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 Persecuted Church

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The Lonnie Frisbee most do not know

p.1 Introduction, overview and background

We want to try to set the record straight about the Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard Churches concerning the history that surrounds Lonnie Frisbee’s Christianity, participation, and influence within each of these Church movements.

We will focus on his early history prior to the time he found his way to Calvary chapel, what he believed, what he actually did, or did not do, along with the sequence of events as best as we can put together. The timing of the events that took place are important because some do not fit in his overall story.

Because of the claims of Vineyard churches and certain Calvary teachers that are Vineyard leaning, along with the new movie ‘the Jesus revolution,’ we decided to look further into Frisbee than when Steve Mitchell and I first viewed David Di Sabatino’s documentary, ‘Frisbee: the Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher.’ By gathering the various stories, testimonies (some contradictory, some not) and using the Scripture, applying Gods Word and ways, we reached a conclusion on why we had not heard of Frisbee in Calvary Chapel until after his death. And why it is important to know of his influence on his disciples and both the Calvary and Vineyard church movements (Vineyard being far more extensive than at Calvary.)

Those who were there point out the different personas of Lonnie Frisbee. From these many different Lonnie’s, come just as many different stories concerning the times of his life that are in circulation. These stories become wrapped up in mystery of who is saying what, and when. It becomes extremely difficult to nail down what actually happened, at what age, or when and where it happened. What can be concluded is; where there is this much confusion there is no clarity.

Roger Sachs, who was a close friend interviewed Lonnie the last three years of his life for his book “Not by power nor by might.” It cannot be known how accurate all of the content is because of many people stating the opposite of what is actually written or said on key matters found elsewhere, but despite that, it does give us insight into some of the events.

Mr. Sachs did not get all his facts straight. There is multiple possibilities why. Lonnie may have conveyed what he perceived was accurate or true in the last years of his life, or Sach’s himself misunderstood; but some of the stories important points do not coincide.

Many believed Lonnie was gifted with great power from God after being converted from being a hippie to becoming extraordinarily gifted, commissioned and sent by God. As we will see he made himself into a hippie preacher after his mystical conversion in the canyon.

In the opening of the book Sachs writes: “thousands of people around the world claim he had supernatural abilities.” He then asks the reader: “to check out his story with an open mind and open heart. There is much to be gleaned from the life and times of Lonnie Frisbee.”

We will attempt to do this as best as possible.

Overview on early life

To begin with, his parents were in their mid-teens when they married, his mother was sixteen years and his dad (Ray Frisbee) was fifteen when they married. Lonnie Ray Frisbee was born in 1949. His father was abusive, and would hit his mother, one reason, because both he and his older brother were both born clubfooted. His dad left him at a young age.

His religious upbringing started with Lonnie’s Christian conversion at the said age of 8. His Grandma Naomi belonged to the First Christian Church; (they were the disciples of Christ), and it was at this time that his Grandmother took Lonnie to a puppet show at her church, held in a Union Hall on Chapman Avenue in Orange, California.

[a note on Disciples of Christ: they believe Jesus as the Christ is anointed, he is the Son of God, but exclude there being a Triunity. There were formed as the Restoration Movement whose founders were Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell]

Lonnie in Sach’s book, “For the first time in my life, I really heard the gospel story. I heard how Jesus died for me and gave his life on the cross so that I could have eternal life. Suddenly I understood the significance of that event and went forward to the stage area at this little marionette puppet show. I got down on my knees and accepted Christ into my heart.’ … “I was born from above by the supernatural resurrection power of God. It is absolutely the greatest miracle anyone can experience, no matter what age”!

Frisbee says that it was at this time that he was born again, the experience he had however, is not the gospel, what he describes only a portion of it. While many may accept this as the gospel, it is incomplete.

Who is the ‘he’ that died for his sin? This is the missing part throughout Lonnie Frisbees teachings even later on, for it involves the eternal nature of God, the Deity of Christ that is the most important in the gospel message; and for it to be absent in the teachings of any Bible teacher, is of grave concern.

Aside from Lonnie profession of faith in Jesus, he also later stated: “I’m Pentecostal because I waited on God and the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit fell on me, just like he will fall on every desperate and open heart. I qualified in that department and was born again at the age of eight years old.”

“That was my call. Even though I didn’t even begin to comprehend or understand much at the time, I just knew that something real and eternal had taken place – that Jesus loved me and was my friend.”

Here Lonnie says he knows God became real, that at this young age, he was a Pentecostal, keep this in mind, because when he describes himself 10 years after at his canyon (mystical) event, he apparently questions of what he originally believed.

Frisbee goes on to share (in the book by Roger Sach’s) that two weeks after he gave his life to the Lord, “beginning at age eight, that, he was sexually molested by a seventeen-year-old guy from the neighborhood who babysat for the family.”

This would be terribly damaging to anyone, especially at such a young age and he says it continued through his early life. He also tells us no one believed him.

Frisbee story continues: “I got involved in a local church called Central Bible Church. A church that did not believe in water baptism for young people. They only believed in baptism for individuals who had reached a certain “age of accountability” and could understand what was going on. I asked for baptism, but they said I wasn’t old enough yet. Still, I became very involved in the choir and was heavily involved in church as a young man.”

Being able to go to a Christian camp he was surrounded with normal people was relief but he did not want to go home, so he could avoid being molested again.

Involved with Central Bible Church He asked for baptism, they refused saying “I wasn’t old enough yet.” The church did not believe in water baptism for young people, only for individuals who reached a certain “age of accountability” and could understand the meaning.

This denial of baptism apparently did not sit well with him as we see later how baptism became a large part of his focus in his experience in Tahquitz canyon.

He tells us that his family then moved into a nice home in the Newport-Costa Mesa area of South Orange County for the rest of their young lives. He was in the third grade when this move took place and says he was delivered from the molestation.

Lonnie as a child watched the mousketeer’s on TV and desired to be one. There was a Mouseketeer named Lonnie. “ I’d time it perfectly, jump up, and yell real loud along with the TV, “I’m Lonnie the Mouseketeer!!”He wanted to dance.

The Teenage years

We are told Lonnie was deeply involved in church until around junior high school. He then heard a voice say to him, “Church is for sissies.” He slowly stopped attending Sunday school as he didn’t think that junior high kids needed to go. Church started to make him feel guilty, so He dropped out (early 60’s).

We are also told at age fifteen he entered Laguna Beach's gay underground scene with a friend (that would be 1964) before he attended the dance show in LA he “attended the School of Art and Design in Laguna Beach for a year and a half on weekends and at night.”

It is while attending Corona del Mar High School, his girlfriend sent in for tickets a whole year in advance to the Shebang dance daily live television show (He says he did not look like a hippie then, but Wally Cleaver. The pictures affirm this).

He describes the girl as like a giant Amazon woman, she was his dance partner for a year (but we could not find her in the videos.) He says on the show he was singled out by the producers and Casey Kasem and he became a regular dancer on the show (He is seen but not featured). He says he attended the live dance show every day for a year and a half.

Video- The Shebang Dancers - Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" 1967. Shebang Dance TV show was on from 1965 to 1968 (this linked show has Lonnie in it, May 16, 1966, there are only few shows with him dancing.)

It was an achievement for Frisbee to be able to dance (his left foot was a severe clubfoot, he had two major surgeries). As explains he had a club foot and when he was young he tried to tap dance in front of parents and was told to stop. Lonnie says they showed a segment featuring Shebang with me dancing in the film. And he said, “See, Mom and Dad: I can do more than just tap-dance with one leg!”

The Dance show was broadcast on KTLA Channel 5. Frisbee says people recognized me on the streets. “It made me “famous.” It was like being a regular on American Bandstand back in Philadelphia with Dick Clark, except this was a local LA show. We see Lonnie on the camera on the show a few times, he was not a featured dancer, yet in his book he says, “ The regulars on Shebang were included in all the dance contests.”“I was put on the live dance show every day for a year and a half.” “They bought me a car. I was driving around in a snazzy little brand-new car at sixteen (the show first aired 1965).

These are his words “ … I definitely became starstruck because from the beginning I was amongst the most famous people in LA in the entertainment world.”’

According to his own explanation he began to go on the dance show, and he was attending Kuhlman’s show each month while he was dropping acid (he met her in 1970 when the Calvary church featured on her show).

Lonnie tells us, “By sixteen years old, I was dropping acid on the weekends and having all kinds of hallucinations. I got involved in a drug cult in Laguna Beach called Mystic Arts, which was part of a wide spread organization of psychedelic acidheads under Timothy Leary and the Brotherhood.” That would be 1965.

Lonnie believed as many did that LSD was a spiritual experience with God, and he turned everyone on, “ people I went to school with, to anybody and everybody who wanted to turn on. I’d say, “Hey, you wanna drop acid with me this weekend?” And then we’d go out to wilderness places and all take LSD.”

From Carona del Mar to Tahquitz Falls canyon is 230 miles round trip.

The drugs also came into our lives during this same period, but not through the TV show. I mean, when I was doing the show, I didn’t really have time to do drugs, especially during the week. I had high school, and then after school I’d drive from Corona del Mar to LA every day through the traffic to get to the Channel 5 studio to be on live television.”

Driving there each day is 90 miles round trip from Carona del Mar (San Diego) to LA.  Further details are missing of his driving 5 days a week and then on the weekends. Frisbee also states, “It was a real hike back on the Tahquitz Canyon Trail.” This would be difficult for someone who has a club foot.

I’m trying to make the details plain but this is problematic. So he drives all week back and forth to LA and then on the weekends back to the falls? So he did not drop acid during the week while dancing, it was only on the weekends.

That is lot of travelling especially attending the school of arts on the weekend and nights. He was also going to see Kathryn Kuhlman for many years at her Los Angeles TV studio; where he insisted he saw miracles.

Kathryn Kuhlman’s influence

Before we go further into his experiences that set his life course we need to take into account his developing Pentecostal background through a number of famous / fringe Pentecostals “For about seven years, I would go up to the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles each month to the Kathryn Kuhlman meetings. I witnessed undeniable miracles.”

What this means by him saying this, is that he knew God was real (keep this in mind as we come to his Canyon mystical testimony)

“The presence of the Holy Spirit would be so powerful that it overwhelmed me. I was drawn to those meetings like a magnet and longed for the gift of healing and miracles in my own life. I bombarded heaven with my petitions. …People were pushing wheelchairsaround, rushing to get near the stage. There was excitement and anticipation in the air. I loved every minute and couldn’t get enough. Little did I know that God would answer my heart’s desire and there would come a day when I would be ministering alongside Kathryn Kuhlman at places like the Hollywood Palladium. There would also come a day when I would witness blind eyes open beneath my hands. This unusual and unique woman taught me about the Holy Spirit, and she is my absolute hero of the faith.”(Not by might not by power)

Years before showing up at Calvary Chapel, during the time he was on Casey Kasem’s TV Shebang dance show, he was also attending Kuhlman’s spirit meetings. As stated this would all would have to occur before 1970, when he with the other Calvary chapel members and pastor Smith were featured on the her TV program. This means he was attending her meetings since 1963 at the age of 13-14 (going once a month) again, to see genuine miracles means he already knew God was real. This is just one of the many inconsistencies in his Tahquitz Falls canyon story, of which we will cover in detail.

Lonnie learned his false Pentecostalism over the years from attending Kuhlman’s meetings over and over and watching another Latter Rain teacher, i.e. Oral Roberts (and others) on TV. Lonnie was so enamored by Kuhlman that he dedicated his book[s] to her. Which Roger Sachs first wrote in 2012, nearly 20 years after Lonnie’s death.

In this book Lonnie tells us “ For about seven years, I would go up to the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles each month to the Kathryn Kuhlman meetings. I witnessed undeniable miracles.”

That is a lot of meetings he attended, certainly they had sway over his unstable Christianity, but were not enough to keep him from becoming a hippie for a short time. But another question comes up, when did he start looking like a hippie? We will answer this after the desires of Frisbees pursuit of supernaturalism are established.Frisbee states, he “longed for the gift of healing and miracles in my own life.”

This desire was undoubtedly inspired from seeing Kuhlman so often that he says “There were so many people getting healed in Kathryn Kuhlman’s meetings.”Clearly he was convinced.

At his church he had a blind choir teacher named Mrs. Beardsley whom he loved very much.

From his book, “Little did anyone know that in my adult ministry I was going to become a faith  healer and that the Lord was going to open the eyes of the blind! …I believe that God wanted to heal––and could have healed—my blind choir teacher way back when. Nevertheless, all of  us who love the Lord, including Mrs. Beardsley, will someday see Him face-to face!”

But Lonnie did know he would be ‘a faith healer’, for he desired it; and thought it was from the Lord, Frisbee believed this because he believed God will (not just can) heal all. Benny Hinn says of Kuhlman’s influence, “I remember hearing Kathryn Kuhlman say that there would come a day when every sick saint would be healed in a service” (p.231 Welcome Holy Spirit)

God does heal today, but today’s ‘faith healer’ moniker is unbiblical, in both name and practice.

How did Lonnie know he would become a faith healer? Because he believed it through Oral Roberts; “ After I attempted to get my blind teacher healed by telling her about Oral Roberts”,…I take note that I had enough guts even to mention, as a young boy, that God could heal my beloved teacher.”

“Back then, I was sure that the Lord was calling me to receive Oral Roberts’s mantle when he died . (Roberts died in 2009) I wanted to have the gift of miracles so bad I could just taste it. I have dragged people out of wheelchairs––across platforms in front of thousands of people—and they didn’t get healed. I dragged them out of wheelchairs, and they were going, “Nooo!” And I was going, “Yes, you’re going to be healed—if it kills ya!” I literally dragged cripples out of wheelchairs. That’s how bad I wanted the anointing.

This wanting, even coveting to see the power of God to the point of forcing people gives us gives us insight to Frisbee’s understanding of the Scripture was deeply flawed. He was sure, but it was not Gods voice! There are NO mantels passed on to, or for a New Testament believer in Christ. But it is a held belief of many other Charismatic’s who believed this ‘fringe stuff,’ such as the more recent proclamation, that when Billy Graham dies certain evangelist’s would receive his mantle.

All this takes place before his supernatural canyon experience where he says God became real to him. This brings into question the statements truthfulness, clearly a seed was sown by his influencers.

Apparently, the anointing he had from God as a believer was not enough, he coveted a ‘miracle’ gift (that Roberts DID NOT have, NOR did Kuhlman). His intense desire to do miracles shows us that this was birthed in him long before that day at Tahquitz Falls in the canyon when he had his so-called mystical experience.

Calvary Chapel and Kuhlman

Being on Kuhlman’s TV show with Chuck Smith and numerous believers in early Calvary Chapel days, he comments that, “the films are so special to me is because they captured the first time I met Kathryn Kuhlman. I had attended lots of her meetings but had never personally met her.” (BookNot by Might, Nor by Power: The Jesus Revolution)

The first time he was on Kathryn Kuhlman show (I Believe in Miracles)Frisbee claimed that his sin had been totally washed from his heart by the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” But the scriptures tell us that even though we become a Christian, we are not without sin. One would be biblically ignorant, to deny this, or is being deceived contrary to what the Scriptures to say otherwise.

We are not sinless, Lonnie may have felt he was free from sin, but by his own given timeline of his life and others accounts of his life, he was certainly not living up to his statement, that he was still struggling and sinning.

Frisbee learned the fringe Pentecostalism and applied in his own life. Frisbee had a deer-skinned coat on which he'd painted ‘Jesus' face (an unbiblical practice). He believed could “impart the spirit,” heal and convert people (just like he saw Kuhlman do. The transference of the spirit, (or a spirit) is a pagan and unbiblical practice; but has been a major element of Pentecostalism from its inception. He draped his cape over people (like Kuhlman) who was his spiritual influencer to give the Spirit's power.

From Roger Sach’s book on Lonnie’s life Lonnie observed people at a Pentecostal meeting he attended, “ were falling down on the floor and when they fell down on the floor And when they threw blankets over and I thought that must be the mantle of the Lord …. I thought that that was the mantle of the lord I didn't know that they were modesty blankets I didn't see that they were just throwing them on the women to cover up their knees, I thought but I thought it was the anointed mantle of the Lord so I got my own, I didn't like the, the blankets they were using so I got a deerskin to be my mantel and I painted a picture of Jesus on it and I wore it like a cape, (people laughing) so when I would pray for people in the spirit of God would come on them I take off my cape and throw the mantel all over the top of them like this, (laughter) … there was an anointing oil it and that God gave a recipe for so all right I got a big old wine bottle old one with cork in it and I got some olive oil from the Holy Land and I poured it in this wine bottle and I got a cinnamon stick and put that in there and got a frankincense and myrrh put that in there, you know the Catholic flavor.”

How is someone who knows this little be called into such an important ministry?

Usually, hands are used as the transference agent, but Benny Hinn (who came shortly after Frisbee) often used his jacket or his breath to transfer a spirit that he called: “an it,” (which he too learned from Kathryn Kuhlman). He would say: (“Do you want it”)? Falsely describing the Eternal person of The Holy Spirit like electricity or some type of force. Lonnie would also describe the Holy Spirit at times as “it.”

Steve and Sandi Heefner in di Sabitiono’s video, “ Big House leaders (in the video Frisbee the life and death of a Hippie Preacher) says Frisbee painted a picture, a likeness, of either Jesus or himself- its debatable.. He thought putting his cape on people would have them speak in tongues, thinking it was his ministry, and it worked on a few .

Lonnie would “wave his leather coat and the power of God would come and people would be falling all over these old pews in these Baptist churches. And Lonnie would start climbing over the pews and start laying hands on people saying, ‘Speak in tongues! Speak in tongues!’ And he’d hit them in the forehead and they’d instantly begin to speak in tongues. So I was blown away by that...”(Steve Zarit, Vineyard church member, quoted in Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippy Preacher ).

Frisbee admitted to certain people he could cause mystical manifestations even before he became a believer (falling over). How much occultism is mixed in with the manifestations being produced. Frisbee’s spiritual practices become an undeniable affinity that and Benny Hinn share with their mentor Kuhlman. But in this Hinn wins out over Frisbee in his longevity of carrying on the ‘slain in the spirit’ tradition.

His anointing

And what about the eeriness of spirit slaying popularized by Kuhlman. Understand what Lonnie has described, which is something very dangerous, she laid hands on me in a prayer of impartation.

There is NO such thing in Christianity, no Apostle had passed any gift from themselves on to anybody else. Believing that one can receive ‘The Anointing’ transferred from person is sorcery. Kathryn Kuhlman’s was a promoter of the Protestant Charismatic movement and in ecumenical unity with Rome.

The weird manifestations that characterized Frisbee's ministry were the same found with Benny Hinn shortly after and had eventually become commonplace in the Signs and Wonders movement, the spirit being imparted by touch or even thrown around the room.

people falling over (being 'slain in the Spirit') was considered Gods spiritual sign of his power manifesting. When 'the power' was on Frisbee he could manifest this without any prayer, people would just fall over. Again this has nothing to do with Biblical sign or power.

But this is the false Pentecostalism that was being developed at this time (beyond William Branham who recently died when Frisbee was doing this). He says, “Kathryn Kuhlman was definitely a wonderful spiritual mother and mentor to me. She had such a huge impact on my life. Before she died in 1976, she laid hands on me in a prayer of impartation. I obviously believe in women in ministry according to their calling.

“In fact, I believe that the anointing that is resting on my life can be traced directly to another woman of God—Aimee Semple McPherson .”

Kathryn Kuhlmanlooms large in Lonnie’s life influences, his main spiritual influence. But he says this anointing she passed on to him had a lineage, going further back To McPherson. Which again shows his flawed understanding of what the anointing actually is.

Sach’s says, “Gifts were imparted, sometimes even to those who were downright scoffing, he gives the story of a group of teenage boys sitting on the back row one night. Lonnie asked them to come forward. They came laughing at him, but then God’s Spirit touched them. They began to shake . He asked if they had ever prayed in the Spirit. They had difficulty getting their words out.

Lonnie then loudly said, “Okay, now speak in tongues!”

Immediately all of them “began to speak in a prayer language. My theology was being totally messed with !”

Yes, in the same way Lonnie’s was messed up. You can’t command people to speak in tongues even if they want to.

He then speaks of the dichotomy he accepted, that“ Chuck Smith taught me in the Word. Kathryn Kuhlman taught me in the Holy Ghost.” “This unusual and unique woman taught me about the Holy Spirit, and she is my absolute hero of the faith.”

The problem is that if Lonnie adhered to the Word Smith taught systematically he would not be admiring or practicing what Kuhlman taught, nor seeking what she or other false teachers like her had.

One key component was the conflict with Smith about the of how spiritual gifts were practiced, Which explains why Chuck Smith had him leave. Did he apply what he learned from being on the dance show or from Kuhlman’s miracle meetings? Did he do this to be recognized? there is little doubt that this was part and parcel; of his ministry being in the lime light. His first wife, Connie says, he was a planner of experiences. Lonnie was exercising these supernatural unbiblical practices at the communal houses he ministered at, (Whether Chuck Smith knew it or not is questionable).

What he was doing was common among the Pentecostal movement of the day (KK), Slain in the spirit. You can say that Kuhlman’s influence had a lot to do with Lonnie’s spiritual actions that got him ousted from Calvary chapel. The other problem was his marriage, who blames him being engulfed in ministry created undo pressure and marital problems. After leaving Calvary in 1971 to go to Florida to work with Bob Mumford’s Shepherding Movement, it did not help his Marriage which ended in 1973.

PT.2 Haight Ashbury and the conversion[s]


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