Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


Charismatics and Pentecostals are Disobedient to the Bible
 
INTRODUCTION
 
The Charismatic movement is an important force in modern Christianity.  In many places, Charismatics are the only Churchgoers with any enthusiasm or fervour. The movement promises encounters with the Holy Spirit who does miracles in your life and changes your life which gives you assurance that Christianity is true.

Like every apologetic for the Church it fails.
 
A book THE TORONTO BLESSING (Dave Roberts, Kingsway Publications, Eastbourne, 1995) defends the wave of charismatic or Pentecostal lunacy called the Toronto blessing. It had dour people hysterically laughing like lunatics and quiet people roaring. People jump up and down and roll over the ground and floor. No faith has the right to encourage people to behave worse than raging drunks. Jeremiah 23:9 has the prophet of God declare that he is like a drunk man because he is so high on the word of God. It was concluded by supporters of the phenomena that if people behaved very oddly that we should not judge it by this but by the general good fruits they produce.
 
FAULTY PROOFS FOR CHARISMATICS
 
In Joel 2, God promises that before the end of the world he will pour out his Spirit on all flesh causing young men to have dreams from God and young women to prophesy and there would be visions.

Charismatics think they fulfil the prediction – without reason. They can see from the context that it is to happen after Israel returned to their land and renovate it into a paradise. This hasn’t happened yet. The prediction can be reconciled with the New Testament doctrine that there will be no charism until God is united with his people so fully that he extends Heaven to earth. This would indicate that the Charismatics are self-deluding frauds.

Charismatics might object that Peter said the Pentecost experience of the early Church was the beginning of the fulfilment of the prophecy (Acts 2:16). This allows them to say that the rest of the prophecy will be fulfilled later. But if it was really the beginning then why did the Charismatics disappear from the Church for centuries only to reappear in the latter days?

Charismatics take some verses or supernatural gifts out of context to make them say the opposite.

Matthew 10:1-23: Jesus gives the seventy the power to do marvels like healing the sick and casting out demons. But he did not say that these healings and exorcisms were to be miracles. He may have just been telling them to help others in the same way a non-Charismatic Church would do it which is by praying and good deeds.

Mark 16 is supposed to promise Charismatic powers to all who believe. Jesus told the eleven apostles: “Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race]. He who believes [who adheres to and trusts in and relies on the Gospel and Him Whom it sets forth] will be condemned. And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages; They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well” (16:15-18).

Charismatics say that it promises miraculous powers to all who believe in the apostles’ word. Some however maintain that Jesus does not say that all will have these powers. Even most Charismatics believe that they cannot drink weed-killer and be unaffected.

Notice that the text does not say that some of the people will have the charisms but all. The persons who get them seem to be those who actually got the word from the apostles directly. It cannot mean all Christians since the Christians directly converted by the apostles as well as these original converts because it is plain to be seen that they cannot all pick up serpents and drink poison without harm. Charismatics cannot do it either. The believers Jesus has in mind are those who believe as a result of the mission of the apostles meaning that generation back then.

It does not state that the charisms will last until the end of time.
  
The canon of the Bible is the official list of books believed to be authored ultimately by God. Many orthodox preachers deny that Mark 16:9-20 which is where the promises occur belongs in the canon thinking that it is a heretical forgery. If it was, then it was written by one who hoped that people would read the absurdity of it and go off Jesus. It may not have originally been part of the gospel. Many ancient manuscripts don’t know of it. The Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus don’t have it. It seems that Mark ends abruptly at 16:8.

In John 14:12 where Jesus reveals that he who believes in him shall do greater wonders than he did. But this is the present tense so it refers to those who believed then. Modern Charismatics cannot do better miracles than Jesus. We cannot even know if Jesus meant miraculous wonders. A person who spent longer doing missionary work than Jesus did could be said to have been doing greater things.

Jesus allegedly promised his Church that the Holy Spirit would be with his Church forever and lead it into all truth (John 14:16; 16:13). Charismatics claim to have this enlightening presence. They claim that the promise of Jesus proves that they are right to claim to have spiritual powers. But the promise would still be fulfilled by the Holy Spirit guiding people without obvious miracles. It does not say that everybody will be infallible.

Being indwelled by the Spirit does not mean you are a miracle working Charismatic. When Paul recorded that some Charismatics can do things like speak messages from God or heal unlike others he showed that you can have the Spirit but no charisms (1 Corinthians 12).

The Bible says that Jesus is always the same (Hebrews 13:8) and Charismatic appeal to this teaching to argue that if Jesus gave charisms once he does it still. It just means that Jesus is the same kind of good person not a person who stubbornly takes no account of changing and even immoral attitudes. A good person has to make changes for the best.

Nowhere in the Bible is there proof that the charisms are still to be practiced. To try and practice them is to add to the Bible which is forbidden.

THE ABOLITION OF THE CHARISMS
 
The only place where the Bible says anything about the charismata being taken away is in 1 Corinthians 13.

 Paul writes in it that, “Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. As for prophecy (the gift of interfering the divine will or purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth]. For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary. But when the complete and the perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded).”
 
It seems to be saying the gifts will not be needed when we are in Heaven and so we will have them until then.
 
The perfect is not full union and knowledge of God in Heaven so perhaps it means the Christian scriptures being completed. The New Testament never promises any new prophet or pope or infallible Church but promises, by implication, new Christian scripture that will some day be finished and closed. The completion of the New Testament, in other words, with the book of Revelation. Paul uses the word teleios for perfect which he used to mean the perfect communion with God that will take place after the end of the world but it cannot mean that here. In Heaven and with God you would have to have all the charisms to make the union with him possible. But he said they would pass away to allow the perfect to happen. Paul saw salvation in terms of union with God.
 
When even Paul stated that divine revelation is hard to grasp the way God wants, it follows that when he reported seeing the risen Jesus that he could be saying that Jesus rose but his interpretation of what the resurrection was could be wrong. Language could be too crude to express the reality. It advises anybody who says the tomb was empty and Jesus raised his whole body up to be careful for nothing is exactly as it looks. Paul’s statement undermines the evidence Christians offer for Jesus and therefore the ability of Jesus to give charismatic gifts that are, in truth, supernatural.

The Charismatic interpretation of what Paul wrote has the charisms lasting, at least in potentiality if not actuality, until the next age: the Heavenly age which they say is the perfect he means. But the Bible denies this stating that the charisms are “the mighty powers of the age and the world to come” (Hebrews 6:5). There will be more charisms in Heaven than on earth. The next age is the age in which all people will be safe in the world of Heaven. Paul believed the charisms would end on earth permanently with the coming of the perfect and then after that they would happen in Heaven.

It is significant that Hebrews 2:3,4 speaks of the Charismatic miracles as if they are a thing of the past. It does not say it is just about the apostles’ gifts either so all miracle-workers are meant such as the man who was not a part of Jesus’ religious group who cast out demons in Jesus’ name (Mark 9:38,39).

Some Charismatics say that the reference to the charisms passing away in 1 Corinthians 13 just means that the gifts will not be exercised for a long time for they were ignored throughout most of Christian history not that they would be withdrawn.

Is this interpretation right?

It cannot be proved that Paul meant that the gifts would simply fall into misuse. He says cease and not neglected. When he said that the charism of love would never cease and the rest would, the charism would lead to the other charisms if they were still on offer. Paul said that speaking in tongues would cease and the word he was used for ceased was pauo which means stopping never to start up again and they will not stop until the perfect comes. Millions of Christians have always believed in divine guidance as in inspiration. If this guidance is from God and not their imagination then Paul was wrong. But perhaps the Christians were wrong for looking to an inner light instead of letting God guide them through the authorised scriptures. The Bible promises that God does it that way and Paul would not have intended to exclude that charism.

Since Paul told his flock not to forbid tongue-speaking and prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:39) some argue that he couldn’t have said or meant that these powers were temporary. Does telling people to help somebody imply that he or she will need them forever?

The Bible claims that the message of Jesus was thoroughly confirmed by the signs and wonders of Jesus and the apostles (Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3,4). Many believe that to demand Pentecostal wonders today is to cast doubt on the sufficiency of the evidence the Bible gives. The Bible says the faith is once and for all given to the Church (Jude 3) and that God had given all knowledge necessary for life and spiritual life to the Church (2 Peter 1:3). The apostles would say that if any miracles happen today the Devil has a part in them somewhere or they are hoaxes.

When Paul wrote that the apostates of the future would listen to seducing spirits it is most probable he had false charismatics in mind (1 Timothy 4:1). To avoid being seduced one would need to be supervised by the apostles or those who have been designated by the apostles. No supervisor can qualify today for the apostles are gone.

According to the Bible, the charismata no longer exist.

By the time of Irenaeus there was only one person saying that charismata still existed in the Church and that was Irenaeus himself and he was only reporting what others were saying about these miracles (page 11, Counterfeit Miracles). The powers had gone by then. When the early Church departed from them so easily – even if the godly gifts were abolished there were natural and satanic counterfeits that would have been retained - what else did it part from? There is no evidence that the powers continued after the apostles (page 29). St John Chrysostom declared that there were no miracles in his day (page 47). Augustine reported miracles but he was a crank who believed in predestination and even that peacock’s flesh was incorruptible and would never decay and claimed to have seen this with his own eyes (page 77). When he could not see what was real with his own eyes how could he be trusted in relation to what anybody else saw?
 
Medjugorje is a place where there have been apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported since 1981. With some – not all - experts saying Medjugorje really is a place of miracles and the Bible opposing this Virgin’s support and endorsement for the Charismatic Movement, it is clear that if there is anything happening there then some opponent of the God of Jesus Christ is behind it. It reflects badly on the charismatics if their gifts cannot make them perceive who this lady really is.

NEED TO RECEIVE POWERS VIA APOSTLES
 
The Bible never says that there is any other way to receive the charisms of speaking in tongues and doing miracles except through the laying on of hands by the apostles. In Acts 8, we read that the Samaritans had to do without the gifts until the apostles laid hands on them. Simon Magus sees the miraculous results at the apostles’ hands though he was a Christian for a while himself meaning that he saw nobody else doing it. So in all probability nobody else could really do it. And this is proven by the fact that Acts details that they did everybody one by one rather than getting the people who received the power to pass it on themselves to save time. Then Simon goes and offers Peter money to acquire the power to give the gifts by laying his hands on people. The fact that Simon Magus had formerly been popularly regarded as the power of God and a powerful miracle-worker (which the Bible attributes to magic and occultism thus giving what must have been tricks a supernatural status) before his conversion which shows what kind of innocent and naďve and gullible mentality existed in those days among the people of Jesus. We don’t have anybody like that now! That Simon had any money to offer is strange since the Bible says the apostles insisted on a communistic system in which nobody owned anything. The apostles must have given him special treatment and let him be exempt because he would not have let them know he had money otherwise. Then he is severely reprimanded. So since the apostles are not around anymore nobody can have charismatic powers that are really from God.

Some object, "Nobody laid hands on the apostles. The apostles received the Charismatic powers at Pentecost when the Spirit came down on them. God can give the charismatic gifts without requiring you to receive them through an apostle laying hands on you. God was not strict about the laying on of hands being the method of transmission."
 
This is the reply. The apostles may have received the Holy Spirit by him directly descending upon them. But that doesn't mean that the laying on of hands on people to give them the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit may not be confined to the apostles alone. The apostles received the Holy Spirit and the charismatic powers in a very obviously supernatural way that day. Acts says that only the apostles were able to speak in tongues that day. Laying on of hands is only a method of transmission but God worked the same effect through sending the Holy Spirit on the apostles. There was nobody to lay hands on them. If laying hands is the only method then God had to make an exception for there was nobody to do it. The exception proves the rule. The way the Holy Spirit came down first does not imply anything about how the Spirit's powers should be transmitted. The spirit can only be transmitted to give magic powers through the authorised divine channels who have to lay hands to transmit it. Nothing in the Bible conflicts with this interpretation.
 
None of the verses that speak of the Holy Spirit being received by faith say that we can receive the charisms that same way.

Jesus in Mark 16 where he promises gifts to believers does not say they will last forever. The fact that no charismatic can drink poison these days and go on as if nothing has happened which is one of the gifts it promises proves that they were temporary. James 5 which says that the sick man will be raised up by anointing with oil says nothing about curing. Raised up means spiritually healed. The pastors were to heal the sick spiritually by praying for them and not physically. And even if it were physical the shall be raised up promise means only if it is God’s will. The Bible says the charisms were granted to confirm the message of the apostles and show that it was from God (Mark 16:20; 1 Corinthians 13; Hebrews 2:3,4) so once the message was clear their purpose was served and they would be no more.
 
The New Testament book of Acts speaks of the apostles curing everybody who came to them. Yet we read later that Paul complains of sickness and advises Timothy to take a little wine to help his stomach! This supports the belief of many that the apostles had powers to heal only to get attention drawn to the gospel and to help them establish Christianity firmly. Later these powers faded and disappeared altogether.

The Christians cannot claim to have Pentecostal powers when the Bible does not confirm it. They are adding to the Bible.

The lowest charism which is speaking in tongues is abolished according to tradition. St John Chrysostom said that the gift of tongues was no longer around in his day. St Augustine made the same observation. For hundreds of years after the apostles heretics who were not even Christians and the heretical fanatics, the Montanists, spoke in tongues and impressed society with their charismatic gifts. Scripture and tradition are against the modern tongues-speakers.
 
 
CONCLUSION

Charismatics and Pentecostals are deluding themselves are are playing ouija board but with their brains and hearts and certainly not with their logic!
 
WORKS CONSULTED
 
BIBLICAL EXEGESIS AND CHURCH DOCTRINE, Raymond E Brown, Paulist Press, New York, 1985
CHARISMATIC CHAOS, John F MacArthur, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992
CHARTING A COURSE THROUGH CHARISMATIC WATERS, Cecil Andrews, Take Heed Publications, Belfast, 1990
CHRISTIANITY IN CRISIS, Hank Hanegraaff, Harvest House Publishers, Oregon,
COUNTERFEIT MIRACLES, BB Warfield, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1995
FOUR GREAT HERESIES, John R Rice, Sword of the Lord, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1975
LOOKING FOR A MIRACLE, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993
NO LAUGHING MATTER, Stanley Jebb, DayOne Publications, Kent, 1995
SPEAKING IN TONGUES, John R Rice, Sword of the Lord, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1971
THE CHARISMATIC CHALLENGE Seamus Milligan, Evangelical Protestant Society, Belfast, 1987
THE HOLY SPIRIT TODAY, Leith Samuel, Pickering & Inglis, Glasgow, 1978
THE TORONTO BLESSING, Dave Roberts, Kingsway Publications, Eastbourne, 1995

 
BIBLE VERSION USED
The Amplified Bible