It has been a while since I have written here, but lately I have come across a new frustration; the charismatic movement. The charismatic movement has a few years behind them, however it is only in the last 30 years that they have started growing at tremendous rates. Churches like Hillsong are drawing in thousands of people in including young, impressionable teenagers and young adults only to tell them about how they do not need to continually repent, and that all you need to do to get to heaven is try cry and get emotional in one of Joel Osteen’s “sermons”. (It’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get the point, I pray.)
My frustrations with the charismatic church start here:
1: The lies being told within “sermons”. Thou does not need to continually repent as God can “no longer see” your sins once you become saved? Why then does Jesus instruct the disciples to repent in the Lord’s prayer? Why does Simon Peter weep and repent for denying Jesus? Should I keep lying, and stealing, and murdering, and committing adultery because it’s ok to God because I am apparently ‘saved’??? The logic is fallible and these days, people will believe anything they get told.
2: Church, is not “church”. Church, run by the charismatics, is not when you sit in silence and reflection while you are listening to God speaking to you, or singing to God in praise. Instead, idiots like Joseph Prince are telling you about how much of a softball Jesus is while you scream and applaud and shout ‘Amen’, and sing songs about how much you are on top of the world. I think ‘party’ or ‘Sunday morning social club’ would suit it better.
3: Numbers and money: This sums up not all, but many charismatic churches. I remember watching a show and the story was about Kenneth Copland asking his congregation for money so that he can buy his own private jet. Now, his reasoning for this, was so that ‘he didn’t have to use public planes which might delay him from sharing the gospel around the world’. How ridiculous! And how will this be possible? Numbers. Simple. Whilst people were paying this liar money for his private jet, he was sitting in his chair going “haha! we got ’em! That whole God thing worked like a dream!” you’ll be surprised how many charismatic pastors have their own private jets…
4: How they stereotype conservatives. To them, we are bigoted, too out-of-date in our thinking, and spend most of our time being negative in our theology and telling people constantly that they will go to Hell after they die. After talking to someone I know, he has confirmed this to me and he is a charismatic. He stated, “I think I know your problem. You focus too much on the negative”. Of course he thinks this! He wouldn’t last 3 services at my church! Know why? Because at my church you aren’t going to get told what you want to hear! You will be told the TRUTH. (A large difference, guaranteed.)
5: You will often find that while there is emotion flying around in the church hall and people are in tears, you will often find that right after the service, it stops right after the service ends. And I mean it actually stops. It’s as if God wiped away every tear from everyone’s eyes at once. Upon other observation, charismatics tend to go back to their sinful, ungodly ways during the week. Swearing, for example, permitted during the week. See the logic?
My intent is not to serve hate, but rather to raise awareness for what is going on in the contemporary church. You may be wondering by now, what evidence I have for this? I can only speak from personal experience. When I moved from one state to another, My family struggled for nearly four years in finding a theologically stable church largely due to damage from the charismatic movement. We heard lines like “I love it when Alan gives me these topics to preach on, because then I get to talk about sex again” in so called, ‘sermons’, whilst the congregation laughed. People cannot be given rubbish talk like this!
Recently, the head pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Queensland, Australia, was challenged by one of his own elders due to his theology (which I really do not blame him for) and the head pastor ended up losing, as more elders finally rose up against him, and chose to resign from the Presbytery. The following Sunday morning, this pastor told his congregation that ‘The Presbytery forced him to resign’, and thus, 120 people walked out of the building immediately.
This madness cannot continue.
Philip Augustine said:
First off, I’m glad that someone is using this platform again.
Second, you say, “To them, we are bigoted, too out-of-date in our thinking, and spend most of our time being negative in our theology and telling people constantly that they will go to Hell after they die. After talking to someone I know, he has confirmed this to me and he is a charismatic. He stated, “I think I know your problem. You focus too much on the negative”. Of course he thinks this!”
It reminds me of a conference that I just watched with Bishop Robert Barron and William Lane Craig as the guest. The two guest were asked what is the difficulty of evangelism in our modern culture. Barron points toward what I would call the philosophy of individualism–although he gave it another term– in which followers of this philosophy, which is most of society, believe that they determine their own realities. Barron reminds us that people do not normally hold these positions on things they really like and uses the example of golf. A golfer can’t say I’m gonna play the game with whatever fundamentals I want and I’ll be great. No, of course not, the golfer needs years of practicing the fundamentals to improve his or her craft. So, if you take a golf lesson, your instructor will tell you when you do negative things but his or her instruction is for the betterment of your game.
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I don’t have much personal experience of charismatics so can’t really comment specifically on what you have written. In general though I think that demand has created supply. It’s not so much that people want to be told they’re not sinners, the broader secular culture does that anyway, it’s more that they are hungry for some kind of direct spiritual experience. To understand that this can come through silence, stillness, solemnity and sacred ritual is a knowledge that usually has to be learned over time and from within a tradition which encourages this kind of spirituality. To further understand that God may choose to be present through absence and that the desert experience is as much a part of the spiritual life as the felt presence of God within us is another stage further along the journey of faith.
What I’m really saying is that charismatic services can be authentic expressions of the Spirit and can act as portals able to draw in the hungry and thirsty towards Christ. But, and it’s a big but, organisations which are *only* charismatic and don’t operate on any other level offer a maimed and distorted form of Christian life and worship. There is room for charismatic worship within a catholic church so long as it is understood to be just one strand of catholicity rather than the whole rope.
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The “Prosperity Gospel”, which does crop up in a number of charismatic churches and other kinds of church is dangerous. It is bad for evangelism, because people see through it; it is bad for discipleship, because it sets people up for a fall; it is bad for leadership because it diverts focus from proper topics; and it is bad for eschatology because it leads to deception about persecution.
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Patrick E. Devens said:
Your reason #1 is something I get into discussions about frequently. It seems so obvious……you want to bang your head into the wall by the time you are through attempting to reason with people like that….They are just cherry pickers…”Oh, I like this doctrine, but not that one.”
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Bosco the Heretic said:
You mean like the sedvacantists and the trads, and the SSPX?
Bosco the Heretic said:
Most if not all charismatic preachers are wolfs. I can think of only two saved TV preachers. Scott and Hagee. The saved , for the most part, aren’t on TV. So what? The unsaved are running amok. Religions are full of the unsaved. A religious person pointing out that TV evangelists are phoney is the pot calling the skillet black. They too are in a hellbound religion.
Jesus stands at your door and knocks. let him in and he will supwith you.