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What Does the Bible Say About.."Slain By the Spirit"?

At my church my pastor lay hands on me i felt warm all inside and fell down and was out for a short time. In looking in my bible I see being filled with the Holy Spirit but not slain. What is your outlook on this?


Being “slain by the Spirit” is obviously a misnomer. There is no record of anyone actually dying during the phenomenon, although there are accounts of a woman who died when someone fell on her. The phenomenon raises more questions than its proponents have answers.

Basically, being slain in the Spirit is a phenomenon in which someone, usually as the result of laying on of hands or other direct confrontation with someone supposed to posses a gift of the Holy Spirit, falls to the ground. Sometimes these people laugh or cry, howl like dogs, and even strip off their clothes. Usually it happens in a healing service, and the preacher has people designated as catchers. For some unknown reason, very rarely does anyone fall who does not have a catcher handy.

Since I believe that the Bible teaches that the special gifts of the Spirit ended almost 2000 years ago, I naturally put no more stock in this phenomenon than in the modern version of speaking in tongues. For the scriptural reasons behind this statement, please go to Topical List of Questions, S-Z and find the topic “Speaking in Tongues.” There are three answers there that give scriptures.

In addition to that objection, there are some questions that trouble me. Why is there a need for “catchers?” Can God not protect his own people when he fills them with his Spirit? Why do some people who are slain by the Spirit perform embarrassing acts (cackling like hens, barking like dogs) or even lewd acts (stripping, and worse) that are more appropriate to a hypnotist’s act than a worship of God? If the power of the Spirit is so strong as to make some people fall, why do the preachers who lay their hands on these people not also fall, in most cases?

Perhaps the most important question is this. Why is this phenomenon not found in the New Testament? When there unquestionably were gifts of the Spirit, why do we not find record of people blessed with those gifts falling down? Unbelievers fell in the presence of Jesus in the garden (John 18:6), but we have no record of believers falling down when someone laid hands on them.

I want to be clear that I don’t discount your experience. I don’t deny your experience. It is one that has been had by many people in various religions. It most commonly happens during times of great excitement or distress. It most often happens to people who expect it to happen to them or others. I don’t doubt your experience; I just doubt that it came from the Holy Spirit.

Let me also make clear that I believe all Christians are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is both a promise (Acts 2:38) and a command (Ephesians 5:18). Since the Spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17), the way to be filled with the Spirit is simple and straightforward. It is not miraculous. It simply involves study of the word of God as revealed to us in the scriptures. It may not make us fall down, or speak in tongues. In fact, it should make us rise up and teach others.