1. They teach that experience will determine what is true. Most Charismatics will not admit to this, but their practice confirms it. Indeed, their truth is based on their experiences: experiences which includes visions, dreams, private messages, tongues, healings, miracles (?), being slain in the Spirit, etc. Unfortunately, the more experiences they have the more they are confirmed in their truth, a truth that may not be supported by Scripture.
John MacArthur wrote of a man who said to him, “We’re cataloging all of our experiences so that we can develop a theology.”
MacArthur, in response said, “They do not understand that authentic experience happens in response to truth and anything that doesn’t square up with the revealed truth of the Word of God is not authentic and not of God. Too many of their experiences are detached from truth and they lead to false conclusions.”
MacArthur says that there is true Spiritual experience, but it will always be in response to the truth of the word of God. Remorse over sin, having peace with God in the midst of trouble, experiencing grief over a lost soul, or joy over a saved soul are all examples of true experiences which are gained in response to truth. But experience detached from truth, such as private messages, visions, and dreams will never lead us to the truth.
2. They teach that a proper hermeneutics is not that important. The Charismatic movement places more emphasis on personal experience rather that the study of the written word of God. Some even believe it is unscriptural to study the bible. Much of the Charismatic confusion could be eliminated with a very simple, straightforward, basic understanding of how to properly interpret the Bible.
3. They teach that revelation continues beyond the Holy Bible. Most Charismatics believe that God is still giving us inspired messages—direct revelations, through various means such as an audible voice, dreams, an impression, visions, or a prophecy. Many say that the bible is no more than a witness to God’s present activity; it is a model of what is going on all the time. In fact, some would say that the bible is just one of many witnesses, that He is continuing to speak and continuing to give new ongoing revelation.
In most Charismatic services people will stand up and say they have a word from the Lord, and even saying, “thus saith the Lord.” They will give their supposed inspired word and people will accept it as a revelation from God.
The Charismatics are much like the Roman Catholics in the respect that they too through their history have receive additional revelation through tradition, Church Councils, the Pope, and even through personal revelation from the Holy Spirit. I can’t help thinking that at least some of Charismatic theology may have originated from Catholicism.
The Mormons also believe in ongoing revelation. Here is the Mormon’s seventh Article of Faith: “We believe in the gifts of tongues, prophecy, revelations, visions, healing, and interpretation of tongues.” So we see that the Mormons (and some of the other cults) believe in the same things.
But the truth is that the Bible is complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and the cannon of scripture is closed. God has said everything He will say to us. There is, and will be nothing new (doctrinally) that He will say. Thus the bible is not to be added to (Rev. 22:18-19).
4. They teach the doctrine of subsequence. The Charismatics look to the book of Acts for their doctrine of subsequence—that sometime after one is saved, if that one is following the Lord he will receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which will be followed by speaking in tongues. Some also say that if you are really baptized in the Spirit you will have it all: miracles, healing power, tongues, and revelations.
But the book of Acts was never meant to be a book we should rely on for doctrinal teaching. It is rather a book of history for the early church. What transpired in Acts was never meant to become a firm doctrine. As far as the baptism in the Spirit, 1 Cor. 12:13 indicates that we are all baptized of the Spirit when we are saved. This is a firm doctrine!
5. They teach the importance of the supernatural gifts (tongues, healing, miracles), and the paranormal to edify and to substantiate ones faith and ministry. Charismatics say that miracles are given to the church, to people everywhere, to edify the church. But biblical miracles were only given to select people for the purpose of authenticating an era in which God was giving new revelation.
As far as healing, He heals through our prayers, and through medicine. And he may heal though any way He chooses. But God no longer heals today through those who claim that they have a gift of healing. In the early days of the church the Holy Spirit did give spiritual gifts of healing—as well as gifts of miracles, tongues, or languages, and the interpretation or translation of those languages. But these were temporary sign gifts given to the church for a very special purpose, mainly to identify and give credibility to certain leaders in the church—mainly the apostles.
Unfortunately, we see all too much from false teachers who seek power and credibility through supernatural gifts of healing, but there is no proof of their claims. Probably one of the first claimants of these gifts were the Roman Catholics. They have repeatedly boasted of healing people but there is no real proof to their claims. We are also seeing such boasts by Charismatics, but with little to show for it.
In the Charismatic movement, especially in the movement called the third wave movement, there seems to be a preoccupation with the paranormal and the mystical, and with such bizarre practices as knocking people over, which they call “slaying in the Spirit.” Yet this practice is never mentioned in the bible or was ever practiced by the early church.
Many in the movement have come to believe that God’s power can be only displayed in an irrational and bizarre way. Many even distain logic and common sense, thinking that the irrational is more spiritual. Some think that when someone goes into some kind of stupor, or in a catatonic state or a hysteria, where they are not in control of themselves, then you are really seeing the power of God at work.
But Spiritual gifts are not supposed to produce mindlessness or to cause people to lapse into unconsciousness. On the contrary, to be filled with the Spirit is to be clear-headed and have self-control (Gal. 5).
Also, when you try to get yourself to be out of control, to be in a mindless state, this is the tradition of the pagan religions and the away in which they get in touch with their deity—which is really demons.
6. They teach that the gift of tongues is learned. As I have heard, the tongues of today are attained (or learned) by emptying one’s mind, thus allowing this so called heavenly, spiritual language to bypass their mind and enter their spirit. Then, once they learn how to do it, they can turn it on and off at will. And this activity is supposed to build them up spiritually.
There are a number of things wrong with this. First of all, the tongues of today are not the same as the gift of tongues in the early church. The tongues of today are nothing but gibberish and probably demonic; the tongues of the early church were an actual language and they had a purpose for their day (I will write more on this in my next blog). Also, if God did give someone the real gift of tongues today, they would not have to learn how to do it. They wouldn’t have to do anything—because it is a gift!
(Source material: John MacArthur’s 13 messages from his book, Charismatic Chaos)