at the expense of His Godhood. Instead of keeping a balanced focus on the fact that Jesus was BOTH fully man AND fully God, Charismaniacs treat Jesus as though He were just another human being like the rest of us, only somehow, through “the anointing,” He was able to become God. Dangerous, dangerous heresy!
Also, note how Smith cites Oral Roberts in exactly the same way as he cites Jesus. Even if Oral Roberts had seen the miraculous operating in his life in exactly the way Smith claims (and this is HIGHLY dubious!), it’s incredible that Smith would elevate Roberts to basically the same status as Jesus. Or, if you’d prefer, bring down Jesus to the same level as Oral Roberts. This disturbing theme of downplaying the Godhood of Jesus continues in paragraph 15. Here is the exact text of what Pastor Smith said:
(15) And this is this thing, we create all of this mystical mystery about the Bible and the people that are in the Bible, I believe part of the reason they are written about is because they’re just REGULAR guys. Joseph was a 17-year-old kid, and the Spirit of the Lord gave him a dream and gave him a vision about his future and about his life. Jesus comes on the scene at 30 years of age and turns upside down. This is the thing that I, I wonder what people, they say, “Well, people just thought He was God, He wasn’t really God, you know it was just kind of uh, a folklore or something.” But you know the amazing thing, ladies and gentlemen, how could one man, how could one man completely turn the course of history upside down just in his flesh or his – there’s been a lot of good teachers on the scene, there’s been a lot of people that have prophetic insight on the scene, there’s been a lot of people that drew a crowd, that crossed the pathways of this world, but why did Jesus flip the world upside down? Because the Spirit of God was upon Him!
Again, note how Smith says that Jesus “flipped the world upside down” because the Spirit of God was upon Him. Do you see what an interesting spin this is? If the secret to Jesus’ life was that the “Spirit of God was upon Him” (and NOT that Jesus actually WAS God, as the Bible clearly says), then it’s just a small leap in logic to say that we can be exactly like Jesus. If “the anointing” was what made Jesus Who He was, and if WE can also be anointed, then we, in our humanity, can become equals with Jesus. Yes, it’s subtle, but again, it’s heresy!
In paragraph 18, we notice some interesting psychological ploys that Pastor Smith uses. Here is paragraph 18:
(18) And people think the only time the anointing comes upon a person is when they get in the pulpit. Or when Tommy sits up there and he begins to praise and worship and lead and the anointing comes on him, and then we feel the presence of God out there in the crowd as the glory of God begins to come into the house. See, what God does when He brings you in here, He wants you to experience His presence. He wants, He wants to cause His presence and His power to come upon you. He wants to charge your battery, He wants to encourage you, He wants to energize you so you can face the challenges that the circumstances of this life bring to you. But if you just think the anointing only operates within the four walls of the church, you’re kinda in that typical Charismatic mindset that when a man preaches, he feels the anointing of God, or when someone sings, they feel the anointing, or when someone’s in the prayer chamber they feel that power and presence of God.
While it’s not nearly as disturbing as detracting from the Godhood of Jesus, notice what Pastor Smith does in Paragraph 18…he plants the notion in his listeners’ minds that the very presence of God is within Living Word Church. He tells the audience NOT to labor under the false assumption that they will ONLY feel the presence of God while they’re at Living Word. In so doing, Smith sets up a straw man (he argues against a made-up premise to prove the opposite point of what he seems to be making).
In other words, it’s highly doubtful that Smith’s people actually think that the presence of God ONLY exists within the four walls of the church. It’s also doubtful that Smith himself believes his people think that. But he sets it up as though it’s just a GIVEN that the presence of God is located at Living Word. This is psychologically manipulative. It causes people to view Living Word Church as some special, consecrated, sanctified spot where God literally dwells, in a more tangible and special way.
Smith also puts in a shameless plug for his son Tommy’s “anointedness” when he talks about Tommy leading worship. When we were attending Living Word, we noticed that Smith was always doing this with his sons – he was always injecting the notion that his boys shared his special “anointing” – even when it should have been obvious that they were just young, inexperienced, moderately talented young men. Tommy had written a few nice worship songs and could play the piano well, but the sad truth was, he was tone deaf and did not have the voice for singing. More bothersome to me was that Tommy also displayed a certain “spiritual tone deafness,” where he seemed totally insensitive to the responses of the people. For instance, we’d sing a touching song that had stirred people to the point of tears, to where the mood would be very tender and emotional. But rather than flowing with that, Tommy would jump in and squelch it by barking ill-timed orders to “Give the Lord a great shout!”
Yet Pastor Smith is very careful to plant the idea that somehow, his audience labors under the notion that they need Tommy to bring them into the presence of God. It’s not heresy, but it’s sure clever and worth noting.
Toward the end of paragraph 20, Pastor Smith suddenly segues into talking about Joseph. But where in Scripture do we read that Joseph was “anointed”? We don’t. Smith is making a logical jump from seeing “favor” on Joseph’s life, and equating that with “anointing,” without ever backing up this leap with Scripture. This is an important thing to note, because from this point in the sermon on, Smith tends to use the terms “favor” and “anointing” interchangeably. Yet he gives us no Biblical reason for equating favor with anointing…perhaps because there IS no Biblical reason!
In paragraph 21, Smith declares that “God wants anointed businessmen,” and then goes on to tell his audience all about how God wants them to succeed. Yet once again, where in the Bible do we read ANY of this? Where does it say, specifically, that God wants anointed businessmen? Where does it say that God even wants us to succeed in our businesses? Certainly there have been occasions where God has allowed Christian businessmen to go bankrupt in order to teach them some fruits of the Spirit, or some other character-shaping lessons. Certainly, if you consider all of Scripture and “the whole counsel of God,” it is evident that occasionally, God will permit hardships to come into the lives of His children.
In paragraph 22, Pastor Smith finally gets around to defining “anointing.” Here is his definition:
(22) Anointing. Anointing is the transference or impartation of divine power and authority. Anointing is the transference or impartation of divine power and authority. Now if you are anointed, or when the anointing of God is released upon your life…there will be an impartation of power and there will be an impartation of authority. I’m gonna talk more about that in just a minute. It also declares that anointing is a bestowal of favor and an impartation of virtue and holiness.
We can’t help but wonder, where is Smith getting this? Where in Scripture do we read any of these definitions? If they’re not from the Bible, Smith should say where they come from. Is it from some Bible dictionary? Some commentary? His own head? Who knows!
In paragraph 23, Smith says:
(23) Now, let’s just talk about this for a few…Most people think of when a person is anointed, they have power. That’s part of it. The Bible says in the book of Romans, I believe it’s the 11th chapter and the 29th verse, it says, “The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance. Let’s stop there for just a second. It says, “The gifts and the callings of God are without repentance.” So how many would agree if it’s a gift, it came from God. And how many would agree if there’s a call on your life, it came from God. And basically, God says, if I release it, I’m not taking it back. I’m not sad that I spoke it, I’m not grieved over the fact that I declared it, and as long as you live on earth, you will have to live with the responsibility that you were called of God, and you’ll have to live with the responsibility that I put the gifting of the power in you to fulfill that call.
Since Smith says, “Let’s stop there for just a second,” I’ll agree with him. LET’S just stop there. What does Romans 11:29 actually say? More importantly, let’s examine Romans 11:29 within the context of the entire chapter of Romans 11.
Before we proceed, click on the link to read Romans 11, paying special attention to how verse 29 fits into the chapter.
Romans 11 is discussing the Jews, and how, although they’ve rejected Jesus, we Gentiles still owe them a debt of gratitude. We must not look down on them, because God is never going to renege on His promises to them. THAT is where the verse (Romans 11:29) comes in – “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” In other words, God’s gifts TO THE JEWS and calling OF THE JEWS are not going away. This has NOTHING to do with the supposed “gifting” that God gives to us as Christians.
And yes, we’re aware that as Christians, we have now been grafted in to Israel. By virtue of our faith (a gift from God), we are now part of “the seed of Abraham,” and can now share in the promises made to Israel. BUT, in Romans 11, Paul is specifically talking to the Gentiles about what their attitude toward the Jews should be. If Romans 11:29 were applicable to the Gentiles whom Paul was addressing, it seems like he would have been careful to say so. Instead, read in context, Romans 11:29 is discussing God’s promises made specifically to ethnic Jews, not the Church in general.
Here we see classic Charismaniac Scripture-whacking at its finest. Charismaniacs almost always pluck Bible verses out of context to support what they say. As we’ve already seen, Smith’s standard practice is to read one or two verses and use them as a text to support an hour-long sermon. Here, Smith takes a single line (“The gifts and the callings of God are without repentance”) and uses it to prop up the notion that if God has given you a “prophetic vision” of something, then God will not let that thing die. God is bound to fulfill it.
This might not seem like it’s all that bad, but trust me, in real life, at Living Word Church, this type of message poses special dangers. You see, many people at Living Word are there because they are especially into the “gifts of the Spirit.” In particular, they are into prophecy. And many folks at Living Word genuinely believe that they’ve either received a “word” from Pastor Smith (who speaks for God), or that they received a “word” or vision on their own, also from God. We’ve discussed at other times how Pastor Smith’s prophecies tend to go, so we won’t get into that again except to briefly say that Smith generally gives people very positive prophecies, all about how financially prosperous they’re going to be, how much influence they’re going to have in the world, and how they will rise up and lead people.
It’s safe to say that if you’ve received a “word” from Pastor Smith, you’d love for it to come true. Also, the folks that we personally knew who had had “visions” about their “destinies” (this was really very common among Living Word attendees) tended to have grandiose ideas about loads of money, fancy mansions, and world-famous ministries for themselves.
So you have to understand, hearing this type of message from the pulpit – that “the gifts and the callings of God are without repentance” – has special significance to the people at Living Word, as just about all of them have some big dream about their “destiny.” This is the reason why many of them come to church, because through Pastor Smith’s messages, they receive much-needed “shots in the arm” to keep going for another week, to keep believing in their dreams.
For instance, we had friends at Living Word, dear sisters, who were (probably still are) utterly convinced that “God told them” they were going to run a “hospitality” ministry and own a particular mansion in a particular high-end neighborhood here in our city. They’d also had visions of a specific dollar amount ($53 million) that God was going to give them at some point, to make this dream come true. I know that you’re probably shaking your head and smiling at this, but it was NOT a joke to these two gals. They were staking their entire future on this prophetic vision, to the neglect of their current jobs. And rather than putting any money away for retirement, or working to own a more attainable home (like a moderately priced townhome), they were giving huge “faith offerings” and planning for the day when “God was going to retire them” and place them into this mansion and ministry.
And this is just one example. In our time at Living Word, we realized that just about everyone we met there also had some sort of professional “ministry” that they were hoping to move into full-time.
So a message like this, where a single Bible verse is plucked out of context, has some very real and very dangerous ramifications. What does it do to these folks’ faith in Christ, if they are told, FALSELY, that God almost “has” to fulfill their dreams and visions because Romans 11:29 says so? Once again, the glorious work of Christ on the Cross has been minimized, taking second place to our earthly “calling,” and once again, Smith runs the very real risk of portraying God as a liar.
We then read, in the middle of paragraph 24,
…So it said, “The gifts and the callings of God are without repentance.” So if you wanna change the wording in there just a little bit, you could also say, “The, uh, power and the authority of God are without repentance.” Authority and power are different.
We noticed (as did alert reader AJS) that Smith makes another strange leap in logic here. My immediate reaction to this segue was, Oh great. Now we’re not only abusing Scripture by ripping it out of context and incorrectly applying it to something that it never meant. Now we’re also changing the WORDING of the Scripture! Since when do “gifts” and “calling” equal “power” and “authority”? They don’t! Not in ANY dictionary.
But after redefining terms midstream, Smith continues for several more minutes to talk about “power” and “authority,” as though he’d just supported this leap with Scripture. Yet he didn’t even support it with a dictionary.
Then Smith says, in paragraph 26,
(26) So when, when the anointing comes upon a person’s life, understand something, you don’t anoint yourself. You just don’t wake up and say, “OK, I’m anointed.” There’s an impartation.
We found this statement to be almost humorous. Because, while Smith declares with absolute authority that you can’t “anoint yourself,” HE has certainly anointed HIMSELF. Smith doesn’t ever explain where he gets his OWN authority from. But we’re expected to believe in HIS anointing without question. He bases his entire ministry upon his anointing.
Reader (and commenter) AJS also makes this interesting point about “anointing” and “impartation”:
…there is a narrow definition of impartation implicit within the message which defines impartation strictly in terms of laying hands on people. In reality, more impartation happens in discipleship relationships than anywhere else. Oddly enough, the only mention of Jesus doing anything like anointing the disciples is in Matthew 10, but there is no record of Jesus laying hands on them. If the laying on of hands is so important, why isn’t it mentioned there of all places? (See the full text of AJS’s observations in the “Comments” section following the Transcript post.)
In paragraphs 26 and 27, Pastor Smith makes yet another interesting transition. Considering the fact that the subject of this sermon is supposedly “The Anointing,” it’s rather bizarre that we find Smith saying the following:
(26) …Ah, the problem we got with most churches, is that they want a soul-ish relationship with their pastor. Now they say they don’t, but they really do, because if you don’t have enough pie and coffee with some folks, they not gonna stay. I don’t know why they want Marie Callender as their pastor. You know, they want Ronald McDonald, they want Marie Callender, they, they just – they want a buddy. They want a religious buddy. Uh, er, there’s plenty of people out here in the crowd that can be your religious buddy. But see, what begins to happen is people begin to crave a soul-ish relationship with somebody that is not raised up by God to be their buddy.
(27) Now it’s real quiet. And so [mimics a whining voice], “He won’t be my buddy! He’s distant!” Do you realize what it takes to do what I do? Do you realize what it takes to have a word that is broad enough to touch every person that comes through the door and not be impacted by what everybody in the crowd is dealing with and their issues? One of the hardest things about pasturing a smaller church is this: everybody wants to make sure you know all their stuff. So then if you preach, then somebody gets mad, because they say, “Yeah, he preached that because I told him that.” Well, the bigger this church gets, I don’t know much of anything but Christ and Him crucified. And people say, “Well, you’re distanced.” Well, maybe that distance isn’t so bad. Maybe that distance is the ability to be an anointer. Maybe what all of a sudden starts happening is you’re able to make an impartation into people’s lives because their expectation of you is not to be their buddy, but their expectation is that you can impart something into their life, that you can put your hand upon them and really not know everything about all their business, but you can, in faith, become a person of supernatural agreement to see breakthroughs come into their life. See, you don’t need another buddy. What you need is somebody who can make an impartation into your life. So what’s happened, though, what’s happened is people begin to come into church and they begin to come into environments, and they’re not hungering for the presence of God.
Since this has NOTHING to do with “The Anointing,” it’s not rocket science to realize that Smith has some other purpose in these two paragraphs – some other hidden agenda – than defining “The Anointing.” What is he REALLY trying to teach his people here?
Well, Smith is using these two paragraphs to respond to a very real criticism that he is completely distant from his people. That is simply a true fact. He does NOT deal with anybody on a personal level. He walks around the church facility ONLY if he’s surrounded by his bodyguards. Special velvet ropes are strung across the walkway before Smith travels from his office to the stage entrance. He doesn’t even bother to worship with the people, instead making his grand entrance toward the end of the singing time. This is a very real problem at Living Word.
But Smith is setting up another straw man here. Nobody really wants or expects him to be available to go out for pie and coffee. People aren’t so crazy that they think they’re all going to be his friend. But they WOULD like a pastor who shows some connection to the circumstances of the average person’s life, and Smith obviously does not want to do this. He likes his mansion, he likes his absolutely top-of-the-line Mercedes, he likes his designer clothes and the perks of being a mini-celebrity in his own little world. He LIKES the distance. So he uses this part of the sermon to promote the crazy idea that somehow, by distancing himself from the people and holding himself ABOVE the people (rather than being a SERVANT, like Jesus commanded), he is somehow doing his PEOPLE a favor. He’s better able to “deliver a word” to them, if he is totally out of touch with them.
This has nothing to do with “The Anointing,” but it DOES serve Smith’s own purposes for promoting himself. Does anyone else find this kind of manipulation as appalling as we do?
Well, our post is almost up to 5,000 words, and we’ve only made it a little less than halfway through this sermon, so we’ll stop for now and take it up again shortly, when we hope to post the rest of our analysis. In the meantime, please do us the honor of sharing YOUR thoughts. We value your input, particularly if you add some insights directly from the Bible.