Signs, Wonders, Tongues, and Miracles of Today, Part 1
I would like to state this as clearly as possible from the outset. First, I’m writing this short series to explain my past involvement in what was known in the early 1970’s as the Charismatic Renewal movement. I was about 16 at the time and my mother and father had recently divorced. Though we had always attended church, after my mom’s divorce, her understandable need to be loved and find greater acceptance led her to seek communion with people who seemed to express more love and a warmer demeanor toward God as well.
The origins of the Charismatic Renewal movement in America are a bit confused though some trace its roots back to one particular man associated with the Episcopalian Church named Dennis Bennett. I recall hearing a great deal about him while I was part of this movement. I certainly recall reading several of his books, Nine O’Clock in the Morning and The Holy Spirit and You, both of which have been re-released several times since their original publication in the 70’s. There was also a part of the Roman Catholic Church that was said to be going through a time of “renewal” as well, with accompanying signs, wonders, and even tongues.
The second reason I’m writing this is out of a deep concern for what is happening today within Christendom. I am troubled by the increasing occurrence of individuals who claim to be “prophets” or “apostles.” The immediate implication is that they have more authority than the rest of us and should not be questioned. It adds to the existing (biblical) hierarchy in the church and makes it more difficult for the average Christian to gain a sense of ownership, if you will. It also tends to engender oftentimes serious problems within individual churches that have – as part of their local body – individuals who are thought to be “apostles” or “prophets.” Because of the alleged higher authority that is often associated with those particular titles, the average church-goer rarely has a sense that they have the right to question people in those lofty positions. This sense of “Don’t question me because I speak the very words of God” is enough to keep most Christians at arm’s length. This isn’t good, mainly because I believe it is fully unscriptural that these positions even exist today in the Church on earth.
The third reason I’m presenting this series is to offer help to those who are unclear about what the Charismatic Renewal movement is all about. I’m not interested in debating. It’s pointless. I am hoping that through the description of my own experiences, people will come to see things that are often presented as normal spiritual events but are something else: chicanery and charlatanism. Certainly, that’s my opinion, but I’m sticking with it simply because of what I’ve been through and how often things were done in God’s Name that I shudder about now.
I also want to say just as unequivocally that I believe the Lord heals today (and performs other miracles), as He chooses to do so, when that healing conforms to His plans for that individual. We cannot demand it of God. We cannot restore someone to health with the “right” amount of faith. We are encouraged to pray for everyone who is sick and then we must leave it to God (James 5:14). He may choose to use the medical community to heal (oh, how boring!), or He may choose to heal directly. He may also choose not to heal as He did with the apostle Paul (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9), even after Paul sought the Lord to heal his infirmity three times. The Lord said “No.” That was that.
I am well aware that I will not convince people who are firmly established in some aspect of the Charismatic movement. In fact, people from those type of groups who are satisfied with them will likely experience either a growing sense of anger or resentment because of these articles or will “feel sorry” for me because I have chosen to “squelch” God’s power and ability in my life. They will offer to “pray for me” so that the Lord will open my eyes, etc. I can assure these folks there is no need for God to “open my eyes” except to understand His Word in greater measure as all of us need to do.
Looking back at my involvement in the Charismatic Renewal, I note with no amount of pleasure, that there are several issues that come to the fore right away. Primarily, being “Charismatic” is really very “me” oriented. In other words, involvement in that movement causes people to always be searching for “more” so that their particular life as a Christian becomes enhanced. The enhancement comes in some form of “experiential power,” whether it’s speaking in tongues, feeling a strong sense of enlightenment allowing a person to give “words of knowledge” to others, sensing strong emotions when it comes to praying for healing for others, or in worship.
Emotions play a huge part in the Charismatic Renewal movement, as they do with any group that stresses things like tongues, signs, wonders, and healings, etc. My recollection is that people are often worked up into some sort of frenzy during times of worship. We think God won’t notice our worship unless we really, really mean it. We have to offer proof to Him that we our worship is sincere. To this end, people yell, sing loudly, clap their hands, dance, and become very excited. Remembering many of the gatherings I attended, I cannot recall a time following this type of worship where people did not stand and offer “prophetic words of knowledge” to the rest of us.
However, there are times now when I will simply not sing out loud during a service. Instead, I will sing in my heart and listen to the words being sung by others. I am more able to focus in on what is being sung during those times. It breaks it up for me.
Looking back though, what I always found interesting was that I wanted to be able to give words of knowledge. Clearly, there was something wrong with me because I never did. Oh, to be “spiritual” like those others who would stand during the service, sometimes even interrupting the sermon, to offer a “word” to the rest of us. Usually, that word included knowledge about what God was planning to do in America.
When a person stood and gave a word of knowledge, it was always interesting to hear a mishmash or rewording of Scripture with their own take on it. Often, it would be something like this (as the person presumably spoke for the Lord just like the prophets of old did)…
I am God. I am getting ready to do a new work in your land. Your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions. I am preparing to sweep across your land from the east to the west. My Spirit will move cold, dead hearts and restore life to the dead parts. I will move among you and you will not stand. I am God. I call you to worship me with all your heart, soul, and mind. Do not kick against the goads. Welcome me into your hearts. Remove the idols from your life. Prepare to see new wonders as I move across the land.
I have forgotten how many times these words of knowledge were very similar to what I’ve just written above. There’s nothing really new or even specific that is not currently addressed in God’s Word. They seemed deliberately so general that it could have come from a number of books in the Bible and out of context, but since most people didn’t read their Bibles then or now, who would know? I didn’t. These kinds of “words” always amazed me.
Yet, they really say nothing, do they? My point is that since the 1970’s, according to the people who spoke these words, God had been planning on sweeping across America in a type of revival. I’ve heard it repeatedly since the 1970’s until now. He was going to move from one area to the next, making His way across America, waking up the “dead” people and sweeping out the dust. We were warned not to stand in His way because He was going to do a “new work.”
Again, that was in the 1970’s and what has happened since? Nothing really. Certainly nothing permanent. In fact, society has worsened, not gotten better. In spite of all the words of knowledge I heard during my time in the Charismatic Renewal, the only type of “revival” I’ve seen is the onset/increase of the New Age movement, the Emergent Church, Dominionism, and other offshoots of the Charismatic Renewal movements. What I have not seen on any noticeable scale are people who are more dedicated to God and the Great Commission. There are plenty of people today who continue to reach for the signs and wonders though.
If you look carefully at the many spiritual movements that are afoot today throughout society, they all seem to have one thing in common, in my opinion. They cause people to turn inward. Admittedly, my involvement in the Charismatic Renewal movement was because I wanted to draw closer to God and I thought that to do that, I needed to learn how to worship properly, speak in tongues, and be around other people who were more sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit. In the end, as I look back at that, I fully realize that I was becoming very “me” oriented. I wanted the experience of knowing God because I thought it would grant me the power to witness and live a life that pleased God and brought Him glory. In the end, it didn’t and that’s not from a lack of trying. The reality is that whatever little bit you manage to receive in that movement, it’s never good enough and you must press on for more.
In essence, a person can become addicted to the “experience” of allegedly knowing God and like a drug addict, needs to constantly move onto the next experience (fix) to ensure that the reality of knowing God is always present and viable. Some would say this is not a bad thing at all because it involves the Living God. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced that many to most of these experiences actually involves the Living God. It appears more likely that the experiences involve the experiences themselves, either brought on by the devil or our own vain imaginings.
Next time, I’d like to discuss two times where I fully believed God “spoke” to me.
Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, emergent church, Emotional virtue, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: charismatic movement, charismatic renewal, dennis bennett, miracles, signs and wonders, tongues.