Have you heard this one? It's a relatively new claim by some in the Faith movement in the last few years, and it's a whopper. In a nutshell, there are a few preachers teaching…get ready. Are you ready? Here it comes. Some preachers are teaching that teleportation is a spiritual gift.
No, this is not a joke. What is worse is that many Christians are falling for this deception.
As often happens in the prosperity gospel movement, extreme claims are made and presented from the scriptures. The new Christian, or the Christian without a fuller understanding of the scripture is often taken in by such claims. This is one of the ways in which a prosperity preacher traps the unsuspecting person. His or her arguments seem to come from the Bible, therefore they present their teaching as trustworthy. In reality, however, the teaching is far from trustworthy or Biblically accurate. This is the case with this latest ear tickler: spiritual transportation. For the sake of brevity I will simply refer to it as teleportation.
Is teleportation a spiritual gift? Are there examples of it in the Bible? How do I know if this so-called gift is real or fake? I'll attempt to answer those questions by doing two things.
First, I'll present the only two passages of scripture that seem to refer to teleportation and demonstrate why the passages do not present teleportation as a spiritual gift.
Then I will present you with seven arguments from the scriptures and contemporary life why teleportation is not a spiritual gift, but is a deception.
The first example comes from the Old Testament in Ezekiel 3:12-15.
"Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me, 'Blessed be the glory of the LORD in His place.' And I heard the sound of the wings of the living beings touching one another and the sound of the wheels beside them, even a great rumbling sound. So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the LORD was strong on me. Then I came to the exiles who lived beside the river Chebar at Tel-Abib…"
At first glance this passage seems to suggest that God instantaneously transported the prophet Ezekiel to the city of Tel-Abib. Certainly, transporting a person in this way is not impossible for the God of the universe. The question, however, is not whether God can do something, rather, the question is, is he actually doing something.
Notice that in the passage Ezekiel mentions the sounds of the living beings, the wheels, and rumbling sound. Some kind of transportation seems to be involved (cross reference Ezekiel 1). The text doesn't actually say that Ezekiel was instantly transported somewhere. It simply notes that he was lifted and taken away. If Ezekiel had been instantly transported (as Acts 8 would seem to indicate for Philip), then we would likely not see the words, "took me away." We likely would have seen language saying that he was suddenly at his destination. This is not what the passage says.
However, the strongest reason why this passage is not advocating for teleportation as a spiritual gift is Ezekiel's anger. Look carefully at the passage. It says, "I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the Lord was strong on me." What does this mean? Simply stated, Ezekiel was angry because he did not want to go. The Lord forced Ezekiel to go. Ezekiel did not initiate his transportation as would normally happen with any other spiritual gift. He was forced to go against his will. This is what it means when the passage says, "the hand of the Lord was strong upon me."
This passage does demonstrate God transporting Ezekiel in an unusual manner. But no indication of instant transport or a gifting is given. There is no action on Ezekiel's part that would show him using such a gift. Rather, we see the action of God to take Ezekiel somewhere where God wants him to be.
The second passage is the one most often used to support the claim of teleportation as a spiritual gift. It is found in Acts 8:39-40.
"When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea."
There is no doubt from this passage that Philip experienced something miraculous. One moment he was in the river baptizing a new convert and the next he was somewhere else. Philip was transported to Azotus (formerly Ashdod of the Philistines). But notice what Philip does after God transports him. He continued to walk to all the other cities. If Philip had the gift of teleportation he could have transported himself to each city at will. He did not do this. Consider that Philip was using his gift of evangelism to tell people about Jesus wherever he went. He exercised this gift at will, like all other spiritual gifts may be exercised. He did so in multiple cities. Yet, not once after this was Philip miraculously transported to other destinations. Why use one gift and not the other? Why use it only one time? For the simple reason that teleportation is not a spiritual gift.
This passage is also similar to the passage in Ezekiel in that neither man initiated a miraculous event. Rather, God initiated it in order to take these men where he wanted them to be, to do what he wanted them to do. Let us make this clear: neither Ezekiel or Philip initiated the exercise of teleportation. To say so is to assume the scripture says something it that it not only does not plainly say, it asserts a falsehood upon the text.
Reasons To Refute
Considering these accounts, and other scripture, we can confidently assert that teleportation is not a spiritual gift for seven reasons.
(1) Teleportation is not listed as a spiritual gift in I Corinthians 12:4-10, 28-31, Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:11-12, or I Peter 4:10-11.
Someone might make the claim that teleportation would be classified under "miracles." I would argue that teachers of this so-called gift have singled it out as a specific gift, just as healing is usually singled out. Yes, it would be a miracle, but it is not specifically listed even one time, where most other gifts are mentioned between passages more than once.
(2) For every gift of the Spirit mentioned in these passages there are examples of those gifts being used by believers in the scripture. There are no corresponding examples of using teleportation in the Bible.
Pick a spiritual gift: teaching, prophecy, faith, administration, helps, encouragement, evangelism, etc. Turn the pages of the book of Acts and Paul's letters and what do you find? These gifts, and most others, have numerous examples of being used by many people across many years. This is not the case with teleportation. Not only is teleportation not listed as a gift, it has no example of use by an Apostle or any other believer. Otherwise, we might see the Apostle Paul popping in and out of various locations instead of walking across whole countries to brave the stormy seas.
(3) Ezekiel and Philip being teleported was an action initiated by the Holy Spirit, not the person.
In both examples of Ezekiel and Philip, neither person initiated supernatural transportation. We do not have an account of either person performing an action, or initiating something that whisks them away supernaturally. The accounts demonstrate exactly the opposite.
(4) There are no accounts in scripture of a person intentionally initiating a teleportation.
This essentially repeats the previous points, but it is worth repeating. All of the spiritual gifts mentioned in scripture are initiated by the person who has the gift. The teacher initiates his teaching at his discretion. It is the same with every other gift. This is not so with Ezekiel or Philip.
(5) Spiritual gifts are always under the control of the person who has them. Therefore, just as teacher can teach at will, or the evangelist evangelize at will, or the administrator administrate at will, so too the one with teleportation should be able to teleport at will. No one has done this.
The scripture states very directly that "the spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (I Corinthians 14:32). One interpretation of this passage is that the person who has a spiritual gift is in control of that gift. God does not make us exercise our gifts against our will. The teacher may teach or not teach at any time. So too, if spiritual teleportation were a legitimate gift the person with the gift would be able to transport himself or herself at any time he or she so chooses. This does not happen.
(6) Only two instances of teleportation are reputed in scripture, but genuine spiritual gifts are demonstrated throughout the Biblical account. This lack of demonstration strongly suggests that teleportation is not a genuine gift.
The lack of teleportation accounts is a strong indicator that teleportation is not a spiritual gift. Every gift listed in scripture has corresponding accounts of being used, under the initiation of the one with the gift. This is never true of so-called teleportation.
(7) There are multiple examples all around the world, everywhere where there are Christians, of almost all of the spiritual gifts being used by contemporary Christians. These examples are global in virtually every culture. But there are no modern-day, confirmed examples of teleportation of Christians.
A few TV preachers have made astounding claims that they have been teleported to other places. For all of the above reasons these accounts are not to be believed. Genuine spiritual gifts are always in use around the world, wherever there are Christians. The use of these gifts is prolific and daily. Yet we are expected to believe that teleportation also happens? There is no evidence, anywhere, that this is true.
Teleportation is not a spiritual gift. Some passages, like those in Ezekiel and Acts are demonstrative of what God may have done in a person's life, but being demonstrative does not automatically imply prescriptive. If that were so then we would see teleportation all the time just as we do with the many other spiritual gifts. The TV preacher who claims spiritual transport is either lying or is relating an experience that is akin to astral projection, which, as an occult practice, is also condemned in the scripture (Deuteronomy 18:9-14).