Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Charismatic... with a seatbelt"

I believe the above quote was first coined by Mark Driscol. As I begin my day with CAMP weighing heavy on my shoulders. I just need to process through some thoughts I have pertaining to some excellent discussions I had with students over the last three days.

After having a face to face discussion with jdf on the 4th of july in which he proclaimed my church was NOT traditional (What do you expect from someone decidedly reformED), I was reawakened to my love/hate relationship with labels and categories.

Also, as I've wrestled through with some students the relative importance of spiritual gifts, tongues, and our charismatic / pentecostal interpretation of these things, I am reminded that these nomenclatures are largely insufficient.

I am also reminded of my heart for "post charismatics". Despite the fact that I see and sympathise with four common honest criticisms of the renewalist movement...

1. Abuses and Elitism in Prophetic Ministry
2. The Excesses of the word faith / prosperity teaching
3. Authoritarianism Leadership
4. An approach to Evangelism and Discipleship that depends on crisis events.

(The first two are fairly non existent where I work. Yet, some of these folks are my friends. The second two are common frustrations I deal with where I work but they are applied in fairly balanced and gracious ways) ... I do not feel released to leave or separate from this wonderful, helpful to me and others, expectant for God to do something, holding tight to scripture and holiness, dynamic and still changing movement.

While I value the great diversity of relationships God has allowed in my life, and I truly desire bridge building to be a mark of my ministry, I sometimes wonder how the same people can both like me but still have real problems with each other? I'm not thinking of anyone specific here, and I know I'm just a warm, charismatic, fun loving guy, (who wouldn't like me?) but seriously. How is it that decidedly reformED, decidedly renewalist, and decidedly emergent voices have all had meaningful impacts on my life. I feel like I'm having a "who am I" moment. Maybe these labels and categories are not important.

I realize this unpolished, babbling post is becoming rather lengthy, but I wanted to state for the record where I stand on some of these sometimes devise issues.

Pentecostal, Charismatic, or Renewalist - These are the words that describe the churches I have attended and worked at my entire life. I'm not sure what the differences between them are. I will say I have done a Jericho march. I have layed hands on the sick. And I have seen multiple offerings received because not enough was given. I have never seen swinging from the chandeliers. I've never sent money to anyone on TBN. And most Sundays our services are very similar to those of my baptist, calvary, community, and evie free church friends.

Tongues (and being "filled") - I believe this gift is real and applicable for today. I can, have, and often do speak in tongues. I think it is a wonderful personal prayer launguage. I think it is also a means of public prophesy in the church which should always be interpreted in that context. If there is more than one message in tongues it should be limited and three is the magic number. I do not think it is evil. I do not think it's the only, or most important, tell tale sign of being "spirit-filled". I do believe in a second baptism experience, although I don't think it needs to happen during an emotional, crying, singing, and shouting, altar experience, although for me it did. This is NOT a salvation issue. I am uncomfortable with folks who seek the sign but I am open to God being God and giving us good gifts however he wants to. I have never been slain in the spirit and I think that's a little wierd.

Supernatural Happenings - I believe in the use of Spiritual Gifts much like we see in Acts and the New Testament. I believe in divine healing, angels and demons, and their interaction with our natural world here. I believe God speaks to folks today through divine revelation, prophesy, and visions. HOWEVER, I too get weirded out when people start declaring "Thus sayeth the Lord" or talking about "spirits of our city", or the "demons of discouragement". These kinds of revelations must line up with scripture or be thrown out. I really believe there is enough "hell" and "demons" we deal with here on earth just because of sin. I do not believe miracles have ceased, I've experienced too many in my life. I do not appreciate people who use "prophet" as a title, and I am cautious and critical when people speak of God's divine revelation to them. However, I refuse to negate or overlook what I have experienced as fulfilled prophesy in my life.

Scripture - I believe it's true, literally. I have no problem attaching inerrant, inspired, or any other "in" word to it, at least in the original manuscripts. I agree with the cannon and have little respect for lost gospels. I believe our English translations for the most part are reliable, at least on things that matter. I have very orthodox and traditional views in regards to issues of authorship and I tend to believe in a literal 6 day creation. I get irritated when people use "literal translation" to defend their views on creation and prophecy. I am not schooled enough, and honestly I wasn't there. It seems reasonable to me that Genesis, at least the first chapter, could be poetry written for an oppressed people, not historical documentation. That's different that what I grew up understanding, but like I said, it seems reasonable. I believe the whole book, Genesis to Revelation is the Word of God. BTW - Growing up, I was a sword drill champ!

Eschatology and Intensity of Belief - Pentecostals believe what they believe and they BELIEVE it. The lack of dogmatism in my own life is probably why I can find friends in emergent circles. I believe in Truth. I believe God has revealed Himself to us, and we can have confidence in Him. However, there are things I preached 5 years ago, I don't agree with today. I am open to the very slim possibility that in some areas, I might be wrong. There are few areas where I am as open minded as I am when it comes to eschatology. I am NOT convinced Jesus is coming back before I taste death. I am also fairly confident it is NOT going to happen like Tim LaHayes fictional series describes it. I also see little value in where it really matters. If He's coming I'm ready (pentecostal friends insert a "Glory!"). And as long as I'm here I want to make a difference, not just in "souls" but in whole persons and the whole planet.

Politics - I have voted Republican, Independent, or Libertarian in every election I've voted in. I've never not voted. I love democrats and one day might vote for one. I'm not a big Hillary fan.

Morality - I am largely uncomfortable telling people they are wrong. I also am largely uncomfortable with the "anything goes" pluralism in our society today. I think the charismatic church has done a terrible injustice by focusing on issues that are largely cultural and ignoring issues that are largely biblical. When I was growing up I thought justice was why we believed in the death penalty. I never heard anyone speak on fixing corrupt systems and helping the oppressed and marginalized. To me, this is way more important than not wearing an earring, taking off your hat, cleaning your room, cutting your hair, or other non issues that got preached about at church. Why did we have more secular cassette tape burnings than homeless people feedings? I appreciate music, artwork, and film regardless of it has a christian label in front of it. Some of my favorite movies are rated R. I don't have a problem with people playing cards, drinking socially, dancing, smoking, or hanging out at the places where those things happen.

I do think homosexuality is a sin, just like lying, over indulgence, coveting, murder, and gossip. I think sin is washed away by the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross for those who would receive it as a free gift. I do have a pretty strong belief in substitutionary atonement. I am also addicted to sexual abstinence for those who are not yet married. I think waiting till marriage is a good idea. However I think the idea of "defending marriage" would be accomplished best by those who claim to be followers of Jesus staying married, loving one another, avoiding adultery, and steering clear of pornography and the other perversions that are out there.

I want to live my life with confidence in the cross not my own efforts. I want to live somewhere between legalism and license. I want to love God and love others. I hope to have a ministry that is marked by authenticity, integrity, forgiveness, and redemption.

So here it is... my longest post ever.


JDF said...

Dude your such an eclectic-non-traditional/traditional-pentecostal-with emerging ideas. You know what I mean?

I guess even the term "traditional" needs a context. I was reflecting on that conversation myself the other day and realized that the contexts from which we were speaking are just so different. In the scope of the "pentecostal tradition" yeah I think MCA probably is "traditional." In the broader scope of protestant expressions of Christianity, especially the reformation stripe, MCA is anything but traditional. Alas the meaninglessness of a de-contextualized use of a label like "traditional".

Topherspoon said...

Dude your such an eclectic-non-traditional/traditional-pentecostal-with emerging ideas. You know what I mean?

- Sounds like a title for McLaren's next book.