Note: We have moved. Keep up to date with C3 Church and Phil Pringle on Church Watch Central.
It seems Phil Pringle regards himself as a scholar of the Holy Spirit, and not only Phil – earlier this year at Hillsong Conference, Brian Houston said Phil Pringle is a man who is in tune with and an expert on the Holy Spirit. In this article, we will clearly demonstrate that Pringle has very little understanding at all and promotes a spirit that actually works against the Holy Spirit.
Before addressing Pringle’s teachings on the Holy Spirit, it’s important to look at how the Apostle Paul contrasts the ways of the Holy Spirit to the ways of false teachers.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 4:11-14
Those equipped by the Holy Spirit are built up in the KNOWLEDGE of Jesus. Cunning and crafty people keep people in their spiritual infancy and have them “blown here and there by every wind of teaching”. You can’t rely on the subjective leadings and promptings to build and equip the people of God. Can you imagine a worker building his house like this? Instead you need objective instruction and guidelines to build and equip the body of Christ. Unlike Jesus and His Apostles, Pringle builds on the ways of the wind – as we are about to see.
WAYS OF THE WIND:
Pringle clearly sees himself as a teacher in the Christian church. Unfortunately, it’s apparent that he is biblically incompetent on a fairly fundamental level. (See our C3′S BIBLE GARBLE section.) Pringle has already demonstrated that he can’t make up his mind what the church is and doesn’t have the ability to comprehend if a Christian is set free and right-standing in Christ or not. Phil Pringle gets more fundamentally awry when he starts teaching on the topic of the Holy Spirit.
On the topic of the Holy Spirit, he shows he has very little understanding of the third person of the Trinity. This is evident in his teaching on the character, nature and purpose of the Holy Spirit, the ability to discern things in the Spirit and what the role of ‘tongues’ is in the Spirit. Once we start to unpack these key areas, we start to understand why Phil Pringle’s theology is so subjective, convoluted, confusing and messy. On a more serious note, Christians have to wonder if Pringle knows God the Holy Spirit at all.
MOVING IN THE ‘SUBJECTIVE SPIRIT’ OR ‘SPIRIT OF TRUTH’?
Phil Pringle introduces his book ‘Moving In The Spirit’ with some false claims about the Holy Spirit.
“The Holy Spirit is not merely a ‘truth’ of Scripture. He is not just a subject to be studied. He is a person. Relating to the Holy Spirit is a subjective experience, encountering a person living in a different dimension to ours.” – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 3.
Is relating to the Holy Spirit really a ‘subjective experience’? Jesus says this about the Holy Spirit and how he operates in relation to the world:
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11 (Emphasis added)
Does it sound as though our relationship with the Holy Spirit is a subjective experience?
The above is pretty self-explanatory. We can see that Jesus promotes the Holy Spirit as a very objective person of the Godhead that convicts men of their sins and shortcomings before God.
How? The Holy Spirit has chosen to move through the preaching of the gospel, the Word of God. This is why the writer of Hebrews observes that the Word of God is living and ‘sharper than a double-edged sword’,
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning [judging] the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13
There is no room for the human soul to subjectively relate to the Holy Spirit when He comes convicting them with the evidence of their sin before God.
Furthermore, doesn’t the Holy Spirit lead us to the scriptures so we can learn about Jesus Christ? Doesn’t the Holy Spirit grow and mature us in Christ so we may daily glorifying Him? The Word of God reveals that it was the Holy Spirit who wrote God’s Word and claims, “Thy Word is truth”. There’s nothing subjective about the person of the Holy Spirit.
More importantly, the Holy Spirit does not live “in a different dimension to ours”. That is a pagan philosophy and is a teaching not heard of in the scriptures. That teaching would have come from Pringle’s ‘Apostolic oversight’, David Yonggi Cho – a man who has blurred paganism with Christianity, attributing demonic practices to Holy Spirit living.
We are not taking Pringle out of context. Prior to the above quote, he said this.
“The Holy Spirit is a person!
Those expecting this [book] to be an exhaustive Scriptural study on the Holy Spirit will be disappointed. Rather, this is an effort to aid you in ministry through introducing you to the Holy Spirit. To the person, not just the subject, or the knowledge.
Obviously, Scripture is the yardstick of any spiritual experience. We must know what the Bible states about unseen realities. However, occasionally we all fall into knowing about truths, yet fail to experience them.” – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 3.
The way he introduces his book is fairly clumsy. Some books do not have to be exhaustive to give a reasonable introduction to the Holy Spirit. However, the Holy Spirit gave us the scriptures. So a basic introduction to the topic of the Holy Spirit should at least be a decent scriptural study on the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, the above introduction is flawed on this basis: the Holy Spirit wants to ALWAYS introduce you or point you to Jesus, not Himself. Jesus continues,
““I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes,
he will guide you into all the truth, for
he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever
he hears he will speak, and
he will declare to you the things that are to come.
He will glorify me, for
he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
John 16:12-14 (Emphasis added)
A good teacher will always be teaching a student truths in a subject. The teacher will try to remove obstacles that may get in the way of the child’s learning, including themselves. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is like a good teacher on the subject of Jesus Christ. If the Holy Spirit is the focus, He is not a good teacher and probably not the Holy Spirit (since it is at fault pointing to himself and not to the Son – therefore not a holy spirit). As Jesus said, the Spirit of Truth will clearly GUIDE people into all truth and glorify Jesus.
So do you think there is going to be much about Jesus in Pringle’s book ‘Moving in the Spirit’ or more emphasis on YOU (or Pringle) subjectively experiencing the ‘Holy Spirit’?
Since Pringle seems to be pitting a subjective Holy Spirit to the objective Holy Spirit of scriptures, you can expect his theology in this book to be extensively poor. Consider some of these quotes,
“This present Age of the Holy Spirit began with Pentecost. The Church was born in a tornado of spiritual phenomena. The first believers had no New Testament to read. They had the Old Testament, but all new revelation came from the Holy Spirit, the Great Friend of the young Church.” – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 7.
This is a dangerous teaching. Phil Pringle says that, “the Church was born in a tornado of spiritual phenomena,” suggesting that the Holy Spirit gave only new revelation to the “young church” through such phenomena. It was the Holy Spirit who wrote the Old Testament scriptures and it was Jesus who revealed how the Holy Spirit wrote about the coming person of of Jesus, His crucifixion, His resurrection, His ascension, His church and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The Apostles were not lead by ‘impressions’ but were driven by the truth of what they saw in their lifetime. They witnessed the fulfilment of scriptures before their eyes. They had Jesus teach them and “sanctify them in the truth” in understanding the purpose of the Old Testament scriptures.
The church was born through Christ’s atoning work on the cross. The Spirit came to glorify Christ and to confirm the message that the Apostles preached about Christ and Him crucified. The truth is – the church was born on the truth of what Christ had done for sinners.
“The enormous appetite for the occult and rise of a New Age Movement says the Church has not satisfied widespread hunger for spiritual reality. The message is clear. We are to be adequate, competent ministers of the Holy Spirit and His power.” – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 8.
This is a preposterous quote. Since when does the interaction between broader culture and paganism determine the actions of the church? That’s like saying: “The prevalence of atheism in our society says that the Church has not satisfied the widespread hunger for a godless existence. The message is clear. We are to be secular, rationalistic ministers of reason and naturalism”. In a way, it reeks of Pelagianism. It suggests that the wider culture is trying to seek God but we’re just not demonstrating him well enough, so they’re satisfying their godly desires in an ungodly place, the New Age Movement.
As we can see, when Pringle emphasises the ‘subjective’ relationship Christians are supposed to have with this ‘Holy Spirit’, the more dangerous this spirit actually becomes. People will exchange the spirit of truth for a seducing feel-good spirit of phenomenon and lies .
“While in prayer we ‘sensitize’ ourselves to the Spirit. We learn to ‘feel’ God, to be aware of Him, to see the Lord than our surroundings.” – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 11.
The dangerous framework laid out at the beginning of his book sums up the content pretty well. His theology on the Holy Spirit is a convoluted, nonsensical, New-Age mess filled with glaring contradictions and serious biblical flaws.
Consider this statement:
“We all consider ourselves experts in some field. We know best. We put aside ‘leadings’ and ‘impressions’. But this is why the Holy Spirit is here. He is available to us all in every area of life. Not only to pastors and preachers. The Holy Spirit is for every believer. (Acts 2:39). We are all called to be led by the Spirit. (Rom 8:14). – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 12.
It is true that we should be led by the Holy Spirit. Yet it is the Holy Spirit that leads us to His scriptures and gives us a sound, critical mind of reason. A distinguishing feature of someone who operates in the Spirit is someone with a discerning mind:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God,and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes [only] of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern [judge] good and evil.” Hebrews 5:11-14
Pringle on the other hand seems to not even lead people to embrace even the milk or meat. To at least provide milk (foundational Christian teachings) of the spirit, is at least making infants. But the ‘spirit’ Pringle offers is subjectively leading people on ‘leadings’ and impressions’, the liver shivers, the heart-felt experiences, signs, etc.
In other words, Pringle is not leading people to become even infants of God. Once again, Pringle elevates subjectivity over the Holy Spirit’s objectivity. This is incredibly dangerous. And as we are about to see, Pringle lets his personal ‘liver shivers’ do the leading in this book.
PRINGLE’S TEACHING ON DISCERNMENT:
For example, everyone should be concerned on Pringle’s definition of ‘discernment’:
“The gift of the ‘discerning of spirits’ is given to aid understanding of the spiritual world. Through this ability we gain insights of angels, demons and their activities. We know what the Holy Spirit is doing. We know what attitude He is bringing to the people of God. We receive insight into a person’s spirit and the surrounding spiritual atmosphere.” – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 12.
Look at how Pringle uses the words ‘discern’, ‘discerning’ or ‘discernment’ in these sentences.
“The New Testament minister should be able to discern what God is doing. We are to understand the movings of the Holy Spirit, what He is doing. We should know what the ‘mood’ of the Spirit is. We should be able to discern the atmosphere of a place, whether good or bad…
… Discerning of spirits is given so we correctly perceive the true motivation of people’s actions and words…
… Discerning of spirits gives knowledge of angels and their activities…
… During these ‘discernings’, I did not actually ‘see’ an angel. I simply discerned that angels were present.” – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 86-87.
This information on Pringle is important. This is because the true gift of discernment is given to people who are faithful in studying the scriptures, which Pringle dismally fails to do.
Charles Spurgeon says this about discernment:
“By this the elect of God are known—that they love the Word of God, and they have a reverence for it, and discern between it and the words of man… The sheep of Christ know the Shepherd’s voice in the Word, and a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers. God’s own people have discernment to discover and relish God’s own Word. They will not be misled by the cunning craftiness of human devices. Saints know the Scriptures by inward instinct. The holy life, which God has infused into believers by his Spirit, loves the Scriptures, and learns how to use them for holy purposes. Young soldier, you must go to the training-ground of the Holy Spirit to be made a proficient swordsman.” – Charles Spurgeon, The Sword of the Spirit, 19th of April, 1891.
Spurgeon is also known for saying, “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right”. His teaching on discernment rings true to what scripture teaches.
“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to diakrisin good from evil.” Hebrews 5:13-14 (Edit ours)
In the Greek, diakrisin means ‘distinguish’ or ‘discern’. In Hebrews 4, we see the writer use the word ‘kritikos’ to describe how the ‘Word of God’ functions. ‘Kritikos’ means ‘critical, able to judge or discern’. The context in Hebrews 4 says,
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
We see that it is the ‘Word of God’ that is “discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. Christ is the Word of God and His Spirit to the church gives us His written ‘Word of God’ that also fulfills that role of discernment. The writings of the Holy Spirit can help us see the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It is Paul who reveals that he can put God’s Word in practice in light of proper discernment. He wished to deal with the Corinthian church and the false teachers who were wreaking havoc among the believers.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
When reading the Apostle Paul and other New Testament writers who wrote under the influence of the Holy Spirit, compare how objective they are to the ambiguous mind and teachings of Phil Pringle. Pringle has no clue whatsoever how he should read scripture and how he should grow in his understanding of the Holy Spirit. This leads us to his very bizarre teaching on spiritual languages.
FOUNDATIONAL SCHIZOPHRENIC LANGUAGES?
Chapter 6 in his book ‘Moving in the Spirit’ is titled ‘The Gifts of the Spirit’ which consists of a peculiar layout of sub-chapters. Under the title of ‘VOCAL GIFTS’, Pringle says, “Tongues is evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit” (pg. 74). He teaches this is the ‘evidence’ required of a believer:
“Three kind of languages:
– Other Languages…
– Unknown Languages…
– Angelic Languages…” – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 75-76.
According to Pringle, “Other Languages” were “languages which disciples in the Upper Room spoke on the Day of Pentecost” (pg. 75). However he seems to imply that it is more than just native human languages and “does not require interpretation” (pg. 75). Hold this thought.
According to Pringle, “Unknown languages” is “intended, not for others, but for God. No interpretation necessary” (pg. 76).
Pringle says that “Angelic Languages” are “communications from God to man. This is an unintelligible (to earthly ears) message… It is the language of angels (1 Corinthians 13:1). It is a message from God, via an angel, spoken by a believer, to the church… Angelic tongues need interpretation”.
‘Angelic Languages’ is not something that Paul the Apostle was promoting. In fact, when Paul mentioned the ‘tongues of angels’, he had “false apostles” and “deceitul workmen” (2 Cor 11) of Corinth in mind who promoted angelic experiences over the teachings of Jesus’ Apostles. Although 1 Corinthians 13 sounds beautiful and addresses the fridge or mantle pieces in Christian homes, the chapter stands as a rebuke to contrast Christian love against the ‘love’ of these deceitful workers. Their love for the church was nothing more than a ‘clanging gong’.
“And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”2 Corinthians 11:12-15
These false teachers in Corinth promoted angelic experience and false teachings and had not love. Nowhere in scriptures are we taught to speak in ‘angelic languages’. For Pringle to promote that Christians are to speak in ‘angelic languages’ as ‘evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit’ is dangerous. This would only open up people to demonic attack.
Attempting to understand Phil Pringle’s continually inconsistent theology on the topic of the Holy Spirit has been a challenge for us in his books. He ends his book desiring people to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and to speak in tongues:
“Thirdly, speak in tongues. Acts 2:4 tells us that they ‘began to speak’. Give voice to your new language. You ask . . . The Holy Spirit falls on you . . . You speak with new tongues.
Speak, until out of your most innermost being flow rivers of living water, just as Jesus promise(sic).” – Phil Pringle, Moving In The Spirit, pg. 112.
Hold this quote in your thoughts. Now that we have examined ‘Moving In The Spirit’, we can begin to understand how lost Pringle becomes in his own subjective teachings on the third person of the trinity. You are being warned! You are now about to enter the twilight zone of Phil Pringle…
THE SCHOLARLY WORK OF PRINGLE: SEVEN BIG THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE WORK
We would like to point you to Phil Pringle promoting his book “7 Big Things That Make Life Work”. This is how he promotes his book online:
“Seven Big Things That Make Life Work focuses on the basic foundational truths of the Christian life in an exciting new way – biblical without being religious and scholarly without being dry. Pastor and author Phil Pringle combines a scholarly, biblical approach with a thoroughly Spirit-filled theology.” – Resource, PhilPringle.com, http://philpringle.com/resource/7-things-that-make-life-work, (Accessed 29/03/2013).
Pringle regards his work to be “scholarly”? Bit of advice Phil, use references and footnotes.
Now we need you to remember what Pringle said in his above book on Acts and what languages (or tongues) Pringle said the Apostles spoke in. First, we look at the scriptures in Acts 2 since Pringle is quite confused what actually occurred there.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”” Acts 2:5-12
It’s clear in this passage that God blessed His Apostles by allowing the Holy Spirit in them to speak the native languages of gentiles as Acts records. In SBT, Pringle writes about the day of Pentecost and the language that the Holy Spirit gave the disciples.
This is when the Spirit empowers a person to speak a foreign language that they have not learned. The speaker supernaturally communicates a message from the Lord in another language to people. Obviously, it is the language of the hearers. This is what happened on the day of Pentecost. Many foreign proselytes were attending the Feasts of Passover and Pentecost. God wanted to speak to them. He did so in their own languages.” – Phil Pringle, Seven Big Things That Mike Life Work: Principles For Successful Living, USA: Shippensburg, Destiny Image Publishers Inc, 2010, pg. 81.
This sounds right, doesn’t it? We actually agree with Phil Pringle here. However, eleven pages later he says this:
“Third, speak in tongues. Acts 2:4 tells us that they “began to speak.” Give voice to your new language. You ask…the Holy Spirit falls on you… You speak in new tongues. Speak, until out of your most innermost being flow rivers of living water, just as Jesus promise.” – Phil Pringle, Seven Big Things That Mike Life Work: Principles For Successful Living, USA: Shippensburg, Destiny Image Publishers Inc, 2010, pg. 92.
Sound familiar? Even though this is in his ‘scholarly’ book ‘Seven Big Things That Make Life Work’, this is taken straight out of his book ‘Moving in the Spirit’.
Using the same event, Pringle cannot make up his mind what Luke recorded at Pentecost. His teaching is clearly absurd and sadly highlights how double-minded Phil Pringle is on the topic of the Holy Spirit. But we must understand – Pringle doesn’t have to be restricted to reason or logic since his relationship with the Holy Spirit is founded on “subjective experience”.
SO SCHOLARLY, THIS WAS C3 COLLEGE MATERIAL:
We’ve been collecting resources that were used by C3 College students for their courses. A few decades ago, the college used to be called ‘Ministry Training College’ (MTC). One resource in particular we have obtained is the ‘Foundations for Leadership’ curriculum.
Remember they pride themselves in NOT being a “theological college” or “even a “bible college” per se”. On the topic of the Holy Spirit, what do you think Pringle would be teaching students in this MTC Curriculum book?
“1. Other tongues
This is where the Spirit inspires a foreign tongue which has not been learned by natural means. The speaker supernaturally communicates a message from the Lord in another language to other people. Obviously it is the language of the hearers. This is what happened on the day of Pentecost. Many foreign proselytes were attending the Feasts of Passover and Pentecost. God wanted to speak to them. He did so in their own languages, through the freshly Spirit-filled disciples. This is man speaking to man supernaturally.
2. Unknown Tongues
In 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul says:
“He who speaks in an (unknown) tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no man understands him, however, in the Spirit he speaks mysteries.”
This means that the tongue spoken of here is different from that expressed on the Day of Pentecost. No one understands this language. This is referred to as glossolalia. The gift of new tongues is most often expressed in this manner. Although unintelligible to others, it is intelligible to God. This is man speaking to God supernaturally.” – Phil Pringle, Foundations For Leadership, CCC, MTC, SCA Curriculum.
Pringle CLEARLY distinguishes a difference between “unknown tongues” and “other tongues’ but then refutes them both when teaching from Acts 2.
So what is going on here? Why can’t Pringle logically conclude what he actually believes happened on Pentecost? Why is he so double-minded on this issue? Does Pringle truly know the Holy Spirit of God? If so- why isn’t his teaching logical?
PRINGLE’S SUBJECTIVE ‘HOLY SPIRIT’:
How can Pringle’s book ‘Moving In The Spirit’ introduce you to the Holy Spirit if he is not prepared to do an accurate scriptural study on the SUBJECT and KNOWLEDGE of the Holy Spirit?
If you do read this book, what yardstick Pringle is actually using should come to mind. Pringle isn’t talking about the Spirit leading us into a greater knowledge of Christ within biblical truth and discipleship. His book elevates subjective, supernatural experiences, atmospheres, spiritual encounters, inner voices and so on.
In spite of his teachings on the Holy Spirit, Pringle keeps slipping up, peddling New Age philosophies. And it should come as no surprise when he endorses Word of Faith teachers like Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, John Avanzini, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin who all peddle occult doctrines from the New Thought cults.
Is it any wonder Pringle will peddle pantheistic, monotheistic and occultic doctrines himself?
It is incredibly dangerous to embrace the Holy Spirit as a subjective person. The scriptures clearly teach us that the Holy Spirit GAVE us the scriptures and leads us to the truth THROUGH the scriptures.
Another repeated name of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is the name ‘Spirit of Truth’. How is that name of the Spirit suggesting the Spirit of God is subjective in nature and relationship? The Holy Spirit essentially and continually points us to Christ and have Christ preached so the Holy Spirit can convict us of our sins. This really explains why Pringle comes across so double-minded in his teachings. If you want to appear biblically illiterate, embrace the subjective spirit that Pringle peddles.
(Note: Thank you to the ex-student who has provided us
with their C3 College/MTC material to C3CW/CWC