22 August 2013

How we got into this mess, and how to get out

by Dan Phillips

This is a conceptual followup to Frank's post.

Here is how we got into this mess, simplified:
  1. Inventors of Charismaticism/"Continuationism," ca. 1900, made huge promises and claims.
  2. They had zero credibility, completely failed to deliver, and were largely dismissed by Biblically-faithful Christians. They gained no traction among them.
  3. Commitment to genuine Christian discipleship, with the necessary corollaries of commitment to (and utter confidence in) God's word and truth on both sides of the pulpit, waned over the following decades.
  4. Respected Christian leaders worked hard to enshrine a way to exempt Charismatics/"Continuationists" from all necessarily-disastrous objective examination of their distinctive claims.
  5. Unshackled from the (Biblical) burden of proof, errorists and their false teaching increasingly found the faux credibility and purchase they'd been denied previously, thanks to the cover provided by big names.
How can we get out of this swamp?

By genuine revival, breathed by the genuine Holy Spirit, of course.

Specifically, it will take the reversal of steps 3 and 4, above. To wit:
  1. Christians, on both sides of the pulpit, must be recaptured by genuine Christian discipleship, with all it entails.
  2. Christians who are leaders must repent — either of their errant teaching, or of their timid refusal to speak out boldly, plainly, and decisively — and must systematically strip away the false cover they've provided to the Charismatic/"Continuationist" errorists.
There y'go. You're welcome. It's what we do.

Dan Phillips's signature


Robert said...

I think the second step of the remedy you offer is going to be the hardest to come by, although genuine discipleship isn't easy to come across either. Both steps require great humility. If we really focus on the fact that our eternity is secured by Jesus, though, it becomes much easier to put ourselves out there and tear our pride down bit by bit. I'm still working on that myself.

Rob said...

Another thought, in terms to "how to get out of the mess", is that we should be diligent in loving engagement of our Pentecostal pals, and of paramount importance is explaining to them the complete sufficiency of Scripture. Show them that it is NOT a Scriptural form of worship to blather in tongues while euphoric rock music is pounding, but encourage them to instead seek out edifying worship where the word of God is actually taught.

John said...

Moses I mean Dan,

Who am I to question the thoughts of a man with such incredible wisdom like you, but since the charismatics have always been a bunch of phonies since day one, I'm curious to know why you haven't filed them in the cult bin with the Mormons and JW's yet, seems odd, I mean this hurts your spotless credibility to miss this judgment call


DJP said...

Define "cultist."

FX Turk said...

John: I think you didn't listen to Dan and I discuss that very issue last week.

Terry Rayburn said...

Dan's use of the word faux in #5 points to a HUGE part of the RECRUITMENT of Charismatics.

Make no mistake, there would be virtually no Charismatics if they weren't RECRUITED by other Charismatics, directly or inadvertently.

I was recruited in 1981, when a few people in my church stood out as extra-spiritual (I realized later faux spiritual).

They raised their hands, spoke out "Yes Jesus!", "Thank you Lord", "Oh-h-h-h!", right smack dab in the middle of us Bible Church type folks.

One of them was an Elder, and I approached him with a sort of "what gives?"

He invited me to a home meeting, which turned out to be a little splinter group from our [sizeable] church, who had already plunged into the Charismatic Movement, but were 1/2 "under the radar" in our Church.

They shortly after split and started what was called "New Wine Fellowship".

To make an already too-long story short, I spent about 6 months heavily into the "movement", and thankfully stumbled back out through Bible study and the help of a Pastor friend, the great preacher George Gardiner, author of "The Corinthian Catastrophe" (a thin book I still highly recommend for those who have questions).

And it was now clear and obvious that it was all faux!

faux tongues,
faux prophecy,
faux miracles,
faux power,
faux "theology",
faux joy,
faux spirituality,

and last but not least,

faux honesty (by that I mean that there is a sinister thread of deception and "spin" which is part and parcel of the "movement"). How could it be otherwise, since it's false?

David Alves said...

Thank you for this, Dan. I have been re-reading many of your posts lately and wanted to say "thank you" for the encouragement you have been in teaching me to think about EVERYTHING Biblically.

I recently graduated from Pat Robertson's Regent University, and I can assure you up-close the charismatic movement (and the "Christian" academy and evangelicalism in general) is terminally ill for want of genuine Bible teaching, discernment, submitting to the authority of Scripture in every part of thinking/doctrine/life, and repentance from all forms of unbelief. I really believe, as you have said, that the remedy starts with a re-grasping and surrender to the Lord’s authority over and design for us as disciples of Him and His Word (to wit: comprehensively, not selectively or conveniently).

I would also add that both the "downgrade" and "revival" you mention, in some form, is exactly how the evangelical church got into a lot of messes over the years (as did individual evangelicals!).

What is sad to me is how many genuine Christians I met (especially and including the faculty!) who were paralyzed in some form by unbelief, and didn’t even know it. They didn’t have anybody to teach them the Bible; and their professors and pastors were in unbelief too. I became close to several members of the faculty and saw it immensely there, too. I always marveled that I seemed to have a better grasp of the message, authority, application, and import of the Bible than people with multiple advanced degrees and a supposedly direct line to the Holy Spirit (and/or "Scholarship").

I am very sorry for the long comment, but I just wanted to say how much of an encouragement and help you have been in my own Christian life. God has used you to help me walk His way more times than I can count.

Blessings this Lord's Day!

Michael Coughlin said...

I think part of the problem is that so many people want to throw this in a category like "still eats only vegetables" as if we're supposed to bear with continuationists in love like we would a weaker brother.

If we acknowledge and preach the damning effect of the movement and the utter sinfulness of it, then we wouldn't be able to help but call for repentance...and maybe even faith on the part of charismatics.

These doctrines {of demons} hurt people. It isn't as if they just don't eat meat, or are afraid to eat meat sacrificed to an idol. These are people who through their active idolatry and refusal to believe God and dishonesty are hurting people they call brother.

I do not apologize for the long comment. An example follows:

I was a team leader for an evangelistic outreach. There was a sense of authority which I had to be able to exercise. I instructed my team that I would pray and then we would begin walking to our destination immediately, as we were running late.

After praying, a loving and dear brother who subscribes to these things asked if he could share a word from the Lord. How could I say no? He really believed what he had to say was more important that what his appointed leader had just said, a leader at least theoretically appointed by the same God who was now telling him to do the opposite of what he had been told.

This put me in a tough spot because of the belief that somehow he had a word from God.

Larry Geiger said...

"There y'go. You're welcome. It's what we do." :-)

Anonymous said...

@MC "He really believed what he had to say was more important that what his appointed leader had just said, a leader at least theoretically appointed by the same God who was now telling him to do the opposite of what he had been told."

Good Thought. In these cases the delegated (read actual) leaders are viewed as pitiful weak-faithers at best and enemy operatives at worst.

Hence the need for a call to repentance and discipleship, especially from those who through inaction or lack of clarity have allowed the tide to rise unchecked.

Tnx Dan and Frank.

John said...


30 minutes and I didn't hear the c word once, but thanks for directing me to listen to the same tiresome arguments

Terry's comments, as he echoes your posts, pretty much hits the nail on the head when it comes to defining what a cult is, the JW's and Mormons should be thankful there is this blog, they look orthodox in comparison to the Pentecostals


FX Turk said...


It's funny that we did talk about the difference between endorsing someone who baptizes babies and someone who is a modalist. It happens early in the audio.

You did hear that part, right? So substitute the generic word "cultist" for the particular cultist "TD Jakes," and you can probably get an answer.

Michael Coughlin said...

Once a baby has professed Christ and committed to joining the local church, why keep him or her from baptism {immersion} anyway?

Doug Hibbard said...

Careful, Michael Coughlin,

Some of us are SBC, and it's time to report annual baptism numbers. We may be too eager...

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Especially excellent on point #2 "Christians who are leaders must repent". One would think you'd hear more warnings about Charismatic teachings from our pulpits, but it's like so many other things, and they get a free pass.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"2.Christians who are leaders must repent — either of their errant teaching, or of their timid refusal to speak out boldly, plainly, and decisively — and must systematically strip away the false cover they've provided to the Charismatic/"Continuationist" errorists."

I've read of ex-Pentecostals who've repented of their charismatic pentecostalism.

Burrito34 said...

Dan, the key word in your post is "commitment", and that to the heavy spiritual and intellectual lifting that loving God with all our minds encompasses. But it has become much too easy for many of us to just float along and leave the thinking to "professionals". And when some "spiritual" fad comes along that sounds new, exciting and doesn't require much mental effort many just jump on the bandwagon because it "feels so speerchul".

What we will need for revival to clean up some of this mess is a Holy Spirit inspired repentance for letting things slide like we have and a renewed determination to "make disciples" as Christ commanded, teaching people things that they need to know from the Bible, church history and theology.