Thursday, April 29, 2010

From the Chan "taking a step of faith" meta

I wanted to lift out comment #127 from the meta to the post on Francis Chan's written letter about his decision to walk away from his church in response to what he described as God "calling us to take a step of faith."

The author doesn't have a profile, and we'd welcome more information. He (she?) claims to hail from somewhere to the far west. Nor does he (she?) come from exactly the same doctrinal place as I, it appears. So the value is in the thoughts expressed, the personal perspective of what it is to live under the tyranny of the Charismatic model, and how great it is to enjoy Biblical freedom.

I didn't want you to miss it.

Pentecostal Refugee
said...

G’day from across the Pacific! I’m probably a couple of days late but we suffer from delayed reaction here because of our time difference. Nonetheless it has been delicious reading this thread. Usually, this type of critique comes from anti-charismatics and cessationists, but as a continuist and post-Pentecostal may I say that I couldn’t agree more with DJP.

‘Extra biblical revelation’, GTMS (God Told Me Syndrome) or the more pacifying labels of ‘promptings’ and ‘impressions’ are fraught with dangers. Whichever way you slice it, the clincher is this: How do you test it? ANSWER: You can’t!!!

Especially on matters where the Bible is silent, how do you assess the validity of someone saying, ‘God told me to buy a house in this neighborhood’ or ‘the Lord told me to start a paper run as an outreach ministry’? There are no legitimate grounds on which to qualify such statements.

So if you can’t test it what are you left with? The subjective interpretation of the individual. Great! What a fantastic assurance, now we can all sleep better at night.

What a miserable, emotionally torturous and dangerous way to live your life! The best kept secret as the antidote to this disease is hidden in one of DJP’s earlier posts in this thread (as much as it pains me to agree with a Calvinist in public!)

DJP said: Adam was free to choose what, when, where, and how much, all equally to God's glory and with His blessing.

On matters where the Bible is silent, we are free to exercise our Christian liberty and our conscience to decide. We have been granted far more freedom than we realize. To quote Greg Johnson (St. Louis Center for Christian Study) …to bind the conscience where Scripture leaves freedom is a very, very serious crime.

As a Pentecostal refugee I am now free from the tyranny of having to ‘have a word from God’ on every decision I made. I can now breathe in the oxygen of Christian liberty given to me in Christ and rely on God’s guidance through Scripture and his overall providence in matters of daily life. I am not guilty for not obeying a ‘prompting’ or ‘leading’ that I can’t verify it’s true. Anything outside the Scriptures is not binding to me. The Pentecostal/charismatic movement is one of the most guilt inducing, burdensome and theologically anemic expressions of modern Christianity. Pentecostals are probably allergic to this blog, but for any drive-by’s, take heed.

Finally, I think the broader problem here is the ‘model’ of charismatically oriented ministry (thank you Mr Finney). I don’t know enough about (Jackie) Francis Chan whether he is a fully fledged charismatic or not, but he certainly thinks and talks like one.

This is a model where the leader’s respect is shaped by his mystical spirituality. Their na├»ve followers have been conditioned to expect the leader to make regular announcements of mystical revelation. So, if in the ordinary course of business one decides to move house, he has to throw God in the mix otherwise he could be seen as ‘acting in the flesh’!

If you’ve being investing in such a model, these are the dividends it pays you. Or as a wise man said ‘if you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas’.

47 comments:

Brad Williams said...

Well, that was probably the best comment ever. And it apparently came from an arminian continuist. How about that?

Lynda O said...

Thanks for bringing this out from the comments.

Quote: "The Pentecostal /charismatic movement is one of the most guilt inducing, burdensome and theologically anemic expressions of modern Christianity. Pentecostals are probably allergic to this blog, but for any drive-by’s, take heed."

Good, strong words. It reminds me of something John MacArthur mentioned in an interview -- he had been meeting with a group of young people who had come to his church from a nearby Pentecostal church. The reason they gave for leaving the Pentecostal / charismatic church: they could no longer live under the sovereignty of Satan.

NoLongerBlind said...

Wow!

That is a spot-on comment!

I'm curious as to the theological-underpinnings of this individual.

Perhaps one of the so-called Reformed Charismatics, along the lines of CJ Mahaney and friends, of the Sovereign Grace Ministries church-planting folks....



(been quite a while since I was first in line!!!)

(o;

Stan McCullars said...

Great comment!!!

NoLongerBlind said...

Hah!

And I thought I was first!

Grampa-Dan is just a little slow on the moderator-approval button....

DJP said...

You know, there are odd moments here and there when I'm not at a pc hitting refresh, refresh, refresh.

(c;

(Actually, I approved your message with my iPhone while on a walk! So... okay, obsessive.)

ethanasmith said...

While I thought the comment was thoughtful for the most part and worthy of the discussion, this part bothered me:

I don’t know enough about (Jackie) Francis Chan whether he is a fully fledged charismatic or not, but he certainly thinks and talks like one.

1. Only God can judge our thoughts. This is just ridiculous to say Chan thinks like a charismatic. There's no way the commenter knows how anyone thinks, save himself. Not only that, but this commenter knows virtually nothing about Chan. He even questions whether Chan is a she.

2. Having listened to many, many sermons by Chan, he has never talked like the person that this commenter is describing. Chan has always been open and honest with his congregation, and it's pure speculation to say Chan has "naive followers".

With that said, I am not condoning the language Chan used. However, even if Chan had "charismatic undertones" (of which there is very little evidence that I know of), there are many in the Reformed camp that would sympathize with this, e.g. CJ Mahaney. Just like there are many in the Reformed camp that sympathize with the Anabaptist movement. I don't agree with either, but I still wouldn't call their followers "naive".

Stefan said...

Oh, what a breath of fresh air! And from a continuationist—sweet blessing!

After my reply to Mike R. elsewhere yesterday that Emergentism is not a dead horse, I tuned into the one Christian talk show I used to watch, but stopped watching about three years ago.

It's a daily hour-long interview with a book author, usually stretched over several days. The show is fairly erudite and sober-minded compared to a lot of other stuff that passes for Christian TV, but there is a preponderance of parachurch types, varying stripes of charismatics, self-help authors, etc.

Last night's interview was with a pastor from my own neck of the woods, who's written a whole series of books on discerning God's word to us—and no mention of the Gospel, and completely twisted the meaning and context of the Beatitudes on the Sermon on the Mount. (By the way, is it a common device to rip Habakkuk 2:3 out of context?)

The thing is, here was a decent, middle-of-the-road evangelical believer on a decent, middle-of-the-road evangelical talk show, talking about listening for God's word...with his decent, middle-of-the-road host agreeing with him even as he confessed his not hearing words from God (and they were talking about audible words), as if the tens of thousands of words in the 66 books of Special Revelation are not enough for us!

I thought of the many earnest believers in Christ who are "Spirit-led," and for a moment, I caught myself wondering, is there really something to it after all?

And then I remembered that we are all indeed Spirit-led and Spirit-filled, grounded in God's sole infallible, inerrant, revealed Word to us, the pages of Holy Scripture.

DJP said...

EthanHe even questions whether Chan is a she.

Where?

You're absolutely right that none knows another's thoughts until that person reveals them. I believe PR was referring to the thinking Chan revealed in his letter, which would have been right at home in any Charismatic, Pentecostal meeting.

ethanasmith said...

DJP,

Sorry! When I was reading back through, I mixed up your comments with the commenter's! My apologies!

DJP said...

I get you. Yeah, I'm just saying I don't know the commenter's sex.

Stefan said...

And per the original commentor, is this really yet another thing that goes back to Finney?

We should have stopped after the First Great Awakening.

Andrew said...

Great comment, thanks for putting it under the spotlight Dan. The quote I found most searching was:

I don’t know enough about (Jackie) Francis Chan whether he is a fully fledged charismatic or not, but he certainly thinks and talks like one [Please note italics! I hope...]

For me it demands rigorous thinking and speaking on the part of those of us who are not Charismatics to be sure that we don't allow rhetoric or jargon which is the opposite of how we actually conceive of God's action and direction in our lives.

This whole theme is still proving to be a rich seam of thought for me and my family at the moment. Thanks for making me think more on this.

DJP said...

It's a never-ceasing source of indigestion how the exact same thing that edifies and encourages one, makes another madder than a wet cat.

Jason Woelm said...

Best...comment...ever. Praise be to God that a continuationist gets it! I'm so glad that Christ saved me from that context.

Everyday Mommy© said...

Utterly refreshing. And, hey Dan...can you recommend a book which addresses the role and function of the Holy Spirit with a Reformed perspective? Thanks!

Stefan said...

Yes!

Excellent question, Jules!

DJP said...

Yes, I can.




Wait for it.



My unpublished book on the Holy Spirit's person, work and gifts.

So maybe after I get my two contracted books published, if I can take about 500 hours to update my references and reading....

VcdeChagn said...

Thanks for getting me to go back and finish the Meta (I had read the first 75 or so comments).

This meta is great as some of our closest friends were in the Pentacostal church for years. Going to send it their way for sure.

Stefan said...

Do you mean to say that you have actually written such a manuscript?

A really solid book that exalts the person and work of the Holy Spirit from a reformed perspective would be a real gift to the Church.

Andrew Faris said...

Mostly in agreement here, even as a charismatic. I do believe that God can and does subjectively lead us, but I also have seen cases where people either purposefully abuse that or are simply wrong about God's leading.

I will say that I think s/he's somewhat wrong about the inability to test. Two qualifications: (1) is it wise (so in the house-buying example, this would usually be a huge one), and (2) is the person genuinely godly. Now that is quite testable (just ask John the Apostle- or more simply, read his letter about it).

If the case still isn't testable, then the decision probably is unimportant enough to where we don't have to worry about it. Still, the commenter has a lot of wisdom to offer on this.

One more thing: DJP specifically said that Chan was a test case/jumping off point. I would like to make a point of saying that whatever else there is to say about him, Chan is dead-set on being a Biblical guy in his preaching and leading. There's simply no doubting that when you listen to his sermons and see how he lives. He got going on his quest to give as much as he could to needy people because of his Bible reading- not because God told him extrabiblically to do so. So let's be careful to not trash his whole ministry based on this recent thing that I recognize many disagree with.

Andrew Faris
Christians in Context

Tom Chantry said...

I can't believe I have to write this, but Jackie Chan...is a dude. Kind of a manly dude at that. The joke is about having the same last name.

See, I got it because when I was teaching Shanghai Noon had just come out and all the kids wanted to call me Mr. Jackie Chan-try

jmb said...

Everyday Mommy© - I recommend "The Mystery Of The Holy Spirit," by R.C. Sproul.

Mesa Mike said...

Of course it's possible test subjective "leadings." All you gotta do is put out a fleece and see if it's wet in the morning...

DJP said...

...which they never, ever literally do.

Barbara said...

Andrew..

I am so proud of you!

*wipes a single tear*

;)

Stefan said...

Sproul's work aside (thanks, JMB), pneumatology seems to be the neglected ugly duckling of reformed theology.

What I mean to say that there are scads of books, papers, articles, etc. on soteriology, ecclesiology, eschatology, baptism, PSA, complementarianism, teleology, the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, etc., etc., etc., but comparatively little is written or taught on the Holy Spirit (even though He works in a lot of these areas!).

Is it possible that the lack of a clear articulation of pneumatology from a reformed perspective is what has helped to create the void that charismaticism has rushed in to fill?

DJP said...

I'm not sure how true or fair that is, Stefan, though there's no doubt error always steps in to fill lacks of truth.

Owen wrote a book on the Spirit, though I'm not as impressed by it as others are. So did Kuyper - ditto. He's discussed in theologies and as parts of books.

But isn't there something to His mystery? Isn't it by design? I argued that He's like a really good MC, not training the spotlight on Himself, but on Christ. I can't think that a movement that styles itself as being all about Him is actually pleasing to Him, since He's all about Christ.

Stefan said...

Dan:

Good points.

And we do know a lot of the Holy Spirit, since His tangible work is all around us, in a way that is more immediately perceptible to us than that of the Father or the Son:

* In His authorship and illumination of Scripture;
* In the gathering together of believers in the Church;
* In the proclamation and hearing of the Word of God;
* In the fulfilling of the Great Commission;
* In the testimonies of those who have come to saving faith in Jesus Christ;
* In our prayers.

And in all these things, it is as you say: the Holy Spirit is actively at work, to glorify Jesus Christ, and the Father through the Son.

lee n. field said...

"Sproul's work aside (thanks, JMB), pneumatology seems to be the neglected ugly duckling of reformed theology."

There's a talk by Rev. Danny Hyde I'm trying to find on "Pentecost Christians in an Age of Pentecostalism" that addresses this.

If I understand it, classically Ref. types see the working of the Spirit in more mundane, ordinary and "churchy" things, like preaching, Lord's Supper and baptism. "Ordinary means."

Anybody who's looking for flashy stuff to see the work of the Spirit isn't going to know what to make of that.

Ah, here we go. This should be it: http://www.oceansideurc.org/journal/2007/11/6/being-a-pentecostal-church-in-an-age-of-pentecostalism.html. And this is a guy who came out of a Pentecostal background.

Stefan said...

And hey, it's from a talk he gave in my hometown! Thanks, Lee!

Steve said...

You might find the following blogs of interest about C.J. Mahaney and the group he leads, Sovereign Grace Ministries:

www.sgmsurvivors.com
www.sgmrefuge.com

They tell another side. Hope this helps.

JK said...

DJP

thanks for sharing this thread...quite an "article."

Steve

Someone out there doesn't like SGM? Wow...

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joey Phillips said...

I already emailed Dan about this but I guess I'll comment, though I am not sure this site is the place to get into this.

If you go to Steve's own blog, which is one page...you will see he is interested in exploring the "dark side of calvinism."

If you go to the survivors site (which I don't recommend doing) you will see that the operators of the blog are the ones that declined SGM's request to enter into conflict resolution that Ken Sande of the peacemakers offered to be involved with. And yes...mos tthe folks in SGM would consider leaving a church and then publicly bashing your pastors on the internet to be slander.

My point is, SGM leadership is aware of the complaints and has attempted whenever possible to address the concerns...but since most of the posting is anonymous and there seems to be no desire for actual resolution the sites continue to exist.

Joey Phillips said...

I see I responded to a deleted post...thanks Dan

DJP said...

Steve (and anyone else), you got your link in, which is a stretch of my usual policy as it is. Let's leave it there. If anyone wants to, he can look at it and determine whether it is substantial or just slander and a personal hobby-horse. But this post/meta won't become a referendum on that.

DJP said...

OK, we tied. Now we have point, counterpoint, and we're done.

Don't test me. You'll be mad at me, and that makes me sad.

Andrew said...

Barbara,

Thanks so much for your guidance on Italician. I'm maybe not fluent yet, but you've got me off and running.

[Tears of joy and gratitude obviously accompany the above!]

Blessings,
A

Steve said...

Joey

Good to see you. I haven't seen you posting to those blogs in a bit.

How are things in your dad's SGM Church especially recently with the one pastor leaving?

Steve

Bobby Grow said...

Is it true that God cannot speak by way of visions, dreams, or words? When did this cease?

It seems to me that Azusa has ruined anything in this realm (or Finney) . . . or TBN. The fact that God speaks to people's hearts is clear. The question isn't whether He speaks, but whether what He speaks is IN or OUTside His already revealed Word.


The fact that He speaks, "to people's hearts," is a given; and then the objective criteria is whether or not what He speaks is from His "Word" (or contradicts it) or not.

I think part of the problem is that we live in the 'West', where materialism is the paradigm --- even for the church. In contrast to this part of the church there are plenty, like in the underground in China, who are starving for the Scriptures; and who need God in ways that we apparently don't. Just read "The Heavenly Man," the story of Brother Christian Yun. I suppose you can either believe that he's a liar (like those on TBN), or that he's telling the truth (I choose the latter).

Bobby Grow said...

Is it true that God cannot speak by way of visions, dreams, or words? When did this cease?

It seems to me that Azusa has ruined anything in this realm (or Finney) . . . or TBN. The fact that God speaks to people's hearts is clear. The question isn't whether He speaks, but whether what He speaks is IN or OUTside His already revealed Word.


The fact that He speaks, "to people's hearts," is a given; and then the objective criteria is whether or not what He speaks is from His "Word" (or contradicts it) or not.

I think part of the problem is that we live in the 'West', where materialism is the paradigm --- even for the church. In contrast to this part of the church there are plenty, like in the underground in China, who are starving for the Scriptures; and who need God in ways that we apparently don't. Just read "The Heavenly Man," the story of Brother Christian Yun. I suppose you can either believe that he's a liar (like those on TBN), or that he's telling the truth (I choose the latter).

recreatedinchrist said...

Is it true that God cannot speak by way of visions, dreams, or words? When did this cease?

It seems to me that Azusa has ruined anything in this realm (or Finney) . . . or TBN. The fact that God speaks to people's hearts is clear. The question isn't whether He speaks, but whether what He speaks is IN or OUTside His already revealed Word.


The fact that He speaks, "to people's hearts," is a given; and then the objective criteria is whether or not what He speaks is from His "Word" (or contradicts it) or not.

I think part of the problem is that we live in the 'West', where materialism is the paradigm --- even for the church. In contrast to this part of the church there are plenty, like in the underground in China, who are starving for the Scriptures; and who need God in ways that we apparently don't. Just read "The Heavenly Man," the story of Brother Christian Yun. I suppose you can either believe that he's a liar (like those on TBN), or that he's telling the truth (I choose the latter).

DJP said...

Never really gotten the "Sybil" thing.

Why should we seek for, expect, or even entertain the possibility of them?

How is Azusa Street unrepresentative?

Bobby Grow said...

I never said we should seek for them, you assumed that. That's what "charismatics" do, "seek" for signs and wonders; which is why Jesus wouldn't do them (Jn 2) in some instances.

That's why I said you should read "The Heavenly Man."

Azusa is an absolute abuse and sensationalistic rendention of Acts; wherein they try to replicate in a normatized way the signs and wonders that were at play in the early church. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm just afraid because of pentecostalism (starting in its American form at Azusa --- although there have always been "mystics"), that folks throw the baby out with the bath water and believe that God cannot or does not work in ways like He did in Acts for the sake of the Gospel.

I find the cessationist arguements exceedingly weak, exegetically; and pretty much built upon some artificial exegesis (esp. I Cor 13).

My point is that the sheep know their Shepherd's voice; and that voice never contradicts or strays from the Scripture, but that there is a voice . . . folks just need to be quiet long enough (in prayer) to hear it.

The comment you provide here from a charismatic only reflects the excesses of charismania; which is not what I'm referring to. I don't see why what Chan is doing is being construed in those terms, at all. There are all kinds of examples in scripture where folks "step out in faith." His decision does not sound rash, and sounds prayerfully considered and "blessed" by the elders in His church.

You put this post in the category of "Charismatic," which is why I thought of Azusa; along with the context I provide above. We don't have charismatics in the way we do in America w/o Azusa.

thebookjournal said...

Anyone beginning a comment with G'day and hailing from across the Pacific would be an Australian (like me!) ;)

I'm Pentecostal and go to an Anglican Theological College - so I guess that makes me Anglicostal? Kevin de Young's book 'Just Do Something' really changed my theology and I notice many people use "God said" as an easy way out. I interviewed him on my blog. But that's beside the point.

There are many people at my pentecostal charismatic church who think along the lines of 'just do something' and others who go through life based on feelings - but we all fellowship together.

"The Pentecostal /charismatic movement is one of the most guilt inducing, burdensome and theologically anemic expressions of modern Christianity. Pentecostals are probably allergic to this blog, but for any drive-by’s, take heed."

Thus I find this paragraph rather hurtful. Maybe because my church is little bit more laneway coffee shop rather than starbucks when it comes to it's practices and I don't like it being pigeon holed.

This blogging thing is so intense. I have just got into it and just learning who doesn't like who and where the battle lines are and what they are over. It's all so intense...

DJP said...

Well, Bobby, or "recreated," or whatever alias you are today, since your comment isn't much more than an "is not," I'll counter with an "is so," and point to the scores of posts Phil, Frank, others and I have written on the subject.