Why I Am Not A Charismatic
Why do you as a church oppose the charismatic movement?
Perhaps I should begin with the things I agree with the charismatics on. In most cases, they preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and I am sure that many of the members in the charismatic churches are saved and on their way to heaven. As such, they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I certainly do not hate them. They are also very evangelistic and zealous in their outreach. They can be commended on that. And I think that in most cases they are very sincere in trying to duplicate New Testament Christianity. Even if they are wrong in some serious ways, as I think them to be, God can certainly use them for His work as He has done with His people throughout the ages. In addition to these things, most of them are true to the Bible in many of the doctrines of the faith.
You ask why I reject charismatic doctrine. Probably the best way to answer this is by giving a list of problems I have with the doctrine and the practices of the charismatics. These are simply my reasons. They are not meant to be a personal attack on those who dearly hold to them, but perhaps they can be topics of consideration for those who follow the charismatic teaching.
- Charismatics claim to be continuing the signs and gifts of the apostles when even the apostles themselves did not continue to have this power to the end of their ministry. The case in point is Paul and the gift of healing. When Jesus healed, He healed "every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matthew 9:35). Even after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, the apostles received those who came to them and "and they were healed every one" (Acts 5:16). God "wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts 19:11-12). Nothing hindered these men from healing and they were always successful. But something happened before the end of the ministry of Paul. He carried a doctor [Luke] around with him on his journeys. When Timothy, his son in the faith, got sick, he did not send him an apron but rather gave him a prescription (1 Timothy 5:23). In his last letter, he plainly stated, "Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick" (2 Timothy 4:20). Why did he not heal him before he left Trophimus? He evidently could not. He also praised God for the raising up of Epiphroditus who was sick unto death declaring that "God had mercy on him" (Philippians 2:25-27). But there is no mention of a healing service. And, finally, the Apostle Paul asked three times for deliverance from the thorn in the flesh only to be refused (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). From this, Paul concluded that he should take pleasure in infirmities in order to demonstrate the power of God. The charismatics give a blind eye to this massive change in how God did his work even before the death of the apostles. There is a tremendous difference between the early apostolic period and the later apostolic period. In fact, I and others like me believe strongly in the healing of the Lord. However, He heals directly from above and not through aprons, handkerchiefs, falling shadows, and hems of garments. He heals through prayer and sometimes miraculously. But He also uses physicians and prescriptions. The shift in the New Testament is obvious.
- Charismatics entirely miss the meaning of the apostolic sign gifts. First of all, they were given to the Jewish people of the time because God deals with the Jews in great times of revelation or deliverance with signs and wonders. We see them when Moses delivered the Hebrew people out of Egypt (Exodus 7:3). Jesus and the apostles also used them to reach out to the Jews. Paul recognized that "the Jews require a sign" (1 Corinthians 1:22). But the signs were not for the believing Jews but rather for the unbelieving Jews. "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not" (1 Corinthians 14:22). As the gospel turned more and more to the Gentiles, the sign gifts began to diminish. We see this especially in the ministry of Paul. But there was a second purpose for the sign gifts. Jesus came and preached many things that the Jews had not heard and the apostles continued in this preaching. Why should the Jewish people believe in the new message of the gospel? By what authority did Jesus and the apostles preach this gospel? They needed some proof that their spoken message was indeed from God. That proof came in the form of the sign gifts. In Mark 16:16-17, Jesus named several of the signs that would follow His preachers. Then, in Mark 16:20, the scripture states, "And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." To confirm means to validate; to prove to be true. Therefore, the signs gave proof to the spoken words of the apostles and preachers. However, as the New Testament began to be completed, there was less and less need for signs to prove them. The sign gifts were partial and temporary. The New Testament is with us forever. And, "when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (1 Corinthians 13:10).
- Charismatics tend to exalt personal experience above the truth of the word of God. Their emphasis tends toward, "It happened to me," or "I saw it myself," instead of "thus saith the Lord." And when they do quote scripture, they tend to take in out of context. Instead of seeking the Lord Jesus Christ (as Paul in Philippians 3:10), they tend to seek a wonderful personal experience.
- Charismatics tend to exalt the Holy Ghost to the detriment of the Son. We should certainly rejoice in the work and ministry of God's Holy Spirit. But He is not to be exalted. According to John 16:13-14, when the Spirit came, He would not "speak of himself" but would "glorify" the Son. Therefore, if a people are truly empowered by the Holy Spirit, they will spend the greatest part of their energy doing He does-- hat is, glorifying the Son. Since He does not speak of Himself, those who spend a lot of time and energy glorifying the Holy Ghost are not speaking by the influence of the Holy Ghost.
- Because of their emphasis on experience over doctrine, charismatics tend to fall more often into serious false doctrine. I am talking now about the many fringe groups of the charismatics and some not so fringe. Some teach that believers become gods. Others deny the trinity and believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three forms of God. All groups have such variations, but the experiential emphasis of charismatic doctrine leaves them without the anchor that keeps them from such error.
- Many charismatic preachers use their influence to cheat and misuse the common people who follow them. They live like kings while the people who support them live in abject poverty. They put on shows and make promises in order to fleece the people of money. This is not of God.
- Charismatic preachers tend to deceive people with a health and wealth gospel. That is, they preach that following them will give health and wealth to their followers. This has been a characteristic of the charismatic movement from its beginning in the early 1900's. They promise health and wealth in order to get the wealth of the people. Years ago, when I delivered milk to homes, I served one poor lady who was almost blind and had many illnesses. She had me help her get one of the charismatics on her radio set so she could hear him. She told me that she had sent him money and kept trusting that she would be healed as she laid her hands on the radio set while he preached. But she had been sick for many years and the healing had not come. This made me sick at heart then and I still cannot believe that this kind of cheating people is of God.
I will stop for now but I want to mention that this has nothing to do with Jesus Christ being the same yesterday, today, and forever. If that verse can be used to prove charismatic doctrine, then the apostolic gifts should have been active for the last 6,000 years. But if you will study Bible history, you will find that God only used signs and gifts at certain times in history when He had a special work to do. That time will come again during the tribulation, but it is not for now. I believe that many good people are being misled by the charismatic movement today. I also accept that many are truly being saved--but I fear where they are being led after that. I do not say these things in order to make you angry. This is not a matter of personal anger or malice. I hope the best for you and for the many others who sincerely follow charismatic doctrine. But you asked me a reason of the doctrine that I believe and I felt it was only right to give you an honest answer.