22 October 2007

Still Not Clear on the Concept

A Two-Part Rant Prompted by Things I Found in My In-Box
by Phil Johnson

ut of Ur has this post provocatively titled "Willow Creek Repents," and I've been getting e-mails from people who wonder what I think about it. The tone of a few of those e-mails has been like, "See there? Now you need to get on the Willow Creek fad-wagon."

No, thanks. Out of Ur includes a link to a video of Bill Hybels explaining how he supposedly got "the wake up call of [his] adult life." I watched the video, and frankly there's not a hint of "repentance" in it. It's just a slick announcement about Willow Creek's latest program.

So am I the only one who finds it both ironic and disturbing that when the framers of ministry philosophy at Willow Creek finally are faced with the desiccated fruits of their program-driven approach to ministry, their instant response is to announce a new program?

Really, I would love to sound more positive and affirming about Hybels' "wake up call." But critics of Willow Creek have been pointing out for years that the seeker-sensitive ministry philosophy severely stunts Christian growth. Even worse, Willow Creek's methodology seems to multiply the number of almost-converts who dabble in spiritual matters until they are no longer amused, and then fall away without ever coming to authentic faith in Christ.

Hybels has blown off all those criticisms for years. He only reluctantly and partially accepts them now because he can't very well wave aside his own staff's opinion-poll data.

Get it? Opinion-poll data?

Try to caricature that.

n a similar vein, several people have pointed me to some recent articles by J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine. He has been exposing and condemning some rather egregious examples of charismania gone to seed, and his articles illustrate how easily blind Charismatic credulity can breed moral rot. An e-mail I received this morning urged me to recognize and commend Grady "for the work he is doing" to "expose the systemic corruption, lies and immorality" in certain high-profile charismatic circles.

OK. Fine. But he's not saying anything that wasn't already being said thirty years ago by sober critics of the charismatic movement. And these are not new problems he is "exposing," but corruption that Charisma itself knew about and worked hard to conceal for many years.

As a matter of fact, Grady starts this week's column with the stunning revelation that his first task at Charisma fifteen years ago was "to sort through dozens of files of disturbing allegations" made by numerous women against Bishop Earl Paulk. He now admits "national charismatic leaders" should have listened to those allegations (which were credible if only for the sheer number of witnesses against Paulk), rather than permitting the Bishop to "thrive unchallenged."

But again: What Grady is now saying is precisely what many critics of latter-day charismatic "prophets and apostles" have been saying for more than three decades. Bishop Paulk is no anomaly in the charismatic world, nor is he even close to being the most heinous example of gross moral failure among the charismatic elite. So I think it's seriously overblown to hail J. Lee Grady (the way some have) as prophetic.

What's most striking about Grady's article, however, is this paragraph: "We charismatics, who claim to have the gift of discernment, should have smelled this cultic deception a mile away. But instead, even though the list of allegations grew year by year, leaders in our movement continued to allow Paulk to air his broadcasts on national television."

I'm glad he said that. I could not have said it without incurring the wrath of every charismatic friend I have. But it is, after all, a point that really does need to be dealt with: Charismatic claims about questionable prophecies, miracles, gifts, and callings regularly and systematically breed willful gullibility, not discernment.

Just like seeker-sensitive methodology stunts rather than stimulates spiritual growth.

The problems in both of those movements are serious and systemic, not superficial and cosmetic. They are problems that are rooted in their respective movements' most distinctive ideas. Until their leaders see that and actually change direction, it seems a bit overly optimistic to refer to their mea culpas as "repentance."



Phil's signature

162 comments:

Nate and Andrea said...

This is new information to me about Willow Creek (though, I've been saved only 5 years). This might explain why my church seems to have stopped sending staff over there when it was common practice only a couple years ago. One of the reasons I like my church. They may make mistakes, but they aren't afraid to learn from them.

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

"Ladies and Gentlemen, please kindly remove your blindfolds."
__________________________________
BEHOLD, FIVE YEARS OF BRAINWASHING!
__________________________________

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/find_a_church/ProfileSearch.asp

Check out the upcoming 2008 Willow Creek
"Shift" Conference (as in Mclaren- "DeepShift").
Scheduled for April 2008.
Keynote Speaker: Brian Mclaren
Main closing speaker: Dan Kimball

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Yes, even Rob Bell "Nooma" pop-ups.
“Helen” might even be there-who knows?

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__________________________________

Ring...Ring...
"Have you checked the children...?"

"We've traced the call,
it's coming from inside the church!"

One Salient Oversight said...

I was the person who emailed Phil about Lee Grady. I don't think Phil is being uncharitable about Grady here since I, too, agree that the problems with the Charismatic movement are systemic.

What I am impressed by, however, is Grady's public expressions of anger and disgust. It's all very well for Charismatic Christianity to be criticised by those outside the movement (one of my most treasured books is Charismatic Chaos by John Mac) - but Grady is a public critic within the movement, and that makes a difference.

Modern Charismatics are hardly likely to sit up and take notice of critics like John Macarthur. The fact that Grady is the editor of Charisma magazine gives him a lot of weight.

Historically, heterodox movements have sometimes "drifted back" into orthodoxy. The Worldwide Church of God and the Seventh Day Adventists come to mind here. God, in his sovereign wisdom, brought His Spirit-inspired Word to bear upon leaders in the SDA and WCG movements. They're still not orthodox by any stretch of the imagination, but they seem to be heading in the right direction.

In the same way, I believe that God is using Grady and others within the Charismatic movement to bring it back to orthodoxy. Certainly the Charismatic movement as it stands, while being disparate, operates on the bounds of heterodoxy already. Grady's own beliefs may be problematic, yet God still uses him.

I thank God that He is using Grady in this way. Please keep praying for him that God will use him and his influence to bring many Charismatic brethren into a more solid, biblical faith.

David said...

"Charismatic claims about questionable prophecies, miracles, gifts, and callings regularly and systematically breed willful gullibility, not discernment."

ouch

Oh, your not talking about the James Dobson and the Republican party. (paging Newt Gingrich, paging Newt Gingrich....)

Don't you think that willful gulliblity and lack of discernment is something that many christians are guilty of when we put our faith in things other than Christ? While Charismatics are often guilty as charged, its not like there arent plenty of other examples

Stephen Newell said...

I want to say this, and I'm not sure I can say this without a) a straight face b) deserving to get piled on. But here goes.

It just seems to me the charismatics forgot to desire the better gifts. Instead of going on and on about tongues and prophecy and healing, they should have whined and pleaded and govelled for the gifts of discernment and wisdom. Those would be worth "falling out" for. ;-)

I've been privileged enough to have good friends who are "calm" charismatics, and they make a point that many charismatics miss by a mile: "The purpose of all spiritual gifts is to understand God and His Word better. If it doesn't deepen your desire for Scripture and God's glory, it's fake."

Robert said...

Good post...only one problem; I thought that the announcement was satire when I had read it the first time!
Now knowing that they are serious makes my stomach turn...yuk...

I'd also like to comment from my experience as a "reformed" Christian who attends an Assemblies of God church, on the comments made about discernment etc...

We talk and talk about discernment but we are the last group to have any! We can't have discernment, we run the risk of "quenching the spirit" so anytime anything happens...we give it the benefit of the doubt and move on...

Johnny Dialectic said...

Does this phrase from the Willow Creek guy bother anyone else?

"Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church."

Something about "do church" has always bothered me. It has a programmatic (or, on the liberal side, a man centered) feel, and that is exactly the WC problem Phil is pointing out. This does not sound like repentance as much as what corporations call "re-engineering." They are going to take out a "blank piece of paper" and just start all over again.

The root, as far as I can see, is unchanged. They are looking for the next mechanism to achieve a desired result.

Are we supposed to "do" church in this fashion?

DJP said...

Characteristically very insightful and well-put, Phil.

So, is it kind of like this?

An "alternative medicine" group divines a cancer treatment by interpreting the croaking-patterns of brown tree frogs. The treatment fails and fails and fails. Everyone and his dog (especially the dogs) criticize how lame-brained and wrong-headed a way this is to develop medical treatments.

So after thirty years, the group announces that perhaps the treatment isn't working.

But never fear... the frogs have announced a brand-new treatment. It will work for sure!

Kind of like that?

Carla Rolfe said...

I can't help but notice the parallel to the ECM in one aspect of all this.

Suddenly because (insert movement/group) notices and publicly calls out (insert issue), everyone who'd been an outspoken critic of (movement/group) is supposed to now be nice and stand behind them. Affirming all the "good" they're doing.

When all along, people that never held to the nonsense that this movement/group did and does, had been publicly calling this same issue for years.

Maybe I'm the only one that notices this. Maybe it all has more to do with people wanting to be positive and see the good in things, rather than see the bad.

DJP said...

No, I think that's a good point, Carla. In fact, I'll see you and raise you one.

What the critics of these diversions heard over the decades was excoriations about how unspiritual, or traditionalistic, or whatever they were.

Now, it's like, "Oh, look, we've just discovered this thing all by ourselves! Sticklebats! If only someone had told us!"

Mm hmm.

SolaMeanie said...

I think any Christian movement that places more weight on the experiential versus the written Word of God is in trouble. Experience is all well and good, but if said experience isn't validated by Scripture, it's best to chuck it in the dustbin.

MadTownGuy said...

We should not ignore the fact that J. Lee Grady is a member of the International Coalition of Apostles and may well be using these news items to make a case for accountability (read: shepherding, on a grand scale). The conclusion he will likely point his readers toward is that there must be oversight of these naughty pastors, and who would be better than "anointed" apostles and prophets to accomplish the task?

From one of J. Lee's prior posts on the Charisma blog it's clear he is of the same mind as C. Peter Wagner with regard to "Jesus Only" Pentecostals. He wishes that there could be reconciliation between the two groups, without worrying about details like the doctrine of the Trinity.

I think it's a sad day when charismatics and Pentecostals find tongues and prophetic gifts more important that the basic, non-negotiable doctrines of the faith as a basis for unity.

Jesse P. said...

"The problems in both of those movements are serious and systemic, not superficial and cosmetic. They are problems that are rooted in their respective movements' most distinctive ideas."

You seem to be placing the blame for Bishop P.'s moral rot on the fact that he was charismatic.

The scriptural testimony would indicate that immorality is a result of indwelling sin within the individual, not the exercise of spiritual gifting by the individual.

Your statement that charismania breeds moral rot is based on the following premise and assumptions:

The exercise of spiritual gifts has an inherently weakening effect on the believer and the church.

"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Cor. 12:7). So the scriptural testimony is that spiritual gifts inherently edify.

Your logic is this:

a) Person X is charismatic
b) Person X is immoral
Therefore charismania breeds immorality

You seem to be prone to a classic "non causa pro causa" fallacy that falsely assumes a cause/effect relationship. This can be disproved, I believe by the mere observation of many charismatics who are not immoral.

Aside from all scriptural evidence to the contrary, if one still believes that the rampant exercise of spiritual gifts (charismania) breeds immorality, one would have to seriously contend with the fact that there are so many "charismaniacs" who have lived lives of integrity and morality.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones held all of the theological beliefs (baptism in the Holy Spirit as subsequent to salvation, the presence of modern day gifts of miracles and healing, tongues as initial evidence of Spirit baptism) of a modern-day Pentecostal.

His application of these beliefs may have been different than some "charismaniacs" but the main tenants of his theology were the same. Yet your accusation that immorality is inherent to charismatic beliefs would imply that men like Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones willingly participated in something that was fundamentally disposed toward breeding immorality, despite the fact that the Welsh revivals in which Lloyd-Jones participated seemed to have the opposite effect of radically changing the culture and producing a harvest of spiritual fruit.

Has the Pentecostal revival of the last century and the millions that have been saved all across the world been converted to some false religion that is inherently immoral? I think the vibrant and authentic spiritual hunger and genuine Christian faith of millions of Pentecostals around the world should be considered, not simply the moral shortcomings of a few prominent leaders.

Sinful people will sin, regardless of what their religious background is. Yet the sin of the people does not reveal that their theological beliefs were errent. It reveals that they were not living by what they believed.

We should allow biblical truths (i.e. doctrine of indwelling sin) not personal observations or prejudices to primarily inform us when we seek to analyze why leaders fall. A good pastor will tell Bishop P. "you fell because you failed to watch your life and doctrine closely", not "you fell because you are charismatic," and will encourage him to mortify his sin not mortify his theology.

DJP said...

Admit it, Jesse P: this is the first time you've ever visited your blog, isn't it? And you haven't read any of the many articles we've written on the subject, have you?

That's the nicest explanation I can think of as to why you're doing a "nobody's ever said this" on things we've responded to so many times.

separateunion said...

I think it's a sad day when charismatics and Pentecostals find tongues and prophetic gifts more important that the basic, non-negotiable doctrines of the faith as a basis for unity.

It's a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. You can't receive and understand the gifts of God until you have a solid understanding of who God is and what He requires of us. It's nonsense to think that you can understand calculus without the foundation of basic arithmetic and algebra, so why would you think you can just skip all the basic foundations of faith and jump straight into a direct connection with a God you don't even know or understand?

Doug McMasters said...

Phil,

I'm equally disturbed. And waiting for the fruits of repentance--then, and only then, will welcome be provided. Tslk is cheap, repentance is transformative.

Connie said...

Last week while reading the Ur article on Hybels/Willow Creek I took note of Hawkins' comment, "Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture." I can ONLY hope that they will be able to root SOMETHING in scripture, never mind that they're still apparently going to rely on "research".

We've been part of the voice crying in the wilderness since the late 80's when Hybels was a keynote speaker on campus for a DTS spiritual growth conference--we weren't alone, but we were a minority at the time.

Jesse P. said...

I'm actually a regular reader who greatly appreciates so much of what I read here, particularly on the emergent church and the Spurgeon archive, and I've posted 7-8 times on issues of spiritual gifts, trying to have an honest discussion. The insults are no deterrent, I think its worth talking about. The reason I posted here is because as much as I've read what you've said and suspected you might think this, I've never actually heard you come out and say that you actually think charismatic theology is more than biblically errent, it's actually inherently immoral. That's something new I've not heard you say, which is why I think it worth responding to, even having read much of your previous writing.

Martin Downes said...

Jesse P,

Lloyd-Jones didn't participate in any Welsh revivals, although he longed to see them. He was also very critical of the charismatic movement that came out of California precisely because it became a "tongues movement" and fostered an indifference to doctrine.

DJP said...

Well, Jesse, if you're that familiar with our position, then would you please refute all the points in your post that we've already answered many times? Then we can respond to anything you said that is new?

Jesse P. said...

Martin,

That's a good clarification. I wasn't referring to the revivals around 1904, but the revival in the late 20's early 30's at Aberavon which people at the time compared to the earlier revivals, and had a transforming effect on that place.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Lloyd-Jones in England, and R. A. Torrey in America, both held similar positions on the Holy Spirit, viz., that there was a filling for service open to all believers. But they were not Pentacostal, even though the movement tried to embrace them both.

On this topic, they were a corrective the Fundamentalist movement (the separtist strain), which lost the vital theology of the Spirit. But they were not tongues speakers, and did not advocate it.

Jesse P. said...

DJP:

You don't want to answer how you can think charismatic theology is inherently immoral, despite so many moral charismatics and genuine conversions? The ball's in your court. This is your blog (and I enjoy it, BTW)

Jesse P. said...

Johnny,

I didn't mean to imply Lloyd-Jones was Pentecostal. I was simply making the connection between those common beliefs and the fruit of his ministry.

DJP said...

So, Jesse, if we answer the same exact question sufficient yet a forty-SEVENTH time, none of you will ever ask it again? How many times do you think we need to re-clarify what we've already clarified? Give me hope, set me a limit.

joey said...

yet again, Jesse addresses a fallacy, and yet again the classic pyro "oh please, we've already responded to that" response is tossed out. If you keep using the same fallacy, why shouldn't he use the same argument to defeat it?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Jesse P, you wrote:

"Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones held all of the theological beliefs (baptism in the Holy Spirit as subsequent to salvation, the presence of modern day gifts of miracles and healing, tongues as initial evidence of Spirit baptism) of a modern-day Pentecostal."

My point: That's incorrect.

Connie Reagan said...

I'm a Charismatic.(also a Calvinist, but whatever.)

The problem has never been a lack of discernment. The problem has been a lack of accountability.

Charismatic circles have no corner on that problem.

DJP said...

And yet again, Joey stands tall and firm for his right to refuse to learn anything.

Phil Johnson said...

Jesse P.

I'm tied up at the moment, but give me 2-3 hours and I'll be back to post a reply to your comments.

Jesse P. said...

Johnny,

Which point is incorrect? Baptism? Gifts? Tongues? All of the above?

joey said...

"And yet again, Joey stands tall and firm for his right to refuse to learn anything."

I learned that from you :)

DJP said...

Were that true, I'd still be a Charismatic.

Don Fields said...

The "mind-blowing", "world-rocking" "discovery" that giving unregenerate people what they want doesn't lead to the feeding of the sheep leads me to to say one thing...

DUH!

It doesn't take a PhD, an opinion poll, or anything else to figure that out. It just takes a surface-level reading of the Bible.

The seeker-driven model was supposed to "fundamentally change the way we did church" thirty years ago. I guess they got it wrong. Funny how the only way they could figure it out was to "ask people what was working." The very same opinion-poll mindset that cause them to "shift" thirty years ago. So now they've taken another survey only to "discover" the very things that they have been warned about and pointed to for almost all of the thirty years. So it is time for another "shift" to "fundamentally change the way we do church." Funny that in all of this shifting and discovering they don't reference the Bible--AT ALL!

joey said...

Yeah, but even I can learn wrong things.

stratagem said...

You don't want to answer how you can think charismatic theology is inherently immoral, despite so many moral charismatics and genuine conversions? The ball's in your court. This is your blog (and I enjoy it, BTW)

As a person who has had a long experience in pentecostal churches extending back into the late 1970s, I'll comment on this one. I don't personally consider penetecostalism as being immoral or leading to sin, necessarily. I believe that spiritual gifts are in operation today.

However, I can tell you that the brand of pentecostalism practiced today in most quarters, puts a low value on discernment and a high value on the acceptance of anything showy that claims to be a movement of the Spirit. Those who question whether God is behind things such as the so-called "Toronto Blessing" and other smaller-scale phenomena, are viewed as "having their skepticals on" and are made to feel uncomfortable, creating by elimination a culture of gullibility. I can't tell you exactly how that has come to be the culture of American Pentecostalism, but it surely is the culture of it.

Gullibility leads to foolishness, foolishness can lead to manipulation and sin. Does it always? No. But, it often does.

God gave us brains for a reason. When pentiecostal churches intimidate people into turning off the discerning part of their brain, there is something that goes haywire. Witness the Benny Hinns and Ron Parsleys, and the list goes on and on. I've seen it myself countless times. If you've been in penetcostal churches very long, so have you.

Stefan said...

Jesse P:

I humbly suggest that you reread Phil's argument carefully. He didn't claim that charismaticism necessarily breeds immorality by definition; nor less yet that spiritual gifting weakens believers! Oy vey!

What he did assert is that within the charismatic movement, uncritically accepting claims or seeming evidence of spiritual gifting seems to foster an atmosphere of general lack of discernment in many matters, including moral transgressions of fellow believers—as hinted at by J. Lee Grady.

Paul said...

I thought the gift of tongues was the instant ability to understand and speak another [actual] language in order to reach those of other nations. Meaning, if I have no idea how to speak Russian and I am called to go to Russia and preach the gospel, wouldn't I be given the gift of speaking in tongues?

I don't know of anyone (outside the beginning of the church in Acts) who has witnessed such a transformation (learning Russian in a split second).

Am I incorrect?

Daryl said...

Paul,

No you wouldn't be given that gift. It certainly isn't recorded that way in Acts. Tongues speaking in Acts was always directed at God, not the people around you. There's no mention of any Christian missionaries learning a language in a split second.

What you would be given is the gift of Russian classes.

About the original post...Is there any polling system on any subject that won't yield different results than it would have yielded 5 years previous?
Why do we insist on surveys when Scripture is clear, preaching is foolish...that's the point.
People are transformed by the foolishness of the gospel via the foolishness of preaching not neat little plans devised by us people.

Having grown up to some extent in Charismatic churches, and having pretty much my whole family still headed that direction, my observations is that the whole movement comes out of a desire for power and quick fixes. The Bible offers neither.

steve said...

Sorry this is off-topic, but I had to comment on the newest graphics--both the Everlasting Gobstoppers vending machine (love that word Gobstoppers) and the Spurgeon bust on the matchbox cover.

Well done.

Now, back on topic:

As for the findings of the Willow Creek research: The fact what they've been doing all these years isn't working and the fact it's still a large church is pretty sad.

SolaMeanie said...

If I see the term "do church" one more time . . .

GAAAAAA!

Jesse P. said...

Stefan,

Thanks a very helpful interpretation of what the post originally said. Thanks.

If that truly is what was meant (I'm still waiting to hear some clarification from the author), then I would not have had the same concerns as I had.

He seemed to be saying that this sort of immorality stems not just from crazy misapplications of charismatic theology, but the core ideas and beliefs: As he said, "They are problems that are rooted in their respective movements' most distinctive ideas."

So I hope that this was an overstatement and you are right that he does not view charismatic theology as inherently immoral. Hopefully Dan or Phil will clarify.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Jesse P:

All of the above.

The common Charismatic understanding of those items is not what MLJ believed in, nor R. A. Torrey.

Paul said...

Daryl,

"What you would be given is the gift of Russian classes".

lol

I don't believe the gift of tongues is still active today. If that point wasn't clear, perhaps I will get an "interpreter" next time.

You said:

"Tongues speaking in Acts was always directed at God"...

My point is that I don't see this...I see the gift being distributed so that the message could be preached to the different nations present at Pentecost.

My question is: Am I incorrect in believing that the gift of speaking in tongues is the gift of instantly understanding and speaking an actual language?

Jim Crigler said...

I think it would be productive if the Pyro-propietors here launched into parallel (and eventually overlapping, by necessity) threads on the subject of discipleship as such. This would allow you (severally) to show by construction what you think should be happening rather than to just deconstruct those who are getting it wrong. Make no mistake, both sides of the discussion should be heard. But not until after Phil returns to the "personal revelation" thread (started and hijacked so long ago), with substantive reference to Blackaby and Gothard.

I was glad to see that Phil picked up the point about the change of heart at WC (using that abbreviation, I almost wish I were British) being the result of a survey. But here's a related point: When a church is large, with (one presumes) very little directly linking a member to a pastor, how else would the leadership find out about the Christian maturity of the members of the congregation. Phil, you're part of a large church. How is it done at GCC? (NB: As a geek, I have secondary associations when I see "GCC". But that's off the subject.) (NB2: You may cover this sort of thing at Shepard's Confabs, but as a layman, I don't get a lot of exposure here.) What are some examples of things you aren't doing there that would still be acceptable? What are some examples of things that would be questionable? What are some things that are clearly wrong or wrong-headed?

Daryl said...

Paul,

I'm not sure that understanding the tongue would be part of the gift. The speaking part would be.

At pentecost, everyone there spoke a common language (probably Greek) and Peter is the only one who preached. The sign of tongues was a sign of judgement on the unbelievers, not a means by which the gospel would be preached.

(We should probably leave this subject, we're a bit off topic I fear.)

Jesse P. said...

Johnny,

You are right in that he did not believe in tongues as required initial evidence, but he did believe in tongues as a sign gift, and his position about the baptism in the Holy Spirit as being subsequent to salvation is consistent with the most important tenant of Pentecostal theology, although he added the dimension of it bringing assurance. Therefore, although he had different applications of these beliefs, he in no way disagreed with the beliefs themselves. Which is why I think he is an excellent example of how the core Pentecostal/Charismatic theology (baptism/tongues/gifts), when correctly applied, can actually produce much fruit, and the immorality comes from misapplications of it, not the theology itself.

(See "Joy Unspeakable" and "Sovereign Spirit" as well as "Revival" for his writings on this subject).

Paul said...

"I'm not sure that understanding the tongue would be part of the gift".

Fair enough

"At pentecost, everyone there spoke a common language".

Acts 2:5-12 says otherwise.

Acts 2:11 - we hear them speaking in our own tongues

Tongues is plural...

I realize this runs the risk of being deleted and I'm sorry. I'm just a new Christian who loves the word of God and loves to learn.

Pastor Rod said...

Phil,

I agree with your reaction to the Willow Creek announcement. (Though we would disagree about what they get wrong and about how to "fix" it.) They seem to miss the point of their findings.

They seem to be saying:
What we've been doing with pre-Christians and new Christians seems to be "working." But we need to change what we are doing with growing Christians.

I do give them credit for admitting that they've been wrong. But their mea culpa does seem a little weak.

I give them credit for seeking a new direction (though I agree with you that it is misguided).

As a pastor in the same area, I have to say that the good they do far outweighs the harm they do. The kingdom is better off with Willow Creek than without Willow Creek.

Rod

Phil Johnson said...

Jesse P: "You seem to be placing the blame for Bishop P.'s moral rot on the fact that he was charismatic."

Not exactly. What I'm saying is that one major reason he got away with it for so long is that he's a charismatic.

Paulk's sin, of course, arises from the fact that he is a sinner. And it is quite true (as you and others have rightly suggested) none of us is exempt from sinful failings. That fact ought to provoke us all to self-examination and sobriety in exactly the same way it did the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Selah.

However, I do think there are built-in factors in the charismatic belief system that not only breed abuses of power such as Paulk was guilty of but also make it easier to gloss over them—mainly, the fact that the system itself encourages people to believe someone like Paulk is specially "anointed" and therefore somehow above scrutiny. (More on this later.)

Jesse P.: "Your statement that charismania breeds moral rot is based on the following premise and assumptions: The exercise of spiritual gifts has an inherently weakening effect on the believer and the church."

Well, that's where you have badly misunderstood our position. (If DJP seems a little impatient with you, this is probably why.)

We have explained our position so frequently that we hesitate to keep repeating it lest we become an irritant to our Pentecostal and charismatic friends. But let's do it one more time anyway:

What we are saying is that there's no biblical reason to think the manifestations of tongues, prophecies, healings, and other ostensibly miraculous gifts being claimed today are "spiritual gifts" at all. They have nothing whatsoever in common with the truly miraculous gifts that were operative in apostolic times.

The biblical gifts were verifiable miracles. The tongues at Pentecost, for example, were real languages that communicated truth to the hearers. There is exactly zero non-anecdotal evidence that authentic Pentecostal tongues are operating anywhere in the world today.

As I have argued before, many of the more cautious charismatic apologists themselves admit that apostolic quality gifts are either extremely rare or totally unheard of.

That means: 1) Those who acknowledge the lesser quality of today's giftings have in essence conceded the whole argument of cessationism. And 2) millions of charismatics worldwide daily are claiming God has spoken when He has not; claiming miracles and healings have taken place where none have; and claiming to have supernatural gifts for which no evidence exists to indicate they are anything other than learned behavior.

Add to that mix these facts: 3) Many (most?) charismatics are conditioned to set aside biblical discernment and accept most of these fantastic claims "by faith." They often confess that they actually fear to question such claims lest they accidentally commit some kind of unforgivable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. And 4) supernatural manifestations are so closely equated with being "Spirit-filled" that lots of former charismatics admit they deliberately manufactured glossolalia, holy laughter, and similar phenomena lest they be thought unspiritual.

Any system that cultivates blind credulity on the one hand and phony claims on the other does create a climate in which dishonesty and charlatanism will flourish.

It's true that moral failures occur in all sectors of the biblical church, but it is not true that the number and the egregiousness of such failures are equivalent across the board. Catholic apologists love to use that kind of argument when the epidemic of pedophilia among their priests is brought up. But the Roman Catholic Church has paid billions in settlements of sexual abuse cases over the past decade or so. It would take a willful blindness to argue that this is no more a besetting sin for Catholic priests than it is for, say, Sovereign Grace pastors.

Likewise, there's a long, notorious history of high-profile incidents of fraud, charlatanism, and moral failure among Pentecostal and Charismatic ministers. A chronicle of famous fallen Pentecostals on a fairly short time line extending from Aimee Semple McPherson to Richard Roberts could fill multiple volumes. And it would include a number of people like Paul Cain and the Kansas City Prophets, who for a considerable length of time carried the imprimatur of some biblically astute and supposedly sober-minded conservative charismatics.

I'm suggesting it's ludicrous to argue that such abuses are no more seriously problematic among charismatics than they are among evangelical cessationists. And I'm also suggesting that the reason the charismatic movement is such a Petri dish for high-level corruption is related to the very beliefs that charismatics hold in opposition to non-charismatics.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Jesse:

"Therefore, although he had different applications of these beliefs, he in no way disagreed with the beliefs themselves."

Google the article by John Piper entitled "A Passion for Christ-Exalting Power." There are definite differences between MLJ and Charismatics. He occupied a middle ground between "formalists" and Charismatics, which is why each side wants to quote him selectively!

Daryl said...

Paul,

Actually Acts 2:5-12 does not say otherwise. History indicates the likelihood that they all spoke a single "trade" language (otherwise, how do they all understand Peter when he preaches). The text indicates they also spoke various native languages.
Modern day Luxembourg is a prime example of this. People pretty much all speak English, but they all speak several other languages as well.

As well, nothing indicates that the tongues speakers were preaching. They were merely declaring the wonders of God in the various languages. Peter preached.

Again, keep in mind the purpose of tongues and keep in mind that there is no reason to think that Peter spoke in various tongues while he preached.

I recomment doing a search on the Pyro site to learn more about this.

(We should cut this off now, lest we raise the ire of the Pyro-gents. Rule #3)

Bill Honsberger said...

regarding the Shift conference - This is Willow's high school conference with Brian M doing his Everything Must Change dance. The worship arts and small group conferences are filled with emerging/emergent leaders as well. Must be the new direction the WCA has come to after the soul searching from the poll...

lawrence said...

I don't understand, Phil and Dan and Turk for that matter, why you're hesitant to say that use of the charismatic gifts is inherently sinful.

(btw, Dan, before I go on, I read this blog all the time and I read your biblical Christianity blog and I read the original post and I read all the comments and I spent the last 48 hours researching everything that the Pyro's have said for the past 2 years on the subject and I forget what else I should say as a disclaimer so that you don't have to dismiss the post w/o actually addressing it)

Correct me where I'm wrong, but it seems to me that if the "gifts" as charismatics define it no longer exist (prophecy, speaking in tongues, whatever gift you want) then when I or Jesse P. or CJ Mahaney or Joe Schmoe uses a "gift" as charismatics define it, he is, at the very least, being deceitful, posing, lying etc.

Therefore either the "gifts" do exist or people are pretending to use the "gifts" either a) because they are being downright deceitful or b) there's some self-deception and they've convinced themselves that they are indeed using "gifts or c) it's some elaborate plan of the Devil to slowly poison Christian's minds until they lose their salvation (sorry but I needed an option that some Charismatics would actually pick)

Writing and Living said...

Hmmm. The Willow Creek survey results sound an awful lot like Hebrews 5:12 - 6:2.

Stefan said...

Re "baptism in the Holy Spirit as subsequent to salvation" (which I'll interpret here as meaning "justification"), this belief is not exclusive to charismatics, of either the Lloyd-Jonesian or Pentecostal variety. Oswald Chambers wrote of the Puritans' praying "for the gift of tears": an emotional outpouring at the moment of repentance, prompted by the inworking power of the Holy Spirit (December 7th: Repentance).

Jesse P. said...

Phil: "However, I do think there are built-in factors in the charismatic belief system"

It's important to differentiate what is part of the belief system (theology) and what is misapplication of that theology.

Section A: Pentecostal/Charismatic theology:

a. Baptism in Holy Spirit
b. Tongues as signs of Spirit's activity
c. Gifts of prophecy, healing and miracles

Section B: Misapplications of this belief system
a. "Don't touch the Lord's annointed"
b. "Don't question anything, just accept it by faith"
c. "You're a second-class Christian if you don't speak in tongues"

I think it is important to differentiate between sections A (core theological tenants) and B (misapplications and abuses of said theology).

If you don't make that distinction, your statement "charismatic movement is such a Petri dish for high-level corruption is related to the very beliefs that charismatics hold in opposition to non-charismatics" you are implying that by virtue of believing the core charismatic theology (section A) Christians are engaged in something corrupt and evil. Do you believe this?

I am saying: yes, the movement has fostered corruption, but not because of the core theological beliefs (section a), rather because of the abuses (section b). Further, these abuses do not result from the theology itself, but from that fact that sinful people can and do corrupt even good theology.

Every theological system in the world has been abused (Calvinism --> hyper-Calvinism) and yet we should try to distinguish between the abuses of it (which are bad) and the theology itself (which may still be good, though oft abused).

Morris Brooks said...

Jeremiah 13:23 "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? The you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil."

There is no repentance at Willow Creek, and you can tell because there is no change in ministry philosphy, which is culturally driven; no change in their view of the Scriptures, which is that they are nice, but not necessary; because their theolgy remains man-centered instead of God-centered. They will continue to ignore Scriptures as much as possible because they want to continue to do what is right in their own eyes (their version of freedom/creativity) without being confronted with the truth.

Stefan said...

Totally off-topic...but another good random masthead graphic came up: a smiling, 50s-era tour guide holding up a pamphlet: "Guided tours of the post-evangelical wasteland." I agree with Steve as well that the gobstoppers machine and matchbox are superb.

Jesse P. said...

One more thing:

It is possible to believe the core theology of section A above, without falling into the traps of section B, just like it's possible to be a Calvinist without being a hyper-Calvinist. There are many reformed, charismatic churches that are able to accomplish both of these things quite well, by the grace of God.

SolaMeanie said...

Mind if I ask a silly question?

For those who believe in continuing revelation, what happens to a particular prophecy or word of knowledge that either contradicts or claims to overrule or change Scripture?

Jo Cool said...

I think Grady's final statement nails it:

"The embarrassing scandals of 2007...should prompt us to cry out to God for a biblical reformation that will restore genuine holiness in a wayward church."

Daryl said...

Jesse P. -

Your lists:

Section A: Pentecostal/Charismatic theology:

a. Baptism in Holy Spirit
b. Tongues as signs of Spirit's activity
c. Gifts of prophecy, healing and miracles

Section B: Misapplications of this belief system
a. "Don't touch the Lord's annointed"
b. "Don't question anything, just accept it by faith"
c. "You're a second-class Christian if you don't speak in tongues"

As a former Charismatic I can attest that your 'B' in section 1 necessitates your 'C' in section 2.
And that is the basis for most of this error. They insulate themselves from outside correction by insisting that the non-tongues speakers don't have the Spirit (their term) and so don't understand. That leads directly to point 'A' & 'B' in your second section. I"ve seen it over and over.

The trouble is one thing does lead to another and those very very few who don't make that natural step, are simply not following their theology out to it's natural end.

To bring this back to the original post, the trouble with Willow Creek is that their "course correction" here is the normal way in which the course they've chosen WOULD correct itself. Yet another market survey.
Whether it be Willow or Charismatics, any movement that uses it's own system as a corrective, will not really correct itself. Both see outsiders are misunderstanding what has been going on, and so are able to reject external criticm out-of- hand.

Jo Cool said...

Solameanie:

"What happens" or "What should happen"? Anything contrary to Scripture, whether prophecy or doctrine, should be exposed for the falsehood that it is. There should be accountability. Whether there is or not and why not seems to be the focus of this meta.

SolaMeanie said...

Jo Cool,

The reason I bring that up is that some of the more extreme of the charismatics really bridle when you confront them with Scripture. They will accuse you of "Bibleolatry" or dodge the issue by saying that you can't "put God in a box by limiting Him with what's on the written page."

Regardless of how one feels about continuation or cessation of sign gifts, to me the issue of continuing revelation is a serious Achilles Heel.

steve said...

Jesse P wrote: If you don't make that distinction, your statement "charismatic movement is such a Petri dish for high-level corruption is related to the very beliefs that charismatics hold in opposition to non-charismatics" you are implying that by virtue of believing the core charismatic theology (section A) Christians are engaged in something corrupt and evil. Do you believe this?

Jesse, you've misconstrued what Phil is saying.

His words "such a Petri dish" make it clear he's saying that core Charismatic theology makes one more prone to the excesses lamented here.

Phil made that pretty clear in his response to you: However, I do think there are built-in factors in the charismatic belief system that not only breed abuses of power such as Paulk was guilty of but also make it easier to gloss over them...

Phil Johnson said...

Jesse P: "It is possible to believe the core theology of section A above, without falling into the traps of section B, just like it's possible to be a Calvinist without being a hyper-Calvinist. There are many reformed, charismatic churches that are able to accomplish both of these things quite well, by the grace of God."

I've been on the receiving end of a gigging or two from people who point to hyper-Calvinism as an argument against Calvinism, so I'm not unsympathetic to the plea you are making.

But three factors make the distinction between charismaniacs and charismatics a little less significant than the historic distinction between Calvinists and hyper-Calvinists:

1. I think you have the "many" and the "few" reversed in your assessment of charismania. The people who are the most appallingly unbiblical in the charismatic movement are the more wealthy, highly-visible, internationally-influential, and best-known leaders, and they typically draw the largest crowds.

2. In fact, there seems to be a sliding scale at work in the movement, where the wealthier and better known a person becomes, the more unbiblical and scandal-prone he or she becomes. (Actually, I'm seriously tempted to reverse cause and effect in that statement and suggest that if you really want to make it big in the charismatic world, you must be as outrageous as possible. I would point to the Toronto Blessing and other charismatic fads as evidence that the more outrageous and bizarre something/someone is, the more Charismatics tend to flock to it.)

3. The movement itself grew from the seeds of doctrinal error; the strain of charlatanism and moral failure goes all the way back to the origins; and the so-called sane and more-biblical charismatics are the latecomers to the table, the result, actually, of non-charismatic influences on the movement.

None of those things would be true of hyper-Calvinism. 1) Hyper-calvinists are a small minority in the larger world of monergistic doctrine. 2) The more hyper a person becomes, the less influence he tends to have among Calvinists in general. And 3) authentic Calvinism was first, and the hyper varieties are corruptions of it.

DJP said...

PhilThe movement itself grew from the seeds of doctrinal error; the strain of charlatanism and moral failure goes all the way back to the origins; and the so-called sane and more-biblical charismatics are the latecomers to the table, the result, actually, of non-charismatic influences on the movement.

That is so well-put, I thought it bore repeating.

stratagem said...

Can someone give me a one-paragraph explanation of how I tell a hyper Calvinist from a Calvinist? And why is hyper-Calvinism bad?

Short, please. I'm not into details.

Daryl said...

Stratagem,

Go to Phil Johnson's page, clock on Phil's essays, his primer on Hyper-Calvinism is number one or two there.

Phil Johnson said...

Jesse P: "you are implying that by virtue of believing the core charismatic theology (section A) Christians are engaged in something corrupt and evil. Do you believe this?"

If you're asking whether I think the distinctives of the charismatic system are false doctrines, the answer is yes.

If you're asking whether I think all charismatics are deliberately indulging in something they consciously know is "corrupt and evil," the answer would of course be no, I don't believe all of them are. Many are simply confused. I'd guess that confusion, rather than an evil intention, is the starting point for the vast majority.

However, as I've already suggested, I do believe the first step on the pathway to charlatanism for many charismatics is a subtle violation of their own consciences—when they deliberately make gibberish-noise and call it the gift of tongues; when they claim "God told me something" without really knowing for certain that He did; or when they deliberately let their imaginations run amok because they imagine that a made-up "miracle" somehow glorifies God more than no miracle at all.

That's a "subtle" transgression, I say, because I doubt many people ever start on this path planning to become full-on charlatans. (There are a few guys like Robert Tilton who may have been rank and deliberate phonies from the very get-go.) But if you fake spiritual gifts, put words in God's mouth, and imagine miracles on a regular basis, you become a charlatan by default.

Brendt said...

Carla: Suddenly because (insert movement/group) notices and publicly calls out (insert issue), everyone who'd been an outspoken critic of (movement/group) is supposed to now be nice and stand behind them. Affirming all the "good" they're doing.

I would concur it is not a valid expectation that the critics simply drop the issue altogether and stand fully behind error, simply because of one good thing. However, why is it my experience that when that one good thing occurs, the majority of the afore-mentioned critics can't even conjure up enough charity to acknowledge that one good thing?

Might it have something to do with the derisiveness shown when talking about "be[ing] nice"? Ultimately, all good comes from God, so it's not like the critics even have to say anything positive about the (insert movement/group)."

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

Morris Brooks wrote:
There is no repentance at Willow Creek, and you can tell because there is no change in ministry philosphy, which is culturally driven; no change in their view of the Scriptures, which is that they are nice, but not necessary; because their theolgy remains man-centered instead of God-centered. They will continue to ignore Scriptures as much as possible because they want to continue to do what is right in their own eyes (their version of freedom/creativity) without being confronted with the truth.

EXACTLY!

Hybels mea culpa is a facade. It's nothing more that a PR campain created to facilitate the latest heterodoxy- aka Emergent.

The Willow Creek "process" of producing a demographic suited to accept the EC is now complete.

Paul said...

Daryl,

I appreciate your comments. I don't see your point of view, but I appreciate your time.

I will take your advise and research Team Pyro archives.

Thank you...

Phil,

Sorry to take off-topic.

Daryl said...

Phil,

Thanks for your time, I enjoyed the dialogue.

Daryl.

SolaMeanie said...

Brendt,

If there is any derisiveness about being "nice," it's largely because some in the EC crowd have used that term as a bludgeon to attack those who raise concerns about the extremes of their theology.

More than that, they seem to believe that those who insist on including the hard truths of Scripture (like eternal damnation and God's judgment) aren't being "nice" either. In their view, talking about those things isn't "nice," and it drives people away from God. Talking about God's love and mercy is acceptable. Talking about His wrath and judgment is not.

Brian McLaren has often been described as "nice." But if you read between the lines of his critique of Bible-preaching churches, there's a truncheon under the velvet. He writes and says things, and surprise surprise, he gets responses, and not all of them are gushing ones.

Being nice is all well and good. We're not supposed to be obnoxious and ugly. But you can also be so treacly that the biblical Gospel never gets proclaimed. If a person doesn't know why he or she needs a Savior in the first place, I would say the odds of that person being born again is rather slim. Anyway, that's why some of us find the whole "niceness" thing galling.

centuri0n said...

You see: this is the Phil Johnson we all know and love.

And I love the tag "merciless beatings". It's my favorite category at our blog by a long shot.

Bert Lloyd said...

Willow Creek repents? I agree that WC is just going to develop another program with a whole new set of resources which will be available from WCA only.

FYI: Hybels, made no mention of a refund to those Churches that followed the WC model which hasn't worked.

seeker said...

But he's not saying anything that wasn't already being said thirty years ago by sober critics of the charismatic movement.

The reason such critics were not heard, among others, is that

a. they are often uncharitable

b. they fail to recognize what such movements are doing right, esp. the things that the critics are failing to do (i.e. no introspection on the critics' part)

c. innovators resist the criticisms of those whose conservative methods are NOT producing results - when you strike out in new directions, you take the risk of making mistakes

Also, I wrote on this issue in 10 Principles of Biblical Discernment.

northWord said...

Phil,
Amen, and Amen.

Saw the vid last night..I am at least a little encouraged that there seems to be the beginning stirrings of a reckoning to Truth among the churches, prayers are sorely needed in this area.

hm, in my did he just say that?!? category:
(regarding all the biblely stuff they offer, which apparently hasn't took, and he was "irritated" at that fact):

". . . I'll hire some old seminary proph-I'll feed 'em till they barf!"

nice.

Mike Riccardi said...

Seeker,

While your A and B points may be true, I find those to be absurd reasons to "not hear" instruction. I'm not trying to absolve someone giving instruction from having to be loving and gracious, but the one who truly wants to do what is right.. the one who wants to get wisdom and acquire understanding is not going to be put off because nobody gave him any accolades before rebuking him. That's immaturity and pride, and we should be ashamed that our egos need to be stroked and coddled before we can receive correction.

If you need to be told: "Now, I know I'm about to give you some criticism, but please know that I know you're not all bad and you're well-meaning and I don't doubt the honesty of your intentions, so please don't be offended because that's not what I'm intending to do at all..." with a barrage of other qualifiers before you are rebuked, quite frankly, you need to grow up. Your A and B offer absolutely no excuse.

Prov 4:17, 16:16, 19:8, 23:23

c. innovators resist the criticisms of those whose conservative methods are NOT producing results - when you strike out in new directions, you take the risk of making mistakes

As far as C goes... where to begin?

No one should be 'innovating;' that is, no one should be seeking to come up with new stuff. We need to look to the biblical model and philosophy of ministry, and stop puffing ourselves up with our own deviant "creative ideas."

The whole "results" comment is soaked in worldly pragmatism, and would have had Jeremiah condemned in no time. If ministry is the proclamation of God's Word (because that is HIS method of salvation) for the gathering of His own elect sheep to Himself, then we focus on getting as close to that method as possible and leave the results to Him. - Rom 10:17, Isaiah 55:10-11, John 10:27, John 6:37-39, 44

when you strike out in new directions, you take the risk of making mistakes

Couldn't have said it better myself. Conclusion: stick with a Biblical philosophy of ministry and don't risk making mistakes.

Jesse P. said...

"The movement itself grew from the seeds of doctrinal error; the strain of charlatanism and moral failure goes all the way back to the origins; and the so-called sane and more-biblical charismatics are the latecomers to the table, the result, actually, of non-charismatic influences on the movement.

This is where we part ways, and my study of the movement and its history would disagree with yours, which is fine.

I think the movement at its origin was birthed by the Holy Spirit who gave people genuine experiences of spiritual gifts (not charlatans who faked it). For instance, I don't think you can fake mass cultural reform through conversion of the Great Awakening (--> Holiness --> Azusa) or fake the millions of conversions in Pentecostal circles since.

People got carried away for sure, but now there are folks who are not trying to reform something born in doctrinal error, but experience the same genuine work of God that we believe not only goes back to the genuine revivals of early Pentecostals, but ultimately the first Pentecost.

We can agree to disagree. You think it was born in doctrinal error. I think it was born in a biblically precedented work of Spirit awakening.

I do appreciate this stimulating discussion. Thank you.

seeker said...

That's immaturity and pride, and we should be ashamed that our egos need to be stroked and coddled before we can receive correction.

I don't think so, I think it's human nature, and not the fallen kind - God's wisdom requires a different kind of critic, not merely a person willing to spend time parsing out the truth from virulent critics. Sure, the mature person can listen to a raving critic and find the truth in it, but it's really the uncharitable critic who is the immature one - as James states:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

If you need to be told: "Now, I know I'm about to give you some criticism, but please know that I know you're not all bad and you're well-meaning and I don't doubt the honesty of your intentions, so please don't be offended because that's not what I'm intending to do at all..." with a barrage of other qualifiers before you are rebuked, quite frankly, you need to grow up. Your A and B offer absolutely no excuse.

Such patronizing words make my point. How many people are going to listen to you if you have an attitude like that? The answer is clear - no one. But don't blame them when it turns out your criticism was ignored because your attitude caused them to miss it. Both should repent in ashes!

No one should be 'innovating;' that is, no one should be seeking to come up with new stuff. We need to look to the biblical model and philosophy of ministry, and stop puffing ourselves up with our own deviant "creative ideas."

I think that is an overly simplistic approach, and we may be disagreeing based solely on semantics, but not in reality. Of course, the spiritual discsiplines and preaching of the word are affirmed by scripture and experience as God's way. But we should not confuse these methods with the use of new mediums (radio, tv, internet) or innovative methods for reaching the lost.

Willow Creek's issue was that, in finding new ways to reach the lost (seeker-friendly rather than culturally ingrown, anachornistic and culturally isolationist), they abandoned the correct method for making disciples - discipleship and spiritual disciplines.

But again, if some preacher from a church that only uses a piano and an organ, preaches sin and salvation every week, but teaches nothing more to bring christians to maturity, and who rails without humility or gentlenessat those who do it differently, and who has an "i told you so" attitude when others fail rather than a compassionate sorrow, even if they are correct in their observations, I am going to overlook them.

wordsmith said...

If a doctor were to be investigated due to malpractice, is it somehow more charitable to say, "Well, maybe he screwed up with a few patients, but look at all the good he's done"?

I don't know about you, but I would lack confidence with a physician in that situation. You can't just sweep incompetence (whether it be incidental or deliberate) under the rug and figure that it doesn't really matter in the long run. We're not talking about a tyro here, but a seasoned worker.

777law said...

Great article Phil!

Can I borrow your quote: "Charismatic claims about questionable prophecies, miracles, gifts, and callings regularly and systematically breed willful gullibility, not discernment." It totally sums up my experience in the charismatic church.

By the way, I saw the infamous Hibbels v Clinton fiasco. That was all I needed to see to know about that guy. After that I tried to warn my church not to select their Hibbels mentored candidate. They didn't listen, and the church paid dearly.

Mike Riccardi said...

I don't think so, I think it's human nature, and not the fallen kind -

Interesting. I didn't know humans had a nature that wasn't fallen. I think the folly here is obvious.

Your following point along with the James passage shows you have a distorted view of meekness and gentleness. One can be meek, gentle, pointed, and forceful all at the same time. Meekness isn't weekness or passivity; it's strength... strength under control and wisely applied. I don't think you need to have those barrage of qualifiers that I mentioned to be qualified as meek. If you preach the Truth unashamedly, not offering suggestions but proclaiming boldly and yet not without meekness and humility, those of wisdom and of the Spirit will listen. But meekness and humility don't mean uncertainty or indirectness. In fact, I think they mean the opposite. That is, it is meekness and humility that drive me to proclaim so boldly and without reservation.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.

Obviously I am not advocating this, and reject any notion that a bold, direct, poignant proclamation of truth and rebuke must be bitter, jealous, self-seeking, or arrogant.

18But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

Notice even here that wisdom is first pure, then peaceable. We are not to ignore the rest of the verse, but the purity of the truth expressed is at the top of the list. Making sure you don't hurt people's feelings isn't even in that list, as that's not what gentleness, reason, and mercy are.

Such patronizing words make my point. How many people are going to listen to you if you have an attitude like that? The answer is clear - no one.

I disagree. No patronizing there. That's the weakness and pride that comes from a weak devotion to the Truth and pride in approaching Scripture. We're more effeminate now then ever before. Our postmodern world tells us that if we disagree with anyone's ideas we assault them themselves, and if we do so without apologizing profusely, we're accused of being arrogant, the number 1 of all postmodern vices.

I think that is an overly simplistic approach,

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. - 2Cor 11:2-3

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. - Col 2:8

or innovative methods for reaching the lost.

Don't want innovative methods for reaching the lost. There are none. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17). Preach the Word. Don't play videos or put on dramatic representations. His Word will go forth and accomplish the purpose God has for it (Is. 55:10-11).

There are no new ways for reaching the lost because the lost are lost in the same way they've always been lost. And the elect will come to salvation the same way they always have. They will be quickened to understand the Word preached, and so God gets the glory, He will call His own sheep by the voice of His own Word (John 10:27).

But again, if some preacher from a church that only uses a piano and an organ, preaches sin and salvation every week, but teaches nothing more to bring christians to maturity, and who rails without humility or gentleness at those who do it differently, and who has an "i told you so" attitude when others fail rather than a compassionate sorrow,

This, again, is gross misrepresentation of what I'm saying and is obviously nothing that I would suggest. I reject any notion that automatically equates what I said previously to this.

even if they are correct in their observations, I am going to overlook them.

That, my friend, is nothing other than rebellion, and doesn't sound like someone "getting and acquiring wisdom" at all costs. That's not loving instruction.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,But he who hates reproof is stupid. -- Proverbs 12:1

777law said...

I was waiting for a comment like that of Bill Honsberger's. If what Phil said of WC is true, the vaccuum has to be filled. Enter Brian M? It doesn't sound far-fetched at all to me.

SolaMeanie said...

Was the Apostle Paul being patronizing when he issued some of his more severe corrective statements? If you look at what he wrote to the Corinthian church (not to mention Galatia), you'll find there was quite a bit of "grow up" in what he wrote them.

When Paul issued his "reprove them severely" admonition, was he being uncharitable?

I don't think anyone here is advocating being harsh in tone or rhetoric carte blanche. Let the circumstances fit the crime (or the heresy). There is a vast difference in dealing with the ignorant, wayward and untaught, versus dealing with someone who purports to be a teacher or spiritual guide. Many of these guys have been approached time and again only to stiff-arm those who express concerns about their doctrine or methodology. At that point, some sharpness of tone and crystal clarity of position are entirely appropriate.

centuri0n said...

Azusa. That kills me. The things people will say to avoid saying, "um, maybe I should think about this again ..."

SolaMeanie said...

"Azusa," Frank?

Gezundheit.

Jake said...

I love when Todd (WOTMR) talks about people who "hear a word from God" and then he stops what he's doing and he says "Hey, Tony, remind me to print that out and staple it to the back of my Bible."

Phil Johnson said...

seeker: "they are often uncharitable"

I'd like to see some published examples of what you consider "uncharitable." Not book titles without any explanation of why you found them uncharitable, but quotations of the kind of rhetoric you think is so unloving that it justifies being dismissed out of hand, right or wrong.

Because I have a tall stack of books that date back as far as the 1950s, all of which expose various charismatic errors and excesses. Not one of them does so in any way that violates the biblical principles of charity (1 Corinthians 13). In fact, Most of them don't even use language half as strong as J. Lee Grady does in the article referred to above.

Perhaps we ought to explore the question of why whenever non-charismatics point out the flagrant and egregious abuses of certain charismatic celebrities, that's almost always automatically labeled "uncharitable," "ungracious," "painting with a broad brush," or whatever. But then when a Charisma editor turns his wrath against an already-discredited huckster and fornicator like Bishop Paulk, he is lauded as "prophetic."

Note: Grady admits Charisma had this information about Paulk 15 years ago. Why weren't they being "prophetic" then, when it might have dethroned a serial abuser before he destroyed more women's lives? Instead, Charisma waited till Paulk was already irremediably discredited and dethroned, and then they dogpiled on him. Is that what one has to do to be "charitable?"

Let me try to sound prophetic here: Woe to them if that's their standard of "charity."

As a footnote: I had some personal correspondence with Charisma's editors exactly 15 years ago, in which they accused John MacArthur of overstating the case about the festering problem of corrupt and abusive leadership in certain charismatic circles. Oddly enough, they implied that MacArthur's concerns were rooted in an uncharitable attitude toward the movement per se.

But now it comes to light that even back then they already knew about what was going on in Paulk's little fiefdom, and they conspired to keep those women's complaints quiet while turning their guns on MacArthur and others who were actually sounding valid alarms.

That type of "charity" doesn't interest me much, frankly.

the postmortem said...

Phil,

I appreciated your words on this. It's no surprise that the most outlandishly mistaken and corrupt "Christian" leaders seem to draw the largest followings. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel stand in our midst as we lament that sad reality.

Phil, Cent, Dan,

While I know false teachers are condemned for their deception, I have a hard time knowing exactly how to treat the people who follow them (Benny Hinn, Bishop Paulk...even guys like Rob Bell who seem to distort the Bible every time they handle it).

If you have friends who buy into bad teaching...do you confront them as if it were sin? Or is it just an important topic you may or may not discuss with them while in their company?

As someone from the Seattle area, I constantly run into people who have some sort of Emergent allele in their DNA; but I would still say many of them are believers. It's just so popular in the Northwest in general, it seems...

I love these people, but I hate some of the books they read. I don't mind admitting I've turned casual get-togethers with some of these people into somewhat impassioned conversations, debates, even arguments. Do you guys ever have this kind of problem? How do you approach it?

Lin said...

" But here's a related point: When a church is large, with (one presumes) very little directly linking a member to a pastor, how else would the leadership find out about the Christian maturity of the members of the congregation."

Wrong question. The question is, How does Hybels define spiritual maturity?

The seeker mega's are hitting a brick wall and maxing out. They are turning to satellite churches, taking over smaller churches...anything to get the numbers to maintain. And some are even developing emergent type worship and small groups to bring them in.

And no, Pastor Rod, we are NOT better off with Willow Creek. You see, it breaks my heart because I have family in that world who think they are saved with NO fruit, no regeneration or sanctification. See, you don't have to go through all of that in the seeker world to be saved.

Marie4thtimemom said...

God gave us brains for a reason. When pentiecostal churches intimidate people into turning off the discerning part of their brain, there is something that goes haywire. Witness the Benny Hinns and Ron Parsleys, and the list goes on and on. I've seen it myself countless times. If you've been in penetcostal churches very long, so have you.

Big, fat AMEN to the poster who wrote that! My entire "Leaving Charismania Behind" blog saga boiled down to that thesis.

Jesse,

the seeds of the movement were sown in doctrinal error. I'm surprised that no-one has yet mentioned the Montanists of the second century - the earliest "charismatics". Larry Christiansen's book, "Pentecostalism's Forgotten Forerunner" deals with the spiritual roots of the movement ~ humans seeking a "fresh word" and mystical experience over the revealed Word of God is nothing new.

candyinsierras said...

DJP. I think Jesse was gracious and interested in a genuine discussion on this issue. While it is true that these issues have been rehashed many different times on this blog, Phil at least treated Jesse to a genuine patient exchange. Can Jesse really be expected to read three years or so worth of exchanges on the cessationist/continuationist debate before he comments? There have been repetitious comments on the part of Pyros as well.

The issue is sorta like this.

A. Redheads are hotheaded and impatient.
B. Dan is a redhead.
C. Therefore it is because of his red hair that he reacts impatiently to fairly new guests.

Actually I think this is an interesting post. I agree that Grady is slow (and a bit dense) in addressing serious abuses, and I find it hard to believe that so many people in the Charismatic movement are so blind to obvious abuses in the movement, but hey, finally a serious issue is addressed, and who knows what God may be working in the Charismatic movement to bring about a reformation of truth. It is like the Church in general. A chasm has developed and grown deeper between truth and utter apostasy. It took me 25 years as a Christian before God opened my eyes to the truth of the Doctrines of Grace and I hope that other people in the Charismatic movement are having their eyes opened also. I will say that I NEVER liked some of the more visible and prominent representatives in the extreme Charismatic movement (especially the Prosperity movement),even as a new and young Christian many years ago.

Dan, sorry to pick on you, but you remind me of myself when I give clear directions for something I want my students to do in my classroom, and then students raise their hands and ask me what I want them to do. I get a bit impatient myself during those moments.

candyinsierras said...

Note: Grady admits Charisma had this information about Paulk 15 years ago. Why weren't they being "prophetic" then, when it might have dethroned a serial abuser before he destroyed more women's lives? Instead, Charisma waited till Paulk was already irremediably discredited and dethroned, and then they dogpiled on him. Is that what one has to do to be "charitable?"

I was writing my comment at the same time as you posted your comments, and I think you make a really good point. I think many times Charismatics have hidden behind the "touch not mine annointed" cliche and not dealt with abuses as a result.

One Salient Oversight said...

Perhaps we ought to explore the question of why whenever non-charismatics point out the flagrant and egregious abuses of certain charismatic celebrities, that's almost always automatically labeled "uncharitable," "ungracious," "painting with a broad brush," or whatever. But then when a Charisma editor turns his wrath against an already-discredited huckster and fornicator like Bishop Paulk, he is lauded as "prophetic."

I certainly would label Grady's actions as prophetic, in the same way that I would label Macarthur's actions prophetic when he wrote Charismatic Chaos.

Criticisms of Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity have been made by many, many people over many, many decades. Phil obviously has a bookshelf stacked full of criticisms.

But has there ever been someone inside the movement, who has a reasonably influential platform, who has criticised aspects of it?

I'm not sure if anyone qualifies, which is why Grady is important. Macarthur and others can certainly help to inoculate believers against spiritual excesses, but is there anyone actually going in and stirring up Charismatics and Pentecostals from within the movement? Grady is the only one I know.

Let's put it another way and use politics. The Democrats have been criticising the Republicans for years for corruption, bad governance and fiscal irresponsibility. Republicans and their supporters are immune from this sort of criticism. However, if someone from within the GOP starts to expose these problems, then Republicans are more likely to listen.

Grady: Not perfect, theologically dodgy. But nevertheless God is using him to shake up our Charismatic and Pentecostal brethren. That is why we should pray for him.

threegirldad said...

Jesse P,

"Agree to disagree"? Ummm, no thanks.

"No man ought to write at all, or even to speak at all, unless he thinks that he is in truth and the other man in error. In similar style, I hold that I am dogmatic and right, while Mr. [George Bernard] Shaw is dogmatic and wrong."
-- G.K. Chesterton

lordodamanor said...

Actually, I am a cesscontinuationist. If the sign gifts are a continuing phenomenon they wallow around in the cess-pool.

I have to laugh- core theological tenets- hahaha, hehehe, hohoho, budda bing boing!

tenet- something accepted as important truth: an established fundamental belief, especially one relating to religion

theological- relating to religious theory: a religious theory, school of thought, or system of belief

It was not so much the redundancy, I have a Master's is it! It was "core." Wow!

As a former Pentecosta/Charismatic I would have to agree. This topic is core to that system. Nothing else really matters unless it is subjugated to the charis. Like many fundamentalists who poopoo knowledge I have never met a Charismatic that was really interested in it. Contradictions to their heralded beliefs are simply dismissed as "dead orthodoxy." At least jesse p. has looked into the history- curiously he does not delve into theology- really.

I suppose that I have Walter Martin to blame for opening my eyes. But I thank God for him. When I came into the church it was through a family of Pentecostals. You see for the first seven years of my Christianhood, I distrusted churches and would not even step inside one. Pentecostalism offered something quite different. From there I graduated to Charismatics, to Paulk and others of the Manifest Sons of God Movement, etc, etc, etc. Martin though stuck a note with me because I had been a Zen/Buddist, and then a spiritist and occult practitioner before I was saved. The Pentecostal/Charismatic message was subtle occultism. All that they had to offer I had experienced in the occult and Eastern Mysticism, but it was all cleaned up and Christianized. There is enough truth there to be deceptive. After all, if the devil speaks in tongues and he is a deceiver, and the Bible says that tongues are a Spiritual gift, perhaps he has just corrupted what is real, and the norm, right? Of course that would mean that those churches that I didn't trust, who rejected tongues, were working with the enemy to keep "true tongues," the most potent weapon of Spiritual warfare, away from believers. Anyway, it is all a sham. I was always studying, and following up on what WMartin had to say, I began to notice something. Within the Pentecostal/Charismatic camps there was a lack of "interpretation." Ah, no interpretation, no knowledge. And I was right back to chanting a mantra- mind blanking, and Sri Paul Twitchell, Baba Ram Das and transcending the body into the spirit. Then I heard Paul. He made it clear that if our minds remained unfruitful we were just babbling. So I matured. I put away childish things, and opted for real words.

A person is to remain silent if there is no interpreter, and unless God gives you the gift of interpretation, and there is no one who can confirm your interpretation (let all things be confirmed in the mouths of two or three) even your prayer language benefits you nothing except confusion and chaos. It remains an indistinct sound, just clangor.

Beyond that, what I came to realize was the practices other than tongues- do this, repeat this, pray this... were nothing more than occult methods- works.

And this is really where the meat gets ground. The core doctrines of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement are works salvation/sanctification. In other words, they are a repudiation of Christian orthodoxy. They are Romanist, not Protestant. There is much that has been written on the occult connections within Pentecostalism and I would caution anyone who is "experiencing" tongues, or any other "supernatural manifestation," to question the source. Remember, I was a believer who was taken captive to do Satan's will as a Pentecostal/Charismatic, and I know that there was a true spirit that was not the HS involved in it. I know the darkness. And, more and more I have come to know how dark, and how powerful it can be.

My advice to jesse p: "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

CraigS said...

"Agree to disagree"? Ummm, no thanks.

Interesting article. But what does it mean in practice - that you are under an obligation to continue any argument indefinitely?

j said...

As a critic of Harold Camping noted;

Every fool has his following.

DJP said...

That's pretty funny, Candy.

When I have tried to shed some light on the leaky Canon issue from various angles, you've very often snarked about my "beating a dead horse," or gripes to that effect.

Now you're complaining when I point out that some questions have been answered and answered and answered, if someone actually wants answers.

The only consistency I see is that, if I say something on the issue, you'll find a way to fault it.

Phil Johnson said...

OSO: "But has there ever been someone inside the movement, who has a reasonably influential platform, who has criticised aspects of it?"

There have been a few important ones, including Walter Martin and D. R. McConnell. And their contributions have been important, as I hope Lee Grady's will ultimately prove to be.

Lest this be unclear: I'm glad he's speaking out. I only wish he had done so 15 years ago. Sadly, the fact that he didn't speak out then doesn't exactly enhance his credibility as a critic now. But (as the charismatics say) more power to him anyway.

Jesse P. said...

lordodamanor: "At least jesse p. has looked into the history- curiously he does not delve into theology- really."

I understand the stereotype that charismatics are not interested in theology. There's a paper on my blog that you're free to download. If you still have this concern that I'm not interested in theology, I'd be happy to hear your concerns.

This may or may not change your perception, but it might serve to inform your judgment.

thanks.

Daryl said...

In all the talk (previously) about giving and accepting criticism it seems rather glaring that the attacks on David by Shimei have been left out of the discussion.
Here is a man, completely out of line, verbally attacking the King of Israel with such vitriol that David's men wanted to have him killed for his impertinence. Yet David operates with the understanding that God, being sovereign, may be in the criticism, and so he takes it to heart and considers the possibility that Shimei may be right.

We in the church can surely learn from that example, we have no right or permission to overlook harsh words just because they are harsh. We are bound to consider the content of the critique's we recieve. While we all fail at this, the more extreme variant's of Christianity (EC and Charimatics right now) have a more difficult time with that because they need a reason to overlook the issues, else they would have to examine their ideas more closely and honestly and, inevitably, jettison them for more orthodox beliefs.

Mike Riccardi said...

If you have friends who buy into bad teaching...do you confront them as if it were sin? Or is it just an important topic you may or may not discuss with them while in their company?

Postmortem, I think this is a great question. I believe the answer is in the closing verses of Jude:

And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. -- Jude 22, 23

I see three categories there. The first is the doubting. Those who need to be presented with the Bible's glorious truth gently, not as if they're hostile to it, but as if you're saying, "Look! See how beautiful this is!" You need to be clear and you need to be direct and unwavering, but you would treat these as you would treat a child when you try to teach them something.

The second category is where I think the people in your question fall into. They're "in the fire;" that is, in the presence of consuming and deadly false teaching and distortion. For those, we're to "snatch them." Go in on a recovery mission. Plead with them, but grab them if you have to. Present truth. Present the consequences of deviating from the truth. Show the deviation of their teacher with Scripture. Explain that they are responsible now to apply truth (Lk 12:47-48, Jn 9:39-41). Show them the urgency of participating in error, and be resolute in calling them away from it.

Then there's the third group, who would be your Joel Osteens and Rob Bells and Benny Hinns. On these have mercy "with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh." Keep them at a distance you would keep soiled underwear. Realize that these are the wolves themselves, and keep the sheep far from the wolves. You do not rule out the possibility of genuine conversion and salvation; that is, you don't deny that Osteen or Bell or Hinn could ever come to a spot where they're shepherds and not wolves, and so you "have mercy" on them. But you recognize that this is mercy with fear.

Hope that helps.

centuri0n said...

Jesse:

ASUZA.

Trump card, dude. Can't possibly refute that.

However, if you're really as sharp as you want to believe, I'd be willing to give you the opportunity to demonstrate the better nature of your theology at my Debate Blog on this topic:

Paul's first letter to the Corinthians refutes the notion that "sign" gifts are necessary for the on-going life of the church.

I would take the affirmative.

Johnny Dialectic said...

AZUSA..."Everything from A to Z in the USA."

Los Angeles in those days, 1906, was literally filled with spiritualism, palmistry, eastern mysticism, Eddyism, mind science, Swamis...Out of this soil sprang the Azusa Street revival. The Biblically sound preachers of the era were aghast. G. Campbell Morgan called it the "vomit of Satan." Torrey preached a vibrant doctrine of the Spirit but detested the false enthusiasms.

Matt said...

For those of you who watched the "wake-up call of my adult life" clip, do you remember what his answer to this problem was? Their big answer to their current failure was that they "should have been teaching Christians to be self-feeders". Did you catch that??? In other words, IT'S NOT THE CHURCH'S RESPONSIBILITY TO FEED ITS MEMBERS. This is fundamentally a blame-shift, and they gave absolutely no indication of changing their philosophy of ministry--even though they had to admit it is garbage.

candyinsierras said...

Dan. Yeah, I agree, I do gripe at times, but my point is that it seems like Jesse is fairly new here and I am not sure he should wade through numerous past posts just to make a comment on this post. If someone is repetitious in their comments over and over, and dense about their points, then I see a good reason to respond in a manner that is impatient, but it did not seem to me that Jesse was that person. I just appreciate that Phil is very patient and longsuffering in answering questions and concerns that have been previously hashed about on this blog.

Plus, I placed myself in the same category. I get impatient with repetitive students or students who just don't seem to get it, so I understand the tendency.

I obviously appreciate your contributions, and I agree with this post of Phil's. I just hope we all can be a testimony of Biblical truth to erring brothers who hopefully might be getting a wake-up call, like perhaps, Grady.

There really is something to the "humble orthodoxy" phrase that has been tossed around lately. The video Frank has on his blog states it well. Stand for truth, but be humble and gracious when needed.

DJP said...

Responding only to your first paragraph, if your point is that Phil is much better than I in just about every way, you will have nothing but hearty agreement from me.

Stefan said...

Lordodamanor: Praise the Lord for what He has done in your life. (Wow, there seem to be a lot of ex-charismatics on this blog.)

Kent Brandenburg said...

Phil,

I agree that a fraudulent test for spirituality provides cover for spiritual problems, resulting in massive loss of discernment. The same thing occurs in the revivalist wing of spirit baptism.

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

Mike Riccardi said...
Postmortem, I think this is a great question. I believe the answer is in the closing verses of Jude:
______________________________
Mike- Thx!

Brendt said...

Preface: I was trying to keep this generic, since -- to her credit -- Carla's original statement was chock full of parentheses, but it gets confusing, so let's say that I'll talk mostly about the EC issue, but much of this is applicable to other movements/persons that the more theologically conservative folks have problems with (and often, rightly so).

Preface 2: Ordinarily, I'd put this in separate comments, since I'm responding to separate folks' statements, but this all ties together.


SolaMeanie,

OK, you addressed the "nice" issue, and perhaps the misuse of the word is all that Carla was referring to, and I definitely see your point. But even in your explanation, you said "some in the EC crowd" misuse the word and then made a specific reference to McLaren. The inference that I draw from that (and also my own experience) is that not all in the "EC crowd" misuse the word.

So, we've got a percentage of the "EC crowd" and (presumably) a percentage of the "non-EC crowd" using the word correctly? Would it really kill anyone to occasionally be nice in the real definition of the word?


Mike Riccardi,

OK, yeah. The critics shouldn't have to put 15 positive qualifiers at the start of their criticism. But if we limit ourselves to only that which we should have to do, then we are refusing to go the extra mile that Christ commanded. But even disregarding that, the vast majority of critics never say anything positive about any of their targets of criticism.

Case in point where it was done correctly (and maybe Phil can confirm this): I was reading elsewhere that Dr MacArthur wrote a letter to Mark Driscoll regarding his SEBTS message, praising Driscoll's content, but taking issue with some of his style. Meanwhile, most of Driscoll's critics tell us only of his allusion to the s-word. So, did Dr MacArthur do wrong when he cited the positive?

After my early exposure to the EC (based on the pens of the critics), I was under the impression that anyone who ever even said "Brian McLaren" out loud was a candle-burning, incense-sniffing heretic in full support of homosexuality. Now, I'll admit to not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, but when the critics are helping to dull the blade....

If you need to be [stroked and coddled] before you are rebuked, quite frankly, you need to grow up.

Let's assume that is correct. I don't think it'd be a stretch to say that the one needing instruction is the "weaker brother". So does that mean that he has to "grow up" before the critic/instructor is obligated to obey Romans 14?

Or, maybe the critic/instructor should "grow up" and start obeying immediately.


the postmortem:
If you have friends who buy into bad teaching...

Bingo! How many friends do you (universal you, not just postmortem) have that never say anything to you or about you except stuff that's critical? How many EC critics consider Kimball, Bell, etc, to be their friends? Oh sure, they'll not be arrogant/blasphemous enough to pass judgment on another's salvation (though, oddly, most of them have no problem with their commenters doing so), but friends?

Granted, relationships can be hard to build over long-distances. But maybe, just maybe, something can be forged with the occasional positive expression.


Solameanie:
If you look at what [Paul] wrote to the Corinthian church...

... then you prove my point even more. Well, actually, if you get eisegetical and don't bother with any other parts of the Bible, then you don't. But other letters that Paul wrote, not to mention Christ's own messages to the churches in Revelation 2-3, are full of "here's what you're doing good, and here's what you're doing bad."

----------------

Yes, the world has mangled the word "tolerance" to mean "I fully condone everything you do, and would probably do it myself, if given half a chance". Anyone with more than three brain cells knows that this is an invalid definition. Yet this is the very definition that's applied if anyone calls for even a smidgen of tolerance (with the real definition) -- which doesn't say a whole lot for the number of brain cells that the applier has.

I'm not going all Rodney King on you and asking "Can't we all just get along?" But would it be too much to ask to throw the occasional bone with the constant stream of criticism?

Daryl said...

Brendt,

Some good (even great) points there.

One question:

Given that what gave rise to the comments to which you were responding was a seeming attempt on the part of ECers and Charismatics to avoid the criticism of outsiders by claiming that the critiques weren't nice enough to be considered; and given King David's response to the criticism foisted upon him by Shimei; and given also that (most likely) no one under serious cross-examination will say that we must be unkind to be effectively critical...

Can you comment on the constant refrain of "that's not nice" offered as the primary response to legitimate issues with those 2 movements in particular and theological missteps in general?

The reason I ask this is that too often (like now for instance) the substance of a critique is safely buried under a hail of gunfire aimed at the demeanor of the critic. That should never be allowed to happen (IMHO).

The Seeking Disciple said...

I once again have to say that while I agree with your post Phil I just have a problem lumping all charismatics together. I know that Grady does so in his article but frankly I have been a charismatic for over 15 years and none of those I have been around have any desire to be involved with these so called charismatics. In fact, most evangelical charismatics avoid Charisma magazine because of the weird and out right unbiblical ideas it promotes.

Now to be fair, I agree with what you have stated and my prayer for all Christians is for us all to stand firm upon the Word of God (1 Thess. 5:21). We all need to stay true to Jesus in the midst of many false teachings (Matthew 24:4,5).

Dave Crater said...

Phil: Fantastic, beginning to end, in this strain.

Stratagem: In short, a hyper-Calvinist believes evangelism is inconsistent with election. Since God monergistically elects and saves (i.e., without help from the subject human), the gospel offer is not meant for everyone and we don't need to evangelize. Authentic Calvinists evangelize because God has commanded the message be universally proclaimed, and because He uses us as secondary agents to distribute the Word to both the elect and non-elect. The elect who hear the Word are saved. The non-elect who hear the Word are judged and further hardened by it. But the message is for everyone.

Hope that's short enough.

Jesse: Phil's responses can't be improved upon, but one additional thought for you. The first charismatic movement was the Montanist movement in the 2nd century. Read up on Montanus - he was strikingly like modern charismatic leaders. Went around with two women, claimed prophetic status and special gifts, etc. The movement was widespread and even included the orthodox great from Carthage, Tertullian. But the movement was by and large rejected by the church fathers as being doctrinally aberrant at its root, not simply an abuse in practice. The error you guys don't want to recognize is that New Testament miraculous gifts simply do not continue. Sorry to state it so plainly, but you have not spoken in a language you didn't already know through natural processes, you don't know anyone who has spoken in a language he/she did not already know through the natural process, and you don't know anyone else who knows such a person. It simply does not happen, and the Bible does not teach that we should expect it to happen. When this significant of an error is overlooked, Phil is right that both the theological and ethical environment becomes ripe for all kinds of other abuses.

Brendt said...

Daryl,

First, thank you for the compliment/acknowledgment. I'll answer your question in a moment, but I have a bit of a quibble with one of your "givens".

You said: given also that (most likely) no one under serious cross-examination will say that we must be unkind to be effectively critical

I would say that the cross-examination not even be serious for just about anyone to say that unkindness is unnecessary. However, it has been my unfortunate experience to see that there are many who would say it is unnecessary, and then turn around and live by unkindness. They claim that they are merely speaking the truth. If confronted with the fact that it needs to be the truth in love, they claim (rightly) that love does not mean always getting along and stroking someone. But somehow this has been warped in their minds such that they seem to think that "love" means never getting along with those that you disagree with.

But even if we totally discard that "given", I think I can address your question.

At the risk of annoying my EC friends, I'd say that many of the issues raised against the EC are legitimate issues. And if they are presented in a rational manner and simply met with disregard because the criticized person/group doesn't like the methods of the critic ("that's not nice"), then this is wrong. And yes, we should certainly aspire to David's example with Shimei. It would seem to be the Christian thing to do, and in keeping with Christ's command to "turn the other cheek".

Unfortunately, a large number of the critics out there seem to be aspiring more to Shimei's example. And that certainly is not the Christian thing to do.

Your last paragraph is certainly true in many instances. But to parallel it, I would assert "that too often the substance of a critique is safely buried under a hail of gunfire aimed at" the critized person/group to begin with. That also "should never be allowed to happen (IMHO)".

Mr Critic, do you actually want your point to be heard, understood, and taken to heart, so that your brother can become more Christ-like? Or are you just interested in being right?

In my Bible, Galatians 6:1 says (emphasis mine):
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

The average critical blog out there seems to regard that as a misprint.

By the way, for those of you scoring at home, the story of David and Shimei is in 2 Samuel 16:5-13

Theophilus said...

Is there legitimate cause for criticizing charismatic dogma and practise? Yes.

I suggest that there are probably 2 types of Christians in charismatic churches. (Not counting those who responded to outreach by either of these categories.)

1) Specifically "Experience-Driven" people. These people, generally care little about doctrine, even if they have come to saving faith. Conversations directed toward spiritual maturity may gain traction occasionally, but this is rare.

2) People who have sought refuge in such churches because whichever church they left behind has become a swamp of anti-biblical Liberal Theology.

Whatever criticism may be directed at them for inability to APPLY/ understand scripture correctly, there is a general acceptance by Charismatics of its Authority. I think this is a point which it is important to remember, and a cause for hope.

In my own experience, I grew up within a church that is now only a few years from collapse due to its embrace of liberal theology and it's position on homosexual 'marriage' and ordination. At different times since, I have attended (in various cities) a Charismatic, a Presbyterian, and a Pentecostal church.

I have noticed a tendancy among charismatics/pentecostals to be anti-intellectual. This is a large part of the problem.

Group one tends to believe that learning, wisdom, theology etc. are irrelevant so long as you are 'spiritual' (whatever that means). This group cannot help but become flaky.

Group 2 can be anti-intellectual as a 'classic overcorrection' from damage done by Liberal theologians denying Biblical truth claims, or by seeing some churches (whose doctrine may be better than theirs) become wooden or passionless. (Note: as relates to *percieved* committment to authentic worship / preaching / outreach, *not* intended as a commentary on style of worship)

Many Charismatics hold their views towards the Gifts of the Spirit because they accept that the Bible is inspired.

Theophilus said...

In the Pentecostal Church I now attend, the typical elitism is not evident. The views of Atonement, Salvation, the great Commission, character, community, personal responsibility, etc have more to do with our congregation's 'identity' than the typical Pentecostal litmus tests.

I am launching a discussion group / Home group which will be loosely based on "A Body of Divinity".

I consider it a priviledge to challenge a group (like ours) that already has a passion for Christ to become more considered in our doctrines.

While a difficult task, it is, perhaps, no more difficult than motiviating some congregations with perhaps better doctrine to take the responsibility of communicating the Gospel to a dying world off of the shoulders of the pulpiteers.

joey said...

Dave Crater said

"The error you guys don't want to recognize is that New Testament miraculous gifts simply do not continue. Sorry to state it so plainly, but you have not spoken in a language you didn't already know through natural processes, you don't know anyone who has spoken in a language he/she did not already know through the natural process, and you don't know anyone else who knows such a person. It simply does not happen, and the Bible does not teach that we should expect it to happen."

I don't see how you say that with a straight face. It is explicetly and repeatedly promoted and encouraged in scripture. And it is the testimony of many sober minded, humble and intelligent christians that they have experienced these things. To say, with such certainty, that they have not is simply a wild claim.

Daryl said...

Joey,


Unless they're claims have been proven, it is the tongues-speaking claimants who's claims have to be considered wild...

Mike Riccardi said...

Brendt,

Your point is taken, that we don't need to be shoving things down people's throats for it to be truth. Obviously, I've not said that it was, or we should do that. Neither have I said we should limit ourselves to only those things we should have to do. That said...

I don't think it'd be a stretch to say that the one needing instruction is the "weaker brother".

I do. Romans 13, 14, and 1Cor 8-10 talk about the weaker and stronger brothers in the context of Christian liberty. The weaker brother doesn't realize the liberty he has in Christ, and is so bound by his conscience. The stronger brother then sacrifices his liberty out of love for the one whose conscience isn't freed from bondage to the elementary principles of the world.

In this example, it is not a matter of liberty to choose to accept criticism only when your ego can handle it. It's not a matter of liberty to say, "His conscience is accusing him, telling him he has to obey a law of selfishness and pride. I better sacrifice by freedom to live in self-abasing, God-exalting proclamation of truth."

Realize, though, that I'm not saying we should be unloving in our restoration. That's turning the focus on those who correct. This started with talking about those who are being corrected, and so I think it's important for the sake of context that we should keep it there. So what I am saying is that even if we are forceful (not in opposition with gentleness) in our rebuke and reproof -- that is, "the critic/instructor" is "obeying immediately" -- those who love instruction and have wisdom WILL hear the rebuke and will accept it for the love of the truth.

The cop-out, "Sure he was right, but he wasn't nice when he said it," is nothing else but prideful, foolish, and immaturity at work.

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. -- Proverbs 9:7-9

How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver. -- Proverbs 16:16. Does the one who rejects wise counsel because it wasn't 'nice enough' desire wisdom and understanding more than gold and silver?

He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, But he who ignores reproof goes astray. -- Proverbs 10:17

joey said...

daryl, As one who studied philosophy as a major in college, I have read enough to know "proving" something can be pretty difficult with even the most seemingly obvious things. It is not difficult to doubt. It simply requires not accepting evidence supporting the position you doubt. providing eveidence would be pointless in this debate because it would be dismissed as a lie.

Daryl said...

Joey,

Perhaps, although because the arguement against continualism is a Biblical arguement (whether you agree with the arguement or not, is ultimately irrelevant) the display or denial of examples is immaterial to the whole case.
If is it Scriptural there are no need for examples, if not, they shouldn't make a difference.

joey said...

Daryl, you said

"If is it Scriptural there are no need for examples, if not, they shouldn't make a difference."

I agree.

Douglas said...

Told Wilken and Chris Rosebrough discuss the topic on Issues Etc. They also mention that Brian McLaren will be going to share his ideas at Willow Creek. Are Brian McLaren's teachings heretical? Is he bad news? Does he teach bad news?

Issues, Etc.
KFUO Host: Todd Wilken
"Willow Creek's Admission of a Failure to Meet the Spiritual Needs of Many of Their Members"
Chris Rosebrough ExtremeTheology.Com
KFUO WMA audio KFUO MP3 audio

McLaren's New Book 'Everything Must Change' - Part 1

Part 2 - McLaren’s “Everything Must Change”: Jesus’ Second Coming

Part 3 - Everything Must Change: The Story We Find Ourselves In

This review of Brian McLaren's book is on going.

Dave Crater said...

Joey: Ever spontaneously spoken in a language you did not know? Know anyone who has so spoken? Know anyone who knows anyone who has so spoken? Be honest. If this hasn't occurred, that's pretty strange, don't you think, if tongues are "explicitly and repeatedly promoted in scripture," as you claim?

Tongues are not explicitly and repeatedly promoted in Scripture. Paul explicitly discourages their use by Christians in I Cor. 14:19ff. Jesus Christ never spoke in miraculous tongues. If charismatics would pay a little more and closer attention to the text of the Bible, they would understand the miraculous gifts, and why trying to manufacture them where God has not authored them leads to the kind of doctrinal and ethical corruption that is a hallmark of the movement.

Everyday Mommy said...

I love Buster Keaton. Great pic.

Brendt said...

Mike Riccardi,

While your interpretation of Romans 14 is probably spot on, I think your application is too narrow. But I'm not going to argue that point.

And just to be clear, I'm not attributing any of the negative actions/thoughts that I've cited to you. Unfortunately, there are many out there who take what you have stated to an illogical extreme.

Case in point: You state that forcefulness is "not in opposition with gentleness". Throw a "necessarily" in there after the "not" and I'll agree with you. However, there are those who have raised forcefulness to the n-th degree, and there's absolutely nothing marginally gentle about it.

You state: This started with talking about those who are being corrected, and so I think it's important for the sake of context that we should keep it there.

I really don't get this. The only way I can interpret this is "this isn't what Phil was talking about, and so it's not a valid issue to be raised." But from the spirit of your comments, it doesn't strike me that you meant anything that harsh. But regardless, I would argue that it's a very valid issue to be raised -- most likely, there are more instructors than instructees that read this blog, and I'm addressing how the instructors should act.

You said: The cop-out, "Sure he was right, but he wasn't nice when he said it," is nothing else but prideful, foolish, and immaturity at work.

I agree with you. However, there's just as much pride, foolishness, and immaturity in the cop-out, "I can give rebuke/reproof any way that I want, because I'm right."

Again, not attributing this to you, but it's out there. And it seems that I can't even get anyone to acknowledge its existence, let alone explain its motives and how it can be justified given the Scriptures that I referenced.af6

lawrence said...

Dave Crater said

"have you ever spontaneously spoken in a language you did not know? Known anyone who has?"

If by "language you did not know" you mean "language you did not know what the English interpretation (sp?) of" then yes and yes.

By the way, Paul said "I thank God that I speak in tongues more then all of you." You can argue that they have ceased, but please don't try to say that they are not encouraged in Scripture.

Adrian said...

I have weighed in on this over at my place and its not pretty....

Shannon said...

Just an observation: Jesse P., by far, seems to express the "fruit of the Spirit" - particularly love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness - in his responses. Can you give me any good reason why a 'wacky charismaniac' like him (or me - or Adrian?) should express the fruit so clearly, while - supposedly - our 'doctrine', it would seem, is one step from pure heresy, when you - the perfectly doctrinally orthodox - display the exact opposite fruit in your harsh, sarcastic, and often downright MEAN posts? Does it do anyone any good to be 'right', but 'have not love', honestly?

Jesse - I appreciate, and whole-heartedly agree with, your responses. Adrian most definitely his the nail on the head in his - a home run, indeed.

blessings...

Jesse P. said...

Shannon,

Thanks for your observation.

Daryl said...

Yeah Phil...you meanie!!!!


(LOL)

Shannon said...

So, honestly - is being 'mean' funny? If so, is that the sort of thing a Christian should allow their heart to revel in?

Seriously, though - I've spoken to Phil face-to-face (though it has been a few years) and I was not accusing him of being 'mean' - rude, maybe - not 'gentle' whatsoever, at least not in my experience - but not mean. Many of those comments were particularly directed towards other contributors to this conversation. When a sincere believer, especially one truly seeking God, reading the word, attempting to understand and pursue both orthodoxy and orthopraxy have a sincere disagreement with a public point in a blog such as this, it doesn't seem very much in line with the Spirit's fruit to ridicule them. If you'd like to justify such actions - feel free. God will sort it all out in the end.

Shannon said...

Dave Crater said:
"The error you guys don't want to recognize is that New Testament miraculous gifts simply do not continue."

Do you say this out of personal observation? If so, would you be beginning from a position of personal experience and interpreting the Word from said experience, as such is the error of far too many - as many here would call them - 'charis-maniacs'. I'd take issue with you approaching the issue of gifts that way, the same as if you were a charismatic arguing for the gifts starting from one's personal experience.

However, if you believe you have good scriptural evidence for your belief (as I would hope you do), have you read non-charismatic reformed author D.A. Carson's work "Showing the Spirit". In it he does a very good job of showing that most cases for cessationism haven't a leg to stand on, if one is to follow solid evangelical (truly 'Bible believing') exegesis. It may at least help you in not making the ridiculous mistakes that some cessationists do.

blessings,

shannon

Phil Johnson said...

Shannon:

You seem to be suggesting that evidence of the fruit of the Spirit is lacking in my comments in this thread in some way, and that those fruits are more evident "by far" in Jesse P.'s comments. There is apparently such a disparity between the fruit Jesse evidences and the tenor of my comments (which you think rude) that you regard this as proof he is right and I am wrong.

Would you kindly do me the favor of pointing out, with quotations from my own words, where you think my remarks are missing the requisite love, joy, peace, etc.—or where I have been "rude"?

That would be more helpful to me than an unsubstanbtiated accusation such as you have made.

Mike Riccardi said...

Brendt,

Thanks for this last response. I think it's helped clarify some things you were saying/not saying. I'll respond in pieces.

I really don't get this. The only way I can interpret this is "this isn't what Phil was talking about, and so it's not a valid issue to be raised." But from the spirit of your comments, it doesn't strike me that you meant anything that harsh.

Thanks for the benefit of the doubt. As you suspected, I wasn't saying anything that harsh. All I meant was: The issue was raised about people being excused in their error because their "rebukers" were too unkind. I then commented about that issue. While I agree with almost every bit of what you said about the "rebuker's" responsibility to be gracious and gentle, that just wasn't the domain of my comments. So I guess I felt that you were telling me that was mean and not gentle simply because I didn't comment on the other side. So, to make sure I was judged only for what I said and not what I left out, I made that (hopefully benign) comment. Hope that clears things up.

But regardless, I would argue that it's a very valid issue to be raised -- most likely, there are more instructors than instructees that read this blog, and I'm addressing how the instructors should act.

I gotcha. I agree. I just thought that you were lamenting my not raising that issue, as if the one couldn't be raised without the other.

However, there's just as much pride, foolishness, and immaturity in the cop-out, "I can give rebuke/reproof any way that I want, because I'm right."

I agree with this too.

Again, not attributing this to you, but it's out there.

This is what I was missing.

And it seems that I can't even get anyone to acknowledge its existence, let alone explain its motives and how it can be justified given the Scriptures that I referenced.

I can see how this is frustrating. I think we all should be able to acknowledge that pride is a most insidious sin, and even battles and works in those under the deceitful guise of standing firm for the Truth.

But wimpy-ness in the name of humility is abominable. There's a lot of that going on (with the ECers and the hermeneutics of humility, et al.), and that just happened to be the point raised. If the convo started at "Pride is insidious and we need to guard our rebuke and correction strongly," I probably would have sounded an Amen for a while, along with an anecdote or two of failure in this area.

So rest assured -- it's recognized. Although because of how subtle, insidious, and deceitful it is, it's not recognized by enough people often enough.

So let us not become hardened, tyrannical, and self-righteous. But neither let us become soft, wishy-washy, and willfully ignorant.

But let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.

Shannon said...

Thanks for chiming in, Phil - I realize you're a busy man. It's been years since we've spoken face-to-face, but we've eaten together a couple of times years ago at the Toledo Reformed Theological Conference (I went 4 years in a row, so I don't remember which one), as I'm friends with a number of those who put that on. Not that you'd remember me from then, but still - my only reference to you being sometime 'rude', but not 'mean' come from those conversations, and I meant 'rude' in the 'humorously sarcastic but sometimes obnoxious' way - not the flat out 'mean' way. But, you tended to overstate your case quite sarcastically at times, which does little to garner a sympathetic ear from your 'opponent', but again - I tried to make it clear that I was primarily talking about those RESPONDING to this thread, not to you.

"There is apparently such a disparity between the fruit Jesse evidences and the tenor of my comments that you regard this as proof he is right and I am wrong."

Again, if we remove any direct reference to you, and point the finger at the broader 'reformed community' (especially the cessatinist camp), particularly many posting here, I'd say that such a disparity is real, but it doesn't make one 'right' or 'wrong'...however, what I was suggesting is that it may be evidence of something more serious. The fruit of the Spirit come from being filled with the Spirit (not even bringing up the oft-wacky charismatic notion of 'Spirit-filled', but the essentially evangelical one). If someone's demeanor in responding consistently tend to be harsh, might that say anything about the condition of their heart?

For instance, to reference a specific couple of posts, one of your co-horts here - Daniel Phillips - in his responses to Jesse's well-written, thoughtful, and kind response to your article, arrogantly dismisses Jesse's ideas without addressing a one, essentially calling him a 'newbie', which is a around-about way of saying "shut up and stay our of this" if I've ever seen it. Jesse kindly replies, and in response - again - what sounds to me like arrogance: to quote "if you're that familiar with our position, then would you please refute all the points in your post that we've already answered many times?" Frankly, if a long-time reader - such as myself, and Jesse - feels the need to bring up such points, apparently they've not been addressed adequately, which is why we're responding.

p.s. - that's just to say, there were no "unsubstanbtiated accusation" - we may disagree on much, but apart from your sarcastic wit, which makes me nervous sometimes, I like you just fine. It's the overall arrogance of the 'reformed community' that makes me sometimes wonder weather - in spite of knowing the right things about Jesus - whether many of them actually KNOW Jesus. It's a sad confession, from one who's been 'reformed' (I was at one time being raised up to pastor a PCA church, so I'm 'in') for a good decade or more now.

That's not the only case - reading these threads it's all too common, especially when reformed cessationists refer to charismatics of any sort there is no grace offered - just harsh criticism, often with a pointed finger and a smile - poking fun at, and even ridiculing those who may likely be your/our brothers in Christ.

Anyway, I've said enough. Hope you understand...

blessings,

shannon

Phil Johnson said...

Shannon:

Would it be rude for me to point out that saying someone else is "rude" is indeed an accusation, and you still did not substantiate that charge with any actual quotations from me?

The problem here is not merely that it's insulting to me. Forget that. I take no offense. But the reason I'm willing to press the point is that the original argument you made was that the fruits of the Spirit are somehow more evident in charismatics than they are in cessationists—or at least you implied that has been the case in this thread. (And since you singled me out in particular, I don't think a quotation of something you didn't like that Dan Phillips wrote really makes the point.)

Which is to say I think you have got a major blind spot, and perhaps you ought to reserve judgment on how well others are measuring up to Galatians 5:22-23.

To be clear: I'm quite certain you are right to suggest that the fruit of the Spirit is not always as ripe and sweet and luscious as it might be in my blog-comments. But labeling me "rude" isn't really kosher under the rules of engagement you yourself have staked out. So I'm not willing to concede that you are clearly in a superior position to make an objective judgment about the theological point under debate here on those grounds.

Moving beyond your comments in this thread and into the wider world of blog-interaction, it seems to be a besetting sin of people who are enthralled with the artificial politeness of postmodern discourse to automatically label people rude or harsh or ungracious or lacking in the fruit of the Spirit when in fact all they are doing is steadfastly holding to a point of strong conviction, rather than diluting (or nullifying) every argument with a corresponding point about how wonderful and valid the person or opinion they disagree with really is.

I'll try to develop this idea more in a follow-up post sometime next week, because it seemed to be Adrian Warnock's whole case: I broke the rules of engagement by saying negative things about Willow Creek without putting equal stress on the positives, and by insisting it's dangerous to believe in ongoing revelation without specifically exempting the type-R charismatics from my criticism.

But in all honesty, if that's someone's measure of "discernment," it doesn't seem to be a very discerning approach.

Let's be honest here: you can survey all of church history, from Irenaeus to Athanasius to Anselm to Luther to Machen, and here's what you will discover if you line up those who have effectively confronted error in the church: Not one of them would pass Dr. Warnock's test for "how to do discernment," and every one of them would seem to be rude by your criteria.

Mike Riccardi said...

Well put, Phil. Especially that last paragraph.

I'm chiming in because Mr. Warnock's comment/post implies the necessity of the very issue that I've been trying to say is absolutely unnecessary, if not outright immature.

Why in the world should I have to list 10 positive things about Willow Creek before I criticize them? I don't see this anywhere in the New Testament. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, and so I'd be open to hearing a case from Scripture, but I'm skeptical as to whether or not there is one.

2Tim 3:1-9. There's no accolade there. There's a comparison to Jannes and Jambres, and an announcement that their folly is so great that anyone looking can tell they're wrong.

2Tim 4:10ff. Demas loves the world. Not: "Demas is a really nice guy and he means well, but he's just at a different spot right now." Then Alexander later on... "The Lord repay him... be on guard against him."

2 John. Watch out for deceivers. Don't even let them in your house. If you do, you share in their evil.

3 John. Diotrephes. John calls him out as one who loves to be first, who will get an open rebuke if John gets there, and acts unjustly and wickedly.

Galatians 2:11ff. Paul even did this with Peter himself. No mixing words even with his own fellow apostle. He opposed him to his face -- publicly. Why? Because he was not acting in line with the Gospel! He takes it all the way to, "Peter, if we take what you're doing to its logical conclusion, Christ died needlessly!"

So, as stated, I don't see a Scriptural requirement to butter people up before you tell them they're doing something wrong. As I've said in other comments, I find that to be ego-stroking and I hope you all would agree that has no place among God's people.

A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. -- Proverbs 17:10

Shannon said...

Touche' - I can see that it may be considered 'rude' by some to call someone 'rude'. I think we're talking past one another here, sadly: I tried to point out in my last post, to quote myself "I meant 'rude' in the 'humorously sarcastic but sometimes obnoxious' way", and my only 'substantiation' would be my general impression of you while sitting around a table with 2 other friends discussing issues (sorry I can't remember specifics from 6+ years ago) - I guess I didn't make that clear from the last post, BUT that's entirely besides the point here, really. I'm sorry if you took any offense to it - I was trying to be playful, since you put yourself in the middle of this.

"And since you singled me out in particular, I don't think a quotation of something you didn't like that Dan Phillips wrote really makes the point"

I don't really understand how and where I singled you out - my original post was inspired by reading djp and other's responses, and was not a response to your original article in any way.

"Which is to say I think you have got a major blind spot, and perhaps you ought to reserve judgment on how well others are measuring up to Galatians 5:22-23."

Thanks for pointing it out. I'll keep that in mind.

"But labeling me "rude" isn't really kosher under the rules of engagement you yourself have staked out."

How so? Personally, I have been called 'rude' (not in the humorous/playful sense in which I mentioned you) and took it as a Godly rebuke, and no against any of the fruit - especially since it was spoken by fellow believer who cared for my spiritual well-being and growth, as we all should for one another.

Lastly, are you suggesting that if Irenaeus, Anselm, or Luther lacking 'gentleness, kindness' or other fruit, that it's just fine for others - as long as they are 'orthodox/right' to do so? I don't think that you are, but if you aren't I must have missed the point of that last paragraph.

My original observation restated and expanded upon, and my challenge is this: if reformed Christians want to be heard by anyone outside their own camp, and have an effectually call the rest of the church towards 'reformation', the fruit of the spirit - particularly kindness, goodness, gentleness, joy, and love - are going to need to be forefront in the conversation, as everyone's seen enough of the harsh, critical, and seemingly angry criticisms of the 'calvinists', so much so that seemingly everyone outside of our camp considers us 'the frozen chosen' - the hard, emotionless 'doctrine police', when - if we truly know Jesus, and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we should...well...be different. Am I wrong? Should we that believe whole-heartedly in the sovereignty of God be the most joyful (knowing that God works all things for the good) and the most gentle (knowing that it is God who changes the will of man) of all believers in our exchanges both in real life, and online?

That's the 'Well' where this all comes from to begin with...sorry that I wasn't clearer from the get-go. I'm sure some here will find errors in what I've written - so be it. But let me (and everyone) be corrected and responded to in love, peace, patience, joy, and gentleness, at least.

blessings...

shannon

Shannon said...

re: Phil & Mike...
Also, it should be noted, that to the contraire, Paul in every one of his letters - which were always 'rebukes/corrections' - always began his letters expressing his love for them, often reminding them of who they are, his connection with them, and often expressing where they are RIGHT and commending them for what they're doing well before moving on to correct problem issues. As this is not a face-to-face, personal medium, and many of the cases you mentioned were documentations of Paul speaking to a friend publicly, the literary example of Paul would more likely apply in these circumstances, would it not?

Besides, I can't see any reason to justify being harsh, when a message would be far more readily accepted would given 'in love'. Can you?

Mike Riccardi said...

That's what my point has been. Saying something nice before you get around to saying what you actually mean isn't loving. It's patronizing, disingenuous, and, I have argued, prideful and immature. On the contrary, I think it's more loving to be straightforward and honest, even if it hurts (and hurts both parties).

I'm not sure I have anything good to say about Willow Creek. Why should I feel bad about that? They present a Jesus that requires very little from people and then teaches them that they have in themselves the power to do that. So not only do they diminish the glory of God by lowering His standard, but then they diminish His glory by implying that He alone isn't necessary and sufficient for this work.

If I ever heard a Bill Hybels sermon that I thought wasn't that bad, I don't think that obligates me to include that every time I say something critical of WC. Rather, if I heard him preach well, that'd give me more reason to rebuke him, as he would obviously prove able to do such things. And to whom much is given, much is required.

Your point about Paul writing to the churches addresses exactly zero of the quotations I give of Scripture. In 2Tim, Demas, Alexander, and while we're at it, Hymenaeus and Philetus were never recipients of the letter; Timothy was. Same thing with 2 and 3 John. That letter was addressed to a specific woman (2Jn) and Gaius (3Jn). Same thing with Galatians. Peter was not a recipient of the Epistle to the Galatians. So even if I accepted your notion that Paul did the whole "you did this right - before you did this wrong" thing, you still have to deal with those passages.

I'd write more, but it's late on the East Coast, and I'm up at 5:30 every morning. I'm sure Phil can pick up where I'm lacking if he so chooses. In fact, he can probably fix some things I've said while he's at it.

(Thanking you again for your ministry here, brother.)

Mike Riccardi said...

Forgot something...

Only one of the references (Gal 2:11ff) was a face-to-face interaction. The other four (4) were in written form, to be read by all the churches, and subsequently by all Christians throughout history.

Shannon said...

Okay Mike...
just don't read any of the first paragraphs of any of Paul's letters, please. I wouldn't want to suggest that he might be on to something.
HOWEVER, since you are clearly right, we are all - as 'Reformed Christians' allowed to be jerks - holy terrors - absolutely caring nothing what-so-ever for the feelings of others, or caring whether or not they hear a word we say, after they dig through the layers of rude comments, sarcasm, judgement, and belittling. Sure is a load off my back.

I'll remember to stop trying so hard to be nice to those I disagree with from now on. Whew...sure feels good!

have a crappy evening!

;-)
(p.s. - a poor attempt at sarcasm for those missing the point)

Shannon said...

Mike...
p.s. - as far as Willow Creek goes, I've known at least 10 people who were at one time or another members there, almost all of which 'met Jesus' there, grew up in their youth group, or plugged into one of their small-groups at one time or another...all of them are still walking with the Lord, and most of them are now (and some of them were then) "Reformed Christians" who - though they no longer attend (either because of moving, going into full-time ministry at another church, or eventually 'vision' conflicts) all think fondly of their time there. Wasn't a perfect church - far from it - but those I know had genuine community, learned the Word, heard the Gospel, and grew as Christians as a result of their ministry. Once I performed a concert for their youth group - 3000 kids! Where in the WORLD can you gather 3000 KIDS to hear about, and sing about JESUS together?! It was awesome, and though I have MANY things to criticize about Willow Creek, I clearly also can find much good to say. Needless to say, I bet, were I to speak with someone - or write to someone - in leadership at Willow Creek Church my letter, which would begin with what I said above - be far more likely to be 'heard' than would yours.

Phil Johnson said...

Shannon: "since you put yourself in the middle of this. . . I don't really understand how and where I singled you out - my original post was inspired by reading djp and other's responses, and was not a response to your original article in any way."

Yikes. I put myself in the middle of it? Your original comment referred to "your harsh, sarcastic, and often downright MEAN posts" (the shouting was yours). And since that comment was made without a clear antecedent for the pronoun, in a comment-thread under a post I wrote, it did initially seem to me you were suggesting that I'm mean. But it was pretty ambiguous, so I didn't respond or take offense. But when someone else made reference to the label "MEAN," you seemed to make it clear that you did have me personally in mind as the target of your point (which you continued to press, though you backed away from the "MEAN" label):

Shannon: "Seriously, though - I've spoken to Phil face-to-face (though it has been a few years) and I was not accusing him of being 'mean' - rude, maybe - not 'gentle' whatsoever, at least not in my experience - but not mean."

. . . but now you really don't understand how and where you singled me out?

As I said in my previous point, I'm still not offended by your remark, and I'm not asking for an apology. I am, however, pleading for a modicum of rationality and even-handedness in the way you assess others' spiritual fruitfulness. Let's review the points under discussion:

I pointed out what seems an uncontested fact: The notion that God regularly speaks to private individuals has generated a tremendous amount of willful gullibility and charlatanism. You and Dr. Warnock didn't really seem to disagree with that statement per se, but he wrote half a blogpost to argue that I'm "over-reaching" with my criticism because I did not specifically exclude type-R charismatics, and that wasn't very nice of me.

OK, but then you seemed to be raising that complaint to the next level, suggesting that my fruit is rotten—at least by comparison to a charismatic who posted comments more agreeable to your perspective. You then named me by name and called me rude. (Citing a conversation several years ago neither of us even remembers.)

Now I've suggested that by your own rules of engagement, it's not really all that nice to single out an individual and publicly label him or her "rude" on such thin evidence, without even citing an incident of actual rudeness.

Your reply: "How so?" You then imply that I should have received that as a "godly rebuke." (A private word of knowledge perhaps.)

Anyway, here's my point: I don't think you have a very objective or even-handed perspective on what the fruit of the Spirit looks like in operation. And that was also the point I was trying to make about Irenaeus, Athanasius, Anselm, et al.: by your criteria they might seem to be lacking in the fruit of the Spirit.

But in reality, they weren't.

So I hope you'll understand if I don't find your summary declaration about whose spiritual fruit is superior all that persuasive. I also think such a facile assessment of spiritual fruit has a lot in common with the glib gullibility that prompted my post in the first place.

Phil Johnson said...

Shannon: "Paul in every one of his letters - which were always 'rebukes/corrections' - always began his letters expressing his love for them, often reminding them of who they are, his connection with them, and often expressing where they are RIGHT and commending them for what they're doing well before moving on to correct problem issues."

That's not accurate. There's not a word of commendation for the Galatians before he gets to his rebuke in that epistle. And before he gets to the end of chapter 1, he has pronounced two curses against those who were spreading false doctrine among the believers in that church.

The point being that the tone of the rebuke should match the gravity of the error. Sometimes a sharp, unqualified rebuke is exactly what's called for (Titus 1:13).

Shannon: "I can't see any reason to justify being harsh, when a message would be far more readily accepted would given 'in love'. Can you?"

I can't see any reason to justify pretending someone's rather serious error is automatically mitigated by whatever incidental points of doctrine that person happens to get right. Can you?

The Judaizers were right on the deity and lordship of Christ, the doctrine of the resurrection, and every doctrine spelled out in the Apostles' Creed. Their error boiled down to a single mistake in the ordo salutis: on the question of whether good works follow justification or precede it and instrumentally cause it, they gave the wrong answer. And yet look how firm Paul was in rebuking their error (not to mention those like Peter who simply treated the Judaizers' error as a misdemeanor).

Mike Riccardi said...

Phil: I can't see any reason to justify pretending someone's rather serious error is automatically mitigated by whatever incidental points of doctrine that person happens to get right.

That's what I was trying to say.

Shannon, the sarcasm thing will take practice. One of the first things you'll need to know is that if you're going to parody someone, you should make some attempt at preserving what that person said in your parody. Otherwise you just seem ignorant.

The whole "Reformed Christians"-are allowed-to-be-jerks rant came from your keyboard, not mine. I've said nothing of the sort in this entire thread, and reject any notion that anything I have said necessarily implies this.

As I said in the last comment, even if I accepted that "Paul in every one of his letters, etc." (even though Phil showed that's not the case; cue here "Ok fine. All but one!"), you still have the five passages / books I quoted to deal with. There was no commendation from the Apostles to any one of the people who were rebuked or condemned for their error. The count is still at zero. So at the very least, you've got to admit that this model of "Say something nice then say something critical" is not required in every circumstance.

And just because I think it gets at the point so very well, here's what Phil said again:

I can't see any reason to justify pretending someone's rather serious error is automatically mitigated by whatever incidental points of doctrine that person happens to get right.

donsands said...

Good discussion, Phil, Mike, & Shannon.

Douglas said...

This is the latest by Greg Hawkins:

Willow Creek Repents? (Part 2)

Where have Bill Hybels, Greg Hawkins and Willow Creek actually biblically repented? They have been preaching a watered down gospel message for decades haven't they? Where is the outrage at their deception. Where is the anger at their false teachings?

I'm angry, because Bill Hybels mislead me with his distorted teachings and they are still misleading people. All around the world. Shame on them! I wasted money on buying his books years ago, trustingly thinking they contained sound teaching. I have since learned they don't.

What about these articles, are they true or false? "Out of UR" are suppressing these articles, they are concealing them from people.

Willow Creek: Conversion Without Commitment
Laura M. Kaczorowski
Distinguished Majors Honors Thesis Paper
University of Virginia
Department of Sociology
May 11, 1997

The Gospel According to Hybels & Warren
Nathan Busenitz

Church Growth Gone Mad
A sobering look at the church growth seeker-sensitive models
Copyright 2003
by
Clay Miller

Protestant No More: Willow Creek Infiltrated by a Mystic Quaker Movement Called Renovare
By Mary Fairchild - March 2003

"The meaning of repentance in the New Testament is not determined simply by its etymology, "change of mind," but by its Biblical usage. Repentance is linked to the concept of conversion and means to "turn away from one’s former ways and turn to God." - Bob DeWaay Repentance and the Universal Call of the Gospel

Repentance - Theopedia

True Repentance
Jay Wegter

wordsmith said...

About the "say something nice before you even consider any type of criticism" concept:

When the Lord had John write a letter to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans, He didn't have any words of commendation for that church, like He did for the other six churches in Revelation. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Nichts.

[tongue in cheek]
I guess He forgot.
[/tongue in cheek]

Adrian said...

Phil
Just so you know what I am specifically talking about, let me explain.

With Willow Creek it was the tone that comes across when I read it that I didnt like. To get what I mean, just imagine how you would feel reading someone talking about John MacArthur in a similar vein. Now, I appreciate that you have concerns about WIllow, but unless you believe they have actually DENIED the gospel I cannot see how you can blog in such a strong way about them . I have spoken before about how in the flesh I firmly believe you are a lovely guy and the warmth of your personality comes across. In black and white the text you wrote on the matter of Willow Creek does not seem to me at all winsome towards those reading who might be followers of Hybels and should in my mind be pursuaded not put off.

On the charismatic issue, I think it is flagrantly wrong to claim that the core ideas of charismaticism inevitably lead to a gullibility that leads to tolerance of sexual sin. If you were saying that some charismatics, even MANY charismatics have a set of deductions from their beliefs about annointing and charismatic gifts that lead to gullibilty, however, I would concur 100%.

It is wrong to dismiss entire movements as being based on essentially imoral foundations if that is not a fair reading of the situation. I hope you would not do the same with paedobaptists. I suspect that you and I would BOTH agree that there are many dangers that can stem from a paedobaptist position if wrong deductions are made from it. Whilst we might disagree with the actual concept of infant baptism, I hope we would both agree that men like Lig Duncan disproves the notion that such dangers and such deductions are inevitable, however.

Over in the UK the reformed charismatic movement is far from small. Newfrontiers alone has 200 churches in a population of 60million, and we are far from the only ones who hold charismatic ideas without naively accepting the foolishness that sadly many charismatics do.

Phil Johnson said...

Adrian:

I do fully understand your position, but I disagree strongly with you and have carefully explained why. Since I have repeatedly asked to be shown with quotations from my own words where you think I have violated any commandment or principle of Scripture, I'm not certain why you think it's helpful for you simply to keep repeating the same accusations without actually citing my words and setting them alongside Scripture to show me why you think I deserve these repeated public rebukes from you.

To be clear: I think you are trying to impose an extrabiblical standard on me that the Apostle Paul himself neither taught nor followed. His rebuke of Peter in Galatians 2 was devoid of any of the positive affirmations you keep insisting are necessary when we disagree publicly with other Christians.

Furthermore, I think you have grossly underestimated the severity of the Willow Creek error:

Adrian: "I appreciate that you have concerns about WIllow, but unless you believe they have actually DENIED the gospel I cannot see how you can blog in such a strong way about them."

Seriously? Well, I'm baffled by your incredulity. In the first place, you yourself have pointed out why Brian McLaren's views on the atonement entail a denial of essential gospel truths. Willow Creek has made him their keynote speaker in a conference that promises to set the agenda for their ministry to young people. In the second place, what biblical support do you have for the notion that it's sinful to speak or write "in such a strong way" about Christians who compromise essential principles, even if they don't expressly deny them? The Willow Creek "Shift" strikes me as more deliberate and at least as dangerous as what Paul rebuked Peter for in Galatians 2.

Adrian: "the text you wrote on the matter of Willow Creek does not seem to me at all winsome towards those reading who might be followers of Hybels and should in my mind be pursuaded not put off."

My main concern is not to persuade "followers of Hybels." Frankly, having read what Bill Hybels finds "winsome," I'm not the least bit interested in meeting those criteria.

But I'm concerned that in your attempts to be "winsome" you unwittingly downplay the severity of the errors being promoted at Willow Creek and thus fail to warn the wider flock in a manner appropriate to the severity of their errors.

Adrian: "On the charismatic issue, I think it is flagrantly wrong to claim that the core ideas of charismaticism inevitably lead to a gullibility that leads to tolerance of sexual sin."

The problem is, that's not what I actually said. I think before you try to set me straight you need to make a sincere effort to try to hear and grasp what I actually did say. Especially in a context where you are holding forth on how to do discernment well.

Adrian said...

Dear Phil
here we both go, being nice to each other befor
I must begin by saying I do have a lot of respect for your position also. Te locking horns....

Anyway, I must begin by saying that there are no particular commands of scripture as such that I feel you are disobeying as such, rather that to me at least, I feel that there are different ways of us raising our concerns some of which are more helpful, and more gracious.

I think the core of things is found in some of the things you said in your last comment. First off, you say "I think you have grossly underestimated the severity of the Willow Creek error."

Perhaps I just don't know enough about Willow. Perhaps you are assuming that we all know things as common knowledge that perhaps we don't. Certainly nothing in your original post makes me think that Willow has denied the gospel. Now, the fact that they have invited Maclaren does make me very worried, however, and I wonder if they are at some kind of transition point. If they are indeed at such a critical point, all the more reason for us to reach out to them pursuasively. I wonder if anyone from WIllow reads either of our blogs, and if so what they would think of them.

Interestingly your original post did not mention the most serious aspect of this situation with Willow - Brian Maclaren, something I did not know till a commentor mentioned it.

I think your comment "My main concern is not to persuade "followers of Hybels." which I think says it all.

Now, as per the charismatic issue, I am now very confused as to what you actually DID mean, can you explain?

webbo6 said...

Another Ex Pentecostal saying Amen! When I was a deluded pastor of a "Full Gospel" (as opposed to a 3/4 gospel?)church my whole world was about what I felt & experienced. Thank God for men like John Macarthur & Phil Johnson who I listened to as God's word took the scales off my eyes. We cannot follow Willow Creek, Emergents or Charasmatics as the look away from The Word to what the "feel" is a better way. Thanks all yall!

Link said...

The reason for moral failures in the Charismatic movement is ignoring and therfore disobeying the scriptures. The whole big-shot preacher paradigm, seen in evangelicalism, but more pronounced in some Charismatic circles, makes things worse.

The Bible says to 'Let the prophets speak two or three and let the other judge.' If you skip the 'let the other judge' part, you can fall into area. 'Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things.'

If you despise not prophesyings, but don't prove all things, you can fall into error.

Cessationists err on these scriptures as well by not allowing the prophets to speak two or three and by despising prophecies.

Both extremes are ditches on the side of the road we do not want to fall into. We need the gift of prophecy, but there needs to be weighing and proving prophecies, and accountability or else people enter the ranks who will take advantage.

Rejecting prophecy outright shuts you off to hearing what God wants to say and to the learning and comforting that comes through that gift.

Another reason men can get away with things like Paulk did is the unbiblical church government concept of 'the pastor.' It is found in many evangelical movements, but perhaps more exaggerated in many Charismatic circles.

Instead of pastors being shepherds, the pastor becomes the unquestionable 'anointed' CEO of the church. The early church was shepherded by Christ and elders who had to live up to certain lifestyle requirements.

What happened historically is that a new role of 'pastor' was modified from the Roman Catholic socerdote. He became a religious professional priestly figure who gave long speeches on Sunday morning. Also, unbiblical, nonpastoring 'board elders' evolved out of the theocractic governmental attempts of Geneva Switzerland.

So Charismatic churches now have this unbiblical role of 'pastor.' One man, instead of a team of men, is expected to tend the flock. Many churches ignore the fact that there are Biblical requirements for overseers, and instead choose a man who has a theology degree, preaches well, or has certain gifts.

The one-man pastorate puts a man in the dangerous place of having little accountability.

J. R. Miller said...

I thought you might enjoy this cartoon I created illustrating some of the key points of this discussion. Check it out and let me know what you think.