The Failure of Charismatic Theology By: Ted Clore

This article is from Ted Clore
The Failure of Charismatic TheologyBy: Ted Clore

In his article, “Can a Charismatic Theology Be Biblical? Traditional Theology and Biblical Emphases”, Jon Ruthven1, Professor of Systematic Theology at Regent University School of Divinity, Virginia Beach, Virginia, attempts to build a case for Charismatic theology and put it forth as an acceptable, and more precisely, the proper theology for modern times. In doing this he will propose an abandonment of traditional method for a more modern method of determining theology, which I find detrimental to the theology he will propose.
He says in his opening statements, “These days, however, charismatic theology is no longer limited to a second-blessing, tongues-speaking appendix to the traditional Protestant ordo salutis, i.e., vocation, regeneration, justification, sanctification and glorification.” Ruthven, is stating his case for a new look and a restatement for his theology apart from the historic view of the church. In doing this he proposes the abandonment of “traditional” theology and the adoption of modern methods that would suit his theology and its presuppositions. He says, “Hence, this paper asks not, “what does the scripture say ” about these doctrines (a conflict does not lie significantly at this point), but rather, “what does it emphasize?”

In other words, he is going to propose that the proper method of context be abandoned of “traditional theology”, which he says he has no “significant conflict: with”, for a kinder and gentler method that is going to show a Charismatic theology in a better light.

He continues, “The thesis of the paper, then, is that when objective measures for determining emphasis, e.g., content analysis, are applied to the New Testament text, the orientation that emerges in these key doctrines is profoundly and emphatically charismatic.Emphasis mine.
What he is proposing at this point is that we abandon the reading of the text for it’s message, and it’s rational approach to language, grammatical concerns, linguistic practices, and social and historical consideration, to adopt his new method. That method is a statistical process in which words are counted, and themes are analyzed to determine content. This “weighted” analysis would then determine what the Bible “most talks about” and then the theologian would determine theology from that weighted chart or analysis. Which he claims will find a “profoundly and emphatically Charismatic” theology.

He continues, “Content analysis would indicate via programmatic statements that not only was Jesus’ mission of the Kingdom centrally charismatic (summarized in Lk 4:18-21,43; Acts 2:22; 10:38), but the fact that he specifically repeats the emphases of his own mission in the commissions to his disciples (Mt. 10; Lk 9 and 10[31] and Mt. 28:19-20, cf. 24:14, “until the end of the age.”) This same charismatic emphasis grounds the whole Book of Acts where the Church’s commission (1:5-8) is to present the kingdom in the power of signs and wonders and the preaching of the word.[32] The repeated summary statements of Paul’s mission(Acts 15:12; Rom. 15:18-20; 1 Cor. 2:4; 2 Cor. 12:12; 1 Th. 1:5), show the continuation of this normative pattern of presenting and living out the gospel of the exalted Christ in “word and deed.“[33] Here the implications of believers inaugurated, but not yet fully realized, “vice-regency” with the exalted, gift-bestowing Christ could profitably be explored.[34]” (Emphasis mine.)

Here he applies his hermeneutic, and a statistical analysis of the content overrides any message of context. The theme that is derived determines the theology because the analysis is weighted toward the “charismatic emphasis”, so the derived theology must also do the same.

In justifying his method Ruthven says, “I submit this paper for your scrutiny to test its viability as both a theological method and as a radical (in its original sense of going back to the root) Evangelical reframing of traditional doctrines. This paper represents the first stages of an attempt to re-vision a charismatic Evangelical theology, hence, on an indispensable principle of religious authority, i.e., sola scriptura.[3] Because we take this religious authority seriously, and therefore seek to screen out our own biases and traditions, we rely on some principles of content analysisM, a method extensively employed and proven in social sciences and literature for objectifying the content and emphases of communication. This study appears only as an outline of largely unfinished research.” Emphasis mine.

He admits that his method is a “radical reframing” of the Evangelical traditional theological method. In fact, he appeals to the Reformation claim of scripture alone, by imposing a completely unbiblical and “radical” method that will “reframe the traditional doctrines”. In other words, because he knows that the Charismatic theology falls short in the established and orthodox method of theology (Biblical context and appeal to scripture alone), he needs to rewrite the approach that WoF theology presents itself to the believer with. In order to do this a method of interpretation has to be adopted that is weighted toward the theology and abandons the traditional approach and orthodox doctrines of the church. His method becomes neither traditional nor scriptural in its approach to determining doctrine, despite his assertion that it is in the tradition of Sola Scriptura and the traditional theological method.

Also, I must point out, that Sola Scriptura, is an appeal to the context of scripture. It was used by the Reformers to answer the “ecclesiastical authority” of the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, the RCC didn’t want the scripture in the hands of the “common man”, because they knew that context would destroy the Papal infallibility that they claimed, and the scriptures alone would undermine the civil and spiritual government of the Church. Ruthven, in his abandonment of traditional Evangelical method, is calling for the same horrific thing, overlook context for content, and then apply it to an agenda to establish theological authority. He is calling for the believer to put a matrix of determining content ahead of the traditional Protestant method of context, thereby allowing this “colored lens” to determine the theology.

Ruthven continues, “To prosecute its thesis, this paper first provides background by briefly describing content analysis in contrast to traditional Evangelical hermeneutics. This is followed by a description of emphasis patterns within selected doctrines, as laid out by: 1) traditional Evangelicalism, 2) contemporary biblical theology, and 3) some procedures of content analysis. The paper concludes with a summary and implications of these contrasts for contemporary Evangelical theology and praxis. This study examines specifically certain emphases within the doctrines of hermeneutics, the Holy Spirit, the kingdom of God, soteriology, and faith.Emphasis mine.

Ruthven knows that Charismatic theology falls short of Biblical and contextual theology of the Protestant church, which he readily admitted, and proposes a brand new method of determining theology. This is through procedures in which he knows that “content analysis” will lend itself to his agenda. And that agenda is to find a way to read the scriptures to prove his theology. He is exchanging context for content, and thereby abandoning the traditional Evangelical hermeneutics of the past, and delivering a forced view read into the context based upon content analysis.

I find that Charismatic theology falls far short of the task of answering Biblical and contextual theology, and has to adapt to philosophies, methods and ideals that fit its agenda. In this case this eclectic type of theology adopts methods used in industry, scholastics, medical and engineering related fields, that look for patterns and content of data, and applies this to the Word of God. His trust in the contextual and grammatical method, preferred by God and the historical method of the church to communicate theology, is found lacking for his agenda and therefore adopts a “radical new method” to approach scriptures. Ruthven in this article is hunting for method, and in so doing is willing to scrap a tried and true method that is harmful to his hermeneutic, to adopt his “radical reframing of traditional doctrines.”

This is another nail in the coffin that this aberrant theology needs to be placed in, in my opinion

1: Jon Ruthven; Ph.D., Marquette University; M.A., Central Bible College; B.A., Central Bible College; B.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Further study, Institute of Holy Land Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem



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Satans Generals of The Full Gospel

 The leaders of a false faith and strange fire

 

GOD’S GENERALS: The Legacy (includes Todd Bentley, Jim Goll, Benny Hinn, Roberts Liardon, and more)

GOD’S GENERALS: The Legacy (includes Todd Bentley, Jim Goll, Benny Hinn, Roberts Liardon, and more)

 

Pentecostalism and Freemasonry

Charles Fox Parham and Freemasonry

Parham was probably a member of the Freemasons at some time in his life.[14] The 1930 biography on Parham (page 32) says “Mr. Parham belonged to a lodge and carried an insurance on his life. He felt now that he should give this up also.”[5] The question is one of timing, the extent of his involvement, and how much of their teachings became merged with his theology. From his wife’s comments, it appears he was originally involved because of the good deeds they did in looking after their fellow man (something he did not feel the churches did a good job of doing), not because of their beliefs. Because many in the Pentecostal movement oppose the Freemasons so bitterly, some have said that he left the organization when he started his “Full Gospel” ministry. This would fit with the comment in the biography. What is clear is that, at the peak of his ministry (between 1900 and mid-1907) he had little time for involvement in any organizations. His bible school and his preaching were an all consuming task. Even his active later ministry left little free time for activities like lodges. Some feel there is evidence that Parham was still a member of the Freemasons in 1928 (they feel he “appeared to still have Masonic tendencies”), but source documents for this are not quoted. They may be drawing an inference from a letter that Parham wrote back home from his Palestine trip where he said “I am going to bring a gavel home with me … I am going to present it to the Masonic lodge in Baxter Springs with my respects.”(p373)[5] Yet if he had been a member then, it is likely that his wife’s earlier comment in the same book, where it tells of Parham’s decision to leave the lodge, would have been different. She said “I had been taught in the Friend’s church not to believe in secret organizations, and was very glad for his decision” [i.e. to leave the lodge].(p32)[5] It is just as likely that the gavel was simply a present for friends he had known since his original involvement. If Parham was involved in Freemasonry, the ultimate question is what the level of his involvement was, when he was involved, and if there are any indications of these beliefs in his ministry, especially during the period of his highest influence in the early pentecostal movement (from 1900 to 1907). Lower level involvement in smaller communities can be more of a social involvement than a belief in or an understanding of their principles (as it appears was the situation with Parham’s early involvement with the lodge).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Parham

Life After Lakeland: Sorting Out the Confusion by J Lee Grady; Charisma Magazine

Life After Lakeland: Sorting Out the Confusion

Todd Bentley’s announcement that his marriage is ending has thrown our movement into a tailspin—and questions need to be answered.

It was not supposed to end like this.
 
Evangelist Todd Bentley had heralded the Lakeland revival as the greatest Pentecostal outpouring since Azusa Street. From his stage in a gigantic tent in Florida, Bentley preached to thousands, bringing many of them to the stage for prayer. Many claimed to be healed of deafness, blindness, heart problems, depression and dozens of other conditions in the Lakeland services, which ran for more than 100 consecutive nights. Bentley announced confidently that dozens of people had been raised from the dead during the revival.
 
But this week, a few days after the Canadian preacher announced the end of his visits to Lakeland, he told his staff that his marriage is ending. Without blaming the pace of the revival for Bentley’s personal problems, his board released a public statement saying that he and his wife, Shonnah, are separating. The news shocked Bentley’s adoring fans and saddened those who have questioned his credibility since the Lakeland movement erupted in early April.

 

“Among those who jumped on the Lakeland bandwagon, discernment was discouraged. They were expected to swallow and follow. The message was clear: ‘This is God. Don’t question.’ ”

 

I’m sad. I’m disappointed. And I’m angry. Here are few of my many, many questions about this fiasco:
 
Why did so many people flock to Lakeland from around the world to rally behind an evangelist who had serious credibility issues from the beginning?
 
To put it bluntly, we’re just plain gullible.
 
From the first week of the Lakeland revival, many discerning Christians raised questions about Bentley’s beliefs and practices. They felt uneasy when he said he talked to an angel in his hotel room. They sensed something amiss when he wore a T-shirt with a skeleton on it. They wondered why a man of God would cover himself with tattoos. They were horrified when they heard him describe how he tackled a man and knocked his tooth out during prayer.
 
But among those who jumped on the Lakeland bandwagon, discernment was discouraged. They were expected to swallow and follow. The message was clear: “This is God. Don’t question.” So before we could all say, “Sheeka Boomba” (as Bentley often prayed from his pulpit), many people went home, prayed for people and shoved them to the floor with reckless abandon, Bentley-style.
 
I blame this lack of discernment, partly, on raw zeal for God. We’re spiritually hungry—which can be a good thing. But sometimes, hungry people will eat anything.
 
Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up.
 
Why didn’t anyone in Lakeland denounce the favorable comments Bentley made about William Branham?
 
This one baffles me. Branham embraced horrible deception near the end of his ministry, before he died in 1965. He claimed that he was the reincarnation of Elijah—and his strange doctrines are still embraced by a cultlike following today. When Bentley announced to the world that the same angel that ushered in the 1950s healing revival had come to Lakeland, the entire audience should have run for the exits.
 
Why didn’t anyone correct this error from the pulpit? Godly leaders are supposed to protect the sheep from heresy, not spoon feed deception to them. Only God knows how far this poison traveled from Lakeland to take root elsewhere. May God forgive us for allowing His Word to be so flippantly contaminated.
 
A prominent Pentecostal evangelist called me this week after Bentley’s news hit the fan. He said to me: “I’m now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the anti-Christ when he shows up because they have no discernment.” Ouch. Hopefully we’ll learn our lesson this time and apply the necessary caution when an imposter shows up.
 
Why did God TV tell people that “any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic”?
 
This ridiculous statement was actually made on one of God TV’s pre-shows. In fact, the network’s hosts also warned listeners that if they listened to criticism of Bentley, they could lose their healings.
 
This is cultic manipulation at its worst. The Bible tells us that the Bereans were noble believers because they studied the Scriptures daily “to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11, NASB). Yet in the case of Lakeland, honest intellectual inquiry was viewed as a sign of weakness. People were expected to jump first and then open their eyes.
 
Just because we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit does not mean we check our brains at the church door. We are commanded to test the spirits. Jesus wants us to love Him with our hearts and our minds.
 
Because of the Lakeland scandal, there may be large numbers of people who feel they’ve been burned by Bentley. Some may give up on church and join the growing ranks of bitter, disenfranchised Christians. Others may suffer total spiritual shipwreck. This could have been avoided if leaders had been more vocal about their objections and urged people to evaluate spiritual experiences through the filter of God’s Word.
 
Why did a group of respected ministers lay hands on Bentley on June 23 and publicly ordain him? Did they know of his personal problems?
 
This controversial ceremony was organized by Peter Wagner, who felt that one of Bentley’s greatest needs was proper spiritual covering. He asked California pastors Che Ahn and Bill Johnson, along with Canadian pastor John Arnott, to lay hands on Bentley and bring him under their care.
 
Bentley certainly needs such covering. No one in ministry today should be out on their own, living in isolation without checks, balances and wise counsel. It was commendable that Wagner reached out to Bentley and that Bentley acknowledged his need for spiritual fathers by agreeing to submit to the process. The question remains, however, whether it was wise to commend Bentley during a televised commissioning service that at times seemed more like a king’s coronation.
 
In hindsight, we can all see that it would have been better to take Bentley into a back room and talk about his personal issues.
 
The Bible tells us that ordination of a minister is a sober responsibility. Paul wrote: “Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others” (1 Tim. 5:22). We might be tempted to rush the process, but the apostle warned against fast-tracking ordination—and he said that those who commission a minister who is not ready for the job will bear some of the blame for his failures.
 
I trust that Wagner, Ahn, Johnson and Arnott didn’t know of Bentley’s problems before they ordained him. I am sure they are saddened by the events of this week and are reaching out to Bentley and his wife to promote healing and restoration. But I believe that they, along with Bentley and the owners of God TV, owe the body of Christ a forthright, public apology for thrusting Bentley’s ministry into the spotlight prematurely. (Perhaps such an apology should be aired on God TV.)
 
Can anything good come out of this?
 
That depends on how people respond. If the men assigned to oversee Bentley offer loving but firm correction, and if Bentley responds humbly to the process by stepping out of ministry for a season of rehabilitation, we could witness a healthy case of church discipline play out the way it is supposed to. If all those who were so eager to promote Bentley now rush just as fast to repent for their errors in judgment, then the rest of us could breathe a huge sigh of relief—and the credibility of our movement could be restored.
 
I still believe that God desires to visit our nation in supernatural power. I know He wants to heal multitudes, and I will continue praying for a healing revival to sweep across the United States. But we must contend for the genuine, not an imitation. True revival will be accompanied by brokenness, humility, reverence and repentance—not the arrogance, showmanship and empty hype that often was on display in Lakeland.
 
We are weathering an unprecedented season of moral failure and spiritual compromise in our nation today. I urge everyone in the charismatic world to pray for Bentley; his wife, Shonnah; his three young children; Bentley’s ministry staff; and the men and women who serve as his counselors and advisers. Let’s pray that God will turn this embarrassing debacle into an opportunity for miraculous restoration.

 

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. To read Charisma’s news story on Todd Bentley’s recent announcement, click here.

http://fireinmybones.com/index.php?col=081308%7ELife+After+Lakeland%3A+Sorting+Out+the+Confusion