When Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity emerged a century ago, many conservative Christians denounced the movement. Part of this was due to the egalitarian and counter-culture nature of the movement. Another part of it was that the incorporation of the gifts of the Spirit into worship seemed crazy – perhaps even demonic. At this point, Christians were mostly used to some variety of ordered worship, so when Charismatics came into church services and started speaking in tongues or dancing, it made a lot of people uncomfortable. They thought that Charismatic Christians were deceiving people and obstructing proper worship. A term was coined as an insult towards Charismatics – Charismania.
Charismania is commonly used as an insult to describe Charismatic Christians as unstable. People may perhaps see our prophetic visions, speaking in tongues, and claims of supernatural healings as delusional. It is a criticism of the Charismatic Movement that I know well.
While I do not think that Charismatic spirituality and worship are false, I must say that as a Charismatic looking into the wider world of Charismatic Christianity, we do have a serious problem. The movement has for a long time been infested with false doctrines such as end times theology, prosperity preaching, and cults of personality. The movement is also infested with false prophets, false healers, and con artists. And like the early church, the movement has been twisted in order to serve the empire. We have a very serious problem of not “testing the spirits” (1 John 4:1).
Christians who take Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats seriously understand that we are called to serve “the least of these” in love. In addition to individual acts of mercy, many have come to understand that providing aid to “the least” means addressing the systems of inequality that skew our collective resources toward “the most” instead. This leads to various expressions of justice activism.
I am by no means a fervent activist. While I have attended some protests, I am more likely to express my convictions through letter writing, phone calls, donations, conversations, prayer, and service. Yet I know members of my seminary, friends, and those in local activist communities give more of themselves and take much greater risks. And I know activist efforts take a toll. My friends have suffered compassion fatigue, burnout, and shame and guilt at not being able to offer more when community demands are pressing. Working for justice takes a physical and emotional toll. It takes a spiritual toll as well.
I wanted to wish all members, fans, and readers of PCPJ a happy Easter. Even though secular culture tends to emphasize Christmas, the most important day in the Church calendar is actually Easter, when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. It is in the events of Easter that Christ becomes the victor. Our Lord has looked sin, injustice, death, and imperial power right in the face, and He defeated them. These things led to His torture and execution, and Jesus rose from the dead anyway. In Easter, Jesus is declared the Lord of lords and the King of kings. He is more powerful than Herod and Caesar, principalities and powers. He has defeated even death itself.
2020 and 2021 have been dominated by the powers of sin and death it seems. In the United States, the news cycle has been suffocating due to COVID-19, the presidential election, political corruption, police brutality, the protests and counter-protests, wars and rumors of wars. It has been a dark year. We couldn’t even properly celebrate Easter last year. But Christ is victor.
Following the 2021 Society for Pentecostal Studies Annual Meeting, Pentecostal leaders released a statement calling on the global Pentecostal movement to denounce all forms of sexual violence, reclaim faith communities as safe places of healing, and hold perpetrators accountable. Titled Pentecostal Sisters Too, the statement references and borrows its name from the #MeToo movement. At the SPS’s 2018 meeting, in response to the hashtag #pentecostalsisterstoo, survivors, both men and women, shared their own stories of sexual abuse.
The theme of the 2021 meeting was This Is My Body: Addressing Global Violence Against Women, a topic that could not be more timely. The past two weeks have seen the exit of Beth Moore from the Southern Baptist Convention (in part due to her vocal support of sexual abuse survivors), the murder of Sarah Everard, and the murder of eight people at massage parlors in the United States—including six Asian women. The man who killed these women blamed his actions on a “sex addiction,” claiming that he committed murder to prevent temptation. An active church member, the shooter expressed “extreme self-loathing, guilt and public confession” after visiting massage parlors. He expressed his fear of “falling out of God’s grace.” In response, a statement from his home church says it will remove him from membership, since it “can no longer no longer affirm that he is truly a regenerate believer in Jesus Christ.”
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. – Matthew 7:15
Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1
American Evangelicalism has been taken over by hypocrites. It is not new as this trend started several decades ago, but now we can see clearly the corruption before us. Conservative Christians, who claimed to be standing up for “traditional Christian/family values” supported a rich, womanizing con-man for president. People like John MacArthur, Wayne Grudem, and many leaders of American Evangelicalism made claims that Trump was the lesser of two evils since he was supportive of “traditional Christian/family values” despite being a flawed candidate. MacArthur in particular likes to take shots at LGBT people and said that he endorsed Trump in 2020 due to Trump’s social conservative views. However, Trump doesn’t seem to agree with MacArthur:
John MacArthur, like many of the leaders of American Evangelicalism, is a hypocrite and false prophet. Which I know this is strong language, but I am genuinely upset over the sad state of the Evangelical Church, and its hypocritical ways. How these people claim to follow Jesus but seem to ignore everything he said. How they are “pro-life” while against welfare services, pro-war, and anti-pandemic relief. Continue reading False Prophets and False Idols: The Sad State of American Evangelicalism→
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8
Throughout the History of the church there have been times when the church has moved off mission and moved into tyranny. This has happened when Christians have substituted the Kingdom of God with the Kingdom of humans or fused the two. Even in the book of Acts, the disciples were yet uncertain how the Kingdom of God was to come when they asked Jesus this question, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
I think it’s hard for humans to grasp that the Kingdom of God is somehow fully other than the nations and reigns of this world. We have from time to time merged the Kingdom of God with human systems of power.
It’s easy to laugh at all the insane conspiracy theories floating around right now, with people claiming that coronavirus vaccine will kill you, change your DNA or transform you into a satanist. But really, it’s nothing short of a catastrophic tragedy that millions of people seriously believe these kinds of things.
To combat this pandemic of misinformation, Christian leaders need to speak up. This is exactly what the superintendents of the Pentecostal churches in the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – decided to do last week. In a joint statement, they warned against conspiracy theories and YouTube prophets, telling their flock to listen to medical authorities and take the vaccine.
It seems that now there is a kind of lull in the momentum of the church at large in America. For decades she has poured her efforts into achieving political power. It culminated in being raised to the mountaintop during the last four years, after electing a leader who promised power to the church, if only she would support him.
And support him she did, in spite of his obvious greed, unrepentant immorality, dragon-like words, and his demonization of others (particularly his mocking of the weak and the ‘least of these’ such as the poor, foreigners, and oppressed minorities). At first many may have had a pang of conscience, but rationalized it as necessary to bow down in order to achieve the goals they sought through political power.
They may have rationalized that he could be influenced and changed. That she could hold him accountable. But instead he remained the same, and the church had to bow down repeatedly as he demanded more and more support (and praise). Having sold her soul once was not enough. She had to sell it again and again. And having done that so many times, she found that she had put all of her hope in him. She made herself afraid with conspiracies and countless fears of what would happen if her immoral champion were not re-elected.
She taught support for him from her pulpits. She prayed for his will to be done. Her prophets prophesied his victory. She sanctified his place and his causes, such as the imprisonment and breaking apart of refugee families. She allied with enemies of Christ’s ways such as white supremacists.
When he stirred up undeniable violence, and her prophecies failed (even as she tried so hard to have faith in them and make them come true), she had to pause.
Originating from the anarchist site 4chan which is filled with porn and white supremacy, the cult uses a lot of religious language and imagery similar to Christianity to attract followers from churches. As many American Christians already were Trump supporters and open to conspiracy theories, thousands have fallen victim to the cult, becoming more loyal to the anonymous “prophet” called Q than they are to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are four testimonies from people close to Christians who have joined QAnon. Make sure to pray for them, and keep warning those around you for the danger of this cult!
All of this started about a month and a half ago when my husband began watching videos from a “prophet.” We are Christian and he has often watched things about prophets before, but I noticed a lot of the language seemed political which he usually doesn’t get into, and it also seemed a little paranoid.
After Trump lost the election, Johnson quickly jumped on the conspiracy theorist bandwaggon claiming that the election was “stolen” from Trump. In fact, he put his prophetic integrity on the line, along with all other “prophetic voices” who had claimed that Trump would be reelected:
Yeah, back in November Johnson argued that the only alternative to the #stopthesteal conspiracy theory was that numerous prophets were possessed by demons… something he clearly didn’t believe.
But after the 1/6 terror attack against the Capitol and the certification of Biden’s win by Congress, something happened with Johnson.