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).
My grandmother and aunt were both charismatics, and they worked at the local Christian television station. There were many times when I was growing up that I would watch that television station simply out of curiosity. This was before I became a committed Christian, and some of the theology that I saw on this station seemed very strange to me. It was through this television station that I was first introduced to the Prosperity Gospel.
I came across many shows featuring Mike Murdock, Rod Parsley, Jesse Duplantis, and Joel Osteen. I distinctly remember being turned away by their preaching. I was a big fan of Jesus at the time, but I wasn’t comfortable with Christianity. And they were a big reason why. I remember seeing their fame and fortune, and I had a very difficult time reconciling that with the poverty and humility I read about in the Gospels.
A couple of days ago, President Donald Trump met with a group of inner-city pastors to discuss policy (especially regarding the criminal justice system). Interestingly, most of the pastors present at this meeting were Pentecostal and Charismatic, and they praised the president during the meeting.
Here at PCPJ, we are deeply critical of President Trump’s policies. We have discussed many of them at length, and we even wrote (and I co-signed) a letter criticizing the president several months ago. In this article, I do not want to beat a dead horse and simply further criticize the Trump administration on policy. However, I do want to address a much larger issue — the baptizing of our partisan politics. Continue reading The Dangers of Baptizing Our Politics→
“I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the earth today he wouldn’t be riding a donkey. Think about that for a minute. He’d be in an airplane preaching the gospel all over the world.”
— Jesse Duplantis
Recently, Charismatic televangelist Jesse Duplantis said that God wants his congregation to raise tens of millions of dollars for him to buy a private jet. Unfortunately, this mentality is not unique to Duplantis. Creflo Dollar got himself a $70 million jet, and Kenneth Copeland recently got himself a new jet. In the following video, both Duplantis and Copeland talk about the multi-million dollar jets they have had over the years, and why God allegedly wants them to have them:
Unfortunately, this mentality is not new in the Charismatic world, and it is quite widespread. It is especially common if you turn on a Christian television station. There are far too many examples of these preachers — from Joel Osteen to Mike Murdock.
The theology that these preachers build upon is known as “prosperity theology” or the “prosperity gospel”. The major distinction between this school of thought and mainstream, orthodox Christianity is the claim that God wants his people to have material wealth and prosperity. Health and wealth are seen as evidence of God’s blessing in your life. So, Duplantis buying a mulit-million dollar jet isn’t a sign of greed, but of God’s blessing. Continue reading Jesse Duplantis’ Jet Dream is Unchristian.→
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, or as many Christians call it, Resurrection Sunday or Pascha, for the Western Christian Church. Considering the importance of the day, I wanted to share a reflection on what exactly this holy day should mean to Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians who care about peace and justice.
I have been looking at the passages related to the resurrection of Jesus in the Bible. There are some very important teachings that are of direct relevance to Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians. I have been meditating upon these passages, and I am really beginning to realize just how important they are, and just how central the resurrection is to Christianity (cf. 1 Cor. 15:14). Continue reading Christ Has Risen; Jesus Is Lord!→
As reflective Pentecostals, we have many concerns about the progress of the movement. We know how much it is growing in the world. We know how many marvelous stories and testimonies we can find in our churches, but also we know about the abuse of power. We know about the general rejection of theology; we know about the unconscious politicization. So when we put all that stuff in balance, we have two options: leave or remain. I have to be honest. I left, a few years ago. Disappointed. Sad.
I couldn’t understand how God was working among people who despise to know him. It took me some years to understand that God works wherever he wants. And also, that the rejection of an intellectual knowledge doesn’t mean rejection of other kinds of knowledge. Then I realized how lost I was. I tried — wrongly — to use all the tools I acquired studying, but I forgot that theology is not merely an intellectual discipline, but a way of life. That is the meaning it had for the first Christians. In other words, I discovered that not only my brothers were unconscious about themselves — so was I. Because I hadn’t understand the core of Pentecostalism. Continue reading The Difference Between Pentecostalism and Christian Pentecostals→