Throwing Stones in Glass Houses of Worship


People who worship in glass houses...Some arguments that crop up in the Godblogosphere just kill me. If I were a non-Christian, I’d have all the ammo I’d need from blogs alone to make a compelling argument to look somewhere other than Jesus for my salvation.

Can I reiterate the old aphorism that the biggest argument against Christianity are Christians? Hackneyed, yes, but sadly true.

Last week, the old divisive question of cessationism vs. charismata raised its perpetually ugly head for the umpteenth time over at Pyromaniacs. It seems that we simply can’t let this issue die, as if one more post on it’s going to force one side or the other to capitulate.

Whenever the supporters of a cessationist view want to make their point that all charismatics are “shambalahonda”-babbling, heretical nutjobs, they go to the same well again and again: TBN. The same tired arguments are trotted out. “Look at Benny Hinn! Will you get a load of that screwloose?” Or “What’s with Paul and Jan Crouch? I mean, seriously!”

And thus all charismatics—myself included—are painted with the same exceedingly broad brush. The blanket of condemnation falls on anyone who spoke in tongues after the Apostle John died, and we’re all Benny Hinns, W.V. Grants, and purveyors of error worthy of an extra bucket of red-hot embers when we finally croak and wind up in hell.

But is that the truth?

I’d like readers to bear with me through the next few paragraphs. Don’t even read them unless you’re willing to read to the end. Just stop reading now if you aren’t going to finish this post. I’ll even highlight the questionable words in blue so you know which ones I mean.

Pyromaniacs is a Reformed site. They support 5-point TULIP Calvinism. In truth, we agree on most things, though I understand that my Lutheran theology (though Reformation-inspired) coupled with a belief that the charismata are still working today would not endear me to my brothers there. Certainly, I would not be branded Reformed by their definition.

So while Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs talks of bad experiences with charismaniacs, I’d like to share my experiences in the Reformed church, since I was a part of a few Reformed churches over the years and have friends who have attended Reformed Calvinist churches.

One Bible study I attended consisted solely of men from a respected, wealthy Reformed church. Before the Bible studies started, these men would sit around and belittle the poor, talking about “those people” and how they were lazy and ignorant. (That they laughed while they tore down “the least of these” made it all the more excruciating for me to even be in the same room with those “Christians.”)

Or let’s consider the Calvinist church that split because some people in that church wanted to evangelize the nearby Hispanic community. Objections swirled that the church would be ruined should “those people” (there it is again!) come in and disrupt things by bringing their culture and customs with them.

Or how about greeters at a Reformed church “greeting” visitors by immediately asking if they were Calvinists, then walking away when the visitors said they did not know?

What can be said of the Reformed church that belittles congregants who can’t afford to send their kids to an exclusive, private Christian school (founded in part by the church)?

Or how about the couple who wanted to start an evangelistic outreach in their Reformed church, but encountered constant apathy on the part of the congregation because “those who were predestined were already in the church”?

In short, which is worse—the babbling, emotional, theology-challenged, snake-handling charismaniac OR the self-righteous, xenophobic, status-seeking, materialistic Reformed/Calvinist?

It’s a pointless question, isn’t it?

If we Christians want to speak words of death in the Church, then by all means let’s resort to naming the worst possible examples of living the Christian life that we might possibly find in some other denomination or sect. Then let’s write as if those worst possible examples were the norm.

I didn’t want to write this post. That this post even needs to be written saddens me. Writing those examples of how some perverse subset of Reformed/Calvinist brothers and sisters ignored the very heart of the Gospel gave me no pleasure at all. Why? Because I know that thousands more Reformed Calvinist brothers and sisters in Christ are NOT like that. In the same way, thoughtful, theologically-sound charismatics who don’t like TBN or the excesses displayed within some charismatic churches exist in large numbers.

Because some Reformed and Calvinist believers are jerks doesn’t negate the Reformed/Calvinist message anymore than wacky charismatics negate theirs. The truth here is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Before we disparage others from some other flavor of Christianity, we should ask if our own flavor has its house in order. Railing on “those other guys” comes easy to us because few of us wish to acknowledge the problems in our own house. (If Team Pyro wants to correct those Reformed churches I mentioned above, I’ve got the phone numbers for a couple of them. They can drop me an e-mail. I’ve already corrected charismania many times here.)

If Reformed/Calvinists with a keen eye for discernment would work to clean up their house, and Baptists worked to clean up their house, and Nazarenes worked to clean up their house, and charismatics worked to clean up their house, I have an idea that God would bless each house in a profound way. Perhaps then, even our differences wouldn’t seem so large.

But if the Nazarenes decide to point fingers at the mess in the Baptist’s house, and the Reformed/Calvinists decide to ridicule the excesses in the charismatic house, then the world they all live in will go on spinning and the Church of Jesus Christ will smother itself with a blanket of words that kill.

Because I can always find a problem with my neighbor. It’s my own problems I’m not so keen to fix.

108 thoughts on “Throwing Stones in Glass Houses of Worship

  1. Dan,
    I had just got done reading the thread at Pyromaniacs, and was so impressed with how you handled yourself there, I came here to say “thank you” and “good work,” even if it was off topic for whatever you had posted.

    And look what I found when I got here, more truly excellent work, dead on with the subject matter. Thanks for the uplifting testimonies, for the respectful tone of your statements, and for asking tough questions of everyone, charismatic and cessationists alike.

    Blessings upon you, my brother. Please, keep up the good work.

    • Thanks, SLW. It bothers me when we lump people into boxes based on our own preconceptions, then say, “See, that’s exactly how they are,” when in truth, it says more about how WE are.

  2. Not being a Calvinist, I suspect I’d be in a war of an entirely different nature at places like Pyromaniacs. :-O

    Not to detract from the issue, but why are there so many fricking calvinists in the blogosphere anyway? I mean seriously, it’s all I ever find, and it irritates me to no end. It’s like I’m stuck at Daily Kos and try as I might, there is nary a conservative to be found. Where be the Wesleyan-Arminian bruthas?

    Sorry, I’ll go rant elsewhere now.

    • Lincoln,

      I have a theory about the predominance of Calvinists in the blogosphere:

      My experience has shown that most people I’ve encountered who are Calvinists come from more privileged backgrounds. That led to better education, better income, and a greater likelihood of being early adopters of high-tech. I also think something in the structured nature of Calvinism attracts people who prefer logic over emotion, facts over fancy. I’ve also found by my own observations that Calvinism attracts more introverts percentage-wise than what exists in the general population. In fact, I would guess that most of the well-known Calvinist bloggers will self-identify as introverts.

      Combine all these traits and you get a picture that looks remarkably like the average tech gearhead of lore. For this reason Calvinist techies jumped on blogging in far greater numbers and kept with it as a discipline. That’s why they comprise a disproportionate number of bloggers.

      It’s my theory and I’m sticking with it!

      • That’s along the lines of what I was thinking as well. I’ve always perceived the calvinist community as largely consisting of intellectual snobs who love to argue and debate, and then debate and argue, and then when they’re done with that…. debate and argue some more. Makes the blogosphere a perfect fit for them. 😀

        • Tyler

          You’re absolutely right. Brus like George Mueller and Chuck Spurgeon were snobbish techie calvinist proto-bloggers too obsessed with debating and arguing things to ever get around to preaching the gospel or helping orphans and the downtrodden. Broad ungenerous generalizations are teh r0x0r. I ♥ you guys.

          Never mind that a very large percentage of the blogosphere are emergent, or that many of today’s foremost calvinists are also charismatics (John Piper, Wayne Grudem, C.J. Mahaney and to some degree Don Carson), or that many Reformed bloggers are also Charismatics (Adrian Warnock, Joshua Harris of Kissing Dating Goodbye fame, anyone?). Have I mentioned that I ♥ you guys?

    • Heather,

      Thanks. It’s kind of sad that we do this to each other in the Church. It’s one reason I don’t point out denominational quirks but stick to speaking to the individual Christian. If all the denominations went away, I wouldn’t be sad. I think in many ways they only reinforce stereotypes. Look at how easily we stereotype someone the second we find out what denomination they’re a part of.

      That only closes down minds and hearts.

  3. Dan,
    Well said, brother.

    Unfortunately, the Pyros would seem to only being true to their name – those with an “irresistible urge to start fires.” And in their attack on charismatics, they are only following the lead of their spiritual mentor, Dr. John MacArthur and his book, Charismatic Chaos. It is all rather old.

    The reality is that it is not a hard task to build a case against any of the “designer labels” of Christianity based on the appalling things done in Christ’s name. We are, in Scot McKnight’s words, Cracked Eikons – broken image-bearers of the one we claim to follow. Or, as Rich Mullins put it:

    We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made
    Forged in the fires of human passion
    Choking on the fumes of selfish rage
    And with these our hells and our heavens
    So few inches apart
    We must be awfully small
    And not as strong as we think we are

    My rather warped sense of humor sees those of us with self-appointed “discernment ministries” spending eternity wandering heaven saying “How’d you get in here?! How’d you get in here!?”

    • Bill,

      The thing that gets me is that John MacArthur and Jack Hayford are good friends, so obviously there’s some common ground there. I wish we could speak to the common ground rather than trying to amp up the differences.

      I hold absolutely no grudge against Christians that come from a different background than I do, even ones who rabidly oppose my beliefs. In fact, I hope that I can always grow in sanctification by the Lord placing Christians in my life who think differently than I do. He’s done that in the past and I believe it’s one of the main reasons I’m the believer I am today.

      I remember trying so hard to encourage kids at Wheaton College who spent all their lives in their parent’s denomination to explore what other denominations have to say in order to broaden their understanding of the Faith. I wish we didn’t compartmentalize the faith the way we do through denominations, but now that those kids were away from mommy and daddy, it’s a good chance for them to see “how the other half lives.” But you’d be surprised how many absolutely refused to consider attending even one service from another denomination than the one they grew up in. I mean, would it kill a Baptist to attend a high Episcopal church one Sunday? Or a Nazarene attend a Vineyard church? Honestly, are we expecting a lightning bolt out of the blue to strike us in the heart and that’s all she wrote?

      I think some of this animosity would vanish if we got out of our denominational ghettos.

      • Perhaps the reason you cannot fathom how MacArthur and Hayford can be friends in spite of this problem is that you do not understand how criticism or disagreement works.

        I am grateful to God for the men who have criticized me — and proven me wrong! I am grateful for those — like my presbyterian brothers — with whom I may never settle my disagreements. There are some things which are important which are not places where you turn people out of larger fellowship — and I’d say this topic is one of them.

        I have a great friend who is a wildly-charismatic pastor — claims to have healed the lame in his trips to India. He has a slowly-growing church in which they take doctrine and work seriously, but they are charismatics. He won’t even hear it from me regarding why there’s no way he can be right about his views, and he doesn’t bother to try to convince me because, well, I’m a Calvinist. We all know what they are like.

        But you have never met two guys who, when they are together, can find so much about Scripture to -agree- on. When he’s in my bookstore, it’s like a theological frat house.

        The problem is that some people think that disagreement — even hearty, strenuous agreement — means hate. Dude: where’s that in the Bible?

        • Frank,

          I totally understand how MacArthur and Hayford can be friends. But you and I know that some people out there can’t! When I say “that gets me,” I’m referring to people who don’t know that fact or will just dismiss it and go on railing.

        • Jim B.

          Amen, Frank.

          I could not disagree more with the thrust of Dan’s post:

          “If Reformed/Calvinists with a keen eye for discernment would work to clean up their house, and Baptists worked to clean up their house, and Nazarenes worked to clean up their house, and charismatics worked to clean up their house, I have an idea that God would bless each house in a profound way.”

          So… As a Reformed (Continuationist) Baptist, I should not be allowed to correct (or receive correction from) a Lutheran, Presbyterian, Charismatic, etc.? What if Paul only concerned himself with his followers, and not with the followers of Apollos or Peter?

          I used to be an Arminian. I used to be a cessationist. I used to think paedobaptizers were nuts (I still think they’re wrong, but no longer believe they’re nuts). Were in not for certain divisive discernment types harping on “old, tired, arguments”, I would never have had the opportunity to change and grow on these issues.

          I think your post should have stopped at: “Don’t paint all charismatics as the extreme.” I would agree with that.

  4. Don Fields

    I don’t disagree with what you said. I have read the post, but didn’t read the comments yet, so I don’t know what was said there. But if I remember correctly it was a charismatic that pointed Johnson to Hinn as an example of someone with the gift of healing.

    Again, I don’t disagree with your point here. But I just wanted to point out that it wasn’t Johnson just looking to start a fight, but he posted his response to an email.

    • Don,

      Phil could’ve responded in a personal e-mail. That’s what I would’ve done in a case where I knew that my public response was going to rile a large swath of Christianity.

      I know he’s not hot on charismatics. This issue has come up before. I harbor no grudge against him. I’m just not happy that he tends toward the strategy of lumping people. He could have easily said that he knew sound charismatics (Sovereign Grace churches, anyone?) and that people like Hinn were aberrations, but he went the “all charismatics are suspect” route and that’s sad to me. Like I posted, I would never hold up Calvinists for that kind of lump rebuke even though the examples I gave above are absolutely true and the experience of some people, myself included. I know that’s not true of of all Calvinists. And even though I’m only about a 3.5-pointer, I respect Calvinist theology.

      • Jon

        “Phil could’ve responded in a personal e-mail. That’s what I would’ve done in a case where I knew that my public response was going to rile a large swath of Christianity.”

        The question isn’t what YOU would have done. The question is what you implied Phil did do…which, frankly, he did not.

        The *charismatic fellow* pointed to Hinn, and you vilified Phil for pointing out Hinn as the example.

        Be honest or don’t blog.

        • Jon,

          Phil made no attempt to distance abberant charismatic behavior from godly charismatic behavior. Knowing what he has written on this topic before, I know he feels all charismatics are aberrant. He knew exactly what he was doing by lumping all charismatics together and I noted why that was wrong by reversing the accusation and showing how intellectually dishonest it is.

          So be very careful when you throw the “honesty” accusation around. It has a way of boomeranging.

  5. From what I heard about John MacArthur, he seems like a nice guy, and I’m not so sure he’d approve of Pyros’ incendiary style.

    @slw: Us heathens gotta stick together! LOL 😀

    • Todd,

      I think the revelatory nature of some of the charismata bother folks who can’t seem to separate them from the closed canon of Scripture. That always seems to be the sticking point.

      Frankly, I’ve never understood that sticking point since I see the dividing line clearly. No matter what I say, though, others can’t carry that difference in their heads.

      Discernment is tough business. There’s a reason why the discerning of spirits is one of the charismata. I think some people think its better to just blanket exclude everything but the Bible rather than fall into error—as if no one ever misinterpreted the Bible! I believe that’s a mistake on a hundred different levels that I could blog on for the next year if I wanted to. This in no way denigrates the Bible to say that God still speaks today, though.

      • I am not a charismatic (though I’m told my personality is) but I STRONGLY disagree with the man-made theology that says sign gifts are not for today. The verses that are used to back that up are a serious stretch at best. As I’ve talked with people of that persuasion, one thing comes out loud and clear (at least to me). There is a serious fear issue. There is an underlying uneasiness with what cannot be controlled, and so it’s simpler to just clamp down on it and discredit it.
        But the Spirit of the living God cannot be controlled or boxed or confined into or by our limited finite minds. Um…He’s GOD!
        Throughout my Christian walk, I have had wonderful, blessed fellowship with brothers and sisters in the many facets of the Church. I have also had serious concerns and questions with brothers and sisters from the many facets of the Church.
        Some of the most loving, following-hard-after-Christ men and women I know are “Spirit-filled.”
        The gift of discernment is a touchy gift. The immediate, pressing response to those with this gift is intercessory prayer. I know in my own life, when I’ve been judgmental and condemning, I was not praying for those who were the recipients of my “discernment.”

        Lord help!

        Love wins.
        (except in tennis)

      • Is it possible that perhaps it is the charismatics who do not understand the non-charismatics?

        For example, can you find anyone who is actually a christian (small “c”, so that there’s no quibbling about which denomination you might want to refer to) who would deny that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, etc.? Or anyone who would deny that the spirit gives many gifts — discernment, administration, teaching, preaching, hospitality — for the edification of the church?

        The problem is not “does the Spirit equip the church?” The problem is “does the Holy Spirit manifest the miraculous gifts (like healing, tongues, prophecy, etc.) today in an indiscriminate way?”

        See: this is the core problem, and it is akin to the problem of the closed canon in a way which people who pride themselves as being able to reach out to postmoderns ought to be able to fathom. When these charismatic gifts are in evidence, the Holy Spirit is saying something though His own work. It is a testimony to something — and we can assume this something would be Christ. But in charismatic circles, the gifts manifest is such indiscriminate ways that they evidence nothing at all. They point to nothing.

        Is the Holy Spirit a sort of eternal blatherer? May no one ever think so! And this is specifically why Phil, Dan and myself take offense to charismatic claims: the denigrate the actual work of the Spirit described in Scripture, and only serve to confuse rather than enlighten the word and the work of God.

        Shaking one’s head at criticism is not responding to it. Claiming the other side is just too dim to see the truth doesn’t answer their questions. And claiming better experience doesn’t clear up doctrinal confusion.

        • Frank,

          I think part of the issue here comes from the question of how God works. Cessationists tend to place God’s workings outside the realm of the believer’s life. God works as a sole entity and believers don’t really have much to do with what happens as God works. If anything, God works around the believer. Charismatics believer God works His power through the believer’s life. God works through imperfect vessels to show that His power is made perfect in weakness. (Think of all the miracles in the life of Paul, yet consider his thorn in the flesh.)

          I think that’s one of the major distinctions. It’s also why cessationists and charismatics tend to talk around each other yet arrive at the same destination. Someone was healed of a devastating disease, praise God! We’ll both agree that was a huge blessing. Our main contention is of mechanism.

          I have a very busy week, but I’ll try to blog on this at some point in the next week.

          • I’ll post my response with no time limit for your answer as I understand busy. However, you answer here cannot wait for an answer.

            I think part of the issue here comes from the question of how God works. Cessationists tend to place God’s workings outside the realm of the believer’s life.

            I can’t think of anything someone would say about cessationist theology that would be less insightful, Dan, than this. “God works around the believer”? In the new birth? In sanctification? In gifting for service? In receiving and understanding the word? Isn’t it somewhat astonishing that the NT spends so little time talking about the “mundane” gifts and work of the church and so little time talking about the way prophets will operate in the next generation of the church, or what to do with all the people who get miraculously healed by the charismatic hand-layers-on?

            Saying what you say here is glib at best. If you can agree not to toss out examples of lifeless muppets who mouth cessationist theology to endorse your claim here, I’ll stay away from Hinn and Robertson whenw e get back to your own claims of what the in-working of the Spirit must mean.

            It’s also why cessationists and charismatics tend to talk around each other yet arrive at the same destination. Someone was healed of a devastating disease, praise God!

            Again, I think there’s a serious problem in how you perceive the cessationist position. The question is not “Can God — or will God — accomplish miracles today?” God will do what God will do. The question is, “Does God today, as a part of His normative expression in and through the church, demonstrate the miraculous for the same purpose demonstrated in the book of Acts?”

            When we can agree that the answer to this question is, “NO”, we will then find out whether the believer should seek after and claim these things for God’s sake.

            Have a nice week, and e-mail me when you get a response up.

            • Frank,

              As to the quote you cite first, I’m not making that up out of my own perception. That’s what I continually hear from a large number of people who are cessationists. We don’t need the charismata because God will do the work apart from us. It’s as if God does an end run around the believer to create a result similar to a “charismatic” gift but without the charismata. That’s one common argument when discussing miraculous healings. Did the healing happen because God imparted a gift of healing to an individual who then prayed for another to receive healing OR did God not need to impart a gift to heal a person, choosing a more direct route by just healing the sick without the need for the believer to be a part of the process?

              Surely you’ve encountered these two opposing views. I think that in many ways they are the dividing line on this issue. What happens then is that we get into a tussle over means rather than ends.

              As to the second quote, I cannot agree with you that the answer is no. I believe the answer is very much yes. This is especially true in nations that have not been blanketed with the Gospel. The charismatic gifts still have a place because the Gospel has not been heard by every tongue and tribe. Power gifts are still a sign, an imprimatur of God upon the life of the Christian who ministers to those who have not heard the message. They function in exactly the same way as they did in Acts under exactly he same circumstances. Again, as A.W. Tozer once said, no one comes to the Scriptures fresh and comes away thinking the gifts have ceased. Tozer also wrote in his book Tragedy in the Church:

              “Nowhere in the Word of God is there any text or passage that can be tortured or twisted into teaching that the organic living church of Jesus Christ just prior to His return will not have every right and every power and every obligation that she knew in that early part of the book of Acts.”

              That’s what I believe because that’s what the Scriptures teach.

              The fulfillment of the prophet Joel’s words in Acts 2 at no time fixes a limit on the length of time the Holy Spirit will work miraculously through the lives of men EXCEPT the Great Day of the Lord. As that is the last day of this world as we know it, that is the day that the gifts cease. That is the day that “the perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13 comes. That is the arrival of the Kingdom and the King in their unveiled glory. At that point, we will no longer need the gifts.

              Until that time, however, nothing has changed since Pentecost. No command of the Lord has been altered regarding our commission, nor have the tools He’s given to fulfill that commission been rescinded. And that includes the charismatic gifts.

              That’s where I stand.

            • I think it’s funny that you don’t want to be marginalized by Benny Hinn but you want to marginalize those who think you’re full of theological hooey by refuting those on the opposite side in the same credibility class as Hinn.

              See my detailed response, below.

            • Frank,

              I tried reading your comment several different ways, but I’m still uncertain what you’re trying to say. I’d like to respond, but I don’t understand who you say I’m marginalizing or by what process.

  6. Lincoln, slw, there are a few of us out there. I rarely blog any more at my own place, but occasionally I’ll stick up for us Wesleyan-Arminians at the BHT 🙂

  7. This whole discussion reminds me that we all need to fall on our faces before God, seeking forgiveness for our disunity. How often we forget the truth of the old cliche, that the ground at the foot of the cross is level.

  8. Great article Dan. I grew up in a traditional Methodist church, attended an Assemblies of God college, and currently attend a non-denominational church, through if pressed we are probably more Baptist than anything. There are things in all denominations I don’t agree with, but to each his own.

    The point to all this? We are all Christians. Our identity is not in our church but in Christ. We can argue the finer points of theology all we want, but in the end the truth of Christ and our gift of salvation are all that matter.

    • Clay,

      I’ve found that each denomination has latched onto a small chunk of the larger whole of the Gospel and elevated that chunk to primacy. Also, I’ve found that race, class, and personality type also lead to denominational differences, much more than people are willing to admit.

      Pentecostals tend to be less educated, less wealthy, and more attuned to emotions than Presbyterians. The Pentecostal feels out of place in the Presbyterain church and vice versa. Honestly, if a predominantly white church and a predominantly black church exist right across the street from each other, they may very similar theologies and yet when new people move into the neighborhood they’ll favor whatever church aligns with their race more often than not.

      Sad? Yes, but I don’t have a clear answer how to solve that. People choose churches for the dumbest reasons and most of those dumb reasons have to do with personal preferences rather than the quality (or lack if it) in a particular church.

  9. Dave Block

    It’s been clear in my experience that the only ones who really have it right are those who grew up in a United Methodist Church in Annapolis, Maryland, attended an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Easton, Pennsylvania during most of their college years, and then became a member of an Evangelical Free Church in Easton in the mid-’90s.

    Everyone else has got it all wrong and should be opposed if not avoided altogether.

      • Dave Block

        I usually can’t bring myself to insert a smiley face symbol. Hope it’s not necessary when what I’ve written is sufficiently ridiculous.

        • Dave, I knew it was facetious! There’s a well-worn joke about the Old Order Baptists of Wisconsin, Meeting 1849 vs. the Old Order Baptists of Wisconsin, Meeting 1863 that comes to mind here.

          • Is that the one with the punchline “Die, heretic!”?

            I’ve been in a Restoration church all my life. Its unofficial position is cessationist. That troubles me.

            Because the folks that I encounter in scripture who get in the worst jams seem to be the ones who are incontrovertibly convinced they are right about what God cannot or will not do ….

            • Keith,

              Yeah, I think a dividing line exists in the Church between those who believe that God can do anything (within the self-imposed limits of His nature) and those may say they believe that, but then start adding their own rules and limitations.

              If a man says, “I don’t want to experience God THAT way,” that kind of resistance isn’t going to get him any closer to what God wants unless that man humbles himself and says, “Not my will, Lord,but yours be done.”

              Can God utterly blast through that mentality? Sometimes, but I don’t see that as the norm. Sure. modern-day equivalents of Jonah exist, but again, God’s got a better way.

  10. Peter

    Hi Dan,

    Interesting post.

    Can I ask a question of you with the understanding that I only want to start a discussion, this is not a form of attack?

    If I can, then the question is this:

    Is writing a post saying essentially that ‘those people’ are terrible and bad examples because they constantly tear each other apart over their theology not actually you stooping to their level and doing the same thing?

    Are you not actually adding to the volume of arguments in the blogsphere which would turn people away from Christianity?

    This is a question I wrestle with and I would be interested in your opinion.



    • Peter,

      If you’ve been a regular reader, you know that I write to the Church by addressing individual believers. Any change that comes must come through individuals. This lessens the tendency toward labeling others as “those people.” I try very hard not to address groups or talk about groups.

      All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God—you, me, them, us, whomever. Correction implies that we get our own house in order, as my post notes. Nothing is wrong in getting your house in order. When your blog consists of telling other groups or denominations to get their house in order, you better darned well have your own in top shape or else you’re a hypocrite. We have to take the logs out of our own eyes before we can help another group with their specks.

      I’ve gotten many private e-mails from people that Cerulean Sanctum is one blog they always read because it represents sanity amidst the insanity of the Godblogosphere. I don’t write to pick fights. I write to hold up a mirror and say, “This is how we are. What are we doing to be more like Christ? Here is a better way….” I pray that everyone who comes here goes away challenged, blessed, and ultimately changed. You simply won’t achieve that if your focus is “the other guy.” Here the focus is on presenting a spotless Bride to the Bridgegroom, helping us become more like Christ by looking at ourselves and recognizing the need for the Spirit to conform us to that image.

      • Peter

        I would totally agree with those who tell you that Cerulean Sanctum represents sanity amid the insanity of the blogsphere.

        I guess the wrestling match going on inside me is more to do with how sad it is that you would even need to write a post like that.

        My preferred route would be to completely ignore people who are less interested in furthering the Kingdom than they are with picking a fight with anyone they can find to pick a fight with.

        On the other hand though, many people come to the Internet to learn about God and if the people like you who can see clearly do not introduce a counterpoint argument to what some people put out there, then all people will be able to find is the maybe less-than-theologically-correct stuff.

        I guess the issue is that, with the internet being international and impersonal, compromise, agreement and acceptance of one another is very difficult to achieve. On a local level reconcilliation is possible, on an international stage where people get to hide behind their keyboards, it’s almost impossible (although I do firmly believe that NOTHING is impossible with God).

        Maybe the root of my discomfort is frustration at where we are as a family. Maybe I’m just frustrated that the divisions are there at all.

        Keep up the good work and the sanity. You’re doing what you believe God has gifted and called you to do and that’s a great example to us all.

        God bless,


  11. Pingback: JOLLYBLOGGER
  12. I so love Technorati. 🙂

    Hey Dude: no question that every one of your mad-cap examples ought to be absolutely abhorred. Racism trumps evangelism? Using the word — not even the theology but the -word- — “calvinism” to draw a spiritual picture of a visitor? A de facto prosperity gospel?

    If you can get Dan or Phil to defend any of that, I’ll eat my shoes.

    See: if you drop that dime on Reformed churches, any one of us Pyros would give you an “amen”. In fact, to keep the confusion factor low, here you go: AMEN!

    But when Phil or Dan (or me — don’t forget me) bring up Benny Hinn and Pat Robertson as examples, we don’t get an “amen — these are kooks”. We get, “yeah but — !” Sure Benny Hinn is a widow-fleecing liar and an offense to the Christian church and the Gospel, but the Holy Spirit really does work that way — just not in Benny. Yes, Pat Robertson is a quack who ought to shut up more often rather than letting his bigotry and ignorance pose as God speaking through him, but there are men today who are prophecying — just not Pat.

    We keep coming back to the subject because this is the kind of tom-foolery that keeps coming back to us. When we find a serious charismatic who will not slyly (if shame-facedly) defend Benny Hinn and Pat Robertson, we can start closing up the conversation on that subject.

    But these guys — these serious charismatics who will not defend prophets who makes false prophecies and healers who mostly don’t heal — never show up.

    Please: invite them to the discussion. Send them to me, or to Phil, or to Dan. I’ll open up the DebateBlog for 25 questions instead of 5 so they can nail me to the Scripture and force me spiritually to speak in tongues. Bring those guys around. I’d love to meet them.

    • Frank,

      Thanks for dropping by. I tried to trackback to the post at Pyromaniacs, but it didn’t seem to go. Glad you found this through Technorati.

      I’m not asking Team Pyro to defend my examples of nuttiness in the Reformed camp. Heck, I know it’s nuttiness. Every house has its nuttiness.

      I’ve written extensively against charismania. In fact, most of my posts categorized as “Charismatic” at this blog address the excesses. I’m a serious charismatic and I absolutely do not support Hinn or Robertson or anyone else that goes that charismaniac route. My post “How Not to Be a Charismatic Headcase” should prove I’m serious about stupidity in charismatic circles.

      Solid, serious charismatics do exist. Gordon Fee immediately springs to mind. Wayne Grudem wrote the Vineyard’s positional papers. In the blogosphere, Mark Lauterbach of GospelDrivenLife astonishes me with his incredibly solid posts. Rob Wilkerson of Miscellanies on the Gospel is also a serious Reformed charismatic. Of course, Adrian Warnock comes to mind. And you’ve got the whole Sovereign Grace movement—Mahaney and Harris. And though I differ with him on a few things, Jack Hayford’s a solid guy, a great teacher/preacher and probably the elder statesmen of respectable charismatics. Of the deceased, A.W. Tozer and Leonard Ravenhill are remarkable. Then, though some cessationist folks of the Reformed persuasion don’t want to believe this, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones endorsed modern day charismata toward the end of his life and even wrote a book about it called Joy Unspeakable. Dwight Moody wrote of how his ministry was dramatically improved after having a charismatic experience, and later Moody named the very solid charismatic, R.A. Torrey, to be the first leader of Moody Bible College.

      And though I may not know who they are by name, I’ve got to believe there’s some very reputable charismatics teaching at Assemblies of God and Pentecostal schools across the globe. I also know that many people in the mainline churches have a charismatic story to tell. That was me. The most Spirit-filled man I know is a charismatic Lutheran and his influence on my life has been profound.

      So when people say that they can’t find any examples outside of Hinn, Copeland, and guys like that, I just shake my head. Folks just aren’t looking very hard.

      • Then it’s official, Dan: please join me at the DebateBlog for a give-and-take on this subject. I have a couple of thesis statements in mind, and you can choose one of them, or provide one of your own.

        The Charismatic Gifts, as manifest today, point people to Jesus Christ.


        Churches which do not manifest the Charismatic Gifts today fail to manifest the full expression of the Gospel.


        The apostolic offices are still in force because the apostolic, charismatic gifts are still in force.

        And I will throw in this: I will ask and answer without the use of snark or sarcasm. I will take this exchange at least as serious as you do.

        • Frank,

          I’ll take the first statement and I’ll give you my answer right here.

          “The Charismatic Gifts, as manifest today, point people to Jesus Christ.”

          My answer:

          Were they used to point people to Christ in Acts? Yes. Were they used in conjunction with sound teaching and preaching in Acts? Yes. Has the Lord altered his commission to us believers since the book of Acts? No.

          Therefore, the gifts as expressed today are still intended to point people to Christ. And this they still do when ministered by humble, faithful, discerning servants who minister them in an atmosphere of love and sound teaching and preaching.

          • {sigh}

            The brief aside I would start with is that the D-Blog is a better format than ranting at each other in the meta here because it gives the readers easy access to the exchange, and it requires both clarity and brevity. If you’d rather do this here, I’ll be glad to oblige. let’s simply not pretend that this is a reasonable format in which to hash out a reasonable thesis.

            [1] We do not disagree that in Acts, the Holy Spirit did something through the earliest disciples — particularly the apostles — by which the message of the Gospel was given supernatural witness. No sense at all in arguing about something we agree on.

            [2] However, there is the question of whether God’s action here is a necessary function of the church either then or perpetually. For example, why does Paul give neither Titus nor Timothy instruction about the use of supernatural manifestations? Why are the categories of God, sin, Christ, faith far more important to Paul than any private prayer language or presentation of visions?

            [3] Look at the -extensive- demands Paul places on “daGifts” for order and edification, and also what he places far above them. Those other things he calls a “more excellent way”, things which are far better than these manifestations (cf. 1 Cor 13). In that, Paul also tells the Corinthians that somehow, in spite of their enthusiasm to be prophets, and to speak in foreign tongues, there is something which they have nearly forgotten (cf. 1 Cor 15) — which is the Gospel. So the claim that even in Paul’s day the gifts where pointing people to the Gospel requires a little more consideration in the best case.

            [4] In that, it is a mistake to interpret the manifestation of gifts in the people the NT describes as necessary for either the message or the church. In the best case, those signs were for the sake of fulfilling a specific prophecy and not a general promise. (cf. Acts 2, Joel 2) A fantastic and frequently-overlooked counter-example to the necessity of miraculous gifts is the man Jesus called, “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater”: John the Baptist. John performed not one miracle, and yet he was the herald of the Messiah. Surely if miraculous signs ought to accompany anyone it should be the one who proclaims, “Look — there is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!”

            [5] The specific problem with the thesis you have here endorsed is that charismatics do not demonstrate a greater consequence of self-validating evangelism for all their claims that the Gospel is somehow lifted up by miraculous manifestations. Particularly, I’d point to the work done by Barna and Rutz as categorical testimony by friendly witnesses that the “gifted” do no better than the ungifted in bringing people first to the Gospel and then through discipleship. Charismatic hijinx create people who desire a metaphysical experience rather than an incarnational outworking of the meaning of the Son of God’s precious sacrifice. You might find exceptions, and I would be extremely willing to stipulate your exceptions. I’ll even give you two to start: Josh harris and John Piper. But the vast majority of charismatic churches are (at best) not any better than the run-of-the-mill vanilla evangelical country club when it comes to developing people to true discipleship.

            There’s my rebuttal, and it’s less than 500 words (excluding the brief aside).

            My singular question back to you is this:

            Why is martyrdom extolled by Christ as a sure sign of being His true disciple, but doing signs and wonders in His name specifically named by Him as a broad attribute of those whom, in the final account, He will say He never knew? That is: why doesn’t Christ tell us in His own personal ministry about the Gospel-pointing ministry of supernatural gifts if they are as important as the Continualist position suggests?


            • Frank,

              I’ll be honest here and say that I find this whole debate moot. As I noted in my comment, Christ setup a way for His people to witness to the world. Nowhere in the Scriptures has any aspect of that witness been rescinded. If you and I agree on that point, there’s nothing further to debate.

            • Please keep this in mind: at some point, rather than merely scowl at people who disagree with you about this, you’re going to have to engage in something other than a lecture which doesn’t answer any of the questions those who disagree with you offer. Your post today about the Western church is evidence that you would rather hand out lectures than answer criticism and discuss rational points of disagreement.

              Your friends who are honest with you will tell you that this practice is far worse than sarcasm or funny comic book covers. Your friends who are not honest with you will cheer you on for evading direct criticism and questions.

              I’m letting you off the hook this time, Dan, because I am concerned with other things. But it is your credibility that is at stake here — not in whether you believe the things you say you believe, but rather whether you believe them in a way which conforms to Scripture and therefore compells others to agree with you.

              God bless you and good luck.

            • Frank,

              No one’s running away here. I’d like to engage you, but you said you agree with my initial statement. If we’re in agreement that Christ has not rescinded His original commands to the Church, then we’re in agreement and there’s no debate to be had because you agree with my basic premise.

              If you’d like to refute that basic premise by addressing it with a different answer, then feel free and I will respond. But if you’re not going to answer it, why ask me more questions? Where’s the spirit of debate then? It sounds more like you’re trying to get an agenda across than

              And please, don’t tell me why I post what I do. I posted that Tozer exceprt because I have no time today to write out a post and I saw this excerpt the other day and thought it in keeping with the topics I write about here. If you would like to pray for my family in our time of need rather than chastise me for how I choose to operate my blog, that would mean a lot to me right now because my family just got hit with some very bad news.

              Thank you.

              I hate to think that you disagree with Tozer on this point. Rather than accuse me of lecturing on my own blog, why not engage the Tozer quote and add to the conversation?

            • Wow. You’re the one who called the discussion “moot”, dude.

              Did you read my point #1? Because I don’t think you did — your answer here seems to want it to say something it doesn’t say.

              [1] We do not disagree that in Acts, the Holy Spirit did something through the earliest disciples — particularly the apostles — by which the message of the Gospel was given supernatural witness. No sense at all in arguing about something we agree on.

              Who would deny that Acts says that the Apostles did miracles? Anyone? Prolly not anyone who’s a Christian.

              But what’s at issue is this:

              [2] However, there is the question of whether God’s action here is a necessary function of the church either then or perpetually. For example, why does Paul give neither Titus nor Timothy instruction about the use of supernatural manifestations? Why are the categories of God, sin, Christ, faith far more important to Paul than any private prayer language or presentation of visions?

              Your view is that it is implicitly necessary. My response to that is, “Dude: that’s an assumption with no facts to support it, and clear facts against it that demonstrate something else.”

              We haven’t even gotten to Tozer yet — a Tozer citation you have added after my initial response to your statement, and after you called the discussion “moot”. Tozer is, at best, a diversion from the problems with your original view.

              However, to seal your escape hatch, Tozer’s words here require more than a footnote. My point [5] deals specifically with this lazy sort of brow-furrowing at the cessationist. In order to encounter that matter, let me ask you: which demoninations or families of what calls “Pentecostal” churches are you willing to own to make the case either way? For whatever comparison we’re going to make, I am willing to wholly own the SBC as my example of somewhat-consistent (but hardly uniform) cessationist church practice in this matter.

            • Frank,

              I find it quite telling that while other readers are offering to pray for me given the bad news my family received today, you keep hammering away, trying to prove your point. That only serves to promote the unfortunate stereotype that Calvinists would rather be right than compassionate.

              As to Tozer, I’m not writing this blog for TeamPyro. I’m writing it for people looking for the 1st century Church in 21st century America. That’s the whole point of this blog. If you feel my posting the Tozer is some kind of backhanded slap at you, you’re wrong. I posted it because I’d recently read it, thought it useful, and I did not have time for anything else giving what is going down with my family.

              As to the charismata issue and Paul and Timothy:
              1. Paul usually wrote corrective letters. If the people within Timothy’s fellowship weren’t having problems with the gifts (as did Corinth), why would Paul need to address them? I can name dozens of issues Paul didn’t address in his letters to Timothy and Titus. He doesn’t give any instruction on the understanding of the Trinity or how to correctly handle the Lord’s Supper, yet both of those are critical elements of the Church. If the Lifeblood of the Church is the Holy Spirit, why point out something so obvious unless it was being abused, as it was in Corinth?

              2. The gifts were definitely still functioning when Paul wrote Titus and Timothy.

              3. Try to prove why someone left something out. Any proof you have is conjecture. Given that the Bible makes no conjecture about the gifts ceasing either DURING the lives of the apostles or AFTER, anything you attempt to insert there is eisogesis. If you wish to take that direction and force the “prove what’s missing” route, I’ll ask you what I asked Phil to prove: That there has never once been a genuin manifestation of a charismata since the Apostle John died. Good luck, you’ve got a lot of research to do.

              4. Paul clearly references in 1 Timothy 4:14-15 the laying on of hand for the impartation of the Spirit (and spiritual gifts) and for empowering for service and ministry as was common in Acts—and just as commonly accompanied by charismata. That Timothy passage sounds darned-near “charismatic” to me. (THAT word “charisma” is also there in the Greek.) Paul also notes that a prophetic word was spoken over Timothy. Or did you miss that?

              5. Paul only briefly mentions the Spirit six times in the three epistles. Your argument here, if extrapolated, would make it seem as if the Holy Spirit isn’t all that important to Paul as a person in the Trinity because he mentions Him so little. Does this mean the Holy Spirit has little to do with the believer or the functioning of the Church? Hardly.

              Frank, the evidence is there for the continuation of the gifts. To me it’s unmistakable and clear. In truth, I was taken back by your question because—for the very reasons I address above—it seems so fragile a means by which to build a cessationist argument. In fact, the 1 Tim 4 passages clearly mention the charismata and show them in the very context of their proper use in ministry.

              As I said before, Jesus commanded His people to minister and He gave them power to do so. That power was given as part of the commission. None of that power has been rescinded, because the commission to us today is the same as it was to the early Church. Jesus’s commission remains, as do the gifts.

            • Dan —

              I have only one link to your blog, and it’s to this thread. Seeing you comment, I went back and checked out your front page.

              I had no idea you were suffering in any such way, and I this exchange has in any way made that worse, I apologize. I was following this thread and not you personal story.

              Please be at peace, and at some future date when your personal time, energy and spiritual well-being is not worn down, I’d rather resume this then.

              Again, my apologies. God bless you.

            • Frank,

              Thank you.

              I did mention in my last post about Tozer (after which you replied with a further desire to talk about the Titus/Timothy issue) that some bad things were going down. You must’ve missed that. I understand that happens when skimming comments. I read posts thoroughly, but I skim through comments sometimes myself and miss some info.

              I responded to your post on Pyro about talking sense before I saw this. I’ve since edited that comment. I assumed that you continued to press your point despite my saying that some bad things had happened to us. Now I realize that you just missed that part of my comment.

              Be blessed.

  13. Cheryl

    I have been a christian for 30 years.” I kissed the charasmatic community goodbye” 7 years ago. Dominionism , Shepherding,’Moses style of Gov’t’ is still rampant in most. I no longer will tolerate the church abuse.
    So now I am in PCA. Where there is no abuse PTL but now I spend time with people who are boozers,don’t bring their bible,don’t use the term ‘born-again’. Oh yea and the hyper-patriarchy is a huge problem. Try reading jensgems about PCA and Vision Forum.

    I sure hope I havn’t jumped from the fire into the frying pan again.

  14. Cheryl


    Do a little research and find an evangelist named Kent Christmas. It would be well worth the trip!!

    Better yet in all sincerity pray and watch what God will do ok. Don’t forget his name. Blessings!

  15. Pentecostals tend to be less educated, less wealthy, and more attuned to emotions than Presbyterians…..

    Whoa whoa whoa whoa…WHOA!!!!!

    WHO are you calling “less wealthy???” 😛

  16. Brandon

    Thanks for taking this topic on. You said what I’ve been thinking for some time now.

    Blessings to you,

  17. I am so glad to have found your blog (through Jollyblogger).

    I recently started attending a Vineyard church after 20 years in various reformed churches including John MacArthur’s GCC for many years. Heard horrible stories about Vineyard churches, but I am finding out that there are genuinely loving people very much grounded in the Word (and that they do not worship Satan). I am still grateful for my years in reformed circles for their role in establishing a solid biblical foundation, but outside of that, I was on the road to nowhere other than conservative politics and legalism. I am now grateful for a renewed journey in my walk with God.

    • David C,

      Sometimes the land goes fallow and needs to be plowed up again. That sounds like what happened to you. I pray God blesses you in this time of plowing.

      Look for more on this idea in days to come.

  18. francisco

    Yes, you can run into crazy Hinnites and uncharitable joyless cessationists…or you can run into Reformed Charismatics -and hopefully winsome too!- like this writer 🙂 but please may I ask something of you?
    Do yourself a favor -whether charismatic or cessationist: Go ahead and read “Religious Affections” by Jonathan Edwards and argue with his arguments (and see the wealth of Scripture he brings into the topic). I guess the discussion charismatic vs. cessationist looks a lot like the 18th-century “religion of the head” vs “religion of the heart”…
    And now that Sam Storms is about to publish “Signs of the Spirit…” you have no excuse for letting this become an issue in your church and your talk.

    • Francisco,

      If you check out my sidebar, you’ll see that Edward’s Religious Affections has long been one of my recommended books.

      I disagree strongly with your premise. Believing that the gifts are still in operation is not a question of “religion of the head” vs. “religion of the heart.” It’s the veracity of Scripture. Nothing in Scripture says the gifts will stop before the Great Day of the Lord. Nothing.

      And while I respect Edwards immensely, he is not the final arbiter here. Like all men, he was profoundly affected by his day, and that day was in the grips of scientific rationalism. Obviously, the gifts are not scientifically rational.

      We also forget that Edwards himself presided over a long-running revival that saw the gifts manifested. It also got out of hand and Edwards regretted not shutting things down after the initial, genuine outpouring. He recognized that the Enemy does not wish to see too much of God glorified, so he’ll eventually try to sow thorns among the wheat. As always, discernment is called for.

      • francisco

        I respectfully disagree with your misreading of my comment and even went beyond what I said:
        1. I did not say Edwards’ is the final arbiter here or in any other matters. Scripture is always the final rule. Let us not get that wrong to start with.
        2. You would do well in checking some Edwards’ biography and see the events surrounding the awakening. I guess it was Charles Chauncey the proponent of the “religion of the head” meaning that to be a genuine Christian you do not have to have high affections. This was an overreaction to some of the excesses of the awakening when some people were trying to outsmart others in their manifestations of affections and attributed some signs like ‘talking ardently about religious things’ and the like as genuine conversion. Edwards’ stood in the middle saying “it may be or it may be not”. He unpacked this in the second part of his book. In the third part of the book he deals with the signs of genuine conversion (i.e. ‘evangelical humiliation’) where he leaned heavily on Scripture.
        3. Your description of what happened in the awakening and Edwards’ participation on it seems to me not accurate. He saw as you said the gifts manifested. But I am not sure he tried to shut it down. Nothing farther from the truth. The first awakening cooled down after a young man committed suicide -and yes Edwards attributed this to a act of deception from the devil. So, Edward’s regretted that the first awakening ended up that way. And it wasn’t until George Whitefield visited his parish that another awakening broke in. Edwards himself was affected and thankful for that outpouring of God’s Spirit. So, I don’t know where you are getting your historical facts twisted. I recommend you get this book. I enjoy it.

        • Francisco,

          If I remember correctly, Edwards later wrote that he wished he had stepped in when things in the revival got a little weird toward the end. That’s what I meant about “shutting it down.”

  19. Frank says:
    “And I will throw in this: I will ask and answer without the use of snark or sarcasm.”

    Well, Frank if you did that, then even I would have to change my perspective on things and believe in post Apostolic Age miracles.


  20. Thank you, Dan. I had hoped to comment yesterday, but life on this side of the keyboard prevented me from doing so. I very much appreciate your admonition to the Body of Christ. We who belong to Christ must learn to disagree without stones.

  21. Hi Dan,

    Just a couple of things that caught my eye. You said “It seems that we simply can’t let this issue die, as if one more post on it’s going to force one side or the other to capitulate.”

    I don’t know anyone who posts on this topic with the idea that doing so is going to force the other side to capitulate. I believe people are sincerely passionate about what they hold to (on either side of this fence) and that’s the reason they post on it. As a former charismatic I am always interested when this subject comes up and try to take every advantage to search the Scriptures that people use to support or defend their position. For me it’s an ongoing learning experience and I generally get a great deal out of it, when others bring this up. I know I’m not the only one.

    Secondly, and completely unrelated to the topic of the post but commented on – your theory of why there are so many Calvinists in the blogosphere: I don’t know who the Calvinists are that you’ve met, but I don’t know many of them at all, that fit your theory (and I know lots of them). It was an interesting theory, nonetheless. Also interesting that you find there to be a predominance of us in the blogosphere – when in my experience I find that we are in the minority. I know, it’s all subjective. In any event…



    • Carla,

      Some debate is helpful when it involves how we modify practices to better minister to others. I wholeheartedly agree on that.

      But when we start debating long-standing doctrinal issues that have been debated ad nauseum, I’m not as certain what gets accomplished except to create bad blood. And a lot of bad blood gets spilled in the Godblogosphere.

      Again, can we get our own houses in order?

      As to “stereotypes” of Calvinists, I wish I could say that my personal experience has shattered those illusions, but it simply hasn’t. If you were to examine just the wealth issue alone in the city near me, you’d find that the wealthiest churches in town are disproportionately Calvinist. Wealth brings a lot of things to the table, too: better education, more life opportunities, and so on. People with money in the bank have the luxury to do things like blog. People working two jobs to make ends meet don’t

      On the other side of the coin, most of the world’s poor who are Christians are not Calvinists. In fact, most are Pentecostals. With all due respect to Pentecostals, they tend to suffer the problems of being poor. When you’re poor, you don’t have a lot of time to learn WordPress, Movable Type, or any other blogging platform. Heck, you may not own a computer or even have access to one. And the time you’d need to dedicate to blogging gets eaten up by simply making ends meet.

      I’ll say one more thing that I hope doesn’t get misconstrued. Many Pentecostals I know don’t see the value in conversing online when they can converse in person. To that end, I think a lot of Pentecostals don’t see the Internet as a big deal or even one that has great potential for advancing the Gospel. They’re out interacting in person.

      Depending on how you view that reality, that could be a good or bad thing. I think Pentecostals feel they just have better things to do than be online. I know that will mess with some people’s worldviews, but that’s how I see it. I attend a Pentecostal church and I almost never hear people talking about computer-related stuff. It just doesn’t seem to me to grab them the way it does some of the Calvinists I know.

      • Peter Smythe

        Dan, it may be that there are so many Calvinists on the blogosphere because nobody really wants to talk to them in person (just kidding).

        I haven’t read through all the comments (way too long), but as a pointy-toed Word, Pentecostal guy I’d agree that there is much to be desired in the way that Pentecostal preachers preach. That being said, sloppy preaching doesn’t change the Word at all.

  22. Pingback: The Charismatic Gifts : Reformed Geek
  23. Don Costello

    Hey Christian,
    I enjoy the give and take about this, but the Apostle Paul’s inspired words give me the most insight.

    1 Corinthians 14:21 “In the law it is written, With men or other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me saith the Lord.”

    The NASB uses the phrase, “and even so they will not listen to Me, says the Lord.” In the next verse Paul goes on to say that tongues are for a sign to unbelievers, and of course he’ s referring to Jewish unbelievers. What kind of light does that shed on blood bought, going to heaven Christians who don’t believe in the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking with other tongues? I think we need to come up with a fancy theological word like Cessationism that means “not listening.”

    Your brother Don

    • Don,

      Oh, you’re going to open up a can of worms with that one! 🙂

      Still, in keeping with the original sense of the post, what needs to be cleaned up in charismatic circles? At this point, I think that we may need to concentrate on what we’re not doing right. Many of the criticisms against charismatics are grounded in indisputable reality. Many cessationists are cessationists because they’ve been burned by charismaniacs, so I’m not willing to point all the fingers at them. We shoulder a great responsibility to keep our house in order and we’ve done an exceedingly bad job of it.

      I hear a lot of people saying that “moderate Muslims” need to speak out against their more radical, jihadist brethren. But in the same way, we charismatics need to speak out against the horrible abuse, ungodly practices, and blatant error in the charismatic fold.

      Are we doing that? If we were, there wouldn’t be so many charismaniacs running around to give people ammo against the charismata.

  24. Connie Reagan

    Wasn’t the point of the original post that we need to stop poking at the motes in others’ eyes and remove the logs in our own denomination/stream of Christianity?

    We are so busy hunting down the heresies of others we forget that God is still working on US.

    For those who are still caught up in debating the charismatic/cessationist topic I suggest it would be wiser to prayerfully go to God and His word and ask HIM for the answer to the question.

  25. Cheryl

    I think pentecostals don’t blog and use internet is that most are pretty uneducated. I don’t mean to offend anyone but higher education and biblical schloarship is not a priority in most pentecostal churches…they reach primarily the poor and marginilized. Sure there are exceptions. John Ashcroft is one of my heros and role models.
    Isn’t part of pentecostal theology that with praying in the spirit you become so one with God that the written word takes secondary importance and is not needed? I have heard this implied by Copeland and Haggin. Some of these churches may not come right out and say that but there is an undercurrent of that thinking IMP.
    BTW I am a tongue talker and have been in these churches most of my life but many are filled with very unsound theology. Yes the gift of tongues is beautiful,very MUCH needed and is available to ALL believers but subjective personal experience DOES NOT over ride objective written biblical truth and exegisis and AT BEST in leading from the LORD they should CONCUR.
    Many calvanists are open to the baptism but some are so filled with anger and pride about it that they have their feet stuck in the mud so God won’t move on them. Besides when your theology changes theres all the drama of changing churches.. loosing (supposed) friends and if your in ministry loosing MONEY,REPUTATION and all the rest.
    My solution don’t join churches, that way you can’t be told your in rebellion or risk excommunication.( Make sure you tithe and the pastor knows it.) or tell him right out front what your beliefs are and see what happens or you can be a player and compartmentalize your life.
    Sorry for bitterness but thats the way I see it

  26. J. Kru

    Here’s an interesting point. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer PCA in Manhattan, (and also the #1 church-planting church in America, cited by Jollyblogger) said in the Reform and Resurgence conference this past year (Mark Driscoll, Seattle) that his entire preaching ministry was utterly changed years ago when he received a word from the Lord. He even joked about how he became a charismatic for a single day, and then went back to being a presbyterian.

    I really admire Dr. Keller, and although some Presbys would take this as a slam against him, I just bring it up to point out that it’s not hard to suddenly be surprised by what is happening in your own house.

  27. Dan:

    When you post on someone else’s blog using the Blogger account “DLE,” nothing in your profile link identifies who you are. It goes to a dead-end page that says “profile not available.”

    I didn’t catch on to who was making the DLE commenst at PyroManiacs last week until about your fourth or fifth complaint. I would have answered your first reply to my original post if you had only identified yourself. I hope my failure to respond did not add to your hurt feelings.

    I am sorry that you were offended by my post last week. However, notice that I’m not the one who brought Benny Hinn into the conversation. My charismatic interlocutor was. Moreover, my I did not equate the more sound-minded and confessionally-straight charismatics with Hinn; I merely pointed out that there isn’t a healer among the more “conservative” charismatics whom anyone ever points to as an example of someone who possesses the true and authentic apostolic gift of healing.

    Instead, wiser charismatics like Grudem (and even some less level-headed charismatics like Jack Deere), themselves freely admit that what we’re seeing in charismatic circles today are not the apostolic-quality gifts such as the gifts of healing described in Acts 3; Acts 5:15-16; Acts 19:11-12, etc. That’s no different, really, from the point I made last week. But as I have pointed out before, that actually reflects a kind of cessationist opinion.

    That is the one point I have consistently tried to make about cessationism. Please re-read last week’s post in that context. Perhaps you’ll have a different take on it.

    I hope so, anyway. The above critique of my post badly misconstrued what I intended. I’m very sorry if my writing was really that unclear. I’ll try to do better next time. Thanks for all your admonitions.

    Phil Johnson

    • Phil,

      First of all, thank you for the gracious response. If I missed the fineness of your point, my apologies. Contrary to what some may think, I did read your post carefully. I don’t go off half-cocked when I post or comment because I believe my word means something and so does the word of the person on whose writing I may comment.

      Contentious issues have a way of flaring as folks choose sides. We agree that charismaniacs exist, and as a charismatic, that bothers me greatly. Anyone who checks my category listing here for “Charismatic” will see that many of my posts are anti-charismaniac. It truly pains me to see people acting like nuts and then claiming it’s the Holy Spirit. That’s not the Holy Spirit you and I know.

      My post was not meant to offend, but ask that we all clean our own houses. Excesses and oversights exist and should pain each house.

      While it felt to me that you were painting with a broad brush, if you say that you weren’t, I’ll believe you. Part of the problem with the Web is it eliminates the face-to-face needed to ensure all parties are on the same wavelength. Give and take gets reduced to sound bytes. I’ve noted many times that I find the Web inferior to real, personal conversation that allows us to see each other and use visual clues to know when someone’s communication modes are sending different signals. Smilies won’t do it!

      I agree with you that many so-called charismatic gifts may not approach “apostolic-quality,” but I firmly believe that some do. I’ve seen and heard too many amazing things over the years to believe otherwise, things that were tested, things that gave God all the glory. I know that I’ve received a few words of knowledge that greatly benefited the hearers and have stood the test of time and discernment. I also prayed with another man for someone I knew well to receive healing for her progressive blindness and she was healed. Whether some would want to judge those apostolic-quality or not, well, that’s fine. The outcome remains positive and gives God the glory.

      I take all those things seriously and I never speak unless I have the confirmation of the Holy Spirit and correlation with the Scriptures. For that reason, I don’t speak often. His sheep hear His voice and know Him. If more charismatics sat quietly in prayer and asked the Holy Spirit to confirm a charismata before they ministered, we’d cut charismania down significantly. Yes, the charismatic house needs much cleaning. I hope to always contribute to that cleaning. And I pray too that you can champion cleaning in the Reformed/Calvinist house. We’re all dusty in one area or another.


      Thanks again for responding.

      As for the issues with “DLE,” you’ll have to blame Google. I had a Blogger account that used my real name, but when Google bought Blogger, it merged the accounts, leaving me with this chimera that is part my Blogger and part my Google accounts. I much prefer using my real name, but I can’t seem to get this squared with my original Google account. I had no idea the DLE link was ending up in a dead profile on Google, either. I wish they’d just left the Blogger accounts as is.

  28. Dan –

    Try walking the fine edge of charismatic gifts in a church with a congregation of 200+ with no less than ten major denominational affiliations: some PCA, some ECLA, some LCMS, some Baptists (multiple), some AG, some Wesleyan, some ECA, some Missionary Alliance, a handful of Catholics, a couple of Disciples, some EFCA, some Reformed, some Independents, some, non-denom., some Armenians, some Calvinists, some cessationists, some not, some pre-Trib, some not, and so on!

    Can you recommend a good sanitarium?

  29. A.J.

    I believe I have go with the words of The Lord Jesus Christ on this topic:

    Mark 16:17-18 (New International Version)

    17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

    I tried Christianity without the Holy Spirit and Spritual Gifts. I just ended up being bitter, hateful, and having to pick on other people who have found true intimacy with the Lord Jesus. I don’t remember anyone having to be educated to have a relationship with the Lord Jesus, or to obtain spiritual gifts. He said that these signs would follow those who BELIEVE. That was the only requirement.

    • Maestroh

      Aside from the fact that this is in the later ending of Mark, constitutes in Greek a ‘collective plural,’ and seemingly makes the gifts contingent upon water baptism, I’d like an answer to this question:

      When was the last time you drank poison?

      When was the last time you took up snakes?

      It is always funny to hear that passage cited and the pious platitude that you enunciated – and then watch who the REAL selective Christians are.


  30. Pingback: The Gift of Hiatus : Reformed Geek
  31. I recently read that post at Pyromaniacs and I do wish I had though of such a loving, patient, and wise response as yours. Thank you so much for this blog – it was an encouragement to me.


  32. Maestroh

    But there is a DIFFERENCE that you are not willing (or perhaps are unaware of) that makes this an apples-oranges comparison.

    When’s the last time you saw a group of charismatics stand up and publicly tell TBN and NAME those on there who teach hogwash – and publicly state they will not support them financially?

    That’s the difference. In the charismatic world is a code of silence much like that in the Mafia – if he’s one of ‘us’ (speaks in tongues), he’s right. If the guy is John MacArthur, it doesn’t matter that he pastors a larger church than most charismatics – since he’s a cessationist, he’s automatically wrong ON ALL OTHER ISSUES. Compare Mac and Crouch on a doctrinal issue- and virtually all charismatics will still side with Crouch – and those who don’t will keep their traps shut.

    The instances you cite are tragic – but you seem to be forgetting that there is a difference in the EFFECT of something that happens in a local church and something seen WORLDWIDE on television with no dissent.

    I used to be among the charismatics until I could no longer tolerate the aiding and abetting that silence enabled. And I’ll never go back, either.


  33. Dave

    ‘M’ is right. I can think of several charismatic churches that have huge impacts over seas with their pastors and missions. What ‘they’ (overseas partners) don’t know is the amount of church abuse that exists from that sending church.

    They have no idea.

  34. Dave

    Also there is alot of ecumenicalism within the charismatic community itself because of tongues. I know many AG pastors who have no qualms about letting their parishners go and listen to TD Jakes and its because he speaks in tongues.
    AG pastors don’t correct them either.
    Funny how the World Council of Churches is scorned upon and rightly so in many regards and yet it occurs within fundamentalists too.

    Apparently Jack Hayford was part of a big meeting of charismatics recently in Florida addressing these issues. I am glad it’s happening but there is a long way to go.

  35. If I remember my history of psychology correctly a guy by the name of Rokeach developed a scale to assess the level of dogmatism in individuals and groups. As in most cases, we need to think in terms of principles not groups. Every group has dogmatic members. Every group has wishy washy members.

    As a Christian Counselor I have worked with dogmatic folks of every stripe. Many are married to nice women. That is a recipe for trouble In marriage and church. Rigid or dogmatic people may mellow if God breaks in. But if not, divorces occur in church and homes.

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