By Hank Hanegraaff

In genuine revivals, one characteristic stands out above all the others: the passion to communicate the love, joy, and peace that only Christ can bring to the human heart. In stark contrast, counterfeit revival traffics in all that appeals to the F-L-E-S-H.

FABRICATIONS, FANTASIES, AND FRAUDS. Counterfeit revivalists pepper their preaching and practice with fabrications, fantasies, and frauds, blithely unaware of the profound consequences. As a result, many followers who at first flooded into their “power centers” are now disillusioned. Some have slipped into the kingdom of the cults, no longer knowing what to believe or whom to trust, secretly fearing that the untrustworthiness of those who claim to be God’s representatives is tantamount to the untrustworthiness of God Himself. When selling and sensationalism become more tantalizing than the truth, the very fabric of our faith is compromised. While the counterfeit is founded on fabrications, fantasies, and frauds, genuine revival rests firmly on the foundation of faith and facts.

LYING SIGNS AND WONDERS. Counterfeit revivalists often point back to Jonathan Edwards and the First Great Awakening in order to validate their lying signs and wonders. Edwards, however, believed that those very signs and wonders to which they appeal actually contributed to the fall of that Great Awakening. While imprudences and irregularities were by-products of the First Great Awakening, in the Second they were the bottom line. Like Edwards, nineteenth-century circuit rider Peter Cartwright not only denounced them but offered the practice of prayer as a remedy. While counterfeit revival finds its validation in lying signs and wonders, genuine revival always finds its genesis in the Living Word.

END-TIME RESTORATIONISM. This is the belief that, at the end of the age, God would restore supernatural signs, super-apostles, and super-prophets—and this belief is key in the mythology of Counterfeit Revivalism. By the middle of the twentieth century, men like A. A. Allen, William Branham, and Jack Coe were perpetrating the myth that a restoration of healing would lead to a final Pentecost greater than the first. As such, counterfeit revivalists began to proclaim the restoration of apostles and prophets. The Kansas City Prophets went so far as to declare that “no prophet or apostle who ever lived equated the power of these individuals in this great army of the Lord in these last days. No one ever had it, not even Elijah or Peter or Paul, or anyone else enjoyed the power that is going to rest on this great army.” While counterfeit revival presumes such end-time restorations, genuine revival is predicated on earnest repentance.

SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT. Today thousands are “slain in the spirit” in the name of a fashionable demonstration of Holy Ghost power. While counterfeit revivalists attribute this phenomenon to the Holy Ghost, in reality it has much more in common with Hindu gurus and hucksters who employ sociopsychological manipulation tactics in order to dupe devotees. The Dictionary of Pentecostals and Charismatic Movements candidly notes that “an entire battalion of Scripture proof texts is enlisted to support the legitimacy of the phenomenon, although Scripture plainly offers no support for the phenomenon as something to be expected in the normal Christian life.” Despite the pious attribution of this phenomenon to the Holy Spirit as well as the pragmatic addition of “catchers,” multitudes continue to suffer spiritual, emotional, and physical damage from this practice. Some have even died. While the counterfeit revival is fixated on sensational manifestations, genuine revival is focused on salvation and sanctification in the Spirit.

HYPNOTISM. What was once relegated to the ashrams of cults is now replicated at the altars of churches. Whether they are referred to as Hindu gurus or Holy Ghost bartenders, the methods they employ have much in common. They work subjects into altered states of consciousness, use peer pressure to conform them to predictable patterns, depend heavily on arousing people’s expectations, and, by the power of suggestion, make subjects willing to accept virtually anything that enters their minds. Cynics may write off the use of altered states of consciousness, peer pressure, expectations, and suggestive powers as mere sociopsychological manipulation, but Christians must perceive an even more significant threat—these techniques are fertile soil for satanic and spiritual deception. While leaders of the Counterfeit Revival enslave devotees through hypnotic schemes, leaders of genuine revival enlighten disciples through Holy Scripture.

While multitudes clamor for a massive revival, what the body of Christ desperately needs is a mighty reformation. Only as the church is reformed will the culture be revived. The real experience is not found in the works of the F-L-E-S-H; rather, it is found in the fundamentals of the faith.

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I
did not cease to admonish each one with tears.

Acts 20:28–31 NASB








For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, Counterfeit Revival: Looking for God in All the Wrong Places, rev. ed. (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2001).



***Note the preceding text is adapted from The Complete Bible Answer Book: Collector’s Edition: Revised and Expanded (2024). To receive for your partnering gift please click here. ***