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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

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Re: Charlie: My Conversion to the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace and My Departure from the Arminian/Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement

Hi Dean,

Since you asked, I am replying somewhat at length, though not in as much detail as I would like since that would involve doing extensive research and documentation.  Also, I have decided to post my response as a   blog article at Reasonable Christian.  I hope you will not be offended by that decision.

Actually, my own questions started early on.  Before I became a Christian I read widely in the basic of different religions.  I read C. S. Lewis', Mere Christianity, and I read Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science along with some Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was into the New Age Movement of the 19th century.  I also read some of the Carlos Castenada books, with its hero being Don Juan, the Yaqui Native American medicine man.

Also, as a teen I believed in mysticism to some degree because of my interest in Carlos Castenada, and I experimented with hallucinogenic drugs like psilocybe cubensis mushrooms.   So when I rededicated my life to Christ at age 24 I naturally gravitated toward a Pentecostal church.  I had been converted at age 8 at a Church of God in Alabama so I looked for a Pentecostal church in Wauchula, Florida.  It turned out to be an Assemblies of God church.

I was eager to see the promised miracles, the financial success, and all the other rubbish they promise you.  Unfortunately, they never materialized.  Of course I did see God work providentially by answering prayers and giving long term healing, etc.  But not once did I ever see what one could call a supernatural miracle.  Even those proclaimed healed of cancer eventually died.  The excuse was usually that the sick person lost their faith, which is why they lost their healing.

That was in the mid 80's during the height of the Jimmy Swaggart era.  So having some familiarity with the old line classical pentecostals I gravitated to that side of things, not yet willing to give up altogether on the "supernatural."  I had already noticed the almost direct link between the Word of Faith movement (Kenneth Hagin/Kenneth Copeland, et. al.) and what I had read of Christian Science in high school. 

Then around 1987, Rev. James Hennessy, the president of Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in Lakeland, Florida, came and preached a service at our church.    (The college is no longer a ministerial or Bible college but has become a liberal arts college called Southeastern University).  I felt an immediate call to go to college and become an Assemblies of God minister, so I did matriculate in 1988.  The Lakeland, Florida connection has to do with the college I attended.  Carpenter's Home Church and the fallen pastor, Karl Strader, whose church collapsed after his son, Dan Strader, bilked millions from gullible retirees at the Carpenter's Home retirement community, played a signification part in my rejection of Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement.  During my time in college there was a church split over the hyper-Charismatic teaching of Karl Strader and his endorsement of the Jim Bakker ministries and other extreme charismatics.  Jimmy Swaggart openly challenged Bakker and Strader.  The Assemblies of God leadership was unable to bring about any reconciliation and the classical Pentecostals left to start Victory Assembly of God, known as Victory Church now.  While Carpenter's Home Church no longer exists, Victory Church is now a mega-church of over 2,500 members.

While I was in college at Southeastern I discovered that I was not the only one who questioned some of the extremes of the movement.  One of our professors was Terris Neuman, who was a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in California.  He recommended a book called, A Different Gospel, by D. R. McConnell, a new testament professor at Oral Roberts University.  In that book McConnell documented the blatant plagiarism of Kenneth Hagin.  Hagin, it turned out, had  not received his teaching by direct revelation or "revelation knowledge" from Jesus at all!  Rather his ideas were outright copied word for word from a Baptist healing evangelist of the 1940's called E. W. Kenyon.  (This is now all openly admitted by all Charismatics/Pentecostals since it is irrefutable).  So then the question is where did E. W. Kenyon get his doctrine? 

It turns out that E. W. Kenyon went to Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts to be trained in public speaking and oratory.   While there he was exposed to Christian Science and New Thought ideas, which were rampant at Emerson at that time.  Kenyon was duped into believing that denying reality and creating one's own reality in Hindu, god-like fashion was a real possibility.  And, why not combine this with Christianity?  It would make a great evangelistic tool if people could become successful and healthy and at the same time become Christians.

Unfortunately, Kenyon's theology of Christ made Jesus merely a Spirit-filled man and a demigod.  That is, the humanity of Christ was emphasized at the expense of His deity, an error that continues in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement to this day.  This is how they can say that YOU can do the SAME works that Jesus did and perform miracles at will--if you just have enough faith, if you have an abundant filling with the Spirit, if your life is sufficiently transformed, etc., etc.  In other words, it's a combination of the super spirituality of the  Wesleyan holiness movement and the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification with Christian Science/New Thought.  Rather than focusing on the absolute sovereignty of God and God's absolute deity, the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is hyper-Arminian, overly pietistic/transformationalist AND adds two major heresies:  1)  Jesus is just one of us--only He has an abundance of the infilling of the Spirit rather than Jesus is 100% God in the flesh (the hypostatic union of the divine nature with 100% human nature in one person, Jesus Christ).  2) Christian Science/New Thought.  [See Jesus and Miracles, by John Calvin.  See also:  Kenosis.]. 

Basically, Christian Science teaches that we are little gods, an idea borrowed from Hinduism via Emerson and others.  We can do miracles if we just believe hard enough.  This physical world is evil and an illusion.  Therefore we can change our physical and spiritual reality by thinking the proper thoughts to get rid of disease, poverty, failure, bad relationships, etc.  Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, Christians are little Jesus's or little gods.  They proof text this from Psalm 82:6.  As usual, however, they do not read the whole Psalm in context.  Pentecostals are notorious for reading their own experiences back into the text.  Psalm 82:7 says the "gods" will die like mere men.   Some god, huh?  The context is earthly rulers, not divine beings.  (There are many other books about the inherent gnosticism of the Word of Faith movement.  You will find a complete bibliography in the back of McConnell's book.)

The other issue that pushed me to reject Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement was the lack of miracles!  Now that is ironic, is it not?  I noticed that time after time when miracles were claimed there was no documentation to support those healings except in extremely rare cases.  But miracles, according to them, happen all the time and are everywhere if you just believe!  But where are they?  Testimonials are just anecdotal evidence.  But such testimonies are unreliable since the majority of folks have agreed that the emperor has new clothes, even if he is really walking around butt naked.  In other words, there is massive peer pressure to agree that there are miracles despite all evidence to the contrary.

This is just a summary of what led me away but I will jump to the last piece of the puzzle that pushed me to reject the Pentecostal view.  It was the issue of libertarian free will.  Yes, I said "libertarian free will."  I had some familiarity with John Calvin before going to college and seminary.  In college I read J. I. Packer's book, Knowing God, which greatly impressed me.  Also, we used Dr. Henry Thiessen's Systematic theology.  Later when I went to Asbury Theological Seminary, which is an Evangelical and Wesleyan holiness seminary, I took a class in Christian philosophy with Jerry Walls.  In that class Walls was defending the doctrine of libertarian free will, the Arminian view.  He attacked Calvin's doctrine of God's sovereignty and said that it made humans into robots with free will being only an illusion.  He called Calvin's view "compatibilism", which apparently was the view taught by his professor, Alvin Plantinga, a liberal reformed professor at Notre Dame where Walls earned his Ph.D. in philosophy.  After listening to Walls' lectures, I came out siding with Calvin.  How can God be God if men can frustrate His decrees?  [See Bondage of the Will, by Dr. Martin Luther].

The other class I took in seminary was a seminar on The Institutes of the Christian Religion, taught by Dr. Thomas O'Malley, whose affiliation was Evangelical United Brethren prior to that denomination's uniting with the United Methodist Church, the merger of several denominations which gave it the name of "United" Methodist.  Anyway, O'Malley basically tried to use the Institutes to show how silly Calvin was and how often Calvin appealed to mystery when he reached the end of a logical course of reasoning.  Unfortunately, I noticed that Arminians tend to much quicker than John Calvin stop following the revelation of God in Holy Scripture and the propositional truths recorded in reasonable and logical statements.  In other words, the hyper-Arminians tend to appeal to MORE mystery than Calvin in order to justify their extreme fascination with human freedom, libertarian free will, and man's sovereignty.  If the Arminian view is true, then man is virtually a little god and saves himself by doing and by cooperating with God.  I came out of that seminar, as I had with Walls' class, siding with Calvin rather than Arminius or Wesley!

And finally, the issue that broke the camel's back was Romans 9 and John 3 and 6.  I got into a debate on the fidonet bbs around 1994 with Dr. James White, the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries.  Yes, he is the Reformed Baptist fellow.  (Fidonet was an offline bulletin board system developed before Al Gore invented the internet!)  Hah!  At any rate, I presented all the Arminian arguments I knew  to defeat James White in a debate on the exegesis and interpretation of Romans 9 and John chapters 3 and 6.  I was still undecided at this point, even after the two classes I mentioned to you.  But James White devastated any last vestiges of Arminianism for me in those offline debates.  The idea that Romans 9 is merely archetypal references to tribes of people rather than individuals was so overwhelmingly wrong that I could not refute Dr. White.  Likewise, the plain text of John 3 and 6 clearly shows that God is sovereign in drawing individuals to salvation.

This is a brief summary of my path to sovereign grace.  I could say much more.  But basically I could not escape the fact that life is full of tragedies that are outside of our control.  Either God is in control of evil and catastrophes or they happen by chance, or the devil is God's equal and the cause of such things.   That would basically mean there are two gods and God is not Almighty!  Dualism is also rampant in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles in the spiritual warfare movement.  So at first reluctantly and later enthusiastically, I had to admit that I had been spiritually deceived, duped, abused and manipulated by those in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement.  Most of them are sincere, but they are sincerely wrong.  Many have bought into the arguments of Dr. Charles Kraft and his view that western civilization does not see miracles because they do not believe.  (See Christianity with Power).  His idea is that we would see more miracles if we simply adopt a pre-modern worldview and return to a non-critical, superstitious worldview of third world countries.

The idea that I was not fully on board with the whole Charismatic thing is just plain wrong.  I was an outright fanatic about it at one time and I was fully on board with the movement from at least 1985 to around 1995.  I did street ministry, jail ministry, and participated in every wacko seminar on spiritual warfare and healing I could find.  I was hoping to see it was all true.  I believed if I just believed hard enough it would all be true.  But what I found and had to finally admit was that it was all an illusion, smoke and mirrors, and magic tricks of manipulation and misdirection.  I have never seen anyone literally raised from the dead and I sincerely doubt anyone else has either.  With the track record of Benny Hinn and the other television evangelists who cannot provide any documented miracles or even videos of such "miracles" taking place, I think I am on solid ground.

I have to believe that Pentecostalism/Charismaticism has more in common with Rome than with Scripture, especially since authority resides in modern day apostles and prophets with "revelation knowledge" no one else has access to.  In fact, the movement leads to Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy as this fellow testifies:  Christianity with Power and Jeffrey Holton.  I have found that miracle claims today, like those in Calvin's day, are meant to lead people away from the plain teaching of Scripture and toward an elitist, semi-gnostic view that only a few have the "hidden" secrets to the Bible, fame, fortune and healing.  Sorry but I do not buy it.  We are all prophets, priests and kings and anyone can read the Bible and know God.  (See Revelation 5:9-10; 1 Peter 2:9).  There is no secret or inside knowledge hidden there which only the Charismatics have access to.  In Calvin's day the Roman Catholics used miracles to deny the Scriptures.  Today it is the Charismatics doing the same thing.  If you read Calvin's Dedication concerning miracles, you will see right away why focusing on miracles rather than God's revelation in Scripture and Jesus Christ is wrong.  (See 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Peter 3:15-16; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4). 

In closing, I think Calvin's words are still applicable to today's situation with various Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and with the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement.  If we study God's Word the counterfeit movements become obvious to all:


 Their requiring miracles of us is altogether unreasonable; for we forge no new Gospel, but retain the very same whose truth was confirmed by all the miracles ever wrought by Christ and the apostles. But they have this peculiar advantage above us, that they can confirm their faith by continual miracles even to this day. But the truth is, they allege miracles which are calculated to unsettle a mind otherwise well established, they are so frivolous and ridiculous, or vain and false. Nor, if they were ever so preternatural [supernatural], ought they to have any weight in opposition to the truth of God, since the name of God ought to be sanctified in all places and at all times, whether by miraculous events, or by the common order of nature. This fallacy might perhaps be more specious, if the Scripture did not apprize us of the legitimate end and use of miracles. For Mark informs us, that the miracles which followed the preaching of the apostles were wrought in confirmation of it, and Luke tells us, that “the Lord gave testimony to the word of his grace,” when “signs and wonders” were “done by the hands” of the apostles. Very similar to which is the assertion of the apostle, that “salvation was confirmed” by the preaching of the Gospel, “God also bearing witness with signs, and wonders, and divers miracles.”  But those things which we are told were seals of the Gospel, shall we pervert to undermine the faith of the Gospel? Those things which were designed to be testimonials of the truth, shall we accommodate to the confirmation of falsehood? It is right, therefore, that the doctrine, which, according to the evangelist, claims the first attention, be examined and tried in the first place; and if it be approved, then it ought to derive confirmation from miracles. But it is the characteristic of sound doctrine, given by Christ, that it tends to promote, not the glory of men, but the glory of God.  Christ having laid down this proof of a doctrine, it is wrong to esteem those as miracles which are directed to any other end than the glorification of the name of God alone. and we should remember that Satan has his wonders, which, though they are juggling tricks rather than real miracles, are such as delude the ignorant and inexperienced. Magicians and enchanters have always been famous for miracles; idolatry has been supported by astonishing miracles; and yet we admit them not as proofs of the superstition of magicians or idolaters. With this engine also the simplicity of the vulgar was anciently assailed by the Donatists, who abounded in miracles. We therefore give the same answer now to our adversaries as Augustine gave to the Donatists, that our Lord hath cautioned us against these miracle-mongers by his prediction, that there should arise false prophets, who, by various signs and lying wonders, “should deceive (if possible) the very elect.” and Paul has told us, that the kingdom of Antichrist would be “with all power, and signs, and lying wonders.”  But these miracles (they say) are wrought, not by idols, or sorcerers, or false prophets, but by saints; as if we were ignorant, that it is a stratagem of Satan to “transform” himself “into an angel of light.”
[From Dedication of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin.  1536.]

By this standard alone we can see that the Word of Faith movement has more in common with false teachers than with Scripture.  It is the Bible alone that is the final authority and not the Pope, Kenneth Hagin or anyone else.  Unfortunately, the Word of Faith movement has infiltrated classical Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement to the point that there is no practical difference at all.  This is why I am no longer a Pentecostal or a Charismatic.  God is really God!

 "You shall have no other gods before me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:3-6 ESV)
As for accepting the full TULIP, I can only say that as a complete system Calvinism is the only theology that is completely faithful to the full teaching of Scripture regarding man's absolute accountability AND God's absolute sovereignty.  Both are equally true.  Arminians wish to dismiss God's sovereignty in favor of libertarian free will.  But the cost is that they divorce half the Scriptures and make man sovereign over God.   This sort of thinking leads to all sorts of absurdities, heresies, and false religion as anyone can see.  God is God and will share His glory with no one.

I hope this helps.  Please forgive the length of my response.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Charlie J. Ray

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

On 7/16/2010 11:36 PM, Dean Daniels wrote:
YADDA CHARLIE-
We have recently befriended each other on Facebook. I have seen several of your posts and I was interested in your reasoned migration from charismatic>Calvinist.
My own doctrinal migration (from 1970-now) follows as Lutheran-ELCA>CalvinistPlymouthBrethren>JesusPeopleHomeBibleStudy>Non-DenominationalCharismaticParachurch>LongSabatical(no church)>Mixed Denominational Meetings (MacLaurin.Org at UniversityMinnesota) which is the group I am currently with comprised of home meetings and each members continuing to go to their home churches (EvangelicalFree, LutheranEvang, Covenant, Plymouth Brethren, OpenDoor, AG and more etc). Our current group is half charismatic and the debates are...um...fun!
The charismatic group I was with back in the 90's was very suspicious of the "Toronto Blessing" so it fallows that I would not have been any more impressed with the Lakeland Revival either - and I see Lakeland FL was listed in your bio - so I assume this had some direct impact on you. We felt both 'events' were led by charletans.
I would be interested in your reason(s) or rationale for determining that Calvinism - especially FULL-ON TULIP - was an answer for you.
-DEAN DANIELS

--
"A detective story generally describes six living men discussing how it is that a man is dead. A modern philosophic story generally describes six dead men discussing how any man can possible be alive." ~ G.K. Chesterton

15 comments:

Reformation said...

Thanks.

aaytch said...

charlie. This is your best post ever, and that's saying something.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hudson, thanks for your kind remark. I was just trying to be honest here. I suppose if you know my background you can maybe understand exactly why I am a bit intolerant when it comes to false teachers--whether they be Charismatics or Anglo-Catholics. Both intend to lead people away from the doctrines of grace, the sovereignty of God, and the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. What shall separate us from the love of God?

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

By the way, the link to Dan Strader does not work. But if you go to the offender search window you can pull up his inmate photo. He's the same Dan Strader who is incarcerated at Avon Park Correctional Institution.

I worked a prison chaplain from 1996 to 1999. About 3.5 years. While there I met Dan Strader in person. He was actually a pretty nice guy in person. I think he just got caught up in the idolatry of materialism which is essentially what the false teachers use to get people to give. Greed, covetousness and filthy lucre.

You can search for Dan's picture here:

Offender Search

Charlie J. Ray said...

See also the The Jesus Died Spiritually Heresy

thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com said...

HI Charlie,, My name is Damon.

I administer a group blog (with some ex-WoF'ers)that focus's on the WoF. The main feature of our blog is Testimonies from ex-WoFers and those who have been deeply effected by the WoF. Could I add this testimiony to our page? I think this would bring our testimony count to 23. I would prefer to copy and paste the whole thing with two links back to this post. Is that OK?

http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/testimony-page/

Thanks
damon whitsell

Charlie J. Ray said...

Damon,

Yes, you may post my testimony on your blog.

I think you should post a statement of faith somewhere on your blog, though. I have no idea what you stand for. It is clear that you agree that the Word of Faith teaching is wrong.

I have no problem with what I would call "classical" Pentecostals or Reformed Charismatics as long as they keep the heretical teachings out of their ministries. Strictly speaking, however, I am a cessationist and a confessional Calvinist. I have the 39 Articles of Religion and the Westminster Confession and the Three Forms of Unity as my basic statements of faith or "confession of faith".

Thanks for commenting here. I just ask that you do follow through with links to my blog as you said.

Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie

thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com said...

Hi Charlie, Thanks for allowing me to post your testimony. I will for sure link back to this page.

We have no statement of faith published because of the 8 authors we have Baptist, Presbyterians and one reformed charismatic. We are not for any Christian tradition or denomination,,, we are just against the WoF.

In this comment you said "I have no problem with what I would call "classical" Pentecostals or Reformed Charismatics as long as they keep the heretical teachings out of their ministries". I totally agree.

Thanks again
damon

Charlie J. Ray said...

At that time, Rev. James Hennessy was president of Southeastern College, now called Southeastern University.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Welp, looks my "testimony" didn't make into the Southern Baptist list at the former Word of Faith blog:) I guess the sovereignty of God was too much for them.

Jeffrey Holton said...

Not sure how I missed this until now, but I'm honored to have been referenced in your discussion. Thank you!

It's interesting how violently critical we humans tend to be when we discover holes in the things we took for granted in our infancy. I would propose that there was some time in our narratives at which we passed each other while moving in opposite directions, and, had we stopped to say hello, would have found a great deal of agreement.

Actually, I still claim we'd find a lot of room for agreement, namely around our common love for Christ and the sincere evangelistic desire to see others arrive at salvation.

In short, if you were trying to ostracize me (and I honestly don't think you were), it didn't work. Hello, brother. :)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Jeffrey, there is no need to ostracize an apostate from the biblical faith. Calvinism IS the Gospel.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The Christ you know, Jeffrey, is not the Christ of the Bible. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). The Jesus you know is unable save anyone in particular and died for folks already in hell and the reprobate who were destined for hell from before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 2:8).

Kepha said...

Good post, Charlie. I can't say I ever got as deeply into the Charismatic movement as you did, but I was also burned by it before I gravitated towards a Reformed Church near my college, where I was able to read a few worthwhile books.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks, Kepha. Reading through the comments I noticed that I have changed my opinion of Arminians and Pentecostals and reformed charismatics. I now question their commitment to the truth.

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