Note from Chaplain Mike…
The lively comment thread on our recent post about the 50th birthday of the Charismatic Movement led me to think I should let iMonk weigh in on the subject. I’m not sure when this was first posted, but it’s classic Michael Spencer.
See the end of the post for a definition of what Michael meant when he used the phrase, “Pentecostal-Charismatic.”
We used to be able to talk. Over coffee, at church, and long into the night. I actually enjoyed the conversations. Sure, there were always challenges and differences, but we weren’t fighting as much as we were trying to explore a common fascination. We were pilgrims on the same road, discovering the adventure together. We both wanted to know, “What is the truth?” “What does the Bible say?” “How can we find the reality of God, and experience it every day?” We respected one another. Even if the conversation got intense there was always plenty of laughter, and we could pray together in genuine fellowship. Those prayers and conversations always left me wanting to get together again, and dig further and deeper. But this doesn’t happen much anymore, and I miss the good times we shared. Things have changed. There is a growing, awkward silence between myself and my Pentecostal/Charismatic (P/C) friends, and it’s not a good thing.
The Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has always had an uncomfortable relationship with the rest of evangelicalism. It hasn’t been easy from the first rumblings of Azusa Street to these days of TBN, Rod Parsley and Benny Hinn. Pentecostalism’s founding vision said that the mainstream church had, through neglect and rationalism, lost the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit that Christians were always intended to enjoy and manifest. Miracles and supernatural gifts were for today. Pentecost was still going on. God was speaking through prophets, in visions, and even in sending angels to do his work. The mainstream of the Christian church had said these things were ancient history, or had boxed them up in the theological attic and forgotten they were there.
Pentecostals and Charismatics made sure we remembered that Jesus cast out demons, that God spoke in visions, and that the early church spoke in tongues. They wouldn’t let us forget those pesky chapters in I Corinthians with all their mysteries. They prayed for the miracles we were too shy or doubtful to pray for. They didn’t just sing hymns that said “Hallelujah!” They said it. Loudly and often. They talked about a kind of faith that believed God would act in your behalf in the present, and that the power of the Holy Spirit to bring down walls and raise the dead was still available. The Charismatic movement brought these lively insights to the church on the corner, and even with all the resulting controversy, I count it as a good thing.
I remember going to a conference many years ago sponsored by the United Methodist Conference in our area and held at the big UMC church in town. The main speaker was Oral Roberts. This was Oral at his best, before he went really nuts, when he was first building ORU and there was plenty of good will between Pentecostals like Oral and Charismatic sympathizers in the mainlines. The conference was on the work of the Holy Spirit, and I recall it as a sweet time of fellowship, with plenty of curiosity and conversation, but little controversy. Oral wasn’t fuming at the deadness of the church, but was rejoicing in the openness and renewal going on in the church.
For those few days, Oral Roberts wasn’t a strange televangelist, but a wonderful, Spirit-filled man who represented the hunger for the reality of God that has always been part of genuine Christian experience. He spoke for a movement that would, we all believed, benefit the church. I think my Methodist friends looked at the Charismatic movement of those days as a possible repeat visitation of what God had done with Methodism in the past, revitalizing the church in ways unexpected. For many Charismatics and their sympathizers, that conference and many others represented hope that windows and doors were opening, and the Spirit was doing a fresh work in the body of Christ.
We could talk to one another in those days. I was drawn into the Charismatic movement by way of an Episcopal family who were involved in a â€œSpirit-filledâ€ prayer group in a Catholic church. We talked for hours about what the Bible said and what the Holy Spirit could do. I met lots of Charismatics in the Methodist circles I moved in, and I enjoyed fellowship with Pentecostal brothers and sisters at work. Yes, they seemed to have something my experience didn’t have, but even accounting for that initial curiosity, there was good fellowship based around a common faith. Even when I left the Charismatic movement over my own understanding of Spirit baptism, our fellowship remained good, and we loved and respected one another.
Part of the reason for that harmony was the fact that the “non-denominational, generic, Charismatic/Pentecostal churches” were rare. Most of my Charismatic friends were in “regular” churches, but attended conferences, prayer meetings and special events with other Charismatics and Pentecostals. In a few years, most Charismatics would be in their own churches, and part of the Charismatic-Third Wave explosion in evangelicalism. It would be in these churches, ranging from the Vineyards to thousands of Independent Charismatic fellowships and Word-Faith Churches, and in the resulting expanded network of P/C influence- that the alienation between evangelicals like myself and many Charismatics would become more profound.
These early days of fellowship with my P/C friends is represented in my mind by Gary and Fay, two of my co-workers at a grocery store where I was employed for several years. Both were Pentecostal, but both treated me graciously and as a Christian brother. Gary loved his Bible, and was devoted to Biblical preaching and teaching. When we disagreed, we quickly went to see what the scriptures said. He was open about his own spiritual experience, but he never argued with me about mine. He answered my questions and responded to my criticisms, but we enjoyed many times of prayer and worship at work and away from work.
I dated Fay for several months, and we had a good relationship that continued as a friendship for several years. In the many hours we talked about spiritual things, she never implied that her Pentecostal experience was superior to my Baptist experience, or attempted to persuade me to attend her church. Beyond the well known tenets of Pentecostalism, I never heard Fay advocate anything that seemed at all bizarre or strange in her church or experience. In fact, our devotion to our respective church backgrounds was part of why we did not continue dating. I had much better Christian fellowship with Gary and Fay than with my Roman Catholic, Church or Christ or Independent Baptist friends. The kind of fellowship we enjoyed is almost unknown in my experience today.
Today I have many more Pentecostal/Charismatic friends, but few- and I emphasize very few- are friendships where significant discussions of our faith can take place without real tension and discomfort on my part because of significant and irreparable deviations in how we each understand basic Christian concepts. Despite many years of being around the P/C community, I continue to experience feelings of inferiority and rejection as many of my P/C friends find it impossible to fellowship as equals. Over the years, something has changed in the way Pentecostal/Charismatics view themselves and their relationship to the larger body of Christ.
This change is, of course, mutual in some respects, and I recognize that I may be less open-minded and generous in my attempts at fellowship than in the past, but this essay wants to look at the changes I have seen in the P/C community. I certainly recognize that Pentecostals and Charismatics have been the subjects of negative criticism and harsh reviews from the evangelical and conservative mainstream. ( I give most books critical of the P/C movement very low marks.) I’ve heard Baptist pastors say cruel things about Charismatic friends, and I know that issues of worship style and Christian experience have brought about ugly responses from all sides of the fence. But I am not writing about the obvious flaws in human nature. I want to explore where Pentecostal-Charismatic belief and practice are creating a significant barrier to fellowship. I will restrict this essay to four important areas where fellowship has become difficult, uncomfortable and sometimes, impossible.
(I am very aware that some of my Pentecostal/Charismatic co-workers, friends and readers may read this essay and be surprised at what I am going to say. PLEASE hear me out, read carefully and read to the end! I believe this will be fair in every way to your concerns and criticisms of myself and other evangelicals. And please note that in every case I have tried to make it clear that I have P/C friends about whom none of this is true at all.)
1. Scripture. Clearly, the P/C community is in very troubled times when it comes to how the Bible relates to contemporary Christianity. From the beginning, Pentecostalism looked at the Bible as more about what God had done in the past than as a final, authoritative word that could not be supplemented. In many ways, the P/C view of the Bible tended towards the kinds of Biblical theology you might hear from liberals who said the Bible should not be a final guide for us today, but is a record of how God worked in the past. Here was the record of what God had done before, but the question was now what was God saying and doing today?
Here is an observation: I have never heard a high profile P/C pastor exposit and interpret the scripture systematically. (Jack Hayford is the closest to an expositor, but even he does not expound the Bible verse by verse.) The great heritage of Protestant Biblical teaching is held in suspicion among P/Cs today, and many P/Cs have never heard an actual exposition of a Biblical passage in their church. (Watch T.D. Jakes or Paula White to see what P/C preaching is all about .) Today, most P/C Christians approach the Bible in the way a Rod Parsley or a T.D. Jakes does: How can we most rapidly jump from the Biblical story to the present action of the Holy Spirit? This method is well known in the African-American Church, and is not, if practiced cautiously, always the wrong way to go. But unhinged and exiled from solid Biblical interpretation and hitched to the unchecked personality of the latest P/C prophet, chaos ensues. Combined with the personal Word given only to the prophet and a deviant theology, the Bible becomes secondary, if not an outright obstacle.
I recently heard a Charismatic preacher using the story of David as a model for how God brings revival. Saul was the opponent of revival. David was the anointed leader of revival. Jonathan was the waverer, still hanging out in the dead church. The lessons on revival were flimsy, but the use of scripture was frightening. Yet, in the P/C community, this type of Biblical preaching is common and hailed as the very Word of God. The problem is that no one else could or would ever read the Bible this way, and now I cannot read this Biblical story with my P/C friend. I am apparently involved with the legalistic, religious words of the Bible, and not the living “Rhema,” prophetic words that P/C prophets and ministers routinely proclaim. My assumption that the Spirit says whatever the text says is not shared by many P/Cs. They believe the text is true, but the Spirit has something fresh to say today and that message isn’t found in the text, but in the Spirit’s speaking to individuals.
On another occasion a coworker showed a tape of P/C preacher Jesse Duplantis- the “Happy Heretic”- describing a vision of heaven. The sermon contained a lot of obvious sensational material, likely fabrication and a generous helping of outright contradictions of the Bible. My P/C friends admitted that the message was flawed, but felt it was helpful anyway. How does a bizarre vision on a subject the Bible so obviously talks plainly about qualify as “helpful?” More significant, what is the view of scripture implied in the whole business?
Many Charismatics are involved in teaching that is openly announced as “special messages for the end times church.” Here the Bible is read in a way that explains current and future events mystically and spiritually. Images, parables and teachings of scripture are given a special meaning for the “last generation of the church.” Dreams and visions become interpretative tools for understanding obscure passages. Again, no one would normally read the Bible in the way these convinced end-times Charismatics read it, and real discussion about the Bible is made impossible.
Actual criticism of “Word-oriented” churches is not unheard of in the P/C world. A whole array of P/C prophets now speak a “living Word” to the P/C community, only marginally relating to the actual meaning of scripture passages. It is difficult to discuss what the Bible says and means with people who have seldom experienced Biblical interpretation and instruction, but have usually only encountered the Bible as the launching point for highly personal, subjective prophetic words and interpretations.
Many of my good memories of conversations with my P/C friends were over what the Bible said and taught about the Christian life. Today, P/C friends who gladly say the Bible is the final and authoritative Word from God are very rare indeed. (I thank God for those I know, and encourage them to faithfully study the scriptures.) True fellowship in the Word is almost impossible, unless I agree that God is speaking through prophets today, and such words are the “living Word of God” for today. How can evangelicals and P/Cs continue to fellowship when the Bible plays such a shrinking role in the P/C understanding of Christian experience?
2. Worship. Pentecostal/Charismatics have always maintained a strong and vital understanding of worship. Much of this is grounded in Biblical truth neglected by the mainline churches and evangelicals. Clearly, the stifling traditions of many evangelicals could benefit from appreciating the more expressive and diverse worship of P/Cs. With the advent of contemporary “praise and worship” music, Pentecostals have demonstrated their more creative, expressive, and emotional worship style with undeniably good results. Evangelicals are far better for the contribution of P/Cs to our worship.
It is sad to see, however, that worship has become one of the great divisions between P/Cs and other evangelicals. And here I may particularly anger my P/C friends, but again, I ask for your patience and consideration. Clearly, P/Cs have won the day in terms of influence in worship style. A vast number of non-P/C churches are now using praise music, raising hands during worship, and encouraging individual expressions of praise during worship. More than one Baptist senior adult is convinced his church has been taken over by â€œHoly Rollers.â€
Initially this P/C influence provided a good basis of fellowship, as non-P/Cs and P/Cs were enjoying much of the same kind of worship, and the “worship renewal” held out the promise of uniting a vast generation of Christians around common expressions of worship. This hope continues, and the good influence continues.
Sadly, however, many P/Cs have become proponents of a strident rejection of any kind of worship other than their own. Instead of appreciating the influence of P/C worship in the larger Christian tradition, many P/Cs now believe that “worship” is what they do, and only they really do it. â€œWorshipâ€ has now come to mean “Pentecostal/Charismatic worship.”
It is a characteristic of most Christian traditions to suspect that they are closer to the mark than anyone else. Certainly a Roman Catholic, an Anglican, a Pentecostal and a Campbellite could each make their case that they are expressing the best worship tradition. But in the end, most Christians can come to a point of seeing the value and the Biblical basis in a large variety of worship styles that present a panorama of Biblical truth and many aspects of God’s nature and praise. Here, however, many P/Cs hold firm: their worship is uniquely an expression of the Holy Spirit, and other kinds of worship are “dead rituals” and “human traditions.” It is sadly the fact that one can go to a large number of P/C churches and hear that their worship is the Holy Spirit’s â€œrestorationâ€ of true worship in the last days.
It is easy for an educated and analytical person to want to educate P/Cs that their worship is as much a part of history and culture as any other church, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Many P/Cs are convinced that the emphasis on praise, emotion, individual “freedom,” and the direct intervention of God is uniquely what true worship is all about. Rather than be generous toward other worship traditions and styles, many P/Cs are arrogantly critical in ways not unlike the way mainline Christians might sometimes look at rural and lower class Pentecostal worship.
In the last several years I have been unable to discuss worship with more than a handful of my Pentecostal/Charismatic friends. When the subject comes up, they quickly and authoritatively denounce every aspect of traditional worship as being human traditions at best or spiritual bondage at worst. When they attend a traditional church, they are overwhelmed with criticisms of anything that is not spontaneous, highly expressive, or novel. Strong value judgments abound. One Charismatic friend expressed genuine wonder that our church would want to say the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday. (I wonder how one bad worship chorus can be sung to the point of mesmerization.) Another friend routinely classifies all liturgy or unified response as evidence that a church has been utterly forsaken by the presence of the Holy Spirit and has become a museum of dead spirituality.
This hostility toward other worship traditions, coupled with the inability of many P/Cs to find any Biblical or reasonable boundaries to worship practices, has contributed to a Grand Canyon of separation between non-P/C evangelicals and many P/Cs on the subject of worship. When we do talk, we are most often defending our own understanding of worship from what we fear about the other tradition. Evangelicals fear the weirdness and wildness they see in Brownsville and elsewhere. P/Cs fear being closed off to the next move of the Spirit in and out of the church by a preference for predictability. Instead of finding ourselves brought together by the worship renewal of the last few years, traditional evangelicals and P/Cs are often farther apart than ever.
One last word before I move on. This continuing separation and disagreement is grievous to me. Frankly, some P/C concerns are substantial, and others are ridiculous. Rejecting all non-P/C worship as â€œritualâ€ and â€œtraditionâ€ is immature and needlessly divisive. The Bible approves of many kinds of worship, and of many different kinds of behaviors in worship. Evangelicals need to take that diversity more seriously. P/Cs need to realize they haven’t been deputized by the Holy Spirit to tell the rest of us whether or not we are really worshiping.
3. Prayer. Historically, it has been true that Christians who disagreed over various matters could at least pray together. Jesus taught that prayer should be simple, and the simple prayers of Christians from radically different backgrounds have often brought them together. Sadly, prayer has become one of those areas of greatest difficulty between P/Cs and the rest of us.
By this I do not mean that P/Cs are more expressive and vocal in prayer. Such a small difference is not a real hindrance to fellowship in prayer. Everyone can adjust to someone who prays in a slightly different â€œmode.â€ What has created this division is a vast difference in understanding the purpose of prayer itself.
Pentecostalism has always been about praying for God to act, but in recent years a collection of Bible teachers began to teach doctrines about â€œpraying in faithâ€ that have popularly come to be called, â€œName it, Claim itâ€ or â€œPositive Confession.â€ This approach to prayer places the believer in the position of calling the shots, or as heretical Bible teacher Kenneth Hagin calls it, â€œwriting your own ticket with God.â€. â€œFaithâ€ teachers go on endlessly about the fact that faith allows us to create reality, and move the hand of God in the same way as prophets such as Elijah. So while P/Cs used to simply pray more confidently and loudly than many evangelicals, today they are quite likely to pray in a way that seems to challenge the very sovereignty of God, and place us in a position of rejecting â€œnot my will, but Thy will be done,â€ a phrase that has actually been ridiculed by more than one P/C Bible teacher as not meaning what it says.
Most of us are aware of the uglier aspects of this approach to prayer. Certainly any pastor who has encountered P/Cs â€œclaimingâ€ healings for hopeless cases and then explaining the lack of a miracle as a failure of faith knows how insidious and hurtful this doctrine can be. More than once, I have watched sincere P/C friends proclaim events that were going to happen as if they controlled weather, finances, and the operation of the human body. Rather than â€œmaking our requests known to God,â€ these prayers dictated to the Almighty what seemed best from their very human point of view. (Example: Pat Robertson’s prayers to clear the bench at the Supreme Court.) Frankly, this sort of prayer makes me more than uncomfortable. It is offensive, and sometimes even blasphemous.
Right alongside the â€œprayer of faithâ€ have come prayers reflecting current beliefs about spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is a Biblical theme that P/C Christians have helped bring back into the vocabulary and teaching of the church. For this we should be grateful. But many spiritual warfarists have gone too far, making Satan and demons the explanation for too much, and making deliverance from demonic forces the answer to too many complex problems. The recent death of an autistic 8-year-old in a P/C healing service is an example of the tragedy that can come from simplistic application of spiritual teaching.
On many occasions, when my P/C friends have filled their prayers with direct addresses to the devil and demons, and have gone on to claim various results that they believe will be guaranteed by their faith, I have been tempted to just walk away. It is difficult to feel that this is prayer as Jesus taught it, and difficult to not believe that it is something more akin to magic and shamanism than Christianity. It has created a division between Christians right at the very throne of the Father, where we should be the most united in humble dependence. P/Cs are people of prayer, and that is a great gift to the church. But the false teachings about prayer that increasingly fill the P/C community make it less likely that we can pray, minister, or work together.
And of course, again, the P/C community hasn’t hesitated to claim that their approach to prayer is literally carrying out the plans of God in history. Such confidence can be part of a positive emphasis on missions and church growth, or it can descend into the â€œword of knowledgeâ€ follies that are increasingly common in P/C circles. With the Bible increasingly a book of examples, and communication with God frequently based on subjective impressions, visions and voices, fellowship with Pentecostal/Charismatics is increasingly difficult for evangelicals who do not have these experiences. For many of us, it has become difficult to fellowship with Christians whose views of prayer are so divisive and confusing to Christian unity and ministry.
4. Spiritual leaders. Pentecostal/Charismatics are a personality driven community. There is no doubt that the average P/C Christian gives a greater degree of loyalty and confidence to pastors, evangelists, prophets, and other spiritual leaders than almost any other Christians. Roman Catholics believe in the authority of the church. Liberals give authority to those who are properly educated. Evangelicals are consumers who give loyalty to whoever has the biggest church and the high charting CD. Pentecostals/Charismatics give loyalty to anyone who can demonstrate he has an anointing from God.
The concept of an â€œanointedâ€ ministry has grown in Pentecostal circles over the years to the point that it occupies a position I am not sure any non-Pentecostal can really understand. Pentecostals, once convinced a leader has an anointing from God, will demonstrate amazing patience, forgiveness, loyalty, and support for that person far beyond almost any other segment of Christianity. Not one of the major televangelists involved in the scandals of the 1980’s is without a church and followers, and many are still on television. Financial scandals, personal irresponsibility, even clear evidence of heresy, fraud and lying–none of these things can derail the support P/Cs give to their leaders. No one has a tougher job than the person who tries to convince the P/C community to withdraw support from someone who is not worthy of support.
This loyalty extends beyond rooting for â€œour team.â€ It has become a self-perpetuating, â€œanointedâ€ class. Benny Hinn proclaims his credentials as receiving the mantle of previous faith healers. Charismatic prophets are expected to anoint their successors like royalty. P/C churches may appear congregational, but in most cases they are wholly owned and controlled by founding pastors, their families, and appointed successors. This is all just fine among P/Cs, and stands in real contrast to most other evangelicals, particularly Baptists.
Who can exercise any authority or correction over an â€œanointedâ€ spiritual leader? That is a question P/Cs have been unable to answer. Leaders like James Robison or Jack Hayford have a modicum of respect, but no one could persuade a whoremonger like Jimmy Swaggart to step out of the pulpit for even a year. And this leads to more significant problems than the occasional scandal.
A sizable minority of P/C pastors teach errors and even heresy. There is really no other way to say it. I am not talking about the odd or the unusual or even the unheard of, which are all common among P/Cs. I am talking about significant heresy and errors in fundamental and important Christian beliefs. In the P/C community, the Trinity is regularly denied. Christ is demoted. Scripture is denigrated. Salvation by grace, through faith and not by works is replaced by various schemes of salvation unrecognizable within the classical Christian tradition. Many P/C pastors feel no responsibility to the larger Christian tradition (thank God for the exceptions!) and have nothing good to say about any creed or confession.
It is a generalization, but it is true enough to share. One can hardly imagine any doctrinal deviation that would not receive a significant nod of approval among P/Cs if delivered by a recognized â€œanointedâ€ leader and with a convincing story of how God revealed the message.
When a heretic like Kenneth Hagin or Kenneth Copeland denies the person and work of Christ and invents entirely unheard of categories and interpretations of the Christian life (many of which are occultic in origin), the average doubtful evangelical knows that he or she will be told we are not to criticize or question because this is an anointed teacher. Listening to the nightly roll call of new revelations of TBN, there is no doubt that this is a different world than mainstream evangelicalism, where novel theologies are not unheard of, but generally can only be spread at the cost of great controversy. (Ask Harold Camping.)
I recall reading about a prominent faith healer whose heresies and deviations from orthodoxy were well-known and notorious, but because there were continual testimonies of healing at his meetings, he continues to be cited as an important and â€œanointedâ€ prophet and teacher. This is the contradiction that P/Cs seem reluctant to resolve. When it is resolved, too often the solution is to be open to the possibility that God cannot be put in the â€œboxâ€ of Christian orthodoxy. The problem them becomes, can we talk about anything or anyone being genuinely Christian because of what they do or do not confess and believe? Is this not an entirely new â€œboxâ€ that may not be Christianity at all?
Sadly, it is hard to predict how much fellowship will be possible between Christians when the central issues of the faith can be denied or compromised, but criticism of those false teachers is not allowed or taken seriously. P/Cs are the largest segment of evangelicalism, and there is a growing concern among many P/Cs to relate positively to the larger Christian tradition, but the issue of what constitutes a legitimate ministry stands in the way.
There are other areas that deserve consideration. Theology is important to the church, but the P/C community is often hostile to the entire project of doing Biblical theology. The P/C movement has produced some fine scholars and adequate theologians, but one can easily see that this is the back row of the P/C show, and we should not expect P/C theology to be driven by serious scholarship any time soon. The Christian life and experience is a major interest of P/Cs, but increasingly the P/C version of the normal Christian life is unrecognizable to many traditional Christians. (What P/Cs see in â€œrevivalâ€ movements like Brownsville and Toronto seems a different and frightening universe than the honored path of Christian devotion, obedience and discipleship.) Certainly the well-worn area of Spiritual gifts continues to stand as a controversy, particularly as gifts such as â€œwords of knowledgeâ€ have taken on huge significance among P/Cs. Many of us would like to hear some solid application of Biblical teaching to the whole area of prophetic ministry, as it appears the â€œprophetsâ€ have ascended into the leadership of much of the P/C movement and are dominating the future direction of a significant number of P/C Christians and churches. If Kim Clement and other prophets are the future of P/Cs, the prognosis for fellowship is not good.
In conclusion, I want to repeat that I am aware the issue of fellowship between P/Cs and myself is not a one-way street. I am certainly guilty of frequently being stand-offish. I can easily become guilty of making hasty judgments and of being overly critical. But I am a person who understands and supports much of what I have seen in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. I have a generous nature towards my P/C Christian brothers and sisters, and it is out of a heart for the good I have seen over the years that I write this essay full of concern. I have many times come to their defense, and I have risked my good standing with my fellow Baptists many times to allow P/Cs the opportunity to minister to the students I work with. But my P/C friends also know I try to be a â€œstraight-shooterâ€ when it comes to the work of the Lord. I want to see P/C churches and Christians rooted, grounded, and growing in the good soil of Biblical truth. If my words have seemed hurtful, it is not out of a desire to tear down, but to encourage.
A large part of my own energy and vision in ministry has come from a desire to see the church experience the kind of renewal so many of us hoped for in the early days of the charismatic movement, when it appeared that the best of what Pentecostalism represented could be brought into the church on the corner without a war between people who all loved God and wanted more of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I am wondering if we must reach a point where, in order to be faithful to the Bible and what God has revealed to the church throughout history, we must cease calling some Pentecostal-Charismatics our brothers in Christ, and urge them to come back to the family they have influenced so positively, but like impulsive young adults, have ultimately abandoned for their own path.
In the meantime, maybe we could get together and talk….like we used to.
By P/C, I mean groups or individuals that teach:
- Baptism or Filling in, with or by the Holy Spirit taught as a single, subsequent and significant event “completing” the Christian experience, evidenced by tongues.
- Using Acts and the Gospels over the epistles to justify normal Christian experience and to interpret the Bible in general.
- Endorsing all gifts, miracles, signs in the Bible as part of the normal and ordinary Christian life.
- “Anointed” leadership, reflected in church and ministry structures that are leader centered.
- Endorsing the role of the “prophet” as a continuing NT office.
- Believing there is a special significance to the P/C movement in God’s plan.
I do NOT mean:
- Anyone with a P/C worship style.
- Anyone who is expressive and emotive.
- Anyone who is not a cessationist. (I’m not a cessationist in the sense that God is sovereign and can do as He pleases.)