By Rev. Albert Kang of FaithLine Ministries in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The notion of ‘grave sucking’ or ‘mantle grabbing’ has become popular among believers in the hyper-charismatic circle. Such concept has been readily advocated by some of the better-known preachers such as Bill Johnson, Benny Hinn, Cal Pierce etc. The purpose of ‘grave-sucking’ is for the believers to visit grave sites of specially gifted but dead ministers so as to ‘suck residue spiritual anointing’, especially the gifts of healing or prophesying, from these dead people.

Cal Pierce says, “Lord, if a dead man can be thrown on the bones of Elisha and be healed, then I’m asking for the anointing that is on these bones of John G. Lake.”

Bill Johnson expounds, ““There are anointings, mantles, revelations and mysteries that have lain unclaimed, literally where they were left because the generation that walked in them never passed them on. I believe it’s possible for us to recover realms of anointing, realms of insight, realms of God that have been untended for decades simply by choosing to reclaim them and perpetuate them for future generations.”

Benny Hinn is a firm believer of grave sucking when he openly shares what happened when he visited the grave of Aimee Semple McPherson – the founder of Foursquare: “I felt a terrific anointing when I was there. I actually, I—I, hear this, I trembled when I visited Aimee’s tomb. I was shaking all over. God’s power came all over me. … I believe the anointing has lingered over Aimee’s body. I know this may be shocking to you. … And I’m going to take David Palmquist and Kent Mattox and Sheryl Palmquist this week. They’re gonna come with me. You—you—you gonna feel the anointing at Aimee’s tomb. It’s incredible. And Kathryn’s. It’s amazing. I’ve heard of people healed when they visited that tomb. They were totally healed by God’s power. You say, ‘What a crazy thing.’ Brother, there’s things we’ll never understand. Are you all hearing me?”

Many of these hyper-charismatic practitioners believe that they would experience a heightened spiritual capability when they ‘suck’ the anointing from the dead ministers. Cal Pierce believes that “another generation’s ‘ceiling’ in God can become our spiritual floor”.

What does the Bible Say About Grave-Sucking?

Absolutely nothing. Yes, the Bible has no such precedent. Some of these grave-sucking practitioners may protest by pointing their example to an incident recorded in 2 Kings 13:21:-

And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulcher of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.

Why did the Lord allow this event to be narrated in the Old Testament? The record in the Bible expressly mentioned that the dead man became alive when his body touched the bones of Elisha. Didn’t that prove that the dead bones of Elisha were still full of the Holy Spirit?

The truth is that God did not give us a reason. As for the answer to the second question, God also did not give specific intention. But as people with reasoning power, we can make an educated supposition.

We all know that Elisha received a double portion of the Spirit which was upon Elijah. During the lifetime of Elijah on earth, through the power of the Holy Spirit, he performed a total of 14 miracles. Since Elisha had asked for a double portion of the Spirit, he should have performed 28 miracles. However, at the time of his death, he had only 27 miracles under his belt. The miracle of the dead man coming alive was the 28th miracle, thus fulfilling the requirement for the ‘double-portion’ promise. There may be other reasons but like the writer has mentioned, they will all be conjectures. The one that is not conjecture is the transferring of the mantle of the dead saints to living ministers of God’s Word. That is a superstition at best.

Would the same type of ‘anointing’ from gifted but dead ministers be transferred to anyone who lays hands or rolls upon their graves? Let’s check the Bible again. Reading from the same story of the bones of Elisha, we ask ourselves a question: “Did the dead man receive the mantle of Elisha after his dead body came in contact with the latter’s bones”. No, he did not.

Did the resurrected man ultimately receive the power of the Holy Spirit, just as most of the prophets and leaders of the Old Testament did? Did he become a prophet just like Elisha? Did he perform great miracles after that? The answer is a resounding no! The only thing that happened was that the dead man became alive again.

Moreover, in the Old Testament, the presence of the Holy Spirit was upon specific individuals and could be lifted at any time. That was why King David cried out to the Lord when he repented of his sin, “Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your Holy Spirit from me.”

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit did not operate in the same manner. He came upon all believers (Acts 2). God has poured out His Spirit upon all flesh (Acts 2:17; ref: Joel 2:28-29) and we have become the “dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). Paul emphasized, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Even though we appreciate the ministries of our predecessors, but it is God who gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul recognized that not only did people worship dead spiritual heroes, they also created living ones. But God is the One who build His Church. He does not owe that to anyone. He is the only One whom we seek and not depending upon dead or live heroes of faith. Paul sent a strong message against this type of attitude: “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” (I Corinthians 3:5-7). 

If we are not careful, our churches might be affected by teachings that are not found in the Bible but in cults. The danger is that we mix a certain degree of pantheism into our theology and begin a spiritual journey with a sharp tangent that will carry us far away from the original Gospel and the Word of God.