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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, September 26, 2005

Pentecostalism?

It seems to me that the Pentecostal movement has done little to further intellectual or academic discussion of theological issues other than to form alliances with liberal theologians who are more open to "existentialist" theology.

Given the mystical, subjectivistic, and existentialistic nature of Pentecostal "experience," it should be no surprise that that tradition is finding kinship with liberals like Harvey Cox, who has written a book approving of the movement [see Fire From Heaven: The Rise of Pentecostal Spirituality and the Reshaping of Religion in the Twenty-first Century, (Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1994.)]

In fact, some Pentecostals have acknowledged that critics have linked their emphasis on experience to Paul Tillich's existentialism:

  • If his mentor Tillich almost never cited a biblical passage but preferred to look for erotism [sic], Cox--who elevates Sting above the christian canon--has been taught well. When compared to the valuable response to global pentecostalism by Professor Jurgen Moltmann in All Together In One Place, the piece by Cox comes off like a cheap novel. 
  •  
  • Chapter 15, "Liberating" Will pentecostals join worldwide fundamentalism or remain experiential as Cox and his mentor Tillich would prefer? As Dr.Bill Faupel pointed out in his recent Society for Pentecostal Studies presidential address, some outsiders compare pentecostals to Tillich for this very reason.

  • Harold D. Hunter
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  • From: http://www.pctii.org/cox.html
Philip Hughes offers a significant contribution through his review of Fire From Heaven as well:
  • The African expressions suggest ‘the remarkable capacity of Pentecostalism to absorb both pre-Christian indigenous traditions and previous layers of Christian practice, and thus in turn helps us understand its profound appealÂ’ (p.251). Yet, Cox says, this flexibility can also be the downfall of Pentecostalism. He sees this, for example, in the acceptance, and even, until recently, the affirmation, of apartheid among many Pentecostals in South Africa.The book draws to its conclusion as it returns to the Third Wave of Pentecostalism in the United States. At this point, Cox becomes angry. 'I was infuriated by preachers who were telling trusting and vulnerable listeners that if they were poor in health or not in perfect health it was their own fault for not having enough faith. I was exasperated at the way the sleazy values of the rich and the famous had seeped into Pentecostal worship. And I was genuinely fearful about what might happen to America if people with the ideas I had read in some of the reconstructionist theology ever really came to power' (p.296).Cox rejects the ‘Kingdom Now organisersÂ’, the ‘satanic conspiracy buffsÂ’ and the ‘health-and-wealthÂ’ theologians. He sees some of the developments of thinking about the ‘powers of darknessÂ’ as macabre distortions of what the Bible teaches. In so much of this Third Wave, the moving spirit of the Azusa Street revival which ‘washed away the colour line with the blood of the crossÂ’, has been lost, Cox says.
From: Christian Research Institute at http://www.cra.org.au/pages/00000194.cgi


Although Cox is not a born again Christian or a Pentecostal, his criticism is a worthy one. Pentecostalism is so flexible that it becomes practically "liberal" on some doctrinal issues that Evangelicals consider essential to the Christian faith, including the trinity. These days the "New Issue," which gave rise to the formation of the Assemblies of God in reaction to modalist heresies in the oneness or apostolic Pentecostal tradition, seems to have been forgotten as Pentecostal/Charismatic theologians and church leaders welcome the heretical oneness Pentecostals with open arms.


We might also note that the church growth movement was initiated by Donald McGraven and further developed by Peter Wagoner, both of whom are from the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition. Though Robert Schuller is not a charismatic, he has taken the church growth methodology and accommodationism to the extreme and has rejected traditional Evangelical/Reformed doctrine, Scripture and even hell in order to attract people to church. Pragmatically, Schuller has departed from the Christian faith (See: Robert H. Schuller, Self Esteem: The New Reformation, (Waco: Word, 1982).


Scripture tells us that we are to be pleasers of God and not pleasers of man. While it is true that we must present the message as it may best be received, we are not to compromise that message in order to draw people to church. What good is it if they have not heard the Gospel or properly understood their condemnation before the law? This is another manifestation of how the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has corrupted the Evangelical message of salvation, though I would admit that in earlier years Pentecostals were focused more on the fundamentals of the Evangelical faith.


If I could say anything to Pentecostal/Charismatic scholars and ministers today, it would be to challenge them to return to Holy Scripture as the final rule for faith and practice and to test all things by Scripture. In the last days there will be many false prophets and our only line of defense against the onslaught of error is Holy Scripture.


In Christ,

Charlie

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