Towards a Culture of Discernment in Full-Gospel/Charismatic Churches

I was brought up in a part of the Anglican church where we were encouraged to read and study the Bible for ourselves. We were taught that the beliefs we have concerning theology and the gospel should be based on what the Scriptures say, and not merely on the pronouncements of “God’s chosen leaders”. Of course no church movement has really been able to follow this principle through fully until now, but it is a noble thing to at least espouse the principle. In truth, it will take people who are TRULY filled with God’s HOLY Spirit to rightly discern truth, for the WORD OF GOD itself COMMANDS us to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). How can anyone who wilfully violates this command of God be in total possession of theological truth?

Recent events in the charismatic/full gospel church world have highlighted the fact that much of the visible leadership is actually “off the rails”. They don’t have true biblical discernment, or if they do, they don’t use it. The fact is, these problems have been growing over a period of time. Its only that recent events – such as the public disgrace of the Todd Bentley fiasco and its ENDORSEMENT by so many big name “apostolic”, “prophetic” and “Christian media” figures – such recent events have HIGHLIGHTED some of the problems that were already there.

The whole charismatic church culture as it is commonly practiced needs to be called into question, because IT IS THIS SYSTEM WHICH HAS ALLOWED THE ABUSES TO FLOURISH.

I want to draw attention to a couple of features of this culture which I believe should be changed.

1. ELITISM. The “anointed” men and women of God get behind pulpits and talk whatever they feel to say – and there is NO forum for biblically evaluating it or spiritually discerning it – except for the public internet. You cannot ask questions in the meeting, for that would bring disorder. You cannot ask questions AFTER the meeting, for the ELITE leader or guest speaker simply has no time or availability for such discussions.

I believe a PROPER forum in which Bible teachers are involved should be CREATED – perhaps on the internet – in every church – so that ERROR can be guarded against and PEOPLE CAN BECOME FULLY CONVINCED IN THEIR OWN MINDS and go on to LIVE THE TRUTH.
If the doctrines and teaching of “anointed men” cannot stand up to the scrutiny of the Word of God such as can be plainly understood by spirit-filled church members, there is a problem.

I DO believe there are people who should speak more than others in church – BECAUSE they have spent time in the purifying FIRE of God’s presence. If this is NO LONGER THE CASE, such people should give up their ministry perks, salaries, honorariums and ministry careers, and go and get an honest job in society. Let them learn to spend time in God’s fiery presence when they have to hold down a job/business and love a family, BEFORE they get up and try to tell the church how to live.

2. UNACCOUNTABILITY TO THE WORD OF GOD. In this system, having a right relationship to a group of MEN, or a system – is EVERYTHING. Having respect for the teachings of the Word of God is SECONDARY. In this system, someone can get up and spout unbiblical nonsense, waste everyone’s time by talking about sport and humour, and its cool.

The charismatic world has proven that just because you can be “IN RELATIONSHIP” with the greatest movers and shakers in the charismatic world, and be an adulterer, a thief and a pervert at the same time. It seems that in these “relationships”, the right questions are rarely, if ever, asked. Questions like “Is your sexual life pure?” “Is God pleased with the way you have handled money?” don’t seem to be asked until the UGLY facts are already on display FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE.

You can submit to “apostolic leaders” and NOT be in submission to, or connection with, the HEAD – Christ Jesus. Jesus has SPOKEN by His Holy Word. Are we listening?

3. A CULTURE OF HUMILITY

All of us need to learn to take a big dose of humble pie. Myself included. If we are going to say something or do something in the name of the Lord, we need to be willing to listen to correction if it is appropriate. If we are not in the regular habit of humbling ourselves, we won’t even KNOW when we are getting off track.

So many are worshiping “ministry success” today. How can I say that? I say it because there the biggest Christian platforms on the planet are given to people who have a proven following – REGARDLESS of whether what these people teach is even in fundamental harmony with other such “big ministries” – let alone the Scriptures. All that counts is “bigness” and a nominal commitment to the name of Jesus Christ – and you can get on major Christian television networks today – and draw more followers and offerings unto yourself and your tax exempt organisation which enriches your family and inner circle of friends and associates.

These are very incomplete musings on the subject. I hope others will contribute their viewpoint to this discussion by means of offering comments.

What do YOU think?

comments

About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

Comments

  1. Here is my take for what it’s worth. That Google button is worth a million dollars. I spent some time Googling Benny Hinn, Ken Copeland, etc, to try to get at some semblance of the truth.

    What I found about Benny Hinn, (He’s a charismatic, no? ) was nothing short of astounding. Deception after deception mixed with lies and greed. Website after website after website all concurred. It’s all a big, money making charismatic show. (A circus)

    Really, in my personal opinion, to think that there is some kind of “super anointing” and only the privileged few are allowed by God to have it, and whenever the rest of us need healed, we must obediently trudge across country, make our way to their stage show and have the super anointed person heal us, (for a price) is, well, ridiculous!

    Just think of it. Mr Hinn is supposedly “super anointed” All he does is wave his anointed coat or blow on someone with his anointed breath and the Holy Spirit just goes wherever Benny directs Him to go. (as if God’s precious Holy Spirit is subject to little Benny Hinn’s every whim. As if the Holy Spirit does not have his own mind, but must be a servant to the man.

    I’m just not buying it. It’s pure snake oil.

    Same goes for all the charismatic snake oil salesman. I’m just not buying it!

    My opinion? The anointing is for ALL God’s children, if we will but receive it! But it is for our blessing and blessing others in love…but NOT for some kind of hokey, million dollar stage show.

    • The Lord used a church mightily in my life. It has insight into spiritual roots to disease. Regrettably, the pastor is so focused on the money trail that he has accused numerous people who have been healed and promoted his specific “roots” for specific diseases of stealing his ‘intellectual property’. Much wounding has come from those who try to bottle God’s work and market it in today’s society.

      Freely you have received, so freely give. If it is a product of our intellect alone, it is worthless. If it is divine revelation it is priceless.

      We need to be pointing each other to the source and stop trying to be the source. DougW, I appreciate your sifting process and the frustration of it. This man’s sin has made me distant from his teachings, and I must now after a few years distance come back with a clear mind and sort out the chaff (marketing angles of secret knowledge of specific roots) from the wheat, (certain sins will affect the body and manifest as disease in different people).

      Blessings and Peace,
      Timothy

  2. Hello Joyful,

    Your description of people vomiting, etc. goes along with demon manifestation and it normally happens when demons are cast out of people if I am correct? That is definitely not from God, but threw the power of Jesus the people were set free from these fowl things.
    I was not there to experience myself, but for many people these actions make them uncomfortable and would rather go to a church which is more conservative and would probably not indulge themselves in casting out demons in fear that their members might feel uneasy. We need to ask ourselves if we want to pleasure people or God? Jesus commanded us to spread the Word and cast out demons, but like me most people have fear of the latter and would like to ignore it as much they can.
    The more you get exposed to this the less fear you will have I believe and it will make you stronger witnessing the Power of Jesus and the Holy Ghost.
    Evil would not like to draw too much attention, because he knows that he has no authority and can be cast to the pit by any reborn Christian, because Jesus gave us the authority and they lost the war when Jesus died for us on the Cross!
    I prefer a church where I can feel the Holy Spirit moving and touching my hart and releasing people of horrible strongholds,etc.
    I might be wrong, just my 2 cents. 😉

    Charl

  3. TrishaDee says:

    I have been in pentecostal and charismatic churches for many years and have seen much of the moving of the Spirit and also of the excesses of people. With any manifestation of God there is also a manifestation of the flesh. This happens because when certain believers get excited they all too easily move into the flesh realm, and out of the Spirit. However, we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater, but our leaders do have a responsibility to discern the difference. And it can be a very difficult balance to achieve, taking charge of a situation without quenching or grieving the Spirit in the meeting overall. Also,re leaders who are falling: the Lord is seeking to purify His Bride and she will be spotless before He comes. Judgement begins at the House of God and He has said in the book of Daniel that many would fall, then wash their garments and be refined before the Day of the Lord comes. We need to look to our own lives and fear before the Lord and keep our lives pure.

    So we must keep our eyes on Jesus, pray for our leaders, and make sure that we have not made them(even with the most powerful giftings and callings upon their lives) into “idols”. He is a jealous God and He alone is worthy of our worship.

  4. I really am not good at this type of debate ect.. and I believe everyone needs to be held against the scriptures but it seems that discrediting everything that Todd did, and all the people he brought to Christ is just what Satan wants us to do. Todd is a Godly man who is human and so is not exempt for the same temptations everyone has and though we feel he should be stronger to resist them as he is “closer” to God but don’t you think that his temptations would be that much stronger then the ones we face even? I wouldn’t be surprised to know that Satan had legions of demons attacking him every second and that he fell weary to the fight against them. I know that i have fallen for far less temptations than that. He should be prayed for and encouraged to seek the Lord for forgiveness because even though he is in the public eye he is still human and Satan is still able to cut down even The Lords most Elite (ex Elijah running from Queen Jezebel right after the Lord demonstrated Himself)

    If Todd was not a Godly man then he wouldn’t have brought ppl to Christ – Satan cant bring people to Christ and so just because he fell…doesn’t mean he doesn’t Love the Lord but that he full filled propeshy about All being sinners! That includes The Lords Elite too.

    • Hi Bree,

      In my view, there was a real mixture of good and bad at work in Lakeland. Todd had paid a price with God previously to get into a place of faith and anointing for healing – there is no question in my mind that God has used him in that way and probably will in the future also.

      Almost certainly many people have come to Christ in some way through his ministry. That is good also.

      You are also correct that Satan will attack and tempt any figure in the public eye trying to do something for God.

      It is also correct that we should desire the restoration and upbuilding of everyone, whether we agree with all they do or not.

      That being said, the real issue I have with the Lakeland phenomenon is NOT that Todd has gotten into some sins or his marriage seems to be failing. The real issues are:

      * False teaching being promoted on a worldwide platform (GOD TV). The consequences of this are huge because some elements of the teaching and practices definitely open a HUGE door for the devil which multitudes of Christians will be encouraged to emulate.

      * Pathetic lack of discernment by many of the most visible and public ministries. And subsequent LYING in order to cover themselves. This is ULTRA-SERIOUS and for this reason the whole thing has become a serious crisis.

      I don’t normally spend time on this website criticising each and every person I disagree with but some things are SO CLOSE TO MY HEART, and SO CRITICAL for the health of the church in the western world, that I believe I MUST join others in SPEAKING OUT.

      Hope you understand.

      On another point, I can totally assure you that ungodly people CAN bring people to Christ. Its because elements of their message exalt Christ and the cross and God will use that – even if He does not endorse the preacher. Its another huge topic – for now I would just say seek the Lord about it.

      • V.S. Bowaj says:

        While I was wanting to know the latest news on the persecution of Christians in India, I came across this site. I don’t like to involve in arguments, but your last para evinced interest to add my understanding of the Holy Bible.

        I agree with you. Example, two streams of generation we see right from Genesis 4th Chapter. One of Abel and the other Cain. God preferred to testify only 3 names in Ezekiel 14:13-16 namely Noah,Daniel and Job above all names. Notice Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and others are not in this! We are in the New Covenant and promise to be greater than John the Baptist as the veil is broken to enter into the most holy place. You know nobody is greater than John the Baptist born out of a woman.

        In the new covenant, many have fallen out to keep their garments clean and according to apostle Paul’s exhortation in every letter and John’s epistles and letter to seven churches in Revelation we read this. Yes, it is a big topic only one should have the ears of the heart to open and hear.

  5. For your continuing commentary on the lakeland situation. I haven’t had much tinme to spare recently so it has been good to see what you have been posting.
    I believe that the public statement acknowledging the failing of the leadership, although very welcome, is too little, too late. It needs to have gone far deeper to really address the problems faced by the Charismatic Church.
    Surely those which the gift of discernment will see the need for them to rise up and be heard.

    God bless,

    Pete

    • Hi Pete,

      Sadly, until now, very few charismatic leaders have actually apologized for what they have done, and the one who did – Dutch Sheets – was not actually that involved in the whole thing.

      Peter Wagner continues to praise himself for his role. He behaves as if he never prophesied glowing endorsements and predictions of increased favor, anointing and money over Todd Bentley. It seems in his latest letter, he is claiming to have known there were problems all along, and somehow his “coronation” ceremony of “apostolic alignment” was the key to unravelling the whole mystery of iniquity! It is unbelievable. He seems to want to dump Todd now and move on to support the amazing “Apostle Stephen Strader” in what Wagner calls “Lakeland II”. There is not a hint of apology in Wagner. He seems himself as an unmitigated hero in the whole thing.

      Rick Joyner on his website is still carrying on about what a great revival it is, how wonderful it was, and how the only people God is judging here are the ones that are judging Todd. Yet the Bible tells us to “test all things”, and to “avoid the form/fashion of evil”.

      These guys are now hinting that there are more revelations to come about Todd. It is PR and damage control at its finest. At first it was said Todd was separating from his wife because of marriage difficulties, but there was no sexual immorality involved. Then we hear about alcohol abuse. Then we hear about inappropriate “emotional” relationship with a female Fresh Fire staff person, but its not sexual. Now we hear there was more than “hugging, kissing and holding hands involved – it was clearly immoral”. We are told that the wise men at the top will reveal more when the time is right. What are we going to hear next? That he was a wife beater? WHO KNOWS?

      Remember, this is the man the “charismatic/ apostolic/ prophetic” elite “coronated” in a public ceremony broadcasted on GOD TV to hundreds of nations on prime time television. And the only ones apologizing are those that
      were not directly involved.

      I could go on but I find it really distasteful. I stand by my statement that we can no longer trust the charismatic / third wave / prophetic / apostolic “elite” in America. And the same is pretty much true in many other nations of the world. You may be aware by now that a major “pop-star” youth leader in the Assemblies of God in Australia has confessed that he deceived everyone by faking a cancer, while he was deeply addicted to pornography and lying. I’m glad he confessed, but again, it was something the Kingmakers of the pentecostal world UTTERLY FAILED TO PICK UP.

      We need more prayer, more listening to God, and less hero-worship of men.

      • nlouise says:

        Hello,
        There were two very odd things I noticed during the Lakeland Revival, after realizing it wasn’t what it appeared to be.

        1) During the 1-1/2 hour praise and worship time, did anyone ever see Todd Bentley in the area? Typically, the speakers in such events are either on the stage or in the front row of the audience praising and worshipping too. Todd was never seen until it was his turn to come up and speak. Personally, I believe he could not be in the area because the power of God was not the power in which he was opperating.

        2) On several occasions it appeared (my opinion, of course) that the praise and worship leaders seemed, in the beginning of the praise and worship time, as though they were more mocking our God, than in agreement with the audience. Then as the worship and praise progressed, their dispossision would change. I don’t know any of their names, but one time in particular stands out. The leader with the shoulder length hair, was laying on the floor, during the end of one such session, reapeating phrases over and over of forgivness. It seemed more sincerely for himself.

        This is pure specualtion on my part, but from many articles that I’ve read and you-tube videos I’ve seen and watching pieces of the revival, that they (music leaders) began the revival under a different spirit, than because of the praises of God’s people, they would “zap” out of it towards the end. (For lack of a better term)

        Then Bentley would appear from somewhere else, do his thing, and the next time you would see the music leaders, they would be back to the old way they were the time before, until the end of the worship time.

        I have read that Bentley and his crew practice certain occult practices that come from Africa or somewhere. Thus, the reason for the uncontrollable jerking mortions and such. I believe that a ‘trigger’ is used on his crew later, after the revival, to bring them back to the submission of the spirit they were opperating under originally.

        I could be wrong or way ‘out there’, and I certainly do not have all the answers, but I noticed this over and over again, which raised a big red flag for me, not to mention the other things that went on during the revival. Just food for thought.

  6. I do agree with you,I have always felt strange about the new kind of revival creeping into the church.
    I had been to a youth retreat in a remote place,organised by a modern-liberal thinking church which I used to attend.In the beginning I felt happy to be there,because we could do/live however we wanted,unlike the the pentecostal background I grew up.I din’t realise that I was justifying my conduct as human shortcomings of youth.It was all about good thinking,positive words and lot of nice things told.I thought I am doing well and am in a big spiritual church,until I went for the youth retreat.

    In the retreat,for the first time I saw a different kind of ‘anointing’,people started to yell,scream,had jerky movements like a tonic clonic seizure,started vomiting,frothing from mouth,lost consciousness(clothes moved from the bodies),dancing strangely and saw many frenzy bizarre behaviour.The person leading kept shouting fire and power,and men and women fell down/helped down.In a minute I strongly felt this is not from the God I serve,I felt very strange.I got up from the group and sat a the back row,felt like crying and felt frightened.
    I could no longer sit there,I walked few miles to get a bus and never went back to that church.

    Before going to this church I had received the baptism of Holy Spirit,I have seen people worshipping in Spirit,speaking in tongues and gifts of the Spirit being in operation in the church I grew up as a child.There was never such manifestations,so I was confused.For some time thought that our original church people had less anointing.

    I prefer to be in the fundamental church,because its biblical,peaceful and long-standing.I have seen generations living by obeying the word,though old fashioned according to new movements.

    Later I learnt that these are new doctrines,devised to confuse children of God and make a mockery of true faith.Discerning of these doctrines and spiritual movements are very important,lest one can become easily yoked under slavery of these spirits.

    Pastors should teach about these movements,teach about what is sin, boldly.We need to be watchful and pray that these attempt of indoctrination is aborted.The church has to be sanctified by the truth .

    Jesus should be lifted up ,not the preachers.

    the ‘Big ministries’ is a tactic of the evil leading astray a big group of people.When the leaders fall out of sound testimony,a large group of fans will also fall out of faith.It is hero worship.

    We should watch and pray.

  7. When I hear this I feel a great pain in my heart. Surely even the heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ have been hurted. He suffered so much pain and agony that we might find joy, but we have finally messed it up with our pride. But with true repentance, forgiveness is granted for our Lord is the merciful and graceful one. We tried to build the temple of God with our own rules and regulation, we said this is right and that is not. We never tried to fully submit our hearts to our Lord. If He tried to come to us, we saw Him, but in our pride we said “Now let me take the charge”. In this way, we have moved away from our Lord. I think the greatest sin is to say and make people believe that it is from God, which in reality is contrary to it. By this, we are not only lost but even we lead the people away from God. Even the elects of God are strayed. Therefore, the whole humanity is entrapped in the hands of devil. Who then takes his turn to speak against the words of God and get full control of our heart. Due to this generations of mankind was under the dictatorship of Satan. He ruled from the House of God, set his false doctrines, and blasphemes in the name of God.

    We know our God is all time loving, caring, good, ready to take us back in His shelter but this comes only if we desire to leave behind our past and turn our mind, heart and soul to Jesus our Saviour. The time had come for our Lord alone to come and intervene in this darkness and to give us eternal light. When Israel was in the clutches of Egypt, He send Moses to deliver them and now when this whole humanity is in the clutches of Satan, He in His glory shall come to take us out. When we in our iniquities tried to build the Temple of God, it had fallen but now God Himself will come to built it again, unite it as one; and it will not fall untill the end of time. I pray “Come Lord Jesus”.

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