I’ve outed myself several times here on Patheos as one speaking-in-tongues charismatic Christian. If my writing is not evidence enough, my bio at the end of each post states that I am a graduate of a well-known charismatic School of Ministry, which I am, and I am very grateful for my education and training there. Though it depends on who you talk to, my personal experience is that the vast majority of self-identified charismatics are solidly evangelical, and they believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God, divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit.
What sets us apart is our belief that John Calvin, B.B. Warfield, and several others like John Macarthur (still living) were/are not correct when they state that the active operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit died off with the death of the last apostle or with the closing of the canon. These are extra-biblical assertions. Nowhere in Scripture does it establish that when certain figures die that the usage of those gifts is over. Therefore, it behooves us who believe in the continuation of those gifts to find a way to give place to the Holy Spirit in public worship services for them to be used properly.
Therein lies the challenge. Because for so long people assumed that since the gifts were no more there was no such need for space for them. As God began restoring this, especially in the Western church, we have seen way too many abuses, misuses, and downright disgusting manipulations of the work of the Holy Spirit. I firmly believe that, as is his pattern, the Enemy does not want the active functioning of the gifts restored so he has been scheming with considerable success to twist and pollute a very good thing that God himself is doing.
Somehow these aberrant ministers seem to be the ones who manage to land TV gigs and and go viral on the internet, besmirching the reputations of otherwise honorable people who might be associated with them to the smallest degree. I have made it one of my life goals to build bridges between “Spirit-filled” churches and the rest of the Body but that is proving to be quite a challenge given our great sin: gullibility.
What to do about this? For starters, we can and should repent. And we can and should listen to cessationists when they point out the abuses instead of dismissing their concerns because we disagree theologically.
As I was mulling this, an awesomely penitent piece came across my newsfeed that articulated just about everything I wanted to say. So I will save the rest of my thoughts for another day and instead defer to one Dr. Michael Brown, whom I greatly respect.
Quite a few years ago, I had to stop watching certain Christian TV shows (or even networks) because of the corrupt fundraising that would take place, as biblical holy days were exploited for sacrificial offerings and manipulative fundraisers worked their magic. (I’m not mentioning names here because I’ve tried to reach out to some of these men privately and will do so again before saying more.)
I once saw a well-known fundraiser preaching passionately on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, only to turn his powerful message into a plea for funds. What a repulsive perversion of this sacred time in the Savior’s life.
The fact that this kind of stuff “works” means nothing to me. On the contrary, it only adds to the culpability of the fundraiser and of the network using his services.
Shame on them all for their actions.
Last year, a strong critic of the charismatic movement wrote to me with respect and grace, almost pleading with me to denounce what he had just seen on TV.
A “prophet” made an appearance on a well-known Christian program, declaring that there would be a devastating disaster that would take place in the next month but that all who gave $1,000 would be spared from that disaster, along with their families, including even their grandchildren.
This is an abomination, and it is in complete violation of the letter and spirit of prophetic ministry in the Bible. In fact, according to some of the earliest teaching of the church outside of the New Testament itself, any prophet claiming to speak in the Spirit and saying, “Give me money” is a false prophet (see the Didache, Chapter 11).
And the prophesied disaster never took place, adding to the fraud.
But has this fundraiser been called to account for this by his TV network? Has the leader who hosted him been confronted on this?
And this part was especially good:
As a leader myself on radio and television, I strongly encourage believers to get behind the ministries that feed them along with giving strong support to their home congregations first. And I do believe that the laborer is worthy of his (or her) hire.
But the heart of our Father must grieve when He sees His children running to the altar, throwing their offerings at the feet of the “man of God” while shouting, “Money cometh to me!”
Did Jesus shed His blood for this?
I stated in my Authentic Fire book that noncharismatics are to be commended for being careful not to be duped and misled, but they often display a cynical, skeptical spirit, which is a weakness. Charismatics, on the flip side, are to be commended for being willing to step out in faith, but we often display an extreme gullibility.
It is high time for this nonsense to stop, beginning with each of us reading this article (me included) searching our own hearts and lives.
I’m totally for taking the leap of faith and diving into the deep waters of obedience, but by God’s grace, I will do so with my eyes wide open and my feet planted firmly on the Word of God.
There is a vast difference between faith and foolishness.