First, I would like to state that I consider myself to be a charismatic Christian, which basically means I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and believe everything it says including Mark 16: 17-18 “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” I do not pick and choose certain parts that line up with my beliefs and discard those parts that do not. I have not always been a Christian and I have had to change certain beliefs since becoming one. For example, homosexuality, it was always my belief that if an individual was homosexual, it was fine with me as long as he didn’t bother me. Since I have given my life to Christ, I now know this is a sin against God and it is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate homosexuals; I hate the sin, along with all other sin. Singling out a homosexual as a sinner while ignoring other sins such as greed, lust, sex outside of marriage, etc., doesn’t make any sense to me. The reason why I’m saying all of this is that in today’s society everyone is lumped into one of two categories; conservative or liberal.
The terms conservative and liberal are not easily defined. Conservatism by the classic definition is a term used to describe political philosophies that favor tradition and gradual change, where tradition refers to religious, cultural, or nationally defined beliefs and customs. Liberalism by the classic definition is a term used to describe political philosophies that favor individual rights and equality of opportunity such as principles of freedom of thought and speech, limitations on the power of governments, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market or mixed economy, and a transparent system of government. If one uses the classic definitions of these terms our founding fathers would have certainly been considered liberal while someone holding onto those principles would have to be considered a conservative. The leaders of the Reformation would have to be considered liberal Christians while those holding onto principals of the Reformation would be considered conservative Christians.
Today, a conservative Christian is considered to be more “old school” while a liberal Christian doubts the authority of the Bible and is more apt to leave out parts of Scripture that do not fit into today’s society. If my religious beliefs have to be categorized into one of these two groups it would be conservative. Conservative in that I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and is still applicable for today and always. Most Christians who consider themselves conservative do not believe all parts of the Bible are still active for today (Mark 16:17-18, 1st Corinthians 14:5&39 for example). Someone who was to speaks in tongues and lays hands on the sick praying for healing would be considered outside the norm and liberal in their beliefs. A Christian who believes miracles died out with the apostles and that tongues are “not for today” (even though this is clearly opposite of what the Bible teaches) considers himself conservative even though he is adopting a view which is not supported by Scripture. Now I know 1st Corinthians 13 states the tongues will cease when the perfect comes, but the perfect has not come yet. The perfect in no way is the completion of Scripture as some have suggested. Paul makes no mention of a New Testament being written. Jesus did not say ‘for about the next 60 years these signs shall accompany those who believe . . . ‘. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Jesus is not a man who lived two thousand years ago. He is alive today.
The problem Charismatics face today is that some of its leaders have drifted away from Scripture. Certain leaders such as Hagin, Copeland, Hinn and others have adopted teachings that are not supported by Scripture. I’m not saying that these are not men of God and that the Lord has not used them to reach millions of people, but if what they are preaching does not line up with the Word of God, it must be dismissed. It is our duty as Christians not to support teachings that do not line up with the Bible. We Charismatics have taken several black eyes as of late. Ted Haggard’s escapades with a male prostitute and crystal meth, the beating Thomas Weeks gave his wife Juanita Bynum, Randy and Paula White’s divorce and now Sen. Charles Grassley has launched an extensive investigation into the spending practices of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland; David and Joyce Meyer; Randy and Paula White; Creflo and Taffi Dollar; Eddie Long; and Benny Hinn. No wonder so many conservative Christians look at Charismatics with doubt in their eye. Some have stated that this is an attack by the devil on the holy Church; others have said this is an attack by God on the unholy Charismatics, but I think this is God cleaning up his Church. Luke 12:2&3, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Hopefully, after God has cleansed the charismatic movement of its current heresies and greed, conservative Christians and charismatic Christians will be one in the same.