Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Charismatic Reversal of the Reformation: 3 Counterfeit Miracles

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On Sunday 27th April Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were declared saints in a ceremony at the Vatican. Necessary for their canonisation were two authenticated miracles. In the case of John Paul II a woman in Costa Rica was supposedly cured from an inoperable brain aneurysm after the pontiff appeared to her in a vision, and a Polish nun was cured from Parkinson’s disease after praying to the deceased Pope. These claimed miracles are no new development in the Roman Catholic Church; from appearances of the Virgin Mary, to bleeding and weeping statues, to the healing of incurable diseases, miracles are an extremely important part of the Roman Catholic faith. Many pilgrimages are made by Roman Catholics to locations where miracles are reported to have occurred; one of the most famous examples being Lourdes, a place regularly visited by millions of Roman Catholics in the hope of being cured by the water there. Yet with every miracle which it claims, the Church of Rome faces the same problem – a lack of authentication. Even as the Vatican was seeking to canonize John Paul II, reports were abounding that Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, the Polish nun supposedly cured of Parkinson’s, had fallen ill again.a Time and again this same issue arises with miracles in the Roman Catholic Church, they are either proven to be false, or they are authenticated only on the most tentative of evidence, and rarely if ever supported by medical verification. Yet in spite of this, Roman Catholics continue to enthusiastically seek after miracles. Since the time of the Reformation mainstream evangelical Protestantism has rejected the belief that the supernatural sign gifts of the New Testament such as healing are still available today, and has been highly sceptical of the claimed miracles of Rome. Yet with the advance of the Charismatic Movement many Christians have turned once again to seeking after miracles, and to a belief that the power of healing which was bestowed on the apostles is still available today. Here once again we see the common ground between Roman Catholicism and the Charismatic Movement; a seeking after miracles that, when they are examined, are shown to be at best exaggerated, and at worst counterfeited.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Charismatic Reversal of the Reformation: 2 A Rejection of Sola Scriptura

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The gospel message which was rediscovered in the 16th century has often been summed up in what is known as the Five Solas of the Reformation. Although they were not articulated in this form until the 20th century, the writings of the reformers clearly teach that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, as revealed in scripture alone. These Five Solas are a direct response to the errors of Roman Catholicism, and mark out the differences between the reformed church and the Church of Rome. Where the Roman Catholic Church teaches that were are saved by a combination of God’s grace and our own good works, the reformers responded that it is by grace alone. Where they teach that we approach God through Christ, Mary and the saints, the response is that it is through Christ alone. To turn away from any of these biblical truths is to depart from the faith and begin the journey back into Roman apostasy. Of the Five Solas it is surely that of ‘sola scriptura’, or scripture alone, where Rome's difference with Protestantism has its root, for it is by appealing to scripture plus tradition that they are then able to support all of their other erroneous doctrines. This rejection of scripture as God’s complete and final revelation to man, and his only rule for faith and practice, is something of which the Charismatic Movement is also guilty, and by so doing it turns away from the biblical principles of the Reformation, back to the error of Rome.

Monday, 21 July 2014

The Charismatic Reversal of the Reformation: 1 Background

The Charismatic Movement; what’s the big deal? Surely it is just another manner in which some Christians worship, as acceptable as any reformed, more conservative style of worship? Why is there such a strong reaction against the Charismatic Movement from many evangelical preachers today? Is it really that big an issue? On one occasion John MacArthur described the Charismatic Movement in the following terms; 'It's a kind of Spiritual AIDS. AIDS is a deficient immune system, and this kills the Church's immune system! The Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement kills the immune system, because it makes it a sin to question their theology'a. To many people this statement will be a great exaggeration of the issues in the Charismatic Movement and an outrageous thing to say. To compare a particular form of Christianity to a deadly disease is surely too much. Yet when we examine the Charismatic Movement closely, when we understand what the Charismatic Movement actually is, and consider what is actually taught within it, then we will find that it is very difficult to argue with that statement. As we look at the serious errors, and indeed heresies, that are found within that movement, we believe that an honest analysis of the facts can lead to only one conclusion; that the Charismatic Movement is indeed a form of ‘spiritual AIDS’, and that it leads Christianity in only one direction; back to the darkness of Rome.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Who should we quote?

How can we determine which preachers we will quote? Whether it be from the pulpit, on social media, or in some other way, discretion and discernment are required in choosing which preachers and teachers we will quote. Whether the quote is in itself scriptural is not sufficient reason for it to be used but consideration must also be given to the one to whom it is attributed. If that person has seriously erred on some major point of doctrine then consideration must be given as to how freely, if at all, we can quote them. Whilst it is not necessary to agree with someone on every absolutely everything, we cannot justifiably quote someone with whom we disagree on the fundamentals of the Christian faith. What should we consider when choosing which Christian preachers we will quote?

1. Adding a caveat to the quote
There are some preachers whom we can quote without the slightest hesitation, men such as Spurgeon and Calvin. Any differences which we may have with these men are of such small issue that we can quote them freely. Yet what of those with whom we disagree on more significant matters. On these occasions it will be necessary to state clearly that we we do not recommend all that they teach, in order that we would prevent others from following their errors. When it comes to essential doctrines however, we must look elsewhere, for we cannot in good conscience quote those with whom we are at serious and fundamental disagreement.

2. The unquoteable
Heretics and apostates. When the major doctrines of the gospel are abandoned and serious error and compromise takes place then those involved should not be the ones whom we would seek to quote in a Christian context. Likewise those who have evidenced an openly immoral lifestyle during their ministry, women who have usurped the position of pastor and those who have advanced the cause of ecumenism. The difference between these and others whom we might quote under some caveat, is that of erring on fundamentals, compared with specifics.

3. Our audience
If we quote a particular preacher will it result in others following that preacher? This is not a concern where we are in agreement with a sufficient amount of their teaching, but does become a greater issue the more we disagree with them. Do those who will read or hear the quote have the necessary discernment to recognise any doctrinal failings which that preacher may have. Who we quote may depend not only on their theology of that person, but also on those who will read or hear the quote.

4. Living and dead preachers
It is easier to quote the preachers of years gone by for we can already see how they have finished. If they have erred on some issues we can see the full extent of their error, and can easier evaluate whether it is appropriate to quote them or not. With those however who are still living we may wonder if, having deviated on 'minor' issues, they might also do so in the future on major issues. This is not to suggest that we should only quote preachers from the past, only that it is easier to do so.