Is Being Slain in the Spirit Biblical?

Yes, it is, and I’ll tell you why it is.

But before I can present the “why”, I must define the “what”.

There are many different terms coined for the manifestation of which I write: Slain in the Spirit, Falling Under the Power, overwhelmed in God’s presence, etc.

Many believe that the phenomenon is either purely psychological or, on the more extreme view, demonic in nature. Now I want to make it completely clear that I do not make this a priority in my ministry. The “Slain in the Spirit” manifestation is not essential to my core beliefs about Christ. My faith is founded on the life, death, resurrection and identity of Christ. So rather than teaching that “Falling Under the Power” is primary, I teach that it is only incidental.

I do not seek the manifestation. Rather, I seek God. And, in doing so, the manifestation is sometimes experienced. Someone being “Slain in the Spirit” can occur during a spiritual encounter with God, but if someone is not “Slain in the Spirit”, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have an encounter with God.

Because many often ask about it, I have been inspired to write a Biblical explanation and defense of the “Slain in the Spirit” phenomenon.

The Definitions

I want to define what I mean by “Slain in the Spirit”.

Here is my definition: A temporary, physical response to a spiritual encounter with God that involves some or much difficulty with standing.

Now, it’s important to realize that there are people who fake these encounters, and, at the same time, there are people who simply allow themselves to fall in an almost ritualistic fashion. There’s the genuine, there’s the real and there’s the ritualistic. Don’t confuse the three. The one of which I write is the genuine – I mean the one that holds truest to the definition I presented. It is, by definition, genuine. But I will lend you its scriptural support in later sentences.

The Ritualistic

Some people voluntarily fall out of reverence, because they sense God’s presence. In some cases, it’s not that they are trying to fake an experience but rather that they are, in their known traditional way, responding with respect to the presence of God. You can tell the difference between when someone voluntarily falls out of reverence and when someone falls as a result of being touched by the power of God. So someone could be experiencing the presence of God, and, even though they’re perfectly able to stand, fall out of reverence. It’s almost a tradition in some Pentecostal circles. For some people who grow up in a church culture that is accepting of the manifestation, falling over when a preacher lays hands on them becomes just as much a part of their tradition as bowing their heads when they pray. In many cases, it’s not that an experience is being faked, but, rather, a tradition is being upheld.

I must go as far as saying that these people are not deceitful or evil. Is bowing out of reverence evil? Is closing your eyes when you pray evil? Do those who practice this do so with the motive to fake an experience? Not the ones in this context.

For them, it is not that they are trying to fake an experience. They are simply being ritualistic, as their tradition has taught them to be. This “Ritualistic Slain in the Spirit” is not evil or deceptive, but I do not necessarily support it.

The Fake

Then, of course, as with anything good, you have those who intentionally fake the experience. Some people, when they feel absolutely nothing, act as though they are experiencing the manifestation when, in fact, they are not. These people, too, can be easily identified.

These are the ones who are being emotional or deceitful (sometimes a little of both). Sometimes, they are not trying to deceive others per se, but they are emotionally deceiving themselves. Other times, they may be so desperate for a “Slain in the Spirit” experience that they work themselves up and into a frenzy. Perhaps wanting to be regarded as “Spiritual” or perhaps being starved of attention, some people deceitfully fake a holy and pure spiritual experience. I definitely do not support such behavior.

The Genuine

What I am specifically writing of is the genuine encounter with God that causes your physical body to react. I am writing of the effect God’s presence has on an earthly vessel.

The Negative Arguments

So what are some of the arguments against the “Slain in the Spirit” manifestation? What issues do people take against it? And why do some vehemently deny that it is Biblical? Categorically, though specificity might seem to reveal more, there are four basic arguments that opponents of the manifestation will use. They are as follows:

#1 – Being “Slain in the Spirit” is Not Biblical

#2 – Being “Slain in the Spirit” is Present in Other Religious Faiths or It Can Be Counterfeited

#3 – It’s Purely Emotional or Lacking in Purpose

#4 – It Brings Glory to Man, Not to God

So, now, I will address the arguments:

Argument #1
Being “Slain in the Spirit” is Not Biblical

Now, as far as this specific argument goes, there are really two main positions. Firstly, there are those who believe that the manifestation is “anti-Biblical”. Secondly, there are those who believe that the manifestation is “extra-Biblical”.

However, there is nothing in scripture that specifically condemns the manifestation itself. The manifestation cannot be considered “Anti-Biblical”, as there is nothing in the Scripture that labels it as demonic or of the flesh. In fact, the opponents will say, “It’s not even found in scripture.” If that were true, what grounds would they have of labeling it as “anti-Biblical” in the first place? At that point, it would simply be “extra-Biblical”.

So those who say it is “anti-Biblical”, say so without any justification whatsoever.

Now what about those who say it is “extra-Biblical?”

I find it quite humorous that opponents of the manifestation will pick at the supporting scriptures with statements like, “Well, they fell but they didn’t fall backwards. They fell, but nobody laid hands on them.” They demand very specific mentions, yet the criticisms that they raise are themselves not found in Biblical specifics. Rather, they base their criticisms on Biblical principles. It’s insincere to then say that the manifestation cannot, therefore, be supported using the same approach.

If one is to believe, based upon the Scripture’s supposed silence, that the manifestation is something to be avoided, the same must commit to a very subtle form of hypocrisy, particularly if he denies that the silence can also be an endorsement.

After all, if the Scripture doesn’t address it, should not they be silent to condemn it, especially if they are so concerned about adding to the Scripture? Most who reject the manifestation do so because it is “extra-Biblical”. Yet their condemnation of the manifestation is itself “extra-Biblical”. We don’t see the apostles or Christ specifically condemning the “Slain in the Spirit” phenomenon. So if anything, the Bible’s silence on the issue should lead them to be silent on the issue; that is, again, if they are really that concerned with adding to the Bible.

But, in fact, that’s not their position. They base their opposition upon Biblical principles. If then the opposition is based upon principles like “defending the faith”, should we not then first look to see if the manifestation can be supported by Biblical principles?

In fact, it is supported by Biblical principles. My response to critics can be summarized in four premises that lead to one conclusion. Each premise is based upon a Biblical principle, and the principles together make a solid, undeniable conclusion, that the manifestation can be supported with scripture. My argument is as follows:

Premise A: God manifests His Presence.
Premise B: God’s Manifested Presence can cause a physical reaction.
Premise C: The Spirit dwells in us.
Premise D: The Spirit and His power can be transferred through touch.
Conclusion: Therefore, being “Slain in the Spirit” is Biblical.


So we take Biblical principles and apply them to being “Slain in the Spirit”. You won’t see that term in the Bible, but neither will you see “rapture” or “Bible” in the Bible. Just because something is not specifically mentioned – chapter and verse – does not mean that the foundational principles for it are not. The question we must ask then is not, “Is it in the Bible?” The question we must ask is, “Is it in God’s Nature?” And, if someone were to disagree, they would have to deny one or all of the premises above.

Premise A is so Biblically solid that I don’t feel I even need to show scriptural support for it. For we know that, in fact, God manifested Himself to people, time and time again. The same goes for premise C.

What about premise B? Does the manifested presence of God sometimes cause people to physically react? Indeed, it does.

“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.” - 1 Kings 8:10-11

“They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.” - John 18:5-6

“At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” - Acts 26:13-14


In the instances above, those who fell at God’s glory did not do so voluntarily and did not do so out of reverence. They did not faint, and they did not collapse in fear. And they did not fall back out of surprise (yes, that’s an actual argument someone tried). They were simply unable to stand in the presence of God.

In each of the instances above, they fell because that is what the Glory and presence of God caused to happen.  It is very clear, from the Scriptures above, that God’s manifested presence can cause the physical human body to react.

Again, we are not looking for this specific instance: a preacher lays hands on someone and that person falls backwards. Rather, we are searching to see if the principle, that God’s manifested presence sometimes causes a physical reaction, is well founded.

Some would argue, “But in the Bible, they fell forward, not backwards like at revivals”. And they would be correct in speaking of other references besides the ones above. In the Scriptures above, they fell backwards and were also unable to stand. It is obvious that the manifested presence of God causes physical and emotional reactions. In the case with the priests, they were unable to stand.

But I don’t even think that’s the main issue for opponents. The effects of God’s presence on a human are both plainly and often seen all throughout the Old and New Testaments.

The challenger might here interject, “Yes, but nobody laid hands on them!” That leads us to premise D.

So how about it? Can the power of God be transferred through touch?

“When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled." - Acts 19:12

“Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my robe?’" - Mark 5:30

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." - 2 Timothy 2:16

“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost." - Acts 8:17

So we see, from scripture, that spiritual things can be transferred and given through the laying on of hands. The Spirit and His power can be transferred through human touch.

And what happens when the Holy Spirit and His power are present? In some cases, people are unable to stand or otherwise react physically. We see the reactions to the Glory of God all throughout scripture.

So to say that the manifestation is unbiblical, one must deny one or all of these premises. Otherwise, he cannot reject the conclusion.

Premise A: God manifests His Presence.
Premise B: God’s Manifested Presence can cause physical reaction.
Premise C: The Spirit dwells in us.
Premise D: The Spirit and His power can be transferred through touch.
Conclusion: Therefore, being “Slain in the Spirit” is Biblical.


Argument #2
Being “Slain in the Spirit” is Present in Other Religious Faiths or It Can Be Counterfeited

This next argument is a rather weak one that seems to be based more so on fear than on scripture. The argument is that, because it can be faked or duplicated, it must, therefore, be rejected. Opponents often reference Kundalini.

But think of the concept of the anti-Christ. If Christ’s identity can be faked then is Christ Himself therefore to be rejected? Of course not!

My point is that the existence of the fake does not prove the absence of the real. In fact, the enemy duplicates all sorts of God’s manifestations:

1. Moses vs. Egyptian Sorcerers
2. Prophets vs. Psychics
3. Word of Knowledge vs. Divination
4. Tongues vs. Satanic Tongues
5. Christ vs. Anti-Christ
6. Gospel vs. False Gospel
7. Church vs. Cult
8. Prayer vs. Incantation

You can counterfeit even the purest of things. This is why we are to judge with righteous judgment, according to the Holy Spirit.

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." - John 7:24

“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:" - 1 Corinthians 12:8-10

The Church has been given the gift of discernment. We are to judge between the real and the fake. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us in these matters. He reveals, and He reminds. He guides us in the new and happening. At the same time, He grounds us in the foundational truths. He is our guide in all these things. So don’t let the fake discourage you from experiencing the real. If we reject the manifestation because of the existence of counterfeits, we must do the same with all else.

#3 It’s Purely an Emotional Experience and Yields No True Results

Now this argument is more of an opinion than a matter that can be refuted with scripture. I have already shown that being “Slain in the Spirit” is Biblical, but, for this argument, I will use the principles already established to form my point.

It’s not “Being Slain in the Spirit” that changes an individual, just as it’s not the anesthetics that heal a person who undergoes surgery. The surgery is what causes real change, while the anesthetics come with the surgery. God’s presence causes change, while being “Slain in the Spirit” is simply a side effect. We do not seek to encounter God in order to be “Slain in the Spirit” no more than one goes into surgery just to receive the anesthesia. Rather, we seek God’s presence, and the manifestation of His presence will sometimes cause you to be “Slain in the Spirit”.

Besides, what exactly is wrong with having your emotions touched by God? Isn’t He the One who created them? Just as He has given you sight to see, He has given you emotions to feel. Every aspect of our being responds to the touch of God – intellect, physical body, spirit and even emotions. People ask me, “Should we have an emotional experience or a true encounter with God?” But I believe that an encounter with God is, indeed, an emotional experience. Please, notice that I am not saying, “An emotional experience is an encounter with God.”

I’ll admit that emotion can sometimes cause a pure, holy and reverent encounter to be turned into a foolish display. But I argue that, even in the midst of great emotion, God can be doing a great work. Just think back on all of the ways God’s people responded to His presence: washing feet with tears, dancing almost naked in front of the ark, appearing drunk, etc. It seems to me that the critics focus more on the emotional aspects of it than do those experiencing it.

So, yes, emotion is involved. But that’s just a side effect to what’s really happening. And who are we to say it didn’t cause change in someone’s life? What if that experience simply encouraged the person? What if God did a subtle work? What if God did something deep in the individual’s heart that won’t manifest until later? If it were purely emotional, I would agree with the critics. But, again, realize that I’m writing about the genuine manifestation. It’s true that some people only experience emotional hype, but that’s not what I’m defending here.

#4 It Brings Glory to Man, Not to God

All throughout scripture, a consistent theme is found. God uses men. He uses former murderers, liars, fornicators, prostitutes, deceivers, thieves and rebellious men of all sorts. God uses people. Among believers, there is no debate about that. Whenever men are being used of God, there will always be those who wrongfully glorify them.

Here are some other things for which man wrongfully receives glory:
1. Preaching the Gospel

2. Praying for the Sick

3. Taking Care of Orphans

4. Teaching God’s Word

5. Missionary Work

6. Taking Care of Widows

7. Tithing and Giving

8. Having Faith

9. Comforting Others

Man can get glory for just about anything godly.

So just because “The Focus” can fall on a man, that does not mean that the action of that man is wrong in it of itself. If that’s the case, you might as well just throw out all of the spiritual gifts. The problem doesn’t rest with the act but with the people who give glory to men for the act. Should we do away with all things for which people glorify man? Or should we just teach the people to instead glorify God?

Conclusion

So, even if you put all of the weak opposing arguments together, they just make one big weak argument. There is nothing in the Bible against the manifestation, but the Scripture (God’s nature, Biblical principles and simple study) shows us that it’s not unlike God to use such a manifestation. It’s more of a stretch to reject it than it is to defend it.

The Bible teaches us of the nature of God (e.g. speaking through visions, causing deep sleeps, causing trembling). It is perfectly reasonable to believe that God is involved enough to manifest His tangible presence to us. And it is no great leap to say that those manifestations sometimes cause physical reactions.

Some Questions for the Critic

Now, I have some questions for those who oppose the phenomenon: Is God’s presence not strong enough to produce this effect? Cannot God move in this way? Is it unlike God to move in this way? Can you prove, Biblically, that being “Slain in the Spirit” is not of God? How do you know it’s not truly the Holy Spirit? Do you reject it because of true discernment or personal discomfort? Does believing in or experiencing the manifestation void someone’s salvation? Can someone know Jesus and believe in the manifestation? Would you reject Christian unity because of your disbelief in the manifestation? Is rejecting the manifestation central to your fundamental Christian beliefs or the essence of the gospel?