Continuationism is not a non-essential doctrinal issue [3]

babypreacherI’ve been laying out my case as to how I believe continuationism is not a non-essential, second-tier doctrinal issue.

As I explained in two previous posts on this subject, see HERE and HERE, continuationism is a disastrous doctrine both in the church and with individuals because it has massive influence upon the way people think about God and practice their Christianity. The majority of the time, their faith and practice is sub-biblical, if at all, and out right frightening and pagan.

In the first post, I explained how that if the Holy Spirit is manifesting Himself among the continuationist believers he will not lead continuationist pastors and their people to embrace theological heresy. With the second post, I pointed out how numerous continuatiionist leaders, preachers, and conference speakers are known for telling grandiose, urban legend-like stories about spiritual encounters they allegedly had with God, angels, traveling to heaven, healing people, and other tales of fantastic spiritual adventure. As remarkable as they may be, those tales are never truly verifiable and the only conclusion one can draw is that the person telling it is lying.

I wanted to end my overview with considering a third area that I believe demonstrates that continuationism is not just a harmless and acceptable secondary, non-essential doctrinal issue.

Disturbing manifestations and bizarre worship practices

etterMy mother’s side of my family was raised in rural Arkansas. They had first-hand experience with the classic Pentecostal church.

I remember the stories my aunts and uncles told me about their visits with Pentecostals. My grandmother, for instance, remembered well Maria Buela Woodworth-Etter, who was a traveling Pentecostal evangelist lady. Maria was a pioneer in shaping a lot of the spiritual chicanery that is passed off as Holy Ghost anointing we see so much of on TBN and in other charismatic venues.

My relatives were spooked by what they had seen with Pentecostals. One aunt told me how she had been invited by a friend to a local “revival” service when she was a teen. After a lengthy singing time and a guy yelling at people for an hour, the service climaxed with the entire group screeching, hollering, rolling on the ground, doing the tongue babbling thing (my aunt’s description), and eventually pouring out into the field where everyone was rolling and barking like animals. The scene, as she described it, “scared her slap to death.” I’d be scared, too.

She was told that the nightmare clown show she witnessed was what really happens when “God’s Spirit moves on the people!”

Outlandish manifestations are ubiquitous among continuationist churches. All a person has to do to see what I mean is search Youtube, and in a matter of a few clicks, you will see videos of continuationists gone wild; or mad, depending upon how you think about it.

What I find to be truly troubling about those scenes is that continuationists will insist it is a genuine move of the Spirit. Moreover, if anyone were to offer criticism or challenge the biblical precedent for such behavior, that person is waved off as quenching the Spirit or some such nonsense. Yet that criticism is well earned. Why should people believe such oddball happenings are God moving? Why would the Holy Spirit lead Christians to behave in such an embarrassing, degrading fashion? How exactly does that behavior testify to God’s anointing or His presence?

For instance, why is a woman violently shaking her head as she allegedly “prophesies” said to be “filled with the Spirit” or have “the anointing?”

Seriously, why is that even Christian? Especially given the fact that genuine works of the Spirit include sobriety and self-control?  Yet such manifestations are witnessed in continuationist services all over the place. You can see further examples of what I mean HERE 

What about worship services themselves? Many times the behavior displayed is indistinguishable from pagan occultism. Consider an example from Perry Stone’s, Omega Center International church in Cleveland (look at the landing page when you hit their website! You tell me: Worship service or Coachella rock concert?) I won’t embed the video, but you can watch HERE.

The video shows a crude mock-up of the Ark of the Covenant that has been constructed and is brought into the worship center where members begin gyrating and bouncing around it as if at a pagan feast. The troubling aspect to that entire spectacle is how the church members carry on as if their participation flitting around a cheap idol is completely acceptable to God. And the leadership encourages it!

Now I’d imagine that they would justify their idol worship by saying the Israelites danced before the ark. But must we point out the obvious that a lame replica is not the same as the real thing? And the folks at OCI are not Israelites in the wilderness.

What about the so-called baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues? Throughout church history, “tongue speaking” has accompanied the rising of nearly every fringe, heterodox splinter group and pseudo-Christian cult that has reared its ugly head. The sensible Christians recognized the babblings of “tongues” as an indicator that the folks were wackos, so such groups like the Montanists, Shakers, and Mormons, were always marked out and avoided.

However, con-artist revivalist preacher, Charles Parham, mainstreamed tongues among early, 20th century Pentecostals. Originally, it was believed those speaking in “tongues” were speaking real, genuine human languages, like Japanese, or Spanish, or Canadian. But when folks began to realize there was nothing supernatural whatsoever with their tongues, and that they were speaking nonsensical gibberish, tongue speaking enthusiasts did what the homosexual revisionist do now with the Bible to make it confirm sodomy: they changed the definition of words and verses. So the word “tongues,” which was understood as meaning human languages, was redefined to meaning ecstatic speech, or Holy Spirit anointed repetitive gibberish.

Continuationists insist the gift of tongues must be practiced according to the regulations Paul outlines in 1 Corinthians 14, but rarely, if at all, does any practicing tongue speaker abide by those rules as witnessed in this video HERE, and HERE (fast forward to about the 1:30 mark), and HERE.

The most disturbing element to the bizarre behavior found in continuationist circles is what I would bluntly label the spiritual abuse of children. Kids, as young as 2 years old, are regularly encouraged to repeat and mimic the euphoric buffoonery they witness from adults.

One of the more notorious is Kanon Tipton, the original baby preacher. You can see him in his inaugural video here,

Now I don’t know about other parents out there, but if my toddler was to waddle up on the platform during a church service, pick up a live microphone, and start shouting incomprehensible baby talk, I would sheepishly say “sorry” to all present and hurry to seize him before he damaged the sound system. It is only in the halls of a continuationist church that a 2 year old is elevated and enshrined as the “world’s youngest preacher” who has the “anointing of God” all over him. HERE is another video when he is 5 years old. His little cartoon Bible case is just precious, right?

And that Kanon kid isn’t a rare exception. Search Youtube and you can find dozens of little kid preaching videos originating from Assembly of God, Pentecostal, and other continuationist churches.

But child spiritual abuse doesn’t end there. The real bad stuff can be seen in this video HERE as well as in this one HERE. If you really want to see wild continuationist youth, do a search on Bethel Redding, but I digress.

Three things struck me after watching those. First, it is just creepy how the adults are psychologically conditioning those kids to react to any verbal cues or behaviors from the adults leading a crusade. Secondly, that if what those videos show is a common occurrence among continuationist churches, the falling over, seizure fits, and gibberish are all learned. In other words, they are not spontaneous works of the Holy Spirit. And third, it looks as though churches from all over the world train their kids in such a manner. Churches from anywhere like India, to Latin America, and Africa bring their little kids together and teach them how to be a charismatic. It is not strictly an American phenomenon as a commenter suggested under one of my other posts in this series.

Drawing this all to a conclusion, after surveying my examples, I hope folks can see why I don’t believe continuationist ideas is a non-essential issue that we can debate vigorously with each other, but shouldn’t divide over. All of those astonishing examples are not found in a smattering of continuationist churches that remain in relative obscurity off a beaten path. They represent a grotesque spirituality that is endemic to the entire global community of those praciticing continuationist theology.

4 thoughts on “Continuationism is not a non-essential doctrinal issue [3]

  1. Fred, I appreciate your allowing differing opinions to be expressed on this topic, even by people on the other side of the Pond!

    The ‘continuation’ you talk about here is directly from the NT itself: ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

    And I love the colourful description of them: looking after themselves; waterless clouds, carried along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever.

    This is one issue, and one on which I reckon we would be in agreement.

    The gift and gifts of the Spirit is separate from this, and one where we would probably not agree, but the discussion would involve having a bible open.

    This of course is not academic. My eldest goes to a Calvary Chapel, where everything is bilingual English and German. I’ve seen enough duff stuff to be concerned that the church isn’t into anything weird and unbiblical (Ed is not uniquely qualified in this regard), but it seems to be more or less in line with the charismatic emphasis I used to know. Where, I might add, tongues was restricted and always interpreted!

    We did attend a more overtly charismatic church a while back, at the limit of what I can still cope with, but when a visiting preacher from N America started talking about the latter rain, that was it. I doubt if they took him in so he could continue his ‘ministry‘ there, but we didn’t stay around to find out. We’ve wised up to these ‘ministers’ who actually want a year’s paid holiday in Europe at the expense of Christians who open up their homes to them.

    I remember a charismatic celebration meeting once where Crown him with Many Crowns was sung with great gusto and enthusiasm. Another one where somebody spontaneously started Praise my Soul the King of Heaven, unaccompanied and it was amazing how you remembered all the words as you went along. And what words! This was after the main event, which was a bible study.

    Now that is not on the same planet as a Benny Hinn meeting!

  2. Pingback: Articles on Cessationism, Continuationism, and Spiritual Gifts | hipandthigh

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