Monday, September 14, 2015

Producing Experiences with the Flesh and Calling It the Spirit

As I see it, Charismatics are as crazy as ever, but revivalists are also the worst they've ever been. You can add to that the influence on evangelicals, including conservative evangelicals.  I'm talking about another type of bait and switch.  Church growth movement baits with fleshly lures switched in the end with some modification of Christianity.  This bait and switch that I'm writing about offers a fleshly experience while calling it a spiritual one.  People want to feel something, some kind of signal that God is working with them.  They'll easily take that bait.  Bait, of course, is a lie.  It's saying you're getting something that you're not.

The experiences are supposed to confirm authenticity.  With whom is genuine spirituality?  To whom belongs the imprimatur of the Holy Spirit?  They're like the scarecrow showing his diploma, when he doesn't have a brain.

Another aspect of the truth is a true manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit manifests Himself as scripture teaches, a believer is being sanctified and is also receiving assurance of His salvation.  These visible confirmations are an important means by which he knows he's saved.

I'm not going to focus on the Charismatics, who claim that God is still speaking to them, and some of what their "Holy Spirit" tells them is fully off-the-wall nuttiness.   It is a realm of insanity and obvious demonic activity.  With that being said, what I see in revivalism isn't that far off.

I want to remind the readers of revivalism.  Just saying "revivalism" upsets some people, sounding like I'm against actual revival.  Actual revival is biblical, but revivalism isn't.  Revivalism is a technical term for man-made techniques or enterprises or operations to cause the effects that men will call manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  Very often, the effects themselves are not what anyone should expect to confirm that the Third Person of the Trinity is doing anything.  Many of these are just demonstrations of the flesh.  However, the people in the midst of these effects of manipulative activity without discernment often think they're the function of the Holy Spirit.  They're not judging them by scripture.

The Charismatic falls under a theological category of continuationism, saying that the sign gifts continue.  Sign gifts existed to authenticate a prophetic or apostolic office for the proclamation of the Words of God.   The opposite of continuationism is cessationism.  The sign gifts ceased with the completion of the Word of God.   Revivalists will deny they're Charismatics or continuationists, but many, if not most, of the revivalists are either or both of those.

Among revivalists, you hear many claim that God is speaking to them.  They say, "God told me."  In addition, they claim that God gives them a particular sermon or certain parts to the sermon.

Revivalists make several confirmation claims of the Holy Spirit.  At the end of what they have claimed to be spiritual endued preaching is many decisions made, full aisles, or packed "altars" at the invitation.  The size of crowd apparently signals the Spirit's work.  If they had a lot in church or on the bus, that is attributed to the Holy Spirit.  Also, they point to numbers of salvation professions through preaching efforts.  Sometimes you hear, "God is really working" and they point to those things among others.

The style of speaking itself marks the Holy Spirit for revivalists.  He's excited or the crowd is excited. He shouts.  They shout.  Many people shouting and yelling or even "whooping it up" can mean the Holy Spirit is doing something special.  He may lean back and wail away, one foot in the sky, face red, and blood vessels protruding from the neck.  Tears are a measurement, or laughter -- either way, a lot of emotion.  Certain sermons might be particularly powerful and those are preached again and again.  He will attribute the crafting of the sermon often to the Holy Spirit.

Certain songs and the way those songs are sung and played either signal the Holy Spirit or they bring a unique aura of His presence.  If there seems to be a "deadness," the playing and singing might bring life.  Emotional lyrics or a way a singer uses his voice or a tight four part harmony with the right chords and syncopation and arrangement can bring the experience.  It might be what the pianist is doing or a song leader.  Music is a channel to bring the feeling that is credited as the Holy Spirit.

On top of the music, physical acts -- waving, lifting hands, big gestures, facial expressions -- either affirm the Spirit or bring about what some will attribute to the Spirit.  If lots of people raise their Bibles or swing their handkerchiefs or groan or cheer, that all could smack of the Spirit.  People feel something that convinces them it was a spiritual time together.

Nothing I've mentioned so far are what the Bible says are manifestations of the Holy Spirit, means knowing that the Holy Spirit is in charge, in control, or pleased with the circumstances and activities. These are all ways that men can manipulate people's experience and then say that it was the Holy Spirit.  This isn't different than the Charismatic movement.  It is more subtle and perhaps more deceitful, because it lacks the extreme lunacy.

Even non-revivalist evangelicals, including conservative evangelicals, produce experiences through fleshly means that convince people the Holy Spirit is being manifested.  They use music.  They use the microphone, the drums, the band, the clinched eyes and facial expressions, and the authenticity of the effect of breathiness to create an atmosphere or feeling that people think or feel is the Holy Spirit.  It is most often entertainment, at least fleshly, and sometimes just fun in the service. The lyrics might be dense and substantial, but the music they use creates an effect that authenticates the experience. They see themselves as more spiritually genuine and real.  God is not pleased.

Jesus said that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.  It might not be the imitation or faking of a miracle of divine confirmation, but it is a means to validate spirituality.  The experience is created as a mark of corroboration.  It often replaces actual obedience and true manifestations of spirituality.  Those might be preached too in more conservative churches, but they give both to keep the people who need something more than what is sufficient.

10 comments:

Michael Alford said...

This may be my new favorite post of yours. Time would fail for me to tell you of what I've seen in this area in independent Baptist churches. I've been rebuked for my failure to participate in such shenanigans, and for my insistence that real, biblical Holy Spirit influence always produces sobriety and boldness. I've been told that I simply 'don't know God' or 'don't understand the Spirit' and if I would just 'get in' on whats going on, I could learn a lot. I considered for some time that there might be some merit to is approach. I reasoned that this might be some facet of the Christian experience that I had missed out on. So I watched, and what I saw could not be made to agree with the scriptures, so I rejected it.

KJB1611 said...

"I want to remind the readers of revivalism. Just saying "revivalism" upsets some people, sounding like I'm against actual revival. Actual revival is biblical, but revivalism isn't. Revivalism is a technical term for man-made techniques or enterprises or operations to cause the effects that men will call manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Very often, the effects themselves are not what anyone should expect to confirm that the Third Person of the Trinity is doing anything. Many of these are just demonstrations of the flesh. However, the people in the midst of these effects of manipulative activity without discernment often think they're the function of the Holy Spirit. They're not judging them by scripture."

Well said.

Les Potter said...

Very well said. I have seen this sort of thing first hand in many "revival meetings" and "Camp meetings" in earlier years of ministry. For a great many, they are so accustomed to this being the mark of the Holy Spirit, the meeting is a failure with such emotion. It was always my opinion that if anything, they drive any influence of the Holy Spirit away by their veneration of a counterfeit. In this, it is indeed more dangerous than the more obvious Charismatic counterpart. This was among "Independent, 'Fundamental' Baptistic" brethren. In truth, these are most often Protestant conservative Evangelicals with a Baptist moniker. If one were to preach life-changing Biblical doctrine in such meetings, where the Holy Spirit truly deals with hearts, it would be considered a failure. In fact, if any of that Biblical doctrine happens to contradict dogma, the preacher would be shunned as an "unbiblical heretic." I have seen this played out enough times that I have outworn any ability to sit through even a little bit of it.

Pastor Les Potter
Glenrock, WY

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks to all the comments. I hope people pay attention. Often those who need it the most can't pay attention because they are distracted by fraudulent spirituality.

Bro Potter, I don't like sitting through it either. I am long time removed from the groups most guilty, but I've noticed it even among unaffiliateds. They think they've heard good preaching because of all the physical and manipulative antics. I don't want to be there when it is happening, and I've continued sitting through it, but maybe it is high time, I just walked out.

George Calvas said...

"Another aspect of the truth is a true manifestation of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit manifests Himself as scripture teaches, a believer is being sanctified and is also receiving assurance of His salvation. These visible confirmations are an important means by which he knows he's saved."

That is really good. I might just add one more... His desire to please the Lord as a witness and/or preacher of the gospel.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi George,

I didn't mention what I think are the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in a person's life. I said He does it as scripture teaches it. When the Holy Spirit is manifesting Himself like scripture teaches, the believer is being sanctified and receiving assurance. I believe that one of the manifestations is boldness in evangelism, but I wasn't writing about that with this post.

Michael Alford said...

Les Potter, I couldnt agree more.

Farmer Brown said...

Kent, setting aside all the rest, hand waiving, emotional appeals, etc, I would like to ask you about this: "Among revivalists, you hear many claim that God is speaking to them. They say, "God told me." In addition, they claim that God gives them a particular sermon or certain parts to the sermon."

Is the related to the phrase, "The Lord is leading me to..."?

John Mark IB said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg and Dr. Thomas Ross,

How are you today? Hope you're doing great, I tried to send this yesterday but it got lost so I'm trying again hope this makes it, I have some personal experiences with the charismatic movement from the late 80's to early 90's very short period of time I was affiliated with a break off group from an Assemblies of God church and they asked me if I had ever been baptized with the Holy Spirit? I was kind of like well not sure that I know of? Anyway they proceeded to form a prayer circle around me trying to get me baptized with The Holy Spirit! I just didn't feel like this was Biblical? The people were very nice kind loving people but sadly just too blinded by the whole charismatic thing, they were also into the Bill Gothard cult, it really just tends to be satanically inspired, I also wonder how many people are aware of former presidential candidate Rick Perry connection with the New Apostolic Reformation which is a bit Kingdom now and also like the group called international house of prayer in KC Missouri where it's like a 24hr rock concert and the people pray like the Jews do rocking forward and backwards and which used to be on one of the false Christian networks or like the God TV channel? With the Wendy and Alex people? Not sure but they're just all weirded out like oh anything goes is new revelation if it's not in the Bible well it's a new revelation! Crazy stuff that people buy too easily! It's got to be a part of the end times deception as well? People seem all too eager to jump on the Trumpster bandwagon new Messiah like Obama when Trump isn't even conservative or a Christian! Oh well sorry for my rant haha here's something that has just stuck with me which I'm sure you'll find typical of the movement but it's definitely worth a look? by the way here's a link to a YouTube video 7 minutes that shows a guy named Rick Joyner pretty well known in the movement may The LORD bless you and yours with health love joy and peace always in Jesus name amen have a blessed day and weekend hope you're getting relief from the fires and droughts? Here's the link it's on YouTube called Rick Joyner Morningstar Madness3 the only warning is for being utterly bizarre and Satanic? http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wgdcdjtlGfo

John Mark IB said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg and Dr. Thomas Ross,

How are you today? Hope you're doing great, I tried to send this yesterday but it got lost so I'm trying again hope this makes it, I have some personal experiences with the charismatic movement from the late 80's to early 90's very short period of time I was affiliated with a break off group from an Assemblies of God church and they asked me if I had ever been baptized with the Holy Spirit? I was kind of like well not sure that I know of? Anyway they proceeded to form a prayer circle around me trying to get me baptized with The Holy Spirit! I just didn't feel like this was Biblical? The people were very nice kind loving people but sadly just too blinded by the whole charismatic thing, they were also into the Bill Gothard cult, it really just tends to be satanically inspired, I also wonder how many people are aware of former presidential candidate Rick Perry connection with the New Apostolic Reformation which is a bit Kingdom now and also like the group called international house of prayer in KC Missouri where it's like a 24hr rock concert and the people pray like the Jews do rocking forward and backwards and which used to be on one of the false Christian networks or like the God TV channel? With the Wendy and Alex people? Not sure but they're just all weirded out like oh anything goes is new revelation if it's not in the Bible well it's a new revelation! Crazy stuff that people buy too easily! It's got to be a part of the end times deception as well? People seem all too eager to jump on the Trumpster bandwagon new Messiah like Obama when Trump isn't even conservative or a Christian! Oh well sorry for my rant haha here's something that has just stuck with me which I'm sure you'll find typical of the movement but it's definitely worth a look? by the way here's a link to a YouTube video 7 minutes that shows a guy named Rick Joyner pretty well known in the movement may The LORD bless you and yours with health love joy and peace always in Jesus name amen have a blessed day and weekend hope you're getting relief from the fires and droughts? Here's the link it's on YouTube called Rick Joyner Morningstar Madness3 the only warning is for being utterly bizarre and Satanic? http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wgdcdjtlGfo