Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Self-Loathing Revivalist Baptist Continuationists

Friday I'm going to post again, postponing (ha, is that a pun?) Thomas Ross's regular contribution until Monday.  My post will be entitled "I'm Gunna Use Worldly Lust to Lure Kids to Christian College."  I'll leave it to you to guess what that will be about.  Don't miss it though.  Now proceed to read.

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When I was growing up, around jr. high and high school, I would hear certain preachers say they were "independent, fundamental, hell-fire, separated, soulwinning Baptists."  Something like that.  It would usually be followed by a hearty "amen."  Silence would have been a social faux pas.  On the other hand, I don't think anyone would say he was a "self-loathing, revivalist, continuationist Baptist," but a lot of those guys I heard actually were.  Amen?!?!

Let me tell you what I'm talking about.  Maybe you already know.  That would be nice, but even if you don't, here goes.

Self-Loathing

I'll start with self-loathing.  I googled "self-loathing white man" and got 14,300 results.  Then I tried "self-loathing black man," which resulted in 25,900.  That isn't scientific, but some people think someone is self-loathing.  "Self-loathing white people" garnered 32,700 more results.  I'm not going to keep going.  The idea of a self-loathing white person is that he is ashamed he is white because....you name it:  slavery, the Crusades, 9/11 (we're why the buildings went down), the Cherokee trail of tears, and Bill Maher.  Just thought I'd throw a curve with the last one.  Anyway, he's a white man who lets everyone run over him because he deserves it.  In my opinion, the self-loathing black man is a little more complicated.  Of course, as a self-loathing white man, I don't have the right to discuss him, but I can report what I read, and the most up to date picture of the self-loathing black man has Herman Cain under it.  It's complicated because I don't think Herman Cain is self-loathing, but those who embrace what it really means to be black say that Herman really only does what he does because he hates his own blackness.  So there you go.  Really uplifting.  And perhaps I digress.

These Baptist continuationists are ashamed of their continuationism.  They've got continuationist finger prints all over them.  Continuationism is in their DNA.  Their hand is in the continuationist cookie jar.  But they can't be proud to be a continuationist, like, say, John Piper or Wayne Grudem.  They deny their continuationism.  They do not embrace it.  Hence, the aforementioned self-loathing.  You might say they're just ignorant of their continuationism, but I prefer self-loathing.  Maybe they are continuationists in denial to borrow more psychobabble.

Revivalist Baptist

I say "revivalist" to differentiate these people from Charismatics or Calvinists.  Revivalism truly is a brand of continuationism.  I'm sure of it now.  And I'll explain why under the last section.

These are Baptists.  Until Piper, I had not heard of someone who wanted to be known as a continuationist (in other words, one who wasn't self-loathing).  Baptists don't want to be known as continuationists.  B in Baptist stands for Bible.  Bible finished.  Bible sole authority.  But I've been around Baptists since I was a toddler.  That's when my family joined a Baptist church.  And fundamentalism and Baptists are rife with continuationism---their own brand of it, the self-loathing kind.

Continuationists

Continuationism is a belief that miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit still operate today.  They continue.  Paul got supernatural abilities as an apostle and we get some of the same kind of stuff today.   John Piper describes his continuationism, not exactly a Charismatic kind, like this (in his book Signs and Wonders Then and Now):

On the one hand, we ought to honor the uniqueness of Jesus and the apostles. On the other hand we ought to be open to the real possibility that this too might be a unique moment in history, and in this moment it may well be God's purpose to pour out his Spirit in unprecedented revival—revival of love to Christ and zeal for worship and compassion for lost people and a missionary thrust with signs and wonders.

That sounds pretty close to the way I think many Baptists, who would not call themselves continuationists, would explain their own point of view.

Self-proclaiming continuationists say that prophecy is revelation from God and since prophecy still exists, revelation from God will continue as well.  Continued revelation is one peculiarity to continuationism.  Virtually none of even the most extreme continuationists, the Charismatics, believe that revelation continues in the same sense as the 66 books of the Bible, but a lesser kind of prophecy.

How are these revivalist Baptists also continuationists?   I'll list some obvious ways.

  1. God still speaks to them or tells them what to do or what to preach.
  2. They see certain types of big events as miraculous signs by which God approves of and works through them.
  3. They look for post-salvation experiences to validate their power.
Like with the Charismatic movement, someone could easily punch holes in the explanations or arguments behind the above three.  Often, the revivalists manipulate or concoct the conditions that they later say validate what God was doing.  They want revival.  They must have it as an after salvation experience to confirm the Spirit's working in their lives, so they produce the activities that would cause the revival to happen, giving credit to the Holy Spirit afterwards.  In many cases, accreditation comes from the number of people who walked the aisle after preaching.  Sometimes a very strange and new interpretation of Scripture comes from an occasion of "the Spirit working."  The interpretation is true because the feeling of the Spirit working and then oftentimes because of the consequences of preaching that interpretation.  The experience eclipses right division, grammar and syntax.  To see more happen, more must be done, and when more happens, it demonstrates the Spirit's workings.  Certain preaching might be manipulation, but its results say it was the Holy Spirit.

Like Charismatic continuationists, these revivalist, Baptist ones use Old Testament kingdom passages to buttress their position.  Charismatics use Joel 2 to justify tongues (gibberish).  You'll hear the revivalist continuationists likening their experiences to the pouring out of water or giving drink to the thirsty.

What's the Real Damage In This?

Revivalist Baptist continuationism destroys in several ways.  It undermines sufficiency of Scripture, actually adding to it.  It glorifies man.   It obscures true spirituality.   It creates different classes of Christians.  It obfuscates good preaching and elevates bad.  It distorts the meaning of the Bible.   It confuses the means of knowing the will of God.  It perverts the doctrine of sanctification.  It leads to unbiblical praying.

Oftentimes revivalist continuationism leads to extra-scriptural authority.  A pastor shows the Holy Spirit is using him in an "unusual way."  God is speaking to him.  God said build a building, a big one.  People question.  They are questioning God, because God told him to build it.  Later when the building gets filled up using non-scriptural or unbiblical methods, that was actually the Holy Spirit validating the whole experience.  The man of God now has more unquestioned authority at his disposal.  If anyone questions, the building card can be thrown down.    Remember when God spoke about the building?  Sort of like the burning in the bosom.  People know this man has some special unction.  Don't say apostolic.   That's part of the self-loathing.  But it is at least semi-apostolic.

I've seen some young men hear the same voices, that said marry a really pretty girl.  The voice in the girl's head said, "Don't marry the boy."  When the girl says no, she must be out of the will of God, because she wasn't getting the inspired voice in the head.

When you speed music up and use certain chords, you can cause certain feelings.  That isn't the music.  That's the Holy Spirit.  The music excites the crowd and they think it was the Holy Spirit.  A lot of people felt that same inspired feeling, so it must be true.  How could so many people feel it, and it not be true?

You know Charismatics are continuationists.  You can decide what to do about them, because you know they are.  These self-loathing, revivalist, Baptist continuationists are dangerous in that they don't present themselves as who they really are.  Continuationism spreads then in a vacuum of ignorance.  It is continuationism, folks.  Now let's go treat it accordingly.

2 comments:

Bill Hardecker said...

I didn't apply, and I am not gunna neither. New Calvinists' would classify themselves as "soft cessationists." How many people have taken God's name in vain by ascribing "God's Will" to something. Lots of good stuff here, Pastor B., as usual. #anotherfanmail. :-) Will you ever consider Twitter?

Ryan Hayden said...

I don't agree with everything you say but this is spot on. As someone who has come up through revivalistic baptist churches, I have been coming to these conclusions more and more. The worst part in my opinion about revivalism is it excludes the teaching of the Bible. Good stuff.