It is almost impossible to comb through the various accounts of Bethel leaders and churchgoers regarding the practice called “Grave soaking,” or “Grave sucking.” There are podcast interviews with Pastor Bill Johnson denying church involvement in the practice, and passages in books in which he seems to be confirming his belief in it. While these aren’t included in today’s discussion due to an overwhelming amount of information, none of which could have been excluded in my opinion, they will probably be discussed later.
All this to say, I will be presenting information here, not only on the crazy occult/necromantic practice of grave-sucking, but also, in my next post, on the inconsistent messages out there regarding Bethel’s endorsement of, or distancing from it. At the end of the day, take what I say and share, do your own research, and come to your own conclusion. My opinion is not definitive, and my research is not all-encompassing.
So what is Grave Soaking? According to the Got Questions website, grave soaking, also known as grave sucking or mantle grabbing, is the act of lying across the physical grave of a deceased preacher or evangelist for the purpose of “pulling out” the power of the Holy Spirit, a power that was purportedly “trapped” within the body upon the person’s death.
The practitioners of this Occult or Necromantic practice believe that the Holy Spirit still exists within the bones and the body of great historical Revivalists (See Revival), and that by soaking up the unclaimed power, anointing, or “mantle” of the deceased, they will be able to continue the works of revival started by the individual.
This practice begs the question, however, that when one accepts Christ as one’s Savior and repents, he or she is given the gift of the Holy Spirit then and there. Are we to question whether the anointing of the Spirit that we received upon salvation is not sufficient? Did God not give us the gifts we have according to His plans?
Hebrews 2:4 (NIV) says that “God also testifies to it by signs, wonders, and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will” ( emphasis added). Who are we to say that God’s gift to us upon salvation was not sufficient? 1 Corinthians 12:11 (NIV) says that “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit. The Spirit teaches all things, and he distributes them to each one, just as He determines” (emphasis added). There is no room here for argument that we are to seek out additional gifts and anointing.
This practice supposedly came about in response to (or in the twisting of) the passage in 2 Kings 1:13 (NIV) where a man was revived after touching the bones of the prophet Elisha. The verse reads, “Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.”
The danger here, according to Joseph Mattera, is in taking a single instance in Scripture which is obscure to begin with, and creating a doctrine out of it without seeking additional Scripture to verify the interpretation. Scripture does not conflict with Scripture.
- There is no mention of anointing in this verse. The man simply stood up and lived!
- Further, Isaiah 8:19 tells us that “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (emphasis added)
- Finally, in Matthew 8:22, God shows us that the bodies of the dead no longer have any power or importance. The dead no longer hold our eternal spirits. “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”
So who are these mysterious historical revivalists that are believed to hold such power for the seekers of anointing? Here are the members of what I have appointed “The Dead Revivalist’s Society“:
- Smith Wigglesworth
- John Alexander Dowie
- John G. Lake
- Kathryn Kulhman
- Charles C. Finney
- Aimee Semple McPherson
- C.S. Lewis – I personally believe that good old C.S. would have more than bristled at his inclusion in this list of occultish forefathers.
Speaking of Cemeteries and the fine folk who visit them, it happens that grave soakers are not alone! During their forays into the grassy graveyards, soakers just may run into modern-day witches. And aside from mourners and those who collect grave rubbings (totally not me, I swear!), witches are pretty much the only group known to frequent these hallowed grounds. Maybe we can learn something from what these practitioners, who – by their own definition- call occultish practices.
According to the ” target=”_blank”>Grave and Grotto blog, witches primarily go to cemeteries to cast spells for love, money, healing, and success. So, “soakers” may not be casting spells, but does the desire for certain end results look familiar? Basically: blessings and healing. Isn’t obtaining these things the principle goal of the Progressive Church as a whole? Hmmm… Oh also, the witchcraft assemblage believes that graveyards ooze with the spirits of the deceased… who can “empower spellwork by the living, (” target=”_blank”>G&G). Also known as imparting mantles, issuing anointing, and blessing the current revivalists.
****Endnote- AKA: ADHD Inspiration- This might be kind of important. Witches also visit the dearly departed to worship ancestors. Might you assume that prostrating one-self across the grave of a dead revivalist might be considered a form of worship? The only other time I have seen such behavior in the Christian faith happens in worshipful reverence of God. Our Creator. Who we worship. Alone. (See Moses’ tablet item N0. 1).