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Dental Miracles & Gold Dust

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History   Why Dental Miracles?   Overview   Skepticism   Testing the "Gold"
Reading Into Scripture   Forgotten and Fading Gold   Multimedia   

The latest in a long list of manifestations associated with the Toronto Blessing Movement.

Proponents claim that God is giving people gold teeth and/or that He exchanges their regular, amalgam fillings for gold fillings. Some say their gold fillings are in the shape of either a cross or a dove. Others claim their regular fillings have been "polished" so that they now shine. According to the BBC, a spokesman for a British church "said that not all of those people had received gold fillings, but had had the mercury leached out of their existing amalgam fillings - leaving shiny metal behind." Silver fillings have been reported as well.

These phenomena come on the heels of reports about gold flakes falling during prayer meetings (reported as early as end '97. I requested confirmation from John Arnott, but he never confirmed the story), gold dust covering people, and various kinds of oil oozing from people's hands).


Canada's "Christian Week" reports

The bizarre events have their origins in Argentina, where many people apparently began receiving gold fillings in the 1980s. Paul says he witnessed the phenomenon in meetings there. Then, two years ago, John Arnott, senior pastor at TACF, witnessed similar incidents in Mexico.

Arnott and his wife, Carol, recently visited South Africa, where "they prayed for gold teeth," according to Arnott’s assistant, Petra Drnovscek, and "it started happening everywhere."

When TACF held a prayer conference in early March, attended by some 3,000 people, Arnott showed pictures from South Africa of people with new gold fillings. Arnott prayed that the same thing would happen in Toronto. (...) "Instantaneously many people said 'my teeth are turning gold,'" says Paul. "We have it on video." On film, he says, "you could see the color change from dark metallic to gold or silver."
"Dental miracles" the latest to hit Toronto, Christian Week, Mar. 30, 1999

Why Dental Miracles?

Various explanations are being offered for these miracles. On the pro-Toronto "New Wine" mailing list someone wrote God doesn't simply provide new teeth, because giving gold fillings is more difficult - and thus a greater miracle.

Some people claim that since gold is a symbol of purity, dental miracles are a sign that God is purifying his Church.

The Dutch version of Charisma magazine simply suggests:

A much heard cry in the 'New Wine' meetings, like those at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, is 'Fill!' (...) It looks as if God is responding to this in a miraculous manner.
As quoted in Nederlands Dagblad, May 1, 1999

John Arnott told a Canadian newspaper

"You're skeptical at first. It takes us a while to learn that, really, God can do everything," he said. Verifying the claims has proven inconclusive, but that doesn't matter, he added.

"It's just the Father saying 'I love you, I know all about you.' That's precious to the person."

Speaking about skepticism, a Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) press release on dental miracles at its March '99 Intercession Conference, wondered whether they happen as "a sign and a wonder to expose the skepticism still in so many of us."

This is something proponents of the Toronto Blessing Movements have been saying regarding all the controversial manifestations associated with the movement. When Christians question these manifestations - ranging from uncontrollable laughter to barking, and from "doing carpet time" to "birthing" - they're told
  • questioning is akin to quenching the Spirit (a faulty interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22), or
  • they're "HTR" (which stand for Hard To Receive - suggesting they have a hard time receiving what God has for them), or
  • they have a Pharisaical attitude (in essence comparing them to the religious leaders who rejected Jesus).


Skepticism does abound, though.

Toronto dentist Robert Clark says he has heard similar stories of fillings turning gold in the past, but they were from a New Age rather than a Christian context. One woman told him a few years ago about silver fillings turning to gold, but "what she was describing didn't sound like anything tied to a movement of the Holy Spirit."
"Dental miracles" the latest to hit Toronto, Christian Week, Mar. 30, 1999

Dr. Andrew Walker, Director of the Centre for Theology and Culture, King's College, London, translates the thoughts of many Christians and non-Christians alike:

Questions are raised in our minds about God's goodness and open-handedness when, on the one hand, he seems unwilling or unable to prevent Auschwitz or the contemporary tragedy of Kosovo, but seems both willing and able to adopt the role of a modern dentist and provide not only cosmetic wonders, but phenomena more in keeping with the Fortean Times than the Bible.

And the Los Angeles Times, in a recent item on the phenomenon, noted:

Indeed, the gold-teeth reports have already drawn the attention of Michael Shermer, president of the Skeptics Society, who dismisses them as a "classic urban legend" and raises the pugnacious question: "Of all the things going on--cancer, war, disease--God is busy changing fillings? That's the best he can do?"
Struck by 'Golden Miracles', Los Angeles Times, Jan. 25, 2000

Testing the "Gold"

On Sept. 8, 1999, Charisma News Service reported the following:

A Brazilian evangelist at the center of the "gold dust" phenomenon being reported at charismatic churches across the United States and Europe says she is unfazed by scientific reports suggesting that all that glitters is not what it seems.

Two independent tests on samples of the gold-colored dust that falls from Silvania Machado's head during services have found the substance to be more like plastic glitter, with no gold content.

But Machado, who attributes the manifestation to her divine healing from cancer, is untroubled by the conclusions of the analyses carried out on behalf of "Charisma" magazine. "To me, it doesn't matter what it is as long as it's from God", she said.

"Charisma" had two samples of Machado's gold dust analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey in Washington, D.C. Both were deemed to be plastic film with no traces of gold, platinum or silver.

Given Charisma magazine's reputation as a supporter of many aberrant and heretical movements, it is a pleasant surprise to see it report these findings.

The same article also reports

In May, John Arnott of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) canceled a scheduled four-day appearance by Machado after sending a sample of the flecks that cascaded from her head on the first night for testing. A geochemist at the University of Toronto concluded the specks did not contain any gold or platinum but were some type of plastic film.

Meanwhile, churches also are reporting incidents in which people's silver fillings are being miraculously renewed or even replaced by gold ones. A number of cases have been documented and verified at TACF, reinforcing Arnott's decision not to continue the Machado meetings. "I didn't want to have her here because we have had far too much of the real thing--gold teeth and gold dust--to have something suspect," he said.

A full report on the gold dust and gold teeth phenomena will appear in the November 1999 issue of "Charisma". The article contains an account--documented by dental records--of an Oklahoma woman who received seven gold crowns during a healing service in Tulsa six months ago.

Reading Into Scripture

Adherents of the controversial renewal and revival movements frequently attempt to explain manifestations and alleged miracles by pointing to Scripture. However, rather than employing hermeneutically sound principles of interpretation, they tend to employ eisegesis (reading into the text) instead of exegesis (drawing the meaning from the text).

The Times of London wrote

The latest Christian "miracles" are said to be a fulfilment of the prophecy in Psalm 81.10: "Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it."
"God 'gives' gold teeth to believers", The Times of London, Apr. 17, 1999

Such cramped, hermeneutically unsound efforts at making Scripture fit their experiences, rather than have their experiences tested by Scripture, are par-for-the-course in the Toronto Blessing Movement.

Small wonder. This movement, with its emphasis on experience and personal revelation over Scripture, has long been undermining the authority of the Bible as the guide by which to measure all teachings and practices.

Forgotten Dental Work and Fading Gold

To their credit, leaders at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship have encouraged those who claim dental miracles to get them verified.

In a few cases, dentists were able to show from their records that the gold was put in their mouths previously by the dentist and not by God. These people had apparently forgotten that this work had been done.

In fact, a Canadian newspaper reported that two TV evangelists had recanted their claims of having received dental miracles:

A chastened Willard Thiessen, host of a daily religion program on Winnipeg television, admitted yesterday he was wrong in telling his tele-flock that God had inexplicably planted a gold tooth in his mouth.

It turned out the gold tooth had been implanted by his brother Elmer, a dentist in British Columbia. (...)

Dick Dewert, a religious broadcaster in Lethbridge, Alta., told a CJIL-TV audience during an on-air fundraising marathon in March that God had implanted a gold tooth in his mouth after a bout of intensive prayer.

But Dr. Jack Sherman, Mr. Dewert's longtime dentist, said he had put it in about 10 years earlier.

But not everyone is as forthcoming. Charisma Magazine, in a Nov. '99 report on the phenomena, wrote:

Others also have seen entire teeth turn to gold. Last spring, after Marc Dupont prayed for pastor Rich Oliver of Family Christian Center in Sacramento, California, Oliver got a huge gold tooth. "There is absolutely no white showing," Dupont says. Oliver's current dentist and his previous one confirmed that he never had any gold teeth before.
When The Glory Comes Down, Charisma, Nov. 1999

However, the Los Angeles Times says:

Here at the Family Christian Center, Pastor Rich Oliver draws back his lip and displays a glittering gold crown he says God gave him in March. Actually, dental records show his previous dentist put the crown in on April 29, 1991. When confronted with those records, Oliver says: "I'd have to say I was absolutely wrong . . . [but] none of it distracts from the fact that I know
God is a healer."

Nonetheless, Oliver touts his congregation's 'gold rush' on the Internet and lines up other church members to witness about how God changed their teeth--and lives.
Struck by 'Golden Miracles', Los Angeles Times, Jan. 25, 2000

In addition, all that glitters is not gold. Witness this message posted to the pro-Toronto New Wine mailing list:

A friend of mine was prayed for last Thursday evening (29th April) by a visiting ministry who had just come from Canada. She was blessed with 2 gold teeth. The two gold teeth were seen by many over the next few days - I personally saw them 2 days after she received them and they were brilliant. However, almost a week after receiving them, the brilliance has gone and they have both changed back to a dull grey colour. We are all greatly perplexed and as my friend does not have internet access, she asked me to enquire whether anyone else has had a similar experience or can offer an explanation. My friend is a Spirit-filled Christian woman walking with the Lord and a woman of faith. She does not understand why this has happened, and is feeling she must have not testified enough about them to others, or not had enough faith to keep the gold. This experience has left her hurt and confused. Has anyone else had a similar experience, or does anyone know of someone who has?
Help With Gold Teeth, New Wine message archive, May 5, 1999

- Articles -
ChristianAberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox Charismatic Pastor Says God Is Sending Gold Miracles A Charisma Magazine article (hence keyed "orange") about a church in Brunswick, Ga., where people claim to have received gold fillings during worship
Christian Dental Miracle Reports Draw Criticism An article in the May 24, 1999 issue of Christianity Today
Christian From base metal to gold: theological reflections on the gold teeth filling phenomenon An evaluation by Andrew Walker, author of 'Restoring the Kingdom: the Radical Christianity of the House Church Movement', and Director of the Centre for Theology and Culture, King's College, London
Christian Gold Dust and Gold Teeth Tricia Tillin addresses the various "gold" manifestations, cites testimonies, and notes the connection between these phenomena and those reported to have taken place at Marian apparitions.
See also Marian Apparitions and Gold (See also this news item)
ChristianAberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox Gold Teeth! Press Release from the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, Mar. 17, 1999.
Christian Holy Molars! Questions raised by the recent dental phenomena of gold fillings and other alleged miracles. By Mike Wakely, writing in "Evangelicals Now"
Christian Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox When The Glory Comes Down Charisma Magazine's Nov. '99 report on the gold phenomena.

- Multimedia -
Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox Gold Teeth Photos Presented at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship site.
Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox Gold Teeth Video At the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship site. Real Audio required.

- News -

» Database of archived news items on the gold phenomena
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. Older items listed below.
See about this database)

Secular May 12, 1999 TV evangelists forced to recant claims of God's divine dentistry National Post (Canada) (Local excerpts)
Secular Apr. 21, 1999 God 'Fills In' For Dentists BBC News Report (Local Excerpt)
Secular Apr. 17, 1999 God 'Gives' Gold Teeth To Believers The Times of London
Christian Mar. 30, 1999 "Dental Miracles" The Latest To Hit Toronto a report from Christian Week (Canada)

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