A Problem with Charismatics according to the Reformed


I have been reading several articles from Reformed believers calling out the “Prosperity” teachers as false Christians. I have to admit, there are several things that they preach that makes me pause. Claims that the prosperity gospels and Word of Faith messages are unbiblical and are leading people down a path of destruction can be found on many a blog site. I think those claims are half truth. What do you do with the other half?

I am probably going to get some outrage on this, but that is the point of this blog. I hold that experiences with God hold revelation in my life. Many people do not like to acknowledge the experiences of people as they are subject to interpretation and can not be held as authoritative. I agree with that in part. I hold that the Bible is the Word of God and it is meant to be experienced. The Holy Spirit is always mentioned as moving. Sitting around and reading your Bible is good, but if you do not experience the movement of God in your life, you are missing out on a huge part of the relationship with God.

Man was meant to be in relationship with God. That is a two way relationship. God walked with Adam and Eve. He ate with Abram and Sarai. He was in a bush with Moses. He called Israel into His presence for a personal and real relationship when they said no. Give us the rules and have someone tells us what we should do to please you. I have tried to live my life that way and it is horrible. I much rather prefer the relationship with God when we talk to each other. I get to know God based on my experiences with Him and not just by reading about His qualities.

Why talk about experiences? Because that is one of the major complaints against the Pencostal and Charismatic movements which is where the prosperity gospels and Word of Faith messages come from. I am a charismatic believer, so I feel the sting with every negative comment on my belief system. Not all of us take things to the extreme like Benny Hinn or Kenneth Hagin. But just because the people getting the most press are seen to be false Christians preaching a false message, does not mean that every part of the message is false. When Satan twists the Word for his own purposes, part of it is still true. That is why a strong biblical background is required in order to separate the truth from the lie. The problem is that it is all being cast out as a lie because people are either afraid of the message or are lacking the experience to understand the message.

PHIL: Yeah.

Let me press you a little bit on one point. You mentioned the Charismatic Movement and the dangers of Charismatic theology and it’s true that all of the major prosperity gospel preachers are also Charismatics. And yet, at the same time, this is a bigger issue than just Charismatic theology. Some of the best critiques of prosperity gospel heresy have come from Charismatic sources. But why is it that this…this heresy, really, it’s rank heresy, the prosperity gospel, first of all, tell us why it’s heresy and then explain to us why is this so often found in connection with Charismatic teaching.

JOHN: The answer to that question comes from the words written by the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul described false teachers as doing…when he’s writing to Timothy…is doing what they do for money. They make merchandise of you. That’s what false teachers do. They’ve always done it. They make merchandise out of you, they turn you into a commodity to make them rich. In the words of Peter, “Don’t ever minister for filthy lucre.” The Bible points…and I’m talking Old Testament, and New Testament, the Bible points out in all cases of false teachers that they are not driven by love for God, they’re not driven by the knowledge of God. They’re not driven by the Spirit of God. They’re driven by money. They want to be rich. So why do they develop a prosperity gospel? Not because they found it in the Bible, but because it makes them rich. There’s so much money pouring in to these people because people will pay anything for healing, they’re desperate. They’ll pay anything for healing, even if you can’t heal…even if you can’t heal.

These people are so devious and so corrupt that they will become rich taking money from desperate people who think they’re going to be healed. Do you think they believe they’re healers? They don’t believe that. Oral Roberts claims to have raised dead people. Do you think he really believes he raised dead people? You think Benny Hinn believes he can raise dead people? He knows he can’t do that. It’s a scam from beginning to end.

This is a portion of a series on Toxic Television from John MacArthur where he is talking about the prosperity gospel. Even though I don’t agree with all that he says, he is right. I think a lot of these messages started off in a good place and on a firm biblical foundation, but it was taken to a commercial place out of greed and desire for fame and fortune. I do find it amusing that MacArthur makes a lot of money selling his books and merchandise, but I do not think he is driven out of the love of money. He just doesn’t give it all out for free.

The word of faith principle is not unbiblical. It is unbiblical to think that if you always believe in something out of faith, God will give it to you. I do not think God wants people to be in poverty, but it is not bibical to think that God wants everyone to be rich. We will provide for all of our needs, not all of our desires. I think that is where a lot of the messages are not being challenged. Am I believing in God for a desire or for a need?

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psa 37:3-4)

This is the first set of verses I learned as a believer. Delight yourself in God and He will give you the desires of your heart. It sounds like he fulfills desires.

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
(Psa 37:5-7)

Oops. You must commit your way to the Lord first. When you do that, your way becomes the Lord’s way. Your desires become His desires. He will grant all of your desires if they are also His desires. Let us not forget that there are only two ways. God’s way and going against God. Your desires have to fit into one of those two positions. Wonder which one He will bring to happen.

I can understand why people are leery of experiencing God when you see people take it to a place that seems wrong. Hold tight to biblical knowledge as you ask God to move you into experiences with Him though. You will not be lead astray and your relationship will increase beyond expectations.

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2 Comments

Filed under Bible, Christianity, Religion

2 responses to “A Problem with Charismatics according to the Reformed

  1. “But just because the people getting the most press are seen to be false Christians preaching a false message, does not mean that every part of the message is false.”
    Amen!

    I think one of the reasons the prosperity preachers tend to be charismatic is that they turn the very real gifts of the Spirit into a big spectacle. Speaking in tongues, healing, etc. spark our curiosity and feel unnatural compared the real world, and we like to feel we’re a part of something “different”. But that doesn’t make all charismatics charlatans – like you said, it’s the intent behind your beliefs acted out in your life.

    I appreciated your post. Thanks for showing that not all charismatic Christians are akin to the televangelist hype-sellers.

    • I was thinking about it tonight and I felt like God was saying that people who are searching to know Him more have to be careful not to turn the gifts into a form of idol that is worshiped.

      Thanks for the comment. I always appreciate a fresh voice.

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