The "Toronto Blessing"
A Theological Examination of the Roots, Teaching and Manifestations, and Connection Between the Faith Movement and the Vineyard Church
By Stephen Sizer
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CHAPTER 5: "THE ROARING LION" AND MARC DUPONT
Dupont is a Church leader and so called "prophet" of the Toronto
Vineyard Fellowship, and has written specifically about the
"roaring" or growling phenomenon witnessed as part of what has
been termed the "Toronto Blessing". What follows is an
assessment of his views as quoted in an article entitled "1994:
The Year of the Lion" published by Mantle of Praise Ministries
Incorporated, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
5.1 Dupont misuses Scripture.
Dupont insists that Amos 3:8 applies to today, and that it is
the Lord God who is currently inspiring the "roaring"
phenomenon. He writes, "There have been many people who have
been roaring as lions in the meetings as the Spirit of God has
come on them." A cursory reading of the context (Amos 3:1-4)
shows that in this, as in just about every other reference to
"roaring" in the Scriptures, this was a sign of God's judgement
of Israel, and their imminent punishment. Any good Bible
concordance shows conclusively that references to "roar,"
"roaring" and "roared" found in the context of a lion have to do
with the presence of evil, of destruction, and, when applied to
the Lord God, refers to His impending judgement of sin, not
blessing. With the same lack of regard for Scripture, Mike
Fearon asserts that "roaring people are usually intercessors
involved in promoting unity" (A Breath of Fresh Air 1994: p.99)
The bankruptcy of Dupont's exegetical abilities is evident when
he has to quote from the fictional story, "The Lion, the Witch
and the Wardrobe," by C.S. Lewis, to explain the reason for this
apparently new way of Divine working. Referring to something
"Aslan" the lion says in the book, Dupont asserts, "This in
essence is the revelation that the bride of Christ needs
today...." I suspect Dupont and others caught up in the roaring
phenomenon have been influenced more by Walt Disney's film "The
Lion King" than with the Spirit of God. Clifford Hill comments
on reports linking this "Blessing" with people making roaring
The Sunday Telegraph reported an Anglican bishop in Toronto
rolling on the floor and roaring like a lion. A Pentecostal
pastor attended a church in Brighton (said to be one of the
first congregations in Britain to receive the new laughter
phenomenon) and reported on a three and a half hour service on
19 June....[including] constant repetition of triumphalist songs
declaring "We are going to take the land, subdue the nation and
present it to Christ." At one point a young man shouted "The
beast is dead! The beast is dead!" which was greeted with much
screaming and shouting culminating in a growing crescendo of the
whole congregation growling. After this the elder leading the
service told visitors not to worry about the growl as "it always
(PWM Team Ministries, November 1994)
Clifford Hill points out that the prophet Jeremiah associates
"roaring like a lion", with the occult spirit of Babylon, and
their shouts of laughter as a sign of their impending
"Babylon will be a heap of ruins...an object of horror and
scorn, a place where no one lives. Her people all roar like
young lions, they growl like lion cubs. But while they are
aroused, I will set out a feast for them and make them drunk, so
that they shout with laughter--then sleep forever and not
awake," says the LORD."I will bring them down like lambs to the
slaughter." (Jeremiah 51:37-40)
Ignoring this warning of judgement, Dupont equates the "Toronto
Blessing" with what he describes as "a party the Father is
throwing," an idea taken from the Parable of the Lost Son.
Others have similarly compared it with a banquet. This is
actually a form of "realised eschatology" where promises that
relate to the future are applied to the present.
The Scriptures teach that the "marriage supper of the Lamb" will
be in heaven in the future, not now, on earth (Isaiah 25:6-9).
Yes, there is joy and times of celebration now, but essentially
the Christian calling is one of battle and toil (John 16:33; 2
Corinthians 4:7-18; Rom 8:19-25; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Timothy
1:18; 2 Timothy 2:1-6; 1 Peter 2:21). We look forward to the
banquet with sure and certain hope (Revelation 19:7-9).
5.2 Dupont denigrates the suffering of Christ and the Church
With reference to the challenge of discipleship, Dupont states,
"...if Jesus soul was troubled by the price tag He paid to be
obedient to the Father, it is for sure going to be a troubling
cost you and I will have to pay. But that is what God is looking
for at a time when He is going for the nations; people who are
so radically in love with Him that they are willing to die for
It is most inappropriate to claim that Jesus was "troubled by
the price tag He paid to be obedient." It is wiser and more
reverent to retain some sense of mystery about the uniqueness,
and the extent of the agony the Lord suffered in the Garden of
Gethsemane. The Lord was always obedient (John 14:31). Obedience
did not trouble Him. I do not believe we can come remotely close
to understanding what He must have felt, knowing He would
shortly suffer separation from the Father for the first time in
eternity, and take upon Himself the sins of the world. That is
what caused Him intense suffering. There is no comparison
between the cross we are called to carry, and that which Christ
carried for the sake of the world.
It is also worth remembering in Hebrews we are told,
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our
faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne
of God." (Hebrews 12:2)
For Dupont to claim this is a "time when He is going for the
nations" again suggests an ignorance of the work of God over the
last 2000 years, and an exaggerated view of his own church's self
importance in the fulfilment of God's purposes. Has God never
before been concerned to reach the nations? Dupont also insists
that "radical evangelism" associated with "miracles" is superior
to mission and evangelism, and is "a sign of what is to come."
This is simply "power evangelism" under another name, something
which, has now been discredited. (see John Wimber, friend or foe?
by Philip Jensen, St Matthias Press, 1990).
5.3 Dupont misunderstands the ministry of the Holy
Dupont suggests that Joel's prophecy relates to now in what he
calls this "end time restoration", and seems to ignore the fact
that Peter understood this to have come true on the Day of
Pentecost, 2000 years ago. This may indeed still apply today but
we have been in the "last days" for rather a long while.
Furthermore, those who want to apply Joel 2:28-29 as being
fulfilled now, conveniently ignore the following verses 2:30-32.
Why the one and not the other? Neither Joel nor Acts indicate
that we should understand their fulfilment to be associated with
the kind of manifestations associated with the Toronto Blessing.
In this respect Dupont also misuses Acts 1:8.
"This move of the Spirit, in 1994, is not just a charismatic
or Pentecostal experience concerning power or gifting. It is one
thing to be clothed with power, it is another to be indwelt with the
person of God. In the ministry times in Toronto we have been
encouraging people not just to get the experience but to soak in the
presence of God."
Dupont talks about being "clothed with power" as if it were an
end in itself without recognising that the "power" God promised
was given to enable the church to be witnesses. He insists that
whereas people (at Toronto) may have had an experience of the
power of God, they are now being, or need to be "indwelt" by
God. This is to deny basic Biblical references which teach that
the believer, from conversion, is "indwelt" by the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 12:13) It is nonsense therefore to
suggest that this is something to be sought or a description of
what is happening now.
5.4 Dupont castigates critics of Toronto with dire warnings of
Most worrying of all, Dupont's paper is littered with biblical
references to Divine judgement which he insists will fall on
those who doubt or question that this movement is a work of God.
It is very disturbing to find so-called Christians speaking in
this way of other believers. It is significant, however, that
this is precisely how heretical "Word-Faith" teachers such as
Benny Hinn and Kenneth Hagin criticise their opponents. Dupont
refers to, or quotes from, an amazing array of passages to
silence criticism. These include
- 1 Kings 13:4 (the unbelieving King got a withered arm);
- Judges 1:2;
- Judges 20:18;
- Proverbs 6;
- Isaiah 58;
- 2 Cor 3:6;
- Malachi 3:16;
- 2 Kings 5:26 (Gehazi's disobedience led to leprosy);
- 1 Kings 13:26 (the disobedient prophet was killed by a lion);
- Ephesians 4:30;
- James 4:5;
- John 15:2 (the branch cut off);
- Jeremiah 6:14; 8:14;
- Isaiah 42:13,16.
In fact the entire paper seems to be designed to do just
that - silence criticism. Dupont is at least honest when he says,
with reference to the story of the prophet mauled by a lion,
"This may sound like a harsh Old Testament story for Christians
today, but I believe this is really a picture of God's jealousy
over those that He gives revelation of Himself to."
I think Dupont ought to read John 10:27-30 (in relation to our
security) and Revelation 22:18 (in relation to all these new
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