Do Not be Deceived
Charismania has brought so much damage to the Church of Jesus Christ. Do not be deceived by those who claim to have the Spirit but instead of producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, they say that the fruit of the Spirit is babbling gibberish, or "miraculous" leg-growing by charlatans on the street, or some sort of warm fuzzy feeling.
Sadly, many are deceived. Even the elect.
Consider this quote by John MacArthur:
"The 'Holy Spirit' found in the vast majority of charismatic teaching and practice bears no resemblance to the true Spirit of God as revealed in Scripture. The real Holy Spirit is not an electrifying current of ecstatic energy, a mind-numbing babbler of irrational speech, or a cosmic genie who indiscriminately grants self-centered wishes for health and wealth. The true Spirit of God does not cause His people to bark like dogs or laugh like hyenas; He does not knock them backward to the ground in an unconscious stupor; He does not incite them to worship in chaotic and uncontrollable ways; and he certainly does not accomplish his kingdom work through false prophets, fake healers, and fraudulent televangelists.
By inventing a Holy Spirit of idolatrous imaginations, the modern Charismatic Movement offers strange fire that has done incalculable harm to the Body of Christ. Claiming to focus on the third member of the Trinity, it has in fact profaned His name and denigrated His true work. It is a sad twist of irony that those who claim to be most focused on the Holy Spirit are in actuality the ones doing the most to abuse, grieve, insult, misrepresent, quench, and dishonor Him.
How do they do it? By attributing to Him words He did not say, deeds He did not do, phenomena He did not produce, and experiences that have nothing to do with Him. They boldly plaster His name on that which is not His work." (John MacArthur)
Can God do miracles even today? YES. Does he answer prayers today? YES. But the modern hyper-Charismatic Movement goes far further than that and ascribes to God things that have nothing to do with God.
Someone recently recommended a hyper-Charismatic book to me that claimed that "miracles, signs and wonders play a KEY ROLE in you sharing the Gospel.To fulfill your destiny you must unlock the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. He is God on the Earth and He wants to use you to release his Kingdom today!"
NO ON ALL ACCOUNTS.
The miracle and the wonder of the preached Gospel is that the Holy Spirit regenerates a person's heart! It is NOT parlor tricks by charlatans who grab money from the poor. The Holy Spirit DOES NOT need me to "unlock His power"! NO! HE is the one who unlocks ME from my bondage to sin! God does NOT need me to "release his Kingdom today." His Kingdom stands forever - it is not bound by anything!
Backward theology is what that is.
Shameful and sad.
Having said that, I do like a number of popular Charismatics like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, D. A. Carson, (even C. J. Mahaney although I am quite disappointed with the scandal surrounding him). I am referring specifically to the excesses within that movement that are almost never addressed by Charismatics themselves.
Personally, I take Martyn Lloyd-Jones' view on this matter. He was also very against the excesses and false representations of God within the Charismatic Movement in his day, while acknowledging the true work of the Spirit in salvation.
I am not a Charismatic. I am a Cessationist. Interestingly enough, both camps claim ML-J as one of their own, but not in the most extreme sense of the word. I believe God can do whatever he likes in bestowing whatever gifts he wants to, but that in the Scriptures the so-called "Miraculous Gifts" i.e. tongues, healing, prophesy, etc. were for the establishment of the Word in the Apostolic Age. That's why in John's Gospel, Jesus' miracles are called signs. They were signs pointing to who he is.
Does God bestow those same gifts today in Sub-Saharan Africa where the Word has not been established? Maybe. I don't know if he does – that’s why I am open but SUPER cautious. But I DO believe that what passes for the miraculous gifting today is for the most part - not that.
And I have seen people, particularly young people led astray by folks like Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, and so many of the other televangelists.
To clarify my beliefs:
1) I am not against all Charismatics. I understand the biblical arguments that Charismatics use to argue for the continuation of the "miraculous gifts" today. True believers who happen to hold a continuationist point of view are my brothers and sisters in Christ.
2) There is a spectrum of continuationism and there is a spectrum of cessationism. A person can be a continuationist but not hold to the necessity of a gift like tongues to be saved as some more radical continuationists do. Also, a person can be a cessationist, but still believe that in some specific circumstances God may grant some special gift to someone. That is where I land.
3) There is a tremendous dearth of accountability within the Charismatic community. An unwillingness to call out those within the movement who are the most egregious charlatans. Since that very rarely happens, for the sake of even the small church I pastor, I must be a voice that does so.
4) I am not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. THERE IS NO BABY IN THE BATHWATER when it comes to false teaching and false teachers. It is those who I am particularly referring to in this post about this matter.
Strange Fire Conference videos