Book review ‘Spiritual Powers’ to ‘liberating grace’

  • by Torbjorn Swartling

Shortly after his conversion in the early 1980’s, Swedish student Torbjorn Swartling came under the influence of Word-Faith preacher, Ulf Ekman who had just returned from the United States where he had been studying at Kenneth Hagin’s bible school. This was to lead Torbjorn into what he considered to be ‘the last great Christian revival on earth’ [p18]. However doubts began to surface and for the next years his spiritual life was like a yo-yo – a mixture of ‘highs’ and ‘lows’.

The teachings of Ekman, Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and others [many of whom are now seen regularly on the satellite ‘God Channel’] began to conflict with Torbjorn’s understanding of the scriptures and many of the experiences encountered at meetings showed clear evidence of being occultic rather than Holy Ghost inspired. Having detailed a great variety of spiritual ‘power encounters’ and ‘manifestations’ Torbjorn writes “The important point is that I was so impressed by these power encounters that I stopped questioning the teachings and practices that were connected with them. I was unaware of the fact that I accepted doctrines and practices which on closer examination turned out to be deeply unscriptural. I have to warn against trying to produce this kind of phenomena on one’s own accord and to penetrate into the hidden (occult) spiritual world” [p60].

Eventually Torbjorn realised that not only was he a victim of false teachers but that he had also been a victim of mind-control and with the help of biblical pastoral counselling he left the movement. Although I would not agree with everything in the book [Torbjorn would be seen now as a ‘conservative Pentecostal’] there is much needful exposure of the false doctrines and practices of the Word-Faith preachers and also much helpful practical advice for those either troubled by their current involvement in the movement or seeking to recover from previous involvement in it. On page 148 Torbjorn, having detailed the ‘Jesus’ of the Word-Faith Movement, writes ‘This is nothing less than another gospel where there is another spirit that leads people away from the real Jesus Christ of the Bible to another Jesus’. Torbjorn now works as a surgeon in a Swedish hospital.


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