The Fifth Day of Apostasy: Subjective Charismania!
The Fifth Day of Apostasy
The book of James is critically important for those who wish to discern the errors of our time. James focuses our attention to the various causes and symptoms of “false faith.” He asks “Can that faith save you?” This is the fifth in a series of twelve apostasies. Click here for Day 1 (Liberal Theology). Click here for Day 2 (Prosperity Gospel). Click here for Day 3 (Liberation Theology). Click here for Day 4 (Free Grace Salvation).
[Please note that I am NOT making any claim that particular Christians who are part of these movements are unsaved! Further, many truths may be taught and practiced by those who hold to these teachings. What I am suggesting is that the abuses found in the movements promote apostasy]. The links to the opinions of others may differ from those of my own.
Strike up the music:
On the fifth day of apostasy, James is warning me… of SUBJECTIVE CHARISMANIA! … Free Grace Salvation, Liberation Theology, Prosperity Gospel, and of Lib-er-al Theolo-gy.
Apostasy #5 – Subjective Charismania!
Keyword(s) from James: Deceived by gifts (James 1:16-18)
Teaching: The Second Blessing Gospel
Beginnings: Asuza Street Revival, A.G. Garr (link)
Motto: “Be filled with the Spirit”
Influencers: Dennis Bennett, Kevin Ranaghan, Sovereign Grace
Mouthpiece: Charisma Magazine
Effects: False prophecy; Satanic deception; false unity
Cultural icon: Trojan horse
Adherents: Pentecostals, Third Wave, Charismatic Renewal
Interesting reading: Charlotte connection: Garr Church (link)
Click here for: A message to Charismatics
I. Deceived by false gifts. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. James 1:16-18.
For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. Mk. 13:22-23
Satan is more than happy to provide people with “gifts from below.” As James warns, we must be alert for his deception. It is critical to understand that the Bible is our sufficient instruction in what pleases God and what He expects of us. It also speaks prophetically to us, and brings us forth into His truth. There is temptation for Christians to receive demonic presents from Satan, re-gifted via his false prophets.
II. Charismatics believe that extraordinary spiritual gifts (as displayed in Acts and described by Paul in 1 Corinthians) are still being manifested in our day. Most charismatics teach that the gifts are received as a “second blessing” (after initial conversion) and are accompanied by the gift of tongues. This blessing is known as “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Another sign of the filling is to be “slain in the Spirit,” where a person falls down to the ground by the Spirit’s influence. A criticism of the movement is that chaotic actions may be displayed by those “under the influence” of the Spirit. Examples include “Holy Laughter” and the Toronto Blessing (links), where people laugh hysterically, make animal noises, and preach while drunk. [A local connection: the “drunk” preacher in the video is John Scotland, a missionary and spiritual advisor for Correll Missionary Ministries, part of Morningstar Ministries of Charlotte. We will meet the head of Morningstar, Rick Joyner, in our sixth day of apostasy].
Cessationists do not think that the extraordinary gifts continued after the age of the apostles. They emphasize that the purpose of signs and wonders was to validate the apostolic teaching (Heb. 2:4). [Personally, I am not completely convinced by the cessationist arguments. However, the abuses of the charismatic movement are self-evident. I will discuss these abuses and related issues.]
III. The modern Pentecostal movement began in 1906 with the Asuza Street Revival, led by African-American preacher William Seymour. Meetings were held around the clock at a run-down building in downtown L.A. that had recently been used as a horse stable. During the meetings, people would speak ecstatic utterances, sing and speak in tongues, make loud noises, and have involuntary convulsive fits. Over the next ten years, thousands of people visited the site of the revival. Healings were reported, and missionaries were sent out from the movement. One of these missionaries has a connection to my hometown – A. G. Garr, who went to Calcutta and then returned to found a church in Charlotte. My children attended preschool at Garr Memorial.
IV. The Bible records many instances of people being “filled with the Spirit.” Examples include Elizabeth, Zacharias, the 120 in the upper room at Pentecost, Peter in front of the Sanhedrin, Stephen, and Paul. Several times in the book of Acts the Holy Spirit filled those who believed the gospel, most notably Cornelius and his friends. The Holy Spirit is promised by Jesus to all who receive the good news of the Kingdom. He is the Helper who illumines the mind, convicts the world of sin and righteousness, brings comfort and guidance, and enables believers to persevere in the faith.
But Charismatics typically look beyond these workings of the Spirit. They seek extraordinary signs and wonders — such as healings, tongues and interpretations, words of knowledge, and prophecies. One of the questions to be answered is “how are these prophetic utterances, signs and wonders validated?” If there are valid miracles, can we be certain of their source?
V. The movement expanded beyond Pentecostalism and into many denominations in the 1960’s. The Charismatic Renewal began among Anglicans, with Dennis Bennett receiving “the blessing.” Theologian Larry Christensen became a leading voice in Lutheranism. The Renewal reached Roman Catholicism in 1967 when a group of Catholic students and professors from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh received the gift of tongues. The Charismatic Renewal grew quickly in Catholicism. Deacon Kevin Ranaghan wrote an influential book Catholic Pentecostals. The movement also reached the Reformed churches. Former Catholics Larry Tomczak and C.J. Mahaney were instrumental in forming a group that morphed into Sovereign Grace Ministries, a group of like-minded churches that espouse some of the charismatic teachings. The interdenominational aspect of the Charismatic movement has been an encouragement to some that this is the work of the Spirit to bring unity to the Body of Christ.
VI. Charisma Magazine was founded by Stephen Stang in 1975. In 2005, Stang was listed among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America by Time Magazine.
VII. It is a fact that in the last days there will be a multitude of false prophets. We should ask, “Is God still speaking authoritatively to His Church outside of the Bible?” The Papacy answers that question with a resounding, “Yes!” Rome teaches that God’s Word is made up of both Scripture and ongoing Tradition. Prophetic messages and visions (link) occur worldwide by a spirit claiming to be Mary. Many charismatics believe that new revelation is being spoken by God daily. But how should we treat prophets who make prophecies that do not come to pass? Are they false teachers?
The Word-Faith movement and the Prosperity Gospel are linked to Pentecostalism. There are many false teachers who bring Satanic deception and teach the doctrine of demons. Offers made by Satan that Jesus rejected have all too easily been accepted by followers of these “charismatic” teachers.
Perhaps the most disturbing consequence of the movement that spans the theological spectrum is the resultant false unity that is promoted. The Pope’s video (link) to the Kenneth Copeland conference is evidence of this growing apostasy.
VIII. I choose as the cultural icon the Trojan Horse. “I fear Greeks, even those bearing gifts” wrote Virgil. Satan is known as the deceiver. One means that he uses to deceive is to counterfeit the gifts that God gives to His Church. God’s gifts are good, true and perfect. Satan gives false prophecies, false words, false wonders, false signs, false miracles, false revivals, false charismatic leaders, and false religions. All these are Satan’s “gifts” to mankind. James describes these gifts as “earthly, natural, demonic.” James 3:15. We don’t really need Satan’s help to drum up false spirituality – our natural emotions can drum up experiences that we attribute to the Holy Spirit.
IX. Pew Research estimates that Pentecostals and Charismatics make up 25% of all Christians. In sub-Sahara Africa the percentage is estimated to be 44%. A movement known as the Third Wave (link) began in the 1980’s. John Wimber (Vineyard churches) and C. Peter Wagner created a course at Fuller Theological Seminary to promote a new kind of Pentecostalism, one that utilized church growth strategies with a Charismatic viewpoint. Theologian Wayne Grudem holds to a continuationist view of the spiritual gifts, but believes that conversion and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are simultaneous. This doctrine is usually held by “Third Wave” churches.