Author John Taylor
To gain a balanced view regarding Rick Joyner’s teachings I have examined six of his books and the Morning Star Website. The books were The Final Quest, The Call, There Were Two Treesinthe Garden, The Surpassing Greatness of His Power, The World Aflame and Courage that Changed the World. Whilst I am aware that Rick Joyner has written other numerous works and also has a prophetic bulletin, the research I have carried out provides a useful insight concerning the doctrine he espouses.
I commenced by reading through the Morning Star Website. The section containing the statement of faith could certainly be described as evangelistic and Biblically based. Furthermore the majority of that website is in agreement with Holy Scripture.
It is soon apparent from this website, however, that Rick Joyner is a member of the ‘Knights of Malta’, also known as the ‘Order of St John’, and that he has authored a book about their exploits during the Middle Ages entitled, Courage That Changed the World. Joyner is decidedly open about his involvement with them and to his credit he provides answers concerning commonly asked questions as to what extent he became associated with them. He even states that there is no connection between the Knights of Malta and Freemasonry as one of the highest degrees within the thirty three degrees in Freemasonry; the twenty-eighth in fact is called the ‘Knights of Malta’. Joyner argues along the lines that Freemasonry borrows names and titles from a variety of religious groups. The Knights of Malta do have a history rooted in Catholicism and in 1113 the Pope recognised the knights as an independent order, known as the ‘Order of St John.’
Whilst the ‘hospitallers’ (those in the Order of St John) were noble, in view of the fact that at the aftermath of battle they would diligently serve the wounded and sick on both sides, the present order is an ecumenical, secretive society and therefore Rick Joyner’s involvement with the same should be questioned.
Much of what Rick Joyner teaches is sound. However I would implore the reader to weigh and test all his writings alongside the scriptural injunction of 1 John 4:1. Of particular concern is his liberal use of typology, where on occasions the interpretation is so subjective that connections are forced that are clearly not consistent in the light of other scriptures. In addition, some of the conversations that Joyner supposedly engaged in with a variety of prominent Biblical characters do definitely go beyond what Scripture permits. Lastly Rick Joyner’s own comments with respect to the accuracy of the information that he wrote in The Final Quest and The Call are dubious.
The Final Quest
This book has been described as a prophetic classic and in it Rick Joyner claims to have seen a vision of a future civil war in the church in which he is not only an active participant but is playing a key role. He also converses with angels and some of the better known Biblical characters.
Early on in his vision Joyner encounters an angel named ‘Wisdom’ who directs Rick and his fellow believers to fight from the mountain behind them. The distinction between the angel known as ‘Wisdom’ and the attribute wisdom is confusing. For instance, on page 32 we read:
“Again the voice of the Lord spoke saying, ‘A second time you have chosen wisdom. You cannot win if you try to fight the enemy on his own ground. You must remain on My holy mountain.'”
But later on in Rick’s adventure he receives the revelation that Wisdom is Jesus:
“‘You’re the Lord!’ I cried. ‘Yes’ He answered. ‘I told you that I would never leave you or forsake you. I am with all My warriors just as I am with you. I will be to you whatever you need to accomplish My will, and you have needed wisdom.’ Then He vanished.” – pp. 63-64.
If that is not confusing enough, on page 54 Wisdom restrains the soldiers from worshipping Him! If Wisdom was Jesus there would be no reason to prevent them from worshipping Him!
Of even greater concern is the interchangeable depiction of Jesus and Wisdom. This is no new misconception, as interestingly the misinterpretation of Proverbs 8 in violation of the context of the passage has led others to conclude the same. Ray Comfort notes that:
“When Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain that Jesus was ‘made’ of the seed of David (that Jesus was a god ‘created’ by Jehovah to die for our sins) they may point to Proverbs 8: 22-35 for justification. However the Bible is speaking here of ‘wisdom'” – p.12.
Geisler and Rhodes comment that:
“The first nine chapters of Proverbs personify wisdom. And it wouldn’t make much sense to say any of these chapters refers directly to Jesus. After all, wisdom is portrayed as a woman who cries out in the streets (1:20-21) and is said to dwell with prudence (8:12). It is noteworthy that no New Testament writer applies Proverbs 8 to Jesus Christ.” – p.72.
Going back to the battle in Joyner’s vision we read:
“When a Christian had two or three of these demons added to the pride or self- righteousness he already had, he was transformed into the contorted image of the demons themselves.” – pp.24-25.
“It was troubling that after these Christians had the demons shot off them, few would come to the mountain. Many had taken on the nature of demons, and continued in their delusion without them. As the darkness of the demons dissipated, we could see the ground moving around the feet of those Christians.” – p.34.
Christians taking on the nature of demons? Whatever happened to being brought to Jesus by the blood He shed for us? This concept also contradicts Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15 verse 49, “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
Joyner continues with the battle scene:
“I picked up one of the arrows, shot it, and so easily hit a demon that the others also started picking up arrows and shooting them. We began to decimate several of the army divisions.” – p.26.
Are we called to shoot arrows and take on demons or heed the counsel of James? “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4v7)
Throughout Joyner’s account of The Final Quest there is extensive reference to various levels that he attained:
“When we reached the level called ‘Galatians Two Twenty’ we were above the altitude that the vultures could withstand.” – p.28-29.
“And another character ‘Love’ then said, ‘Those who reach this level are entrusted with the powers of the age to come.’ Then turning to me with a seriousness that was very sobering, he said, ‘I still must teach you how to use them.'” – p.29.
And again “Just as our weapons had grown, Faith, Hope and Love had also grown with each level.” On page 33 there is a level of patience and on page 35 on the subject of the Tree of Life we read, “Those who make it to this level know the Father’s love and can eat of the tree.” On page 53 there are levels of Sanctification, Salvation, Thanksgiving and Praise. At best this is comparative to a Christian fantasy novel and at worst the emphasis is placed on attaining the next level through effort and works instead of grace and being dependent on ourselves instead of him! Lastly we read, “The door that requires the most sacrifice to enter will always take us to the highest level.” In 1 Samuel 15 Saul was not praised for his sacrifice or promoted to the next level. In fact for his disobedience Saul was rejected as being King; Samuel said, “Behold to obey is better than sacrifice.” (v22) And, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.” (v23).
Joyner has further dialogue with Wisdom regarding Paradise:
“‘You were there indeed,’ replied Wisdom. ‘It has not gotten more real but you have. Just as the Lord told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with Me in paradise,” you can enter Paradise at any time. The Lord, His Paradise, and this mountain are all abiding in you, because He is in you. What were but foretastes before are now a reality to you because you have climbed the mountain.'” – p.56.
Whether Joyner has been to Paradise or not is not easily provable. Moreover Paradise is a resting place that people abide in; it does not dwell within a person. This is stretching an allegory to the extent whereby the whole paragraph is nonsensical. How Joyner has gotten ‘more real’ remains a mystery and is somewhat puzzling!
Concerning healing it is revealed to Joyner on page 73 that “True worship can heal any wound.” If that is the case then was the Apostle Paul not capable of true worship to relieve him of his thorn in the flesh when he requested it to be removed three times? (2 Cor 12v7-10) Should we be telling all the wounded that all, “they need to do to have their wounds healed is to participate in some true worship?” Apparently also, “The king loves all of his children too, but the wounded and oppressed have most of his attention now.” (p75) Is God restricted by the amount He can apportion to individuals? What about in Psalm 34v7 which says, “The Angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” And in verse 9, “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack of any good thing.”
There are some peculiar statements about faith explained to Joyner:
“This walk of faith is now the greatest wonder in heaven. Those who pass this test are worthy to sit with the lamb on His throne, for He has made them worthy to sit with the Lamb on His throne, for He Has made them worthy and they have proven their love.” – p.101.
The above could be interpreted in a number of ways and Joyner also learns that, “… faith is not just the knowledge of My power, it is the knowledge of My love.” This is clearly an alternative definition to the one Paul penned in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
In his epic adventure Joyner meets some eagles who state that they are:
“The hidden prophets who have been kept for this hour. We are the eyes of those who have been given the divinely powerful weapons.” – p.70.
The eagles guide Joyner through various ‘levels’ and ‘doors of truth’. The eagles leave Joyner and he encounters some angels who show him some stones:
“‘When you touch the stones we are able to see a little of what you see, and feel a little of what you feel,’ said the angel. ‘We know that all these stones are great treasures, and the revelations they contain are priceless.'” – p.86.
The above sounds blatantly esoteric and Joyner then spends some time at the red stone which was the most painful ordeal he had ever experienced. He also went back to blue and green stones to rejuvenate his soul before he returned. The eagle instructs Joyner to eat a blue, red and green stone and it is recorded, “great joy and soberness both flooded my soul.” (p89) Again if this was purely listed under the genre of a Christian fantasy novel I would still have my reservations!
In Joyner’s epilogue he is open and honest about his view of the application of the use of prophetic revelations. He writes:
“I must state emphatically that I do not believe that any kind of prophetic revelation is for the purpose of establishing doctrine. We have the Scriptures for that.” – p.205.
“While the visions in this do contain some strategic revelations, they also shed some light on some biblical doctrines that I had honestly not seen before, but now see quite clearly. However, in all fairness and with regard to the above, not all of the content of the revelations are in agreement with Scripture and we are reminded in 1 Thessalonians 5 v 21 to ‘Test all things; hold fast what is good.'”
Commenting on his book The Final Quest Joyner explains:
“I consider my memory of details to be one of my greatest weaknesses. At times I have questioned my memory of certain details in this vision, and you should therefore have the liberty to question some of the details too. I think that scrutiny is wise with any such messages. Only the Scriptures deserve to be considered infallible. As you consider these experiences I had, I pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you to the truth and separate any chaff that may be present from the wheat.” – p.207.
Whilst the above statement from Joyner exhibits a humble nature, Scripture still demands that we ‘test all things’ and we therefore should have the liberty to do exactly that regardless of whether Joyner’s memory recall is his strongest asset.
In his introduction to The Call Joyner writes:
“I have searched the Bible to verify that the teachings given in my experiences are Biblical and I am confident that they are. I do admit that some of them caused me to view certain Scriptures in a way that I had not previously seen them. Even so I believe that this is consistent with the purpose of such prophetic revelations.” – p.18.
‘The Call’ follows on from ‘The Quest’ and so does much of the subject matter. On page 24 Joyner explains that “The Lord almost always appears to me in these experiences personified as Wisdom.” Joyner converses with him on page 38 saying “You are Wisdom, and I know that it is wisdom to ask.” However on pages 104-105 Joyner has a conversation with a young apostle named Stephen.
“‘Wisdom, what did He look like?’ I questioned. ‘He was a young black athlete. He could see better than anyone and seemed to know everyone here. It is strange, though. I have met others here who said that they have also met Wisdom, but they have all described Him differently. Some said that He was white and others said that He was a woman. Unless there are many “Wisdoms”, He is a master of disguise.'”
Worryingly just who or what Wisdom is or is supposed to represent has been further confused here.
Joyner claims that he converses with Jonah, Lot, Abel and Adam. Adam supposedly explained to Joyner that:
“I lived long on the earth because sin did not have a deep root in me. Even though I sinned, I was created to walk with God, and my desire was still for Him. I did not know the depths of sin that the following generations knew. As sin grew, life was shortened, but in every generation, those who walk with God touch the life that is in God.” – p.77.
Was life expectancy dependent on the degree to which sin was rooted in the individual? In the Bible a sin is a sin! “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3v23) Furthermore in Genesis 8v21 God promised “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
Joyner also discovers a few revelations with respect of Jonah’s preaching. Apparently:
“The power of Jonah’s preaching is a sign. When he awakened and was vomited out of the beast, he had this power. This is the power of preaching that will be given to the church in the last days. This is the power of conviction that the Lord is waiting to give to the church. When she is vomited out of the beast that has swallowed her, even the most evil will listen to her words. This is the sign of Jonah that will be given to the church.” – pp.52-53.
The scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign to which He answered. “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt 12v39-40) I will leave it to the reader to decide whether Scripture is being taken out of context here!
Some statements in ‘The Call’ are so open to interpretation that they border on the esoteric. For example, “True peace will only come when we respect the distinctions we have. When we really know who we are, we will never be threatened by those who are different.” Really? Or maybe true peace will come when the Lord Jesus Christ returns? These types of quotes only pave the way for an ecumenical system that allows tolerance at any cost ultimately embracing an Antichrist system! Again, I will leave statements such as “You can always go as far as you can see” (p.110) and “Yes. Faith comes from knowing who Wisdom really is” to the reader to compare with what the Bible teaches!
Toward the end of his narrative Joyner visits a breathtaking, beautiful and symmetrical city. There were several streets, paths and highways and each highway was a path to that truth. He recollects that as he looked at the streets connecting the highways, “I felt an impartation of a fruit of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace or patience. These came as feelings instead of the understanding that came when I looked at the highways.” (pp.154-155) Wisdom then informs Joyner:
“‘I am coming to earth in My people as Wisdom to build My city. The knowledge of truth will fill My city, but wisdom will build it. The wisdom that is coming upon My builders will cause the world to marvel at the city that Solomon built.'” – p.158.
“‘I am building My city in the hearts of men, with the hearts of men. Those who keep the great wisdom-the knowledge of the eternal treasures- will be used to build My city.'” – p.159.
Just exactly what this city is and what form it will take is not clear and could be understood in a number of ways. The Bible is consistently clear that Jesus will reign in His Millennial Kingdom in Jerusalem, the city of peace! The Bible does not exhort us to eagerly desire the second coming of an angel named Wisdom, who on occasions refuses worship!
At the end of Joyner’s account Wisdom tells him:
“‘Remember the potential for even the least of My little ones to touch the heart of the Father. That alone makes their value greater than any price. I would have gone to the cross again for a single one of these.'” – p.210.
Hebrews 10:4 confirms that, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Surely, that verse nullifies the reasoning behind the above statement.
On a final note, understandably Joyner voiced his concern to Wisdom regarding the accuracy of his account relative to Scripture. He was reassured that:
“‘Because you are not writing Scripture, the words you will write will have you in them. Even so, your books will be as I desire them to be because I prepared you for this task. They will not be perfect because perfection will not come to the earth until I come.'” – pp.83-84.
In other words Joyner’s account may contain mistakes which we are open to evaluate and compare with Scripture. Considering that what Joyner writes will be what he thinks Wisdom wanted him to write, it somewhat removes the accountability he has with respect of his writings!
There were Two Trees in the Garden
Throughout this book the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is taken to represent the Law. Joyner writes,
“What could be such a deadly fruit? The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil metaphorically represented the law, which includes the Law given to Moses through God, as well as what we call ‘legalism’.” – p.8.
“Why did God give the law if its fruit was poison? It is for the same reason that He put the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden. As we will see, this was actually to free man so that he could have a special relationship to God.” – pp.8-9.
“Used as a rule book, the Bible becomes the letter that kills, the Tree of Knowledge, and can even become an idol. Used properly, it turns us to Him and helps us walk with Him, abide in Him, and know Him- not just about Him.” – p.198.
Admittedly, if we love the Bible more than Jesus we have a serious problem and we do not comprehend the truths contained. We must ask the question, “Is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil actually representative of the law?” I would argue that this is an unfortunate example of a subjective allegory stretched too far! Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Is it a sin to feast on the Law, as after all the Psalmist wrote, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies.” (Ps.119:97-98) Does the tree of the knowledge of good and evil correspond with what Jesus said about the law in Matthew 5:17-18? “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil. For assuredly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled.”
Some of Joyner’s writings are confusing and at times it is difficult to ascertain the intended meaning, as the meaning itself is open to interpretation. Joyner’s explanation on the identity of the Antichrist is a good example:
“‘Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six’ (Revelation 13:18). The number 666 is not used arbitrarily. Because man was created on the sixth day, the number six is often used symbolically in the scriptures as the number of man. This number is further identification of the spirit of the beast, which is the spirit of fallen man. In verse 11, we see that this beast comes ‘up out of the earth’. He is the culmination of the seed of Cain – the one who was ‘a tiller of the ground,’ or earthly minded. The beast is the embodiment of religion that originates in the mind of man. He comes up out of the earth in contrast to Christ who comes down out of heaven.” – p.23.
Commenting on the above passage Joseph Chambers observes:
“Jesus made it absolutely clear that the Antichrist is a man that will establish his power in the world and set up his image called ‘The Abomination of Desolation’ in Jerusalem. (Matthew 24:15) Mr Joyner says that this Antichrist is rather a religious spirit that completes or as he states ‘is the mature fruit of the tree of knowledge.’ Again, we have a complete confusion of the truth. If the tree of knowledge of good and evil is the laws of God, then the mature fruit are fundamental Bible-believing Christians that obey the Word of God. It appears that the Bible believers are Mr Joyner’s Antichrist.”
Joyner makes further ambivalent statements in this book, such as:
“Our calling is not primarily to be imitators of Christ, but to have Christ formed within us. When we begin to truly see His glory, we are too consumed with the wonder of Him to be aware of or even interested in ourselves and what we may have attained.” – p.53.
However Ephesians 5:1 states “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.”
Likewise Joyner contends “If doctrine becomes our emphasis, we are being led astray.” But we are not changed by doctrine; we are changed by seeing Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18).’ Paul placed an important emphasis on doctrine in his letter to Timothy and instructed him to “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Tim 4v16) Notice how this verse also contradicts Joyner’s statement about being too consumed in Him to be interested in ourselves. We must turn our eyes toward Him but also take heed to ourselves and to the doctrine.
The Surpassing Greatness of His Power and the World Aflame
These two writings are far more Biblically based than the former three I have reviewed. I must stress, too, that I certainly do not have a problem with all of Joyner’s teachings. As mentioned in the introduction, the content of The Call and The Final Quest is somewhat surprising when compared with many of Joyner’s teachings that otherwise teach clear, sound doctrine.
To provide a balanced and panoramic view on Joyner’s doctrine I am of the opinion that the majority of the content in these two books are sound. Having said that, there are some statements scattered here and there that are highly questionable.
According to Joyner, “Because love is the foundation of spiritual authority, as we begin to love our enemies we will gain spiritual authority in their lives.” (p 95) Is there any scriptural justification for loving your enemies in an effort to gain spiritual authority over them? Also, “We have come to the time when Satan and his hosts are being cast out of heaven and are coming to the earth with great wrath.” (p114) Is this casting out a process or a metaphorical observation, and just exactly where is Satan? In Job 1:7 and 2:2 Satan was going to and fro on the earth!
Further cause for concern is found on page 220 of The Surpassing Greatness of His Power:
“Those who are under the delusion that something must be totally God before they will become a part of it are almost totally sure to miss God.”
However Scripture implores us to “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess.5:21) and again, “Beloved do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
In The World Aflame Joyner rightly contends that:
“The church does not need heresy hunters-she needs God-appointed elders with discernment who will sit in the gates of spiritual authority.” – p.110.
However on the same page he writes:
“In almost every book and teaching that permeates the church there are some bones mixed in with the meat, and we just need to learn to pick out the bones.” – p.110.
Whilst that is a gracious statement the reader should exercise discernment and use Holy Scripture as the plumb line of truth.
Joyner stresses that, “Spiritual unity is not based on like doctrines; it is based on love – first for God and then for each other.” (p131) Whilst we would all do well to exercise more love towards both God and each other, the above philosophy opens the gate for tolerating ecumenism, whereby fundamental doctrines are compromised for the sake of unity!
On the subject of Biblical interpretation Joyner says “That men would presume that they could develop a system, or principles, by which they can interpret the Scriptures, is in itself an act of profound arrogance.” True enough we ‘see in a mirror dimly’ and have finite minds. There is a grave danger with the above method of thinking, as passages can be easily isolated, drawn out of context without due consideration as to how Scripture fits together within a harmonised framework and it can be utilised for personal motives or out of selfish, unholy motives, as sadly has been the case throughout Church history.
On a final note I again reiterate that I do not consider either The Call, The Final Quest or There were two Trees in the Garden to be typically representative of Rick Joyner’s teachings and I sincerely hope and pray that he will recognise the same also. Some of his teachings have valuable insight and to coin his own phrase to the reader I would humbly suggest that they ‘pick out the bones from the meat’ and yet more importantly test everything alongside Scripture which is of no private interpretation but is God-breathed and inspired by the Holy Spirit!
The False Teachings of Rick Joyner, Joseph Chambers D.D., 1999, www.deceptioninthechurch.com/joyner.html.
The Evidence Bible, complied by Ray Comfort, 2002, Bridges Logos.
Correcting the Cults, Norman L. Geisler and Ron Rhodes, 2005, Baker Books.
The Vision, The Quest and The Call, Rick Joyner, 2000, Morning Star Publications.
The Surpassing Greatness of His Power, Rick Joyner, 1996, Morning Star Publications.
There were Two Trees in the Garden, Rick Joyner, 2006, Morning Star Publications.
The World Aflame, Guidance from the Greatest Revival Yet and The Greater One to Come, Rick Joyner, 1993, Morning Star Publications
Courage that Changed the World, Rick Joyner, 1999, Morning Star Publications.