From the Sublime to the Ridiculous
The Heritage of the Holiness Movement
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 (Emphasis mine)
“… Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived”.
2 Timothy 3:12-13
Ask yourself this question: Is the present day movement in the Church geared toward the preaching of the inevitable persecution of the saints as Christ did? Or to the prosperity they should (by inheritance) enjoy in the here and now? The answer should reveal to the discerning reader the true author of such teaching. Was not Christ tempted in the wilderness with the kingdoms and riches of this world in exchange for worship of the fallen one? Why then would those professing faith in Christ presume themselves exempt from such temptation or that such temptation is not still on offer today being delivered by grinning, silver tongued orators lurking behind plastic Sunday morning lecterns?
“… Again, the devil took him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory. He said to him, "I will give you all of these things, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Y’shua said to him, "Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'" Matthew 4:8-10
It is evident from Messiah’s lack of refutation that Satan’s offer of earthly treasures was a genuine one. Incidentally, Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionary defines the word translated ‘worship’ in this passage (Gk: proskuneo) as to prostrate oneself and like a dog lick his master’s hand. Remember at this point what Christ said about being incapable of serving two masters in Matthew 6:24? It’s God or earthly wealth, one or the other according to God. Drink that in!
In our last Watchman Report ‘Amassing Treasures – The Art of Inviting Trouble’ we partially addressed the excesses enjoyed by a batch of unrepentant, high profile ‘leaders’ within the professing Christian Church. In that report I again posed the questions…
“Where in the Word of God is there any justification for the believer’s Kingdom building on earth in Y’shua’s Name”?
“Where in the Word of God is there any justification for the belief that Y’shua needs our financial support to establish His Kingdom on earth”?
“Where in the Word of God is there any justification for lavish Church building in Y’shua’s Name”?
These are questions I have been asking for years, and for years have never once received a reply from those to whom the questions were directed. Some of the recipients of The Watchman Report are high profile ‘pastors’ and ‘teachers’ entangled in Kingdom Now thought and theology, yet not one of them has attempted to justify from Scripture their behavior. I put it to you all that the reason for that is because it cannot be justified from Scripture and what we are dealing with here are not brothers and sisters in the faith, but rather wolves in the flock; hence the frequent ferocity of these reports. (Jude 1:22-23)
From whence do concepts such as Kingdom and Church building arise? Why, when neither have a single shred of biblical support, do so many blithely subscribe? The Word of God is explicitly clear on all three subjects. Christ’s Kingdom will be established by Christ ALONE when He returns in Glory and NOT before. His Word declares that He is NOT served by the hands (Gk: ‘chier’ - figuratively: power) of man. (Acts 17:25) Those who believe they are assisting with that Kingdom’s construction in the here and now are entirely and completely deceived, and those funding it financially might as well set light to their money for it will all be of no Godly avail. Those who are teaching otherwise are lying. Christ is NOT using man to build His Kingdom in any sense, get a grasp of that folks. A spiritual Kingdom needing Ceasar’s help? How can these people be taken at all seriously.
Remember what Peter said to Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8:20? - keeping in mind that when Simon made the offer he was a believer (vs.13)…
“… may your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”
As for the Church, Y’shua and Y’shua ALONE is the builder of that which is not of brick and mortar but rather individual believers in Him.
“… and I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
Who will build the church against which the gates (authorities) of hell shall not prevail? The church of the Risen Saviour Y’shua is built upon the rock that is the Word of God not upon earthly wealth and / or the influence of those claiming to be His children.
Readers of The Watchman Report will know of my formative spiritual years within Pentecostalism. Such readers will also know of my fruitless struggles to reconcile its many blatantly false teachings with the Word of God. My inability to do so required me, and many more like me to be obedient to Scripture and leave the movement while reaching back to both release others from its grasp and to warn those yet to be deceived by it. To understand where a movement is headed one must first understand from whence it came. This and following Watchman Reports seek to achieve that exposition.
Of all professing believers, I have found Pentecostals (and Charismatics as a whole) to be by far the most reticent to respond to the tough questions concerning the doctrines to which they unquestioningly adhere. I have always found this quite intriguing. Despite Paul’s admonition to be prepared in season and out to give a reason for what they believe, and claiming to be filled with the Spirit who Himself banishes timidity, I am stunned to silence to observe many of those I once thought to be bold brothers, slink away into the shadows of silence when challenged about their doctrines. Only when pushed do a meager few reluctantly respond with defenses often so puerile and unconvincing that I am left to question the depth of their faith if it be one at all. Most, however, choose to remain curiously curtailed when it comes to commentary. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here. This is NOT an assault on either Pentecostals or Charismatics as people or even as believers. I am simply making known a disturbing observation because I cannot in all good conscience abide with what is clearly falsehood.
As a believer in the Risen Savior Y’shua I am deeply disturbed by what I see going on within the professing Christian Church today. I have seen the damage inflicted on the Body of Christ (and the reputation of the Almighty) by televangelists the world over, aided and abetted by other high profile clowns mentioned in our last report. I am also deeply disturbed (though not at all surprised) by the unrelenting efforts of the senior pastors of both Hillsong and the Paradise Community Church here in Australia along with their contemporaries, to gleefully invite the same damage here. Perhaps most disturbing of all is the wholesale willingness of the Body as a collective to question not.
Perhaps within the ranks there exist those who are afraid to test the waters of their beliefs. Such are milk-toast believers – if believers at all - whose teeth are not fully formed. Perhaps there exist those who are afraid to be shown foolish when revelation comes that many of the doctrines to which they have long ascribed, and behaviours which they have long witnessed have always been contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Such also are milk-toast believers, unable to digest the meat of the Word. Perhaps there are those who have seen the glaring doctrinal errors and are waiting on the Lord for direction. For those folk, the direction has already been given…
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
From the Sublime to the Ridiculous seems to best sum up the current wave within the Charismatic movement and it is not expected to get any better any time soon. Tongues, visions, words of knowledge, so-called healings and prophesies, prosperity teachings, self improvement seminars, the obscene focus on money and acquisition of real estate, so-called holy laughter, snake handling, the drinking of strychnine, ‘evangelistic’ nude calendars, ‘holy’ prostitution, thrash metal ‘Christian’ music and the list goes on and on. Scripture twisting within this movement in order to make it fit some novel opinion is rife. There is also a spirit of one upmanship involved (knowingly or unknowingly) as many within the movement seek to display the depth of their spiritual ‘maturity’ in more and more bizarre ways. Take the following for example…
· Paul and Jan Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network fame claimed on national television that God had answered their prayers for the raising from the dead a pet chicken.
· Seemingly intelligent adults barking like dogs, clucking like chickens, mooing like cows, writhing like snakes and otherwise convulsing erotically on the floor at Rodney Howard Browne’s bizarre side shows.
· After a ‘Youth Retreat’ a few years ago, some of the attendees spent part of the morning worship service at the Paradise Community Church in Adelaide South Australia running up and down the aisles in the ‘sanctuary’ with arms outstretched and making airplane noises – all without criticism or rebuke.
· Evangelist Robert Tilton mailed a ‘miracle coin’ to hundreds of thousands of people, promising a financial miracle to those who followed his instructions to send him a cheque for ‘the best possible gift they could give’. Sound familiar?
· Author Roberts Liardon claims to have been taken to heaven, had a water fight with Y’shua in the River of Life and witnessed unclaimed body parts (legs hanging from walls and eyeballs in little plastic bags) stored in huge warehouses 500 to 600 yards from the Throne Room of God. He also claimed to have peeked into God’s medicine cabinet and therein saw pill bottles labelled “Peace” and “Overdose of the Holy Ghost”.
· Another by the name of Dr. Richard Eby testified on U.S. television that he had also died, gone to heaven and claimed the aroma in heaven was especially overwhelming with the sweet aroma of sacrifices, which he insists were solely for the purpose of satisfying God’s main cranial nerve.
· Dr. Percy Collette is yet another in an ever growing queue to claim he had visited Heaven. For Collette this event took place in 1982 lasting five and a half days. Whilst there Collette says he saw Y’shua supervising the building of mansions, and claims to have spoken face to face with the Holy Spirit. He described the ‘Garment Room’ where angels were busy sowing white robes for the redeemed and topped off his strange illusion by saying “You don’t need plumbing. You can go to the Banqueting House and eat all you want and no plumbing is needed.”
· You guessed it… another one… Marvin Ford claims to have popped by glory and after returning his necktie retained the aroma of Heaven. Now whenever he needs a reminder of the event he simply sniffs his necktie.
· Dudley Danielson has a happy snap of the Saviour which he claims he took by a river after “Jesus” woke him up at 3.30 one morning. Not surprisingly Danielson sells the prints for $9.95 prepaid and larger sizes are available on request.
· A woman testified on U.S. national television that her car tyre was ‘healed’.
· Another woman testified that she had taught her dog to praise the Lord in an unknown bark.
· Others have claimed healing of toasters, computers, washing machines, televisions, automobiles and bank accounts. Pity there have been no such healings of brain cells.
Of these tall tales Pastor John MacArthur writes, “Charismatics have no way to judge or stop testimonies like that because in their system experience validates itself”. It really is completely out of hand, and while these and many more examples are truly bizarre, they do sadly tend to sum up a movement which clearly places more emphasis on mysticism1, phenomena and experience than Scripture, though few would dare admit it. I know… I was part of it witnessing it first hand. Pastor John MacArthur intuitively pointed out in his book Charismatic Chaos “The worst extremes usually start with slight deviations”
René Pache wrote of Charismaticism:
“The excessive pre-eminence given to the Holy Spirit in their devotions and their preoccupation with gifts, ecstasies, and “prophesies” has tended to neglect of the Scriptures. Why be tied to a Book out of the past when one can communicate everyday with the living God? But this is exactly the danger point. Apart from the constant control of the written revelation, we soon find ourselves engulfed in subjectivity; and the believer, even if he has the best intentions, can sink rapidly into deviations, illuminism or exaltation. Let each remind himself of the prohibition of taking anything away from Scripture or adding anything to it. (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19) Almost every heresy and sect has originated in a supposed revelation or a new experience on the part of its founder, something outside the strictly biblical framework.” – (René Pache, The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Chicago; Moody Press, 1969, pg 319)
Frederick Dale Bruner’s words continue to herald a timely reminder in the midst of today’s hype and hysteria within the professing Christian Church. He wrote…
“The test of anything calling itself Christian is not its significance or its success or its power, though these things make the test more imperative. The test is the Truth.”
Let us now take a journey over a series of reports and discover the heritage and true destiny of what has become known as the Charismatic Movement.
The Birth of a Delusion
Charismatic historians trace their movement’s modern origins to Topeka, Kansas U.S.A and a small bible college called Bethel run by Charles Fox Parham in 1900 AD. Parham was a member of what was called the Holiness Movement which taught that believer’s could essentially achieve a spiritual state amounting to sinless perfection in this life through a “second blessing”. This ‘second blessing’ is what Charismatics now refer to as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Parham became a strong believer in faith healing after an experience in which he claimed to have been healed of a heart disorder, after which he discarded all medication and refused every form of medical treatment for the rest of his life.2
Sadly Parham’s method of bible study has survived him. He utilised a chain reference method which saw the grouping of topically similar Scriptures strung together out of original context in order to construct doctrine. It was and is a classic horse before the cart method utilised in many if not most professing Christian churches to this day. As scholars have long since noted to the chagrin of Parham’s contemporaries, sound hermeneutics (The study of the general principles of biblical interpretation) and careful exegesis (The scholarly interpretation of Scripture, using linguistic, historical, and other methods) were and are impossible when this method of study is employed. Absolute deception is the inescapable end result and yet the Charismatic movement has embraced Parham’s glaring error to its own eventual demise.
In the last days of December 1900 just before the college he founded closed, Parham gave his students an unusual assignment to be studied in his absence. He said…
“The gifts are in the Holy Spirit, and with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gifts, as well as the graces, should be manifested. Now, students, while I am gone, see if there is not some evidence given of the baptism so there may be no doubt on the subject.”
Do you see what Parham was doing here? His conclusion gave birth to the assignment, not his quest for biblical truth. He assumed the gifts manifest at Pentecost were still in operation and his assignment therefore planted a seed of suggestion in his students that it could still be sought. When Parham returned on December 30, 1900 his students reported that the indisputable proof of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the evidence of speaking in tongues, which was in fact partially true, however it was Parham’s assumption that this particular gift was still in operation that led to the movement’s errorsome continuance. New Year’s Day 1901 was the day chosen when the students would seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They gathered early in the morning for prayer yet nothing happened for many hours. Later in the day, however, a 30 year old student of Parham’s, Agnes Ozman requested of him the laying on of hands so that she might receive the Holy Spirit with the apostolic sign of speaking in tongues. The request was granted after which Ozman (it is claimed) began speaking and writing in several languages unknown to her. Others followed suit also claiming to have spoken in other languages not their own. John MacArthur asks the following important questions in relation to this event…
“Were these experiences thoroughly examined in the total context of the Scripture? Was careful exegesis of the biblical passages about tongues used to interpret any of the student’s experiences? Was any consideration given to the fact that these might have been demonic phenomena?
The answer of course was no. These manifestations merely confirmed Parham’s predetermined contention about the forsaken first century gift and no further study on the subject was deemed necessary. This then became the birth of Pentecostalism. Parham and those who followed his teachings believed that the apostolic gifts given to the first century church solely in order to establish it were ongoing; gifts such as tongues (which were known human languages and not the babble one would hear in a Charismatic church today), prophesy, healings, miracles, words of knowledge and so on. Parham and those who followed his teachings were wrong. Parham and those who followed his teachings believed that the canon of Scripture was still open and that God was adding to it through personal revelations. Parham and those who followed his teachings were wrong.
Author James Orr once wrote…
“A religion divorced from earnest and lofty thought has always, down the whole history of the Church, tended to become weak, jejune, and unwholesome.”
Charismaticism has been correctly defined as a system of belief which places a very heavy emphasis on the ethereal and the experiential, so in the next Watchman Report we’ll look at how that all began, its fatal error and its ultimate destination.
In His Everlasting Embrace
Moriah Ministries Australia
1. Mysticism: The belief that attempts to perceive spiritual reality apart from objective, verifiable facts preferring instead justification by feelings, intuition and other internal senses.
2. Vinson Synana, “The Touch Felt Around The World” Charisma January, 1991, pg 90