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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
Going through my old mail (this article was first run in 2011) I came across a copy of one of the hardest letters I have ever come to write. I have edited the particulars and specifics but featured the letter in it’s entirety. I have featured it not to cause any malice but to perhaps help somebody who may be in a similar situation. When breaking fellowship with a church that is digressing from orthodoxy, it is never easy especially after you have been a devout member. I thank God for the journey I have come through, without which I would not have known his providence and grace.
Dear Pastor XX,
Warmest summer greetings to you and your family. The last six or seven months have been a period of soul searching and re-evaluation of our own lives, our family and church visions in light of the Gospel. Read More
Conrad Mbewe a pastor of a little church in Kabwata in Africa has written an interesting post on the growth of Charismatic movement in Africa to the point that there is now a fringe mystic personality that has replaced the local witch doctor. This personality called ‘the man of God’ has become an ‘anointed guru’ who brings deliverance, breaks generational curses and dishes out break-throughs at a local center where you have to come ready to sow a seed. Oh let me not spoil the article for you…
Many explanations have been given for the explosion of the Charismatic movement in Africa. Many have seen this as a powerful visitation of the Holy Spirit. Whereas there is probably more than one reason, I want to add my own observation to this for what it is worth. In this blog post, I do not refer to the old conservative form of Pentecostalism once represented by the Assemblies of God churches. I have in mind the current extreme form that is mushrooming literally under every shrub and tree in Africa. How can one explain this phenomenon?I think that one reason why the Charismatic movement in Africa has been like a wild bushfire is because it has not challenged the African religious worldview but has instead adopted it. It has simply baptised it with Bible verses and Christian words that previously meant something totally different.The African Spiritual WorldviewLet me explain what I mean. The African spiritual worldview consists of four tiers.1. God2. Angels and demons3. Ancestral spirits4. Human beingsIt is because of this reality that Africans do not question the existence of God, as is the case with many people in the Western world. To an African, God is there. He is the Creator and ultimate Governor and Benefactor of the whole universe.Rather, in our spiritual worldview, although God is there he is very far away. Between him and us as human beings lie two layers in the spirit world. One is that of angels and demons (i.e. bad angels) and the other—which is even closer to us—is that of the spirits of the departed.So, although God is a benevolent, loving, and caring Being, unless the beings that dwell in these two layers that lie between him and us are appeased, his blessings cannot reach us. It is, therefore, important to appease the ancestral spirits and defeat the demons. Only after that will God’s blessings come upon us.This is where in African traditional religions witchdoctors come in. …Read More!
It’s a while now since we last saw Todd Bentley warn a bewildered chap that he was just about to leg drop him so that he could earn a “revival” in his church. Another time he supposedly gave another man a two minute head start before he broke his teeth and sternum. Bentley’s erratic behavorisms were outlandish but they drew crowds. People came to see and be subjected to mesmerising antics. No one seemed to question the biblical basis of his practices.
People actually will crown any one as king if he can create an illusion or pretend to conjure up one. A couple of years before Mr Bentley graced the Evangelical scene, there was a like minded charismatic man called Smith Wigglesworth. No, he didn’t knock people around with his coat like some famous televangelists do on television or huff and puff a glory cloud to make people drowsy “in the holy ghost”. Mr. Wigglesworth is said to have punched a man so hard during one of his “revivals” that the man died. He then went on and raised him back to life, or so the legend goes. Today we will look at the teachings of Mr. Smith Wigglesworth. So, to begin with – who was Wigglesworth? Was he orthodox or a heretic? I am glad you asked….
SMITH WIGGLESWORTH (1859-1947) was a famous Pentecostal evangelist and faith healer. Many books have been written about his unusual life. He was converted in a Methodist church, confirmed as an Anglican, and as a young man was associated with the Salvation Army and Plymouth Brethren. In 1907 he claimed that he was “baptised in the Holy Spirit” after hands were laid on him by Mary Boddy, who alleged to have had a Pentecostal experience only a month prior to that. Mrs. Boddy believed in the doctrine of healing in the atonement, but she spent the last sixteen years of her life as an invalid. Wigglesworth, too, believed that physical healing is guaranteed in the atonement of Christ. He taught against the use of all medicine. He believed that signs and wonders should always follow the preaching of the Gospel. He taught that a Christian can be justified and sanctified but still not have everything necessary from God. “People are never safe until they are baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Wigglesworth, “The Place of Power,” June 1916, reprinted in The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 151). He taught that handkerchiefs which are prayed over will bring life if carried in faith to the sick (The Anointing of His Spirit, p. 231).
When I was a Word of Faith enthusiast I loved God because I was born again and the only church I knew taught what I eventually picked up. I did not understand much of what was taught in church and knew some of the doctrines made no theological or scriptural sense. I easily embraced prosperity theology and any fad that slithered to the pulpit. It is true that when people are always shifting their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It is good for young believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in His Word. But scriptural exegesis and theological exertions are not encouraged by many churches-most especially in the liberal non-cessationist camps. They call this being “pharisaical” or “too conservative” or limiting the move of Holy Spirit who would otherwise want every one to be open minded and receptive to every and anything.
Its against that background that I understand why this young man drew a line in the sand and dared the bravest of Calvinists to smell the coffee on the liberal side:
Recently I made a very hard important decision concerning Facebook. I felt like a few people on my friends list were posting and promoting things, that I feel are a threat to my personal faith walk, and a threat to the effectiveness of the Body of Christ period. If you do not know by now, I am not a Calvinist, and I do not agree with the doctrines of Calvinism and reformed theology (mainly the TULIP). There’s More
If the latest Church growth updates are anything to go by then Africa is surely having surplus of growth. The growth has been described by many colourful words like “explosive”, “spectacular” and of recent “fast food-ish”. There seems to be an easy believism called prosperity gospel that is spawning a multiplex of believers. In this form of Christianity, a believer is supposed to be successful; if not, something is very wrong. This emphasis can be seen in the names of the flourishing churches: Winners Chapel, Victory Bible Church, Jesus Breakthrough Assembly, Triumphant Christian Centre. The titles and themes of conventions, crusades and conferences repeat this emphasis: “Gathering of Champions” “Living a Life of Abundance,” “Taking Your Territories,” “Stepping into Greatness.” For all these churches, size and expansion are tangible signs of success—which is why the terms Global, World or International appear in so many of their titles.
South Africa recently hosted the World cup. From this land that gave football fans the much loved and equally hated “vuvuzela” has emerged Rhema Church. Rhema has established itself as one of Africa’s Best Churches. A place where the big shots, celebrities and politicians come to embrace at the table of a “rock and roll” religion. Even the President, Jacob Zuma comes regularly to Rhema to tuck into two of South Africa’s said pastimes, conspicuous consumption and Christianity. But There’s More
I remember a couple of years ago when a friend, Ryan (not his real name), came rejoicing to church. Another buddy of his had come to faith in Christ. This of course was greeted with the usual jubilance when a sinner comes to repentance. Then my friend said something that got me thinking. Ryan said now that Rooney (not his real name too) was saved, he needed to pray hard so that he could receive the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is given to all Christians. Actually no body can be saved without the work of the Holy Spirit in applying the preaching of the gospel in regeneration of a sinner. Pentecostalism teaches that the Holy Spirit is given to Christians after they believe in Christ –as an additional or second blessing. This implies then that there is a split-level church. …Read More!
Early in my Christian walk I was taught and made to believe several things. Like one can be anointed (yeah that elusive word once again ) to the point that they soar to a higher level of grace than others and henceforth attain levels of sanctification that endow them with a state of sinless perfection. Well, the title question above delves into this mystic doctrine of sinless perfection. Is it biblical? If not where does it err? I came across this brilliant article by Reese Currie and I hope it will answer a few questions for some:
I [Reese Currie] have been receiving an increased volume of e-mail lately from proponents of “sinless perfection” doctrine in response to my article, “Can We Live Sin Free?” None of these supposedly sinless folks offer any argumentation from the Bible, since the doctrine they espouse can’t be found there, but yet they seem quite concerned that I’m doing terrible things to peoples’ Christian walk in maintaining that humans never attain sinless perfection. I am, according to one writer, “an agent of Satan” holding back the true believers in Christ, and should “seek God and be taught of Him.”
Obviously, another article on this is required, since the first, although quite laden with Biblical facts on the matter, does not dissuade these people from e-mailing me to label me a heretic, unknowledgeable, and “Satan’s agent.” So, I offer these facts about people who advocate “sinless perfection.” …Read More!
Charles Fox Parham (4 June 1873 – 29 January 1929) was an American preacher originally from a Methodist and the Wesleyan Holiness Movement back ground. Together with William J. Seymour, Parham was one of the two central figures in the development and early spread of Pentecostalism (which initially emphasized personal faith and proper living, along with a belief of the imminence of the return of the gifts of the Holy Spirit) in 1901 in Topeka, Kansas. Parham left the Methodist church in 1895 because he disagreed with its hierarchy. He also complained that Methodist preachers “were not left to preach by direct inspiration”. Rejecting denominations, he established his own itinerant evangelistic ministry, which preached the ideas of the holiness movement and was well received by the people of Kansas.
Charles Parham’s Theological roots
Pentecostalism grew out of the Holiness movement roots. John Wesley, the eighteenth century Anglican minister and founder of Methodism, is in many ways seen as “the spiritual and intellectual father of the modern holiness and Pentecostal movements” because of the doctrine of sinless perfectionism. Perfectionism (sanctification) was the second blessing or experience of the believer. This perfectionism would become something a believer must seek and strive for. Read More…