3 Myths of Charismatic Culture

Posted: July 11, 2012 in Spiritual Growth
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I am glad to say that I am part of the charismatic church culture. “What is charismatic?” you might be wondering. Well, charismatic, comes from the Greek word for grace, and this grace is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit which equips a person for good works, even supernatural works, for the edification of the church and the furthering of the kingdom on earth. The charismatic movement has stretched us to hunger for more in our daily walk with the Lord.

I cannot stress enough how I appreciate this perspective in my own journey with God. Going from my beloved Baptist church to my charismatic one, deepened my walk in ways I’ll never fully comprehend. That being said, I think that just like any other culture, charismatics have developed their own tendencies toward believing myths about God and our relationship to him. Here are a few that I have noticed and had to overcome.

1. Planning and forethought is an exercise that is somewhat less than spiritual.

Maybe we would never admit that we think this way, but our actions speak otherwise. I am convinced that many a well meaning pastor or congregation has limited the work of God in the church because of this kind of mentality.

I think the fear is that somehow if we have a plan, we will be inflexible to the moving of the Holy Spirit. We think that spirituality equals spontaneity. It’s exciting when God does something spontaneous and unplanned, it’s easy to get addicted to the euphoria. We want to be willing for God to take us down new paths. But we cannot ignore the fact that he often uses plans and strategies to accomplish his biggest purposes. Think back to Noah with his detailed blueprint of the ark, the plan Joseph had for surviving years of famine, the strategy he gave Nehemiah for rebuilding the wall, and the practical wisdom of appointing Stephen to take care of the widows and orphans.

So many opportunities can be missed, so much excellence can be lost, so much work for the kingdom will be left undone if we cannot get over our fear of planning, our fear of strategy, our fear that we might step out “in the flesh” and produce “an Ishmael.” We have to have more confidence in our ability to hear the Holy Spirit. I am convinced that he trusts us more than we trust ourselves. What takes more faith? To say, “I can’t wait to see what God is going to do today” or to say, “Here is what I planned for God and I to do today, let’s see if he can exceed my expectations.”

As much as we are aware of quenching the Spirit of prophecy, we also need to be aware of squelching the gift given by the same Spirit– the gift of administration.

2. The “rhema” word of God is more important than the “logos” word of God. What God told me trumps anything someone else may tell me.

You may know the “rhema” word is the one that is for the moment, the one God breathes on in a time of need to apply directly to your life. This is the one that can give you goose bumps. The “logos” is less flashy, but just as important. It is the truth that you read or hear and then tuck in your mind for a later date. If we’re not careful, we can tend to love one and despise the other. This is a subtle way that pride can creep into our lives and we call it spirituality. There is nothing inherently wrong with saying God told you to do something or revealed something to you i the moment, the fresh “rhema” word. However, we must realize how it affects others when we say that. It tends to close our brothers and sisters out of speaking into our lives. Humility always has an open stance of inviting one another into trusting relationships. If you pull out the God card every time you want to do something, it could be because you fear others speaking the truth to you in love. If we get tired of the written word of God, maybe its more that we’re tired of obeying it. Most often, we don’t know if we are hearing God in the moment, but we guess that we have heard. Usually the proof comes after we have let it play out in our lives. If we ever get in the place where God is only speaking directly to us without speaking through others, I think we need to ask ourselves whether or not we have pridefully placed our own spirituality over that of others, even over the authority of the written Word.

3. If your prayers are not being answered, it is automatically a lack of faith or the work of the devil.

Charismatics can sometimes fall into the same trap of Job’s “friends” who blamed him for everything that was going wrong in his life. It was their lack of empathy and love which caused Job further pain that what he was already experiencing. Though we know the God of all healing, all prosperity, and every good thing, we are still called to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Jesus wept even before he performed the miracle of resurrection on one of his best friends, Lazarus. He didn’t point the finger, not even for a minute. In fact, it was Mary pointing the finger at Jesus for being late and letting Lazarus die. It is human nature to point fingers, to assign blame. But remember what God said when they asked why a man was blind? They said, whose fault was this, the sin of the man or of his parents? Jesus says, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” (John 9:3)

There is so much mystery still left in life that we cannot have a full picture of what God is doing. Even when we prophesy, we do so only in part. Not one of us has the fullness of the understanding.

I think we can safely fall on 1 Corinthians 13. After chapter 12 where Paul talks about all the wonderful gifts that our ours through the Holy Spirit, he then moves to chapter 13 where he takes us into the principle that should govern every expression of such gifts. That principle is LOVE. In all our amazing gifts, no gift should rise above the need for love. And yes, God loves charismatics too!

  1. Sean Durity says:

    Mourning with those who mourn is so important. I have met so many parents of special needs children who have been hurt by well-meaning, but clumsy, Christians who tell them they just need more faith. Many do not ever come back to the church.

    This is very insightful into problems I have with charismatic practice.

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