First off, there’s D.A. Carson, who receives reviews and responses from Sam Storms and from Ryan Bolger. These repesent the level of critical interaction which needs to be engaged between the emerging church and its critics. It remains, however, well to remind ourselves of the corporate response to critics, which does lead some not to engage dialogue with critics. This is an area requiring great wisdom and discernment… some critiques should be engaged by some people on behalf of EC, but certainly not all of them by any of us. Without being overly direct, Maggi Dawn just quotes:
Do not count it a triumph, reverend Sosipater, that you are denouncing a cult or a point of view which does not seem to be good. And do not imagine that, having thoroughly refuted it, all is therefore well with Sosipater. For it could happen that the one hidden truth could escape both you and others in the midst of falsehood and appearances. What is not red does not have to be white. What is not a horse is not necessarily a human. This is what you will do if you trust me. You will cease from the denunciation of others and you will speak about truth in such a manner that everything you say will be irrefutable.
Meanwhile, Bob Hyatt is repenting of an Internet addiction. No not that one, he says he can’t stop visiting anti-emerging websites.
Alan Creech is suggesting that there’s a problem with leadership training, and he’s right. Also from the “But I don’t like the way we’ve always done it” department, in the post-charismatic scene, David Rattigan writes a letter to his former pastor which talks about spiritual abuse… and it’s further enlightening to read his story, which is to me both familar and sad. It’s a longer read, but worthwhile… as it nears the end, Dave becomes extremely insightful when he says,
My thinking at that time had been provoked by a book I had come across some years earlier and rejected, but which I had recently rediscovered and which resonated with me. Its title was In the Face of God: The Dangers and Delights of Spiritual Intimacy by Michael Horton, a Reformed pastor and theologian from California. It was this book that helped me understand that the charismatic movement had a whole philosophy underlying it, and this philosophy was a mystical view of the Christian life as an ascent to God. Such a view, Horton argued, was at odds with the gospel of God’s descent to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Modern charismatics and many evangelicals had come to see the Christian life as an ongoing climb nearer and nearer to God’s glory; the gospel, however, declared that we could never hope to ascend to God, but that God would descend and had descended to us in the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus. Though in retrospect there are many things Horton says that I would reject, the main thrust of his book rang immediately true to my experience as a charismatic: It had become a new, albeit very subtle form of legalism. All the talk about getting deeper into the river and climbing in higher heights resulted in people taking their eyes off Jesus, the author and perfector of their faith, and inwards to their own performance, their own attempts to get nearer to God, a God they didn’t realize was already brought near to them in Jesus: Was I praying enough? Did I speak in tongues often enough? Did I have the right keys to a victorious Christian life? Was I at the right level of self-denial necessary for the Spirit to be able to work in me? Was I “in the right place” with God? These were the questions that obsessed charismatics.
Further along this post-charismatic theme, I discovered an old article, Charismatic Churches and the Cult of the New, also worth due consideration.
I really like Dan’s list of red flags concerning the charismatic movement; it would have been even more interesting if he’d given some real-time examples of some of the things he’s seen that violate them.
Definitely a lot of wisdom in his post!
Thanks for the encouraging word, both yours and Maggi’s. Always something to be aware of…
Just a note on the link to my post on “Charismatic Churches and the Cult of the New”: I’m still a charismatic. What I’m calling for is discernment, not an abandonment of the charismata.
Thanks for the link. I just wanted my point to be clear.
(BTW, as to Horton’s main point, I don’t think that your traditional charismatics would make the assertion he’s making about us. That may be true of the modern prophetic movement and some of the Third-wavers, but not the streams that trace themselves back to the Welsh Revival and earlier revivals like it.)
Thanks for the clarification here; I quite appreciated your article. Also for the record, none of us who call ourselves “post-charismatic” (as far as I’ve talked with people who have started using the term) would advocate abandoning the charismata either quite the opposite, in fact. I think that the charismata are somewhat tainted by poor practice… such as those about which you’re calling for discernment. The “post-charismatics” are in a way a certain type of people leaving the church without leaving their faith. They still believe in the Holy Spirit, they just don’t like the way they saw the gifts (and related doctrine) used and abused.