Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Charismatic Movement and the Two-Thirds world

One claim about the Charismatic movement is that it has resulted in revival and renewal in churches especially in the Two-Thirds world (the primarily non-Western world). Phenomenologically, the claim seems to be true. "Dead" churches have been revived and renewed by the Charismatic movement as it spread throughout the world, resulting in renewed vibrancy and evangelism and witness. Yes, the Word-faith movement and the New Apostolic Reformation have shipwrecked the faith of many, but it seems on the surface that, at least in many parts of the world, the Charismatic movement has actually been a force for good.

It must be noted that where the Charismatic movement initially began, and where its growth has been. It began in the mainline churches in America, churches that were mostly apostate already. Its influence spread to the half-dead and dead liberal churches around the world, moving them away from Liberalism towards some version of Evangelicalism. The Charismatic movement has little if any influence on the churches that are the most biblical, the Reformed churches. That itself should give us some pause. Why is that so?

Now interpreting providence is always tricky, so obviously my view may not be right. One could of course interpret providence by stating that the origin of Charismatism is within apostate churches and its spread in other apostate churches proves that Charismatism is another form of apostasy, being derived from false doctrine. Or one can claim that the Reformed churches were "old wineskins" not able to "hold the new wine."

Coming from a Reformed perspective, and understanding the Gifts of the Spirit to be linked with the purpose for which they are given, which is for the foundation of the Church, it seems to me that one could very well hold to the fact that God does work through the Charismatic movement to reach the dead and dying churches, as using a crooked stick to draw a straight line. The Charismatic movement in some measure may have a bit of the foundation gifts only because of how far they have fallen. They are the condenscension of God in mission settings and in churches so far gone in darkness. In other words, the possible possession of the Sign-Gifts are a mark of immaturity and given for a time to aid believers in their dire need. The problem of course comes when the new believers grow and continue to think that the one or two exceptional manifestations ought to be normative for all time. The pursuit of experiences which God did not promise as normative may result in them going astray, or that they may later grow up and become cessationists.

Speaking from personal experience, I experienced the regenerating work of the Spirit in the church I grew up just as it was influenced by the Charismatic movement. The church I grew up in was a mainline Presbyterian church in Singapore, and thus much of the denomination is infected by Liberalism. I was a Charismatic and being young and naive, wandered towards the New Apostolic Reformation. In God's mercy, I was brought back and am now a cessationist.

So yes, I am willing to grant that God uses the Charismatic movement to reach people. But then, God also used Balaam's donkey, so being used by God proves nothing at all. I am willing to grant that God may in His condescension grant some measure of the Gifts temporarily, but ultimately they will not last. They are a sign of immaturity, and thus, as it is seen in church history, a more mature church will not receive them.

10 comments:

Darrel said...

Sorry to see that you give credibility to the charismatic movement. The spiritual abuse inflicted upon millions is inexcusable. The filth exported from the USA to the rest of the world is now seen as revival? False doctrine abounds, Christ is not honored, the Holy Spirit is insulted (if not outright blasphemed) on a daily basis and yet there is some good to be found here? If excitement, happy smiles, and energetic people equal revival then go to football game and see the same thing.

I hope you take the time to reevaluate your assessment.

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel:

I did not "give credibility to the charismatic movement." I'm just stating that God may have a purpose in allowing this mixed movement to work primarily in places where biblical churches are not working.

Do you believe that there are any people converted through the Charismatic movement, few though it might be?

Darrel said...

Since there is no precedent for the Holy Spirit to work in a "mixed movement" found anywhere in Scripture why would He be doing so now? Such a statement makes Him look desperate for recognition.

To answer your question: yes, in spite of it and never because of it. People are saved from every circumstance of life and man made religion only because they have been chosen for salvation before the foundation of the earth. It is just as unacceptable for one to remain a roman catholic or Mormon or hindu or muslim as it is to remain in a "mixed movement" such as the charismatic variety.

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel:

is God sovereign? If people are turning to Christ, is Christ the one who is working? And so if people are turning to Christ while they are in the Charismatic movement, doesn't that mean that Christ is working in them while they are in the movement?

And since Christ works through means and situations, doesn't that mean that the situations they are in, including their interactions with the Charismatic movement, are sovereignly guided by God in order to work for their salvation? Or does God not have a reason for them being within the Charismatic movement?

Yes, they are saved despite the movement and its many errors. But that is not the point. The point is not whether they are save despite the movement, but whether God is sovereign over the circumstances in their lives INCLUDING their involvement in Charismatism, and that all these work together for their good and salvation.

That God writes straight lines with crooked sticks does not in any way imply that the stick ought to be crooked. Just because God uses mixed movements in His sovereignty does not make leaving the movement less of an imperative, or that such mixed movements are sinful.

Biblically, how can you explain the pagan prophet Balaam if you deny that God can work in mixed movements?

Darrel said...

To mask the acceptability for the charismatics by cloaking it in the sovereignty of God is a dangerous endeavor. Would you therefore grant the same for Mormons, JV's, muslims and catholics which is to say that God sanctions their existence in order to save people caught up in their lies? If that be the case then all efforts by a Christian to expose the evil found in these movements would found to fight against God, if such heresies are God endorsed (which is exactly what you are saying)?

The sovereignty of God is not in question here; saying that God approves of the existence of such movements is. The same is true on an individual basis. Would anyone dare to say that God approved of their sins prior to the day of regeneration just in order to save them? Certainly not! Read Romans again and it will uncover the folly of your contention that would legitimize charismania.

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel:

since when did I say God sanction it? Again, back to the example of Balaaem,

1) Did God use Balaaem? Yes
2) Did God sanction Balaam? No

Please at least know what I am actually saying, before putting words into my mouth

Darrel said...

There are glaring differences with the original post and the answers posted in response to me. Is it true revival to pump up people's emotions with false promises that can never come true? The "churches" it has infiltrated are just as dead now as they were before the pep-rally began. Is it really a "force for good" to lie to people, teach them false doctrines (of demons) and prey upon them for their money and praise? Is "some version of evangelicalism" acceptable to you even when it is only wrapped in Christian garb and does in no way proclaim the glories of the Lord Jesus?

"The charismatic movement has little if any influence on the churches that are most biblical, the Reformed churches." A bold and yet inaccurate statement considering the likes of Piper, Grudhome (sp?), Driscoll and others who proudly wave the "reformed" banner but whose mouths are filled false doctrines. Slapping a reformed label on anyone does not give them a pass to teach their lies and you of all people should be most up in arms about such men that champion their lies in the name of Calvin and Luther.

Does God work through "dead and dying churches" using lies to proclaim the Gospel? NO! Even the donkey and Balaam told the truth. So why should the C/M get a pass for all their lies?

You were saved in a charismatic type church. So? As if your salvation is the determining factor for the justification of the C/M.

"I am willing to grant that God uses the Charismatic movement to reach people." Then you must lend credibility to catholics, Mormons, JVs, Hindus, and muslims and every other aberrant group from which our Lord graciously saves His chosen ones.

Now I see that you conclude that the gifts are a "sign of immaturity." If your are speaking of the gifts found in Acts you may encounter some heavy resistance from the Apostles that used them. If you are speaking of those claimed to be in working order today, there is no Biblical mandate for such a statement and plays right into the hands of those who continue to lie about their existence and use.

The evils of the C/M need to be exposed not excused and justified.

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel:

the "glaring differences" are in your mind; reread the post again if necessary.

I am not excusing the errors of the Charismatic movement. But the way you portray them, you preclude the fact that there is any element of Gospel truth within it, and I can say from experience that that is nonsense.

Piper, Grudem etc are not Reformed. None of them subscribe to any of the Reformed Confessions. If predestination makes one Reformed, then Thomas Aquinas is "Reformed" also.

As for the maturity issue, are you really disputing that the Apostolic Church was an immature church, though necessary?

Darrel said...

Me thinks you did realize that I had already "reread" your original post from the questions posed. If personal experience is the judging criteria then there is NO Gospel preached in the C/M, but since personal experience is not the deciding factor, rather the words and actions of those in the C/M will be their own judge.

Are you really claiming spiritual maturity for yourself, the C/M, Reformed brethren, or anyone?

Thanks for the chat, you were gracious not to ban me for asking tough questions.

PuritanReformed said...

@Darrel:

I have heard the Gospel preached in Charismatic churches, so that proves you wrong.

As for spiritual maturity, I am claiming it for the post-apostolic church. Read Gaffin on the cessation of the charismata on that.

And there is no reason to ban you; you did not violate any blog rule.