This is a distinctive Gnostic doctrine (attaining godhood) that came out of the Latter Rain Movement & was taught by William Branham, who also said that Jesus emptied Himself by pouring Himself into the church and that his church was now the fullness of God in bodily form.
Central to Manifested Sons of God doctrine is the idea that sonship comes through higher revelation. The Christian life is fragmented into stages of maturity: the first step is that of servant of God; the next step is to become a friend of God; following this is to become a son of God and, ultimately, gods ourselves. ApologeticsIndex
The ‘Manifest Sons of God’ followers were divided into two major sects. ‘The Walk’ (or The Living Word )(1), and also the ‘Body of Christ’.
The Walk started in 1950’s under the “apostleship” of John Robert Stevens, who like Paul Cain (1) & others was a William Branham’s disciple. Stevens was defrocked first by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel & later by the Assemblies of God because of his unbiblical doctrines. He then founded a network of churches called the Walk, his was the ‘Church of the Living Word’ in Redondo Beach, California, continued today by Gary Hargrave . ‘Living Word’ meant the ‘rhema’ word since J.R. Stevens taught that the Bible text was a dead letter. Please see short documentary of the cult by ex-member Tony Cox.
John Robert Stevens taught that astral projection could be performed, and cited 1 Corinthians 5:3-4 for support, claiming that Paul was able to project his soul to Corinth from a distant point. Also taught that he and his followers were the manifestation of the Second Coming of Jesus & that in some sense, he was greater than Christ, that Christ’s return was a “Presence” among ‘Walk followers’ for signs and wonders. He also believed the Bible to be unfinished & he was always eager for “new revelation”.
After he died, some of the members of his “Apostolic Company” (Sam Fife, Mel Baley, George Warnock (former personal secretary to Ern Baxter a William Branham associate), Francis Frangipane, Royal Cronquist (FGBMFI), Bill Britton (Lake Hamilton Bible Camp), etc.) became involved with the Word of Faith movement or other Latter Rain groups, without ever renouncing the Walk doctrines. Sam Fife founded ‘The Body of Christ‘ in 1962 a.k.a ‘The Move’, Francis Frangipane, was a former pastor of Coniah Chapel, a ‘Walk’ church in San Diego, another became a leader at Ken Hagin’s Rhema Bible Institute, Mel Baley was on staff with ‘Kingdom Now’ pastor Earl Paulk (see Paulk’s paper, Thy Kingdom Come, Feb. 1987, p.9 for a Bailey article); disciple Mark Virkler, became curriculum director for Thomas F. Reid’s Association of Church-Centered Bible Schools. (Reid and Virkler are the two principal co-authors of Seduction?? a response to book by Dave Hunt The Seduction of Christianity).
To arrive to this false doctrine they add new revelation & twisted Rom.8:19
- “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing (manifestation) of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
This doctrine forms part of the “Dominion Theology” & it’s taught today by Word of Faith & New Apostolic Reformation among others. They teach the Manifest Sons of God, also called Joel’s Army or a ‘New breed‘ are like a militant church under the leadership of “restored” apostles & prophets & those who go further into the different levels will achieve a certain degree of holiness & will obtain immortality or godhood (Gnostic doctrine). They will take over the world (Dominion) politically & spiritually by incarnating Jesus Christ (the Church becomes Christ). In other words they are looking forward for the glorification of a Corporate Church, which will become perfect & immortal here on earth. Most say Christ does not physically return, but returns within us. They say they are partakers of the divine nature (God’s DNA -even we are adopted!), & are to be manifested to lead the end-times church & do spoils (wealth transfer, etc.) in God’s name. They say will bring judgment upon the ungodly and ALL who do not accept the authority of their NEW Apostles and prophets & trough them God will change legislation (They already have several of their own Dominionist & Gnostic candidates positioned on politics).
In his 1966 book ‘Subdue the Earth, Rule the Nations’, Latter-Rain leader Franklin Hall said:
The man-child group of the sons of God will be required “to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Revelation 12:5). 3
The rapture, according to them, will be of the wicked – not of believers. There will be no rapture for the believer, nor a Millennium reign with Christ.
“Not only will they not have diseases, they will also not die. They will have the kind of imperishable bodies that are talked about in the 15th chapter of Corinthians … this army is invincible. If you have intimacy with God, they can’t kill you.” ( Paul Cain, “Joel’s Army,” 1990 p. 218)
“the doctrine of the Rapture was a great and effective ruse of the enemy to implant in the Church a retreat mentality … already this yoke has been cast off by the majority in the advancing church, and it will soon be cast off by all.” (Rick Joyner, The Harvest 1989 /1990 revised booklet on pg.121)
“Read the parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Matthew 13:24-30 and you will see that at the end of this age the “ANGELS” are sent forth to remove evil from the earth. That word “ANGELS” also means messengers. So God may use some of us to finish up the work of this age.” Paul Crouch, PTL Newsletter, March, 1994.
But according to the Scriptures many saints still will die (Rev.20:4) & it is only after the millennium that the new heavens and earth replace the former and death (& sickness) will be no more (Rev.21:4). Sadly people believing in this doctrine eagerly wait for the ‘Sons of God’ to be manifest to make spoils, but not for our Lord Jesus.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Phil.3:20-21
They also teach that the methods used by New Age & the occult should also be used by Christians because supposedly Satan stole these methods & we should reclaim them to use them for God.
‘thus saith the Lord: Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven;
for the heathen are dismayed at them’. Jer. 10:2
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion has light with darkness? 15 What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what part has he who believes with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. . . 17 Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor.6:14-18.
Mark Virkler author of “4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice”, and some other books, was a disciple of ‘apostle’ John Robert Stevens, & said (to Georgie Kinyon of ‘We Care Ministries’) that he “had studied” under John Stevens and didn’t see anything wrong with his doctrines. He was also influenced on how to interpret dreams by the teachings of Herman Riffel (who feminized God in his book “Dream Interpretation” p.119, was a fan of Episcopal priest & Jungian therapist Morton Kelsey & also a fan of Kabbalistic (1) Carl G. Jung).
Virkler said he was introduced in inner healing in a retreat conducted by mystic (Jesuit) priests Matt & Dennis Linn which teach Ignatian spirituality (named after Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order). Now Virkler teaches seminars designed to “get a two-way communication with Almighty God” trough visualization & Journaling, exercises he learned from these Jesuit priests (whom also teach inner healing by visualization of Mary & Joseph). In his seminars he teaches God gives ‘revelation’ to heathens, so we Christians can learn from them also! But this is false! He cites as example the dream God gave to Pharaoh.
Believers can learn material things from heathens, like math, how to build a house, etc. but not ‘spiritual’ things! God tells us in His Word: “Learn not the way of the heathen” Jer.10;2, Deut.12:30, 20:18, etc.
-Pharaoh’s dream had to do with God’s redemptive plan for the nation of Israel, to put Joseph into a position of leadership Gen.41:38-57 & to help many countries survive a famine, thousands of lives were on stake (similarly Babylonian king & Daniel)! But the ‘revelation’ of the dream, God gave it to His godly men not the heathens!! None of Pharaoh’s or Babylonian king’s magicians & wise men could interpret the dreams, these were given to these leaders because they were kings of those lands influencing thousands not only materially but also spiritually. Also these godly men (Joseph & Daniel) never asked for those dreams or followed a spiritual exercise or journaling in order to get an interpretation.
I believe in dreams from God because the bible mentions them, but not all dreams are from God as Virkler teaches, (See Jer.23:32, 29:8, Zech.10:2, Jude 8). However God will give them to us when He considers we need them, without us pressing after them, like is seen throughout the Bible.
Also, we don’t learn to be prophets like they teach, but it’s a gift! “Are all prophets? “1 Cor.12:29, the Holy Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. vs.11
17 But, beloved, remember the words that were previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last days there will be scoffers who will walk after their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who cause divisions, sensual (G5591=worldly-minded), devoid of the Spirit. Jude 1:10-19
Out of the Pan & Into the Fire a Testimony from an ex-member of ‘The Walk’.