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some modern heresies

Page history last edited by Andrew Alder 2 years, 10 months ago

A page of theology


Two heresies are particularly splitting and damaging the Church. Less than they did in the 20th century but still damaging.


And they are two sides of one issue.



The Pentecostal Heresy

Them's fighting words.


I love pentecostal churches. I have regularly attended several over the years. But there is sometimes a problem


I have also heard many members of these churches imply or even claim outright that I'm a second-rate Christian, or even not really a Christian at all, because I do not speak in tongues.


And this is not a new problem. Read 1 Corinthians 12-14 as a whole.


We do people a great disservice when we allow Chapter 13, "the love chapter", to be read out at weddings. Seen out of context it is misleading. Because it's not about just any sort of love. Ah, you say, yes I know, agape love. I know, you say, and I always point that out to the couple when they ask for that reading, and to the congregation at a wedding where it has been read, many of whom don't come to church except for weddings and funerals and perhaps christenings.


Not good enough, I say.


It's not just about agape. Well, maybe but not obviously so. Maybe by "agape" we mean the gift of the Spirit and no other sort of love. Maybe, and important. Do you really make that clear?


Because that's what the chapter is about. The focus isn't on love at all. The focus is on the Spirit that gives this love. But it goes even deeper.


Look at the last few verses of Chapter 14, the conclusion of the whole passage. Seen as a whole, this three-chapter essay appears to have a very special and important purpose: To put the gift of tongues into its proper place. And that place is not as the test of a Christian, or even as one of the "higher gifts" that everyone should pray for. 


And that is all quite explicit. The Pentecostal Heresy is forbidden by Scripture. It's not a new problem. St Paul knew all about it, and solved it for those who will listen.


The Pentephobic Heresy

The other side of the coin.


Imagine you are a devout Christian, a brilliant and talented person who has dedicated his life to humbly serving the Church, and has not lost that humility and focus even when consecrated as a Bishop. And then somebody tells you that you're not a Christian, because you don't speak in tongues. What do you think of them, and of the churches that do nothing to discourage this abusive and heretical belief?


Pretty obvious, isn't it. You decide that they're not listening to the Spirit at all. And that in claiming to do so, maybe they are even listening to a false Spirit. Satan. It's not right, but it's tempting.


There is revival happening in many churches, and most of it has roots in the Pentecostal churches and other branches of the Charismatic movement. They are blessing the Church. Which puts their victims in a very awkward position.


The solution is not to discourage the genuine gift of tongues. In fact that is explicitly forbidden in 1 Corinthians 14:39. Isn't it?


So It's not new either. St Paul knew all about it, and solved it for those who will listen.


How did this start

Like all heresies, this started with taking a little bit of scripture and reading it in isolation. "Proof verses" have a lot to answer for.


Read Acts 10 44-48. It seems obvious that at this stage in church history, every Christian was expected to speak in tongues, and nobody else.


We need to read the whole of scripture, not just our favourite bits. It's as simple as that.


Why it matters or The Pentecostal Revival

God is blessing the Church with the gift of tongues.


But it's more difficult for God to fill your mouth with praise if you have allowed some well-meaning but sinful idiot to fill it with rubbish. Not impossible. But let us give God a break!


How to fix it

We don't need to. God is in control. He is fixing it already. Well, maybe you are called to be part of that. 


See speaking in Tongues for some practical advice. You may not like it.


Better still, I linked above to  1 Corinthians 12-14, That is our user's guide to the Holy Spirit.


And as a response to reading that you may find yourself praying for two specific gifts: Interpretation, and Discernment. We need more of both, and are encouraged to pray for them.


And we need more Prophecy. But I don't suggest you pray for that. Wanting that gift is contrary to the pattern of Scripture. True prophets don't want the gift as a rule, and for very good reasons. The personal cost is high, even for a successful prophet like Jonah. And most have little success.






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