In my last post, I told you about Jesse Duplantis. If you didn’t read it (and you really should), here’s the short version:
Jesse is a prosperity gospel preacher who has had huge success, mainly from telling jokes and claiming that he has been to heaven, where he personally met Abraham, King David, Jonah (he of the whale), Jesus, and God (obviously). Jesse was a hero to me in my early teens.
In 1998 and 1999, the church I then attended, Carmel Christian Centre, hosted Jesse’s services at the Colston Hall, Bristol. I was more than a little excited. I was 13 the first time this happened. The Colston Hall has a capacity of almost two thousand, and it was full for Jesse’s events (I told you this stuff was popular in Britain).
At the second meeting, Jesse Duplantis called me out and prophesied that the devil would try to get me to play rock music for him, but he would fail. (Recording after the jump).
My chief memory from the first meeting is that I got to play a guitar solo during our version of Hillsong’s “(He’s Real) All the Power You Need” (I’m glad that song’s on YouTube, because otherwise you would probably assume I invented that title). It was probably rubbish, but I was thirteen and everyone thought I was the Christian Eddie Van Halen.
Now, remember the context here: Jesse Duplantis was just about the greatest prophet and evangelist on earth, in my mind. He had been to heaven, single-handedly confirming my faith beyond all doubt.
In 1994 (aged 9) I felt that God was calling me to become a Christian musician. In 1995 I got my first guitar, and ever since then I’d been looking for a chance to become a Christian rock star. I just couldn’t find any other Christian rock fans to start a band with. So any time I was at one of these meetings with thousands of other Faith People (as I called them), I was genuinely expecting a major prophecy to turn my life upside down. At meeting after meeting, I left disappointed. The prophet would start to call people out, but it was never me.
And then it was me. Here’s what was said (someone kindly gave me a tape – yes, a cassette – afterwards, and I was thrilled to discover it earlier this year in my old bedroom at my mum’s house). Prophecy begins 58 seconds into the clip:
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/63886743″ iframe=”true” /]
For those of you unable to listen:
“There was a meeting today. Three o’clock this afternoon. Satan and his devils said, ‘He’s got too much talent. We’ve got to get him to play for us.’ But what the devil didn’t realise and know – there were angels of the Lord listening. You have been called and sent to work for the Lord. That’s why you have this insatiable thirst to play for Him. That’s why your talent is what it is. He [Satan] is gonna play his bid. He’s gonna present something to you as you grow older that’s gonna look very attractive. But by the time that comes, the strength of God in your life cannot, will not, and will never be broken.
[Praying in tongues]
“You will play for Me at my Throne when we enter into heaven. I commission thee to play in my orchestra at the very throne of the Most High God. Remember it; put it in your heart. Those that go to heaven will see it and say, [shouting] ‘Hey! I remember when the Lord chose him.’
“The reason though why I said it so loud: the devil can’t believe it, because what you’re gonna do is take his place. [Congregation cheers] The position has been filled. Satan was a worship being, and I never filled that place because I was looking for someone with the heart to do it. And I have found my person.
[At this point I think I fell to the floor, slain in the Spirit. The congregation began cheering]“Somebody shout over there! That’s power! That’s powerful, man!”
[Praying in tongues; tape ends]
Some background knowledge you may need: There’s a widely held doctrine among evangelicals that, before his fall, Lucifer (that is, Satan when he was still an angel, before he became the devil) was the chief musician in heaven. There’s minimal, if any, Scriptural support for this, but a google search will yield plenty of people who hold this view.
This prophecy followed me for a long time. Especially when I started to doubt my faith in my later teens, I thought that the devil was trying to get me over to his side. “Satan, I will never play for you,” I used to hiss as I lay in bed, sure his infernal majesty could hear me. And then, when I finally did make the jump into playing for secular bands, I found myself wondering if I’d failed, if I was in fact playing for the devil.
I suppose all my fellow churchgoers would say that I did wind up playing for the devil, because last year I played guitar on Kee Marcello‘s comeback album Redux:Europe (Here I am in the video). Kee is best known as the guitarist in Europe (the band who did The Final Countdown) from 1986-1993. Mind you, if my financially disastrous time in the Kee Marcello Band is the devil’s idea of a “very attractive” offer, then clearly Satan is suffering from the effects of file sharing just as badly as the rest of the industry.
If there’s one thing you can say about Jesse Duplantis, he’s audacious. He’s got the audacity to claim that he miraculously travelled 200 miles in 30 minutes, and that he spent 5 hours and 15 minutes in heaven. And he’s got the audacity to tell a 14-year-old boy that God is going to give him the eternal position of Most Important Musician in the Universe.
My ego was completely out of control. After that happened, I didn’t improve at the guitar at all until I went to music college three years later. Obviously, I was already the best if God had picked me. With hindsight, I was actually quite crap. But I was arrogant and that, I think, was part of the reason why no one would be in a band with me. My teens were a turmoil, constantly wondering why, if God wanted to use me as a musician, I never got an opportunity to play in a band.
I was a horribly depressed 14- and 15-year old, and my life wasn’t really bad. It’s just that disappointment is a difficult thing to handle, and the Word of Faith prosperity gospel guarantees you will spend your life disappointed. It promises you that you can have anything you desire if you just confess God’s Word and give your money to Him. Life will be a constant stream of victories, miracles, and triumphs. No child is equipped to handle the stark contrast between those expectations and the realities of life, and that was how I found myself writing a suicide note at 15. Luckily, no one’s ever had to read it.
If you’re interested in what happened to my music career, it’s at JonnyScaramanga.com. After that last paragraph, you could probably do with cheering up, so I offer this: