Grady’s Six Really Bad Charismatic Doctrines and My Five Additional Ones

handlersI want to interact a bit with this opinion piece by former editor of Charisma, J. Lee Grady,

6 Really Bad Charismatic Doctrines We Should Retire

I have to say that I appreciate Grady’s candor. He continues to unintentionally confirm what the Strange Fire conference was all about.  As the title of his article states, he highlights 6 really bad doctrines he believes charismatics should retire. Or as Grady puts it, “We must jettison any weird doctrines we might have believed or practiced that are hindering our growth today.” I would encourage folks to click over and read it, but let me bullet point his “6 really bad doctrines” for my purposes here,

Touch Not My Anointed. The idea that the main pastor is not to be criticized because he is … well… the Lord’s anointed.

Dual Covenant. The teaching that suggests that Jews can get to heaven apart from the saving work of Christ. This “doctrine” is heavily promoted by John Hagee.

Inaccessible Leadership. Meaning, the leadership believes they are so above the normal folks in the congregation, they stay at arm’s length from them and never get personally involved with the lives of the people they supposedly shepherd.

Armor-bearers. They are the posse/entourage surrounding one of God’s anointed, if you know what I mean.

The Hundredfold Return. If a pastor is prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray the hundredfold blessing, whatever you give, allegedly God gives back to you 100 times over in return.

Money Cometh. Similar in theory to the hundredfold return, this is when people come to the front and lay their money at the foot of the pulpit when the preacher asks for an offering. Turns the offering time into a scene of exhibition, says Grady. No kidding.

BTW, here’s Benny Hinn, one of the Lord’s Anointed, strolling through LAX with 5 of his “armor-bearers.”

bennyhinnIf I may offer some comments.

I am curious to know if Grady believes those individuals of whom he speaks are fringe examples. In other words, do they represent the norm, or what would be the majority of charismatic leadership and pastors? If they are merely the fringe, then what is the point of writing this article? Why exhort charismatics to retire doctrines that really don’t impact the greater whole of the movement?  It would be the same as asking for the Pentecostals to abandon the snake-handling doctrine.

Wouldn’t the better course of action be to just identify the fringe wackos, call them out, warn people away from them?

But regrettably, what he outlines here is the norm of charismatic experience.

However, the items on Grady’s list aren’t really “doctrines.” The only “doctrine” mentioned here, if we can even call it that, is the “Dual Covenant” idea of Jews getting into heaven apart from the saving work of Jesus. But as I noted, that view is primarily promoted by John Hagee and his associates. It is sort of his warped and twisted hyper-dispensational theology.

The other “doctrines” Grady lists are more like behaviors or practices rather than just “doctrine,” that I would argue are symptoms of a deeper theological malaise.

Honestly, what kind of thinking about God would grow in the heart of a so-called pastor that he becomes so focused upon himself that he is filled with greed, arrogance, pride, and the pursuit of emperor decadence?

The “doctrine” Grady needs to be addressing is buried underneath all that flash and bang. What he is aiming at is merely the outward signs of bad theology. In order for those behaviors to be “retired,” the real doctrine at the heart of those individuals needs to be identified and changed.  Until Grady does that, he is shooting high and way to the left of the target.

With that said, I’d like to add to Grady’s list. I think there are some genuine doctrines that do need to be retired among charismatics. If he is serious about jettisoning the weird stuff, here is where he needs to concentrate his efforts.

The so-called gift of tongues being a sign of Holy Spirit baptism. As I document in this blog post from last November, all of the major, mainline charismatic/Pentecostal denominations like the Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal Churches of God, and even Michael Brown’s home church, identify speaking in tongues with a person who receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit, typically when that individual is baptized in water.  If the person doesn’t come out of the baptistery speaking in tongues, the person is not baptized in the Spirit.

Not only is that an utterly unbiblical view of the Spirit’s work and the gift of tongues, but the failure of the person to experience “tongues” can become a psychologically crippling disappointment; a disappointment that apparently happens frequently.  I have had numerous people tell me they faked the tongues because they didn’t want their friends and family to think they were not baptized by the Spirit. This erroneous doctrine of Spirit baptism needs to be abandoned.

slainBizarre manifestations are the work of the Spirit. Ever since the 1800s, more and more Christians have looked to odd ball manifestations as some sort of proof that God’s Spirit is working among people. Charles Finney really capitalized upon that notion of manifestations and from that point onward, Pentecostals and charismatics have incorporated the practice into their worship services. Weird phenomena has become so connected to a “move of the Spirit” that to question the legitimacy of such events, like being slain in the Spirit, rolling around on the floor, uncontrollable shaking, or convulsing as if the person is having a seizure, is to question the Lord Himself.

Where the Spirit of God does manifest Himself is in the lives of Christians as He sanctifies them, draws them to sober mindedness, and conforms them to the holiness of Christ. The “doctrines” that Grady says charismatics need to retire are practiced by people who claim the bizarre manifestations they routinely encounter are a genuine move of God.  Why then, if God is using a pastor to slay people in the Spirit, would He then turn around and lead that same pastor to fleece the congregation of their money and fill him with arrogance? Seriously?

Generational curses. The idea of generational curses comes from Exodus 20:5 and 34:7 where God says He will punish the children for the fathers’ sins unto the fourth generation. The words are specifically directed toward the theocratic nation of Israel as a warning that the consequences of breaking God’s law will have a deep impact on future generations. Christ, who kept God’s law perfectly, has cancelled the curse of the law upon those who place their faith in Him.

Charismatics, however, have developed an entire systematic theology around the concept of generational curses, so that if you are someone who struggles with sexual sin, it isn’t really your fault as it is the fact that somewhere in a previous generation, maybe a grandfather who was involved with sexual sin in his own life, passed that curse down to his grandson. The teaching of generational curses only misdirects a person’s responsibility for their own sin and places the blame on a subjective situation: an unknown and unidentifiable ancestor.

Territorial Spirits. This is the concept taken from a misappropriation of Daniel chapter 10 and Ephesians 6, that claims demons and angels are assigned specific territories to influence. Taught by New Apostolic Reformation leader, C. Peter Wagner, and popularized in Frank Peretti’s fantasy novels, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness, in which demons are said to rule over states, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and eventually individual homes. Christians can gain the advantage over those territorial spirits by mapping out their strategies, identifying their spheres of influence, and then binding them in the name of Jesus. This article provides a brief overview of this false doctrine.

Cindy Jacobs did a series of lectures that are designed to teach people how to identify the leviathan spirit in their lives. She shared how this leviathan spirit can have a particularly heavy influence upon the spiritual lives of native tribal people today, especially if their tribal ancestors worshiped snakes or crocodiles.

Deliverance Ministries. Here is even a worst view of personal sin and sanctification than generational curses.  Two of the more notable deliverance ministries is Cleansing Streams headquartered at Church on the Way in Van Nuys, CA, and Neil Anderson’s Freedom in Christ. These ministries are designed to free Christians from the influence and power of demonic activity in their lives.

Of course, that assumes many erroneous theological talking points. Such things as Christians can apparently be possessed by demons and the majority of personal sin issues among believers are not necessarily their own sinful habits they must learn to master through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, but are caused by the direct influence of devils. Once a person identifies the devils, casts them out of his life, power to overcome addiction and other sins can be accomplished.

It is troubling to think that people are made to believe that Christians can be demon possessed. If they would only identify the demons in their lives they can bind and cast them out. Truth be told, people can’t even get their own kids to obey them, and some how they now have the authority to bind and cast out spiritual entities?  Deliverance ministries not only create a wrong perspective on the power and influence of Satan, but it cultivates an unbiblical view of man’s sin and the Christian’s sanctification.

Ironically, Scientologists have their own version of deliverance “ministries.” E-meter machines, administered by a certified and trained reader, can identify the thetans that inhabit a person’s body. Once a person identifies and removes those thetans, he goes clear and can then control his emotions.

Again, I admire the fact that Grady is willing to address those significant problems among charismatics. He is one of the extremely few voices even talking about the same alarming concerns John MacArthur and other non-charismatics have been preaching against for years. However, he needs to go deeper. If he truly desires to see charismatics jettison wacky stuff, he has to point to the terrifically bad theology that begets all that so-called bad doctrine he is addressing. Perhaps he will do just that and a true spiritual revival and return to God’s sufficient Word alone will move among charismatics.

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13 thoughts on “Grady’s Six Really Bad Charismatic Doctrines and My Five Additional Ones

  1. True story: after my wife’s second miscarriage, a guy I’d gone to college with told me the reason we were having this trouble was “because you’re under a generational curse.”

    Me: “Wait…WHAT?”

    Him: “It’s a generational curse. You need to repent of it and plead the blood of Jesus over the sins in your family’s past.”

    Me: “What on EARTH gives you this idea?”

    Him: “Oh, I just went to a conference about it. Best $200 I ever spent.” (No, REALLY.)

    Me: “Man. That’s a shame–I could’ve pointed you to the Book of Galatians FOR FREE.”

    He really went off the rails at that point. A little while later he and I stopped talking because he insisted that any criticism of Todd Bentley was completely ungodly.

  2. I grew up in the AG, went to an AG college, have a lot of AG friends and relatives who are AG ministers, and while I don’t agree with all of their positions leaning more reformed now, I do take issue with your statement that the AG: “…identify speaking in tongues with a person who receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit, typically when that individual is baptized in water. If the person doesn’t come out of the baptistery speaking in tongues, the person is not baptized in the Spirit.”

    While coming “out of the baptistery speaking in tongues” may be the expectation in some places, it is not, to my knowledge, a generalized expectation within the AG. In fact, I cannot recall ever hearing this taught in any way. In my experience,it was regular practice to baptize in water those who had not experienced the gift of tongues with no particular expectation of them receiving while under.

    Your overall tone feels a little heavy-handed, snarky, and harsh, which is reflected in the choice of a snake-handling photo to illustrate your post, as well as your attempt to connect deliverance ministries to Scientology, which is a blatant false equivalency. On the flip side, the tone of Grady’s post comes across more as a grace-filled corrective worth heeding.

  3. Thanks Stephen for the comments,
    Let me respond to a few particulars,

    It may be, as you state in your comment, that with YOUR experience you never encountered such a view of tongues connected to water baptism, but I happen to know a handful of folks who did attend Assembly churches who were taught that about tongues. However, I wrote specifically that it is typically tied to water baptism and I placed that expectation under the umbrella of charismatic/Pentecostal views of tongue speaking. Whereas some groups my practice that about water baptism and tongues, others may not.

    Also, notice that I am referring specifically to the AOG doctrinal statement on the experience of tongues, which states,

    “8. The Initial Physical Evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit

    The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance. [Acts 2:4]”

    That can be found at the AOG denominational website, http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Statement_of_Fundamental_Truths/sft_full.cfm#8

    The larger point I was noting, is the overall doctrine of the AOG (along with many other charismatic/Pentecostal groups) who believe tongues is a result of spirit baptism, which it is not at all. They erroneously equate what happened on the Day of Pentecost with the normal salvation of a Christian. They further make “baptism in the spirit” a separate, later experience from salvation, which it is not. So my point I am making here still stands and I don’t believe I have misrepresented what those groups believe about tongues even if some may tie spirit baptism as happening when the person is water baptized or not.

    As to my so-called “tone” that is determined by the reader I guess. I am not trying to placate individual sensitivities. There probably will be commenters posting here later wondering what it is you are talking about, because they do not perceive a “tone” at all.

    Regarding the snake-handling photo, snake-handling is a weird, grossly ridiculous, dangerous, and unbiblical practice that should be jettisoned from all Pentecostal churches. Note, though, that I tied the concept of snake-handling to my question of Grady if he believes those doctrines he believes must be retired are fringe, just like snake-handling is. Michael Brown, in his book Authentic Fire, claims that the criticisms John MacArthur raises against charismatics are fringe issues that the majority of charismatics rarely, if at all, encounter, just like snake-handling.

    As to the connection of the false doctrine of deliverance ministries tied to Scientology, you had better believe there is some similarities. I’d recommend doing some research on this before you renounce my comparison.

    DM: Christian struggles with sinful habits he cannot break = demonic influence
    S: People struggle with bad emotions and desires they cannot shake = thetans

    DM: Christian gains victory by learning how to identify those demonic strongholds, generally by attending conferences or participating in DM program that is led by a minister who can help you identify those demonic strongholds.
    S: People gain victory over bad emotions and desires by identifying those thetans that inhabit and influence their body by being “read” by a trained practitioner.

    DM: Once Christian identifies those demonic strongholds, they can rebuke and bind those demons from his life thus winning victory over those sinful desires and habits.
    S: Once people remove the thetans from their bodies so they are no longer influenced by them, they can gain victory over their bad emotions and desires, so becoming “clear.”

    Just so I am not being misunderstood. Am I saying deliverance ministries copy-cat Scientology or Scientology copy-cats deliverance ministries? No. But the similarities are rather profound it makes me wonder where such views originate.

  4. I love Grady’s opening line: ” I had a dramatic experience with the Holy Spirit many years ago, and nobody can talk me out of it.”

    I’ve heard that sentiment from a lit of Charismatics, but the sad reality is that the “nobody” they’re talking about often includes God himself.

    I’ve engaged several pastors on the above issues in my past and had them tell me that I had a biblical case that seemed pretty water tight, but they don’t need to change because they prayed about the issue and the Holy Spirit told them they were all right. I’d ask them how the Holy Spirit could possibly tell you to disobey the very book he wrote and they’d simply smile and plead “divine mystery” (or something similar).

  5. IT seems to me that people who believe demons rule territory or mess with your life tend to experience demons messing with their life. Whereas those who don’t believe demons mess with their life never experience demons messing with their life. Leading one to believe that the best defense against demons messing with your life is to not believe that demons mess with your life.

  6. First off great article; I married into a Pentecostal family and I’m sorry, but from what I’ve seen and heard over the last number of years, overall (and yes I’m going to generalize) Pentecostalism has to be one of the goofiest denominations out there. For the most part they are biblically illiterate with a theology based solely on emotional highs and experiences. Most are ignorant of their own history or any church history for that matter (I guess you can say that about a lot of evangelicals). Don’t even try to dismantle their theological sacred cows, like speaking in tongues, especially from scripture. If it doesn’t fit within experiential charismatic narrative forget it, “Better felt than telt” I once heard say, incredible. Essentially their motto should be “My mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with the facts”. What bothers me the most, is how completely silent they are when it comes to questioning anything that comes out of mouths of their leaders. All you have to do is claim to be a Christian leader and your “anointed” not to be questioned. If I sound frustrated I am; I think the gloves have to come off when it comes to these guys. The apostles wouldn’t put up with the shenanigans coming from people who claim to be believers and neither should we. Thank God for Pastors like John McArthur and Justin Peters.

  7. I’ll add to the “generation curse” part a corollary to the “deliverance” part: Christians can’t be cursed; whom would they be cursed by?

    I’ll add another dangerous doctrine: That the Cross provides temporal physical healing. It lowers the real value of atonement.

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  9. I came out of (no, I ran and never looked back with one single regret) a church where all of this mayhem is considered truth…..where Charisma Magazine now has more authority than our Bibles.

    I could write a book here, but will shorten it to a few lines. Having been caught up in this blasphemous movement and subscribing to the tenants of Lee Grady and his online magazine, I will say this concerning his ways…”Lee Grady at best is wishy washy, and at his worst he is wishy washy.”

    Some would call this a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and I completely would agree.

  10. I want to offer a comment on speaking in tongues.

    It is clear that speaking in tongues is the cornerstone of pentecostal and charismatic doctrine. They believe that the miraculous sign gifts are available for christians today, and this is proven by the fact that people speak in tongues – a prima facie example of something miraculous. This view began at Topeka with Charles Parham, moved to Azusa Street with William Seymour, was adopted by all the pentecostal denominations that sprung up in the aftermath, and then entered the older denominations through Dennis Bennett in Van Nuys.

    BUT – and it’s a very big but – there’s an underlying assumption in that view, namely that speaking in tongues (as practiced by charismatics and pentecostals) is indeed something miraculous. That assumption, in my view, is totally wrong. Tongues today are (1) do not meet the Biblical definition (2) have been shown to be psychological in origin – not miraculous – and (3) are not unique to christians – loads of non-christians religions speak in tongues as well, in identical manner to christians. With that cornerstone removed, the pentecostal and charismatic movements do not have a foundation. And the only way I describe them is the world’s biggest con trick, taking in something like 500 million people.

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