Saturday, February 16, 2008

On Charismatism: Delineating the contents involved

[continued from here]

Within Charismatism various doctrines and beliefs have been embraced. Perhaps the most controversial subject is in the area of spiritual gifts, the gifts of the Spirit or the charismata. There are of course other doctrines embraced by those who call themselves Charismatic, for example the ecumenity or rejection of the doctrine of separation, but this is not an issue distinctive of the movement, and I have addressed the issue separately. Therefore, the entire issue with Charismatism that we would be looking at is on the area of the gifts of the Spirit of the charismata.

Now, of course, such a doctrine is not altogether distinctive of the Charismatic movement, but also of Pentecostalism and the Third Wave Movement, the Vineyard Movement, and of the Reformed Charismatic movement. Each of them have nuances of this particular doctrine which they accept and others they reject. For example, the Vineyard version emphasizes a lot on healing, while more "conservative" Pentecostals do not have such an emphasis. To therefore address specific movements and their nuances is therefore laborious if anyone wants to do so, as certain Pentecostals may deny what some Charismatics believe in, while many (traditionally) Charismatic people probably will reject the Vineyard emphasis on healing. To paint with a broad brush the entire Pentecostal, Charismatic and assorted groups as if they all believe the same things is therefore unwise. It is unfortunate that Pastor John MacArthur seems to be doing this in his book Charismatic Chaos, which DOES addresses various valid issues within the charismatic camp which are really serious, yet without clearly differentiating between the clearly heretical group and the more orthodox believers. To be fair to MacArthur, Charismatics have not been exactly forthcoming in their beliefs and the failure and even refusal of many of them to denounce the heretics who call themselves Charismatics compounds the problem. After all, when was the last time Charismatics, even Reformed Charismatics, have called David (Paul) Yonggi Cho a heretic? Or was there a first time in the first place?

Further compounding the issue, as if it is not complicated enough, is the presence of the Word-faith movement, otherwise known as the "Name it, claim it" movement, the "Health and Wealth Gospel" movement, or the "Prosperity Gospel" movement. The founder of the movement is the late Kenneth Hagin Sr., and the movement exists as a parallel track to mainline Pentecostalism/ Charismatism, seemingly sharing things in common while having a drastically different agenda. Like them, the Word-faith movement believes in the continuation of the charismata. Unlike them, the Word-faith movement believes various things about wealth and health that are quite frankly heretical and even occultic, not to mention the Jesus becoming the devil incarnate in hell heresy. The Word-faith movement continues mainly through The Blasphemous Network Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), and "teachers" such as Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Joel Osteen and many others. In Sinapore, the two largest Word-faith churches are City Harvest Church and New Creation Church, also the two largest "churches" in Singapore, though they also have a presence through the Methodist denomination via the Rhema Bible School in Singapore.

With all that stated, the issue of the gifts of the Spirit or the charismata will be looked at from Scripture. Due to the diverse nuances and views between Pentecostals, Charismatics and Third Wavers on the subject, as we have noted earlier, the subject will be looked at from a "neutral" perspective from the biblical standpoint, and then applications may be then made to the various nuances of beliefs of the charismata. As such, if the particular application and criticism is invalid for your case, ignore it and do not treat any criticism as misrepresentation of your position, for it is ridiculous for me to cater to the exception withint the movement by placing disclaimers everywhere. But please do not ignore the plain teaching of Scripture on the subject which I will do before the application, for Scripture's teaching is athoritative and must be embraced, unless it can be shown that what I am teaching is not what Scripture is teaching, that is.

Yet before I address this, there is an even more pressing concern that must be addressed — that of the Word-faith cult. Since promoters of their heretical teachings are very prevalent (after all, the two largest "churches" in Singapore are Word-faith), and it seems a lot of their supporters have surfaced in Sicarii's blog over here, I think it would be good to settle this issue conclusively. Of course, there are areas of overlap between the beliefs of mainline Charismatism and the Word-faith cult, especially in the area of healing, so for these issue, one stone can be used to kill two birds.

Even before this however, we need to build up a foundation for interaction, and to this we would need to talk about the Doctrine of Scripture and Final authority, again.

[to be continued]

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