Strange Firony…

***Update at the bottom***

I honestly, sincerely wish I could move on from the topic of the Charismatic Movement, but it just keeps on coming up.  It’s been almost two years since the Strange Fire conference, and it seemed like all the parties involved got their shots in.

The Cessationists made their reasonable appeals, made a lot of unreasonable rants, published their stuff, wrote their responses, etc.

The Continuationists basically cried about division and broad brushes.

The Pentecostals basically cried about division and broad brushes.

The Charismatics basically cried about division and broad brushes.

Charisma Magazine kept on doing everything possibly in their power to provide an endless tsunami of amazing examples as to why the Strange Fire Conference was necessary (and possibly understated things: every single word in that statement links to a separate mind-numbing article, just for a few dozen examples)

There has been biblical proportions of ink spilled on the topic and I’ve been involved in a small percentage of said spillage.  In fact, I got started blogging more seriously when Dr. Michael Brown started laying salvos against the conference, before the conference.  We interacted quite a bit and then yesterday, I saw this:
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Bible Bite – Is Prophecy Redefined in 1 Corinthians 14?

Bible Bites Teeth

I started writing a comment reply to a question, but as the reply grew I figured that I didn’t want it to be lost in the comment archives, so I decided to make it a post unto itself.

The question was:

“Please help me! I agree with the definition of OT prophecy and agree that most/all modern prophets are false accordingly. I can and do argue and point people who declare themselves as prophets to the Deuteronomy and Ezekiel 13 passages. But often they counter with 1 Cor 14. Which seems to say everything that edifies, encourages or comforts is prophecy. Good grief, If that is the definition then virtually everything is prophetic. Music, poetry, compliments, corporal punishment etc. This is exactly how some are approaching and defining prophecy in these last days. I have been told “it it edifies? Receive it. If it does not? reject it” I know this is kooky but have not seen it addressed as yet in all the bubub, Bub. Any light would be appreciated. Continue reading

Quick Thoughts: Matt Chandler on the Gift of Prophecy

Thinking-Man

People all over the place are tossing out what they consider “knockout” arguments against Cessationism.

knockout

(source)

I’ve read a few of them, and I’m…erm…unconvinced.

Here’s an example:

I missed this when I was doing research before on Matt Chandler for my Outreach top 50 Churches.

Here’s Matt Chandler giving an example of prophecy:

(source)

So what do you think?

First, Did Ezekiel ever get 3 ideas and then run across the country-side trying to find out what God was *trying* to say?

Did Isaiah?  Samuel?  Anyone prophet in the scripture, ever?

Now before you jump the gun and bring up some of the occurrences where something like that happened, ask yourself if those events are ever referred to as “prophecy”?

– An example of something sorta similar was Joseph’s dreams in Genesis 37.  He had a couple of strange pictures in his mind that didn’t make sense until many years later, but Joseph is never referred to as a prophet and his dreams are never referred to as “prophecy”.

–  Another example of something sorta similar is the dreams of Pharaoh (Gen. 41) and Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2 & 4).  The prophecy wasn’t the dreams but the interpretation of the dreams (and any OT text used to understand the NT gift of prophecy undermines the whole continuationist idea that there’s a lack of continuity between the OT office of prophet and the NT gift of prophecy).

– I could go on and on, but this is a future post in and of itself (and will come…in a few weeks as my schedule clears up a tad).

This whole issue assumes a broad definition of “prophecy” that isn’t in the Bible, and I’ll try to address this at some point.  I’m currently compiling a list of some of the foundational issues that need to be addressed, and this is one of the big ones.

Secondly, are the only options for explaining these occurrences that they’re either acts of true prophecy or demonic misleading?

How about this option:

It is a work of God’s providential orchestration of lives and minds, but it’s not prophecy.

I know, that’s possibly a little hard to swallow.

It is God, but it’s not prophecy.

Here’s one more thought for you all:

Almost all of these “knockout” punch arguments that are making their rounds fail on the basis that they broadly assume the definition of the gifts in question on the basis of weak exegetical support without accurately deriving them from scripture.  (Big claims that I should back up with a few hundred pages of research, but this is a blog and I have many other things that demand my time.  If anyone wants to start a $100,000 kickstarter project for me to quit my job and start writing books on this stuff, I’ll gladly comply and start pumping out books…)

Most of the “spiritual gifts” books and tests that I have read all simply assume the definitions of the gifts that they’re discussing and don’t exegetically establish them.

stairs(source)

That’s where Matt Chandler is wrong in giving his illustration of “prophecy” in his life: his error lies in his interpretation of his experience.

I don’t argue with his experience; I basically take it at face value and praise the Lord with him, but I don’t have to take his interpretation of his experience as authoritative.  The Bible interprets my experience and tells me what happened, not the other way around.

Just some late night thoughts.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Those stairs would definitely get me into shape!” Unger

Quick Thoughts: Why is it that whenever I heal someone, I can’t find a pen?

Thinking-Man

I was doing some research online today and found a video that was too good not to share.

Here’s a video from Daniel Kolenda, the faith healer who has taken over from Reinhard Bonnke (the world’s “most successful” evangelist/faith healer).  Pay close attention to what he says (don’t worry, it’s a short one):

He says some pretty clear and straightforward things.

1. He claims to have the gift of healing, and he claims that he has prayed for someone who has been healed of HIV.  Not a sore elbow or low self esteem: HIV…like the infection that leads to AIDS.

2.  He claims to have personally talked with the guy for at least a few minutes (or long enough to find out about his life and situation)

3. Not only that, but he claims that when he talked to the man, the man provided paperwork to substantiate his claim.

Now I’m a cessationist.  That means that I believe God can and does heal people of HIV.  That’s not the issue at hand.  God heals miraculously in response to prayer, even overturning terminal and incurable illness, when he chooses to (which isn’t regularly, but it definitely can happen).

The issue at hand for me is whether or not Daniel Kolenda has the spiritual gift of healing (like Jesus and the Apostles did in the New Testament).

When Daniel Kolenda markets himself as having the NT gift of healing, one might expect it to look like it did in the NT.  One of the things that Jesus did was instantaneously and completely heal people of external physical infirmity, like blindness, paralysis, etc.  None of this “sore throat” or “bad back” stuff.  I’m talking “sell your wheelchair” kinda stuff.

Daniel Kolenda claims to have done so twice in the video, and I’ll focus on the second testimony.

Why does Daniel Kolendatalk about the guy healed of HIV and call him “one young man”?  Didn’t anyone have the presence of mind to take down his name and photocopy (or take pictures of) the paperwork?

The guy came back with medical documentation that apparently verified the authenticity of the healing!

Could Daniel Kolenda not find a pen?

That’s got to be it, because if I claimed to have the gift of healing but lots of people doubted me and contested my claims, then I healed someone of AIDS or HIV and they came back with medical paperwork that confirmed their healing, I’d probably think “well, this will shut up my critics once and for all!”  I would make absolutely sure I had his name, number, e-mail, picture, and all the paperwork photographed or photocopied.

This is so painful, and such obvious misrepresentation of facts, that I cannot take it seriously for a second.

I’d guess that Daniel Kolenda, who claims that this sort of thing happens to him regularly, would eventually encounter enough skepticism that he would finally think “Since so many people doubt my claims, maybe I should ask these folks if they’d mind me taking down their names and a short video testimony, and maybe we’ll keep a good quality camera around to photograph any medical records people give us.  That would surely shut up the doubters!”

If these “healings” were legitimate, he could maybe do that in a few nights…that is, if the quantity and quality of healings that he claims occur are *actually* occurring, right?

Maybe?

Forgive me for doubting you Mr. Kolenda, but here’s some advice:

Next time you’re back in the west, stock up on pens. 

Bics

I’ll be the first in line to recant all my accusations and pronounce you an authentic healer, and I’ll then send you a resume and hit the road with you, bringing them in from the highways and byways.

Let’s all hold our breath.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Pens and Friends…you have neither when you need them most!” Unger

A Charismatic Primer Part 10 – The Outreach Top 50 (#41-45)

Time for the tenth installment in this series.  So far, we’ve looked at the New Apostolic Reformation, the Outreach Top 50 #1-5, the Outreach Top 50 #6-10, the Outreach Top 50 #11-15, the Outreach Top 50 #16-20, the Outreach Top 50 #21-25, the the Outreach Top 50 #26-30, the Outreach Top 50 #31-35, and the Outreach Top 50 #36-40. We’ll now look at the Outreach Top 50 #41-45, which includes several churches of interest.

41.  Southland Christian Church of Nicholasville, Kentucky – Pastored by Jon Weece.  Judging from their doctrinal statement and their FAQ page, these guys look like they’re practical cessationists.  They sound like they believe in modern prophecy, but appear to hold to Wayne Grudem’s dichotomy between office and gift of prophesy (which makes them practical cessationists).  Beyond that, here’s a sermon on spiritual gifts that further suggests that these guys take a really low-key, “open but cautious” position on the whole sign gifts/charismatic gifts issue that betrays them as practical cessationists (and seeing that Jon Weece preaches from The Message, I’m guessing these guys don’t exactly do original language exegesis…THE MESSAGE).

42.  Faith Fellowship Ministries World Outreach Center of Sayreville, New Jersey – Pastored by David T. Demola.  Unless the “World Outreach Center” didn’t give you a hint, these guys are a straight up prosperity gospel preaching church:

42a. Their doctrinal statement doesn’t exactly hide much.  They believe in the doctrine of subsequence (salvation and the baptism of the Spirit are entirely separate and distinct events), the doctrine of initial evidence (tongues is the outward evidence of the baptism of the Spirit), and that physical health and financial prosperity are provided in the atonement…I mean point #11 of their doctrinal statement is a whole doctrinal point on prosperity.  Subtlety and nuance are not ingredients in what these folks are cooking.  They have a separate Q & A page that explains some of their distinctives, like why they speak in tongues and prophesy in church, and they have a whole list of “what I have in Christ” that is a “name it and claim it” heresy checklist.

42b. Something interesting is that Demola apparently got his ThD from Golden State University, which looks like it doesn’t even have a department of religion and is “accredited” by some of the most bizarre sounding organizations I’ve ever heard of. Strange…but it’s not unheard of in charismatic circles for pastors to have highly questionable credentials from “schools” that accredit themselves or are under an “accrediting” body made up of several schools that embrace similar strains of false teaching (or have absolutely no doctrinal standards whatsoever).

42c.  Demola also runs Covenant Ministries International, which is an organization for creating “sons of Issachar” and is run by a team of apostles.  If you’ve been around Charismatic circles for any length of time, you’ll recognize how common obscure Old Testament language, like the phrase “sons of Issachar”, is in those circles.  One awesome example is in this famous video of Jessa Bentley.  At 2:47 she talks about “the sons of Ishcar” and then apparently gets hit with a tazer (but she probably stole that idea from someone else…).

42d. Faith Fellowship Ministries World Outreach Center has an in house school of ministry. which apparently offers a 1 year ministry prep degree for”effective service in the five-fold ministry”.  Again, the “five-fold ministry” language is familiar to those who have been around Charismatic circles for some time.

42e.  Faith also has a school of Christian counseling that, from the looks of things, is barely integrationist; more likely openly secular while adding in “Christianese nonsense”.  The school also offers a course in something called “Creation Therapy” (if you’re a Biblical Counselor, read at your own risk…I can only imagine what insanity is peddled in the classroom).  What exactly is the category for secular psychology combined with prosperity gospel?  I don’t know, but it’s something like this:

Gangsta Frankenstein

General Idea – Faith Fellowship Ministries World Outreach Center is a loud and proud prosperity gospel church.

43.  Abundant Living Faith Center of El Paso, Texas – Pastored by Charles Nieman.  Again, if this name doesn’t give it you a serious hint, these guys are also a serious prosperity preaching church:

43a.  Their doctrinal statement says, in no uncertain terms, that “Believers should be baptized in the Holy Spirit, speak with other tongues and experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives”, that “It is God’s will that believers prosper and be in health”. and that “God heals through believers “laying hands on the sick in prayer according to Mark 16”.

That last one refers to Mark 16:17-18, and as anyone who knows anything about textual criticism knows, that passage (actually Mark 16:9-20)  is non-canonical (not actually part of the Bible) and nobody who knows about textual criticism really contests that.  Not only are these guys prosperity preachers, but they take doctrine from one of two sections in scripture that aren’t even part of the Scripture (though that’s not an uncommon mistake, and is all over the place).  Mistakes like that are a good demonstration of the difference between educated and uneducated pastors (and Nieman is definitely uneducated).  The last thing you want to do (especially as a church) is to trust God to keep a promise he’s never made; that’s a recipe for disappointment if I’ve ever seen it.  Having a dynamic personality, being a good public speaker and preaching Jesus are great…but Paul commanded Timothy to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).   If your pastor cannot rightly interpret the scriptures, or isn’t continually developing and improving their ability to handle the scripture, then the apostle Paul says that they should be ashamed of themselves.

Paul said it, not me.

43b.  Here’s their Church 101 page, where the pastor answers questions on various things.   The whole God is on your side video is interesting, and it’s telling how he explicitly commits the same error that he condemns others of (modeling God after what you want him to be), and it’s telling how he explicitly suggests that God is unconcerned with sin.  Also, it’s absolutely ironic how he totally downplays the law and yet, in the tithing video, tries to claim all the Old Testament teaching on tithing as being binding on the church (with the exception being that in the Old Testament the tithes were taken but in the New Testament they were received).  Also, I find it telling how the video on tithing is twice as long as any of the other videos (and I couldn’t help but notice that in his illustration regarding tithing, God is the wife and the Christians are the husband…but I won’t read into that too much…).  The Holy Spirit video is actually a video about praying in tongues (and he misquotes both his supporting texts regarding the apostles and his claim that every one of them prayed in tongues).  He defines tongues as “your own personal, spiritual, prayer language” and he claims that the purpose of tongues is basically for God and a person’s self edification in their personal relationship to God, and so that we can side-step our own confused desires and pray what God wants us to pray in a way that we don’t actually understand…which is okay because we don’t really need to know what we’re praying for since it’s God praying through us (which makes absolutely no sense).

43c.  The church offers the congregation a prosperity quick reference positive confession card for finances, so that members can always remember how to speak wealth into existence.  Also, with regards to positive confession, these guys are very open about their positive confession theology (and for those who don’t know, the simple idea behind “positive confession” is simply that your words have the power to create reality so if you speak positively about something, what you speak will become reality.  The opposite is also taught; if you speak negatively about something, what you speak will become reality.  It’s a very old idea that comes from Hinduism which has crept into the church over the last hundred+ years through some amazingly undiscerning people.)

hear-see-speak-no-evil1

43d.  And if that’s not enough for you, look at who’s coming to their Thrive 2013 conference.  Jentezen Franklin (#24)?  Creflo Dollar? The Spanish ministries pastor at Lakewood (Church #1)?  Anyone who invites Creflo Dollar to headline a conference is going out of their way to say “we are a haven for false teachers!”  (Beyond that, one of those guys is a life coach, and I cannot stand life coaches.  “Life Coach” is a wanna-be pastor who doesn’t meet the biblical requirements for ministry, usually in their ability to teach doctrine and in their personal holiness, but confuses ministry with “helping people” (with highly unbiblical ideas and theology picked up from Oprah, spiritual development practices, bumper stickers, the “Chicken soup for the soul” books, and hundred+ year old New Thought heresy).  Life coaching is what a person lacking any shred of biblical discernment does who wants the “joys” of helping people but can’t live up to the high expectations of pastoral ministry.  Having a “life coach” at a conference to instruct pastors is like bringing a homeopath to speak at a neurosurgery conference.)

43e.  It’s not really a doctrinal point, but it’s is highly suspicious and appears to be a massive conflict of interest when your staff page reveals that your daughter is the HR director for the church and your son is the church accountant.

General Idea – Abundant Living Faith Center is another loud and proud prosperity church that thinks the narrow road has a stop along the way:

Prosperity

44.  Lutheran Church of Hope West of Des Moines, Iowa – Pastored by Mike Housholder.  This church is Evangelical Lutheran and actually says nothing on the website about spiritual gifts/charismatic issues.  They have a “health and wellness” page, but it’s definitely not prosperity gospel stuff.  This church apparently has far more concerns with the issues around homosexuality than spiritual gifts/charismatic issues.  I’d take an educated guess and say that this church was practical cessationists.

45. The Village Church of Flower Mound, Texas – Pastored by Matt Chandler.  This is another “reformed charismatic” church.  Chandler is on the more cautious spectrum of the Mark Driscoll side of things (probably most closely akin to many Calvary Chapel pastors), but he’s not nearly as tame as James MacDonald.  There’s almost nothing about the Village Church (or Matt Chandler) online, except for the following:

45a.  The Village Church has official positional papers written by Geoff Ashley (the apparent resident theologian) on what “charismatic” means, what they believe about spiritual gifts, what women can do at The Village Church (which includes prophesying), and Demons and deliverance (which is somewhat related to Charismatic issues).

45b.  Chandler is interviewed by Adrian Warnock here on being a reformed charismatic.

45c.  I’ve even gone through the whole sermon archives of The Village Church and haven’t found any Charismatic issues addressed except for some minor passing references in sermons like this one or this one or this one or this one.

General Idea – The Village Church is a church that claims to be ‘charismatic” but I’d argue is clearly a practical cessationist church.  Chandler, like Driscoll, simply has the experience of a cessationist and describes his cessationist experience in misapplied charismatic language.  The “tongues” he speaks in aren’t biblical tongues, and the “prophecy” he allows isn’t biblical prophecy.

So that’s the end of my exploration of #41-45.

Now all those people who were wondering about Chandler have the answers they were looking for…or not.  At least they have an answer.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Trying to describe his experience with properly applied biblical language” Unger