The Fatal Flaws of the Renewal – Part 2

So in my last post, I posted the first half of my notes from the second talk I gave at the Last Days Bible Conference.  I dealt with the first two (of five) “fatal flaws” in the Renewal, as organized by the acronym K.N.I.F.E.  The first two flaws were “Knotted Hermeneutics” and “Novelty Obsession.”  Again I’ve included a few hyperlinks to content that I didn’t pull out of books (and remembered to write down).

As a reminder, the five fatal flaws are foundational issues that are fairly widespread in the Renewal Movement.  If I were to nail the flaws down to just one, I’d point to the first issue regarding the hermeneutics (interpretation of scripture).  One might suggest that all the other issues flow out of that, but they’re still significant root issues for large numbers of people in the Renewal Movement.  Not every flaw is equally problematic for everyone; the streams of the Renewal Movement that intentionally push closer to a consistent historical/grammatical hermeneutic (i.e. the Calvary Chapel or ex-Sovereign Grace folds) tend to have less struggles with the other “fatal flaws.”

For example, folks in Calvary Chapel tend to see Satan and demons behind far less than folks in the Victory Church (a generally small, buter…”theologically fawlty” denomination in Canada).


So without further wildly obscure euphamisms, here’s the second half of my notes:

3. Imitation Gifts.

 The problem is that the contemporary gifts are categorically different than what we find in the scripture.

 We will talk about this more in the next talk.

 a. The modern manifestation of tongues is most frequently ecstatic speech, and the tongues in the Bible were nothing of the sort.

i. The early Pentecostals knew that tongues had to be earthly languages, hence the revival in Topeka had someone speaking and writing Chinese, and the revival in Azusa had people speaking and writing in multiple languages.

ii. The tongues of 1901 and 1906 weren’t real languages, and the minute people got overseas they learned that really quick.

iii. The tongues that aren’t ecstatic speech aren’t real tongues either (that will be explained in more detail in the next post).

iv. The question then becomes what do you do with a movement whose major verification of authenticity rests on a demonstrably fraudulent claim?

b. The modern manifestation of prophecy involves fallible prophecy that is almost always wrong and covers it’s penchant for error in being absurdly vague.. Like it or not, that one change has completely undermined the Bible:

i. Smith Wigglesworth tells a story of the 1920’s:

“Not long ago a meeting was being held in the town hall of a certain city in England. In the foyer of the hall was a large display of religious books for sale. A friend of mine, wanting a Bible, approached one of the attendants.

 ‘I would like to purchase a Bible,’ he said, ‘but there are none on display.’

 The young man responded, ‘Oh, we don’t sell Bibles. We don’t need them now; we have the Spirit.’ “

ii. This attitude is rarely displayed so openly, but Charismatic literature is always heavy on testimonial evidence and shockingly short on exegesis.

– The underlying framework of providing testimonial evidence as opposed to biblical exegesis is one where exegesis, doctrine and practice are ultimately validated by personal experience rather than Scripture.

 iii.The low regard that most Renewal folks have for the Bible is demonstrated in their mediocre exegesis of Scripture as well.

– Charisma magazine is “exhibit a” in the substantiation that many people in Renewal circles (though not all) have an shocking low regard for Scripture as seen in the continual lack of interest in the proper understanding of Scripture (you can start here).

c. The modern manifestation of healing is not the same as it is in the Bible, and everybody knows it.

i. Every single Charismatic Faith Healer has to make excuse after excuse for why they don’t heal like Jesus did, in the same manner and degree.

ii. The ones who claim to do what Jesus did never can produce actual proof.

 – Healing stories never come with names and dates and methods of verification.

– We live in a world where everyone and their dog has a cell phone with a video camera on it, and yet all we see are healings that could be easily faked!

– Where are the blind eyes visibly clearing up on camera?

– Where are the shriveled limbs instantly regenerating on camera?

– Where are the lepers healed spontaneously on camera?

Show me the

Show me the “healer” that instantaneously and totally heals a leper like this desperately needy soul and I’ll recant everything I’ve ever written on this topic.  Jesus healed guys like this it regularly.

iii. If anyone in the Renewal really was able to heal in the manner that they claim, the whole debate about authenticity could be over in a matter of hours.  All it would take is some names, dates, and authenticated medical records.

– I even know of people who have been healed miraculously (in response to prayer) who could provide that sort of data, but they’re not claiming that any sort of “faith healer” was involved…nor are they teaching “sowing and reaping” or “covenant rights” or any of the same theological sewage that the faith healers and prosperity preachers are teaching.  They’re just individuals whose story is “people prayed and God graciously chose to act miraculously!  Praise his name!” folks.

 4. Fearful Spirituality

a. Fear of divisiveness.

i.  This was the second biggest complaint made against the Strange Fire Conference in 2013.

 – The biggest complaint was about the Broad Brush that was used: how apparently 500 million Charismatics were condemned to Hell.

 – The second complaint was related to how divisive it was to the Body of Christ. John MacArthur was lambasted by everyone for suggesting that millions of professing Christians weren’t Christians.

(Sure, without context, I agree that this looks really divisive…until you realize that it’s talking about Bill Johnson at Bethel Church in Redding California, and is specifically talking about the type of folks who claim that gold crafting glitter falling from air conditioning ducts is actually the shekinah glory of God.)

 – The bizarre part is that in the Renewal, anyone who claims to be part of the body of Christ is considered “in” and anyone who challenges their blind acceptance of heretics is seen as divisive.

ii. Yet absolute insanity is tolerated in Renewal Circles in an effort to keep unity.

 – For example, the Assemblies of God put out an official paper in 2,000 on Endtime Revival that condemned many of the practices of the Brownsville and Toronto Revival, as well as the doctrinal ideas coming out of IHOP. Regarding the most outlandish “manifestation” of that era, the report says:

 “We must admit that an omnipotent God could place gold fillings in teeth and gold dust on individuals. But can such events be empirically demonstrated? If it is for a sign to those present, the reason for the sign should be evident. But to run after such signs and wonders makes us little more than the Pharisees who came to Jesus asking to see a sign from heaven (Mark 8:11). The same attitude should guard believers, no matter what the unnatural sign might be. Judging from a distance on the basis of second hand reports is dangerous.”

 b. Fear of quenching the Spirit


i. If people are “getting saved” and lives are being changed, that’s considered sufficient proof that anything is a work of the Holy Spirit.

ii.  People in the Renewal Movement are allergic to questioning the teaching or practice of any fast-growing movement because, if numbers equal divine fruitfulness, then any opposition is most likely “quenching the spirit” and possibly committing the “unforgivable sin.”

 – A perfect example of that is the 1949 debate about the Latter Rain movement. Without going into massive detail, the movement that started in North Battleford was highly controversial: The leaders were unfathomably arrogant men who openly laughed at any effort at correction, their “manifestations” were clearly just copied from other ministries (or were obviously not even close to biblical in nature), and they doctrine condemned the entire Pentecostal movement that preceded them as utterly apostate.

 – In 1949, Assemblies of God pastor Charles W.H. Scott evaluated the fruits of the Latter Rain Movement and said that

 “that the revival was not, after all, new at all, but rather the reappearances of enthusiastic mysticism common in church history.”

– His evaluation led to the 1949 response to the Latter Rain movement by the AOG in their national conference. They condemned the “excesses” of the Latter Rain revival as not being “of God.”

 – What was the main response? Stanley Frodsham, a man of no small influence in the AOG, wrote:

 “It has been so grossly unfair to link up this new revival which God is so graciously sending, where so many souls are being saved, where so many lives are being transformed, where God is so graciously restoring the gifts of the Spirit with the fanatical movements of the past 40 years”

 No mention of the doctrinal critique.

– The only thing that mattered was that people were being saved, lives were being transformed, and spiritual manifestations were occurring.

– Since those are considered the mark of a move of God, Frodsham simply didn’t care about, or just glossed over as insignificant, the heresies that were being spread in the Latter Rain Movement.

c. Fear of Satan.


 i.  Inversely, verses like John 10:10 (“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy“) often become a mantra in many Renewal circles.

ii.  The idea of “spiritual warfare” ends up in many Renewal folks thinking that Satan is out to steal their blessings and God is trying to show them how to hold on to them…but Satan comes at believers with almost innumerable tactics.

iii.  This is one of the reasons why so many books on “spiritual warfare” are written; Renewal leaders are continually uncovering new and previously undiscovered avenues of Satanic attack.

– For example. Jentezen Franklin writes about a demon spirit, the Spirit of Python, and says:

 “A python is after one thing: breath. It slowly coils itself around its victim and begins to squeeze the life out, little by little; as its grip gets tighter and tighter, it chokes and suffocates its prey until all the air is expunged from the prey’s lungs.

 You might be wondering why I think it is so significant that the python’s goal is to suffocate the breath out of its victims. Let me explain. Breath, air, and wind are symbols of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. For example, in John 20:22 Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came as a mighty rushing wind; in Genesis God breathed the breath of life into Adam, and he became a living soul. God breathed breath into man.

 Guess who’s trying to choke and suffocate the life out of us? Satan is after one thing; like a python he is trying to extract the breath of the Holy Spirit and His anointing from our lives. Just as a python hates the breath in his prey and will do anything he can to eliminate it, Satan desires to squeeze the Holy Spirit life out of our churches and personal lives.”

 – Franklin says later that the Spirit Python is the reason people lose their passion for the Lord, for the Bible, for prayer, and for church.

 – Franklin says that the Python Spirit could be behind your problems at home, in your marriage, in your family, in your finances, and in your workplace.

 – In other words, if you have a problem anywhere, it’s likely the Python Spirit.

– You had better buy his book and learn how to beat the Python spirit or Satan will have you for breakfast!


5. Experiential Verification

a. Verification of the movement itself

i. The biggest arguments in favor of the authenticity of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements have always revolved around numbers. When people talk about judging something by its fruit, the “fruit” is almost always numerical growth.

 ii.  In the 1950’s, the Pentecostals were accepted into Evangelicalism simply because of their size.

 – In 1958, Billy Graham quoted Dr. Tim VanDusen as saying,

 “The Pentecostal movement can no longer be considered a fringe group in Protestantism for it is the fastest growing movement in Protestantism today and must be taken within the fold of Protestantism.”

 – No mention of why it was considered on the fringe.

 – Nine years later, Billy Graham endorsed the faith healers & prosperity preachers when he spoke at the dedication of Oral Roberts University.

 iii. In the 1980’s, the Charismatic Movement, specifically among the Catholics, was accepted by Pentecostalism simply because of their size.

 – In the May 16, 1980 Assemblies of God minister’s letter (Called to Serve) regarding their response to the spreading of previously exclusively Pentecostal spiritual manifestations into Catholic circles, the Assemblies of God spoke of some upcoming ecumenical conferences and wrote:

 “In view of the widespread outpouring…it is felt this series of conferences can help us as a Movement to maximize our involvement in the current visitation of the Holy Spirit.”

– The authentication of the Catholic manifestations of the Spirit was primarily found in their substantial proliferation.

iv. Now, the New Apostolic Reformation had been welcomed by everyone because their churches are growing like crazy.

 – In 1998, C. Peter Wagner spoke of the New Apostolic Reformation and wrote,

 “In virtually every region of the world, these new apostolic churches constitute the fastest-growing segment of Christianity.”

 – The NAR people are everywhere in Renewal Circles now. You see some of their big figures popping up all over the place, and they will only become more prominent as the baby-boomer generation continues dying off.

 b. Verification of truth.

i. Most questions of Charismatic doctrine ultimately rest on a small amount of biblical evidence and a lot of testimonial evidence.  Testimonial evidence, as a rule of thumb, isn’t reliable evidence.

A whole lot of scam artists have made a whole lot of money because too many people don't know how to evaluate the credibility of

Too many folks with $2,000 shoes and impossibly white teeth  have made a whole lot of money because an alarming amount of people don’t know how to evaluate the credibility of “evidence”claims…and three out of four of the folks in this picture have written best-selling books on theology.

ii. They definitely attempt to use the Bible to support their ideas, but when your ideas contradict their own, they tend to respond with a story rather than a hypothetical argument.

iii. This is why Charismatic folks can seem immune to articulate exegetical arguments.

– Godly men can disagree on Bible interpretations, but you can’t argue with their interpretation of their experience.

– You must tackle their interpretation of their experience.

iv. This is also why Charismatic people get angry or insulted when you challenge their theology.

– Their theology is rooted in their experience of it, and challenging their ideas also implicitly is challenging their experience.

– Saying “that’s not true” is like saying “that didn’t actually happen”; it’s calling them a liar and questioning their salvation.

 I would argue that the Renewal would look very different if Renewal folks would:

1. Strive to interpret the Bible with consistent historical/grammatical hermeneutics

2. Shift the focus from new manifestations and movements to discipleship and spiritual maturation.

3. Biblically define the gifts of tongues, healing and prophecy and bring their practice into consistency with those definitions.

4. Seek to cultivate an understanding of the sovereignty God and a biblical understanding of Spiritual Warfare.

5. Evaluate their experiences by the Bible.

If those things happened, the Renewal (as we currently know it) may even cease to exist.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Fatally Flawed but Supernaturally Saved” Unger


5 thoughts on “The Fatal Flaws of the Renewal – Part 2

  1. Lyndon,

    Thank you for all of your research into this topic and for sharing it. I just finished listening to the last of your talks yesterday and greatly benefited from them all. Keep up the great work!



  2. i can tell you where the video-graphic evidence is … no one is actually filming it. it is considered disrespectful to have a cell camera going in a church (plain etiquette). and if someone has a camera going how can you know where to point it. also if the healing is internal you aren’t going to catch that. often the Pentecostal church isn’t even willing to believe a healing happened until a doctor says it was a miracle. and even if a doctor thinks they might me looking at a miracle and says so to the patient, i mean they aren’t going to put that on paper because of the issues it will cause them professionally. And I will have to add my personal experience… I have received a couple of divine miracles. There wasn’t a warning that it was going to happen today or at a certain time. it was before cell cameras so no chance of videoing. I will tell you about the C-word. I was diagnosed with a special kind of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in DEC 99. it was immediately sending off red flags to the oncologist because this was not a hereditary type (and there also was no history of Hodgkin in my family … even of hereditary types – even non-Hodgkins types). I had a surgery to remove the main tumor but the oncologist said the shear size and stage of the tumor (grade c or higher – grapefruit sized) meant that the satellite tumors were out there. I was fortunate to live in a large city with the best of medical facilities available to any person with decent insurance. I sat in the oncologist’s office with my 24-page booklet from a friend about how chemo kills the patient. I showed him the man’s book (which was part of a larger personal testimony about how he beat cancer naturally over 20 years ago). the Dr admitted that man’s statement about how deadly chemo is, were true enough. I asked if he would follow me as a patient if I tried a natural path to healing and he said he ceased to be a Dr if he did not prescribe a pharmaceutical treatment, so no he could not. He was very kind indeed. He stepped away to leave me alone with my thoughts to decide what I would do. I was sitting beside a plate glass window in a patient room that had a section of baseball stadium seats from a famous stadium ( another Onc. in the group was a big baseball collector). I looked at my bible which I had brought with me. I said under my breath, “God, what do I do?” immediately i heard a voice behind me say “four” … clear as a bell! I instantly jerked around to realize I was right back against the window and there was literally no person in the room with me and no space for them to stand behind me!! Just the plate-glass window overlooking the street below ( i was on the 2nd or 3rd floor – cant remember now) but seriously NO one was outside the window. “What does four mean?” I responded in thought? (silence – I mean literally not even a car drove by). I jumped up and went to another exam room where there was a wall phone (1999). I called my closest christian friend a Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher who had been a life-long christian and a good mentor to me. She didn’t know what to make of it. She said if it were her she wouldn’t take the chemo and had to go as she was a receptionist at a busy law firm. (( right about then i started going through a psychological meltdown in my thoughts – I had not yet learned that I could get a word from God. So I thought maybe it means – I take 4 cycles of chemo ???)) So I reluctantly agreed to take the chemo. The first treatment almost killed me !!!! literally!!! Well they adjusted doses and I looked forward to reaching the 4th cycle. On the way there, the chemo really did it’s nasty work and I was soon bedridden. I had christian TV playing one night and woke up to hear a healing testimony being read on a specific show. I thought (because I was too weak to speak) “God if that could happen for me”. I had prayed early on for God to spare my life for the sake of my daughter – I had been a single mom for years. I didn’t really have any family to take her. One morning I woke up and suddenly I could walk and felt like I hadn’t had a drop of chemo! the weeks prior I had been unable to stand long enough to get a shower … to weak to even step over the side of the tub. This morning was strangely different. I realized it was Sunday and early enough to get ready for Church. I woke my daughter and got her bathed and long hair shampooed and dried /styled, myself showered and dressed, breakfast for both of us and i made all the beds!!! As I was making her bed last, I heard this tiny voice by the window say “go to church”. I thought ‘how strange – I am going’ .. i said out loud “I am going”. <> At church, while a substitute teacher (our Pastor) was teaching my Sunday school class, he said he was going to skip the normal lesson and read a scripture he felt strongly that God laid on his heart just that morning as he prepared for church. As he read the verses from Psalm 119 about King David writing it was “good that I was afflicted” for a purpose, suddenly a strange hot burning (but not painful) sensation started happening in the spot where the big tumor had been taken out. and it went deep into my chest and spread across the center and to the right side of my chest. it grew so strong i couldn’t speak up and say ‘I think I am being healed’. I was sitting right beside my husband at the time. right in the group of people. no one knew what was happening and I couldn’t speak up to tell. as he crossed the second occurrence of “affliction” in the passage, the sensation subsided. I kept wondering during the whole lesson, “was I just healed?” do i know what happened to me?” strangely I couldn’t speak. The next week the Oncologist had to stop my treatments because they had destroyed my immune system. But he said “I don’t know how I know this, but I know you are well. In fact I am writing cured on your records”. It is 2015 and I have been cancer free since then. I was divinely healed by a hot, burning sensation just like the testimony I had heard read on the TV when I said I “if only that would happen to me”. I am sure there are some fakes out there. there are bound to be. But I can tell you that divine healing is real from personal experience. I was divinely healed in a Southern Baptist Sunday School class in Greensboro North Carolina.

    • Well Candace,

      There’s a WHOLE LOT of footage of these church services online. I mean millions of hours worth.

      Someone is bringing their cell phones, and some of these churches are recording their services.

      But do people hold off on the proclamation of a miracle until there is medical verification?

      Uh, no. Not for one second.

      I spent over a decade in AOG circles, and we NEVER checked things out. We just announced everything as a wonderful miracle, and that happened in dozens of churches I was part of. Look at Charisma Magazine’s claims; none of them are ever verified and I’ve documented that on a few posts.

      I don’t doubt that miracles occur.

      I don’t even doubt that you’ve experienced miraculous occurrences.

      I’m a cessationist, but that doesn’t mean for one second that I don’t believe in the miraculous. I don’t even have a problem with your story.

      I think the issues at stake are a bit different than you think.

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