09 August 2013

An interview with Frank Turk

As told to Frank Turk

First: Best of Phil will come up tomorrow.  It has been pre-empted today by this.

A few years ago I made a few people angry over at FirstThings.com by posting an interview with myself to discuss a few things which, frankly, nobody wanted to discuss.  That is: they wanted to accused me of a few things, demand I respond with an apology for those things, fail to engage when I pointed out that I hadn't done them, and then talk about my character because I wouldn't apologize for things I had not done.  I thought that if I could roll up all their complaints into one clearing house, answer them sanely and civilly, and point out that I was actually not a bad guy, it would change the discussion significantly.

Phil loved that post, and so did I.

Well, it looks to me like the same sort of thing is happening as we close in on Grace Community Church's Strange Fire Conference (no sense linking to it: it's sold out) as Dan and I have been poking at the various enthusiasts who find that the very question of whether or not there are sign gifts today an insult to God.  Almost the same, anyway: we are poking fun at them, and they are taking offense, so in some sense you can mark us up as a little rough with them.

That said, I decided to sit down with myself and talk about the sort of hub-bub which always bubbles up when this topic is approached and ask myself a few questions which, frankly, the other side will refuse to do because it is too busy making sure it is offended, wronged, and also guilt-free.


TeamPyro Sock Puppet (TPSP): Well, Frank, nice work again.

Frank Turk (FT):  Yes, thanks much.  It always seems to get easier as I get older.  Maybe I'm actually just coming into a stride.  I have to admit: DJP has to take some of the credit here.  The hashtag #CharismaticismInFiveWords was a fantastic way to simply riff on the phenomenon.

TPSP: Well, so you say.  Did you really think your contribution "Hello Darkness My Old Friend" was at all kind or helpful?

FT:  Since you ask, yes.  Yes I did.

TPSP: Well, what did you mean by that exactly?  Don't you think it deserves more than a little explanation?

FT:  What I thought was that I had said plenty in the last two weeks about the whole mess -- linking to my central complaint about these people who think the Holy Spirit's primary work in the world is to entertain us.  That complaint, for those too lazy to use the internet, is this: they can't demonstrate that these activities are necessary for the life of the church.  They can assert and imply it.  They can act as if anyone who denies such a thing has blasphemed God for doubting that snake handlers and double-talkers are of the same ilk as the apostle Paul who was beaten and jailed for silencing a demon (Acts 16 for those without the gift of having read the NT), or of the same kind as Peter who had no earthly possessions but proved his mercy to the lame man by telling him to get up and walk (Acts 3 for those without the gift of Children's VBS songs).

But: they can't demonstrate that these things (which causes a burning in their bosom when they are questioned) is necessary for the life of the church.

TPSP: What do you mean by that?  Why should they bother?

FT: What I mean is this -- when the church in Crete was in trouble, Paul sent Titus to them to set things right.  In sending him, he gives Titus a laundry list of things to do to set things right: establish elders who are godly men, faithful to the message of the Gospel; silence the wicked and evil beasts, rebuke the story-telling, and teach people how to teach each other how to adorn the Gospel.  He gives the same message to Timothy -- preach the word, in season and out of season.  He gives the same message to the Corinthians who are, to some extent, ignoring him in spite of having believed the Gospel he brought them: when in doubt, go back to the thing of first importance, which is the Gospel.  In order to overcome strife, divisions, chaotic worship, idolatry, sin present in the body, and so on:  the Gospel is the solution.

What is startlingly absent in the NT is any reliance on using the apostolic sign gifts to straighten people out.  You know: Peter struck Ananias and Sapphira dead for lying about their offering.  That looks to me to be a fairly-straightforward method of church discipline -- if that's the norm.  If the elders in my church could strike people dead for lying about that sort of stuff -- and be infallibly accurate since it was actually the grief of the Holy Spirit doing the work and not some guy in an effects booth in the loft conducting a spot-check -- I'll bet things like rumors and spitefulness would receive a sober dose of repentance   Yet Paul doesn't prescribe church discipline that way to anyone.  Peter doesn't either.  In fact, the mode of church discipline is rather lacking in supernatural firepower and rather robust in things less fantastic and other-worldly like talking to people, exhorting people, forbearing with people, and in the end either reconciling with them or turning them out due to unrepentance in spite of having less-than-perfect prophetic visions of their soul state.

In my view of it, these special effects that these people are so enamored with are utterly unnecessary for the life of the church due to the lack of Scriptural accountability and direction for them.  In the one place Paul does talk about them extensively, he says plainly that people who are longing for ecstatic events will likely scare off unbelievers and are in fact immature, missing the better way which is Love.

But: I remain open to the question.  If they can demonstrate how Scripture tells us that these gifts are not merely a happy side-effect but in fact a central and necessary thing for the life of the church, I'm all ears.  Please bring it -- please explain it to me, and I'll roll over tomorrow, barking like a dog or whatever the next move of the Spirit requires.

TSPS: Don't you think that raises the bar quite high?  Aren't you doing what Jesus condemns the Pharisees for -- demanding that God shows you a sign?

FT:  No.  In fact, not at all ever.

Follow me here: while I have a gigantic sympathy for DJP's request that somebody show us one person who has actually been healed on-command, or one prophecy of any meaningful scope which came to pass for the glory of God after the apostolic age, I'm ready today to stipulate every angelic syllable of tongues spoken and every ingrown hair expressed out by the power of God. You can have all your experiences at face value because God forbid you be wrong about how you feel about the way you act.

My objection is simply that every bit of it is utterly irrelevant.

See: a biblical survey of miracles shows them to be God's way of making a point about His plan in history as it crosses a necessary milestone.  He ordains a miracle when the path forward to the cross is further enlightened in the OT, and then again in the NT, culmination not merely in the Death of Christ, but in (as Paul values so much) the Resurrection of Christ.  Then: the Apostles are personally sent (Paul last of all) to take the message from Israel to all the world, and commit the final word from God on the subject (cf. Heb 1:1-4) into Scripture and deliver the faith once for all time to the saints.

But: miracles and wonders and sign gifts are not are the normative way the church needs to operate.  You know, when Paul writes to Timothy he doesn't say, "the aim of my charge is fire and power and an anointing of seven McGuffins."  He doesn't send the church down a path where it's waiting for the next fantastic flame of fire to set down in their midst.  He sends them after joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control -- and love.

He sends them into the real world where the Holy Spirit does something more important than melting the faces off the Nazis who open the Lost Ark.  He sends them out to be ambassadors of God, preaching repentance.

TPSP: So you do believe in the Holy Spirit?  You think he's necessary for the church, yes?

FT:  Yes, of Course.  I have to believe John 13-15.  I believe in the Holy Spirit -- Dan does, too.

TPSP: but not a Holy Spirit who does Miracles?

FT: yeah, now you're making me angry.  It's been a few years since I posted the standard affirmations and denials of the run-of-the-mill cessationist, so here they are for reference:

I affirm that Reformation theology requires the personal action of God the Holy Spirit for the life of the Church.

I deny that this work necessarily includes speaking in tongues (as in Acts 2 as well as in so-called "private prayer langauges"), healing the sick or raising the dead by explicit command, prophecy in the sense that Isaiah and John the Baptist were prophets, or any other "sign-and-wonder"-like exhibition. That is: I deny that these actions are necessary for the post-apostolic church to function as God intended.


I affirm that miracles happen today. No sense in prayer and believing in a sovereign God if he's not going to ever be sovereign, right?

I deny that there is any man alive today who is gifted to perform miracles as Christ and the Apostles where gifted to perform miracles.


I affirm that God is utterly capable of, and completely willing, to demonstrate "signs and wonders" at any time, in any place, according to his good pleasure and for his great purpose.

I deny that this activity is common, normative, necessary, nor is it in the best interest of God's people to been seen as common, normative and/or necessary. God in fact warns us against seeking signs rather than the thing signified repeatedly in the OT and NT.


I affirm the real presence of the Holy Spirit in the church of Jesus Christ as Jesus said He would be present in John 13-15.

I deny that this means that all believers or even all local churches will be equipped with apostles called and equipped as the 12 and Paul were called and equipped. A telling example is the role of apostles in delivering Scripture to the church.


I affirm that the normative working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church begins with conviction of sin and regeneration, and continues through sanctification, and through the outworking of personal gifts (e.g. - Gal 5:22-23, 1 Cor 13:4-7) for the edification of the (local) church.

I deny that explicitly-supernatural outworkings, or events the Bible calls "signs and wonders" (e.g. - Acts 2:1-11, Acts 3:3-7, Acts 5:1-11, Acts 9:32-35, etc.) are either normative or necessary for the on-going life of the church.


I affirm the uniqueness of the office of apostle in the founding of the church.

I deny the necessity of apostles for the on-going life of the church.


I affirm that leadership in the church is a task wholly-empowered by the Holy Spirit to men meeting the scriptural qualifications, and that the objectives of this leadership are wholly-defined by the Holy Spirit explicitly through Scripture and implicitly as the gifts of leaders are applied to a real people in a local church.

I deny that church leadership is like business leadership -- that is, a system of techniques that have outcomes measurable by secular metrics of success -- and further deny that merely-competant management processes yield the fruit of the Holy Spirit

If in that you can find me somehow relegating the Holy Spirit to something other than what the Bible says He does to us and through us and for us, then you can lay on with the side-eye regarding whether or not I think God the Spirit is necessary for the church.

TPSP: So to sort of close the loop on something you said above, how do you them justify saying that Charismaticism in 5 words can be summed up as, "Hello Darkness My Old Friend?"

FT: That's a good catch.  Thanks for following that up.

When I said that, I meant this: I think people following their emotions around to the next big anointing are benighted in at least one significant way.  I think they are stuck on the internal rush of things which are utterly peripheral to seeing Jesus as the Light of the World, and are therefore stuck in a bizarre kind of darkness of the soul.  They aren't grumpy and fussy like us Calvinists -- unless, of course, you point out that Todd Bentley was a  fraud, and Paula White is a fraud, and Joseph Prince is a fraud, and Benny Hinn runs a finishing school for frauds, and Paul Cain was a fraud, and Annie Semple McPherson was a fraud, and on and on. They are stuck in a darkness which, as long as it is warm and wet, they don't mind sitting in it.  There's a phrase in Danish about that which I won't translate, but as soon as what they are sitting in gets cold and clammy, they are looking for the next big warm and wet -- not the actual progress of the soul to sanctification.

So: Hello darkness my old friend.

TPSP: So you think the hashtag was a good approach? Overall?

FT: Well, it's Twitter.  You have to gauge the method by the medium.  Should DJP have rather posted a series of TwitLonger pieces on the faults of Charismatics and their theology so he was fully nuanced and well-measured?  Should that have been the trend?

What I think is this: when the so-called serious and sober Charismatics start policing their own and teaching their followers that one of the real gifts of the Spirit is discernment, and we don't charm the Holy Spirit by being gullible any more than we grieve Him by being critical of people using His name to get rich, I'll be more worried about being nuanced toward them.  I don't think it's unkind in the least to tell someone, however sincere, that they are at best being undiscerning and sloppy -- and at worst, they are actually harming other people with gullibility and spiritual chaos.

TPSP: how about we clean up a few items quickly to close here as a sort of speed round.  I'll give a topic or concern, and you give me the 50-word response.

FT: So, like Twitter?

TPSP: {glowers}

FT: I'm not bothered.

TPSP: There are a lot of credible men who are committed Charismatics.

FT: I'd say that their commitment to Charismaticism -- especially their silence and acceptance of the rampant hooliganisms in the movement -- calls into question the rest of their track record.  Their otherwise-orthodox views don't make their approach to this stuff somehow rubber-stamped for acceptance.

TPSP: Just because there are abuses of Charismaticism doesn't mean that we throw the baby out with the bathwater. We don't abandon marriage because some marriages are bad, do we?

FT: That goes back to the question of necessity, doesn't it?  We don't abandon marriage because, it turns out, it is necessary for the church and for society.  We do what God commands for marriage because it is necessary.  At some point, you have to compare apple to apples -- and to make this the same sort of apples, you have to prove it's necessary.  Scripture does not develop or expound on daGifts the way it does marriage.

TPSP: Nobody is willing to sit down and talk to us Charismatics like we are adults with a legitimate theological viewpoint.

FT: When you start acting like you're serious and deal with the rampant abuses in your camp -- not incidental stuff but the stuff in every city in the US where your views are deeply wrapped up in Prosperity preaching and Word of Faith, not to mention the shysters who grow rich telling these lies about their spiritual powers -- we'll be glad to take it to the next level.

TPSP: I know this is true because it happens to me.

FT: That's a backwards existential hermeneutic -- backwards as determined by how Scripture tells us to interpret the world and what happens to us.

TPSP: And at 10 pages in WORD, I think that's a wrap.

FT: Yeah, nice work.  Thanks for taking the time.


Robert said...

Nice work, Frank. I think this is a point that is greatly overlooked. If more people spent time studying the Bible to determine how the Holy Spirit works in the church and what gifts He gives us to serve the church, we wouldn't have this problem.

In my mind, though, this (as well as most other problems in the church today) all goes back to liberalism. The second that people start to work loosely with interpreting Scripture and emphasize anything over Scripture (be it experience, "science", culture, etc.), the door is wide open for all kinds of tomfoolery.

Thank you for your call to study the Bible and follow the truth that God has communicated to us. I pray that there may be some fruit from this and that people take an honest look at Scripture to see how their actions/beliefs line up.

Daryl said...


Over at the Triablogue, Steve Hays has suggested that there may be a middle way, a way that says that the sign gifts are not normative for the church any longer, but that they may be room for God to raise someone up on rare occasions to do things or say things, that we would quantify as a charismatic gifting.

He doesn't argue the point, but he simply offers it as a possibility between the hard-cessationists and the barking dogs.

Which has got me thinking, as an ex-(and happy to be ex) charismatic.

Could such a way exist do you think? Could an open-but-cautious approach or what some have called the soft-cessationist approach be a possibility?

I admit that I raise this because the separation in the camps can be painful, and also because it seems like it may be unwise to use the "God-won't-ever-ever-ever-do-that" line.
My parents and siblings are all dyed in the wool charismatics. Most of them lean heavily towards the barking-dog breed, and all of them sympathetic to that kind of thing. Some have known John Arnott (of Toronto Blessing Fame) since before those days of folly, being personal friends. Were I to introduce myself to him as "Shelley's brother" I'd be his friend almost immediately. So that's where my blood-lines are.

Having said all that, I do see that however one comes down on this, the church has clearly reached a point where it seems to me that a scorched earth policy is the only option in order to weed out all the blasphemous folly that we see on all sides.

So...my rambling comment seems to come down to this. Is it possible that God does those things from time to time? And, if they do, doesn't history tell us that the only (ONLY) way to not have that get out of hand entirely, is to not focus on it in any way, but simply to be thankful for it should it come and move on?
Sort of like those rare situations that some like to throw up about Spurgeon's experiences, or (I think) even Luther's. Neither taught on it, neither made it an issue (quite the contrary) they just rolled with it and kept teaching pure Scripture.

Is it possible that daGifts, should they remain in action in any sense today, can be handled rightly? Is it possible that they would not be made too much of?
Personally I doubt it. I see too much of the reactions from charismatics to anyone who would say "Sure, claim what you want, but you can't hold any other Christian to it." We all need to be able to say 'You might think it's God, but I'm under no obligation to believe it, nor am I in danger of sinning if I doubt you'.

Sigh...the whole thing irks me to no end, and all for reasons that make the straight up exegesis of Scripture our only way through this. And even then, my older brother, for instance, who knows his bible really really well, will still, at the mid-point of any discussion on this topic, toss out the "but then how do you explain this thing that happened to me?" line. Daring me to say it's demonic or delusional.
I offer both as options, being unwilling to be the arbiter of something he claims, and of which I have no first hand knowledge, but being equally unwilling to say that it must be God, simply because he loves Jesus and wants to follow Him.

I fear the church-wide conversation will not end easily or anytime soon. I fear the leading-astray of so many who are to afraid to say "my experience, however much it made me feel closer to Jesus, was not Scriptural" and I fear, to be honest, that there may be something, however small, to their claims that I am missing.

Anyhoo...great article. Love your self-interview articles and find them to be quite helpful. This one not the least.


Frank Turk said...

Darryl --

First, I don't see myself as a "God can't do miracles anymore" guy, as my list of affirmations and denials demonstrates. I'm just also not the kind of guy who really wants to suggest something for (my local) church which is not really actionable.

My view of it is this: I think we should see God's miracles as gifts and not entitlements. That means when we pray for a family member who has cancer and she is healed before there's any medical intervention (hypothetically), we praise God for being good and great and sovereign, and we move on. We don't then move from grateful to entitled.

I think Steve is not saying much different than I am functionally. The point, of course, is what is normative for the church.

Daryl said...


Thanks for the response.

We see things pretty much identically then. Were we to see everything from God as the gift it is, rather than an entitlement, many many problems would be solved.

We ask for favours, we don't demand. And then God does whatever he wants.

Sadly, growing up we were taught that to end a prayer with "If it's your will" or something like that, was to undercut your whole prayer...like we get to order God around.

The key, as you say, is what is normative. And due to the emotional response that comes from those who have "experiences" it will be a long time before the church turns away from this new "normal".

A Patriot said...


Miracles in the church were never supposed to bring fame and recognition to the person doing the miracle. The miracles were supposed to point people to God.

Sure there is room for miracles even today, and I do believe they happen just not as we expect them to happen. The key is to give praise to God for his wonder mercy and strength after a miracle rather then looking to a man or woman and giving them praise.

LanternBright said...

Before I even read this, Frank, a question:

When will TeamPyro Sock Puppet be getting his own Twitter account?

(That would pretty much be enough to make me come back to Twitter.)

Robert said...


I'd say the problem I have with that is the wording "God to raise someone up on rare occasions to do things or say things, that we would quantify as a charismatic gifting." That seems to lead to saying that a particular person has been gifted with sign gifts instead of there being a miracle taking place. The gifts that Jesus gives us through the Spirit aren't just popping up at times, but are actual gifts that we can exercise the use of to build up the church.

I'd tie the gift more to a particular experience then to a person. And that is where I think all of this stuff gets a bit murky. We want to tie it to people and then say that only the most spiritual people experience these signs/miracles. And then that becomes extended to people saying you have to perform such signs/miracles as proof of salvation. Yes, that is a slippery slope argument, but looking at what is going on today shows that people have already fallen off the edge.

The thing is, if we become so enamored with such signs and miracles, then what separates us from the people that Jesus said were only following Him because they wanted a meal? We need to worship God because of Who He is...not worship the signs.

I may be off base here, but I am reminded of Matthew 23:16-22.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it."

Just instead of gold and temple substitute signs and Holy Spirit. People become so enamored by signs that they totally forget about the Holy Spirit and the gifts He provides for building up the church. That is just what I see, though...and maybe I am way out of line here.

Frank Turk said...

LB: his account is @TIWIARN.


DJP said...

Absolutely brilliant. Worth the price of admission. DOUBLE!

Reminds me of Rush Limbaugh's oft-repeated remark that the best interview questions he's ever asked are the ones he asks himself.

DJP said...

Daryl, just the start of your question and your allusion to the sad saga of this part of Steve Hays' life crystallized this:

One of the great but subtler bits of harm the Charismatic movement wreaks is how much time, focus and energy they get good folks to sinking into mooning and speculating on what might be, what might be happening, what might be about to happen — rather than focusing contentedly on the sure and certain truths (and commands!) of Scripture.

And then, like preachers of the Unknown God, every barking loon in the phone book comes by, points at all that wasted speculation, and says "There's MY license! Now BACK OFF!"

Because really, if we weren't trying to save face for Charismatic clingers, where would be the motivation?

Pensive said...

Thanks, Frank. I cannot see how anything but pride could compel anyone to disagree with your case. However, having several beloved family members who have fallen under the sway of forms of charismaticism, I can say that logic never enters the scene, even for these highly intelligent and well educated folk. They actually recoil when I suggest there might be a problem in their experiences which ought to be examined in light of scripture, and the things scripture teaches about the workings of the Holy Spirit. One of them witnessed supposed miraculous healings (a shortened leg restored), a possessed person freed, and some sort of resurrection type event---all in the wilds of Papua New Guinea under the leadership of YWAM (yes, I know, with all of its baggage, mysticism, spiritual mapping. Etc). Her assertion is that the miracles all werre definitely of God, and occurred THERE ( but wouldn't here) because the Spirit is free to work in such places because EVERYONE expects supernatural events, and here in "civilization " NOBODY believes supernatural things can happen. That logic clearly begs the question: is God the Holy Spirit not sovereign over ANY location or situation? That elicits an exasperated yes, which brings us right back to the certainty of the experience which I was not present to have, and since they were praying in Jesus' name, it MUST have been genuine ( after all, a house divided....)

Kerry James Allen said...

Great post, Franks.

Memo from mail room flunkies at TeamPyro International Headquarters: There is a place to order a customized Frank Turk sock puppet. Please add to the TeamPyro gear store. Unfortunately they cannot add a pull string for an "unknown tongue."


That is all.

LanternBright said...


I guess that means the Frank Turk sock puppet won't be much use as a sign for unbelievers.

Frank Turk said...

We totally need a set of puppets for TeamPyro -- Dan, Phil, Frank, Pecadillo, and then some nameless, faceless flunkies.

And one which only says, "nice post."

Frank Turk said...

And: A Carl Trueman rockstar puppet.

DJP said...

Doesn't Phil already have one?


Daryl said...

Dan and others,

Thanks for your input. I agree totally.

As you can probably tell from my original question, it's mostly the impact this particular issue has on my family and friends (and I'm sure the same goes for many others around here) that makes me raise the question.

Understand that I'm convinced of the position that Frank writes in his post, that is, the sign/revelatory gifts had their time, and that time is not now.
God still works, of course, but differently although no less miraculously.

My frustration, I think, is similar to everyone else on this issue. I refuse to be convinced by someones experiences, so when the conversation arises, I push for Scriptural teaching, thinking to myself "I don't know it all, perhaps I've missed something that the my charismatic family/friends can show me."
But it's never there. I mean they offer Bible verses, but they never work. They never say what the Charismatics wish they said.

Kerry James Allen said...

"I have no mouth, and I must scream." Harlan Ellison

LanternBright said...

Oh man. A Harlan Ellison quote on TeamPyro? And Frank Turk WASN'T the culprit?


Well done, Sir Kerry.

zamar said...

Frank, I like how you phrase that God can but it is not the norm and not a required thing. Could you accept a personal experience that did not go against Scripture? Where it was a gift and did not lead to extreemist activity?

Frank Turk said...

Zamar --

I honestly have no qualms with people believing they have experiences with God. I think anyone who does have one needs to ask if it was actually "big enough" (cf. Luke 5:8) to be an encounter with the creator and sustainer of all things -- because calling another experience a God experience prolly doesn't play well with the God of the First Commandment, the God who is "I AM".

My problem comes from making those things normative when Scripture doesn't say that they are. Baptism is normative. Lord's table? Normative. Elders/Pastors? Normative.

Fake prophecies and ecstatic utterances? The Apostle literally says "there is a better way" than that. Maybe we should pay attention to what he means.

trogdor said...

The oft-repeated phrase "necessary for the life of the church" really gets to the heart of it. Are these gifts something a church must be doing or it is not a real church? Of course not. Anyone who insists they are is mistaken and potentially bringing great harm.

Y'all are taking a lot of flak for going after the 'extreme' elements of charismaticism and supposedly not engaging (again) the sane ones - you know, the Pipers and Grudems and whatnot of the charismatic world. I mean, nobody better fits the 'cautious but open' paradigm than Piper, solid theologically while embracing da gifts. So if your arguments don't hit his position, you're just hypocrites and wasting time and blah blah blah.

Well look - it wasn't hardly a few months ago that Piper's conference for pastors (and streamed to anyone else who wanted to see) informed us that da gifts most definitely are necessary for the life of the church. To be a real pastor, you should be - nay, as the speaker frequently repeated, must be charismatic. Over and over we were told, if your church doesn't have tongues and prophecies, it's severely deficient. It really doesn't matter what else your church has; if it has not tongues, it's a pathetic shadow of a real New Testament church.

That wasn't some conference for wackos like Hinn or Jakes or Patricia King - it was John Piper's! And no, it wasn't Piper himself delivering the message, but it was the one message his ministry chose to promote most heavily. The message was clear - all this other stuff is great, but the greatest of these is tongues.

The extreme wackos and charlatans are a problem, but they're not the root issue. The issue is that these things are at the very most beneficial but not necessary, but at even the 'sane' levels of charismaticism they are promoted as essentials for the church, and often for the individual Christian. If your church doesn't have frequent miracles, it's a pathetic church. If you don't receive direct extrabiblical revelation, you're not a real pastor. If you don't have a personal secret prayer language of angels, you're a merely carnal Christian.

This isn't just the teaching of wacko extremists. It extends in some form to even the most sane parts of the charismatic movement, and it's deadly poison. On the other hand, stamping out harmful false doctrine is necessary for the life of the church. So keep fighting the good fight.

Frank Turk said...

as I close up shop on a Friday, two things:

1. Only one comment didn't escape moderation today, and that one was a demonstration of an inability to read a text for what it is rather than what one wishes it would be. Also: failing to read the green box.

2. The only thing worse than burying a post on Saturday is burying it on a Friday, but that's that. Have a great weekend.