Friday, February 08, 2008

On charismatism: Some background

As I begin this series on the gifts of the Spirit, I think it is good if I give some background on myself, and it can be seen that I am not writing and researching this not from someone outside of the movement per se, but someone who has been through it and was swept up in the euphoria. Some basic background can be seen in my sharing over here, where it can be seen that I was caught up in the variation of charismatism known as the Neo-Apostolic Movement. In addition to what I have written previously, we were also taught in the Youth Ministry (in my former church) the "truths" of spiritual and territorial warfare by someone from Trinity Christian Center, who got his material from 'Apostle' C. Peter Wagner and 'Prophetess' Cindy Jacobs.

My initiation into Charismatism came with my salvation experience in 1997. My former church previously was dead in her traditionalism, and anything with even a kernel of Evangelical truth and life would excite her. Regardless of the flaws of the Charismatic movement (which I would document later), it still had its origin in true Evangelical faith and fervor, and God used this crooked stick indeed to draw a straight line in accomplishing His purposes. The Third Wave was expanding then, and the extreme charismatic wing of the Vineyard Movement (ie the 'Toronto Blessing') had impacted my former pastor in my former church, who brought in a speaker for the 1997 church camp who was a Charismatic, or at the least influenced by Charismatism. Thus started my journey in Charismatism. As a new Christian, I relish in the delight and simplicity of just spending time daily with God, even an hour was fine. And I yearn to know more about God's Word, even trying to memorize Scripture and parts of Scripture. Back then, my faith was truly simple and pure, but then things were to change.

I was involved in the worship ministry then as a keyboardist, first in the Youth Ministry, and then also in the Main Service. That was a time of transition, which I had supported as 'nobody wants the staid, dead formalism of traditional worship'. Hymns have to go of course, and lively contemporary choruses were in. I was involved in the transition, and we were sent for CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) courses (which the church paid for) to help us learn the methods of playing CCM music. I didn't exactly pick up a lot unfortunately, as I am quite clasically trained. Anyway, we also went for charismatic events, and took part in them. I am mentioning this to show how deep I was in, not to boast, but we took part in the 40 days of prayer preceeding Singapore's National Day on the 9th August which was organized by the Love Singapore movement. During that movement, I attempted to fast (Total Fast) for 3 days (managing 2-1/2 days before giving up), being the Prayer I/C in the Youth Ministry then (for 2 years). I went for National Prayer & Praise events (not organized nor actively supported by my local church) where we prayed for an hour almost continuously. When the pastors told us of their visions, we prayed that they would come true. I remembered the AD2000 vision and others, and the prophecies uttered by pastors who mention that Singapore would have at least one Christian witness per block of flats, and also that the population of Christians would increase to 20%. And all of these were to happen in the year 2000 or 2002. Needless to say, the prophecies didn't came true, but I guess by then nobody remembered them. Nevertheless, I soaked them up and prayed that they would come true, and that truly Singapore would turn to Christ and be the Antioch of Asia.

Despite all this however, something was very wrong. The presence of God slowly left me, and I was left seeking God and struggling to find Him. My previous intimate time with Him evaporated, and my spiritual walk slammed to a halt. Despite my outward show of piety and passion, I was struggling inside. All of this spurred me on towards going for more of such events, and praying more. Also, I heard about this second baptism of the Holy Spirit, which comes with the evidence of speaking in tongues. I prayed and sincerely asked God for it, but I refuse to "help God out" by opening my mouth and trying out new words, knowing that such is plain deceit which I refuse to stoop to. I went forward in altar calls where the Charismatic preacher laid hands on and prayed for me and sometimes even push me, but I refuse to bluff and play along. Yet sometimes doubt would enter my minds since they always say that we should just 'surrender and let God touch you', whatever that is supposed to mean. Needless to say that my last year as a Prayer IC (while I was in JC2) was not a good one as I struggled internally, and thus nothing much was done in ministry (as compared to a very productive 1st year). When I started my NS (National Service), I was a mess spiritually, though this became more evident as God used the fires of oppression to purge me and to discipline me for my waywardness. It was only during my last few months before I entered University that God providentially brought me back to Him through the expositions on the Doctrine of Grace aka Calvinism, and this slowly and painfully.

I hope that by this sharing it can be seen that I do have experience in this field, and it was only by the Lord's mercy that I was led out of it. In total, I was in Charismatism for a total of 7 years (only until mid-2004 did I start to seriously question the entire enterprise), and I was in it as deeply as it is possible without speaking in tongues, which I couldn't do even though I seek it fervently. I was an anti-Cessationist then, and the prophecies uttered against them (i.e. Soon, Cessationism would cease) were believed by me. However, God in His mercy pulled me out of the mess my former church and I have created, and slowly showed me the way towards true doctrine and godliness, as He is still doing today. Thank God for His wondrous grace in pulling me out out the pit and setting me feet on Him the Rock of my salvation.

It is with such a background that I will approach this topic. I will not say that I am unbiased (which no one is anyway), but as I have experienced it from the inside and now research this topic from the Scripture externally, I hope to examine this issue fairly and justly, according to the Scriptures. And it is with such a background and attitude that I am tackling this issue; not one of contention but one of illuminating the light of the Word of God in examining the case and also the experiences of Charismatism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In many ways my experience mirrors yours, but I wasn't as deep in the movement as you were.

There were so many times that I felt so inadequate just because I did not speak in tongues. What's wrong with me, I'd ask!

Thank you for starting on this series, Daniel.

In His love,