I am post-Charismatic: Part 1 – Theology and Experience
In the beginning theheresy.com wasn’t a blog. It was an assortment of articles and prophecies. At one time I was heavily influenced by the prophetic/charismatic movement. My favorite author was Rick Joyner. He had a tremendous impact on me with books like The Harvest, The Final Quest and articles found in the MorningStar Journal.
Give prophecies 15 years and you start to see how don’t always line up with world events. Regardless I appreciated Rick Joyner a lot. He always seemed to weave in spiritual principles and take lessons from history. There is one section in the Final Quest called the Great White Throne of judgment that thoroughly convicted me of doing good things with selfish motives.
In as much as I found so much good I also found so much bad in the whole charismatic movement. There is little discernment. What matters is whether a teaching is “anointed” not how well it fits within the whole biblical story. Often the theology is bad, really bad. A lot of theology on things like spiritual warfare is based on experience rather than scripture. I’m not saying what people believe is all wrong but it does get surreal when one anointed leader that hears directly from God disagrees with another anointed leader that hears directly from God. Anyone who watches these folks operate for a long time generally concludes that just because you can perform a miracle doesn’t mean you know what you are talking about. Unfortunately a lot of leaders fall in to the trap of thinking the opposite.
Success is often defined by how many ecstatic experiences one could have or somehow produce in a crowd. Many people I knew didn’t think God was doing anything unless there was some sort of physical manifestation of the Spirit. There was such a drive and a desire for these experiences that some people thought I wasn’t striving after God because I didn’t “manifest.” One time I joined a group of people in a restaurant and one guy was waving the Spirit in my direction, but because I was resisting it bounced off of me and hit the woman I was sitting across and she started manifesting. At times it was just weird.
Sensing or feeling the “presence” of God was something I had experienced right from my earliest days of faith. I experienced physical healing and I have witnessed some others. There are some that doubt the power of God or hold to theology that says God doesn’t intervene in our lives. You would be hard pressed to convince me because I’ve experienced way too much divine intervention. Unfortunately what happens is these kinds of spiritual experiences often become an end in themselves. Worship ceases to be about God, it is about an experience. People resort to emotionally manipulating themselves or others in an effort to reproduce a spiritual experience. In this I believe some people are led astray from pure devotion to Christ.
Charismatic Christians tend to get caught up in fads. Despite their overwhelming emphasis on Ephesians 4:11-16 they seem to be the most susceptible to being buffeted by every wind of doctrine. It might be tithing, or spiritual authority, intercession, or the father heart of God or whatever. An inordinate amount of attention is paid on these things.
I think Charismatics make the same mistakes most evangelicals make in regards to theology. Evangelicals construct their understanding based on the small parts we like to focus on without taking a step back and looking at the larger blueprint.
For example intercession is a huge theme. One can find scriptural support for this by looking at all the verses in scripture about prayer. There are a lot. However if intercessory prayer is such a key component in ministry why didn’t Paul give Timothy specific instructions on it? Why does Paul expound deeply about the gospel, and grace, and the Spirit and so little on prayer? It is probably because prayer has its place but it should be in right relation to other things.
I believe God’s inspiration exists in the Charismatic movement but it has been derailed by a few things
They are so focused on individual blessing that they neglect the selfless purposes of the church
God doesn’t trust people with His power that will use it to promote themselves or their ministry.
In a desire to experience God they move from patiently receiving God’s grace to trying to invoke the Spirit and cross the line in to spurious and even dangerous spiritual experiences
Many Charismatic pastors emphasize their own positional authority to the point that it crosses the line in to spiritual abuse
Lay people are disempowered by theology and structure that over emphasize hierarchy and control