Saturday, May 17, 2008


We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified.

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about the Holy Spirit and all things charismatic. This may because we have just celebrated Pentecost, or it may be because I have somehow found myself going to a church which is the least charismatic that I've been to in years. If I was being mean I would say it is virtually Binitarian in its theology, or possibly Trinitarian with the Bible as the third member. Suffice to say I don't think I'll be going there much longer.

On the other hand, I can relate to a lot of what folk within emerging church circles who call themselves post-charismatic are saying. I understand these people to be saying, not that the Holy Spirit and His gifts aren't important and vital for the church, but that they want to distance themselves from some of the excesses, abuses and frankly bizarre behaviour of some of the charismatic movement. As Todd Hunter says -'Post-charismatic is not post-Holy Spirit, it is a call for post-weirdness.'

For a prime example of this weirdness Steve Knight points to a group who may represent 'The New Charismatics'

Pretty wacky stuff!

Of course, lots of people are talking about Todd Bentley and the 'Florida Outpouring'. This guy is like Benny Hinn with tattoos. Good old fashioned Pentecostal revivalism, with a dose of self-parody - the guy actually shouts 'Bam!' when he pushes people over prays for people. It certainly makes for compelling viewing - last night they were claiming their 7th person being raised from the dead in connection with the revival.

Again, I find Robby Mac's assessment spot on. I just had to nick this picture:

Do I like this guy's style of ministry? no. Do I agree with his theology? no. Is God doing stuff in that place? Undoubtedly. Are people being healed? I'm sure some are. A friend of my parents did the old 'touching the TV screen' thing and got healed of a knee injury. The fact that God may be using this guy and people being healed does not mean he is beyond critique. I don't like the way, for example, he (and God TV) keep talking about 'seeding the revival' or 'sowing into the revival', in other words 'give us your money! And what's with all the gold teeth stuff?

Perhaps I just prefer the softer, gentler approach to these things, I'm still Vineyard at heart. Some classic Wimber:

I'm not trying to put God in a box and make him conform to what I'm comfortable with, or feel is palatable, acceptable or cool. I'm sure we can always expect a dose of weirdness when people respond in their brokenness to the Spirit of God. Any spiritual experience can probably critiqued and deconstructed. Perhaps only time will tell if there have been genuine healings and lives transformed. Do I have to choose between conservative evangelicalism and wacky extremism? Am I post-charismatic? I guess I'm still on the quest for the radical middle.


Anonymous said...

Nice post Jon. Check out this link for another blogger discussing theological identity.

Jon said...

thanks Jon. nice link. 'The Jesus Creed trumps the Confession'. I like that line.

Nick said...

Hey Jon, I've been watching a bit of this too. We're addressing it at church on Sunday. Wimber used to talk about eating the meat and spitting out the bones. I'm wondering how much meat there is on the bones. I'm guessing we're to judge these sort of things by their fruit.