I. Discerning the Soft Core False Prophet

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Discerning the Soft Core False Prophet

Series: Have We Not Prophesied in Your Name?

When I came out with my Elijah List testimony, people would write to me all the time asking about my views on Todd Bentley, John Crowder and a host of other prophetic crazies who were making very large footprints in Charismatic circles. It was almost like they were looking for some form …any form… of validation to confirm their suspicions that not all was well with “the school of the prophets.”

I was honored to tell them of my experiences, point them to the Word of God and challenge them to believe what it says over what the masses were swearing was “revival.”

Once their suspicions were scripturally confirmed, they boldly defied the prophetic trend and resolutely closed that particular door of deception in their lives. Some, who were convinced that this “New Thing” was from God, decided to cling to the deception.

I’ve been told by many that my first book, Prophetic Masquerade, was a “slam dunk” in exposing these obvious offenders. In its pages, I showed readers how to use the Word of God to reveal the wolves inside the flock. Many people have been able to gain firmer footing in their understanding of prophecy and prophets through the Scripture-based guidance found in this book.

False Prophets are not always obvious.

fear and trepidation
photo by Pixabay

Nowadays, however, my email is flooded with people asking me about another form of false prophet.

These types of prophets are very hard to pin down because they are not so obvious. They are calm, cool and collect people who seem to have a real grasp of the Word and they use their particular scriptural analysis to justify the hyper-spiritual and permissive behavior of their followers.

Because they seem so “sheepish” in nature, it’s very tempting to want to give them a pass.

I freely admit that when I get these emails asking about Graham Cooke, Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton and Rick Joyner, I am initially faced with much fear and trepidation.

  • How can you say that someone who seems to have his act together, and who is known for “many wonderful works,” is a false prophet?
  • How can your argument stand against the fruit of the ones who seem so “chill?”

You can’t, unless you do a little digging.

You dig, because the deception runs deep. False prophets are not always obvious; they are “hidden” in sheep’s clothing. Because of this, you don’t go looking for wolves… you look at the sheep and see who is displaying the behavior and worldview of a wolf. Then you start peeling back the layers.

It’s not an easy process, but that’s how the hidden is made manifest.

Graham Cooke is great example of subtlety.

photo by Pixabay

In this series, I’m going to be using Graham Cooke as an example – not because he is better or worse than the others mentioned above, but because he seems to be the one that is asked about the most by my readers. I have also found in him a great example of the subtlety in which this breed of false prophets operate. But don’t hesitate to apply these principles to the rest of the not-so-funky bunch because, rest assured, it applies.

Unlike many of the “unusual” people in the prophetic movement, Graham does not attempt to prophesy over regions, encourage “fire tunnels” or “manifest the spirit” by moving and shaking like a piece of bacon on a frying pan.

In all truthfulness, he seems to be a fairly down-to-earth guy.

Along with his endearing personality, Graham Cooke has dazzled multitudes over the years with his impressive and convincing speech that appeals to the emotions and the scriptural ignorance of the listener.

When I worked for the Elijah List, I listened to several of his teachings and was quite impressed with his smooth tone and clever expressions. He genuinely appeared to be a warm and caring man with a deep knowledge of the Most High.

But looking back, in spite of Graham’s impressive and convincing talk, in spite of his calm and gentle demeanor, I must still lump him in with the rest of the Elijah List false prophets, and here are a few of my reasons.

Graham Cooke fails the Deuteronomy 13 test.

First and foremost, Graham fails the Deuteronomy 13 test for discerning a false prophet.

Deuteronomy 13:1-4
If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, “Let us go after other gods” – which you have not known – “and let us serve them,” you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.

What this is saying is that if a prophet (a “spokesman” for God) comes to you and prophesies; if the prophecy leads you away from the commandments of the Most High, it is a false prophecy and he/she is a false prophet. This standard holds, regardless of whether the prophecy comes to pass, and whether or not it is accompanied by miracles, signs and wonders.

If this is the situation, the prophet fails the test… he/she is false. Period.

In the same book, the Father stated twice:

Deuteronomy 4:2
You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 12:32
Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

Search high and low if you like. You will not find anywhere in the Bible where this standard changes between the Old and New Testaments. You will not be able to find a verse where the Most High says:

“Oh, guess what? I’ve changed my mind! Now it’s OK for a prophet to lead you away from my commands! Forget what I told Israel for 4,000 years… you’re a Christian now! Christian prophets don’t have to be accurate! And if they lead you in another direction, that’s quite alright with me! My commandments? Pfffhhhh… Don’t worry about them! Let’s just toss ’em!”

If you have found a Scripture that you think contradicts this standard (1 Corinthians 14 is frequently used in these attempts), you’re adding to and/or taking away from His Word. I would strongly suggest that you rethink your theology.

Graham Cooke does not preach obedience to the commandments; he preaches a twisted and dispensational doctrine of grace, therefore he fails this test.

Graham Cooke is guilty by association.

photo by Pixabay

The second (and admittedly less strong) reason Graham Cooke is a false prophet is that he keeps company with false prophets. The Word says:

Proverbs 13:20
He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.

Graham may not exhibit the foolish behavior of Bentley, Crowder and company, but he is seen in their circles.

You are known by and take on the values of the company you keep. If Graham doesn’t repent of these affiliations, he too will be destroyed in the end, and will take his followers with him.

But the aforementioned reasons are not what I want to bring your focus to, in this series. There is a more insidious tactic being used by the enemy to bring about your demise.

False prophets look like sheep!

Most people who come to the realization that false prophets exist and are deceiving people look for conspicuous behavioral patterns and blatantly false doctrines. This type of analysis weeds out the obvious nut jobs. But as I mentioned above, we must understand that false prophets are disguised and not obvious.

The most effective deception is never obvious – it is a work of subtlety.

It takes effort, a keen eye and knowledge of the Word to peel back the layers of wool to reveal the wolf inside. The well-known verse in Matthew says:

Matthew 7:15
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

In some ways, the translation of this verse is a little misleading because it gives the impression that the disguise, as well as the infiltration into the flock, is intentional. Countless memes show a hungry, vicious wolf unzipping his sheep costume to target an unsuspecting sheep for his next meal.

I don’t believe this to be an accurate picture.

Only a few verses later, we find that these false prophets are completely caught off guard… amazed that everything they had ever done “in Jesus’ name” was for naught.

Matthew 7:22-23
Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”

This strongly suggests that false prophets have no clue what they are doing. They honestly think that they are doing the will of the Father when in fact, they “practice lawlessness.” Matthew 7:15 says that they are “ravenous wolves” “inwardly” or “from within.”

This means that there is something on the inside of a false prophet that is invisible to the casual observer… maybe even invisible to the false prophet himself/herself. It is a concern for “self” that supersedes the mandate to speak the Father’s words.

The inevitable fruit of speaking these words out of “the dictates of their own hearts” (which is following Baal, according to Jeremiah 9:14-15) is a misrepresentation of the Father’s character and a twisting of His words.

Misrepresenting the Father and His Word

false prophets misrepresent His character
photo by Pixabay

A stronger, though very well concealed, reason I believe that Graham Cooke is a false prophet is that, as God’s supposed spokesman/representative (a “prophet”), he completely misrepresents the character and nature of God.

I cannot say whether Graham is doing this intentionally, or not. What I can say is that the words coming out of his mouth reinforce the scriptural ignorance of his followers and further augment a false image of our Messiah. This distortion is very easy to swallow because it is cloaked in soft language that appeals to the emotions, having just enough tidbits of Scripture (carelessly taken out of context) to validate it in the ears of the uninformed listener.

Graham, as well as other, more “sedate” false prophets are VERY, VERY good at this.

Now, take a step back and consider this.

If you claim to be a prophet – a “spokesman” for the Most High – you are guilty of a very serious offense if you misrepresent His character and distort His words.

This is a VERY serious issue… and most alleged “prophets” have no clue that they are committing this offense! But it really doesn’t matter, because when Yeshua comes again, He will judge those who claim to know Him and misrepresent His character by distorting His words.

John 9:39-41
And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”

Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

There’s a penalty for claiming to know Him when you don’t.

We all know that the Pharisees did not recognize Yeshua as the Messiah because He did not fit into the image they were looking for. But because they claimed “We see,” they would be judged as those who DID know the Messiah, but rejected Him.

The same will be true for the false prophets of today, whether they intentionally reject Him and mislead others to do the same, or not. They will be the ones who incredulously proclaim:

Matthew 7:22b
Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?”

The false prophets will be absolutely STUNNED in that day, because they were CONVINCED they were doing the right thing… “in Jesus name!” This proves that intent has nothing to do with whether or not a prophet will be judged as “true” or “false.”

It is because they misrepresented Him and led others to do the same that their judgment will stand.

This is why I can look at these calm, cool and collected false teachers/prophets and place them in the same category as the “obvious offenders,” because they claim to speak “in the name of the Lord,” and lead the masses down lawless paths by taking His words and twisting them, promoting a perverted version of His character.

So how do Graham Cooke and the others misrepresent God? Do you have any proof to back up your accusation, Kevin?

Indeed, I do.

We will be exploring it in-depth, in the next post.

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More to explorer

VI. Prophet Paul Cain – The Madness

Unfortunately, this tale of perversion and pretense is not confined to the late “prophet,” Paul Cain. There are many self-appointed “spokesmen for God” out there who are acting as enablers or participants in the most grievous types of sin. And our leaders open wide the door of the churches so that these wolves can feed off of you: body, soul and spirit.

Paul Cain - the Method

V. Prophet Paul Cain – The Method

Considering all of the evidence of the Paul Cain cover-up, it is easy to see how lies and manipulation of the Word of God play a huge part in fooling the masses. But some of the blame lies in our inability to think for ourselves and look past our own unsustainable doctrine. This “gap” in our reasoning allows for the modern-day prophet to come in and build an empire at the expense of our willful ignorance.

Paul Cain - The MakeOver

IV. Prophet Paul Cain – The Makeover

After confessing to having knowledge of Paul Cain’s predatorial tendencies for the past 15 years, Rick Joyner attempts to salvage Paul’s reputation as a prophet, as well as his own reputation, by appealing to commonly taught misunderstandings of spiritual gifts and spiritual father figures.

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  1. Kevin,

    You have me intrigued. I like how you expressed that we are not to look for the wolves, but look at the sheep in order to discern the wolves. I guess we are then looking for are: “Wolf Tracks”- where they have been and what they have been doing.

  2. My experience with Graham Cooke comes from Aglow, which used to be a women’s ministry for years. I had been away from it for 30 years, and it has changed. They act like Graham is the pope. What I considered to be long-time, mature believers are absolutely ga-ga about this man. Their adoration and following seemed almost cult-like. I felt like I was discerning, but who am I? and why wouldn’t other believers who seemed so much further in their walk?
    From the head, to the leaders, down to the local leaders, they are teaching his course called Game Changers. We went thru it together on conference calls. The woman who were area leaders were hosting this. I was being careful not to be too outward in my disdain for this man, but I just couldn’t swallow the stuff he was saying. My book was privately marked with notes where I just couldn’t swallow what he was saying. “The book of Acts is named Acts because that is just what they were doing. They were acting.” There was much more in his teaching that I could not accept, and I wondered WHY on earth these people have put him on a pedestal. I loved what Aglow used to be and stand for, but I question the organization now that I see them following him and encouraging others to do the same.
    I felt that Graham Cooke was really wrong, but I couldn’t really make a case. I think of the phrase, “Run baby, run!”
    Thank you for your confirmation. Everyone was too afraid to speak out against this.

    1. You are so right on. I was told by Aglow leadership it is “mandatory” I read his works to have a Bible study in my home!! I find it is mandatory to read Gods word to lead Gods people. This is cultish and I agree with you sister! The Lord made it clear I am to follow HIS Holy scriptures because this is where God is.


  3. False prophesies are bad because families, innocent children’s lives can be affected by false prophecy/ies, parents who listen to and obey what “God” says through these “prophets”, who lead people astray, create a lot of problems and harm in lives, futures because of wrong decisions, they think it is God speaking

  4. Graham Cooke was one I liked but thought he would be false once I learned the truth of what a prophet really is. I still find it all sad. :'(

  5. Thank you Kevin for your study of this topic. I have previously read your entry “The Irony of the Church Fathers – So You Want to be a Christian?” I like your breakdowns of the material with scripture to always back it up.

    Trevor Anderson

  6. I’m not even familiar with Graham Cooke, but the way you are evaluating his (and others’) authenticity is spot on. All one needs to truly ask (as you are here) is, “What does His Word say about this?” Great job as always, in my opinion Kevin.

  7. Thanks for the posting Kevin. There are a group of Christians in our area that are drinking up the Graham Cooke heresies for a few years now. They believe this guy is the real deal and hold Sunday school classes with his teachings and pass out his teachings on CD. Sadly most of them we brought up in Bible believing churches and should know better, but there is much lack of discernment. I have attempted to point out Graham’s heresies but I have been labeled a legalistic pharisee.

    Have you encountered Christine Caine? If so would you place her in the same arena as Graham Cooke?

  8. I have left Aglow after finding a local leader enabling spiritual abuse in my local church.
    I find Graham’s gentle way of speaking very appealing but too “candy flossy” in that I have never heard him mention evil or reprimand someone as Jesus often did……Also Paul called out Alexander the copper Smith for behaving wrongly, yet Mr Cooke sees no wrong in anyone even when they are obviously in need of prayer/healing ministry and are being abusive……instead of being honest about the sin/abuse,and then ministering to the victim, Mr Cooke smoothes over anything negative, which Jesus never did……..evil is evil and sin is sin ….this is what Jesus taught.

    I have been at Aglow meets as so have witnessed first hand their obsessing over Mr Cooke, and yes, it did seem cult like.

  9. “You dig, because the deception runs deep. False prophets are not always obvious; they are “hidden” in sheep’s clothing. Because of this, you don’t go looking for wolves… you look at the sheep and see who is displaying the behavior and worldview of a wolf. Then you start peeling back the layers.

    It’s not an easy process, but that’s how the hidden is made manifest.”
    Exactly Kevin. I was just observing this in watching a video clip of a fellow confronting Bethel young people on the street. The girl was absolutely bizarre in her behaviour. I said to my self. This is what Bethel is producing, regardless of Bill’s cool, normalicy!

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