Those of you who keep up with this blog have noted the numerous posting of “Jonathan CHM” on my post Charismatic Anglicans: The Missing Link against things that go on in “Charismatic” churches. I’ve let him have space on this blog, and now it’s time to reply.
First: I’ve received “heads-up” from another one of his victims that he is in fact a spammer, and repeats his rant on blog after blog. The blog that gave me the heads up isn’t, AFAIK, a “full Gospel” kind of place, strictly speaking. The truth is that, if Jonathan CHM is as positive as he says he is about these things, he should start his own blog and rant on, trackbacking the rest of us.
I have more patience than many with this kind of behaviour, but it has its limits. So be forewarned!
In spite of his annoying delivery method, he’s raised some serious issues. Unfortunately, he shares one common fault with many Pentecostal and Charismatic ministers: he thinks that, the longer he goes on, the more he proves his case. It can and will be shown that precisely the opposite is true, that the longer he goes on the more often he contradicts himself.
Let’s start with the big issue: his contention that Charismatic churches blaspheme the Holy Spirit by doing things in God’s name that aren’t from God. Anyone with any hermeneutical sense knows that he has turned the whole business of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit upside down. The Pharisees contended that Jesus had done his miracles by the power of Satan, and Jesus’ response was to elucidate the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and the unforgivability of same. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is attributing the works of God to the Evil One, and once you’ve done that, there’s no recovery. But Jonathan CHM is saying just the opposite, which is absurd.
One thing that needs to be mentioned is this: too much that goes on in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches is automatically said to come directly from the Throne Room when in fact it may or may not. In years past, revivalists like Charles Finney were able to actually advance their methods (and win souls in the process) without having to attribute everything they did as a direct command from heaven. But we live in a different era now. Personally I think this is dangerous, and have discussed this issue relative to prophecy. But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Hardly.
As I mentioned before, a stronger case can be made that resisting the operation of the spiritual gifts is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, especially if the resisters are brazen enough (and many are) to attribute these works to the Evil One. But that possibility doesn’t seem to have crossed Jonathan CHM’s mind. Neither does it cross his mind that, in denying the present reality of the spiritual gifts and the miraculous, he is calling for a change in dispensation from the days of the original apostles, which in turn undermines the completeness of what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross.
The best way to fix this problem is to get away from “self-validating” leadership in any form. On the day of Pentecost, Peter said that Jesus was accredited with the signs and wonders that he did. The New Testament speaks of the importance of multiple witnesses to a wide variety of important things. Just because someone says they’re a prophet, or have gift X, doesn’t mean they actually do. But that’s an issue of discernment and pastoral wisdom. To throw out the idea of the miraculous wholesale—as Jonathan CHM and many others advocate—just because we have structural deficiencies in our churches is absurd.
But back to the rant. After, to his own mind, establishing that Charismatic churches routinely blaspheme the Holy Spirit, criticises them for “their non-repentance.” But why should they? The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable! According to Jonathan, they’re toast in eternity! Such a contradiction makes one wonder just how serious he is about this.
Turning to the issue of the nature of the tongues, he undercuts himself by citing 1 Corinthians 14:2. But this is a mistake on his part. If a tongue is only known to God, then it can’t be a human language, because someone down here knows it. I don’t know the state of foreign language education in the mysterious Orient from which Jonathan rants, but just because we don’t know a foreign language doesn’t mean it’s only known to God. That sounds like the lame brain excuses we here on this side of the Pacific on why Americans are so challenged in their foreign language education and skills. I expect better from a part of the world where primary and secondary education is on the whole better and more cost-effective than it is here.
Turning to the issue of tongues and interpretation, I’m a member of the oldest continuing Pentecostal church in North America, and we have tongues and interpretations of same on a regular basis. Just because some churches aren’t doing this on a Biblical basis doesn’t change the Biblical basis.
As far as prophecies of the end times, all of us know that it isn’t ours to know the date of the end. People who set forth specific times are simply wrong. But this isn’t restricted to Charismatic churches, and in fact Charismatic churches aren’t the worst offenders in this regard (just consider the Jehovah’s Witnesses.)
The one good thing that has come out of this is that it has given me an opportunity to address some significant issues that go the core of the modern Pentecostal movement. But, unless Jonathan CHM finds a better delivery method for his endless rant, he’ll find (and probably has elsewhere) that the rant will in fact come to an end.