The REAL Reason why the Charismatic Movement is thriving in Africa

Now I don’t usually just post links to other blog posts, as my readers may have noticed.  I tend to think of blogging as actually offering something to your readers from yourself that shows some sort of cognitive activity rather than being a glorified RSS feed for other blogs, unless that’s what your blog actually is and you scour the web looking for fantastic articles to share that others likely wouldn’t find.

Then again, every now and then I run across an article that is just that good that I don’t want someone to miss it.  Over at A Letter from Kabwata, Conrad Mbewe tossed up a post that explains exactly why the Charismatic Movement is simply steam-rolling Africa.  It’s the response I wanted to toss up in response to Michael Brown’s whole “half a billion people got saved in the Charismatic movement so it cannot be wrong!” argument, but Mbewe writes it better than I could have and carries a lot more credibility that I do seeing that he’s a pastor in Africa and deals with the Charismatic insanity, in Africa, daily.

I’d commend it to you and urge you, in the words of Flava Flav: “Don’t believe the hype!”

The validation of any theology, any movement, or any “move of the Spirit” is not in how many people make professions of faith (and nobody can ever tell you how many people actually “get saved” in response to anything), nor whether people show up to church, nor whether millions of dollars come in, nor whether or not there’s “fruit” (which is almost always defined in terms of the preceding ideas, not biblically defined).

The validation of any theology, any movement, or any “move of the Spirit” is how it is evaluated by the truth of the scripture.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Flava Flav?  Really?” Unger

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6 thoughts on “The REAL Reason why the Charismatic Movement is thriving in Africa

  1. I’m curious about how far you think these groups are actually drifting from the scriptural worldview. Scripture, and the orthodox approach of the church, shows exactly the same four layer structure to reality that the Africans use (though maybe not the nuanced characteristics of each layer). But, you both seem to be arguing more that the structure itself is in error. Scripture is clear that God is a transcendent being, that there are invisible spirits that affect our daily lives, that departed saints participate actively in the ongoing reign of Christ, that Apostles had authority and power over average believers, and that people’s struggles were set in this context. Focusing on the issue of ancestors, because Amillennialism hasn’t gotten much publicity in this generation you may have forgotten that scripture describes martyrs and other saints assisting Christ in his reign from heaven during our age. We don’t have scriptural advice to pray directly to them, but the personal participation by glorified saints in the reign of Christ is a very ancient concept. As far as demon possession and such goes, we see dramatic anecdotes of this throughout scripture. Are you saying that Christians are supposed to be out of the demon business entirely? What would you propose is the proper modus operandi to deal with demons in every day life? I gather that you would say the era individual miraculous gifts is over, but are we saying that demons are no longer a problem as well? Isn’t your insistence that detailed, technical teaching be the primary effort in a church service merely European Christianity pushing cultural assumptions into Christianity in the same way that you are accusing Africans of doing? Do you have any scriptural evidence of church leadership teaching detailed lectures about systematic theology to the congregations? Or, are you proposing that we go back to Apostalic advice found in such documents as the Didache to reset the culture of Christianity back to the first generation? If so, keep in mind that there is no Calvinism found there or anywhere else in the first several hundred years of the church. From what I can tell of the patristic era they weren’t as interested in hearing sermons about things like the doctrines of Grace as they were about individual contemplation, prayer, and fasting (their culture led them up against a Christian version of Stoicism). I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make, other than that you feel uncomfortable with high energy people acting out and you don’t like people taking advantage of them (something about which we agree).

      • Let’s start with the issue of ancestors. Since the primary orthodox view of eschatology in the church has always been Amillennialism, and since Amillennialism is based on saints participating in the rule of Christ from heaven, then what is categorically wrong with seeing believing ancestors as assisting believers in this life?

        • Doug, I reject both of your premises as false. The first is historically anachronistic since the modern articulation and formulation of Amillennialism didn’t exist in the early church…but the second point is far more bizarre to me.

          Where does the Scripture suggest that dead saints assist Christ in his ruling? I know some pretty significant, published, amillennialists whom I have never heard mention a word of that.

        • Amillennialism is the idea that the millennium (at least the reign of the saints with Christ) is currently ongoing. It is primarily founded on Rev. 20:4-6 (though there is significant overlap with the kingdom that was handed over to the saints in Daniel 7). In Revelation, martyrs and other overcomers are seated on thrones and participate with Christ in his ruling. Since the conditions of the millennial reign of the saints is gained from this passage, and it shows believers judging and reigning with Christ, it’s a pretty simple conclusion that they are doing so through interaction with human history. In addition, it has always been the stance of the church that at least the souls of the departed are in heaven and are engaging with God regarding their desires about how the management of history should be accomplished (starting in the first century with the imagery of Rev. 6). It’s possible that some Amillennial supporters have not thought about the implications of their system, but I’d suggest that in Protestant circles it’s a blind spot due to what would sound too much like RCC doctrine. Even if you restrict the membership of those ruling to the first century martyrs, or maybe martyrs throughout the age, you still have people reigning from heaven for the thousand years. If you are going to reject this basic paradigm, then you need to be able to explain Rev. 20:4-6 and Daniel 7:18, 26-27 from the point of view of Amillennialism, which I assume you reject as true though this doesn’t matter because it’s the topic of discussion.

  2. Pingback: The REAL Reason why the Charismatic Movement is thriving in Africa – Charismatic Feeds

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