Is Sozo healing safe and biblical? The real roots and history of Sozo: Randy Clark of Toronto Blessing, jungle and barnyard animal behaviors, Bethel Church, Argentina and more…
Answer: The Toronto Blessing refers to the supposed outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the people attending the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship Church, which at the time was the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. On January 20, 1994, a Pentecostal pastor named Randy Clark spoke at the church and gave his testimony of how he would get drunk in the Spirit and laugh uncontrollably. In response to this testimony, the congregation erupted in pandemonium with people laughing, growling, dancing, shaking, barking like dogs, and even some even being stuck in positions of paralysis. These experiences were attributed to the Holy Spirit entering people’s bodies. The pastor of the church, John Arnott, referred to it as a big Holy Spirit party. The moniker “Toronto Blessing” was given, and the church was soon in the international spotlight. When this “blessing” is held to the light of Scripture, however, it can scarcely be called a blessing; abomination, maybe, but not blessing. Absolutely nowhere in Scripture can one find any precedent for what was happening at the Toronto Airport church, except, perhaps, the physical conditions demon-possessed people suffered. In fact, the Toronto Airport church became so embroiled in emotional outbursts and psychological displays that Pastor Arnott ceased preaching salvation, and instead preached about the party of the Holy Spirit. Experiences were being held in higher authority than Scripture. This was even too much for the already extremely charismatic Vineyard movement, which severed ties with the Toronto Airport church in 1995, prompting the name change to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. A believer’s focus needs to be Jesus Christ, the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), not on oneself, one’s experiences, or even the Holy Spirit. The Toronto Blessing focuses on the last, to the detriment of biblical faith. Believers can have fun, dance, sing, even shout to the Lord. However, when a worship service resembles the dream of a demented schizophrenic and attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit, only one word comes to mind: heresy.
This article was originally published on April 26, 2013 and has been updated.
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