There are three movements which have appeared in the last two centuries out of which Charismania has now emerged in recent days, Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement, and the New Apostolic Reformation. The definition of Charismania is “neo-montanism, or new Montanism known by its adherents as the New Prophecy. Truth is, there is nothing new about it as this was an early Christain movement of the late 2nd century who’s founder was Montanus. And like today, they call for the reliance on the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit rather than a compliance and obedience to the Holy Writ.
In the aftermath of this new teaching in the 2nd century Montanism rapidly spread to the many regions of the Roman Empire well into the 6th century. To the orthodox Church, the New Prophecy movement was regarded as heresy and the Churches in Asia Minor pronounced it as profane and excommunicated the New Prophecy adherents.
Although not much is known about their beliefs, some sources reported that Montanists claimed their revelation directly from the Holy Spirit and this new revelation/prophecy superseded the authority of Paul or even Jesus Himself. What surrounded the movement was a sort of frenzy ecstasy and proclaimed to be possessed by God unable to resist. They were viewed as false prophets because they acted irrationally and were not in control of their senses.
This is a mirror image to what we see coming out of Charismania today! It must be understood that the term Charismania applies to the extremists with the Christian Charismatic Movement. Charismania is simply a byword to describe the entire movement’s mood and swings occuring during their revival meetings. Within the dogma of the modern neo-Montanistic Movement (Charismania) are phenomena they allege to be common to virtually all sign-gifts, Slain in the Spirit, excessive laughing/crying, screaming, wild dancing, violent shaking, drunk in the Spirit, Glory Clouds, the interruptive speaking in tongues all asserted as manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Charismania is applied to the modern televangelists, the prosperity gospel preachers who garner money from their followers and the New Apostolic Movement.
The Third Wave Movement
The modern classical Pentecostal movement began at the beginning of the 20th century and has its roots in the holiness movement and revivalism of the 2nd Great Awakening in America during the 19th century. This has been coined “The First Wave” as Modern Pentecostals are distinguished by three main doctrines.
· The baptism of the Holy Spirit
· The manifestation of speaking in tongues
· The manifestation of divine healing
The Second Wave is seen in the Charismatic Renewal Movement which began in the middle of the 20th century. Pentecostal doctrines spread into the mainline Protestant and Catholic churches as “charismatic renewal” movements with the aim of renewing the historic churches. The Charismatic Movement were known to break into the Mainline Denominations as they encouraged those who have ‘received the baptism’ to remain in their churches and denominations. However, Non-Denominationalism began to emerge developing a system of organization which became known as the Charismatic Church.
The third wave movement is identified in its escalation and adherence to Signs and Wonders, also known now as the Neo-charismatic Movement. Radicalism in this movement has set them apart as they do not wish to be labeled “Pentecostal” or “charismatic.” This wave is Eschatological in nature as what accompanies “Signs and Wonder” is the new doctrine called Kingdom Now Theology. A careful examination reveals that the Kingdom Now Theology has a natural history of preteristism. The two main attributes of dominionism and triumphalism have become the fuel of Charsmania seen in its three main gospel teachings:
· Their signs and wonders gospel.
· Their kingdom now gospel.
· Their prosperity gospel
There occupation by a false spirit of dominionism and triumphalism is quickly spreading throughout much of the church today, including most of the Mainline Denominations. It is here within Charismania where we see the revival of Montanism. This movement headed up by men such as Rick Joyner and Bill Johnson are building an endtime transformational army called Joel’s Army in an attempt to conquer the seven mountains of culture; Religion, Family, Education, Media, Arts & Entertainment, Government, and Business. Coupled to the teachings of this transformational Army is the prediction of a Great Endtime Revival.
This of course is one of the most dangerous movements to date for it is riddled with Gnosticism believing God can and does communicate outside of Scripture giving new revelation that is apart from Scripture, thus, denying the sufficiency of Scripture. It also embraces the Five-Fold Ministry as one of the “truths” that God is restoring to the church and is associated with the Latter Rain Movement. They publicly acknowledge we are in the endtimes submitting that God is re-establishing the offices of apostle and prophet with the power and authority beyond the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament Apostles. Not to mention, unity supersedes doctrine. Doctrinal differences are laid aside with the goal of influencing Mainline Churches to accept the modern day apostles and prophets.
The Great Debate
Since the emergence of Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement and now Charismania a heated debate has existed between the conservative cessationist and the three Charismatic movements listed above. The problem is, both approach this debate with their own presuppositions of the Scripture. In my opinion, both are equally in error, both are unbiblical in their approach and beliefs, both lack a proper understanding of the other, and neither can present a clear biblical exegetical argument supporting their view even though both claim to. To gain a better understanding of what I am saying, we must first look at both views, then as I hope to present, bring a balanced biblical approach to the subject.
Cessationism Vs. Continuationism
Cessationism in Christianity is the doctrine that Apostolic gifts ceased with the original twelve apostles. This is generally opposed to the view of continuationism, which teaches that the Holy Spirit may bestow the sign gifts to persons other than the original twelve apostles, at any time in the Church age.
No one can show that the Gifts ended with the apostles, it simply is not found in the Word of God. Cessationism is only based on eisegesis, they have to read into the Scripture something it does not say. Cessationism is as wrong and as false on one extreme as Charismania is on the other. I remember back in the late 70’s and into the mid 80’s the proof text cessationist used to demonstrate their case was 1 Corinthians 13:9-10, ironically today they avoid this text like the plague, why? Because an honest assessment of this text when you consider its contexts says just the opposite. “When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will be done away” (vs.10) in their opinion was the completion of the cannon of Scripture, therefore, the Gifts ceased. Here we see how they apply eisegesis, nowhere in the text or surrounding context does it say that, not even a hit, it simply is not there.
Those in Charismania by their own admission support cessationism when they claim God is restoring the Five-Fold Ministry. For something to be restored it must first have ceased. The Gift of Tongues, the hottest topic on the table should in retrospect be a mute subject in light of the greater gifts which are ignored by most. When it comes to the debate over the Gifts of the Spirit both sides approach it with, “this is my story and I’m sticking to it.” Both are on opposite extremes to the other and the legitimacy of biblical text at best are either ignored or exploited by their own presuppositions. In other words, there is never any balance in light of the truth of Scripture presented.
If 1 Cor. 13:9-12 are not enough to refute Cessationism, other texts do. For example, Romans 11:29; “For the gifts and the callings of God are irrevocable.”
Romans 9,10, & 11 deals with the election of Israel and God’s Covental purposes for Israel and the Jew relative to the church. The theological and spiritual relationship between Israel and the Jews and the body of Christ is the central theme of these three chapters. After Romans 11:29 as we enter chapter 12 it begins speaking of spiritual gifts. The notion that God is through with Israel and the Jews and the doctrine of cessationism are misguided concepts that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased with the apostles. In the context of Romans 11 & 12, neither the election of Israel nor the gifts of the Spirit are irrevocable. The translation of ametamélētos “without repentance” is very inadequate. It would have been better translated “without regret.” What the apostle Paul is saying here is that when God has given gifts to men and has extended His salvation to them, He never regrets the extension of His grace or changes His mind as having made a mistake because of the behavior of the ones that He saved and gifted.
What does the New Testament mean by ‘The Gifts of the Spirit?” To answer this we must first understand what is meant by the word “gift.”
“Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” ~ John 4:10
“Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Acts 2:38
“And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.” ~ Romans 5:16
In these verses the word “gift” is a gift as in ‘a present,’ like a Christmas present or Birthday present. When we consider Acts 2:28 the clause is epexegetical, the “gift” being the Holy Spirit Himself. The generic word dorea (Gk. gift) differs from the Greek word charisma (1 Cor. 12:4) signifying not miraculous powers but the working of a new spirit in men, and that Spirit is from God.
Interestingly, the word charisma means Grace in the Greek. For instance, Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift (charisma) of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now where it comes to the “gifts of the Spirit,” it is charisma that’s used as in Romans 12:6:
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith.”
For someone to say they have the gift of prophecy would be wrong, they would have the grace to prophecy, others believe they have the gift of tongues, assuming its real, truth is you don’t have the gift of tongues, you have the grace to speak in tongues. The gift is eternal life, the gift is the Holy Spirit Himself, what we think of as gifts is merely grace whether it be a ministry gift or a charismatic gift. Prophecy, miracles, healings, etc., are never to an individual, by God’s grace they may operate through a person, but those gifts are never given to an individual, they are given to the Church. By God’s grace they operate through a person but they are given to the church corporately. It is the body of Christ who has the gifts of the Spirit. This clears up so much misconception surrounding the gifts when we understand that.1 I do not possess a gift of the Spirit, I may be given the grace from God to operate in any given gift for the sake of the Church, but they are not mine.
1 Corinthians chapters 12-14 is primarily dealing with what is popularly called the charismatic gifts. But in Romans 12 we see an integration of both the charismatic and ministerial gifts much like what was mentioned in Roman 11:29, one is a gift, the other a calling and many times they work in conjunction to each other. For example, it is not uncommon for a good pastor to have a word of knowledge. I’ve seen this many times, even in the Baptist churches, they just don’t recognize it as one of the grace gifts if the Spirit. The Charismatic gifts are simply there to equip us to fulfill our calling in the body of Christ. The problem today with the gifts is to many people believe the charismatic gift is a gift instead of grace. Secondly they don’t understand that in the way it is a gift it is a gift to the body of Christ, not to them personally. And thirdly, they believe they have the ability to use the gifts when ever, where ever, and how ever they like, as though the Holy Spirit is some kind of light switch they can turn on and off at will. You see they have it backwards, the Holy Spirit distributes the gifts to individuals as He wills (1 Cor. 12:11), gifts meant for the body, not individuals.
Gifts in and of themselves are not the mark of true spirituality, the fruits of the Spirit are. Gifts are given by the ascended Lord without regard to a person’s own merit. As we have already established, the Gifts of the Spirit are a matter of grace. The question is, did the gifts of the Spirit continue or cease with the first generation Church? There is no exegetical argument cessationist can construct from Scripture to corroborate their assumption the Gifts have ceased, it’s all conjecture. On the other hand, there is no exegetical grounds on which Charismania can claim to be valid concerning the Gifts or manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In fact, I would say it is all rubbish! Charismania, like the cessationist, just make it up as they go. Cessationism is a false doctrine, but the elevation of signs and wonders by the Charismatic groups above solid doctrine is as dangerous and seducing as cessationism. There is however, Biblical evidence the Gifts outlined in Scripture have continued and will continue until Christ returns.
1 Cor. 1:4-8
“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Emphasis mine)
Here is where our wonderful Theologians and our many Commentators get weak at the knee’s. So let’s break it down and revamp a little. “Gift,” charisma is derived from the root char. Chara is joy, cheerfulness, and delight. Charis is grace, goodwill, undeserved favor. Charisma however is a gift of grace, a free gift, spiritual endowment, a miraculous faculty. It is especially used to designate the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-10). Here in this context ‘Gift’ is charisma and Paul makes it clear that they come short in no gift as they eagerly wait for the revelation of Christ who will also confirm them to the ‘end’ that they may be blameless in the ‘day of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ This then is Eschatological language, the gifts have remained in place and will continue until the return of Jesus Christ, there is no other way to see it.
Jacob Prasch points out;
“The text of Peter’s kerygma (an evangelistic message of the Gospel) in Acts 2:17-21 quoting Joel 2:28-32 prophetically predicts charismatic manifestation with an emphasis on prophecy not as doctrine but as exhortation to take place in concert with the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit before the Restrainer is removed. This will be followed by cosmological signs in the heavenlies before the Parousia.
What we see in Cessationism is the working of Satan to prevent the prophecies of Joel and Peter from taking place just as what we see in the Neo-Montanism of Hyper-Pentecostal extremism and counterfeit charismata is the backsliding Church being set up for Antichrist seduction. Both extremes have the same origin.”2
Returning to 1 Corinthians chapter 1, “…waiting for the coming (apokalupsis) of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is placing an emphasis on the time of Christ’s Parousia when He visibly returns to Rapture the Church while “the end” (vs.8) refers to the completion of the Gifts purpose and function upon Christ’s coming. The context defines “the end” as the termination of Christ’s redemptive reign at the right hand of the Father which is consummated at His Second Coming. “The day of Jesus Christ” specifically is a reference to the Day of the Lord, when Christ will return to judge the world and fully establish His kingdom.
This flows seamlessly with 1 Corinthians 13:8-13:
“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophecy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.”
Cessationist approach this text with an eisegesis method of interpretation believing “the perfect” to come is the New Testament Canon. “The perfect,” if taken in context and by comparing Scripture with Scripture refers not to the New Testament canon, but to the return of Christ. Why? Because if it were a reference to the canon of Scripture, knowledge would have vanished away just as tongues would have ceased. Because we would now see “face to face,” and we would no longer know in part but would know just as we are known. The dim glass would be clear, nothing obstructing our vision to see and know in the perfect tense.
Since it is not referring to the New Testament canon but to the Coming of Christ, prophecies have not failed, tongues have not ceased, and knowledge has not vanished away. Again, this only serves as proof the gifts have continued and will continue up until the return of Christ.
On the other hand, what we do have today is generations of bad teachings where the gifts are concerned. Everything we have been taught assume it was wrong. Satan has made tongues the focal point, while discernment, a viable gift of the Spirit has been grossly ignored. Discernment has been pigeonholed into a ministry of casting out demons, etc.
The problem with the Charismatic Church is every Sunday, every Wednesday, at every meeting they are trying to recreate the day of Pentecost where everyone speaks in tongues, everyone manifest the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, on Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell upon them, yes they spoke in cloven tongues, but since then the gifts had been dispersed amongst the body of Christ and did not operate on a every meeting soirée. Although not biblically etched in stone you have the mockers of the day of Pentecost as a mirror image of today’s cessationist saying these are drunk with wine. Cessationist, who just want to return to the law and point the finger of legalism. Neither side are searching for any coherency within God’s Word.
Modernism in our day has produced “another Spirit,” one who has no gracious persona, no divinity, but whose manifold works are simply emulations emanated through individuals with corrupt minds. A cry for another Spirit through a greater manifestation of ‘seducing spirits’ (1 Tim. 4:1) fills the air today as we witness a corporate yielding to the apostasy (2 Thess. 2:3), a sure mark of our Lord’s speedy return. Charismania is the perverted, God-dishonoring faction laboring under the cloak of Christianity forming a deeper apostasy apart from the Holy Spirit Himself. The depravity and deceptions of false Apostles, prophets and teachers today have plunged the masses into an apostasy by deliberately rejecting the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9). “But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to his own vomit, and a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” ~ 2 Peter 2:22
No matter how sound most Churches appears to be on the surface, the underline current of false Doctrine is driving it. Some may not be openly teaching it, but it has been integrated into their belief system. More and more people are finding themselves in a place where they do not know where to go to church, or if it is better to simply stay home. They have virtually no real Christian fellowship, and feel the need to get together with others who are of the same heart/mind/spirit of love for Jesus and the all-sufficiency of Scripture. This is a growing trend as many are now finding themselves segregated from the Institutional Church.
1. Jacob Prasch; 2015 Prophecy Conference
2. James Jacob Prasch; Harpazo The intra-seal Rapture of the Church; 2014, p.458