This will be the most informal post I have written as I will be using a lot of first person accounts of what I have seen, heard, and experienced while in the Charismatic movement. I want to be clear that the purpose of this post is not to offend my continuationist friends (some of which are Charismatic, though others are good hearted Reformed continuationists), but to raise awareness about the charismatic movement and the chaos that comes from within by sharing my own personal experiences that I had while being a Charismatic. I write this to benefit the Church, to defend the Holy Spirit, to glorify Christ, and to live according to the gospel of the Scriptures, which the Father has called me to believe.
We live in a day and age that is incredibly more unique than the days of the prophets, apostles, and even the reformers. In the modern era, we have technologies that wouldn’t even be imaginable to a science-fiction writer fifty years ago. Sin has also grown far more rampant than ever before through electronic media and cultural influence. Our ever modernizing population thrives on progressive ideas that are new and vibrant, something that could possibly be a game changer, so much so that we now no longer consider ourselves to be modern, but rather post-modern.
As many should expect, accepting new ideas without any kind of discernment for the sake of being new, hip, and cool leads culture to disastrous cultural shifts. Some of the things that the culture has adopted is transsexualism. It is remarkable how something that general society marked as disgusting and inappropriate, is now being considered by pop culture as being courageous and forward-thinking. Another key example that comes to mind is the issue of pornography. Before, sex was considered a sacred thing that was to be between a husband and wife, in their own bedroom. Now, it only takes one click for someone to watch people behave like animals in their perversion, just to fulfill their own lust. Huffington Post (one of the most liberal source of media) found that for every second that passes, over 28,000 views of pornography had occurred.
It is easy for indignation to stir within our hearts about the course the modern (or should I say post-modern) society is taking. Very rarely do we stop and think about the greatest issue that faces Evangelical Christianity. It has become an epidemic that has far greater impact, and a cancer that has caused far more damage in the Church than anything the world could offer. The Charismatic movement was a progressive idea that was created to “revive” the church back into the apostolic age and to bring back the miraculous gifts of the apostles and prophets. Countless books, documentaries, and even conferences have been made about the Charismatic movement with one goal in mind: to warn the non-Charismatics to not join the movement that is full of heretical teaching, and to warn the Charismatics to get out of the movement immediately.
Now for a long time, I had considered myself a Charismatic. I grew up in a Charismatic environment where tongues was not so much encouraged as much as it was forced. Every church I had ever been a part of from birth to the age of 17 was Charismatic and not only embraced the modern misuse of the gifts, but also told the congregation that it was a vital part of salvation. Now, I was not a Charismatic who was a closet cessationist. The opposite in fact.
For a long time, I considered cessationists to not only be the ones on the wrong side, but also as fools who didn’t know how to read the Bible. I was a strong supporter of tongues, and I participated in the practice myself. I embraced the Oneness teaching, listened to every TBN charlatan you could imagine, and hated Baptists with a growing passion. I thought anyone who didn’t believe in my interpretation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be a false Christian. So how did I become a cessationist? There were a series of events that led me to cessationism. It was an extremely gradual process, including the time in which I faked Christianity while living as an anti-theist outside of church and family.
It all started when I began noticing the inconsistencies with Charismatic theology. Yes, I thought the practices were weird as a kid, but by the time I was a pre-teen it had become a norm. Charismatic theology taught that a person did not truly receive the Holy Spirit until the individual began speaking in tongues. However, before the Pentecost outpouring had even occurred, Jesus told the disciples in John 20:22 (ESV) to “receive the Holy Spirit.” When I confronted an elder in my church at the time about this inconsistency, I was told not too ask too many questions as it would lead me to doubt the faith. Sure enough, the lack of answers was what led me to doubt my faith. I didn’t want to just leave the Charismatic movement because of things that seemed strange, but I started believing in the view that the Bible had flaws, as well as believing the Charismatic movement was flawed.
I couldn’t become Baptist because I was taught that cessationists didn’t believe the Holy Spirit existed. Thus, I had no where to turn to, at least that was what I thought, and I began drifting away into doubt until it became a dark and twisted reality for me: I would go to church and lift my hands, pray in tongues, and be the best Charismatic one could ever see, but outside of church and family I was the biggest anti-Bible person you’d meet. I thought all of Christianity was fake. In sophomore year of high school however, I fell into hypocritical Christianity: I believed I was a Christian because I spoke in tongues, but I still believed in the following heresies:
- Biblical errancy (the Bible is flawed)
- Baptism of the Holy Spirit is necessary to be in the faith.
One event changed the course of how I looked at the Charismatic movement. At a youth conference, a worship band began playing my favorite worship song at the time: I Surrender by Hillsong Live. I joined a huge crowd of people that went to the front to be prayed over by elders to be anointed with their anointing (not realizing that 1 John 2:27 says that all Christians are anointed by Christ). Then I sang along to the song as the band began playing louder and louder as they sang, “I surrender! I surrender! I want to know you more!” At that moment, my body began shaking involuntarily. I had seen things like this happen with other people, but it was the first time (and thank God the last) that I had experienced kundalini. I was in a state of fear during the time, and I was in such shock that I couldn’t cry for help or for someone to pray for me. This event made me realize that I sang that song without God in my life, and I might’ve just invited the devil to take control of me.
It wasn’t until the second semester of my sophomore year when I began going through a major transformation in my heart and I began realizing that serving in the church, and hypocritical faith was not going to save me, so I turned to the Lord. Over the course of several months, I had biblical counsel and accountability. My repentance consisted of battling pornography addiction, unrighteous fellowship, and heretical beliefs. Despite me coming to true repentance (and I believe I actually accepted Christ when I began hating sin and my fleshly desires which was spring of 2014), I still stayed in the Charismatic movement, only this time…the problems began to be much clearer.
I started noticing the heretical teachings of many preachers I listened to before. Some of these preachers were obvious charlatans such as Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, etc. Others were much harder to discern if I had to be honest such as Jospeh Prince, Curry Blake, and (I know this is gonna sound strange, but I liked her for a long time) Joyce Meyer. I didn’t think the latter three were that wrong, until I began investigating their doctrines and realized their views didn’t match the Scriptures. When I brought this up to my fellow church members and elders, I was told that I was too judgmental and that being too discerning was destructive. It was almost as if gifts of tongues and prophecy were more important than gifts of wisdom and discernment.
Not only were many of the Charismatic teachers on TBN extremely heretical, but so were the preachers I would hear in many Charismatic conferences. I was a Charismatic for the longest time, but I started opening my eyes to how the preachers would act and I opened my ears to what they would say. Neither their actions, nor their speech matched the Scriptures. They had a lack of self control as they would jump frantically and begin manifesting “drunken glory”. They would proclaim dominion theology (taking over the world for Christ; perverted post-millennialism), drone with repetitive “praises” (more like phrases), and proclaim healing and prosperity over the congregation.
It got to the point where too much blasphemy began to occur. Todd Bentley began kicking people because supposedly God told Him to, Mark Driscoll would claim the Holy Spirit would give Him visions of women getting raped, and Bill Johnson told His congregation of blind sheep that God was not sovereign over all things. How could a person who is saved by the regenerating of the Holy Spirit continue to associate with a movement that continually blasphemed the Holy Spirt? People would speak in fake tongues so they could show off how “spiritual” they were, preachers would perform false miracles to provoke an emotional frenzy, and worship bands would sing vague songs with little to no reference to the God of the Bible. It became too much for me.
The theological inconsistencies, my fearful kundalini experience, and the misuse and blasphemy of the Holy Spirit caused me to leave the Charismatic movement. Sure enough, the Scriptures warned us that something like this would happen when the Scriptures are denigrated for a new progressive idea in 2 Timothy 4:1-4:4 (ESV): “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
I charge our modern Evangelical Christians to please beware of the Charismatic movement. Progressive ideas have destroyed our culture, and now progressive ideas are destroying our church. The Charismatic movement wants you to believe that the movement is the fulfillment of a prophecy in Joel 2, but in Acts 2 Peter declares that the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of that prophecy. Gifts were made to benefit the church, not our own selfishness and ego. It is easy to speak gibberish and look spiritual, however it is another to study the word and to live out the gospel. Don’t seek to itch your ears with false teachings. As an ex-Charismatic, please don’t give in to this movement. We must defend the Scriptures and its verity. We must defend the Holy Spirit, and we must glorify Him in a humble and fearful manner.
Don’t be deceived by the forbidden fruit that looks sweet to eat, for when you taste it there’s only bitter poison. Seek the Scriptures, it is enough to know who God is. If you want to know the supernatural, spend time in prayer (in your native tongue). John Calvin once said, “The greatest gift is that with the one tongue we are able to speak with, we are able to declare that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Let us not fall into heresy. Let us warn our brethren. May the non-believers know that the bride of Christ does not associate with the faith healers and silly mockers of the Holy Spirit they associate the faith with. May the fear of God rest upon our hearts, and the desire to know God’s word grow more and more daily.
Soli Deo Gloria.