Marjoe Gortner – Oldest Tricks in the Book

Marjoe GortnerMarjoe Gortner – I so wish that people could understand this verse properly, and by that I mean;  people read it but don’t grasp what it’s actually saying.

So I am hoping by explaining it thoroughly and then giving you the best example I can find to aid my explanation, you will grasp that just because someone preaches in Jesus’ name does not make them Christian.  Just because someone says they are Christian does not make them Christian.  Just because someone goes to church does not make them Christian.

This is why you need to EXAMINE what they say and JUDGE their teachings.  Jesus says those that pay attention to this warning are WISE and those who don’t are FOOLISH.

Matthew 7: 21-23

21  Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.   22  “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’    23  “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

So Jesus Himself says, not someone else, but Jesus Himself is saying that; People will draw large crowds and they will preach using His name, and they will prophecy using His name saying ‘the Lord said’, and they will heal people using His name, and people will see visions and use His name and say, ‘God showed me’.  People will fall over as they will be made to think it’s a ‘holy’ spirit that’s come over them and people will even cast out demons using His name.

Understand that this was happening even while Jesus was walking this earth.  There were false teacher doing miracles as well – as far back as the OT with Moses, Aaron and the Egyptian Pharaoh.   It’s nothing new.  The only difference is most of these ministers today are fake and could not turn a lie into truth if they tried…

Exodus 7:8-12 

8  Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,  9  “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'”  10  So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the LORD had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent.   11  Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerer’s, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.   12  For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

Jesus carries on and says in:

Matthew 7: 24-26

24  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.”

I now want to show you something:  Verse 24 says, “may be compared to a wise man” and verse 26 says, “will be like a foolish man

Cay you see that even though someone were to act on Jesus Word’s it does not automatically make the person wise.  Because you get people who ‘act’ on these words and YET still preach ANOTHER gospel.  On the contrary Jesus says, those who just never act on His words are foolish.

Before all these verses Jesus first speaks about fruits where He says:

Matthew 7:15-20

15 Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?   17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Many, many times people would say to me something along these lines:

…. “But, they do so much good!  You need to judge them by their fruits;  I’ve been to their church,  I’ve seen their missions,  they feed the poor, they have homes for homeless teenagers who fall pregnant,  I’ve seen drug addicts who entered the ministry funded rehabs, come clean.  The fruit is good fruit!  They go to areas that normal people would not dare go to do missionary work.  Stop speaking against these wonderful, anointed people of God who have saved thousands of people.”

Well here is the answer:

Matthew 7:21-23

21   Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.    22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’   23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Hmmm, look familiar?  Yes I quoted this verse at the beginning of the article – If the message that is being preached is not the TRUTH, is not the GENUINE message that Jesus Christ spoke then…the fruit that is produced is BAD – even though it seems like it’s good.

Good Fruit Bad Fruit - © - Fair Use Copyright - Please link to when using this Image

How many unbelievers do nice things for others?  Freemasons dedicate their entire front end in doing good works, but the back end is satanic. Whenever they are confronted on their ‘secrets’ they will never divulge – the first thing they say is, ‘we do so much good for the community’.  And then you think, ‘ok, I suppose they do, so how can they be so bad when they do so much good’.

Now I beg the question! How is it possible that thousands can be ‘saved’ (sometimes in one night) at the hands of people who preach falsely?  Ok, we know the answer as per the above verses – Good fruit does not come from a bad tree.

Here is another useful question, which might help you in the future – How can a pastor declare ‘so many thousand’ were saved during his meetings?  Does he know each and every single heart of each person who came to an alter call or raised their hand in a stadium?  Nope!   All lies to make you think he is such a great ‘man of God’ – it certainly does pull a crowd.

Now I am almost there, getting to the best example out there based on a preacher named Marjoe Gortner – how someone can preach in the name of Jesus, do miracles in the name of Jesus, proclaim people saved by the thousands, speak about the Blood of Jesus and the cross, heal people in the name of Jesus and pretty much everything you can think of that was ‘Christian’ YET he is not saved, a complete unbeliever.

No one likes to be robbed, made a fool of, lied to, cheated, and abused:

  • When you go to the bank you stand in front of the ATM – You shield your card and PIN so that no one will steal your money by paying attention to the warnings given to you by your bank about how thieves operate.  So why do you not guard your soul in the same way and read the Bible which is your armor, your protection?
  • When someone tries to sell you some great money making scheme, you are suspicious and you decide to go check out their website.  After studying to find out if it’s really true, you realise it’s not what it seems to be.  The only one that’s going to make money is the guy at the top.  So why do you not guard your soul in the same way by studying the Bible to find out if what you have been told is really true?

You give money freely to false teachers for false information, but ignore the Word of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit which comes for free.

Discernment is not something you learn, discernment is not something you earn either.  It can’t be picked up from reading DIY Christian books.

Discernment IS the Holy Spirit in your life and listening TO HIS WARNINGS – All born again Christians have discernment.  The Holy Spirit leads Christians into all truth,  He councils you and guides you.  He will NEVER tell you to go to false teachers.  He will always tell you to go to the Word of God.

Why do you not want to study the Word of God to make sure that what you are hearing in church, on TV, at Mighty Men conferences is true?  You soul depends on you making sure you have ABSOLUTE correct information at your fingertips, all the time. This is only available through the guidance of the Holy Spirit who will ALWAYS point you back to the Bible and show you scripture to backup the truth and crush the lies.

The Word of Faith/New Reformation and Emerging Church have been successful at the following for many years:

  • Changing scripture and twisting it so that as time goes by everyone is confused as to what is true and what is not true.
  • Brainwash people into thinking the minister is a godly man/women hence what they say can be trusted, no need to test them.
  • The World have placed themselves as head of the Church and removed Jesus Christ – You are to first go to men for council and the Word of second – You are not expected to be a Berean and check to see if what they say it true.
  • You are requested to read their latest books and sermons instead and just take their word for it that it’s sound as they are wise and you are under their authority.
  • They try to discredit the Bible by insisting that it is not relevant for the 21st century.
  • The Bible can be interpreted any way you please – as long as it makes sense to you and you are happy with your conclusion then it’s correct.
  • You don’t need the Bible anymore because if you have god in you then the words you speak must be sound and full of wisdom.

Marjoe Gortner was the first Evangelical preacher to blow the whistle on his profession…

In his documentary film, Marjoe Gortner, made in the late sixties, he revealed age-old tricks of the trade and exposed some of the entertainment aspects of the popular movement that have made it big business.

If he lives forever, Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner will most likely always be “The World’s Youngest Ordained Minister.” Born January 14, 1944, Marjoe was almost strangled during delivery by his own umbilical cord. The obstetrician told his mother that it was a miracle the child survived, and thus “Marjoe” — for Mary and Joseph — the Miracle Child, took his place at the end of a long line of Evangelical ministers.

From the beginning, his preaching skills were meticulously cultivated. Before he learned to say “Mamma” or “Poppa,” he was taught to sing “Hallelujah!” When he was nine months old his mother taught him the right way to shout “Glory!” into the microphone. At three, he could preach the gospel from memory, and he received drama coaching and instruction in every performing art from saxophone playing to baton twirling. On Halloween, 1948, at the age of four, Marjoe was officially ordained and thrust into a wildly successful career as the Shirley Temple of America’s Bible Belt, the sprawling non-geographic community of strict adherents to the Christian scriptures. In the following decade he preached to packed tents and houses coast to coast, as enthusiastic audiences flocked to see the Miracle Child who allegedly received sermons from the Lord in his sleep. Owing to his mother’s careful training, harsh discipline, and indomitable ambition, Marjoe’s sermons were flawlessly memorized, right down to each perfectly timed pause and gesture. Frequent Hallelujahs and Amen’s punctuated his performances, which were cleverly promoted with titles such as “From Wheelchair to Pulpit” and “Heading for the Last Roundup,” which Marjoe preached wearing a cowboy suit.

Marjoe’s captivating sermons rarely failed to fill the church collection plate to the brim, and his renowned faith healings were miraculous even to him. In his teens, however, Marjoe grew disenchanted with the continued deception of his divine powers. He left the Evangelical movement in search of more legitimate means of employment. He spent some time in a rock band, trying to move with the changing times; then he returned to the Evangelical circuit to make his revealing motion picture. Marjoe is one of those frank films that delve deeply into sensitive areas of American morality that slip over the line into profiteering.

We found Marjoe in Hollywood last year, where he now resides on a secluded hilltop estate in Laurel Canyon. After we drove up the winding dirt road that leads to his lofty home, Marjoe greeted us cordially and ushered us into his sunken living room, where he pointed out some familiar features of the sprawling southern California landscape visible through his wall-sized picture window. We told him that we had come to hear about his miraculous powers of “saving” and “healing,” trade secrets that neither his film nor his subsequent biography unraveled satisfactorily. Tall, handsome, with lion-colored curls and a penetrating stare, even in T-shirt and faded jeans Marjoe had an air of power about him. From the outset of our talk, however, he squashed all notions we might have had that his talents were in any way extraordinary.

“I don’t have any power,” he started off, just to set the record straight. “And neither do any of these other guys. Hundreds of people were healed at my crusades, but I know damn well it was nothing I was doing.”

Yet, Marjoe admitted, he remained somewhat baffled by the thousands of souls he helped to “save” and the numerous illnesses he seemed to have cured. His own insight into his preaching skills was on a decidedly earthly level. Based on his years of training and experience, he located the source of his divine power squarely out among the flocks who assembled to receive his gifts.

“You start with a guy who obviously has a problem,” he explained. “You’ve got to begin on that premise. Things haven’t worked out for him, or he’s looking for something, or whatever. So he goes to one of these revivals. He hears many regimented things. He sees a lot of people glowing around him — people who seem very, very happy — and they’re all inviting him to come in and join the clique and it looks great. They say, ‘Hey, my life was changed!’ or ‘Hey, I found a new job!’ That’s when he’s ready to get saved, or Born Again; and once he’s saved, they all pat him on the back. It’s like he’s been admitted to this very special elite little club.”

Marjoe downplayed his own role in the proceedings. As he saw it, the real show was in the audience; he served primarily as a conductor.

“As a preacher,” he said, “I’m working with the crowd, watching the crowd, trying to bring them to that high point at a certain time in the evening. I let everything build up to that moment when they’re all in ecstasy. The crowd builds up and you have to watch it that you don’t stop it. You start off saying you’ve heard that tonight’s going to be a great night; then you begin the whole pitch and keep it rolling.”

For Marjoe, who has seen it a million times, the divine moment of religious ecstasy has no mystical quality at all. It is a simple matter of group frenzy that has its counterpart in every crowd.

“It’s the same at a rock-and-roll concert,” he asserted. “You have an opening number with a strong entrance; then you go through a lot of the old standards, building up to your hit song at the end.”

The hit song, however, is spiritual rebirth, the product of a time-tested recipe for religion to which the preacher and every member of the audience contribute some small but active ingredient. Then, according to Marjoe, the only fitting encore to the overwhelming moment of becoming saved is a personal demonstration of the power of that newfound faith. This is the motivating factor that prompts speaking in tongues, also known as the “receiving of the glossolalia.” As Marjoe explained it, this well-known Evangelical tradition requires even greater audience participation on the part of the tongues recipient and the entire audience.

“After you’ve been saved,” Marjoe continued, “the next step is what they call ‘the infilling of the Holy Spirit.’ They say to the new convert, ‘Well, now you’re saved, but you’ve got to get the Holy Ghost.’ So you come back to get the tongues experience. Some people will get it the same night; others will go for weeks or years before they can speak in tongues. You hear it, you hear everyone at night talking in it in the church, and they’re all saying, ‘We love you and we hope you’re going to get it by tonight.’ Then one night you go down there and they all try to get you to get it, and you go into very much of a trance — not quite a frenzy, but it is an incredible experience.

“During that moment the person forgets all about his problems. He is surrounded by people whom he trusts and they’re all saying, ‘We love you. It’s okay. You’re accepted in Christ. We’re with you, let it go, relax.’ And sooner or later, he starts to speak it out and go dut-dut-dut. Then everyone goes, ‘That’s it! You’ve got it!’ and the button is pushed and he will in fact start to speak in tongues and just take off: dehan-dayelo-mosatay-leesaso … and on and on.”

Marjoe paused. Flo was dumbfounded by his demonstration, although he hadn’t gone into the jerking, trance-like ecstasy that is commonly associated with the tongues movement. I’d seen the classic version in his movie, yet even in this restrained demonstration, Marjoe appeared to be triggering some internal releasing or babbling mechanism. I asked him how he brought it about.

“You’ll never get with that attitude,” he joked. Then he went on to explain the true nature of the experience. His perspective showed it to be a process that requires a great deal of effort to master.

“Tongues is something you learn,” he emphasized. “It is a releasing that you teach yourself. You are told by your peers, the church, and the Bible — if you accept it literally — that the Holy Ghost spoke in another tongue; you become convinced that it is the ultimate expression of the spirit flowing through you. The first time maybe you’ll just go dut-dut-dut-dut, and that’s about all that will get out. Then you’ll hear other people and next night you may go dut-dut-dut-UM-dut-DEET-dut-dut, and it gets a little better. The next thing you know, it’s ela-hando-satelay-eek-condele-mosandrey-aseya … and it’s a new language you’ve got down.”

Except that, according to Marjoe, it’s not a real language at all. Contrary to most religious understanding, speaking in tongues is by no means passive spiritual possession. It must be actively acquired and practiced. Although the “gift” of tongues is a product of human and not supernatural origin, Marjoe displayed tremendous respect for the experience as an expression of spirituality and fellowship.

“I really don’t put it down,” he said. “I never have. It’s just that I analyze it and look at it from a very rational point of view. I don’t see it as coming from God and say that at a certain point the Holy Spirit zaps you with a super whammy on the head and you’ve ‘gone for tongues’ and there is it. Tongues is a process that people build up to. Then, as you start to do something, just as when you practice the scales on the piano, you get better at it.”

Already, we could see the difference between Marjoe and some of his modern-day fellow preachers and pretenders. Unlike many cult, group, and Evangelical leaders, Marjoe has always held his congregation in high regard. During his years on the Bible Belt circuit, he came to see the Evangelical experience as a form of popular entertainment, a kind of participatory divine theater that provides its audiences with profound emotional rewards. Marjoe realized that his perspective would not be shared by most Born Again Christians.

“The people who are out there don’t see it as entertainment,” he confessed, “although that is in fact the way it is. These people don’t go to movies; they don’t go to bars and drink; they don’t go to rock-and-roll concerts — but everyone has to have an emotional release. So they go to revivals and they dance around and talk in tongues. It’s socially approved and that is their escape.”

Within that context of social entertainment, Marjoe took pride in his starring role as a traveling evangelist.

“It was my duty to give them the best show possible,” he said. “Say you’ve got a timid little preacher in North Carolina or somewhere. He’ll bring in visiting evangelists to keep his church going. We’d come in and hit the crowd up and we were superstars. It’s the charisma of the evangelist that the audience believes in and comes to see.”

What got to Marjoe, he explained, and eventually drove him out of the business were many of the same disturbing aspects of the Evangelical movement we had noticed in our own travels and interviews.

“When I was traveling,” he said, looking back on the old days, “I’d see someone who wanted to get saved in one of my meetings, and he was so open and bubbly in his desire to get the Holy Ghost. It was wonderful and very fresh, but four years later I’d return and that person might be a hard-nosed intolerant Christian because he had Christ. That’s when the danger comes in. People want an experience. They want to feel good, and their lives can be helped by it. But then as you start moving into the operation of the thing, you get into controlling people and power and money.”

Marjoe shook his head sadly. Indeed, he didn’t strike us as the type of person who would be comfortable in that role. In the sixties, while he was exploring new outlets for his talents, he watched his former profession grow to vast international dimensions. Since then, he has followed the curious rise of America’s religious cults, among them Reverend Moon’s Unification Church.

“Moon is doing the same thing I do,” said Marjoe, “only he’s taken it one step further. He’s suggesting to people that he is the Messiah. In my religion, the old-time religion, it’s total blasphemy to suggest that. Moon has gone too far, but that’s a heavy number on people, because everyone wants to meet a Messiah.”

Marjoe was quick to point out that Moon’s preaching powers, like his own, are by no means divine or even innate. Marjoe acknowledges that his power over an audience derives primarily from the skills of rhetoric and public speaking that have been passed down to us from the Greeks. Those tools have long been in the public domain, and they make up the stock-in-trade of everyone whose work involves personal contact with other individuals and groups.

“It’s the same whether you’re a preacher, a lawyer, or a salesman,” he told us. “You start off with a person’s thought processes and then gradually sway him around to another way of thinking in a very short time.”

Although Marjoe no longer consciences the use of his preaching talents for evangelical purposes, he still uses his skills in areas that have nothing to do with religion.

“I was campaigning for Jerry Brown when he was running for governor,” he said. “I gave speeches when he couldn’t show up. This was a whole different kind of speech for me, because I didn’t know the people and the whole thing was political. One time I was supposed to go to a rally for a thousand AFL-CIO workers in San Francisco, and I thought, Oh, no, how am I going to talk to these guys? I needed a hook to get the audience, because I knew a person’s mind is usually made up within the first minute or so. If they like you and you say the right things at first, then you can take them on to other things they might not ordinarily agree with. But all I had to go on was that, and structures of speech I knew from preaching.”

He paused again, allowing us a moment to consider his predicament.

“When I got there they were a little hostile,” he continued, “and I was very nervous about it. There was a podium with two flags on it, an American flag and a California state flag. I walked up — it was very quiet — and as I was walking up there it came to me, I don’t know from where. I grabbed the American flag and I crinkled it in my hand. I looked at it and sort of gave it a little toss back against the wall and said, ‘I remember when Betsy Ross made that flag. Today it’s made in Japan.’ Well, a roar went up as that struck a chord in those workers, and I was God from that moment on.”

Today Marjoe restricts the use of his talents to his acting career and to social causes he deeply believes in. Foremost among those causes is informing the public about some of the rhetorical techniques that are being used to manipulate their thoughts and emotions. Most techniques Marjoe is in command of are simple and age-old, but so effective that they can be equally powerful even when and audience has been explicitly forewarned of their use. Toward the end of our conversation, Marjoe told us a story that revealed the fineness of his rhetorical skills. In contrast to the massive physical experiences such as intense group rituals and intimate personal crises that have been recognized as major contributors to the snapping moment, Marjoe demonstrated how words alone, artfully manipulated, may be used to influence groups and individuals, even to the point of evoking the overwhelming emotional response of being “saved.”

“I lecture in about twenty colleges a year,” he began, “and I do a faith-healing demonstration — but I always make them ask for it. I tell them that I don’t believe in it, that I use a lot of tricks; the title of the lecture is ‘Rhetoric and Charisma,’ so I’ve already told them the whole rap explaining how it’s done, but they still want to see it. So I throw it all right back at them. I say, ‘No, you don’t really want to see it.’ And they say, ‘Oh, yes. We do. We do!’ And I say, ‘But you don’t believe in it anyway, so I can’t do it.’ And they say, ‘We believe. We believe!’ So after about twenty minutes of this I ask for a volunteer, and I have a girl come up and I say, ‘So you want to feel better?’ And I say, ‘You’re lying to me! You’re just up here for a good time and you want to impress all these people and you want to make an ass out of me and an ass out of this whole thing, so why don’t you just go back and sit down?’ I get really hard on her, and she says, ‘No, no, I believe!’ And I keep going back and forth until she’s almost in tears. And then, even though this is in a college crowd and I’m only doing it as a joke, I just say my same old line, In the name of Jesus! and touch them on the head, and wham, they fall down flat every time.”


Here are some videos on Marjoe Gortner (a MUST see to believe!)

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Deborah (Discerning the World)

Deborah Ellish is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

2 Responses

  1. Michael Anthony says:


    You may want to get the latest You-tube links for this (may be about 7 or 8 segments). Some of the people that I know watched this were stunned, literally. I really hope we can resurface this article/video – it is a MUST SEE for anybody just getting into discernment, or even questioning just how far the deceptions go.

    Google Video has the whole 1 hour 23 minute documentary in one go!

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