Previous posts in this series:
In light of all that we have considered about the Charismatic Movement, given that there is so much within that movement which draws Christianity back to the darkness of Romanism, the question then arises as to what should our response be to the Charismatic Movement and to its teachers. Since it is one of the most potent forces today in undermining the work of the Protestant Reformation we clearly cannot embrace it. What then will we do? When the Apostle Paul wrote his epistle to the Galatians he did so in response to error having crept into that church through the influence of those described as ‘false brethren unawares brought in ... that they might bring us into bondage’. Paul denounced in the strongest terms those who had brought false teaching into the church, yet to those who had been deceived his approach was somewhat different. Although Paul did rebuke those Galatians who had followed after false teachers, and indeed marvelled that they had done so, he did it in love and with the desire that they would return again to the purity of the gospel. Our response to those who teach false doctrine and our response to those who are deceived by it will be different. The promoters of false doctrine are to be denounced and opposed with all of our strength, yet although we are to seperate from those who espouse error that does not mean that we are to abandon people and leave them to be deceived by false teaching. Instead we must seek to show them their error that they might turn to the truth. Whether they are following the errors of the Charismatic Movement, the errors of Rome, of Mormonism, of Islam or of any other false religion, we are to seek to turn people away from those who would deceive them.
The words of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 are most apt in considering what relationship we should have with the proponents of charismatic theology; ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’ Those who teach serious error are not to be regarded as fellow believers with whom we can fellowship. They are not to be regarded as reliable teachers to whom we can go for instruction. Of all those men and women whose errors we have highlighted in the previous posts there are none whom we could recommend to any believer as a reliable teacher to whom they could go for instruction. Although some are clearly worse than others, the errors taught by all those whom we have mentioned are of such seriousness that the only reasonable thing to do is reject them altogether. To look to the popular charismatic teachers for good doctrine is like drinking clean water from a dirty cup; sooner or later you will catch something from the cup.
To practice biblical separation is an absolute necessity if the purity of the gospel is to be maintained. As soon as a little error is accept the whole message is compromised, for ‘a little leaven leaventh the whole lump’. The theology of the Charismatic Movement has a far reaching effect and as soon as its teachers become acceptable to us it is certain that we will be drawn away from the faith once delivered unto the saints. If we accept the teaching of charismatic leaders on the subject of tongues, on healing and prophecy, and accept their proclaimed miracles, then we will easily continue to follow those same teachers in their other doctrinal errors. Often we can look at charismatic churches, with their multi million pound ministries, with their vast congregations and numerous reported conversions, and we may feel that we will suffer if we separate from them. We might feel that we will not have God’s blessing in the same way that they seem to have and that we will miss out on some great experience. However 2 Corinthians 6 tells us that if we do separate from error then God will receive us and will be a father to us. No Christian has ever lost out by being obedient to the Word of God.
2. Holding fast to the gospel of the reformation
How do we guard ourselves against the errors of the Charismatic Movement? How can we avoid being taken in by its exciting claims and its supposed miracles. Like newborn babes we are to ‘desire the sincere milk of the word’. We are to love sound doctrine, we are to immerse ourselves in the word of God. We are to ‘stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage’. The rediscovery of the truth of the gospel at the time of the Reformation was the greatest revival since Pentecost. The dark ages which had preceded that time were aptly named for it was a time when by and large the people were in spiritual darkness, held captive by the superstition of Roman Catholicism and devoid of a knowledge of the Word of God. It is interesting to note that both the Charismatic Movement and Roman Catholicism diminish the place of the Lord Jesus Christ. With the Church of Rome the emphasis is on Mary; with the Charismatic Movement it is only the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit however is to give pre-eminence to Christ and to exalt him. It is Christ to whom we must look, not to any great teacher, not to supposed miracles and prophecies of men, but to Christ and to him alone. The Lord Jesus Christ said that 'a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign'. We are to seek after nothing but Christ for in Him we have all that we need.
It is the Reformation principle of scripture alone which provides the greatest defence against the dangers of the Charismatic Movement. Every claim and teaching, from whoever it may emanate, must be brought to the bar of scripture. If it is contrary to the Word of God and cannot be supported by scripture then it must be rejected. The miracles, prophecies and manifestations of the Holy Spirit which are claimed by the Charismatic Movement are all seen to be false when they are looked at in the light of the Word of God. In responding to the Charismatic Movement we always to turn to the scriptures, for in them we have 'a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed'.
So what then is the big deal with the Charismatic Movement? The big deal is that it is a movement which leads people away from biblical Christianity and closer to the darkness of Romanism. It is for this reason that our response to the Charismatic Movement and to charismatic teachers must be to reject them and to seperate ourselves from them. Galatians 2:18 sayd 'If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor'. The Charismatic Movement destroys much of the good which was done through the Reformation. Let us ensure that we are not found amongst or following after those in the Charismatic Movement who would destroy the truth of God's Word.