Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Nothing New Under the (Charismatic) Sun

I love reading the wisdom of the Christian writers in the past. They have some great insights to give us, and it's also encouraging to read that they had similar struggles and difficulties that we seem to go through as well. Here's a few tidbits from George Whitefield's experience in the Great Awakening:
George Whitefield: "It is no sign that a work is not from the Spirit of God, that many, who seem to be subjects of it, are guilty of great imprudencies and irregularities in their conduct. We are to consider that the end for which God pours out His Spirit, is to make men holy, and not to make them politicians. It is no wonder that, in a mixed multitude of all sorts -- wise and unwise, young and old, of weak and strong natural abilities -- there are many who will behave themselves imprudently."
Then the critics speak up:
"Because Whitefield would not (leave the church of England), the Associate Presbytery vilified him in 1742 in a pamphlet entitled The Declarations, Protestation, and Testimony of the Suffering Remnant of the Anti-Popish, Anti-Lutheran, Anti-Prelactic, Anti-Whitefieldian, Anti-Sectarian, True Presbyterian Church of Christ in Scotland. In it they charged that 'Whitefield's foul prelactic, sectarian hands' had administered the sacraments to Presbyterians and stated that Whitefield 'is not of a blameless conversation... but is a scandalous idolater... a limb of anti-Christ; a boar, and a wild beast...'"
Ouch. And when the Azusa Street revival gave birth to Pentecostalism in the early years of the 20th century:
"One leader called the Pentecostals the 'rulers of spiritual Sodom', their tongues 'this Satanic gibberish', and their services 'the climax of demon worship'. While glossalalia (speaking in tongues) can be indeed inspired by demons as well as by the Holy Spirit, it can be harmful to write books with such titles as Demons and Tongues, a 1936 diatribe against the early Pentecostals.
"G. Campbell Morgan referred to Pentecostals as 'the last vomit of Satan', while R.A. Torrey accused them of being 'founded by a Sodomite'."
Back to George Whitefield:

"But if revival comes with eruptions of burning hostility, it also brings with it a new openness of heart among members of the family of God. Friend George, a Quaker, told George Whitefield in 1741, 'I am as thou art; I am for bringing all to the life and power of the ever-living God: and therefore if thou wilt not quarrel with me about my hat, I will not quarrel with thee about thy gown.'

"Whitefield shared the same spirit. In preaching the gospel he was not ashamed of being contaminated by others. The threat of 'guilt by association' never daunted him. Faced with bitter criticism, he writes, 'I was more and more determined to go out into the highways and hedges; and that if the Pope himself would lend me his pulpit, I would gladly proclaim the righteousness of Christ therein.'"
(source: When the Spirit Comes with Power by John White)

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