As an evangelical pastor, I have grown increasingly concerned with the influence of charismaticism on evangelicalism. From Kenyonism to Osteenism, from Oneness Pentecostalism to the New Apostolic Reformation, charismaticism and the doctrine of continuationism are responsible for the vast majority of false teaching today that regularly molests the church of her purity and soundness.
Modern day practitioners of charismaticism are the spiritual posterity of the ancient Montanists, who taught the nearly identical doctrines of new prophecy, apostolic gifting, and ecstatic utterance. The Montanists were anathematized by the early church as spiritual scoundrels and heretics, and for engaging in the very same practices and teaching the very same doctrines regularly espoused by America’s most prominent charismatics.
I do not hold that the majority of evangelical charismatics are errant brothers. I hold that many are not brothers at all, worship a god of their imagination, have replaced true religion with myths and fables and occultic practices, and that God despises their worship as being in neither Spirit nor Truth.
Charismatics seem unwilling to engage on this proposition in the religious marketplace of ideas, being satisfied to provide as their only defense their subjective experiences and a religious fervor that shouts down Holy Scripture in babbling tongues and nonsense words. In America, perhaps their chiefest apologist is Dr. Michael Brown, a principal figure in the scandal-ridden faux awakening, the Brownsville Revival, a man who unfortunately retains a seat at the table of orthodoxy thanks to a few friends who model, in their toleration of his aberrant doctrine, Tertullian’s unwise toleration of the Montanists. Treating one who has supported nearly each and every kind of bizarre, plainly unscriptural, subchristian and mystic practice as a brother in good standing is toxic to authentic Christianity and does not conform with the historic church’s treatment of such false teachers.
Michael Brown has defended the lascivious and profane behavior of Hillsong Church. Michael Brown has defended Benny Hinn from charges of false prophecy. Michael Brown has attempted to whitewash the history of Bethel Church’s participation in grave-sucking necromancy. In fact, there is hardly a spiritual scoundrel, religious ne’er-do-well, or charismatic snake oil salesman that Michael Brown hasn’t defended. While Brown claims to be “on record” condemning the “excesses” of the charismatic movement, like “abuses” of seed-faith teaching, the fact is, these records simply do not exist except in tangible hypotheticals and generalities. If I produced for you a list of the ten most obviously occultic and spiritually sinister false teachers in charismaticism, you will not find Brown being on the record rebuking them, but you will find Brown on the record defending them from criticism.
Meanwhile, Brown has repeatedly attacked those calling for discernment and caution regarding the false teachers Brown promotes. He has accused polemicists of slander, gossip, hypocrisy, and sin, and when proven demonstrably wrong about a particular topic, digs in deeper in further defense of the indefensible. I wrote an open letter to Dr. Brown about this very thing in January, and like all other attempts to discuss the issues of charismaticism and polemics with him, it received no response.
Brown, when pressed to provide a defense for his support of the most ungodly and occultic teachers of the movement he is partially responsible for popularizing, feigns ignorance. He didn’t know who Benny Hinn was (he claimed) when he yoked himself to him for a video series. Each and almost every specific question to Dr. Brown regarding a specific charismatic leader and their specific charismatic error is met with a confused stammering of supposed unknowingness. It is time for Dr. Brown to stop playing the part of polemical teflon or doctrinal jello, and provide an actual defense for charismatic behavior and continuationist doctrine.
Twice I have asked Dr. Brown to debate, twice with some agreement, and yet didn’t materialize. I know that Dr. Brown does not feel that I respect highly enough charismatics, and questions the profitability of our interaction with that being the case. I believe that perhaps Dr. Brown has been coddled for too long by certain Reformed leaders, who have countenanced the charismatic error as a secondary matter. I view the sufficiency of Holy Scripture a primary matter, and cannot provide Brown the charitable assessment afforded him by others. Nonetheless, a debate is meant to provide a direct clash of principles and contentions that is provided for others as a witness to learn from and make up their own mind regarding the validity of one view versus another. I do not believe that Dr. Brown wants to compare charismatic teachings to either the ancient Montanist heresy or the Holy Bible. Nonetheless, I urge him to debate me at a venue and time of his choosing.
Dr. Brown can see my views regarding the charismatic movement in this video, as produced last month at NorCal Fire.
As I demonstrated in that message on Modern Day Montanism, I believe it can be substantiated that God the Holy Spirit is demonstrably not at work among charismatics, as seen in the lack of spiritual discernment (a spiritual gift) and lack of self control (a spiritual fruit). The suggested resolution for the debate is as follows:
Charismatic evangelicals practice the ancient heresy of Montanism, should be considered aberrant and dangerous to the church, and be cast out of fellowship until they repent and are forgiven.
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