Not All the Same
K. B. Napier
This Outline is being published 2½ years after
the Toronto Blessing first hit the UK.
Time and again in BTM literature we have opposed 'charismatics',
or, more accurately, 'charismaticism'.
Some have taken this to mean a total opposition to all
charismatics, of whatever hue. In
this Outline, we shall present a simple statement that refutes this,
mainly by supplying necessary definitions.
It has been said that all Believers are 'charismatic' in the
Biblical sense of the word, because every single Christian has been
blessed with various spiritual gifts. This is perfectly correct.
As one who came from a Calvinistic background, I understand why
and how some Christians tend to shun the subject of gifts, saying that
they all ceased with the Apostles.
It is really a defence mechanism, based on a fear of offending
Almighty God with the excesses of certain charismatics. But we ought not
to reject what is proper in an effort to distance ouselves from what is
unbiblical. There is really
no proof that the gifts have ceased, so we should not insist that this
is so. In fact, to insist that they have ceased is to deny our own salvation, for salvation is called a
'gift' of God, as are faith, righteousness, love, etc.!
By 'charismaticism' we mean that all-pervading spirit or
influence that takes over the mind and heart, and which emphasises
spiritual experiences over and above scriptural text. Those who have
this spirit might speak of belief in scripture, but their actions and practices
deny such a belief. Isaiah
30:1 says: "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel,
but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit,
that they may add sin to sin."
Many charismatics are of this nature - they follow theories
and new things, signs and wonders, and teachers who do not teach God's
Truth. In verse 5, God says
that this is to their shame and is a reproach to them.
In verse 8, Isaiah is commanded to make a public
declaration against the rebellious people and also to make a
permanent record of God's anger against them.
BTM has done this, not for its own sake or glory, but because God
says so and because "...this
is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the
law of the LORD." (verse 8). These liars ask those who see
visions and those who prophesy to tell them lies, because they prefer
them to the Truth.
Matthew Poole says only an insane man will deliberately
prefer lies to the Truth, and so this text is not saying rebels against
God do so consciously. Rather,
they say they obey scripture, but reject
it by their actions. This
is what we see amongst charismatics who adhered to the Toronto Blessing
and to other charismatic fables. That
is, they obey the spirit of charismaticism rather than the spirit of
God. (We would add that a man need not be insane to accept lies -
all it takes is sin!).
That is why we oppose charismaticism
and all charismatics who obey its voice.
We tend to distinguish 'old style' Pentecostalists from current
charismatics, whose existence really goes back only to about the
1960’s. The 'old style' Pentecostalists are usually opposed to
charismatic excesses, sins and beliefs. Many of them are godly folk who
wish only to worship God in Truth. And many of them believe in the gifts
but have rarely seen them in operation (the experience of us all). They
view the current trends with great alarm and distance themselves from
them. Thus we do not include
these folk amongst the 'charismatics' we oppose. Mainly, with a few individual
exceptions, their beliefs in the gifts are orthodox and Biblical.
However, we must add the following to this statement....
We will oppose any
belief that is not scriptural. Thus whilst we might indeed accept as our
Brethren many 'old style' Pentecostalists, we might also, at the same
time, oppose or reject certain of their beliefs or practices. We would
do this purely on the basis of God's Truth, and
not because a person is a Pentecostalist. This is a fair thing to
do, for all denominations (and others) are permeated with unsaved or
rebellious people. We cannot oppose one type of denominational error
whilst ignoring the errors of other denominations!
We oppose and reject any denomination or group that preaches rank
Arminianism. By this we mean open and deliberate Arminianism, which is
really religious humanism. It preaches that we may become saved by our
own effort, i.e. we can 'choose' Christ whenever we wish and that
salvation is the product of our own response.
Almost all denominations and preachers tend to fall into a
modified form of this trap, mostly unintentionally, being unaware of the
theological implications. Thus
whilst we may accept such preachers, we nevertheless point out their
But current charismatics deliberately use Arminian means and methods, which are worldly,
without a shred of Biblical holiness.
Their preaching and teaching are plainly unscriptural and they
revel in their own glory. It stands to reason that if a church or
preacher preaches salvation by self effort, then those who are 'saved'
under such preaching are likely to be unsaved. These same folk go on to 'serve the church' and pass on their
unscriptural teachings to others. Thus
we oppose charismaticism and rank charismatics, whereas we do not
generally oppose 'old style' Pentecostalists...although we will oppose these also, if they turn to blatant charismaticism or
preach other heresy.
Having said all that, we would wish to add that to call one's
self a 'charismatic' or a 'Pentecostalist' is unnecessary
and is fundamentally an error,
which is why we point out that charismaticism is rooted in
Pentecostalism. We say this
as a warning, not as a rebuke. A similar argument is also made against
ALL denominations and denominational spirits.
Basically, to be known by a denominational name is unscriptural,
and we see no difference between denominational loyalty and the
situation spoken of by Paul in 1 Corinthians..."...I
am of Paul; and I am of Apollos....Is Christ divided?". We
would certainly not shun folk because they belonged to a denominational
church, or because they referred to themselves as 'Pentecostalists'
(etc), but we would, however, tell them that we do not accept their
'title' or some of their beliefs.
As an individual Christian I hold firmly to the
'five points' of Calvinism, but I do not call myself a Calvinist.
I protest against Rome (and other cults) but I do not call myself
a Protestant. I believe in
the gifts, but would definitely refuse any name such as 'charismatic'.
My preference is to call myself a Christian or a Believer - and
to tell those who believe unscripturally that they are wrong, or even
that they are heretics. I see no Biblical precedent for calling one's
self a 'Pentecostalist' or a 'charismatic', whether
or not one joins with Toronto Blessing or other heretical
activities. It is our hope that all who now call themselves by such
names will see the error of using them, and will return to a more
Biblical epithet! We
welcome their input against the gross errors in the Toronto and
charismatic movements, although we do not necessarily accept everything
they do or say (on the above grounds).
Charismaticism was born out of Pentecostalism. This had to happen
at some time in history, because of the seed of heresy contained within
Pentecostalism (just as different seeds of error are contained within other denominations). What happened to Pentecostalism can happen to any
denomination - which is another good reason to drop the title 'Pentecostalist'.
Far better to say that a Christian is one who accepts scripture as it
stands, including gifts, fruit and the work of the Holy Spirit in one's
Christian life! There is no need whatever to add another name to those already given by scripture (and there are
several, including 'Christian', 'Believer', etc). (Important: Read Article on Azusa Street).
We hope that this short Outline gives a clearer
indication of our attitude toward Pentecostal Brethren - an attitude
which we believe to be scriptural.
© April 1996
PO Box 415, SWANSEA SA5 8YH
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