Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Strange Fire Three: Speak Up, Already


I want YOU to speak up!
Two obervations arising out of the recent Strange Fire conference:
  1. As I suggested in Strange Fire Two: No True Scotsman, John MacArthur is definitely not the right person to critique the charismatic movement.
  2. On the other hand, has anyone heard insiders to the charismatic movement speaking up about the excesses, abuses, and unbiblical teachings and practices that everybody knows plague the movement?
    • 2b. Does silence imply consent?
    • 2c. Or something worse?

Of course, some voices have spoken up over the years. Individuals have written articles and books, and denominational leaders have taken stands against wacky theology and damaging practices. One example is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the USA, the Assemblies of God, which has published many position papers on controversial issues over the years (available as PDF's on their website).

For example:
  • The "Jesus Only" teaching (there is no Trinity)
  • the Shepherding Movement (being "under covering/authority" aka "Culture of Honor")
  • the Word of Faith teaching (Health & Wealth, Prosperity)
  • The Latter Rain (Kingdom Now, Dominionism, New Apostolic Reformation, IHOP), etc.
I'm not Pentecostal myself, but I do appreciate that the Assemblies of God have at least tried to do something. (Whether people are listening or not is a whole 'nuther question.)

And during the rise of the Shepherding Movement, there were a lot of voices loudly condemning it, long before its own leaders recognized their error and repented. For example: Demos Shakarian (founder/leader of Full Gospel Businessmen's Association) and Pat Robertson (700 Club television show) who refused to allow any of the Shepherding leaders to speak at any of their functions or broadcasts; Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Jack Hayford of Church on the Way, and even controversial healing evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman.

The Kansas City Prophets (Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson, Paul Cain) were confronted by other charismatics during their heyday as well (early 1990s).

And some of Lakeland/Todd Bentley's loudest critics in 2008 were other charismatics and Pentecostals. So it's not like nobody has spoken up.

But apparently the need to continue speaking up continues unabated to this day.

Shout Down 101
Many charismatics feel like their mouths have been taped shut. Nobody wants to be called a "heresy hunter", or mocked as the "doctrine police", or dismissed as "quenching the Spirit". That's why so many have chosen the (illusion of) safety in becoming a Possum of Discernment. It's not easy/comfortable/safe to be the voice expressing the unpopular question.

But even if somebody has tried to tape your mouth shut, what's stopping you from ripping the tape off?

Ultimately, I don't believe MacArthur's book or conference will do any good. The hyperbole, arrogance, caricatures, misrepresentations, and logical fallacies thoroughly discredited any redemptive value that the conference might have had.

But that's not the real travesty, is it?

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