Mea Culpa (de Spiritu Sancto)

In the current series of posts on Charismatic theology, it has been easy to give the impression of having been the wise one who saw all the pitfalls from the start, and avoided them. This is very far from the case. It is certainly true that from the first I was cautious, having been converted several years before I came across Charismatic teaching or practice. It’s also true that I was always suspicious of theological or practical excess, and more so when I had had some experience of it (what do you say to the girl who arrives on your doorstep and tells you that the Spirit moved the handlebars of her moped until she involuntarily turned up at your house?).

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What the Bible should have said #25, #26 and #27

For the last forty years or so that I’ve been “doing journalism” as a Christian, I’ve occasionally written pieces on “What the Bible should have said,” adapting texts to match what people actually believe, or do. A couple of examples are here and here (the serial numbers are arbitrary). I now find that, like so much nowadays, it’s no longer a spoof, but a real Thing, termed “deconstruction” and practised by progressive Evangelicals to rewrite morality, and by anointed Charismatic worship leaders either to comply with modern “apostles,” or to escape their clutches.

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Short-changing the Holy Spirit

Today is Pentecost Sunday. It commemorates the fact that after the first pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem fifty days after the Resurrection, each and every year Peter led the Jerusalem church in prayer, so they were all filled with the Holy Spirit again, and again spoke miraculously to the gathered diaspora pilgrims in their own languages, after which Peter preached his annual sermon, and thousands were always saved. That’s why Charismatic Jewish Christians repeat the miracle in Jerusalem even now for foreign tourists, at Pentecost…

What? Charismatics don’t do that annual miracle? And you say that even Peter and the Jerusalem church didn’t, so that in Acts 11 the baptism of the Gentiles in the Spirit was compared to “the beginning” rather than to an ongoing pattern of experience? You mean that the Pentecost phenomenon was a one-off event for a special purpose? How come Alpha never told me that??

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When a cult leader is not a cult leader (2)

The complex web of people I examined in my last post seems to show that the leaders of extreme Charismatic and Pentecostal movements share a similar profile as well as a personal network- indeed, a profile that also matches the ancient historical originators of heterodox cults like the Montanists or the Valentinians. This may be summarised by saying they are con-men who appear to have become so detached from truth that they partially believe their own hype – deceiving and deceived, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:13.

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When a cult leader is not a cult leader (1)

So I was wrong in my recent post: I haven’t finished on Pentecostalism yet. I want to bring Jesus into the picture.

Back in the early 1970s, Father Dennis Bennett’s Nine O’Clock in the Morning was required reading for us keen young Christians (though for some reason I never read it). Bennett is credited with making the Charismatic experience mainstream, after he announced to his Episcopalian congregation that, quietly in prayer with a couple of others in his living room, he had received the baptism of the Spirit and the gift of tongues “as a real language with grammar and syntax.”

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The Church and (spiritually) radical politics

There’s an interesting discussion between journalist Roman Balmakov and Christian commentator Eric Metaxas here. They discuss Metaxas’s call to metaphorical arms to the American Church to rescue their nation from the rapidly escalating decline, on the basis that the Church is the only institution that has a coherent enough ideology not to have been completely captured by the various totalitarian tendencies with which we have all, apart from the most obtuse, become familiar since 2020.

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Why “Charismatic” always tends to become “Hypercharismatic”

When I put up my three part offering on Pentecostal/Charismatic theology in March, I had no idea it would lead to such a long series (twelve posts prior to this one). That’s how relevant issues multiply when you start researching something.

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Passion, addiction, dealers, disappointment

Here’s an interesting and rather blunt quote, actually from a Hindu vocational adviser on Linkedin:

The passion, in “following your passion”, is largely driven by interest. This interest is mostly floating and is largely influenced by the environment and current trends… Following your passion can be very misleading, many times it leads you to nowhere and a permanent state of unhappiness. Desire is born out of a passionate mind, the more you feed it, the stronger it grows, and when the desire is unfulfilled it agitates the mind.

This seems to echo the biblical pessimism about “passions” I explored here. The source above, incidentally, goes on to advise young people on how they can find a personalised career that will satisfy them even in mundane tasks.

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God’s agenda – revival or survival (2)?

This is the second part of an essay of mine that was first published in Prophecy Today in May 2003. The core of my argument is that, because it seems so ordinary, we have usually failed to appreciate the power of true Christian faith itself, both in spiritual warfare and evangelism. In today’s Charismatic context, this means focusing our efforts on the wrong kind of power.

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God’s agenda – revival or survival (1)?

In the last couple of posts (and more generally in my recent focus on Pentecostal theology) I’ve made mention both of revivalism, as the perennial hope of many Evangelicals, especially on the Charismatic wing; and apostasy, specifically in connection with prominent worship leaders, but I might equally have included church leaders and ordinary people.

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