Why is the charismatic movement to appealing to so many?

I found an interesting quote below in an article with a political bent at the American Thinker website. The article discussed the success of the Democrats to capitalize on human emotions and a few significant examples of Republicans missing good chances to do the same.

“People vote with hearts not heads. Statistics might make sense; yet, if your pitch has no emotional appeal, it’s a dead letter. Budweiser doesn’t sell adult beverages, beer companies sell tradition, babes, and parties. If your message doesn’t touch an emotional “g” spot, the product will not sell.” – G. Murphy Donovan

At the same time, I’ve finally finished listening to the audio from the Strange fire Conference (online here) at Grace Community Church, and have spent considerable time pondering a period of about five years I spent in a charismatic church and two reasons why I changed my own opinions about some things.

While I don’t really initiate conversations concerning those years, when I am asked about what changed my mind and opinion concerning various charismatic teachings, my first reply has to do with reading the Bible for myself, especially the scripture passages used to support charismatic ‘doctrine’.

Well, this blog post isn’t about why just reading the Bible ought to cause a pro-charismatic person to question some things, although serious Bible study certainly should generate some re-thinking. From what I’ve experienced, using that reasoning just doesn’t work with many die-hard charismatics. I actually tried to use that argument on one Web site and was answered with the old “if I had a nickel for every time someone has said that, I’d be a rich man” mantra. That response to ‘read the Bible’ points to a deeper issue going on here, and I think the ‘political’ quote expresses that issue quite accurately, if not exactly eloquently – “If your message doesn’t touch an emotional “g” spot, the product will not sell.”

In other words, get hold of a person’s emotions and the product DOES sell! I fear that much, if not the majority of ‘rebuttals’ to the Strange Fire Conference point to the Charismatic Movement’s validity based on having connected to human emotions, either through ‘personal’ pleasurable experiences, or appealing to excitement (another emotion) over thousands/millions having come to Christ, wonderful music having been produced by charismatics, some of them having been martyred, and other such appeals.

As I write this, I am listening to a response to John MacArthur by a Dr. Michael Brown in a 2-hour podcast that 1:17 into it has not addressed a single passage of scripture exegeted at the Strange Fire Conference, but has demonstrated everything in the previous paragraph. I am hearing callers, one after another, swearing to the reality of speaking in tongues just because it happened to them accompanied by a ‘feeling’ that confirmed the experience.

I think the personal experiences/emotions arguments are the easiest to refute from a careful study of familiar ‘charismatic’ passages taken out of their natural context(s). The “look at how many have been brought to Christ” argument is a bit more difficult to refute. After all, how CAN you argue against a movement that has brought so many to Christ? Having been in the movement for more than five years, I can begin by asking a single 2-word question: “Which Christ?”

While I am not indicting all charismatics, nor am I denying that many in charismatic circles have been brought to genuine faith in Christ, I ask that question with all seriousness. “Which Christ?” I remember my experience in a ‘conservative’ Pentecostal church (Assembly of God) having been highly focused on experiences, feelings, and the ‘gifts’. I remember reading tracts about how one can live in a state of ‘divine’ health, the alleged ‘words from God’ spoken in tongues, sometimes ‘interpreted’, and the ‘all we need is love’ type of gospel (emotions again).While there was great appeal to human experience/emotion, I don’t remember hearing any powerful sermons that addressed in a significant way the serious nature and problem of human sinfulness in an address from the pulpit.

If the ‘non-extreme’ segments of the Charismatic Movement appeal to experience and emotions above all else, the ‘extremes’ do so exponentially! Not only do they claim all sorts of things like regular conversations with God, Jesus and angels, they do some really weird things. I won.t go into any of the details here; you can listen to the Strange Fire audio for yourself. They claim to be ‘anointed’ apostles and prophets and even tell us we can have the same ‘anointing’. They make much of the ‘glory’ and ecstatic worship in the ‘glory cloud’ while when the manifested glory of God in the Bible put people on their faces, flat on the ground in shame for their sinfulness in it’s light. It’s all about experience and emotions.

Sadly, the calmer, saner charismatic leaders seem very reticent to speak against the Benny Hinns, Rick Joyners, Todd Bentleys, Mike Bickles and Cindy Jacobs (and the list goes on and on) types out there who claim to receive so much direct revelation from Jesus, angels and glory clouds, that one has to wonder if any person in the Trinity has any time for the rest of us regular folk! While they will confess to ‘extremes’ in the movement, they hesitate to expose the heretics in their midst.

The emotional appeal in the Charismatic movement is HUGE, and it works. However, being sinners saved by grace, and although we have a ‘new’ nature, the vestiges of the ‘old’ nature are strong enough and still as sinful as they ever were. The words spoken by the prophet Jeremiah are still true:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)

Having said all that (I hope it was understandable), let me say in all honesty that I once was sold on the charismatic movement and as anti-MacArthur as many are today. It does however escape me, at this point in my spiritual walk, how any thinking, rational, biblically literate Christian can swallow some of the ‘charismatic’ junk that’s not only on the street, but is also all over the airwaves. Unless of course it IS true that “People vote with hearts not heads” and subjective experiences and emotions tend to draw us away from the objective truth of scripture.

Food for serious thought. . .

May God bless you as you try and ‘process’ the Strange Fire Conference and the Charismatic movement for yourselves.

4 responses to “Why is the charismatic movement to appealing to so many?

  1. Thanks for the post, Dan. Religion and politics are both religious experiences. We should hope that in the best of worlds the former influences the latter. Values are a spiritual, not logical, drill. A life not examined is a waste. We need to worry more about should do than can do.


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