December 11, 2017

iMonk Classic: Signs I’m Weary of Weird Christians

Classic iMonk Post
by Michael Spencer
Undated

NOTE FROM CM: Here is Michael at his best—forthright, incisive, passionate, hilarious, and clear. I love what he says about the “NORMAL” Christian life.

So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” (John 6:30)

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:18-19)

And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mark 8:12)

I’m tired of weird Christians.
I am tired of hearing people I work with say that God is talking to them like He talked to Moses at the burning bush or like He talked to Abraham. I’m weary of people saying God speaks directly to them about mundane matters of reasonable human choice, so that their choices of toothpaste and wallpaper are actually God’s choices, and therefore I need to just shut up and keep all my opinions to myself until I can appreciate spiritual things. I’m tired of people acting as if the normal Christian life is hearing a voice in your head telling you things other people can’t possible know, thus allowing you a decided advantage.

I mean, if all this were really happening, wouldn’t these people be picking better stocks?

I’m weary of immature college students and high school kids going on and on about what God is saying to them as if they were up there with the authors of scripture. I’ve had it with Christian musicians acting as if every lyric they write is a message directly from God and free from the possibility of mediocrity or poor taste. I now hear preachers who preface their sermons with an appropriate selection from CCM, rather than with scripture. I mean, is there really that much of a difference?

I’m burned out on Christians telling me about the next big thing God is going to do, as if they really know. I’m tired of Christians predicting the future and being consistently, continually wrong, but acting like they weren’t wrong. If you said that on New Year’s Eve the east coast was going to fall into the ocean because of divine judgment and it didn’t happen, you were wrong. Really, badly, embarrassingly wrong. So why can’t you act like you are wrong? Why am I so sure you will have more absurd predictions next Sunday?

I’m worn out on people doing weird things that aren’t in the Bible and saying it’s the “leading of the Spirit.” Falling over. Acting drunk. Jumping around like a wasp went down your dress. I’m tired of turning on the TV or the radio and hearing Christians making more noise than a riot at a mental hospital. I’m out of patience with Christian spirituality equaling some form of clown college graduation.

I’m seriously fatigued from constantly hearing reality explained as spiritual warfare between angels, Christians, demons, and various conspiracies. The drama of blaming everything from illness to bad credit to all your bad choices on the devil is getting old. I’m tired of people being delivered from demons when their problem is their own rebellion, stupidity, meanness, and determination to get their own way.

I’m tired of God being the bag man for everything ever done by some guy who didn’t want to answer questions about right and wrong. I’m tired of God directing people to do things that, uh…actually are not all that ethical or are just plain evil. I’m tired of having to tell my kids that “Yes, so and so said God told them to do it, but that’s not what Jesus should do or you should do.” I’m annoyed at the attention weirdo Christians get, and the obligation I supposedly have to love them anyway.

Let me use some bad language: “Normal.” Dare I bring up that word? Isn’t the Christian life a constantly supernatural life? A frequently miracle-filled life? A life of divine direction, healing, and signs? A life where you (the Christian) know all kinds of things that ORDINARY people don’t know?. A life where you (the Christian) are in on the future, in on the prophecies, under the ministry of anointed prophets who are plugged into the big plan? A life that is a battleground of constant demonic assault? Aren’t Christians supposed to have supernatural knowledge of Kung Fu, and be able to hang in the air and…….well, maybe not.

Isn’t the Christian life the “Victorious” life? The “Purpose Driven” life? The “Spirit Filled” life? The life with Christ living in you and through you? It’s not a normal life, and it’s not ordinary. Right? Do I get an “amen?”

Or maybe you are like me. You are an ordinary Christian living an ordinary life. You don’t hear voices, see visions, or believe you are under constant attack by demonic forces. You may have some experiences that you call supernatural or miraculous, but they are the exception, not the rule. When you pray for people, things usually don’t change; you change. You have no authoritative insight into what is going to happen in the future. You suspect that if you were filled with the Spirit, you would love God and people more, and do the right thing more often. You’d be more like Jesus. You wouldn’t be running around in circles pointing out angels on the roof. The fruit of the Spirit would make you a person others would want to be around, not someone who would frighten animals and small children.

A Disclaimer, A Principle, and An Observation
Before the tomatoes start hitting the screen, I should open a window and let some air in.

I believe there are some really strange things that happened in the Bible. I don’t doubt any of them. I believe in Satan, demons, and angels. I believe God speaks to people in any way He chooses. I have experienced God’s direction in my life in a way that can only be explained as “God spoke to me.” I don’t hesitate to say it. But this happened once in my life. Miracles are real, and prayer in scripture is an invitation to ask God to do what only God can do in any way He chooses.

I accept without question that some very Spirit-filled people come off as weird in the Bible, in history, and today. I have no argument with anyone over the reality of spiritual gifts or spiritual experience.  The Christian does have victory, power, purpose and revelation, all as gifts from God. I do not automatically write off any claim of spiritual experience that is different from my own.

My point is not to trash anyone who believes in any of these things. Not at all. My point is that “normal” Christian experience is increasingly seen as “bad” or “abnormal,” while weirdness is increasingly seen as “normal” and proof that a person is really “spiritual.” This shift has enormous implications for Christianity in its essence, its witness, and its experience in the lives of believers.

The principle that I would like to put forward is this: The supernatural character of Christian truth and experience does not remove the basic, normal, human experience of Christians. If “normal” humanity is eclipsed, Christianity ceases to be Biblical, truthful or helpful.

In some ways, I think we are being presented with a spiritual dichotomy similar to the Roman Catholic division between those in “holy orders” and your regular Christian in the pew. Protestantism refuted this view, and strongly reasserted the Biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. But now Pentecostal/Charismatic spirituality has brought evangelicalism to a similar situation–a division between the spiritual elite with their “supernaturalism” and the ordinary Christian who doesn’t hear voices and see visions.

Now, that we are all calmed down, let me be very matter-of-fact. In my experience, Christians who go very far down this road of a “hyper-spiritual” experience rapidly become less useful in the service of Christ. Some become quite useless, even a hindrance and a detriment. Let me entertain you with three stories to  illustrate–not prove–my point. All three are about individuals who were highly involved in hearing God’s voice, experiencing personal spiritual warfare, seeking miraculous experiences in daily life, and getting words of prophetic insight about personal and world events. I won’t overdo that description of each person. We’ll assume it for the moment.

John, Matt and the Band
“John” came to work for us as a teacher and coach. He was a remarkably gifted guy, particularly in anything that involved people. He was a natural conversationalist, and had real skill in motivation and relationship-building. Before long, we had placed John in an administrative position where he could tell possible donors about our ministry. I had high hopes for John.

John was, however, one of the people I am discussing. Before long, it became apparent that John was pretty uncomfortable with the fact that our ministry wasn’t casting out demons from students. His frustration grew. One day, over lunch, he told me that he was going to leave and find a ministry that would really “pray for” the students. John’s comment struck me as stupid and arrogant, because our ministry depends on and practices prayer. It’s just not the sort of prayer that John was advocating, prayer that really amounted to diagnosing problems as demon possession and ordering the appropriate demon around. I’ve never had much appreciation for people who identified straightforward problems as being evil spirits. It’s not a matter of doubt on my part. It’s a matter of being helpful to the person. John could have been helpful, but he wanted something else.

He left, which was his pattern. He’s been from church to church, ministry to ministry, always pushing for more and more supernaturalism. And if you don’t want to go his way, you’re not going with God. In the meantime, a really talented guy is not putting his gifts to work.

“Matt” and I worked closely together during a good period of spiritual renewal in our ministry. We worked well together because Matt had a maturity and an appreciation for other Christians that I admire to this day. During the time we worked together, our ministry saw a lot of “harvest time:” good numbers, lots of professions of faith, many public testimonies of Christian experience. It was a good time. It could have been better, but I was pleased with what God was doing with our students. Matt was as well, but he wanted more.

In fact, it turned out that Matt and several other Charismatics wanted to see a LOT more than we were seeing. They wanted tongues. They wanted people falling on the floor. They wanted exorcisms. They wanted–according to Matt–“vomiting” of evil spirits. They wanted things to get “out of control”–in the Spirit, of course. Matt and company got more excited the more “Pentecostal” any meeting became. Of course, there is a considerable difference between enjoying the evidence of the Spirit’s work and determining what kind of supernatural demonstrations we have to see next. Matt rejoiced in the present with hopes it would lead to a real “breakthrough.” I thought we already had one.

Before long, Matt moved on, unhappy that our ministry was not as “open to the Spirit” as we should be. I couldn’t help but wonder: Were we not open, or was Matt simply unable to accept the freedom of the Lord to stop short of the whole menu of spiritual gymnastics that he determined we had to see? Today Matt isn’t in ministry at all, but hanging out with other people on the same supernatural fast track. Is this really what Christian service is all about? It seemed more like some kind of Pentecostal peer pressure.

One more story. A few months ago I brought in a very talented Christian band for a concert. They played great music with good lyrics. Then the leader of the group decided he needed to preach. For 45 minutes he went on and on about how anyone here could do miracles if he had enough faith. He talked about God telling him what to do in every decision. (All he had to do was go to church and lay on the floor till God spoke.) He said he’d seen lots of instant healings at their concerts. Then the big one. His goal was to raise the dead. Everyone could raise the dead if they just had enough faith. (Of course we had some kind of an invitation to verify these good intentions.)

Here was a guy who seemed normal, and in half an hour convinced most everyone in the room that he was nuts. And non-Christians in the room were justified in deciding this fellow was a loon. Giving glory and credit to God didn’t matter nearly as much as impressing all of us with how “out there” he could be, and with the fact that we all ought to be “out there” as well.

I could tell these stories all day. The co-worker who had a real gift for evangelizing students, but eventually began making personal prophecies over all of them, including saying the world would end before they all turned twenty.  The African student who told the whole school that because I didn’t speak in tongues or get slain in the Spirit, I wasn’t a true minister of God. The woman who wandered my neighborhood praying “against” the various demons that God had revealed to her were influencing our neighborhood. The intelligent young man paralyzed with fear of making any decision without a sign from God.

What is going on here?

Lord, Give Us A Sign
In a previous article about religious fanaticism, I told about the theory that Islamist fanatics were overcompensating for what they saw as the “absence” of Allah on the stage of history. I said that religious fanatics may tend to think this way. Thinking about this later, I remember a story I’ve heard many times about John Wimber. Seems that when the founder of the Vineyard movement became a Christian, he expected to see the miracles of the Gospels happening today. He asked a pastor, “When do you do the stuff?” “The stuff? What do you mean?” “The miracles. The healings. You know, the stuff Jesus did.” It’s a good story, and I think it gets at something vital in this discussion.

If you read the Bible you are, of course, struck by the presence of supernatural events. Many of these events, like the Exodus and the Resurrection, are central events in the drama of redemption. The Gospels record many miracles by Jesus, and tell us there were many more. Yet what place do miracles really play in the Bible? There are large portions of the Bible without much more than an occasional message from God to a prophet. Miracles are, actually, the exception and not the rule. I frequently point this out to skeptics who ask why the miracles in the Bible aren’t happening today. If the Bible is read honestly, there were actually very few miracles over the course of history, and most of those were completely unknown to anyone except a handful of people.

When you look at the characters of the Bible there are many supernatural experiences, but have we properly put these in context? For instance, how often did God speak to Abraham? My friends tend to think it was common. In fact, it was rare. Very rare. Abraham’s encounters with God were often years apart. While Moses is described as a person to whom God spoke face to face, we ought to remember THAT WAS MOSES. His burning bush experience isn’t there to say that every person is going to have a similar experience.

Jesus performed many miracles, but he clearly taught that these miracles were “signs of the Kingdom” and were authenticating signs pointing to who he was. When skeptics demanded of him “signs” that would prove who he was, he bluntly said they’d had all the signs they were going to get, and to look at the resurrection if they wanted a real sign. Yet Jesus actually lived a remarkably normal life. He didn’t heal everyone he met. He wasn’t weird. He didn’t run a three ring circus of miracles. His miracles and exorcisms stood out as unusual, and therefore as authentic.

The disciples also did some authenticating miracles, but even a beginning Bible student can see that the number and size of supernatural goings-on decreases enormously after the ministry of Jesus. By the time of the epistles, the kind of miracles and supernaturalism we find in Exodus or Luke is long gone. Certainly there are gifts, answered prayers, and a sense of God’s power in the church. But Christians lead normal lives. There doesn’t seem to be any idea in the New Testament that every day is a burning bush, a face-to-face conversation with God, or a series of demonic assaults repelled by special prophecies and prayers.

If I am right, then the tide of weirdness that has rolled over me amounts to insisting that God provide a “sign” to true believers. It’s exactly as John Wimber said–it’s the “stuff” they did in the New Testament, pushed through the grid of Christian history and theology, and finally interpreted by modern believers determined to show that the God of the Bible is still in business. It’s a way of saying, “This is true, and we are going to prove it by living out all those miracles again today.”

We’ve been Fleeced!
I think my first encounter with this weirdness was the whole business of “putting out a fleece.” For those of you who didn’t grow up so immersed in fundamentalism that you know what I am talking about, it basically amounts to getting God to give you a sign of your own choosing. A common version of the “Fleece” method might involve, let’s say, whether to marry a particular guy who has proposed. The fleece might be, “If God wants me to marry Bill, he (Bill) will call me on Saturday morning and ask if I would like to go on a picnic.” This sort of little test was considered harmless when I was a young Christian, but take a moment to look at what’s really going on.

It’s demanding a sign. It’s being able to say “God told me!” At its root, is the desire to know that the God of the Bible is still speaking and acting now, and doing in my life what he did for Moses and Abraham.

So what is Benny Hinn doing when he tells the crowd that the people on the floor are being healed? What are some of my co-workers saying when they repeatedly say God is directing their lives with audible messages? What is happening when a Christian claims that a dream, vision, or prophecy has told him the future? In all these cases, God has proven Himself. He’s given a sign that he is around and is still doing business.

I won’t hesitate to say that I believe the vast majority of this exaggerated emphasis on supernatural experience is self-delusion. I don’t believe God is talking to these people. I don’t believe the prophecies are real. I don’t believe the miracle stories are true. While I am willing to accept that God can do as He chooses without my permission, I think we don’t accomplish anything by taking the route of accepting everything without critical judgment. We have to say what is really going on.

I think the appeal of this kind of experience is far more intense than we might imagine. It is promising a personal experience that proves God is real. My late friend Pat had two heart transplants. During the first, he had a vision of the cross that was immensely real. The experience banished all his doubts and made him a bold–and sometimes annoyingly intense–Christian. I didn’t have the experience. Pat did, and it made him run on a higher level than I did. The supernaturalists want that experience on a daily basis. While I don’t believe Pat was self-deluded, I can’t say the same about most of these people.

“Normal” Christians are living without these “signs.” They are living by faith in what the Bible says, and not looking to their experience to be a daily demonstration of God’s still being around and in the miracle business. In comparison to those who live with daily miracles and prophecies, these normal Christians may have experiences that seem dull or even absent. It is no wonder that many “normal” Christians struggle with feelings of resentment, envy, or anger toward those Christians who claim constant miracles and manifestations of God’s power. Part of my own weariness is from years of feeling second-class and left out of “real” Christian experience. Then I was angry at myself for faking it in an attempt to fit in. Now I’m tired of playing this game, and disturbed by what I see as the misrepresentation of the Gospel, and an insensitivity to the effects of weirdness on those in and out of the church.

How Long Will This Go On?
So before we all grow wearier of the topic than I am of the weirdness itself, what can we say?

I’ll start by saying that the Bible’s emphasis on walking by faith rather than by a constant diet of supernatural experiences needs to be understood clearly. I am constantly reminded that the weirdness has registered with many people as Biblical Christianity. We have to say that the Bible is a supernatural book, and God works in our world as He chooses, but faith is nurtured on the Word of God, and on what God has already done in Jesus. The weirdness looks at the events in the Bible as the first inning, and we are now playing out the game. In actuality, the Bible records the entire game and Christ wins! We are living out that victory now. The point is not the next big thing, but what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Always, being centered on the Gospel and on Christ himself is what we must strive to offer in response to the chaos currently gripping the church.

Further, I think we have to reclaim the fact that God wants us to use our minds to think and make reasonable choices. The Christian life is not a throwing out of the mind, but this is a primary tenet of weirdness. I don’t just mean anti-intellectualism. I mean a rejection of a reasonable, human use of the mind. This glorifies God. Our prayer for guidance and truth from God should be fervent, but we should fervently say that God’s Word of Truth usually comes to our minds through the normal methods. Nothing distresses me more about this entire business than the message to young people that their minds should be ignored and some esoteric, gnostic method of “hearing from God” should lead us in making life’s important decisions.

How should we view our weird Christian friends? That is a complicated question. Given that I have said they are seeking signs contrary to scripture and are deluding themselves and others, you might be surprised when I say I think we should be generous in forgiving and tolerating much of this behavior. Many of our hyper-spiritual friends are sincerely hungry for God. They are following what they believe is a path that will remove their doubts and bring the power of the Spirit into their lives. All of us ought to desire genuine Holy Spirit power, and a true experience of God. I don’t criticize my weird friends for wanting to have a life full of God!

I have to stop, however, when we reach the point of asking what is the source of true experience, what is the nature of that experience, and what are the results of a genuine experience? Jonathan Edwards, who I criticized in a previous piece for leaving the door open for fanaticism, wrote a book that can’t be improved on: The Religious Affections. Charismatics often quote it. Few have read it. We need to hand out a lot of copies. With a generous–perhaps overly generous at times–heart, Edwards puts his head into the scriptures and shows what makes up true religious experience. His words are plain and true:

It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ all along hitherto. It is by this means, principally, that he has prevailed against all revivings of religion that ever have been since the first founding of the Christian church.

Discernment is what we most owe to our weirder brothers and sisters. Not condemnation or rejection, but discernment and simple truth. We need to know our Bibles, and be able to point out the truth of the Gospel. Our lives need to be shaped by Christ, and display evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification and renewing our minds and characters. Even those who have given themselves over fully to every kind of weirdness are usually well aware of their own need of what is real. Many solid Reformed Christians spent a sojourn in this camp, and starved to death while everyone pretended there was a feast.

Bishop Ryle put it plainly: “Feelings in religion are worse than worthless, unless they are accompanied by practice.” Many of our sincerely deluded brothers and sisters know this, and are afraid of what this must mean. It will do them good to see in us genuine experience and a true, substantial working out of what Christ has done for and in us.

Comments

  1. Great classic post. On a day-to-day basis, I don’t run much into the type of weird Christians Michael talked about. My confrontations are with the folks who say “God is telling me to do great things!” (E.g., put on a mega-production on Sunday morning so that we can go into debt to build a large mega-church). I am just trying to feed my family and survive day-to-day, and people are telling me to be a Christian I have to do great things, and “God has a wonderful/great plan for my life.”.

    Why can’t I just be content with my current life, and worship a mysterious God who I don’t completely understand?

  2. Kelby Carlson says:

    This, so very very much. Especially the Rile quote. I can’t tell you how many evangelical teen conferences I’ve been to with spiritual highs and much emotion; but in a few weeks it’s back to business.

    I share michael’s sometime resentment and anger toward those people that repeatedly said “God told me x”. To me, that’s blasphemy, and I would never claim such a thing unless I was absolutely beyond certain of it. (I can claim ONE instance of “God told me”, and it wasn’t a command, it was a proclamation.)

  3. Rob Burke says:

    As a Lutheran I find this post very ironic. That a group of Christians would put so much weight into a “spirit lead life” with personal revelation, supernatural events but strongly reject the ordinary means of grace or delivery methods of His grace. By this I mean that Christ in his love would share His completed work on the cross through through baptism (His work, not ours, Titus 3) , communion (given to us, not taken as a work), and the proclaimed gospel message, His gifts and work to us. But rather people would like to believe “God doesn’t save through baptism but he can sure give me supernatural experiences and unique revelation.” They would rather rely on their “evidences” than Christ’s promises. Which one is truly “spirit led”?

  4. That Other Jean says:

    That was one of the best of the best. I’m with Michael in wondering about Christians who “hear from God” about seemingly everything in their lives—whether to buy a house, what kind of car to buy, which school to send their kids to. I wonder why God never tells them to read Consumer Reports, ask some friends with experience, do some research, and make up their own minds?

    • Jonathanblake says:

      Some of my wife’s family is like that and it drives me CRAZY!!! By the time when they wanted her to pray over which dress to buy because He’ll tell her which one will bring her the most pleasure I had finally had enough. God is not to be used to pick dresses; that’s why we have friends and family and our own personal tastes in clothing!

      I’ve been around many people who could more or less find themselves in this category and one thing is always missing- the conformation of their being into the image of Christ as revealed in the Gospels. Their is plenty of talk of being godly and when asked what godliness is rarely is the measure Jesus but standings on sex, music, alcohol, and politics. Jesus as “we’ve seen and touched him” (Apostle John, one of his epistles) in the Incarnation and His Gospel of Grace really aren’t emphasized. Pentecostals (generally) need a transformation to see the Gospel as much an ethic for disciples as a message for all who haven’t heard.

      • You want to hear something really freaky about a situation I overheard in a mega church in the Washington, D.C. area…(and I hope this wont get deleted…)

        I was helping my old small group leader move. At the time he was engaged, and scheduled to be married. In this megachurch he plays the trumpet during the morning services. Well he suddenly starts to tell me this story of how one of the worship leaders at this church talks to him about prayer and sex, and this worship leader said that he sought God’s guidance on when, where, and how to have sex. So my old small group leader told me how freaky it was that this guy was telling him about how he and his wife would pray during sex over which positions to engage in. This is the same church where the senior pastor on stage attached pre-trib rapture as orthodox theology. (rolls eyes…)

        I just don’t know how evangeliclas can expect to be taken seriously…

  5. HA!!! This post is classic and describes some of what led to my disillusionment, lost faith and wreariness of Christians. The harm that is done is huge and its far from the televangelsits alone and is mainstream.

    1. I used the Golden Fleece approach on the advice of my pastor in the midwest and support of Christians I knew. I got myself hip deep into a job I have come to dislike, made a poor choice and am miserable about my life situation. There has been nothing but silence from god and while I try and dig myself out of this mess I regularly heard Christians say, “God told me” or “It was confirmed throguh prayer…” It was one of the tipping points for me.

    2. My pastor in the midwest did the same thing. He left his job and moved to Virginia after which he kept waiitng, waiting and waiting. After a few years the last I heard from him he didn’t know what to do. He had second thoughts about the golden fleece.

    3. I have learned that a lot of Christians use God as an excuse to do mission trips to India, Tanazania, Bolivia, etc.. But instead of being honest on why they want to go, “I don’t like my job”, “My wife is frustarted about living here..” It’s awful and I think blasphamous (and this is coming from an agnostic!!)

    4. You can’t really escape this line of thinking. I sure as hell could not. Just this afternoon I checked a model railroad forum. I’m a train junkie who loves the Milwaukee Road and Northern Pacific, and I read a post where someone credited God for their recovery from skin cancer. He then proceeded to talk about how blessed he was and how God uses all things to his glory. It brought out a couple of questions of people dieing from cancer…did God not love them?

    My faith in God has largely been lost. But I think the churhc is so toxic and harmful that it is healther to be out of it, than within it.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      You can’t really escape this line of thinking. I sure as hell could not. Just this afternoon I checked a model railroad forum. I’m a train junkie who loves the Milwaukee Road and Northern Pacific, and I read a post where someone credited God for their recovery from skin cancer.

      Eagle, what was that doing on a model railroad forum? I’ve know panels and threads to go wildly off-topic, but that’s a pretty extreme tangent.

      P.S. I’m a Santa Fe/SP/UP man, myself. Probably would be doing NTrak if I had the time and space and money.

  6. Rob Burke says:

    Eagle, great honesty.

    Christ died on the cross for the sins of all.
    Eagle: Christ brought this to you personally in your baptism and communion. It is a completed work given to you. Period.

    As long as you look within yourself for the truthfulness of the Gospel message or the quality of your faith you will only find sin and despair; welcome to the club.

    • I’m sorry Rob, but people who depart from the faith and never return cannot enter the Kingdom. I don’t care how cruel that sounds but that is the truth. Jesus said that only those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt 24:13). Giving assurance to those who admittedly left the faith because of certain things in life is totally unscriptural and pastorally irresponsible. Wow, and people call me cruel for some of the things I say here…

      • Mark — The rule here at iMonk is that commenters do not judge the salvation of other commenters, nor do they judge others’ future capacity for salvation, thereby limiting the grace of God. Here’s the scriptural basis for that rule:

        “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you — who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:11 and 12.

        Are you tempted to define “brother” in such a way as to exclude the commenters you don’t agree with? Beware. When we truly love as Jesus loves, our family gets larger, not smaller.

        I’m not saying that everyone will be saved and no one will be judged. I am saying that you are not the judge. And I’m confident in saying so, since my faith is called Christianity and not Markianity.

        • Heh, I like that Markianity. 🙂

          Sadly, what you label as “Markianity” is biblical Christianity. Eagle admitted of leaving the church and becoming an agnostic. What more evidence do you need that this person is in real danger of eternal death unless he repents and comes back to the faith? Jesus, Paul, and the rest of the Apostles declared that a person who denies the faith is an unbeliever (unsaved).

          If that person continues in that direction then he or she is a reprobate, never receiving the saving grace of God. I did not slander Eagle. I just told Rob what the Bible says about those who depart from the faith and never return. How you could tie that biblical statement with that quote from James 4:11-12? Truly, I don’t get it.

          • “Jesus said that only those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt 24:13). ”

            Mark we are all on a journey – a long race if you prefer. Endurance does exclude times of weariness (or wary -ness)

            Have you deluded yourself that you are God? Because it is really only HE who sees into peoples hearts and can judge where they are at. Not you…
            That is most likely why he says ‘Judge not least you be judged’
            What is in your heart? Are you perfect?
            God hates pride you know.

            Read up on some bible characters – King David for instance. He railed against God and yet God loved him.

      • Rob Burke says:

        I’m reminding Eagle of Christs work in him and promises to him.

      • Rob Burke says:

        Marks post highlights the important distinctions between the Lutheran view of the Christian life and American Reformed decisionalism (notice I did not say Reformed in general). Has not this been discussed for 500 years?

        Christ for us rather than “Christ died on the cross, so I made a decision for him and I should Desire God, Don’t Waste YOur life-John Piperism”. Decision is not the same as belief.
        Luther vs. Erasmus.
        Luther vs. Zwingli.
        Theology of the cross (Heidelberg disputation) vs. Theology of Glory
        Christs promises vs my feelings.
        Justification as a unilateral action of God vs. a cooperation of our soul.
        Sanctification as the Holy Spirit pointing us continually to the Cross vs. our compliance with the law its 3rd use.

        Our job as Christians is to point to Christ’s work on the cross, share this by the means Christ has instituted, and comfort souls who doubt Christ’s gifts (with the gospel and its promises) None of us decide for this or merit it. This gospel proclamation and its means should be done by all denominations and preached every Sunday. I left Reformed American denominationalism churches exactly for the same reasons Eagle did, its toxic focus on the person, their covenant law “keeping”, and the micro-culture of isolationism. The iMonk community seems to understand this and it is why I read and respond.

        • So people like John Piper, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, etc. all teach “decisionism”? That is truly unbelievable, considering they all teach that salvation is a sovereign gift of God by grace alone.

      • Mark, I didn’t see that Rob was “giving assurance.” He was pointing him to Christ and his gift and encouraging him to look there rather than to his own heart.

      • Thanks Mark for trying to understand my heart over the internet. Just as a heads up you probably never knew the following…

        1. That I was invovled in Mormonism in college and left that to became evangelical after I was born again.
        2. That I led Campus Crusade at the college I attended for grad school. I put togteher trips, evangelism campaigns, etc..
        3. I took a job on faith and moved cross country and in this job found myself in the middle of a combat zone. While in this combat zone I used to pray the 27th Pslam daily…
        4. From my former Mormon perspective you probably can’t understand how many parallels I see between the LDS culture and modern evangelical culture.
        5. You probably don’t know of how my accountability partner lead a double life while I was singed and burned by an evangelcal culture. Or how in my attempt to gorify God a pastor derailed a career becuase he wanted to teach me a lesson.
        6. While I struggled with doubt and growing daily problems with the faith I was taught those inside the evangelical Christian bubble have been the harshest. As if they will understand what it’s like to leave a cult like Mormonism or to try and live your faith under the threat of suicide bombers in a war zone.

        When it fell apart for me it led to a huge spritual crisis. I lost freinds, and resulted in people I knew for years who backed and cut ties becuase of the questions I was asking. It also resulted in a lot of pain..to try and go something for God and live a life of faith and just be hammered. The greatest joy I had was in disposing of a lot of my Christian material and after 10 years of what the IM wrote about in this above post..it’s highly unlikely that I will ever step into a chruch again. Too many bad memories and such an awful tatse in my mouth.

        But what helped drive me from God is the holier than thous who had it all organized, had every answer and were so certain of what they believed and their salvation. They are the ones you need to keep an eye on, becuase in all honesty I hope this never happens to you. Like my Mom told me growing up…”never use the word never…”

        • Christiane says:

          before you ‘give up’ totally, wander by a Franciscan monastery and ask to stay for a while where it is peaceful

        • I’m sorry to hear that Eagle. I’m also sorry to hear that you become disullosioned with evangelical Christianity because of what some people in the past did to you or what you observed about them.

          Having said that, you have to remember that the Church (the whole Body of Christ) is not entirely composed of truly regenerate people. There will be MANY people who will be shocked to learn that they are lost when they thought all those years they were saved (despite their religious activities, participation in the church, their morality, etc.).

          That is why I am not only critical of mainline liberal Christians but also professing evangelical Christians as well. I have also witnessed and seen nasty things in evangelical churches. I have met a good portion of actively involved church people displaying very little fruit of the Spirit. They are not nasty people (like murderers, rapists, fraudsters, whoremongers, etc.) but the way they are in general gives me serious doubts about their regeneration.

          Thus, I am saying that I do understand to some degree where you are coming from. However, you shouldn’t just depart from your Savior, who died on your behalf, because some rotten apples in the church who claimed to be Christians turned you off so badly.

          • Mark, just to bounce off of a couple of things you’ve said:

            1. “I have met a good portion of actively involved church people displaying very little fruit of the Spirit.”

            As a reminder, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians5:22-23). Let’s examine ourselves too about the fruits.

            2. “However, you shouldn’t just depart from your Savior, who died on your behalf, because some rotten apples in the church who claimed to be Christians turned you off so badly.”

            As long as you haven’t assumed that he has already abandoned Jesus, I’m in agreement—and a key verse is Romans3:4, “Let God be true though every man be false.”

            Abandoning the church and abandoning Jesus are two very different matters. Have you read Michael Spencer’s book? And sometimes leaving the church is a good idea in order to prevent the worst.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          From my former Mormon perspective you probably can’t understand how many parallels I see between the LDS culture and modern evangelical culture. — Eagle

          Not surprising, Eagle. Christians always focus on the LDS’s offbeat theology (expected for a religious group that began as a 19th Century equivalent of the Moonies and later evolved into a self-sustaining religious body), completely missing the fact that this offbeat theology was presented in a cultural wrapper very similar to high-commitment Evangelicalism.

          Several forms of X-treme and offbeat Christianity — including the Millerite Adventist movement — had their origin around the same time as the LDS and in the same general area. Joseph Smith wasn’t the only Founder of The One True Church running around the Burned-Over District of upstate New York around that time. “Burned Over” by Revival after Revival after Revival. (Dispensationalism and Secret Rapture eschatology also developed around the same time, but I’m pretty sure it was in a different area.) A lot of those groups came from a similar cultural background, including LDS and Evangelicals; it’s no surprist their church culture and everyday behavior ARE very similar, including the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

      • And on the other hand, Mark, we are told “Not all they that say “Lord, Lord”, will be saved.”

        To leave, to deny, and to persist unto the end in denial – that’s one thing.

        To be injured, to be driven out, and to have until the very last the chance “Turn to me with all your heart” – that’s another.

        • Martha,

          I never said all hope was lost for Eagle. By God’s grace someday I hope he does come back to the sheep fold and rest on the Savior again. I was just saying that BIBLICALLY those who turn from the faith and never return will be lost forever. I did not say this, it is coming from the mouth of Jesus and the pens of inspired writers.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Personally, I think Eagle “turned from the faith (TM)” because of one Mark too many in his church experience.

      • “Jesus said that only those who endure to the end will be saved (Matt 24:13). ”

        Mark we are all on a journey – a long race if you prefer. Endurance does NOT exclude times of weariness (or wariness) There are hills we climb and times of doubt.

        Have you deluded yourself that you are God? Because it is really only HE who sees into peoples hearts and can judge where they are at. Not you…
        That is most likely why he says ‘Judge not least you be judged’
        What is in your heart? Are you perfect?
        God hates pride you know.

        King David railed against God and yet God loved him.

        • Sue,

          I never claimed to have the perfect knowledge of God regarding the condition of every soul in the world. What I did proclaim is that SCRIPTURE adamently states that those who depart from the faith and continue in that path are not going to be saved on the last day. You confused my statements on what Scripture states on the matter with me taking up a position of deity regarding the knowledge every soul on earth.

  7. Christiane says:

    Sometimes what begins in humility, ends in peace.
    I don’t know the source of this prayer, but I like how it ends:

    “All-Loving God,
    we place all our thoughts and doubts,
    biases and viewpoints,
    plans and confusion into your hands.
    Lead us in your way.
    In your will is peace.

    Amen”

  8. I’ve spent a few decades with this question… I won’t pretend to know the answer. I think I’d leave the needle pointing a bit more toward the supernatural than Michael seems to, but I’m with him 100% on the need to emphasize the primacy of the everyday miracle of redemption.
    Although I’ve mostly turned away from churches that practice the weirdness, I cannot turn my back on some of what I experienced in that context, nor can I completely close the door to the possibility to God’s miraculous intervention at any given time. But I’ve learned to look for the subtle things.
    I’ve also come to believe that God seldom, if ever, does anything relating to his people that does not consist in a mixture of both human and divine efforts. Spiritual gifts seldom operate distinct from natural ones. Many wise people don’t recognize a difference. (I think I do, but…) Sound discernment seems to require considerable understanding of the highs and lows and just plain insanity that humans can reach all by themselves as much as a solid knowledge of the characteristics and fruits that are earmarks of God’s actual intervention.
    When I was in God-school I had the privilege of studying under a professor who wrote one of Eerdmans’ OT commentaries. (I’m being purposefully obscure.) I still remember him saying that to argue that ‘the gifts were not for today’ was heresy. Simply. It was a point of theology, not of practice for him; he did not attend a charismatic church. I took me a while to understand that.
    Enough.

  9. Buford Hollis says:

    You know, I can open up a phone book and circle the names of fifty or a hundred churches where I can guarantee that nothing like this will happen. You know, normal churches. (A couple of them might even be Baptist.) If you don’t want to oogle the freaks, then what are you doing at the side-show?

  10. This was a terrific article. It nails so many of the frustrations I have with Christians and church. Every church I’ve ever been was like this, and after trying to fake it for a while I realized I was presenting a fraudulent example of a Christian.

    One area where I disagree with the Internet Monk:

    “I believe in Satan, demons, and angels.”

    After careful thought and study of the Bible, I’ve concluded that Satan and demons don’t exist. They’re not in the Old Testament, and they’re mainly a quirk of intertestamental Judaism thanks to influence from Zoroastrianism. Christianity makes a lot more sense when you shed that dualist gnostic nonsense.

    • Buford Hollis says:

      “and they’re mainly a quirk of intertestamental Judaism thanks to influence from Zoroastrianism.”

      Ditto for monotheism!

      • There’s no way the influence of Zoroastrianism led to monotheism! Am I not understanding you?

        • Buford Hollis says:

          Okay, “intertestamental” is too late, but yes, I see Jewish monotheism as the result of Persian influence. Think about all the other Zoroastrian details that found their way into the Bible:

          *The world created in seven days, which different things on each day
          *A linear view of salvation history, from the Creation to the Final Judgment
          *An emphasis on (universalized) ethics as the basis of religion
          *The role of a reforming prophet
          *Immersion in water for the sake of ritual purity

          • But you mentioned monotheism specifically, whereas the Zoroastrians were the ultimate dualists. I’m not convinced that the timeline requires Persia to influence Israel as opposed to vice versa.

            Also two things exhibiting similarities don’t presume a cause and effect relationship. The relationship may be coincidental; the similarities may have developed independently according to nature, human hard-wiring, etc.; they may both come from a third source, for example. (What’s Quelle in Farsi?)

            C.S. Lewis presumes that similarities in beliefs among various religions and mythologies prove rather than disprove Christianity. The skeptic says that Jesus is just a prettied-up Osiris or Dionysus. Lewis says that Dionysus and Osiris are just a distortion of the patterns God inlaid in the world that find their full expression in Jesus. It’s not surprising that people all over see washing in water as spiritually purifying. We don’t have to believe that the Jews got baptism from the Persians or the Persians from the Jews. The Trinitarian God gave special meaning to a particular practice of a near-universal human tradition. And if we accept that that same God made us all, it shouldn’t surprise us that there are so many near-universal human traditions.

          • Buford Hollis says:

            Zoroastrianism is no more dualist than Christianity or Islam. Sure, there’s Angra Mainyush / Ahriman (the prototype of Satan), but he’s expected to lose his battle with Ahura Mazda at the end of time. And in the creation story, each thing created by Ahura Mazda is corrupted somehow by Angra Mainyush. That’s not fundamentally different from the Genesis story.

            But this is a different issue from that of monotheism. My suspicion is that the OT was formed during the Babylonian exile. Before that, Yahweh would have been a bull-god or storm-god, something like that, just like others in the Near East, and part of a pantheon.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Yet the Uber-Spiritual Warrior type of Weird Christian has an image of Satan not far off from Zoroastrian dualism — equally as powerful, omniscient, and omnipresent as God. If not more so; otherwise, why would God need Uber-Spiritual Warriors (with everything utterly depending on their Faith and Spiritual Warfare Gnosis) to fight for Him?

    • Lisa Hayward says:

      Hi Paul…Luke 10:18, quotes Jesus as saying, ” I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven”. And of course there is the “legion” devils that were in the man that was possessed that He healed. I am curious what you think about these scriptures and the conclusion that there is no satan and demons.
      Thank you!

      • Thanks for the reply, Lisa.

        As you might know, “Satan” is a Hebrew word meaning “adversary”. In the Old Testament it usually refers to an angel or emissary from God sent to test someone — and it even refers to God himself in one instance if I’m not mistaken.

        I don’t claim to know exactly what sense Jesus used the word, but it seems clear he was using a metaphor to show that he was here to conquer sin and evil, rather than teach a specific theology about Satan. His words in this instance also reflect a passage in Isaiah about Nebuchadnezzar, probably for dramatic effect.

        At any rate, the idea of a supreme evil god opposed to the benevolent god Yahweh was a common idea in Jewish “pop culture” of the day, probably due to several centuries of Persian rule and cultural influence. It makes sense that Jesus would have communicated his message in terms his followers would readily understand.

        Demons, likewise, were simply a combination of superstition and Hellenistic philosophy — demon is a Greek word and concept, after all. There was no other easy way to describe serious mental illnesses in those days, so everything from epilepsy to autism would have been described as a demon. Naturally, Jesus was able to heal these infirmities as well as any other sickness, but we can’t expect Luke or Matthew to write that “Jesus healed a man of his neurological disorder” when that concept didn’t even exist at the time. Instead, we would expect them to describe the miracle in terms they would have understood — that a “demon was cast out”.

      • I’d like to add to the reply I just gave.

        While I don’t hold it against Christians for believing in Satan and demons — after all, I used to believe in them too — I think we make better choices when we have better knowledge and understanding of what’s real. A lot of damage has been done in modern times because people who needed medical help or counselling were instead treated as “demon possessed” by Christians and subjected to awful emotional and physical abuse. Even today in Africa, people are burnt alive because they’re thought to commune with or be possessed by demons.

        There is simply nothing good in this understanding of the world, nothing that shows Christ’s love. I don’t see how someone can believe God is the loving creator of the universe and that he also created billions of devils whose sole purpose for existence is to cause pain and suffering. I suppose Christians will try arguing that they are “fallen angels”, but again, this does not come from the Bible or Christian theology. It comes from the apocryphal Jewish Book of Enoch, which was essentially a work of fantasy fiction written during the inter-Testamental period.

        • I’m actually a Pentecostal, although, I have never really put much stock in the over-the-top experiences that some people have. I don’t doubt that some of them are real, and I also know that a lot of them aren’t. I do, however, get tired of people like the ones Michael mentioned in this post. It seems there are always those to whom no amount of prayer is enough, and everything has a demon behind it. It’s sad, because I think in the end, they end up doing just what Michael talks about – they convince others they are simply nuts and make it easier for people to completely write them off.

          As far as why I’m still Pentecostal and attend a Pentecostal congregation (which, I have to say seems to be one of the rare congregations that can balance common sense with the whole Pentecostal side of things), I’d say it simply has to be that I have experienced too much of the real to let the fake persuade me otherwise. When my wife was in the ICU and nearly died, the experience I had then will stick with me forever. The only way I can explain it was a word from God that was clearer than I have ever experienced. There have been other things, but that one is most vivid in my memory. In a way, the fact that there are real supernatural experiences that happen make the shallowness and cheapness involved in the fake more sickening.

          • I did not mean to post this as a reply to to Paul D.’s, but rather as a reply to the original post. Sorry about that.

        • Lisa Hayward says:

          Thank you so much, Paul for your thoughts. I had not thought about Jesus using a metaphor in that scripture. Your explanation makes a lot of sense. And of course, illnesses of that time were not understood, so the writers would describe the events the best that they could at that given time. This also makes sense.

          I hope you are right. I would like to think that there is only God. A purely loving God.

          Peace.

  11. Plenty of people I know have more of the supernatural stuff in their lives, and they don’t paint themselves to be a special class of Christian, nor others as inferior. I get excited when I hear the stories of God doing good things, but I don’t look specifically chase the miraclulous. I’m not sure how much SFX should be normal in the Christian life.

    • I completely agree. I like what Spencer said: “The supernatural character of Christian truth and experience does not remove the basic, normal, human experience of Christians.” The reverse is also true, so saying that it’s blasphemy to say “God told me x” seems completely wrong (Kelby Carlson above). And the implication that, since God has only spoken to Person A in such a manner once in their life, He couldn’t possibly have spoken to Person B more than once in such a manner, seems just as backwards as the idea that the supernatural should be the only way you experience God’s voice.

      The fact of the matter is, everyone’s relationship with God is different because everyone is different. God guides people differently as a result, too. And He guides the same person differently in different circumstances and at different stages in their life. And we should rejoice when people do hear God in those ways, even while recognizing that it may or may not be the norm. I agree that some people may abuse the concept; without knowing their hearts I can’t really know what’s going on with them. But the fact that God told me who to marry, what to name my children, and a couple things about our future, isn’t blasphemy. It’s God helping me and preparing me. I’m aware that the child-naming thing seems ridiculously small and unimportant, but I can’t even count the number of times their names have served as reminders to me, both in how to respond to that particular child and in how to live my own life. But that is the kind of thing that I respond to; I don’t presume to think my children’s names are better than my friends’. It just happens to be something I needed, without my knowing it.

      To my shame, one time I felt the need to “fill in the blanks” when I felt God wasn’t making sense. And then, yes, I got it wrong and put my foot in my mouth; but what He actually had said remained true. Learning to listen, and probably learning to keep my mouth shut, is a big part of it. I want to teach my children to live their lives like normal, rational, thinking human beings; and at the same time remain expectant and uncynical when they hear tell of (or experience first-hand) God doing or saying something in an un-normal way.

      [And for the record, praying during sex about what positions to do (whoever mentioned that above)….I thought I had words, but they have escaped me. That’s just messed up.]

  12. Hi,

    I spent 4.5 years (1990-1995) in the charismatic movement but left disllusioned. Subjectivism was rampant. Weird practices such as slaying in the spirit occurred. It seemed to me that there were some charismaniacs in the church, rather than charismatics. While the leaders were fairly balanced, they seemed unable to prevent the wierdness.

    In a home fellowship group at the church, one person claimed they could smell the Holy Spirit. Each week people shared their experiences but it seemed to me that there was considerable pressure on people to look “spiritual” by taking bizarre behaviour as the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    While at the church, I read John McArthur’s book “Charismatic Chaos.” I initially thought that McArthur was being unfair to the Charismatics by describing extreme cases, but by the time I left I came to believe that he was spot on.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

  13. Great post. I must have missed it the first time around. I can live and let live when it comes to differing worship styles, even those that don’t really suit me personally. But I’m always wary of people who wear their entire faith on their sleeve all the time and loudly. This may happen more at the extremes of charismatic practice, but it also happens in other traditions. The emphasis on experience and the trend of anti-intellectualism also make the uneducated and/or undiscerning more vulnerable to distortions — just the opposite of what we ought to be doing for people. I remember talking to a church friend who truly believed that hell was in a hole under Siberia somewhere because he heard a recording of it someone posted on the internet. I am not kidding.

    The real danger though is when people begin to see their chosen experience or belief or system as not only normative but as uniquely legitimate and therefore essential for all their fellow believers, even though the issues under discussion are nowhere near the essentials of the faith. That’s what drives people away. And the charismatic camp isn’t the only place where this happens.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I remember talking to a church friend who truly believed that hell was in a hole under Siberia somewhere because he heard a recording of it someone posted on the internet. I am not kidding.

      Ah, the “Well to Hell” HOAX. I was listening in when Rich Buhler exposed it as a hoax on the radio in the mid-Eighties. (Started out with an infamous supermarket tabloid, made the jump to TBN, where some guy from Norway saw it and decided to hoax them.) Didn’t know it was still going around, but Urban Legends can have quite a life expectancy.

  14. I am tired of people – like myself – being told that the only reason they don’t get healed is because they don’t have enough faith. How many people have given up on Christianity because of such “bovine droppings”?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Which devolves into “WHO HAS FAITH ENOUGH? *ME*, NOT THEE!”

      Just another form of Christian one-upmanship.

  15. The iMonk expresses some real concerns: some are accurate and some are inaccurate. The “excesses” are the result of poor leadership and departure from the Scriptures. The “Normal Christian Life”, as Paul demonstrates includes the “signs following” (Mk. 16: 17 – 20) and the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 12: 6 – 8; 1 Cor. 12: 8 – 10) being used in worship as Paul describes in 1 Cor. 12 – 14). So the Monk goes from one extreme to his own extreme by dismissing the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit through people who have received the authentic Baptism of the Holy Spirit. For instance, we read, “And they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mk. 16: 20). He needs to read a good Greek lexicon and read what it says about “signs”. The “signs following” are proof of an authentic Christian believer. This is how Nicodemus recognized that Jesus was “a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him” (Jn. 3: 2). We also, as normal Christians, must have the same signs of authenticity to prove that we have “God with us”.

    Also, what he calls extremes are not the work of the Holy Spirit but the work of the flesh and/or people who have been possessed with demons and who have been wrongly told by some body that it is the work of the Holy Spirit. We have seen this over and over again through so-called ministries like the Toronto Airport who mis-identify the work of demons as being the work of the Holy Spirit.

    When a person receives the authentic Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit develops the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22 – 23) and especially the portion called “self-control” which if missing means that the Holy Spirit is not involved in the ridiculous attempts by such people to prove that they have the Holy Spirit in their lives. They demonstrate just the opposite. Also, when a person who is responsible leadership invites a music group or anybody in to do share their ministry and they start preaching something that is wrong and obviously not Scriptural, as he described, it was his responsibility to step in and take control of the meeting and prevent bad and unscriptural preaching from going on. It was his responsibility to take the microphone out of the speaker’s hands and take control of the meeting. To stand back and do nothing means that a person does not have the conviction of their own beliefs.

    The iMonk shows that he does not have an accuate overall view of Scripture and what should be the components of “The Normal Christian Life”. He needs to read our book, “Like A Rushing Mighty Wind”. His criticism of the extremes is partially true but his own ideas of what is “normal” is not Scripturally Correct either.

    That’s the reason why Paul said, “I have applied this to Apollos and myself, that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another” (1 Cor. 4: 6). He himself is discarding the practicalities of worship that Paul deal with in the Corinthian church where Paul describes the only order of worship in the New Testament (1 Cor. 14: 26f.). And if this is not followed, our so-called worship services are not being “done and in order” (1Cor. 14: 40).

    So, the iMonk is correct in some of his criticism but he is also wrong in some of his advice. The result is judgmentalism rather that encouragemen. He is doing what is called, “throwing the baby out with the dirty water”. And, by the way, I have some of the same concerns but I try to handle them in the New Testament way.