Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Charismatics, Liberals, and the Haters

As a conservative who holds public office I have had many exchanges with liberals, particularly homosexual activists. I have heard a particular argument numerous times. It goes like this, "who are you to question my experience? My experience is true. For you to question it demonstrates you are an unloving, closed-minded bigot." I'm neither threatened nor offended by that argument. I have no reason to believe that the worldview upon which social liberalism is built has any other grounding than personal experience. There certainly is no place for an absolute truth claim.

What can be frustrating, however, is when a similar approach to establishing truth and debate with others is taken up by charismatic Christians. I have engaged in far too many discussions with charismatics who appeal to their experience and then argue I am some kind of close-minded, unloving, out of touch with the Holy Spirit, "putting God' in a box" rationalist for questioning them. The charismatics and those with a kind of godless worldview seem to have the same basis for their appeal to truth i.e. "I had this experience and who are you to question it. You clearly don't love well."

Enter Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs. He has been bringing up several concerns with charismatic theology as of late. I largely share his concerns. Here is a list of 11 concerns he posted this morning:
  1. Prizing experience over truth.
  2. Unbiblical redefinition of prophecy to validate and legitimatize their experience.
  3. Unbiblical redefinition of tongues to validate and legitimatize their experience.
  4. Mistaking feelings for reality.
  5. Mistaking self-image for reality.
  6. Complete absence of Acts 4:16-level "gifts"-activity since the first century, endlessly rationalized.
  7. Playing host to (and providing cover fire for) the very worst false teachers.
  8. Avoiding Biblical assessment at all costs, and shaming any who attempt Biblical assessment.
  9. Effectively sidelining the Word of God.
  10. Promising the moon, delivering nothing but excuses, dodges, and blame-shifting — at best.
  11. Effectively relocating the center of authority from God's Word to internal feelings and experiences.
Please don't misunderstand me. I know some careful charismatic theologians and pastors. I love these brothers. I don't buy what they are pitching as a proper theology of the work of the Holy Spirit. Many of them engage the issue quite well. However, increasingly the average person I converse with avoids any engagement at all by claiming they are offended that someone even questions their experience.

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