Holy Fraud

miraclesarerealSo I had a critic link me to some web forum comments he made against my posts I’ve been writing exposing the spiritual shamanism of continuationism. I wanted to offer up some responses to various, selected thoughts.

My challenger writes,

Fraud predominates in continuationism, yet Pentecostalism testifies overall being among most committed to holiness and basic doctrines and evangelicalism…

I am glad that my anonymous reviewer begrudgingly acknowledges my thesis. I can understand how awkward it can be to favor a particular theological tradition, yet have to embarrassingly admit that position is for the most part, whacked.

It’s like that one cousin who is just a “hold my beer,” fireworks and gasoline propelled dirt bike stunt away from receiving a Darwin award. “You mean that guy who almost burned his house down with the lighter fluid and the pumpkins? Yeah, he’s my cousin.” The same is with continuationists. “Oh yeah, I believe God does spectacular signs and wonders all the time. Oh, but I don’t believe Christians take trips to heaven or see gianormous angels. That’s the crazy continuationists!”

flamegunMoving along,

…and are more unified in basic beliefs than basically cessationist denominations, and in which liberalism and “sterility” is more likely to be the reality.

I have to wonder what basic beliefs continuationists – in the case provided, Pentecostals – are all essentially unified around? You have all sorts of stripes and flavors of Pentecostals, Assembly of God’s, and other Holiness style groups. If what is meant is that they all affirm Jesus as savior, sure, they are unified. But they are just as equally unified around the idea of the Holy Spirit manifesting unusual paranormal phenomena. Would my antagonist not agree to that? The very name PENTECOSTAL implies the adherents would believe such things.

The rampant fraud in continuationism is inexcusable, as is the liberalism and overall spiritual deadness among those who claim to be Protestant and deny the perpetuity of personal supernatural gifts…

Ah yes, the old “Protestant worship is nothing but boring, dead orthodoxy” argument. Michael Brown threw out this cliche all throughout his Authentic Fire book. He’d write how he would much rather attend a service with pew jumping, running around the building, chandelier-swinging worshipers, than a stuffy, reading from a hymnal, standing still worship service.

Sober-minded worship is hardly a sign of “dead orthodoxy.” When a church sings out hymns that tell of the glory and power of the awesome God we serve, that is true worship in my mind. The running around the building and swinging from the chandelier service is not spirit-filled, but utter flesh-driven foolishness that mocks Christ.

Moving along,

Missing between the extremes is an objective examination of the issue of whether personal supernatural gifts are available today, which I believe Scripture supports, but not the aberrations.

The word “supernatural” has to be defined. I, as a non-continuationist, believe in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. Of course I define the concept of “supernatural” and identify spiritual gifts much differently than continuationists. For instance, I believe teachers, preachers, evangelists would be spiritual gifts to the church (Eph.4:8-12), as well as individuals who are blessed financially and are moved to give generously to God’s people (Rom.12:6-16). And certainly, eternal salvation is God’s ultimate gift (Rom.6:23).

Continuationists dismissively wave off my definition of supernatural. Those examples are the non-spectacular kind of gifts and don’t really count.

But honest question here: How exactly would the aberrations my contender notes be identified from the genuine Holy Spirit given signs and wonders gifts?

What is often the norm witnessed and observed among continuationists would never qualify as the supernatural gifts defined in the New Testament. Tongues are wild, cacophonous free for alls, so-called healings are extremely questionable, even outright lame, and the amazing urban legend like stories that often abound among the congregations are unverifiable hearsay. The same goes for stuff Keener supposedly documents in his two big volumes on miracles.

Moving along,

What is needed is more genuine evidences of the resurrection power of Christ, not only in the profound transformative effects of true regeneration, but in other miracles (which have strong testimonies thanks to be God), including via personal spiritual gifts.

Yes. Those two evidences would certainly help the cause of the continuationist claims of extraordinary supernatural gifts in the church. In fact, seeing that the marks of true regeneration are tragically absent in the personal character of  many of the continuationist preachers that dominate the internet and “Christian” TV, I would think that would be the priority.

But as I have written elsewhere, continuationists also have a signs and wonders problem. I don’t consider neck pain, bad backs, and ankle strengthening to be rather spectacular. Restoring the scarred flesh of an Iraqi war veteran’s severely burned arms or a paraplegic’s severed spine to full functionality like Jesus and the apostles did, however, is a radically different story.

My challenger then provided a series of statistics believed to be positive for continuationists. Allow me to respond to a select few,

Only 10 percent of adults in Pentecostal churches do not identify as born-again or evangelical.http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/may/pew-evangelicals-stay-strong-us-religious-landscape-study.html 

I am not entirely sure why that is important to the case of solid Pentecostals. If a person reads the linked article, he will see that the general thrust was a positive report on evangelicals in general. Evangelicals, unlike mainstream, more liberal denominations, are not hemorrhaging members, and in fact are gaining in numbers. That was an odd mention of a statistic for his argument.

73% (highest) of Pentecostal/Foursquare believers strongly affirm that Christ was sinless on earth, with CatholicsLutherans and Methodists being tied at 33%, and the lowest being among Episcopalians with just 28% 

So… what exactly? I imagine we could poll a whole lot of the same Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists, and they’d affirm the Trinity, or even the Resurrection.

What that statistic doesn’t tell us is that those same 73% of Pentecostals will also more than likely affirm the false doctrines of “sinless perfection” or “entire sanctification,” the idea that Christians can be fully sinless here on earth, and that a newly baptized believer will speak in tongues. Both of those teachings are erroneous and have messed up the lives of countless believers who have appropriated them for their lives.

Bible Reading: the highest was 75%, by those going to a Pentecostal/Foursquare church who reported they had read the Bible during the past week (besides at church), while the lowest was among Catholics at 23% – http://www.science20.com/print/972444

Again: so, what? It is one thing to read the Bible. It is entirely another thing to understand it, believe it, interpret it properly, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, apply the theology and doctrine to one’s life. Pentecostals may read the Bible a lot, but that doesn’t mean anything if what is found in the Bible has no profound or lasting impact on people’s lives. It is my experience that those same Pentecostals, even though they may read the Bible more than those Catholics, have about the same level of depth in understanding the Bible as those same Catholics. Simply put, there is a reason why continuationist/charismatic/Pentecostal churches are scandal plagued.

shallowdiving

16% of the country’s white Protestant congregations are Pentecostal, compared to 65% of the Protestant churches dominated by African-Americans [black churches make up about 6% of evangelicals].

I don’t necessarily see that 65% of African-American churches are Pentecostal as a good thing. The reason I say that, and at risk of being swarmed by BLM sympathizers, is the terrible dysfunction found in the black community. Those same Pentecostal African-Americans swear allegiance to a political party that stands vehemently opposed to the holiness their Pentecostal denomination allegedly teaches. You cannot possibly claim to be a person committed to holiness and reading the Bible and remain beholden to a political party that openly advocates wicked sin like abortion, the most of which take place in African-American communities.

76% say they have experienced or witnessed a divine healing, and 70% of those from the Global South say they have witnessed the devil or evil spirits being driven out.

Okay. Let us say 76% have experienced or witnessed a divine healing and another 70% witnessed exorcisms of some sort. Going back to a few things my antagonist acknowledged, if fraud is rampant among Pentecostals, how exactly do we determine if those are fraudulent accounts or genuine? That 76% is a rather impressively large figure, but if what is being affirmed is that fraud is rampant among Pentecostals, even my challenger would have to say that figure is a bit skewed, maybe even wildly exaggerated.

But that leads me to a larger question. Going back to the opening statement, if rampant fraud predominates continuationism, how can they be committed to holiness? The very fact that continuationist are willing to perpetrate fraud from the pulpits and believe the fraud while sitting in the pews, strikes at the heart of what it means to be holy.

If there truly was a commitment to holiness among Pentecostals, charismatics, and the wide tent of continuationism, self-appointed con artist prophets and preachers would not be prowling the earth promoting their spiritual fraud and devouring men’s souls, and the congregations would not be willingly lapping up the spiritual fraud that is fed to them.

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10 thoughts on “Holy Fraud

  1. I have zero respect for this sort of writing. Regardless of the subject matter, articles in this format are like watching someone beat up a victim in a wheelchair. You take brief, cherry-picked excerpts from your opponents, out of context by definition, put them on display like captured missionaries lashed to a stake, and dance around them jabbing at the air like Muhhamad Ali, shouting “I am the greatest!” Such a disgusting display of straw-manning. At least we know what to buy for your birthday: one of those inflatable boxing boxing opponents that just keeps popping back up after each of your haymakers. You can get in a room with it and pretend you’re having a real cage fight.

  2. Okay Eric, please explain how exactly I “cherry-picked”? I linked to his comments he provided, and I pulled large selections and responded. My opponent specifically left a comment under a post I wrote saying he had responded over at a forum where he frequents. How would you have wanted me to respond? Ignoring him? Just thanking the guy?
    Furthermore, if you go read the entire forum thread where those original comments are found, you will also find other individuals taking great umbrage at what I had previously wrote on the topic amening the comments he made about me. How would you wanted me to respond? Ignore them? Thank them for their comments and just leave it?

    Your comment here is a tad disingenuous, because you seem to be under the impression that I just went looking for those comments. But truth be told, they came looking for me. I can only assume if the person goes out of his way to come to my blog, read my articles, AND THEN goes to a forum I do not participate on at all, and honestly did not know existed, UNTIL he comes back to my blog and links me to some critical remarks he made of me on that forum. I took all of that to mean he wanted me reaction, so I provided it with this post.

  3. “The running around the building and swinging from the chandelier service is not spirit-filled, but utter flesh-driven foolishness that mocks Christ.”
    Absolutely spot-on correct. Because when Jesus Himself walked this earth, His presence filled His disciples with such spirit that they were slain in the spirit, writhed on the ground growling, had fits of holy laughter, ran around the temple, jumped the benches, uhhh, NOT! The ones who writhed on the ground, frothed at the mouth, cried out with another voice, had superhuman strength to break all shackles put on them, were possessed by demons. Jesus cast out the demons and set those souls in bondage free, so they could sit quietly at His feet, in their right mind, listening to His words. Kinda like a stuffy, dead, orthodox Protestant worship service? :)

  4. “What is needed is more genuine evidences of the resurrection power of Christ, not only in the profound transformative effects of true regeneration, but in other miracles (which have strong testimonies thanks to be God), including via personal spiritual gifts”

    “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away. (Matthew 16:4)

    ’nuff said.

  5. they were slain in the spirit, writhed on the ground growling, had fits of holy laughter, ran around the temple, jumped the benches …

    I think all would agree that this kind of nonsense did not happen in the early church. When this happens today, this is in no sense a ‘continuation’ of NT practice.

    We would also all agree that Jesus himself warned against false prophets, miracle and deliverance ‘ministries’. So it is no surprise if we see these, but they are not believers who do them.

    We would also all agree that gifts can be misused by immature Christians, and the over-use of ‘tongues’ at Corinth being the most obvious example: Paul wanted it used privately rather than publically unless interpreted. This kind of disorder does not mean the congregation is actually made up of counterfeit Christians. It doesn’t mean real believers cannot make mistakes.

    You then come down to the question whether the right use of the spiritual gifts has continued if we ask for them. This is where I disagree with strict cessationalists. Primarily because I don’t the NT writers specifically stating this – on the contrary, the Holy Spirit has been poured out for the whole of the last days.

    Fred, you keep talking about spectacular miracles and signs. Spiritual gifts are supernatural in the sense they are not natural talents being used in the service of God, but their manifestation is ‘ordinary’.

    What about prophecy being a word that upbuilds or consoles? A word from the Lord that brings very real comfort to a woman who has just experienced a miscarriage, or a word bringing encouragement over an issue that the person giving the word could not have known? I’m speaking from experience here.

    What about words of knowledge. Not my particular gift, but I’ve enough personal experience of it to know it is genuine, a tool of the trade in building the church and unmasking seriously unholy things in people’s lives that otherwise would remain unknown, enabling them to deceive those around them.

    If you don’t ask for the Holy Spirit and gifts he may bestow, you won’t receive them, and in this regard cessationalism is self-fulfilling. The demand for spectacular signs would rule out Jesus himself if they had been made in the cancer ward of Nazareth General Hospital. Why? Unbelief.

    I have in my time Fred been disillusioned with evangelicalism (dead orthodoxy), and strongly anti-charismatic (I know you can get your fingers burnt here), but as I have got older I fear the Lord more, and what Jesus himself said in Luke 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” has made much more cautious about dismissing my own and the experience of others. God has given us his word if we ask for the Spirit, we will not be given something counterfeit.

  6. Pingback: The Daily Discovery (May 4, 2016) - Entreating Favor

  7. “Only 10 percent of adults in Pentecostal churches do not identify as born-again or evangelical”

    ….and? From the same article, 23% of Mormons do identify as born-again or evangelical. Who cares? If they were, they would repent, leave their cult, and join a church. Anybody can say he’s born again. But some things necessarily flow from our new nature, and the complete absence of them shows the born again claim to be a lie.

    Similarly, it means nothing whatsoever that 80-some per cent of pentecostals claim to be born again. Many of them go to Trinity-denying oneness churches. The vast majority are fed a defective prosperity gospel, supported by fraudulent signs. That so many of them claim to be born again yet continue in sinful rebellion is not evidence of actual regeneration but of mass deception.

    Actually, that stat makes articles like this and the Strange Fire series so necessary. There are millions of people in these churches who claim to be born again, who genuinely believe they are God’s children and will receive nothing but His blessing, but who have never even heard the actual gospel and remain under His wrath. Mass delusion is hardly worthy of celebration.

  8. trogdor – The vast majority are fed a defective prosperity gospel, supported by fraudulent signs

    Maybe it would be more accurate to say this sentence applies to American pentecostals.

    Living on the other side of the Pond, it has long occurred to me that the prosperity gospel is in reality almost nothing to do with the NT, but is the American Dream dressed up as Christianity. Of course it has been spread around the world, but certainly in the UK it has never really taken root, being culturally foreign. The mentality behind this ‘gospel’, being the culture in which American Christians find themselves, is very much not limited to the pentecostal and charismatic streams. The mega-church mentality belongs here as well. Vast churches that resemble secular corporate culture – Willow Creek being an obvious example, and again exported around the world.

    This means in discussing the continuation or otherwise of the gifts of the Spirit, we need to leave the gospel-as-material-advantage out of account. There is a very real danger of taking our eyes off the apostle Paul and placing them on the antics of Benny Hinn & Co Ltd.

    I would also say going by my own experience that ‘unchurching’ vast numbers of professed believers because you disagree with them about this particular subject is a bit uncharitable. My own involvement with things charismatic (receiving the Spirit and therefore his gifts) began 42 years ago last Friday! I got involved because these Christians were the ones taking the bible seriously, they believed it was for today, and as far as it goes (I’ve learnt a lot in the meantime!), they were right. They were rooted in local churches, not big meetings with Celebrity Speakers.

    There is a complementarian relationship here. Where the bible is accepted as the rule of faith, charismatics badly need the evangelical emphasis on scripture, and evangelicals badly need freeing from the fear of any spiritual experience at all, the tendency to view God as a doctrine rather than a person, if you know what I mean.

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