by Jill Barrett

*Born in Zion* is a book by Christian "childbirth minister" Carol Balizet, who "ministers" to women during their home births. Balizet calls herself a midwife as well as a childbirth minister. Having had all of my four children at home, and having studied home birth and midwifery for almost eight years, I am familiar enough with genuine, highly skilled midwives to say that whatever Balizet's ministry may be, it is certainly not midwifery. Furthermore, while she claims to be a Christian midwife, her teachings on childbirth are thoroughly unbiblical and even dangerous.

There is hardly a page in *Born in Zion* which does not strike me, and many other Christian home birth advocates, as blasphemous, heretical, or ludicrous in one way or another. Therefore, I will just "hit the high spots"--the contents of the book which I found most offensive and patently false from an orthodox Christian perspective.                                                                                            
                                                     NAME IT AND CLAIM IT
The Bible teacher who seems to have most influenced Balizet's theology is Kenneth Copeland (79). If you take Copeland's heretical word-of-faith, name-it-and-claim-it teachings, and apply them to childbirth, you have Balizet's thinking in a nutshell. Like Copeland, she teaches that our words have inherent spiritual power. Not only everything in heaven and on earth, but even God Himself is a slave to our words. Our positive confessions force God to move in our favor, and our
negative confessions render Him powerless to help us. Balizet is constantly praising the power of God, but the god who emerges from her book is all but powerless-- hemmed in on every side by faithless Christians, the wrong kinds of prayers, sin, and most of all, Satan.

                                                        OMNIPOTENT SATAN; SPECTATOR GOD
Balizet's deity is not sovereign. He is only in control of what Christians forcibly wrest from Satan and his minions. Limits are "imposed [on him] by our unbelief or by our failure to ask" (97). He is also limited by our sin (32). He does as much in childbirth as "He is allowed to do" (156). His will and power "are ESTABLISHED [sic] by our prayer" (102). "God is honorable never to breach the sovereignty of a human will" (43).
Indeed, Balizet's "God" wants to bless us. It is "not His will" for us to suffer complications, problems, and pain (130). But the sin in our lives just won't let him take our pain and problems from us. Everywhere there is sin, which Balizet calls "leaven," Satan has a "ground" and "legal right" (38) to make bad things happen to us. If we do not take control of a situation--if we do not move by "our choice" from "the flesh realm into the realm of the spirit" (151) and onto "miracle territory" (32)--then Satan has control by default. God hopes that Balizet and other spirit-filled warriors will take sovereignty from Satan, but at no time is He Himself sovereign over anything or anybody. Christian will and faith duke it out with demons, and "God" sits in the stands cheering for the Christians.
How does this compare with what Scripture says about God? No one resists His will (Rom. 9:19). His plans cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). He does whatever He pleases (Ps. 115:3). Ho one can stay His hand (Dan. 4:35) or turn back His outstretched hand (Isa. 14:27). His mercy does not depend on any will or work of man (Rom. 9:16).
Balizet does not worship an Almighty God. Satan is almighty in Balizet's theology, unless she decides to be almighty instead.

                                        DEMONS, DEMONS EVERYWHERE
Since Satan is so much more powerful than "God" in Balizet's theology, it stands to reason that she would be obsessed with demon activity. Balizet sees demons around every corner: demons who have not only the ability but the Christian-given right to steal, kill, and destroy. Territorial demons have control over entire cities such as Lakeland, Florida. [The demon who controls Lakeland is named Denominationalism (30).] In addition to our negative confessions, demons emanate and operate from the following: nearby nudist colonies in the form of the "spirit of nudity" (34); the ashes of cremated people (40); charms, talismans, and anything occultic (40); inanimate objects, especially any kind of statue or figurine (41-44); stolen property (41); record albums with "ghastly" cover art (42); owls (46); frogs, lizards, cockroaches, spiders, and houseflies (87). Unless you "come against" these ubiquitous dark forces with all the spiritual power you can muster, you are at their mercy.
The Word of God never even *hints* that Satan had this kind of power before he was defeated at Calvary, much less now that Jesus has mopped up the floor with him. Satan had to ask God's permission to hurt Job, for God had a hedge of protection around Job (Job 1:10-12; 2:6). Satan had to ask Jesus's permission to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31). Without God's say-so, Satan can do nothing! I suppose some people think that the Christian faith is more glamorous with sovereign Satanic powers lurking everywhere that only their positive confessions can vanquish. I prefer to place my faith in the sovereign, omnipotent
God of the Bible.

                                         BOSSING GOD AROUND
There are two ways to pray, Balizet says: "You can stand on earth and pray up to heaven, asking God to do something. Or, you can take your rightful position in heaven and pray DOWN TO EARTH [sic], commanding things to happen" (163).
Born in Zion is full of folks deciding what God's will ought to be (invariably what is easiest and most pleasurable for them) and "commanding" it to happen as if they were God Himself. Why prostrate yourself before a mysterious and majestic God? Why yield; why trust? Enthrone yourself in "God"'s place and "God" will yield to you! He is bound to your faith and must obey your pronouncements! He doesn't do whatever he pleases, no matter what the Psalmist wrote, he does as you please, if you are bold enough to name it and claim it! You want a quick and painless birth? Command it to happen, just as if you are God, and it will happen! (25, 163-64). Balizet says these are times when "you can see the power that created the universe flowing through YOUR veins and working through YOUR voice [sic] and there's nothing in creation that can stop you" (104).
With Balizet able to move "God" off his throne at will, it's no wonder that when Balizet offers up a prayer of thanks, she imagines that God responds by glorifying her: " ‘Thank you, Lord,' I whispered. And He spoke back to me. ‘No,' he said. ‘I thank YOU.' Glory! (55).
But the Bible says: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him
again?" (Rom. 11:33-35).

                                                     GOD TOLD ME. . .
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of *Born in Zion* is the subjective revelation--what Balizet calls a "word from the Lord," a prophecy, or a Rhema. I counted 34 claims in Born in Zion that people heard directly from God. Virtually none of these claims are verified except by another "Spirit-baptized" person agreeing with them. "God almost always confirms things in this way" [by believers agreeing together], says Balizet (88). In another instance, Balizet says that one Rhema must be valid because a) God would not allow it to be "brought forth" otherwise, and b) the woman who prophesied would not speak for God unless she was "very sure of the anointing" (5). In yet another instance, a mother tells Balizet that "God" told her that "if you had undertaken your labor in the presence of this statue [of Julius Caesar], you would have had a Caesarean." Balizet nodded. "It made sense," Balizet explains (47).
However, it is clear in the Bible that all prophets and teachers are to have their messages examined and tested *by Scripture.* If someone claims to speak for God, and his messages contradict the revealed Law-Word of God, he must be rejected as a false prophet, *even if he works miracles* (Deut. 13). Now that the canon of Scripture is closed, God is not giving new, special revelation. The Word of God is the *whole* counsel of God and contains all that we need (1 Tim. 3:15-17). If God was still manifesting Himself as a little voice in our heads, the Bible would become only supplementary to what we are hearing directly from Him. The Old Holy Word given to someone else eons ago, is trumped by the New Holy Word which is specifically for you in your present situation.
For example, in one Rhema, "God" tells Balizet to abandon a birthing mother who is suffering from hemorrhage and going into shock. "It's a lie. Ignore it. Go home," says "God." Balizet takes her assistant and walks out, leaving the dismayed young couple to manage the birth (81). Whatever happened to "let your yea be yea and your nay be nay?" (Matt. 5:37). Christ taught that "Yes, yes" is sufficient for an oath or vow that is binding on believers. To say "I'll be there for you" is the same as saying, "I swear in the name of God that I will be there for you." The swearing part is unnecessary, so don't swear, just say what you mean and mean what you say, Jesus said. In the case of Balizet, a divorced woman, if she binds herself to an obligation, that obligation cannot be nullified (Num. 30:9). This poor young woman believed that she was getting a midwife to support her through labor and birth. But of course, God's Law about keeping contractual obligations is just his Old Word. It cannot overrule the titillating Rhema you received five minutes ago. As Balizet says, "You have to do what you believe God has told you to do" (23).
On another occasion, "God" revealed to Balizet what was hindering him from making a birth as perfect as he wanted it to be. Some people were praying against the birth and stalling the labor. Could not the true God have merely ignored them and accomplished His will, if indeed a faster labor was His will? "For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?" (Isa. 14:24). No, it was up to Balizet to "[bind] the power of these prayers" so that "God" could speed up the labor. We can also toss out Daniel 4:35, which says, "He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among all the inhabitants of the earth." "God" has given Balizet a new prophecy that she is in control of her own life: "The result of this situation is up to you. . . what you think, what you say, and how you pray will determine the outcome of this dealing" (160).
In another instance, a young father "speaks God's perfect will" that his baby be born "within one hour" and he is born in "exactly sixty minutes" (25). Has this man uttered a false prophecy, which under God's Holy Law is a *capital* offense, or can God not tell time?
Balizet also claims that God told her: "It is never my will to move those I love away from Life and Light and Love. It is My will to heal, to restore and to perfect. . ." (45). Whoever said this, it certainly was not the God of the Bible. Tell this balderdash to Paul, who gloried in his infirmities (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Tell it to Jeremiah the author of Lamentations. Tell it to all the saints who have been martyred for the cross: that none of their pain and suffering was ever God's will for their lives, but that their lack of faith left them at the mercy of Satan.

                                             REALITY IS WHAT I MAKE IT
If it is dangerous to have a so-called midwife attending you in childbirth who believes that Satan is controlling your birth unless she takes control, and who believes that at any moment God could tell her to walk out on you, it is more dangerous still to have a birth attendant who believes that reality is whatever she decides it is.
If Balizet is your "childbirth minister" and you suffer a complication of childbirth, she will deny it and rebuke Satan, whom she thinks is trying to manipulate her senses into believing that you are having a problem (80). She will also "rebuke the spirit of child-death" (93) if your baby is born not breathing--she has waited nearly half an hour for a newborn to begin breathing (153). Since Balizet worships a god who never wants anything unpleasant to happen to Christians, nothing bad *does* happen to Christians as long as they remain in the "spirit realm." But if they confess, or even secretly fear, that what they are seeing in the "sight realm" (14, 80) is real, then Satan has been empowered to make it really, really real (79). I find it interesting that when Balizet was arrested for practicing midwifery without a license--following another apparent case of walking out on a couple just before a birth, who later filed charges against her--she never once suspected that the courtroom or prosecutor were mere mirages with no actual substance or power to imprison her (157-62, 164-66). Seems that a threat to Balizet's freedom is more credible in her eyes than a threat to the life of a childbearing woman or her baby. On that ground alone, she has no right to call herself a midwife.

                                               MEDICINE IS EVIL
As if all this weren't bad enough, Balizet believes that to receive any medical care whatsoever is a sin. It is yielding to the "world system" (167) and to the "arm of flesh." (84).
Furthermore, taking any drug for any reason is sorcery according to Balizet (171). She refers to people who have never ingested drugs of any kind as "undefiled" and "virgins" (174), and incredibly, even denounces medicinal wine (170), which Paul recommended to Timothy! (1 Tim. 5:23). Several statements in *Born in Zion* made me laugh out loud, and one of them was this remark by Balizet's sister: "I don't think you can be used to raise the dead if you've just taken aspirin for a headache" (176).
Balizet believes that getting a Caesarean Section is a particularly abominable sin. All women who have had Caesareans have "the same spirit," the "spirit of Caesar," who is one and the same with "the Strong Man, the Satanic high prince over the organization and sphere of humanism" because they have "rendered their babies unto Caesar" rather than to God (48). In other words, women with Caesarean scars are idol-worshipers who are demon possessed.
I am trying hard to be dispassionate here, but I have friends who have had Caesareans for very good reasons. As dispassionately as possible, then, this is Pharisaism at its worst. Balizet is adding to God's Law and placing a burden of guilt on women who have had Caesareans.
      Balizet's superstition about who the Caesarean Section is named for does not overrule the testimony of Christ. Jesus Himself said that sick people have need of a doctor (Matt. 9:12), and women with placental problems and pelvic abnormalities are not sinning by seeing a gynecologist and having Caesarean surgery. "Woe unto them who call evil good, and good evil!" (Isa. 5:20).

                            TRUE CHRISTIAN MIDWIFERY
Balizet is not completely true to her own beliefs in attending births, and I am grateful for that. She resorts to the "arm of flesh" and uses a bulb syringe to suction out a baby's airways after birth (66), instead of casting out the Mucus Demon or some other such foolishness.
In light of this, I do not see how Balizet can condemn midwives who do not just wait for God to shoot the baby into their waiting arms, but use their God-given gifts and knowledge to perform manipulative deliveries, to remove placental fragments and blood clots, and, in the case of complications, to make a diagnosis and seek medical attention. Does it really take more faith to exude a cloud of hot air rebuking demons and "speaking the will of the Lord into the situation" (81)--as if Balizet has a clue what His will is--than to use true midwifery skills to care for a woman having a baby? Balizet has done manipulative deliveries when "God spoke to her" (67). How is that superior to the real midwife, who considers herself to have standing orders from Above to serve to the very best of her knowledge and ability?
Should God need to audibly tell us to give physical assistance to someone who is physically suffering or in danger, when we have agreed to help that person? What is the difference between dismissing the needy with "be warmed and be filled" (James 2:16) and telling a woman having a baby that she isn't really hurting, isn't really bleeding, isn't really at risk--and that she should examine her life carefully for sin that might be keeping God from intervening in her birth? What a Job's comforter Balizet turns out to be! How uncharitable her charity!
It will be regrettable if Zion Birth becomes everyone's idea of Christian midwifery. It isn't Christian, and it isn't midwifery.

Tragic testimonial #1

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