Author Archives: Jon Garvey

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.

Teach your children well

I’ve been considering another unhealthy feature of Charismatic theology, but realised that it largely arises from a wider modern misunderstanding of the whole human condition. And that feature is the prioritisation of unrealistic supernatural expectations in children. In particular, I’m remembering how our kids were taught at a Well Known Bible Week held in Spring. Our bad for acquiescing in it.

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Tell me the old, old story

If I look back over the thirteen years of this blog, its various preoccupations might be summed up in the idea of “threats to the Christian faith.” Being a Christian, I might also interpret that as “threats to the human soul” or even as “threats to the well-being of mankind.” Even Richard Dawkins seems to be on board with that last conclusion now!

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Exactly why did the gift of languages cease?

More to the point, why did it start? After all, there is no Old Testament precedent for the gift of tongues, and (unlike the ecstatic glossolalia shared by many groups) it is not a common feature of religion like prophecy, divine healing,or exorcism.

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Trump and the antichrist (sounding the last trump?)

When I wrote my e-book Seeing Through Smoke in 2019, it was because I saw the increasing waves of deception in public life, and the role of propaganda in effecting them. Seeking to tie this into a Christian worldview, I mused (without pretending to be prophetic) that the final deception foretold both by Jesus in the Olivet discourse, and by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2, could only realistically envelop the world now that the tools of mass-manipulation have been perfected, and the Internet and social media have made instant communication possible around the globe. At that time, I counted as factors against our days being this climax of history (a) … Continue reading

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The neglected member of the Trinity – because of Pentecostalism

One of the commonplace messages of the “Charismatic Renewal” was that the Church had neglected the Spirit – the third Person of the Trinity – since sub-apostolic times, and that it was high time his role was acknowledged. It seems to me this history is very far from true. In fact it is the Charismatic/Pentecostal teaching that has severely restricted the role of the Spirit to a purveyor of power encounters and spiritual gifts. In some cases, like Jenn Johnson’s (worship leader of Bethel’s) comparison of the Spirit of Holiness to “a sneaky, blue genie-of-the-lamp,” it even blasphemes him.

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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 … Continue reading

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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 … Continue reading

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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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