Saturday, January 19, 2008

PENTACOSTALISM: Good intentions; labored results!

J. Lee Grady writes Charisma Magazine's excellent and informative column, "Fire In My Bones"; his 8 January piece is entitled "Eight Prophetic Directives for 2008." Not his best work.

The article is basically a report on the "Charismatic Leadership Summit"; CLS was a two day gathering of the 61 shakers and movers of the movement. What follows is an analysis of the article's content.

The past few years have confronted our Spirit-filled brethren with one embarrassment after the other; these embarrassments are "alluded" to in the piece. In general we should be pleased they devoted most of the two days to the problems which manifested themselves during 2007. But they go back much farther.

But, if Grady's wording is indicative of the meeting itself, we shouldn't expect a change to take place anytime soon. He opens with this phrase, "2007 was a difficult year." Wow, now that is an understatement.

I could think of several words more descriptive of that disastrous year ... see here, here, and here for example. On a similar note - the article's title is not some of the magazine's best word-smithing; Grady's eight offerings provided are hardly prophetic (there is little genuinely prophetic voice in them) or directive (in the sense of ultimatums). What is more final than a truly prophetic word.

On a personal level, I was offended when the author reported this august group of believers knelt in prayer before our God Most High ...
"on the first night and repented of the pride that has tainted the American church."
Excuse me, but the body of believers I shepherd and the denomination I call home have not participated in any of the embarrassments alluded to; nor have many other well-disciplined members of "the American church" ... these have been almost wholly the purview of our Pentecostal brethren (except perhaps Lonnie Latham and Catholicism's gay priesthood).

Let me add this: if Grady meant "the American [Pentecostal/Charismatic] church" rather than the
American church in general, I retract my criticism and apologize (however, a good editor should have captured that faux pas).

Also, I suspect "
the holy hush" my brother mentions was more a moment of corporate conviction and shame, rather than a movement of God's Spirit ... but this is not a hill I want to die on!

The two days included ...
three sessions that focused on these questions: (1) Where is the charismatic movement headed? (2) Is the charismatic movement healthy? and (3) Is the charismatic movement making a difference?
I wonder if any of the many faithful readers of Charisma will notice the CLS's failure to answer well even one of these questions as reported by Charisma?

The following are some random thoughts on the magazine's "directives" (bold emphasis via The CRIB) ...
1. We must have personal revival. Marcus Lamb ... fought back tears as he lamented how far leaders have fallen in this day of Christian superstar scandals. “When was the last time we fasted?” he asked. “When was the last time we studied the Word just to hear from God?” Lamb believes “an alarm was sounded in 2007” that is calling each of us back to the simplicity of devotion to Jesus.
Amen! This opening salvo is one of a couple of worthwhile contributions; the following is another.
2. We must embrace humility. This was the overarching theme of the Orlando event. Robert Morris ... said we must “go overboard in humility” by being genuine, touchable and accessible. Naomi Dowdy ... noted that too many leaders today are enamored with their image or their frequent flyer status. ... .
I thought the "overarching theme" was to deal with the three questions listed above? Overall a good contribution, and one that seems to answer the three questions in this way - 1.) the movement is going in the wrong direction! 2.) No, we are not healthy! and 3.) Only in the most negative sense!
3. We are experiencing gracious judgment. Many leaders alluded to recent theological and moral scandals involving charismatic ministers. ... .
Forgive me if I seem harsh, but a meeting of this kind should be naming names and specifically labeling "scandals," so that they are held up in the light for all to acknowledge, not allude to.
4. We must balance the prosperity message. Although not everyone in the room was in agreement about the recent U.S. Senate investigation of six charismatic ministers, many called for restraint and a new attitude toward money. Several leaders, including Hispanic apostle H├ęctor Torres, emphasized that God is calling us to a higher standard of ethics, integrity and corporate governance. A prophetic warning was also issued: Leaders should either adopt a policy of “full disclosure” in the financial area, or they can expect “full exposure” of financial misdeeds.
Neither am I, but if my Pentecostal/Charismatic brethren would just publicly investigate their own, guys like Grassly wouldn't be tempted to call them out!
Robert Morris used the term “hyper-prosperity” to describe a theology that emphasizes wealth and personal blessing. He urged leaders to teach people “to give extravagantly, not expecting anything in return” instead of suggesting that people should “give to get.” Revivalist Rodney Howard-Browne bluntly suggested that the prosperity movement has “gone off the tracks.” ... .
Ha-ha-ha! Again, forgive me for my harshness, but this Rodney is part of the problem not part of the solution and you guys should reveal him for what he is ... a wolf in sheep's clothing, etc. [Toronto blessing, holy laughter, gold fillings, falling gold dust; good grief he shouldn't have even been there]
5. It’s time to get back to evangelism. The phrase “get back to the basics” was repeated numerous times over the course of our 24-hour session. ... .
I am intentionally avoiding the issue of women in the pulpit.
Other leaders ... cautioned against an inordinate emphasis on manifestations of the Holy Spirit. “We must get back to the core doctrines of the Bible, and test all things,” said prophetic minister Cindy Jacobs of Dallas, noting that our focus must not be on manifestations but on souls.
Define "inordinate" for me, please! How can anything truly associated with the Holy Spirit be inordinate? What you mean, then, is this: a false emphasis on the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

Regarding Cindy's comment, I would ask: you mean like the rest of us have been trying to do for decades?
Rice Broocks, pastor of Bethel World Outreach Center in Nashville Tenn., said he believes our mandate for 2008 is simple: “Don’t get cute. Don’t get fancy. Go and make disciples.” He urged leaders to stop majoring in minors when evangelism has been neglected. ... .
Cute? Fancy? You mean like the name of your "church"? Now that's cute and fancy!

Notice the name is in blue and emboldened; as have been several other words in the eight quotes. This was done to highlight the number of times titillating titles are used by our more zealous brethren. Aren't they cute and fancy?
6. We must root out racism in the church. The tensest moment in the discussion came after California-based church leader Samuel Rodriguez, president for the National Association of Hispanic Evangelicals, called on the group to challenge racist attitudes toward Hispanics. He warned that unless we develop a true “kingdom DNA” in our churches—by welcoming and celebrating all ethnic groups—we will not successfully impact our culture or enact biblical justice on issues such as immigration policy. Charismatic prophet Rick Joyner also challenged what he called “spiritual bigotry” that is caused by “our prideful attitude about the groups we are associated with.”
Many of us don't think "immigration policy" is any of our business, since it's in Caesar's domain.

But more importantly, there is neither Hispanic nor non-hispanic in God's house. Brother Sam having an organization for a special ethnic group, while the NAE exists, is racist, divisive, and wasteful of God's resources!

How is your NAHE "
welcoming and celebrating all ethnic groups"? How is it relating to blacks and orientals? How does a Native American join as a native American? How are your efforts helping to "develop a true 'kingdom DNA"?

These activities are a manifestation of our preoccupation with works (like this blog) and rooted in a desire to civilize mankind. That's neither the Way nor the mission!
7. Holiness is not an option. The leaders had a lively discussion on the need for proper accountability so that leaders who have moral failures can be properly restored. Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Kan. decried the “greasy grace” that quickly forgives a fallen brother but does not offer tough love and discipline. “That is no grace at all,” he said. ... .
Restoration is fine, if it follows biblical accountability, chastisement, and discipline! I agree with Bickle who obviously agrees with Bonhoeffer's concept of cheap grace.
8. God is calling us to transform society. Several leaders, including Harry Jackson of Washington, D.C., noted that American culture—and our government—is becoming increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. He and others challenged the group to become active politically, in the current presidential contest and on every level. If we run from our calling to transform culture, we may end up in a fish’s mouth like Jonah. We must engage in a kingdom mission rather than hide behind an escapist Left Behind eschatology. Barbara Wentroble, an apostolic leader from Dallas, noted that Christians for too long have viewed politics, education and the financial realm as evil when we must see those arenas as mountains to claim for Christ.
God warned us that this would happen, didn't He? But He is not calling us to "transform society"! Where is that in the Scriptures! Were're to be salt and light, yes! But in order to bring men to His throne of Grace, so that God can transform them!

We are not of this world! The things of this world are passing away, and that includes "society." My, listen to yourself!

All eight of the "prophetic directives," taken collectively, indicate a broad or general admission of a problem, several address specifics (e.g., absence of humility vs. abundance of pride; lack of fasting and prayer), several encourage direction but, on the whole, I felt they were so far from addressing the questions supposedly "on the table" that it might have been better not to waste the ink and bandwidth.

BLOGGERS BLOGGING:
Accidental Missionary
Charismatica
Ministry Today
Soul Pants

2 comments:

  1. Shakers and movers. Not two descriptions one often hears about Pentacostalists! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous9:19 PM

    Janet says -- the author exhibits such a judgmental, arrogant tone in his opinion and writing style that me thinks he could have benefited by being in the company of such leaders in Orlando. Where's the love that you, as a more "traditional" Christian should show toward the brethren, huh??

    ReplyDelete