Hyper-Charismatica versus True Christianity

Personal Testimony by mbaker

For many years after beginning my Christian life as a Southern Baptist, I converted to the charismatic church because several things about it appealed to me.  Unfortunately, while I met many committed wonderful Christians in the process, it was almost my downfall spiritually.   Except for the urgings of the Holy Spirit and some very good discernment websites, I would still be there now, thinking I possessed or could possess some ‘special’ revelation that others weren’t privy to, rather then being deceived by emotional appeals which had no biblical basis.

They say hindsight is 20-20.  In hindsight, of course, I see that because of some things that occurred in my life, like divorce, I no longer felt accepted by the mainstream church. Without a mate, I no longer felt I was personally a part of that body which seemed more about couples and ‘real’ families. For many years, I only felt connected to anyone through the mutual emotional highs I experienced in the charismatic church. For a while, they fulfilled this unmet emotional need in me for connection.

Unfortunately, I let my need for emotional validation through this connection with others interfere with the true foundational tenets of Christianity and it almost destroyed my faith. I do not want to make the same mistake and make this all about my testimony, although I suspect many reading here would readily identify with my personal journey.

What I do want to focus on is the experiential brand of Christianity, as promoted by the hyper-charismatics, as opposed to something that a lot of folks think is out of date and immaterial – the foundational tenets of the faith that Christ promoted. Those are things which will never change with time or popular religious fads.

The first clue was the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that the leaders of hyper-charismatica seem to almost universally to express when questioned.  It has to do with not questioning anything that comes out of the mouths of the leadership, in this case being the five-fold ministry, or whatever leadership is in place. We were told ‘not to touch God’s anointed’ in any instance because to do so was committing a sin against God Himself.  I fell for that at first because I was raised to respect whatever came out of the pulpit as God’s truth.  However, blindly accepting that rule was my first mistake down the long road of deception I was to follow for years.

My second mistake was bowing to appeals for ‘unity’.  Unity of the brethren as the Bible speaks of it has nothing to do with blindly agreeing to anything our particular church leadership deems as correct, but the unity that comes from the belief in the essentials of the faith determined by God the Father, and the Christ His Son. All else is non-essential in that we can chose where we stand.  Some examples would be whether the spiritual gifts continue or have ceased since the advent of Christ, or the Calvinism versus Arminianism debate, and so on. It is important to know the difference between mere denominational preferences and biblical essentials.

The third thing was the emphasis upon ‘new’ revelation, vis a vis ‘prophecy’.  While I believe that we can receive true prophetic words, I know now that they do not constitute new ‘additions’ or changes to the Bible, as they are often presented in hyper-charismatic venues, such as the Elijah List.  They are not bought and sold either, as all God’s gifts are apportioned freely according to his grace, not determined by popular religious fads.

In short, to get back to the real truth I had to return to the basic truths of the Bible and to the honest emotional conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who only tells us what Jesus tells Him.  I can only urge anyone who is reading this who has any doubts about what they are being taught to check it out from several Bible based on theological sources which have God’s unchanging truth uppermost in mind.

It isn’t easy to admit we are wrong as Christians.  However, when we do, it is almost like a death in the family, because it is hard to tell others we were wrong, when we are supposed to be so right.

As a former charismatic, I knew many of the people I was personally connected with were very sincere Christians, yet we were all being deceived. It is hard on an otherwise intelligent person to admit that at first.  Then you become angry.  Then you wonder what was so wrong with you that you got yourself into it, or what need it was fulfilling in you.  Then finally you want to make sure others never get sucked into it.  It’s a real process that people need to be helped through. 

And, I’m thankful to have these blogs with individuals who go to the trouble to patiently explain step by step the false teachings and errors by using good Bible hermeneutics and solid theological resources and who do so without being dismissive or having a holier than thou attitude as these were invaluable resources in my journey back to God’s truth.

God bless.

[see also Testimony of a Former IHOP-KC Attendee: Stephanie]

47 Responses to Hyper-Charismatica versus True Christianity

  1. Sylvia says:

    AMEN mbaker, Thank you for sharing your testimony which is a blessing to read. May many people who are looking for answers and stumble upon this blog be helped by it. I too am so thankful to have these blogs and individuals who go to the trouble to patiently explain step by step the false teachings and errors……..

    Be blessed sister.

  2. Scott says:

    Here are a few observations, food for thought, notice the similarities though:

    Hyper-Charismatic: “Don’t touch God’s anointed”!
    Charismatic/Classic Pentecostal: “Be careful of how you speak of other Christians”

    Hyper-Charismatic: Don’t question, don’t discern, heresy hunter
    Charismatic/Classic Pentecostal: Discernment is important, but there is also such thing as having a “Michal Spirit”, or being an “accuser of the brethren” (from Rev 12:10, taken out of context)

    Hyper-Charismatic: We should avoid known obvious false teachers at all costs and not embrace their teaching, i.e. Word-Faith
    Charismatic/Classic Pentecostal: “Chew the meat, spit out the bones”

    The key is to find a balance. There is alot of pointlessness is having too critical of a spirit, to the point where it’s taking precedence over your own relationship with God…I have struggled so much with this. And I honestly do feel there is alot of that on the internet, even with so-called “reputable” discernment ministries. There is a fine line to walk, for sure. I don’t pay attention to too many of them. They can be of great help, but I ingest alot of it carefully. Good article.

  3. mbaker says:

    Thanks Scott. Although I would reverse the order of your third paragraph. ” Chew the meat and spit out the bones” is definitely hyper-charismatica speak. And, in all fairness, I know many fine pentecostals who are also just as appalled as we are at some of the teachings going on in the church. Unfortunately, false teaching is just not confined to the fringe element of the charismatic church, but is cropping up in many mainline denominations as well. lt sometimes seems we have more of an every man for himself type of theology being practiced today than ever before, where anything goes as long as God’s name is tacked on it.

    And I do agree with you that good balance is absolutely essential. We don’t want to make the cure worse than the disease, so to speak, by going to opposite extremes, but at the same time we must fearlessly expose the teachings of those who wittingly or unwittingly are pushing unbiblical agendas off in the church in the name of Christianity. That is a biblical mandate as well.

    You are right: It IS a fine line to walk, and one on which we should be very careful to preach and teach with an eye toward correction and repentance, not revenge.

  4. Scott says:

    Yeah, for some reason the “chew the meat, spit out the bones” thing seemed to emanate from Vineyard circles (?). I have heard alot of those sayings over the past few years. I am also reacting to a particular church in my town that I have been attending, which is charismatic/pentecostal in nature. This church is a brand new merger, uniting a charismatic church with a more classic pentecostal one…the two have now become one. I know that the head pastor (who led the former charismatic one) is sort of rubbing shoulders with some of this New Apostolic Reformation stuff that is swirling around. But you know, where are you going to find a “decent” charismatic church anyway that isn’t holding up people like John Wimber in high esteem (who often is portrayed in a negative light online; is this fair I wonder), isn’t touting the next OneThing conference (is this really that bad), or isn’t talking about ‘experiencing God’ in some way that isn’t part of our ‘normal’ experience? What I’m saying I guess is this. Based on what all the discernment ministries tell us at least, is there ANYTHING good in the charismatic wing of the church? Or are they all to be written off as to not take them seriously. It seems to me that many of the ‘hyper-charismatic’ ideas and figureheads are accepted and deemed acceptable by ‘Charismatic Lites’, so as to blur the distinction. I think it’s a decent thing to identify your beliefs as having a ‘charismatic nature’ to them (e.g. not a cessationist, believe in the gifts for today, dynamic worship, praying for healing, praying against demonic spirits, etc. Mark Driscoll and John Piper are two popular “reformed charismatics”)…but the people that identify themselves as Charismatic (capital C) tend to share beliefs and mindsets that veer off into that questionable territory. Alot of tangents here, I know I’m going off in different directions, thanks.

  5. Scott says:

    I do commend the Pentecostal church for many things. I’ve read some of their positional papers on things like the Latter Rain and Joel’s Army, and was pleased to see they reject this stuff across the board.

  6. cherylu says:

    I am another one that has come out of the hypercharismatic belief system.

    After I had started questioning all of this stuff and was pretty much convinced I had taken a wrong path, I was told something by a friend that still kept me from making a clean break for quite a long time. I had realized at that point that a lot of the so called “manifestations of the Spirit” that are often experienced in these settings simply are not found anywhere in the Bible. On the other hand, they are found in the New Age movement and in the occult. For that reason I had come to believe that when these manifestations are not simply caused by a person’s emotions that they must be caused by a different spirit than God’s Holy Spirit.

    It was at this point that my friend told me to be very careful because I was in danger of “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” by saying that something was from demonic sources when it was indeed God doing it. Needless to say, that put a real scare into me as we all know that blaspheming the Spirt is the unforgivable sin. It was quite a while before I was confident enough to say that much of what I had seen and been a part of simply was not from God as it just didn’t fit the picture of God that He gives us in His Word . Neither did it fit the instructions He has given us to obey is we are His children.

    As mbaker said, web sites that discussed these issues were invaluable to me at that time. Without them exposing what was really going on in the hypercharismatic circles and confirming what I was coming to believe myself, I don’t know how long I might have been stuck there.

  7. julie says:

    Scott said:

    The key is to find a balance. There is alot of pointlessness is having too critical of a spirit, to the point where it’s taking precedence over your own relationship with God…I have struggled so much with this. And I honestly do feel there is alot of that on the internet, even with so-called “reputable” discernment ministries. There is a fine line to walk, for sure. I don’t pay attention to too many of them. They can be of great help, but I ingest alot of it carefully. Good article.

    Boy, can I relate. We need balance, and lots of mercy. I’ve been neck deep in deception, and could be again, but by the grace of God. . .

  8. mbaker says:

    Scott,

    I think several here can relate to all the questions you have in trying to sort this all out. It isn’t always an easy process, but it is possible.

    I would say to you that whether we believe the gifts continue today or not, (and I still do) scripture tells us God is not a God of disorder. The apostle Paul admonishes us to do things in an orderly manner during our services. So, if the services are becoming more about showing off the gifts and other manifestations than about Christ, and good solid Bible teaching, that should be warning sign that something is very wrong with their priorities. If the person teaching or preaching is saying something different than the Bible, that’s really a very big red flag that shouldn’t be ignored. And if everyone in the congregation is acting unruly, and that is being allowed by the leadership, it’s a good bet the Holy Spirit is not present. We need to remember that we go to church to come together to worship and reverence God, and learn about Him, not have some ongoing ‘Holy Spirit party’ to get emotionally high, or to call attention to ourselves and our gifts.

    As Cheryl pointed out in her comment above that was a big eye opener to her, as it has been to many to us.

    I will pray for you to find a church that is pleasing to God in both preaching and teaching His word in the manner that it should be, and that holds to the proper and orderly use of the spiritual gifts for equipping and building up of the church as Christ, as our Head, intended them. Any time we see them used for financial or personal gain, or to exercise power over others, however, we should probably avoid those types of services entirely for our own protection. Otherwise we may get sucked into something questionable by peer pressure or a false sense of loyalty, as I allowed myself to do.

    It took my husband and I a long while to find the right church even in a fairly large size city, but we didn’t give up, and it paid off. We have been richly blessed by excellent Bible based teaching and the right kind of fellowship. So hang in there and keep your faith strong.

  9. Pat says:

    Not only was the article great but the comments as well and I can identify with being guilty of all. Struggling with a balance, being too critical and especially trying so hard to prove them wrong when it comes to the visible. Meaning the “signs, wonders and miracles” that they tout. At least for the moment they have not been unable to prove “verifiable” miracles, wonders or signs; but what is going to happen when they can and do???? Scripture is pretty clear that it will happen 2 Thess. 2:9&10 Even him , whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved……..ALL POWER SIGNS AND LYING WONDERS.
    I have found in the past few months of looking at video’s that claim healings, gold dust, gems, angels, feathers, walking on water etc. that slowly my heart and mind has been tugged and pulled in a slightly different direction. Straight back to Christ crucified. It’s not about whether the miracles are proven or the gold dust or gems are the real deal. It’s about the teaching of ANOTHER JESUS, period. Spending so much time and energy on verifiable proof of someone’s healing etc. doesn’t prove anything, and I am guilty. Eventually they will happen and then what will we say??
    Even though most of the discernment ministries do deal with these deceptive doctrines which transform Jesus into just a man, and elevate themselves to little gods…. ; way to much focus is still given to “no real miracle healings happening, no organic healings taking place, no one raised from the dead etc.” In effect I feel like I have gotten caught up into following after signs and wonders all over again only for very different reasons. Still once again I seemed to have been sidetracked; but I am not swallowed up or consumed by it. God is directing and correcting my course.
    Even as Paul said in 1 Cor. 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. What they teach and preach about Jesus Christ should and has to be the priority because that is the core of all deception. NOT the signs and wonders. Christ is always altered and changed or taken completely out of the equation. My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

  10. cherylu says:

    Pat,

    I agree with what you are saying in that you are certainly correct that Jesus often gets turned into “another Jesus” in these groups.

    However, I certainly think it is extremely important to recognize too that there is “another spirit” at work in many of these situations. The Bible does speak of another Jesus, another spirit, and another Gospel. (II Corinthians 11:4) Way too often I believe, people in the hypercharismatic groups are experienceing “another spirit” masquarading as the Holy Spirit. The things that go on in these church services, confereneces, and “Holy Spirit parties” that bear no resemblance to anything that ever happened in the Bible are the things I was speaking about. You know—barking like a dog, roaring like a lion, rolling on the floor laughing insanely over absolutely noting, slurring words so that you can hardly be understood, wild “head banging” motions, bending over at the waist repeatedly while saying “Ho”, standing in a circle and pretending to “drink” from a straw from the center of the circle and getting “drunk in the Spirit”, pouring the “Spirit” out of of a violin onto someone and making them “drunk in the Spirit”, seeing streams of light come from your finger tips and go to a person you are praying for, etc, etc, etc. These are all things I have experienced personally, heard about from folks that have seen it happen, seen on videos or read about. Surely these things are not caused by the Holy Spirit of God. There is no record of anything like that anywhere in the Word but we do see such things in the occult where another spirit is certainly at work. And they certainly go against the Bible’s teachings that we are to be “sober in spirit.”

    I for one do not want to be a participant in demons having a hey day with me and making me disobey the Lord’s commands while all of the time I think it is the Holy Spirit doing these things to me. What is the end result of allowing that to happen? I hate to even think about it.

  11. mbaker says:

    Pat,

    Thanks for your comments.

    That tug you are feeling back toward Christ and Him crucified I believe is the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This was also a factor with me, that tugging and pulling. After all the years of enjoying the emotional highs, I slowly began to feel at a real lack of peace during in the services. Some of the things i thought were so from God before began to feel silly and yes, even contrived. It was as though I were detached and looking at them from a great distance. “Where does Jesus come in all this?” I began to ask myself, because the emphasis had so changed over the years to be ALL about the gifts, and the other manifestations, not the One who gave them. He became almost like an after thought in our services, someone who was conveniently asked to join only when we wanted something in prayer. The emphasis was heavily on us ‘invoking’ the holy Spirit to ‘fall’ and perform like a magician to ‘prove’ the gospel to others. This is where we can and should recognize the difference, I believe, in false signs and wonders.

    I also noticed folks stopped opening the Bibles they brought to the services, and indeed it became almost a joke in our crowd, that anyone who had, quote, “a relationship with a book” was legalistic. However, I found myself literally hungry again for time alone again, just reading my Bible and communing with God one on one. This went on for a couple of years until I finally got the courage to make a break .

    All of these pullings and tuggings (which at times felt like pulling teeth!) I know now were the real signs of the Holy Spirit’s leading because He never takes our focus off Christ, but directs our attention toward Him FIRST. You are right, that anything else is another gospel.

    May the Lord continue to direct you in your own search for His truth.

  12. Pat says:

    1. Jesus often gets turned into “another Jesus” in these groups.
    Jesus ALWAYS gets turned into “another Jesus ” in these groups.
    That’s the core, key issue here, if this one thing were to be corrected all else would right it’s self.

    Absolutely there is another spirit at work, 2 Thess. 2:9&10 clearly states that. Been there, done that also, and have watched and listened to countless videos and articles of the same venue. Yes I agree that there is no mention of these things in the scripture and if there are it points out clearly that it’s not coming from the Holy Spirit or anything Godly; but if anything,more of God’s judgment .

    Having said that I can say from experience, if you converse with those still entrenched in this deception and point this out to them. They without a doubt 100% of the time outright reject what you’re saying and do it with a condescending look as if to say. “tsk tsk… you are just a poor, unlearned misguided soul who is fearful and afraid of the “REAL” power of God.”

    My point, the simple fact that pointing out these errors don’t have an impact upon those who are still deceived. All the while they are claiming God did it and how much they love Jesus….

    Well? Looks like the only common ground we have with these folks is Jesus…..or is it????
    No, because they have been duped into believing in ANOTHER JESUS and it’s because of that fact that all the other “supernatural stuff” has manifested in the church today.
    If they believed in the same Jesus that is taught throughout scripture we wouldn’t be having these conversations would we?
    I’m just saying I am no longer going to be sidetracked by discussing these antic’s, miracles, wonders or signs. The crux of the deception is what do they really believe about Jesus. I too am trying to find a balance.

  13. Scott says:

    Just want to say I love reading these accounts of people that are getting away and breaking ties from these extremes and questionable and/or downright false teachings and spirits. Being around a “Charismatic Lite/Pentecostal” church now for almost a few years, I have learned quite a bit in this time, from all angles. I do not call it my church, but it just happens to be the one I have been attending. It is not extreme, not “hyper-charismatic” by any means. Let me say I have been to “Reformed/Calvinistic” churches that left alot to be desired. I remember talking to the pastor one time and he was criticizing a local Evangelical Free church’s statement of faith (can you believe it) for sounding “too Arminian…and that could be dangerous”. In my mind, I was like “ok, see ya”. Bottom line, is that there are no perfect churches, and that they are made up of sinful, imperfect people. The church that I go to does center around Christ crucified and resurrected for sinful mankind, but of course being wrapped in Charismatic wrapping, I am always discerning, always testing things, always on the lookout. I am very well aware that today’s Charismatic wing is extra-fertile ground for deception (of course any and every church is always susceptible). I really do feel that vibe, and I do sense what could happen if left unchecked. If it starts to kind of go off the rails, I will not go there anymore…I do see some writing on the wall but not enough to sound the alarms at this point. Just imagine what we could have if we hearkened back to a real, genuine New Testament church. Gosh, it just seems like that idea is so out of our reach. What with all the factions, splinters, denominations within denominations, those hovering around their particular theological bents and emphases…combined with all the deception and false spirits that are infiltrating and making themselves at home in more Charismatic pockets. Anyway…so nice to read these comments.

  14. cherylu says:

    Pat,

    I’m not sure how you think you can convince these folks that they are worshipping a different Jesus any more then you can convince them that the spirit in operation in their midst is not the Holy Spirit. They read the Bible through a whole different lens then you or I do. To them God–the God of the Bible–is always doing a new thing. And they get that from OT Scriptures taken out of context and by prophetic (so called) words. What they experience seems to be much more the norm they go by, as I am sure you know, then what it actually says in the Word. So, how is trying to convince them they are worshipping a false Jesus any easier then getting them to see that the spirit in their midst is false? They are as convinced that He is the true One as they are convinced that the spirit operating is the true one.

    It seems to me that if they can see that the spirit they are experiencing has much more in common with the occult then Biblical Christianity and is therefore false, some of the basis of their experience based theology will be cut our from under them and they will be much more likely to see that their whole house of cards is built on a false premise.

    Actually however, they always seem to have an excuse for just about everything. Including that all of this was from God in the first place and the devil stole it. Now it needs to be claimed back again. I think what
    it comes right down too is that only the Holy Spirit Himself can convince any of these folks that any of this is wrong.

    To me, I think showing people the falseness of the experiences out there is probably much more effective to keep someone from becoming involved in these groups in the first place. It is also I believe, very effective to someone that is in the hypercharismatice scene but is questioning. I know that from personal experience. It was a very large part of what got me out of the whole mess in the first place.

    So I don’t believe that I agree with you that is just a side track that should not be pursued.

    That, of course, in no way diminishes the need for teaching and preaching the Bible as it really is–the true Jesus, the true Holy Spirit, and the true Gospel. That must be priority at all times. However, with all of the falseness surrounding us, people need to be aware of it and shown where it differs from the truth also as another “leg” in arming them to stand in the truth and resist the false.

    At least that is the way I see the issue.

  15. Scott says:

    Ya know if you don’t mind, just a humorous sidenote. What in the world is the point of gold dust, fillings, gemstones, and feathers anyway?? I mean, what is so awe-inspiring about THAT, of all things?? It’s just all so silly and downright ridiculous. The best, most amazing thing you can come up with to point to the amazing, sign and wonder displaying nature of God…is a “gold filling” in your mouth? That’s actually kind of bizarre and unpleasant to think about more than anything, yuck. A feather? Hehehe, oooohhhh a feather…wowwww. Gold dust, I wouldn’t even know what to do with gold dust. Do they put it in a baggy and bring it home and put it on their mantle? Why do they think this stuff actually impresses anybody is the most perplexing thing of all. So deluded, such a messed up bunch of feeble-minded people that peddle and believe these stories like you might see on “It’s Supernatural”. All so ridiculous, pointless, outlandish, and yet so pathetic that you have no words.

  16. Pat says:

    I think that maybe there has been slight misunderstanding here and probably with my delivery. I stated earlier…
    “Even though most of the discernment ministries do deal with these deceptive doctrines which transform Jesus into just a man, and elevate themselves to little gods…. ; way to much focus is still given to “no real miracle healings happening, no organic healings taking place, no one raised from the dead etc.”
    In effect I feel like I have gotten caught up into following after signs and wonders all over again only for very different reasons. Still once again I seemed to have been sidetracked; but I am not swallowed up or consumed by it. God is directing and correcting my course.”

    In no way was I saying that these discernment ministries were in error or misguided by any means and I’m sure it appears that’s what I was saying much to my regret. They have and continue to be a much needed strength and encouragement to me. I was speaking of my own obsession. There comes a time when you can only watch so much of someone rolling and crawling on the floor. I got it..I get it…..also I am not saying that others don’t need to see them, they do, as did I when I first got out.
    I certainly never said it would be easy or for that matter possible to convince anyone entrenched in this deception by pointing out the differences in the Jesus’ that they are taught. I agree with you that they have an explanation for everything and it doesn’t have to be in the Bible for them to believe it.
    But given a choice to sit down with someone involved in this deception who would truly be willing to open the Word and discuss it my starting and ending points would be on Christ. You are so right in that it is truly only by the drawing of the Holy Spirit that any can escape.
    I also did NOT say it shouldn’t be pursued. I was hit with not only the testimony but the comments concerning balance and…… what a fine line it is.

  17. mbaker says:

    Pat,

    I tend to agree that along with focusing on Christ, and good Bible teaching that we must show some people how false the ‘tricks’ of the trade’ are that both Scott and Cheryl listed above.

    While it may vary from church to church, it seems to me that when it comes down to whether folks are wanting their services to be more like a magic show that it has passed the point of being Christ’s church and become something else entirely. One problem with these false manifestations is they become like an addiction to some. As time goes on more and more radical stuff is required to satisfy it. I have seen with my own eyes people crawling on the floor barking like dogs and biting each other heels, and people egging them on by crying “More, Lord, more! ”

    That is a huge sign to me that people should be educated as to what to look for so they are not drawn into something demonic or occultic unawares, while church leaders are calling it ‘the work’ of the Holy Spirit.
    The Holy Spirit does not do magic tricks to entertain people or to ”prove’ the gospel. Jesus Himself said “Only a wicked generation looks for a sign”. Yet how often do you hear those words spoken in church who is into signs and wonders?

    So the big difference I see in the some of the hyper-charismatic practices is they think things like signs and wonders and strange religious rituals HAVE to be manifested in order prove the gospel is real, when Christ Himself is already the living proof. So whether they know it or not, many of them are making false gods of the signs and wonders and prophecies themselves.

  18. mbaker says:

    Pat,

    Thanks for the clarification. I agree that once you come out of this stuff it is distasteful and even sickening to watch others take part in some of the more radical parts of it.

    That’s why I think we must educate folks about it.

  19. Pat says:

    Thank you so much.

  20. Craig says:

    Pat,

    I’m not sure why, but your comment here was stuck in spam. Sorry, but, I just saw it.

  21. Craig says:

    In Jesus own words according to the Gospel of John [NIV], the Holy Spirit will:

    “…remind you of everything I have said to you….” [14:26]

    “…testify about Me.” [15:26]

    “…convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world [satan] now stands condemned.” [16:8-11]

    “…guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to Me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you….” [16:13-14]

    Since, the Holy Spirit does not “speak on his own” and will “testify” about Jesus, I fail to see where any of the strange physical manifestations could remotely be considered as having come from God — contrary to hyper-charismaticism.

  22. mbaker says:

    Craig,

    Thanks for reminding us of how the Lord Himself defines what the the Holy Spirit’s real job is in our lives. If that isn’t enough to show folks who are really serious about following Christ the difference, I don’t know what is.

    I particularly notice the part where Christ says the Holy Spirit ‘will bring glory’ to HIM. That tells me when Christ is left out of a church service or a ministry or His words or teachings are made secondary to that of a preacher or prophet, according to our Lord and Savior HIMSELF we can count on that being false teaching.

  23. julie says:

    I agree with Scott. How strange that these particular signs and wonders are being received, unquestioningly, as the real deal. I believe that were it not for the build up of anticipation created in the leaders and their followers of miracles that would soon occur, in conjunction with a promised revival, originating from words given clear back in the 80’s and early 90’s, I’m not sure the strange manifestations would have been received as legitimate. They are so strange and meaningless.

    Some of us baled out after the repeated promises never manifested themselves. Others, having hung on waiting for some indication of God’s power being poured out, were prime to believe, and receive all of these as the confirmed miracles promised. Some of these people are pretty invested.

    Just a thought.

  24. cherylu says:

    Hi again Pat.

    Thanks for your clarifications. I do believe I was misunderstanding what you were saying, at least partially.

    In the time I have been gone from this conversation something came to mind that I think may at least in part be the reason for the differences we seem to have in what we would emphasize to people in this movement or those on the outside that are wondering about it . In the group that I was in, the huge emphasis was on the manifestations, on how much fun the Christian life had become, and on “partying in the Spirit”. Someone even made the remark to me that the manifestations weren’t about sanctification but they certainly were fun!! While I didn’t agree with some of the things taught about Jesus at all and they were certainly at least bordering on the edges of turning Him into another Jesus, the biggest and most outwardly visible changes were in who the Spirit is and how He affects the life of people. I think He was certainly turned into “another spirit.” I think that likely has a lot to do with more of my emphasis being on these manifestations. On the other hand, if I had been been in a group that taught that Jesus was born again or had actually laid His divinity aside, I would probably be much more inclined to emphasize that side of things more.

    Not that I would cease to be very concerned about the manifestation and stop talking about that whole issue. People subjecting themselves to the influence and control of demons believing they are giving themselves to God will never cease to be an appalling and totally fearful thing to me.

  25. cherylu says:

    I don’t want to give the wrong idea here. There was a lot of teaching in the groups I was a part of. And at first particularly, some of it was really good. But as time went on, it got more and more off base and boy did you have to do a lot of “eat the meat and spit out the bones!! That was another large part of the reason I left–I simply could not handle the exhaustion it produced to sit there Sunday after Sunday, Bible study after Bible study and have to mentally sort through everything that was being taught to constantly avoid unwittingly soaking in and believing the error.

  26. mbaker says:

    Julie,

    That has been a big issue with me as well, that it has to be outside discernment sites that question these aberrant practices rather than those inside the charismatic church itself, who have been strangely silent on this important issue.

    I feel the same way about the Muslim faith. Where are their moderate leaders when we need them to come forward to speak out against extremism? But, then how can our own Christian leaders criticize other religions when they are so careful to avoid responsibility for not speaking out for the wrongs going in Christianity?

    It seems to me that the sheep anymore are more responsible than the shepherds when it comes to taking a stand, and i don’t think the Lord meant it to be that way.

    I believe the sins of omission are just as bad as the sins of commission.

  27. Craig says:

    This makes me wonder if many of our “leaders” are even true shepherds at all. Is it turf protection? Are they afraid of repercussions such as lawsuits? If this is the case, I’d say they have more fear of man than of God. John MacArthur is one of the few who has spoken specifically against wolves. While I don’t agree with all of MacArthur’s doctrine, I give him 5 stars out of 5 on this issue.

  28. Pat says:

    cherylu

    I wanted to thank you for our brief exchange. It got me to thinking (go figure!) about the manifestations (kundalini awakening)and even though I don’t plan on revisiting all the videos that I have watched, as they do tend to nauseate and grieve me. I do plan on investigating the long term complications, effects and problems that arise from these manifestations. I know that much has been put out there running a parallel between the Kundalini and the supposed Godly “manifestations” that we see in the church, but I was rather surprised when I started looking at the negative effects physical, emotionally and mentally; not to mention spiritually. It’s no wonder that the Healing Rooms and the Sozo ministries of these hyper/chars mania’s are flourishing. Again thanks for the conversation.
    God Bless

    ” DSM-IV does include in its “Glossary of culture-bound syndromes” the diagnostic category “Qi-gong Psychotic Reaction”, described as “an acute, time-limited episode characterized by disassociative, paranoid or other psychotic or non-psychotic symptoms[…] Especially vulnerable are individuals who become overly involved in the practice.”.[76] As such, some practitioners believe it to be a case of kundalini energy in disarray. Over-zealous practitioners of Kundalini, Qigong or Buddhist meditation, without proper guidance or restraint, were observed to lose touch with reality.[77″

  29. Craig says:

    Pat,

    Did you see the link referenced on the Misplaced Trust, part II (at footnote [62]) article here?:

    http://www.dharma-haven.org/oas/kundheal.htm

    “Kundalini rising experiences can be quite violent in nature, very gentle or anything in between….”

    This is from a kundalini practitioner who provides warnings of its dangers.

  30. cherylu says:

    Hi again Pat.

    I have read of the emotional/mental/physical dangers involved here too.

    Have you ever read or heard testimononies of people being thrown across the room in the process of healing? I have heard that one–my old pastor said he saw it happen. And I wish I knew off hand where the quotes are that came out of the Brownsville revival where one of the leaders talked about being slammed to the floor repeatedly by this spirit until, if I remember correctly, he thought he was going to die. The Holy Spirit of the Bible at work? I hardly think so.

    (If I can find a link to that, I will post it.)

  31. Pat says:

    Craig & Cherylu
    Thanks for the info.

  32. cherylu says:

    Pat,

    I couldn’t find the exact quote I was looking for. But look at these:

    Pensacola like Toronto needs to be read the riot act. John Kilpatrick describes, I saw bodies going every which way … just flying, going down like a hurricane coming through and pulling trees down,… Kilpatrick tells a story about God picking him up and throwing him sideways through the air “at least ten or twelve feet” across the platform, knocking his shoes off his feet. That may be power, the question is, Is it Gods power?

    Steve Hill the Evangelist declares “I’ve come home with wounds and bruises all over my body, friend. This is revival!” People can be and are hurt, as Hill comments and approves that revivals are violent. Tell that to the Apostles who saw the real revivals begin with real signs and wonders. In my biblical opinion there is no comparison. Hill also validates Brownsville because, people have been lifted off the floor and thrown into walls. Others are dropped or slammed into pews. They fall on top of one another before ushers and catchers are there for the safety net. Hill described: ” I have hundreds of times laid hands on the unsaved and I have watched them being thrown across the ground. I mean, I have watched them fly through the air, fall to the ground to where they couldn’t get up for an hour or two hours. The next thing you know is, ’” What must I do to be saved? What must I do?’”

    It is from this article which I highly recommend: http://www.letusreason.org/pent33.htm It is titled, The New Violence of the Holy Spirit?

  33. cherylu says:

    Pat,

    Did you notice this quote in the article Craig linked to above? Kundalini rising is sometimes a violent experience, radically changing one’s subtle energy field (making it much less subtle!) and consciousness and perception of energy. The experience can be (and often is in the West) mistaken for insanity (usually acute schizophrenia) or emotional or physical breakdown on a fairly large scale.

    Wow, great stuff and wonderful healing huh? And in the name of our Holy God??!??

  34. cherylu says:

    Here is the quote I was looking for:

    Hill also claims that on one occasion, because the anointing of God was so evident, he was lifted repeatedly off the floor during one of the revival meetings:

    “Now I have never had this happen to me [before]. When I touched one of them [a member of the audience slain in the Spirit], a joint of electricity shot through me and threw me up in the air four feet. I was slammed to the ground and picked up, slammed to the ground. The ushers were watching this. As a matter of fact, one of the ushers that takes care of me at night, thought I was going to die. He had never seen anything so violent. I was picked up, thrown down, picked up, thrown down, picked up, thrown down. After about ten times on the ground, I said, ‘Okay, Jesus. I know you’re doing something here.’”43

    From this ariticle: http://www.pfo.org/brownsv.html

    It is a very long article and I haven’t reread the whole thing. I read it in the past I believe.

  35. mbaker says:

    I think what alerted me to the occultish overtones in this type of behavior was the change I would see afterward in people. Instead of being calmed and released from whatever problem they had before one of these bizarre manifestations occurred, they seemed to be even more agitated and demoralized as if they were indeed in another world. We had one lady who constantly was asking for healing of her neurosis, and would run up and down screaming, ‘I am healed, I am healed’, and do all sorts of crazy things after someone would lay hands on her. The next week she would be right back at the altar asking for healing from the same thing, and the same scenario would happen. This went on for all the years I knew her.

    Perhaps a case of temporary insanity, perhaps influence from occultish spirits, or something that could have been cured with wise Biblical counsel and appropriate medication. Whatever it was, it often seemed to me while these folks were calling upon the Holy Spirit to manifest these kinds of things they were actually losing the concept of the Holy Spirit Himself.

    The fruit of the Spirit is spelled out quite specifically in Galatians: 5:22. His work has nothing to do with the drunken and rowdy behavior that you would be more likely to see in a bar, or that of someone high on drugs. In fact, it is self-control that is a fruit of the Spirit, according to scripture, not losing control.

  36. Pingback: Testimony of a Former IHOP-KC Attendee: Stephanie « CrossWise

  37. Arwen4CJ says:

    Hey….you know….I read your testimony and the comments….and it takes me back to the question: “Where exactly is the line?”

    I think most of these ministries and churches start out okay, but then…slowly…overtime things start changing. The changes are probably so gradual that a lot of people might not be able to detect them.

    As I thought about this question myself, I asked an additional question. “What do I know would be over the line for sure?” I came up with a list — preaching a false gospel, drunk in the Spirit stuff, gold dust, feathers, preaching about angels, John Crowder stuff, etc. would be over the line for me.

    The next question was, “Well, how does a church get to the place where it would be over the line?”

    I’ve been pondering this for over a year because I really felt uneasy about the new Vineyard pastor and church in the city that my graduate school was in.

    For most of my years at graduate school, I had attended a very biblically sound Vineyard church. (And yes, they do exist). He taught right out of the Bible and expounded on the passages…his sermons would last somewhere between 30-45 minutes — and it was all based on Scripture. Most, if not all, of his sermons pointed people to the gospel and to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. However, towards the end of my graduate school years, a second Vineyard church plant in the city was supposed to start. I hadn’t known this at the time, but the pastor of the church I was going to had been praying about whether or not to stay in the ministry. He really felt that God wanted him to minister more to his family, and so he asked if the person who was supposed to pastor the new church plant would pastor the original Vineyard in the city, as well as kind of merging the new church plant in.

    This was what was decided, and it is what happened. They decided to change the name of the church, and I felt like very little remained of the original Vineyard except for the building. I really began to feel really uneasy about this new pastor.

    There really wasn’t anything that he preached from the pulpit that was really wrong, but I did have some problems with the types of sermons that he would give. There were no strange manifestations or anything even close to what other people have experienced in churches that were off. I had a problem with the stuff that he didn’t teach as well. The first sermon that he preached was mostly about physical healings. But this wasn’t limited to his first sermon. Whereas the original pastor had a gospel/salvation focus as the main thread of his sermons, this new pastor seemed to have a constant healings theme. Healings aren’t unbiblical or anti-biblical — they are in the Bible, but I felt like he was emphasizing them way too much. I do not think that he denied the gospel, and he did refer to it a few times….but I think he had it backwards. The gospel should have been the foundation to everything.

    I e-mailed him about it after the first or second sermon because I was concerned that such an emphasis could lead people into seeing manifestations instead of God Himself. I exchanged a few e-mails with him, but I also asked him some questions that he never got back to. I also felt that he was a little dishonest, and I don’t know why…but I just felt like he was lying to me during those conversations and e-mail exchanges. (I did meet with him in person as well). He wasn’t a mean person, and I do think he really did love God. I just felt like something was lacking or something just wasn’t right.

    I found out a little later that he really liked Bill Johnson’s “When Heaven Invades Earth” book and was passing it out to some of the people in the congregation. This bothered me because I knew Johnson was false, but I hadn’t researched him as much as I have now :(

    Towards the end, probably several months before I graduated, I started to notice that he was using the Bible less and less in the sermons. This, of course, bothered me as well. When he did use the Bible, it was just as kind of like an aside. Sometimes he wouldn’t even open the Bible up during his sermon.

    Some of the sermon series’ that were done bothered me as well. Whereas the original Vineyard pastor had decided to use the summer to do a sermons series on one of the shorter letters in the NT – -such as Colossians or Philippians, the new pastor decided to use the summer to preach on movies :( Some of the movies that he chose to do were rated R, and were not even Christian. I guess the new pastor didn’t look at Sunday morning as a time for Christians to learn, but rather a time for Christians to serve non-Christians. So…he didn’t view it as a time to feed the sheep.

    Whereas there was a deep reverence for God that the original pastor had, this new pastor seemed to lack that reverence. In fact, one Sunday he decided to throw Twinkies and similar snack food at people in the congregation. It really turned me off — it was almost like he was trying to be irreverent. Another thing this new pastor liked to preach on (besides healing) was about how much Jesus liked to party.

    I stuck with the church because I was helping with the kid’s ministry regularly. If I hadn’t been signed up for that, I probably would not have continued going there. Again, he wasn’t really preaching any false doctrine, but I felt like what he was teaching wasn’t really correct either.

    I notice complete irreverence for God in many of the videos that show the false teachers, so this is probably a factor in a church getting over the line. Along with this, a lack of preaching the Bible and there is a lack of the centrality of the real gospel message. In place of that is this kind of “party” and healing stuff.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in healing today, and so did the original pastor. The difference was that the original pastor didn’t base his sermons on it.

  38. Craig says:

    You are correct that when there’s either an over or underemphasis something may be wrong. Healings are certainly Biblical as they did and do still happen. However, with Johnson the focus is on this to an extreme with the teaching that God always wants us well and not sick. The logical conclusion is that no one should die – assuming perhaps enough faith. However, go ask E.W. Kenyon, Kenneth E. Hagin, Hobart Freeman, etc. how that worked out…

    As far as feeling like something was not right – I attribute that to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Keep in mind that false teachers want to appear to be true. Otherwise they’d not be able to fool anyone. And, keep this in mind written almost 100 years ago by Alice A. Bailey, the one whose works are acknowledged as providing the basis for the New Age religion:

    “The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished…The church must show a wide tolerance, and teach no revolutionary doctrines or cling to any reactionary ideas. The church as a teaching factor should take the great basic doctrines and (shattering the old forms in which they are expressed and held) show their true and inner spiritual significance [ed: esoteric/occult ‘significance’]. The prime work of the church is to teach, and teach ceaselessly, preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages. Teachers must be trained; Bible knowledge must be spread; the sacraments must be mystically interpreted, and the power of the church to heal must be demonstrated.”

    This exposes the intent of the New Age/occult and, I would say, there’s been much success in this regard, unfortunately. I use this quote to begin the “Christ” in the New Age article here on CrossWise.

  39. Arwen4CJ says:

    Yeah….I think that Jesus Christ and the gospel message should be central to every church — Jesus should be preached on — the main topic. Then, other things that are biblical can be taught on – such as healings and biblical spiritual gifts and social justice or whatever have you. If a church doesn’t preach Jesus as the foundation (the biblical Jesus of course :) ) then something is wrong.

    And the new pastor at the church didn’t teach all of Bill Johnson’s doctrine. He didn’t teach that people should always be healed, although he bordered on that a couple of times.

    Yes, I agree that the “something is off” feeling was the Holy Spirit.

    My current problem with the church at home is different, although similar.

  40. Craig says:

    No church is perfect, of course; but, given your situation from what I know this seems like a big red flag to me. However, it’s possible the Lord wants you there to be light amongst the darkness – even the darkness doesn’t seem to be so…dark. I was in a situation a while back in which I very politely pointed out to a teacher (after class) the problems; and, after being paid lip service for awhile, I knew it was my turn to leave. While everyone makes mistakes and no church is perfect, for a teacher or pastor to continue when shown blatant error time after time, that’s a key to know it’s time to leave.

  41. mbaker says:

    I have to agree with Craig on this one. I know I stayed a lot longer than I should out of loyalty to friends, especially a long time friend who was in charge of a home group I attended that was particularly into many of the questionable things mentioned here. At first I thought this person was unaware, but as it turned out, sadly, that was not the case. The group leaders simply preferred to go on believing what they were hearing was genuinely ‘new’ revelation, and those of us who questioned it as genuine were being rebellious or divisive. That’s when I truly realized our first loyalty must be to Christ, no matter what, and no matter how much we respect or care for others personally. We can only make them aware of false teachers/teaching, by speaking the truth in love, but we cannot, in and of ourselves, change their minds or their hearts. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. We can only inform them as best we can, and then pray for the Lord to do the necessary work in their lives. And yes, it is very, very hard to stand by and watch, and to especially to have to separate ourselves from when it is affecting our own faith.

  42. Arwen4CJ says:

    Well…each congregation needs to be handled as separate issues, as the two churches have nothing to do with each other besides being in the same association or denomination..or whatever you want to call it. This case is especially true with the Vineyard. Each church is autonomous.

    The church in the city that my graduate school was in definitely was going in a direction that I didn’t like. Still, it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the other people have experienced in various churches. There were no weird manifestations, no one was going after any signs or wonders or behaving in unusual ways. No one was getting “drunk” or “high.” There were no angels or tales of odd encounters. However, I didn’t feel that the pastor revered God, I didn’t think he preached the gospel, I think he emphasized healing too much, and he really started to preach the Bible less and less. He also handed out Bill Johnson’s book to people and definitely was influenced by Bill Johnson’s book. He never mentioned Bill Johnson or any heretics in his sermons. There were no webcasts or anything. There were way too many sermons on the “let’s party with Jesus” topic. Or “Jesus partied” or “heaven will be like one big party.” I don’t go there now because it’s in a different city — in a city that is about two hours away from where I live. I think I would have stopped going there sooner if I hadn’t been involved with the children ministry. I knew this wasn’t a permanent placement anyway because I was in grad school.

    The church in my hometown is different. Again, there are no strange manifestations or people being drunk or anything crazy going on within the actual services. There is no mention of Bill Johnson or anyone in his group in the actual sermons. However, behind the scenes, there is more going on here. There are some people in the church, probably the more influential people who are going to conferences put on by people like Bill Johnson. People are getting drunk in the Spirit at those…but I don’t know much more. People don’t really talk about it much. I just know because of my conversation with the two people who are showing the webcast. The messages at this church are more biblically based, yet I’ve had to question some of these things. For example, he did a series on the Father’s love for us. That’s fine, and it doesn’t seem to be all that he focuses on. He does mention the gospel sometimes. Not nearly as much as I would like, but he does talk about it. I can’t figure out what his main thread that he tends to teach on is yet. He’s a fairly new pastor. I only saw him preach a few times when I was home from grad school. I have seen him preach since about June of this year..but I don’t feel like I have enough to analyze his sermons yet. He’s not teaching anything false. He’s not as reverent as I would like him to be, but he’s not exactly irreverent either. I do feel like something has happened at the church in the past couple of years. I’ve noticed some people flipping their positions on things — like whether or not there are modern day apostles, their view of the prosperity gospel and word of faith teachings, their evaluation of Bob Jones and Todd Bentley, etc. These positions have changed in a bad direction. Of the Vineyard’s I’ve been in, they are the one that is most into personal prophecy for people — like if New Members join the church, or people get baptized, or go off to college, or get married, or baby dedications, or going on a mission trip or anything like that…they will invite people to come up and give words or pictures or whatever to the people there. At first I thought this was nice, but then I realized that there is no way to test the words. I don’t know…I just don’t really like that practice. I also know that there are a couple of people who still think highly of the Toronto “blessing.”

    There is no perfect church, and I’m not going to agree with everything that is done inside a church. I don’t like that this church is showing a webcast of false apostles, but it isn’t part of the service. They are not forcing anyone to attend. Since this stuff isn’t preached or encouraged from the pulpit, it hasn’t gone over the line for me yet. I pray that it doesn’t. The potential is there for it to go that direction, but it might not.

    I don’t want to leave just because something is happening that I don’t like. I think I need to stick it out some more until either things get better or things get worse. I will leave if they start promoting the false teachers from the pulpit or if strange manifestations and angel talk starts. I will leave if the pastor starts preaching a false gospel.

  43. iwanthetruth says:

    @Arwen4CJ

    I will be praying for you. I sense two things to ask of the Lord for you, boldness and proper timing discernment. Boldness, allowing the Holy Spirit to give you the words that are and will be needed with right dividing of the word as you speak up for HIS truth to those who need to hear it and if they don’t hear, that you will have the dicernment and ears to know if/when the Lord is releasing you from that fellowship.

    As MBaker stated in the post above, We can only make them aware of false teachers/teaching, by speaking the truth in love, but we cannot, in and of ourselves, change their minds or their hearts. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. We can only inform them as best we can, and then pray for the Lord to do the necessary work in their lives.

  44. Arwen4CJ says:

    @ iwanthetruth,

    Thank you very much. I’m touched by your words.

    Yes, I know that only the Holy Spirit can change hearts and convince people of error. My part is just to speak truth, but it is only the Holy Spirit who can convince them.

  45. mbaker says:

    Arwen4CJ,

    I also join Iwantthe truth in prayer that the Lord give you both wisdom and peace. Hope you will continue to keep us posted.

    God bless.

  46. Arwen4CJ says:

    Thank you. mbaker. I will try to keep you posted.

  47. Craig says:

    Yes, please do keep us posted here.

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