Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pyromaniacs: Signs and Wonders

I always appreciate when the Pyro guys invite us to consider (and reconsider) our understanding and theology on this topic! Pyromaniacs: Signs and Wonders

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tongues ~ observations & considerations

Toungues is mentioned in three (3) books of the Bible: Mark 16, Acts 2, 10, 19, and 1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14.

Speaking in tongues after receiving the Holy Spirit occurred ONLY in three (3) incidences in all of Scripture, and that is only found in the book of Acts.

None of the Acts passages ever makes a command that such an experience is to be had by anybody else.

The Samaritans in Acts 8 did not speak in tongues according to Scripture.

Of the 3,000 new believers in Acts 2:41 and the 5,000 new believers in Acts 4:4, there is no mention of them speaking in tongues.

In order for something to be normative it must be common to everyone.

In the book of Acts events surrounding belief in Christ (salvation), the receiving of the Holy Spirit, and speaking in tongues are not common to everyone mentioned.

The languages had a definite purpose: to be a sign of judgment on unbelieving Israel, to show the inclusion of other groups in the one church, and to authenticate the apostles.

Tongues cannot be 'prayer language' (or 'heavenly language') as such phrases/ideas do not exist in the Greek.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Charismatic Movement: Cause for Celebration or Concern?

I found this book last year at a local Goodwill store for .50--being the bibliophile and former charismatic that I am, I bought it and have been slowly picking away at it.

Here's a link to Al Mohler's book review, The Charismatic Movement: Cause for Celebration or Concern? Much of what Mohler says highlights our need to give greater thought and consideration to the practices and claims of the charismatic movement--no matter how subtle it may appear:

"...he rightly points to the emphasis on feelings and experience as the Achilles heel of the Charismatic approach to doctrine and discipleship. 'It is vital for Christians to approach the Bible as the final source of authority. There is a tendency today to elevate one's personal experience above truth as revealed in the Bible. Our culture tends to place trust in man's feelings as the prominent feature in making decisions about truth. Our feeling-oriented society wants to go by how it feels about a matter in determining what the truth of a matter is.' "

"On the matter of "power evangelism," Vines notes that the focus of these ministries is too often on the "signs and wonders" rather than on the gospel of Christ. The real power is the salvation of a sinner - not the manifestation of signs or supposed miracles."

"Vines dares to tread where few have gone before when he considers the controversial belief in territorial spirits and spirit warfare. He affirms the reality of demons and the importance of prayer in the Christian life. But he demonstrates that the Charismatics have gone far beyond the Bible's teachings in their understanding of territorial spirits and their claims of demonic warfare. Whereas some Charismatics claim to know the names of demons and to detect demonic presence and activity within geographical areas, Vines warns that it 'is possible to get so focused on the dark side that one diminishes the person and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.' "

"The greatest strength of the book [SpiritWorks] is its consistent affirmation of the evangelical doctrine of Scripture. Vines underlines the necessity of rejecting any claims to a post-biblical revelation on par with the canon of Scripture, and he insists upon the priority of biblical authority over personal experience. The Bible is the authoritative corrective to Charismatic excesses and errors."

"The Charismatic movement cannot be ignored. Its influence in contemporary church life is remarkable and growing, and, because of its need for promoting emotional energy, it is constantly producing new manifestations."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Charismatic Question

I invite you to devote some time and attention to this very humble and careful handling of the topic of charismatics, HERE.

Critique Does NOT Equal Condemnation

I believe it is VERY important that I remind my readers that I most definitely consider many charismatics to be true brothers and sisters-in-Christ. Those who understand and embrace the essentials of the gospel--wholly placing their faith and trust in what Christ has accomplished--can and do enjoy Christian fellowship.

What my concern is (and has been since I left the movement 25+ yrs. ago) that much of what is being taught and practiced by charismatic believers;

1) is in some ways a 'different' gospel
2) brings shame upon the name of God
3) brings into question God's very nature and character
4) often detracts from rather than highlights God's call and purpose for His children

So please, do not allow yourself to believe that my examination and critique of charismatic theology and practice is in any way a condemnation of individuals--it most certainly is not.

    Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    "So, HOW charismatic WERE you?"

    Over the years I've been asked to describe "how" charismatic I was. Most non-charismatics are familiar with the charismatic practice of speaking in tongues, but many of them are visibly surprised when I share the rest of my 'list' with them:

    Prayed in tongues regularly privately and corporately

    Prayed in a 'prayer language' daily

    Physical and vocal during corporate worship, including hand-raising/waving, jumping up & down, dancing, shouting, 'voiced agreement' during prayers, extending hand(s) toward those praying or requesting prayer--you name it, I did it.

    Rebuked Satan and/or demons privately and publicly

    "Bind/bound" Satan and/or demons daily and frequently (i.e. red traffic lights, difficult relationships, financial strain, academic challenges, etc.)

    Claimed healing(s) on a regular basis for everything from head aches to financial challenges, to menstrual cramps--everything and anything.

    Anointed the 'door posts' of my apartment with oil on several occasions (primarily in the context of perceived/supposed spiritual warfare).

    Claimed supernatural experiences such as visions from God and direct revelation from God.

    Participated with friends in casting out demons from an inanimate object in my apartment.

    Laid hands on and prayed for others to receive the 'second blessing/baptism with the Holy Spirit'.

    Laid hands on and prayed for various healing(s) for others, including physical, mental, emotional, relational, financial, and academic needs.

    Considered myself Biblically eligible to train for and become a preacher/pastor--and actively pursued that goal for a time (this included applying to attend Rhema Bible School and Oral Roberts University to study theology).

    * I'll post more later on this.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    R.C. Sproul: " involvement in the charismatic movement..."

    Zeal Without Knowledge
    By R. C. Sproul

    Right Now Counts Forever
    Reprinted from Tabletalk magazine, April 2002, with permission of Ligonier Ministries,
    P.O. Box 547500, Orlando, Fla., 32792, phone 800-435-4343.
    You can visit the web site of Ligonier Ministries at

    This article may be found here,

    MANY PEOPLE ARE SURPRISED, AND SOME ARE shocked, when they hear of my involvement in the charismatic movement years ago.

    It began in 1965, shortly after I returned from graduate study in Holland to teach philosophy and theology at my alma mater. Some of my senior students who were preparing for ministry kept talking to me excitedly about their experiences with the Holy Spirit and about receiving the gift of tongues. My first response was profound skepticism, because my only previous experience had been with hardcore Pentecostals whose views of sanctification I deemed aberrant. Soon, however, the sheer number of my students involved in this phenomenon, coupled with their high level of competence as students, provoked me to give them the "philosophy of the second glance." I also saw reports that tongues-speaking was breaking out in mainline denominations such as the Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches. Reports of outbreaks at Notre Dame and at Duquesne University also piqued my curiosity.

    I began meeting with my students to discuss the matter at my home. These meetings became regular times of prayer that lasted several hours or, on at least one occasion, all night. Because of the marvelous ardor for prayer these students displayed, I began to wonder whether I was missing something in my own spiritual life.

    My attention then turned to the New Testament, particularly to Paul's teaching on tongues in I Corinthians. In chapters 12-14, Paul deals with abuses of tongues in the Corinthian church and rebukes those who had elevated their gifts over those of others. It was clear that Paul did not put tongues, or glossolalia, at the apex of gifts and did not teach tongues as an indispensable sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

    In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul gives detailed instructions about the use of tongues. Though he warns sharply against many abuses of tongues, he does not outlaw their use. Indeed, he explicitly says, "do not forbid to speak with tongues" (v. 39b). Paul also writes: "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied" (vv. 4-5a). Paul clearly is teaching the comparative superiority of prophecy over tongues. But he is comparing the good and the better, not the good and the bad.

    Two things struck me in this passage. The first is that Paul says tongues are edifying for the individual. As a Christian, I certainly wanted everything the Holy Spirit had available to me. Second, the apostle says he wishes all the Corinthian Christians speak with tongues. Even though he also expresses his preference for prophecy, he still asserts his desire that all speak in tongues. Finally, in verse 18, Paul says, "I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all."

    Since Paul was a tongues-speaker and expressed his desire for all to speak in tongues, I took this to mean that I should pursue this spiritual gift.

    The major obstacle I still faced was the question of whether what was happening in the contemporary charismatic movement was indeed a revival of the New Testament gifts. That is, was the modern outbreak of glossolalia the same thing that was practiced in the apostolic church? I found this to be an extremely difficult question to answer given the paucity of references to the phenomenon throughout church history, save for its dawn among deeply heretical groups such as the Montanists.

    In any case, I sought the gift and soon was able to join my friends in praying in tongues. But I found no great edification from it and still preferred to pray with understanding.

    In the meantime, I continued to investigate the question of whether this was the New Testament phenomenon. As the movement expanded, reports began to come in of people in non-Christian religions practicing "tongues." There were also reports that tongues had been identified as known foreign languages, but none of these reports was verified.

    As time passed, several things became clear. First, a neo-Pentecostal theology was becoming popular. Though not monolithic among charismatics, it stressed tongues-speaking as a necessary and indispensable sign of the Biblical concept of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It also was marked by fantastic claims of miracles and supernatural prophecies with new revelation. The more interpretations of tongues speaking and prophecies I heard, the more false doctrine and false prophecy I heard. Several people spoke "prophecies" to me about specific things that would occur within a specific time period. Every single prophecy of that sort failed to materialize. I heard manifestly false doctrine, doctrine in clear antithesis to Scripture, being urged upon people via tongues interpretations. Extravagant claims of miracles that I was able to investigate proved to be unfounded. Something obviously was deeply wrong with the picture. In short, the charismatic movement was not delivering the goods.

    More and more people were seeking to live the Christian life on the basis of subjective feelings rather than on the Word. I saw a strong revival of "Deeper Life"-type views of sanctification that promised Christians a special second work of grace by which they could live the "victorious" Christian life through being "filled with the Spirit."

    The church now had two classes of Christians — those who were baptized in the Spirit and those who were not; those who were "spirit-filled" and those who were not. This dichotomy, I became convinced, not only was not taught in the New Testament but was contrary to what is taught there. I came to realize that the charismatic view of the Day of Pentecost represented a distortion of its Biblical significance. The charismatic view of Pentecost was a low one, not a high one.

    I began to see that anyone who is uninhibited enough can utter unintelligible sounds while in a posture of prayer. I don't doubt anyone's experience of praying in such a fashion, but I am concerned it is not a supernatural event and is not the same as what was experienced in the early church.

    My final departure from the movement came when I realized that I must live by the Word, as the Spirit never works against the Word but always with it and through it.

    I still enjoy fellowship with my charismatic friends and delight in their love for prayer. I am grateful for the real revival in interest in the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church that this movement has spawned. However, I am very concerned about the false doctrine it has brought in its wake.

    Dr. R. C. Sproul explores the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in his book "The Mystery of the Holy Spirit" and his audio/video series "The Holy Spirit".

    Monday, February 11, 2008


    "...have been intimidated into thinking it is unkind or unspiritual to criticize the Charismatic movement. Many non-Charismatics have simply given up dealing with the issue at all because Charismatics are growing less and less tolerant of criticism and more and more aggressive of their condemnation of the critics."

    ~ Phil Johnson, Combating Charismatic Theology: Arming you with the tools to unmask the dangerous deception of experience-driven theology, 2002

    Saturday, February 9, 2008

    In control or out of control?

    In his post titled I Will Lift Up My Hands! Sam Storms describes his non-charismatic days and practices,
    "I felt in control...and above all else, safe. These matter no more to me."
    He goes on to say in reference to his now charismatic practices,
    "I'm at that point in life where I honestly couldn't care less what the immovable evangelical is thinking or the crazy charismatic is feeling."
    When I read this post back in July 2007 I was reminded of the similar attitude I had during my charismatic days and how very familiar it sounded--I didn't care what others thought and I gave no consideration to Biblical criticism because what I was practicing made me feel good and look spiritual.

    This "if it feels good do it" philosophy continues to make inroads within historically sound teaching and practicing churches with little regard to the Biblical commands to be self-controlled, exercise sound judgement, and be sober-minded.

    Recently, I found Peter Masters' words to be a much-needed warning,
    "Charismatics claim that by maintaining rational control over our minds and actions we are opposing and quenching the work of the Holy Spirit. They say that believers must be prepared to surrender rational control in order that they may be open to direct divine activity in both worship and Christian service. John Wimber* observes with concern that "Fear of losing control is threatening to most Western Christians." He insists that we must overcome our fears, because rational control must be forfeited for tongues-speaking** to occur; for soaring ecstatic sensations to be felt in worship; for messages from God to be received directly into the mind, and for miraculous events to happen, such as healings."
    * John Wimber was a mentor/colleague of Sam Storms'
    ** Sam Storms claims that he 'prays in tongues every day'