The Sickness Unto Death…Charismatic Post Mortem pt 4

 

There are many lessons we can learn from the death of the Charismatic movement, if we are willing and humble enough to prayerfully consider them. ( I define the death of a Spiritual movement as this; If you are worse off and further from “the only True God”for having participated). I don’t think it helpful to just dismiss everything about it as rubbish and to try to move on, for only Truth can set us free.

I would like to call our attention to the foundational source of the departure,  which is the erroneous doctrine which quickly flooded in and was widely accepted in various forms.

It is ironic that one of the features of the Charismatic movement as it developed  was an “Anti-doctrine” bias.

If I heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times and in a thousand forms, “We are not into doctrines which Divide…we are just into loving Jesus”. Doesn’t that sound nice? Loving and simple, thats all we want, right? To get back before the “dusty doctrines” or beyond all “the petty fighting about dogma” between “religious leaders”, pastors and Theologians who have “nothing better to do than fight and divide over silly doctrine”.

But that was a deception in itself, and a seduction.

The deception is manifold; First of all, it implies that doctrine is a petty, trivial annoyance, compared to “knowing the LORD and loving him”. Secondly it teaches that christian doctrine isn’t as important as Love, and that theologians who care about doctrine are striving about nothing and in the process dividing the church.

But what is doctrine?  Doctrine is the body of truth, the teaching delivered to us by the apostles. Is it important? You be the judge-

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.  Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: ( 2 John 8-10)

It is impossible to be without doctrine. You will either have right or wrong doctrine , but it is impossible to be void of doctrine, and your doctrine determines everything else about you spiritually.The most important thing about anyone is what they think of God.

Secondly, doctrine does indeed divide. True doctrine culls out the faithless and the heretics. False doctrine is extremely divisive.

This anti doctrinal attitude actually opened up the Charismatic movement from the very beginning to strange new doctrines, special revelation, and dampened the sense of discernment of a brand new generation of born again Christians, newly endowed with the Holy Spirit indeed, but also viscerally resisting anything that smacked of “dead religion” that many of them came out of.

I said that this was a seduction as well, because this whole attitude about Doctrine,(The Truth) , implies that those who have the Spirit and the deep “Revelation knowledge” are above the more traditional Christian who is full of “head knowledge”. It is a gnostic seduction, and is hard to see and resist.

In the place of the “Dry dusty doctrines of the past”, as one Charismatic leader described them, flooded in new revelations and teachings, such as Shepherding, the Word of Faith, Dominionism, Church Growth, Spiritual Warfare, Experiencing God, Visualization, the Manifested Sons of God, Restoration of the Apostles and Prophets, the Prophetic movement, Kingdom now, and Deliverance excesses all flooded into the Charismatic church over thirty years or so, under different “Apostles”, “Prophets” and teachers.

It is not my place to expound on each of these separately, rather I would like to point out the similar themes that underlay all of them and served to be the poisonous “Sickness unto death” of the Charismatic movement.

The false teachings which soon engulfed and eventually killed the Charismatic movement have these attributes in common;

  • They were all basically Triumphalist- The believer is supposed to be the “head and not the tail”, we are all supposed to reign in this life, (in the name of Jesus of course), We are all destined to do “Greater works” than Jesus did, He was the pattern Son that we are supposed to imitate, and collectively become. Satan is under our feet, we just don’t know it yet, because we haven’t received the “revelation knowledge.
  • They usually featured an “over realized Eschatology”, which confused the glories to come in the next Age, with the present day. False teachers would posit that rather than waiting for Jesus to come back and set the world straight, Jesus is waiting for that portion of the Church which has “revelation knowledge” to come into its own, and to set the world right.

Jesus is supposedly “kept in the heavens until…” the time of restoration, which we must accomplish under the guidance of restored Apostles and Prophets. This is based on a distortion of a scripture in Acts 3,

And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:  Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.(Acts 3:20-21)

Orthodox Evangelicalism would say, that Jesus is waiting in heaven to come back, that He(Jesus) may restore all things. But the Charismatic teachers insisted that Jesus is waiting in heaven until the time which we are rebuilt by renewed Apostles and Prophets, in order for we the church to restore all things.

  • These teachings promised a coming ultimate”Golden Age” a great last days revival in which the church would so demonstrate the power of Jesus, nations would tremble and shake, running to our leaders to learn what it is that we have.
  • These heresies exalted an elite company of men (and women)- The “Shepherding “movement was an attempt to bring order and teaching to those who had received Jesus and the Baptism of the Spirit and in many cases had come out of dead churches. The Shepherds were exalted beyond measure, christians were taught to submit all things to their Shepherds, even deeply personal decisions between married couples.
  • Another example of human exaltation was the theology of the “Manifested Sons of God”, Which promised that an elite company of super Christians would come into “the revelation knowledge” of who they “truly are in Christ”and would begin to demonstrate for all to see that the true Church is full of the power of God. This errant theology is based upon a distortion of a passage in Romans 8 :22-   For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Supposedly the true Sons of God shall arise in the last days, and basically demonstrate the reality of God, through signs wonders and miracles. They would establish the Kingdom of God, and shortly afterwards Jesus would come back to receive the Kingdom from them!

This is one of the main themes that runs underneath almost all of the errors which have so seduced and distorted those in the Charismatic movement. It is so intoxicating to those in the movement, that although it has been denounced and exposed as false all along the way, this hope of super Apostles and Prophets bringing the world to its knees for Jesus  keeps resurfacing.

The Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination pronounced it as a heresy in the late 1940’s, and again in the days of the “Toronto Blessing”,George Wood of the AOG produced a fine paper denouncing the mystical revival as yet another expression of the Manifested Sons of God heresy. But when the same thing broke out in the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola Florida in the late 1990’s, the denomination sold out the truth and fell in behind the error.

Manifested Sons of God is the underlying error of the Word of Faith error as well as Dominionist theology, and the heretical New Apostolic Reformation of today.

  • Part of the above error is the belief which developed which taught that these “manifested Sons” cannot arise until the offices of “Apostles and Prophets” are restored to the churches. Suddenly in the 1980s there were new “Apostles” and “Prophets” which arose, going about giving “Words”, and making predictions in the name of the LORD which often failed to materialize.
  • A departure from the normal view of the Fall and Redemption entered in. The Fall was a fall from Dominion granted to Adam as “god of this world”. Adam allegedly turned the Dominion over to Satan, making him “god of this world”. God was supposedly on the outside looking in! I have heard Copeland and Hagin teaching that God needed a man on this wealth to work through, in order to do anything!

Salvation was a restoration of Dominion, and the church’s work is to “take Dominion once again ” over this planet.

*Finally- there has been a strong strain of anti-rationality in spiritual experience. God “zaps” you and you change for the better, Strange and irrational things are happening because God wants to “offend the mind” that He might get at the heart.

This anti-intellectualism is of course, Paganism and not Christianity. But when you consider the extremes this took many people and churches, particularly in the Toronto and Pensacola movements, it is frightening. How are you ever going to come back when you have gotten “Drunk in the Spirit” or “soaked in prayer “or “swam in the River of life” in front of thousands of people?(Only by humbling yourself and admitting you are wrong).

I could go on and on, but I think I have demonstrated that the main theme of almost all of this bad teaching, was a form of human exaltation, the Sovereignity of the Believer, a power hunger, and craving to see “the greater works” and to bring the unbelievers in to “Awe and amazement”. An anticipation for “Super Apostles and Prophets” to come and demonstrate the power of God.

Also, there developed a spiritual warfare void of reverence and the fear of God, nor of any regard for the person of Satan as a fallen angel of high status, (Jude 8-10) in which we Christians learn the techniques to bring down the principalities and powers, and to take dominion over our own cities and territories.

Even worship and repentance became a means towards this end. Worship itself is “Spiritual warfare”, blasting a hole through the heavenlies, taking the dominion that was ours, making openings for the blessing of God to come down.

I remember standing in a Charismatic worship service and hearing the congregation rousingly singing “We are making war in the heavenlies, we are tearing down principalities…” and then “We rush on the cities and run on the walls, great is the army that carries out his word….”, on into “These are the days of Elijah…”.

I was struck by the contrast to the early days, when we would sing simple songs like, “Jesus,name above all names, beautiful Saviour, glorious LORD…”, as we lifted hands and wept, and adored God the Father and Jesus the Savior and LORD.  I thought, “There is something so wrong here, all we are singing about is ourselves…We are sick…”.

 

 

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12 Responses to The Sickness Unto Death…Charismatic Post Mortem pt 4

  1. josephine says:

    yes, the teachings at first we subtle in their lure to our pride but soon they declared we are little gods.Also many discounted doctrine along with the bible. Most RC, as was I, were taught the Bible is a book of myths. I often heard the rally cry , not to be under any “authority” but themselves and their shepherd, or prophet or self proclaimed leader. Jesus was no longer LORD. so many have fallen away,

  2. Pingback: The Sickness Unto Death…Charismatic Post Mortem pt 4 | A Sword on the Land

  3. Janet Sangha says:

    Very well put!
    But some of us who began to recognize the false doctrines emerging, and weaned ourselves out of them with bible reading & the help of faithful colleagues & teachers, have had to suffer condemnation from both sides.
    With the ‘Traditional’ failing to see the importance of The Holy Spirit & the ‘Wacky’ distorting the real Truth of The Word, we can expect some persecution!
    So, may I express my gratitude to those very sincere Watchmen who have helped to guide us from the many dangers of these days, of which scripture warns. ..

    • John chapling says:

      Janet, it was the Holy Spirit who weaned us out by the Word, at first I thought ‘what a balancing act He must have had, to do that, but the balancing was all on our side, where we could accept or reject His word. Pastor Bill’s mention of the parable of the seed sown on different grounds describes that. We either accept His word or for some reason, reject it. If we do not build our house on a firm foundation, we may as well build it on the sand.

  4. Another spot on article …. I find that this reluctance to discuss doctrine (because it supposedly divides) even among those who have seen the light and left these false churches, unfortunately still remains. As Christians we are very reluctant to be in conflict with our brothers and sisters in the Lord, but sometimes it just can’t be avoided if we truly care about and love ‘Truth’. We have to make a stand.

    • julie says:

      amen, Eileen. I just had such a talk with a friend yesterday. She has her own personal Jesus. He dances with people in their living rooms, etc. He is her bridegroom. I pointed out that scripture says He is the church’s bridegroom but this made her angry. We aren’t told He is any individual person’s bridegroom, but she has claimed this for herself. He is also the head and we are the body, and we are stones in the building, of which He is the cornerstone, but these aren’t romantic enough, I guess, to interest her. 😦

  5. midrashcreed says:

    Another excellent and perceptive piece. Back in the 1980s and 1990s nothing was more likely to enrage Charismatists then a keen interest in doctrine. I can remember the looks of disdain I used to receive even now..

  6. Mavis Harris says:

    This is an excellent article.These days can be so hard differences coming at us in all directions.Jesus is the be all and end all.We cannot turn to the left or right but just keep our eyes on Jesus and Jesus alone.Thankyou for this article.It is hard even to find a really bible based church.Praise God for people like Bill Randle.

  7. julie says:

    Pastor Bill, this is a good look back at what has happened. Something you wrote in the first article needs further examination. You wrote: “People began to speak of JESUS, and pray in his name, and not “Christ” as they had before. Prayer became spontaneous, fervent and passionate. . ”

    Bill, the question to ask is: Which “Jesus”? If you take the title of Christ off of Jesus, then who is it you are speaking of? There is only one, true Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ is His name. Christ is a title meaning anointed one, or Messiah. As you are well aware the use of the name Jesus means nothing. The name ‘Jesus’ has been and is being used by billions throughout history, but they are not referring to the Christ of scripture.

    The fact is that the Lord Jesus Christ HImself warned us in Matthew 24 that in the last days there would be many, not a few, not some, but many false christs. Many. So I say, just because people were emotionally stirred, just because they raised their hands, just because they prayed, or cried, just because they seemed passionate – in the end means nothing. Those men in the video kissing feet were nothing if not passionate. Cults can claim these same things. For instance, the Mormons encourage a “burning in the bosom” as to whether their religion is true and many have had just such a burning. Emotional response and passion are never given as tests for true Christianity (see the book of 1 John).

    Praise God that true biblical Christianity is objectively true, not based upon human subjectivity. It is by faith in what is true. Even if I never felt a thing, it would still be true. Jesus saith unto him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

    Jesus Christ said: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

    Is it at least possible that the Jesus that most were worshipping was not the Jesus of scripture? There were some, like yourself, that came to true faith, just as throughout history the Lord has sovereignly saved people even in spite of their church, not because of it. By keeping open the door of subjectivity, by giving them an inch they will take a mile. By lending them some credibility, only confirms many in their error. Is it really enough to say “some good came out of it?” This is the same claim being made by so many today that will not give this stuff up. Meanwhile, millions are being lured by the same tricks and lies. May God help us. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Christ in Revelation 3:19

    • larryleflore says:

      There is hardly anything said here that I can’t give a Yes! Amen!. I met Jesus and was born again in those early 70’s years having no knowledge of church, doctrine or God at all except for the few brief times my mother took us to an Episcopal Church. Through the years I’ve seen all theses movements and knew there was always something weird underneath it all. I’m glad for the discernment ministries that have greatly helped me, my wife and family out of a lot of this.

      I’d like to say this – I noticed this statement that stood out to me – “People began to speak of JESUS, and pray in his name, and not “Christ” as they had before. Prayer became spontaneous, fervent and passionate. . ”. First of all, great! What a great thing. If I were not able to have this attitude with my Lord and God, I would still be lost. Yes, He is Christ Jesus and Jesus Christ. He’s King of Kings and Lord of Lords. To be able to speak with Him in this personal way is part of why He is all of those titles and worthy of all Praise. In our zeal for Truth and sound doctrine, I must be careful or I may be tempted to be hardened in such a way that I become a religionist, consumed with righteous indignation, forgetting the wretched place where I came from and basically good for nothing. I’ve been called out of the phony stuff and glad to survive.

      I’m pretty sure you did not mean it quite like that, but I’m saying this as a warning to myself and others to not go back to the “dusty” ways either. I worship the Jesus of Scripture too and God Bless You!

  8. Dee says:

    “God uses ALL things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
    Therefore, ‘some good’ can come out of anything we have experienced – IF IF IF we TRULY love Jesus above all. (this is not to give ANY legitimacy to these ‘false moves-of-God’, but to state that Jesus is ABOVE it all)
    Always, as ‘our enemy’ works… there is ‘truth mixed with error’ in much of what we are exposed to upon this fallen Earth. We know that Jesus tells us that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” – and that He rejects those who are ‘lukewarm’. Therefore, we MUST NOT be content to remain in any mixture! So as we recognize (through relying on His Truth and Grace) what is WRONG (using our God-given discernment), continuing in a spirit of humility and repentance (TODAY if you hear His voice do not harden your heart) – He WILL lead us as the Faithful Shepherd He is, and is able to rescue us from any erroneous path we may have temporarily wandered on to.
    This is our ‘wilderness’ test – do we CONTINUE to love HIM above all? Are we willing to humble ourselves, admit that ‘we’ were wrong, and forsake ANYTHING/ANYONE to follow Him?? OR, do we choose to be deceived and reject the Truth He reveals to His people??
    God gives GRACE to the humble, but rejects the proud… it is our choice. Either way, He is faithful 🙂

  9. mywordlikefire says:

    Reblogged this on My Word Like Fire.

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