on 25 August 2015
“The School of Seers” is a book by Jonathan Welton, a Charismatic Christian author. He is sympathetic towards the Azusa Street Revival, the Word of Faith movement, the Kansas City Prophets and Vineyard. Welton claims to be a seer (a non-Christian would perhaps call him “psychic”) with the ability to look into the supernatural realm.
Jonathan's wife Karen Welton has written a foreword, from which I quote: “Jonathan explained seeing strangers walking down the street; some had a light or aura around them, and he knew they were filled with the Holy Spirit. He could see a dark cloud surrounding others, and he knew they were depressed or tormented by demons. Even more exciting to me were the angels. They usually radiated light or fire. He could describe the color and style of their garments, their facial expressions, and many other details. Certain angels carried staffs or swords, and some, but not all, had wings. Some angels were the size of men; others stood at eight or ten feet tall or taller. Occasionally, he would see angels who were assigned to specific Christians. In youth group, when we worshipped the Lord with abandonment, countless angels would flood into the room. They would join with us in praising, singing, and dancing. Sometimes, when the worship was cut off, Jonathan saw them crying, knowing that the will of man had overruled what the Holy Spirit wanted to do. He described these experiences in profound detail, as if he saw them as clearly as he saw me.” (Kindle Locations 192-200).
Jonathan's book is supposed to explain to other Christians how they, too, can get these miraculous powers. There seem to be three possible methods. One is through impartation from another person who already has them. Welton claims to have received the gift of seership as a teenager from a Charismatic pastor.
The second method includes meditation on God's word, prayer, worship, fasting and “prayer in the Spirit” (speaking in tongues?) during which God may speak directly to the believer. Above all, faith is necessary. By “faith”, the author seems to mean absolute confidence in Jesus, rather than the wishy-washy-mushy faith rightly or wrongly associated with the mainline churches. Interestingly, the examples the author gives of successful applications of his method comes from revivalist meetings or other collective acts of worship, not from lone individual mystics. Indeed, he says at one point that collective worship is an important part of the process of receiving the gifts. The miracles are often experienced by more than one person, sometimes by entire congregations. (Of course, skeptics would impute this to mass hysteria.)
The third method of receiving the ability to see the spirit-world is never described, but it seems to be open to believer and non-believer alike. New Age believers or Spiritualists can also see angels, spirits and auras. However, they lack the proper authority to do so. Without faith in Jesus and Biblical discernment, they fall easy prey to demons. There are also Christians who somehow acquire the gifts by themselves, get condemned by mainline churches, and then drift away into the New Age scene. Welton calls these people “spiritual orphans” and believes that Christian congregations must reach out to them.
Welton strongly emphasizes that the Bible is the criterion by which private (or collective) revelations should be judged. This is easy enough when dealing with very basic doctrine, such as the incarnation, but it obviously becomes more difficult when the Bible isn't entirely clear on a subject. Thus, Welton doesn't believe in a pre-tribulation Rapture, hence rejecting any revelations to that effect, but how does he *know* what the true interpretation of Revelation might be? The Book of Revelation isn't particularly perspicacious! Welton also believes that God has “mysteries” he wants to impart to the believers, but if so, the Bible cannot be the sole criterion of truth, since the “mysteries” cannot be checked against proof-texts. They wouldn't be mysterious otherwise! Also, what's the point of God revealing anything at all, if the Bible already contains all the answers? There isn't any sustained discussion about these conundrums in the book. Note also that the author supports controversial preachers such as Kenneth Hagin, who many Christians regard as heterodox.
I had hoped for a more hands-on guide, complete with much more testimonials, so I can't say I really liked “The School of Seers”. Part of me only wants to give it two stars. However, in the end I gracefully impart the OK rating (three stars) on it.
on 2 February 2013
The Bible reflects a world in which angelic, demonic and other spiritual realities affect our physical world. This book claims that a gift of seeing realities in this 'spiritual world', both 'directly' (e.g. seeing angels, or the Holy Spirit seen as water or fire) and somehow symbolically (e.g. seeing words written on angels or people) may be sought and received from God. Faith is important for receiving and operating this gift. The book takes the view that faith can be increased through disciplines such as prayer and fasting. Each chapter concludes with practical exercises for the believer to undertake for the fruitful pursuit of this gift of seeing into the spiritual realm. Overall there is a fair measure of content in the book. It moves swiftly with straightforward examples and explanations and so can be read very quickly. The popular format gives a large amount of space given to larger print, subtitles and layout. I had hoped for much more content in a book at this price and of this number of pages. Often a chapter or subsection works with a single anecdotal example or scripture verse; much fuller explanation and reflection would be welcome.