“Suing” in the Spirit?

Slain in the SpiritIf you’ve been around the charismatic movement, or even old-school Pentecostalism before, you are aware that a common feature of altar calls in some churches is the ritual falling of people “under the power” of the Holy Spirit.  The falling usually takes place after a minister lays his hand on the head of the seeker, however some preachers have been known to push hard and “help” the Holy Spirit knock folks to the ground.  In some churches, this practice is so common that “catchers” and “coverers” are trained to catch the seeker when he falls backward, and, in the case of women, “cover” their legs with a blanket.

But what happens when the catcher misses, and somebody bangs his head on the ground?  A 2.5 million dollar lawsuit, that’s what!

This last June, when Pastor Robert Lavala touched Matthew LIncoln’s forehead at the altar of a non-demonational church in Tenessee, Matthew fell backwards, striking his head against the “carpet-covered” cement floor.  Now Mr. LIncoln is suing the church for 2.5 million dollars for “severe and permanent injuries” as a result of his fall.  You can read all the details of the lawsuit here on the Smoking Gun’s website.

Over the years, I have prayed for lots of people at the altar, and I can almost always tell who is about to fall down.  When I see somebody ready to drop, I usually grab a chair and have them sit down.  They can be just as blessed in a chair as on the floor, in my view, and now it looks like I might have saved myself 2.5 million dollars.

10 Responses to “Suing” in the Spirit?

  1. SteveT says:

    If people catch on to this it could become like the ol slippin on the grape scam in the grocery store.

  2. danielbalc says:

    It doesn’t effect me so I’m not to worried about it.

    It’s a frivolous lawsuit and a frivolous exercise.

    I’m guessing the lawsuit gets tossed because the experts that will come in and testify will say that it’s the individuals choice to fall or not fall. In such a trial the experts testimony is HUGE.

    Of course for the church to win they will have to find experts that discredit their own practices. That might be slippery. hehehe

    I’m actually pretty concerned about the lawsuits we might be getting against us in CA starting next week when gays start asking pastors to marry them.

    This could be very problematic.

  3. Zrim says:

    My first year teaching was in a Full-Gospel Penty church school. They bribed their kids with Tootsie rolls to raise their hands in worship, etc. I always found it quite odd the assumption that objective incentive and subjective sponteneity go together. I hold out rewards for my children to learn their catechism, which makes sense to me. Bribing kids to “go with the Spirit” or waiting for kids to learn their catechism seems quite mis-matched.

    So, Al, does the fact that you know who’s going to hit the dirt ever make you suspect that things really aren’t so spontaneous as you might assume? Do you know who’s going down because these always the same people all the time, or do they get a certain look…?

    Daniel,

    Something tells me “the gays” have not been waiting things out so they can be married in your church. I know it’s fun and all, but I doubt you have much to worry about.

  4. Zrim,

    Our church does not promote falling down, which, in my view, is a taught and learned response to prayer and rarely a supernatural event. I have never fallen down, even though I have had many guys push back on my head until my neck hurt. One such preacher was so determined that I finally had to grab his arm and say, “Brother, unless God helps you, you are much too small to knock me over.”

    Yes, Zrim, I am skeptical of many practices is the charismatic world, which is why I stick to the Pauline order of worship found in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, culminating with the command to “let all things be done, decently and in order.”

    You are correct that MANY things are not as spontaneous or supernatural at all, and altar calls can be waaaay over-rated.

  5. This is sad…I wonder if the Pastor will have to take the stand before a jury. That would be even more sad.

  6. danielbalc says:

    Something tells me “the gays” have not been waiting things out so they can be married in your church. I know it’s fun and all, but I doubt you have much to worry about.

    Thanks for the insinuation of homophobia caricature.

    Sorry that you can’t relate but what I’m referring to is the possibility of Churches (not just mine) in CA having lawsuits brought against them for “discriminatory” practices.

    example…
    use of building for ceremony or reception
    requests of licensed pastors to perform ceremony
    requests of recognition of valid marriage within local church bodies
    hiring and firing lawsuits of church staff who decide to “come out”.

    There are many legal issues that may arise within the next couple of years.

    This isn’t a homophobic paranoia I’m expressing, rather it’s a rational evaluation of the changes to our local government.

    But again, feel free to assume, label and judge me however you like. Just like you assumed Albino promotes knocking his congregation out.

  7. Zrim says:

    Daniel,

    Even any of that happens what’s the big deal? Isn’t it a matter of course that church’s must deal with all sorts of things, mundane and not-so-mundane, that theory says they shouldn’t? I mean, play it out much larger and we might be tempted to think we have a right against persecution in general.

    Re the homophobia stuff, I think that sometimes we do better to admit we may be vulnerable to a thing than to push the play button on denial for whatever hosts of reasons.

    I’ll go first: I have a real thing against fornicators and their ridiculous, fornicating, adolsecent behavior. Fornicators need to be brought up short on their chains. I also see no-fault divorced people as weak, etc. I think I have a disposition against fornicators and adulterers, a penchant for wanting to punish this certain class of sinners, of chasing cultural culprits instead of sinners. (Curiously, the homosexual thing doesn’t particularly bother me, even as I maintain its immorality.) On paper I should be joining up with those who want to see “co-habitation” and “no-fault divorce” run out of town on a rail; I should be worried that lawsuits against church’s that discipline “no-fault divorce” or “co-habitation” due to no-fault divorce laws or relaxed issues surrounding fornication. But I don’t. It’s a misplaced anxiety, etc.

    Are you concerned about no-fault divorce legislation the way you are this gay stuff? If not, could it be that your vulnerability is toward homophobia the way mine is toward, um, “fornaphobia”? Maybe fornicaters don’t bug you the way homosexuals don’t bug me and vice versa. My point is that the church has survived no-fault divorce legislation and co-habitation non-laws (whatever). I think she’ll survive the big, bad gays coming to blow your house down. They are part of a class that really want no appreciable dealings with the church. So relax.

  8. RubeRad says:

    I finally had to grab his arm and say, “Brother, unless God helps you, you are much too small to knock me over.”

    Classic! I love it!

    This church should offer to settle in trade — just do a healing and all will be well, no?

  9. […] is much confusion, speculation and manipulation when we consider the topic of miraclous works of the Holy Spirit.  […]

  10. Echo_ohcE says:

    Daniel,

    Protect yourself from lawsuits by having a church confession that states that homosexuality is a sin. Then when people become members, ask them to vow to submit to the governance of the elders of the church. Then make a requirement for all staff that they must be members. Then if someone is a homosexual, and they refuse to repent, you simply excommunicate them, revoking their membership, disqualifying them from being on staff.

    Next, make some kind of legally binding agreement about how the church can be used, namely only for elder sanctioned activities. Make it specific. Tell the elders to craft a document that binds them from allowing the building to be used for homosexual marriages or whatever. Then let there be a legal document that prevents any minister from performing a gay marriage.

    You can formally register these things with the county or state government, and they have no right to overturn them, because that would be religious persecution.

    Your church ought to have some kind of articles of association or constitution by which you are registered with the county or state or whatever.

    If you do all of that, you have nothing to worry about.

    E

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