Derek Prince (1915-2003)
Born in Bangalore, India to British parents, Derek Prince became a Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge at twenty-four. He seemed destined to become a noted scholar, but the outbreak of World War II changed his trajectory when he entered the British Army.
While serving under General Montgomery in North Africa, Derek had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. His love of knowledge immediately became a passionate desire to know the Lord and His ways. This set him on a course to become one of the most popular Bible teachers of his time.
Derek’s love for the Lord, the Scriptures, and biblical prophecy caused him to become deeply committed to the Jewish people and the restoration of Israel. He lived much of his life in Jerusalem where he experienced the wars and struggles of the Jewish people who were surrounded by enemies intent on their destruction. The Scriptures were Derek’s defense, and he used them to resist the false teachings of Replacement Theology. (This doctrine applies the biblical promises and prophecies concerning Israel exclusively to the church.)
Derek became known for his depth, reason, and uncompromising devotion to the Scriptures. Following his conversion, he remained a thinker of the highest order, using his intellectual rigor to thoroughly research and establish his teachings. He became known for teaching on subjects like prayer and fasting, the place of Israel in God’s plan and in prophecy, and spiritual authority — especially authority over the demonic. However, the scope of his teaching was broad. He loved the supernatural and witnessing the power of God when he prayed for the sick and demonically oppressed.
The Discipleship Movement
In the early 1960s, the Charismatic Movement swept through virtually every denomination. Millions across the globe were baptized in the Holy Spirit, creating a zeal for the Lord and hunger for His truth that was seemingly unprecedented in church history. Great movements like The Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship attracted thousands — sometimes tens of thousands — to their meetings. David Wilkerson’s Teen Challenge majorly impacted gangs and those struggling with drug addiction. The Jesus Movement, born out of Calvary Chapel, swept through the Hippie movement and other counterculture groups. It was spectacular chaos, but chaos nonetheless.
The Charismatic Movement seemed out of control, and bizarre people with weird teachings took advantage of it. Even so, this came with uncommon spiritual hunger. At the time, the ministry of the teacher was almost unheard of in the local church, relegated almost exclusively to seminaries and Bible schools. However, such an anointing came on teachers that teaching quickly became the focus of ministry throughout the body of Christ.
Extraordinary teachers rose up, with some of the most popular being Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson, Don Basham, and Ern Baxter.
These five were unique in style and emphasis, but together they formed a remarkable team. They became affectionately known as “The Fort Lauderdale Five,” where they had moved to better coordinate their ministries. Here we’ll just call them “The Five.”
After hearing a sermon by Juan Carlos Ortiz emphasizing structured discipleship, The Five were convicted that this kind of structure was desperately needed in the Charismatic Movement. They were not just teachers, but shepherds also. They were disturbed by some of the false teachings that sprang up to sow tares in the wheat.
They soon formed a discipleship structure. “Submission” to authority became a major emphasis, and with the near anarchy sweeping the West through the counterculture movements, this emphasis was a necessary. However, if the devil cannot stop a move of God, he will often get behind it to push it too far, knowing that the resulting extremes will doom a movement. This happened to the Discipleship Movement as their emphasis on submission increased.
Pat Robertson was one of the first to publicly confront the extremes in the Discipleship Movement. Other noteworthy Christian leaders followed. Among The Five, Derek Prince was the first to agree that the emphasis on submission had gone too far. With a clear statement of why he considered them to have gone into error, he left the movement. Eventually the others followed. Their teachings about how they got off track and the lessons learned from this movement may be some of their most important messages. This is especially true for those destined to lead in the great movements to come.
Even though the Discipleship Movement caused a deep riff in the Charismatic world and impacted much of the body of Christ, The Five remained popular teachers. Their cassette teaching tapes were treated like gold, even by those who rejected the shepherding and submission emphasis. Many Christians were wounded by this movement, but most forgave, learned from the experience, and moved on. However, some did not forgive nor were healed, and they remained tragic reminders of the lessons we must learn from this.
For Derek and his ministry, the discipleship debacle was like a blip on the radar that he quickly moved past. While never part of the movement, I did spend personal time with and have been influenced by all five of these remarkable teachers.
Having studied church history in some depth, I saw how virtually every movement in history got off track or went through extremes at times. Those that righted themselves and got going again possessed one common characteristic — they were Christ centric. When mistakes were made, they learned the important lessons and kept going. All things work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Derek Prince is a great example of how keeping Christ central brings you back if you stray from the course. His ministry spanned six decades, and he ran strong to the end. He died peacefully in his sleep at eighty-eight.
Over a decade after his passing, Derek’s messages are still heard by thousands every day on radio broadcasts around the world. His teaching videos and books are also still impacting the body of Christ. He was a forerunner who helped prepare many for the coming harvest at the end of the age.
For more information about the resources, visit Derek Prince Ministries.
~ Pastor Rick Joyner
|Pastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.|