I am currently re-reading an old book. But straight up from the first few pages this testimony of one pastor jumps up at you:
I remember well the first time I stepped aside and allowed false teaching in my church. I was told that we had “quenched the Holy Spirit long enough” and that it was “now time to give the church back to the Holy Spirit”. I was told that the penance for ecclesiastical felony of “quenching the Spirit” was to include an “anything goes” time during the meeting. Order was to be set aside, and chaos was to be invited with prayers like, “Come, Holy Spirit!” This command to Deity was typically followed by a long period of waiting to see what the Spirit would do. A mounting sense of anticipation would grow as we waited for the “manifestations” to appear. If there was any anxiety, it was dispelled by a liberal application of Matthew 7:9-11: “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son as bread, will he give him a stone? “
…Some of us were suckers for this kind of manipulation. My feelings of guilt were conjured up by suggestions that I had exerted too much human leadership and control in the church. All of my peers were confessing their sin of control and letting go, so I followed suit….chaos [then] reined in my church because I had come to believe I needed to forfeit my duty to maintain order. I had lost my lost my commitment to presenting a clear gospel message to visiting non believers and instead allowed subjectivity to rein over reasoning from scriptures. I needed to repent and become a true shepherd again…
How we needed to get back to the basics of Christian evangelism and discipleship…I knew without a shadow of doubt that it was time to begin the process of getting the church God had given me to pastor back to basics.
I went back to teaching the Bible in the most basic fashion I could, verse by verse…Others were horrified that I would discourage shaking and twitching “in the Spirit”. What had been a church of 4,400 shrank as people left to join the “holy laughter” movement. My hate mail grew to enormous proportions. Even the movement’s leader publicly denounced me, predicting that God would kill me for my “sin”.
God was true to His word in the midst of the storm that our congregation endured during what we later called “the year of slander”. Within a few months, several hundred people came to saving knowledge of Christ. Baptisms increased simply because there were new converts to baptize. People’s lives were radically changing, and the church was becoming healthy again. Attendance increased almost overnight. Within a year, we added a third service to our sunday schedule. Currently our congregation is moving past 6,000, and our struggles are with ordinary, normal issues of Christian life.
All of this because of the basics. It really is that simple. [Heb 4:12-13; 2 Kings 22:8-13; Jer 15:16]
Excerpt from the testimony of Tom Stipe as featured in the Foreword of Counterfeit Revival by Hank Hanegraaf.
I had a deep experience of God in 1997, when I was at a Christian camp and while some Christians were praying for me, God healed me of some deep pain and grief stemming from my fathers death 5 years previously, an event which I had never cried.
While being prayed for, I felt God say to me, “Craig, it’s time to cry” and 3 times I felt God say this and 3 times I said no way. On the 3rd time I felt God say “It’s time to cry and cry you will” and two big arms came out of the air and gave me a huge fatherly hug.
Needless to say I went down to the floor a blubbering mess and I ran to my room where for over 3 hours I poured out all my grief and pain…then I started to laugh and for the next 3 or so hours I laughed myself silly.
The next morning I woke up feeling totally refreshed and a new person.
I have also seen and challenged the kind of stuff that you have described as being ungodly… and can tell you a few stories that make the cringe factor… Yet we need to be careful of how we deal with strange behaviour at times also and not cast the baby out with the bath water for sometimes it is the Holy Spirit at work doing a deep work of healing.
Craig its good to hear about your experiences. I wish I could with certainity assure you that the voices you heard or the emotional releases or the warm feeling you got are authentic and from God. I do not really know. But one thing I am sure about is I am bound to scripture as the word of God and to look else where is neither sound nor commendably wise.
Hi Michael. Like you I am bound by Scripture..and believe the true test is the fruit of what happened…I was neither expecting or seeking the experience I mentioned above – great internal peace and a deeper sense of God’s love for me was and still is the result of that experience.
I might post about some of my other concerns and experiences on my blog for in general I agree with the thrust of your post.