Gettin' Pentecostal

Posted by Kevin |


This is not a slam on Pentecostals - not in the slightest. In fact I did a lot of spiritual 'growing up' in a Pentecostal/Charismatic church - and I think we all have our experiences for a reason. So though this is not a slam, it is critique and an honest confession of why I haven't missed my charismatic past.

Depending on which side of the fence you are on the above video is either offensive or embodies the exact reason you think the charismatic types are crazy. For some it is too much, seems too contrived - but for others, it's what excites you about God, that He acts and moves beyond our comfort zone and understanding.

Here's the truth. I've had some crazy charismatic experiences. Some crazy because I know God showed me something through it. Others, crazy because I know that well intentioned and honest people can try to force a God experience on their own. What I love about Pentecostal people is that they are open to God and looking for Him - they are in pursuit of real experiences. They say, if God is a real God, then He can really show up and move in our lives. What I do not like about the Pentecostal environment is the tendency to abuse it in what I call hyper-emotionalism.

I have seen not just awkward, but flat out crazy things in the name of 'God moving.' I will not pretend to be able to speak for God on this one and I can not, nor do I want to, legitimize Benny Hinn and the like. Those people in that crowd are searching and seeking for something real - and that is between them and God. My point is simply that I have not missed the hyper spiritual sensitivity that I experienced. The constant 'I believe God is speaking to me' and 'I've got a word for you.' It got old - it got abused - it rarely spoke on behalf of God for me.

But what I won't do is shut out the mystery that is God - that He is way beyond me and what I'm 'comfortable' with in this life. I thank God for my experiences - both the good and the bad. I hope you can say the same. I hope you can see the good in the bad and the bad in the good of your life and your experiences with God.

Those are just my thoughts, what are yours?


Kraig Krempa said...

Kevin, I am a Pentecostal pastor and I want you to know that I hear your heart and am not offended by your post.

Any time people (Pentecostal or otherwise) depart from scriptural boundaries - abuses are inevitable. Unfortunately, many Pentecostals have sought spiritual experiences at the expense of biblical doctrine thus placing themselves in an environment ripe for error. Worse yet, some of these same people resist doctrinal correction and assume an air of superiority on the basis of their experience. That's foolish pride; plain and simple.

To Kevin's readers who are leary of Pentecostals let me simply validate your objections and acknowledge that mistakes have been made within (and without) the Pentecostal/charismatic community. I will make no attempt to excuse any teaching, action or experience that falls outside of clear biblical teaching.

With that being said, please allow me to say that not all of us "charismatic types are crazy." I believe that the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit are meant to empower the Church to accomplish the Great Commission and are intended to continue until the return of Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, we MUST hold tightly to our best understanding of Scripture; to neglect or ignore biblical guidelines is foolishness beyond compare.

Let me close by simply echoing Kevin's words: "But what I won't do is shut out the mystery that is God - that He is way beyond me and what I'm 'comfortable' with in this life. I thank God for my experiences - both the good and the bad. I hope you can say the same."

God bless you. -K

Kevin Davis said...

Kraig - Thanks a lot for your thoughts and words. I have many dear friends in the Pentecostal/charismatic circle who I love and respect and I appreciate your perspective.

I recently reconnected with a couple from our old church and they reminded me of what I do love about the Pentecostal movement and they stirred something in me for more. Thankfully we serve a God bigger than human abuses.

Thanks again.

Denise said...

i'm an AG girl so i have experienced some of these hardcore pentecostal events... i can honestly say that i'm not always comfortable with it, but i can't judge those who are, or those who are being moved in those particular moments. I do agree, however, with this statement: What I do not like about the Pentecostal environment is the tendency to abuse it in what I call hyper-emotionalism. I guess its a flaw, but as Kraig said not all charismatics are the same... and thats all that basically could be said.

Alexis said...

So, I could only watch about 53 seconds...

And then I wanted to come here, as a charismatic/pentecostal girl and be all kinds of profound... But then I read Pastor Kraig and could in no way express myself better.

I will say that I couldn't imagine a Christian Life without the charismatic bent in my own personal life. It took YEARS of being in a "speaking in tongues" church for me to finally understand that it's about the surrender...not the words. And that once I hit that place of surrender, my life changed yet again.

So I guess what I am saying is that I belive God moves in amazing ways we can not comprehend or understand but that I know it's not supposed to look like a freak show to the world.

Justin Mederich said...

No Kevin, I think that you're just a creepy looking guy. No website could change that fact. Haha! j/k dude!

Kevin Davis said...

Denise - thanks for your thoughts and like I said we all have our experiences for a reason. And I still have a lot of love for all my AG homies.

Alexis - you still got all profound - thanks.

Justin - thanks for being completely off topic.

Justin Chandler said...

I knew that was coming.

jesselcook said...

wow. i don't know if i am supposed to or not...but i laughed pretty hard at this.

Kevin Davis said...

Chandler - are you referring to the Mederich comment?

Jesse - I laughed too, but also unsure if I'm supposed to. There is another vid of him smacking people with his suit coat - it's even more weird.

Corrie's Mike said...

First let me give a bloga-nod to the pastor who posted first. You sir are a credit to your profession and it seems a mature caring voice. You articulate the truth of the spiritual life while acknowledging that it is often misunderstood and misapplied by fellow jars of clay...

That being said let me throw down some street cred so this doesn't come across as mean spirited as it may seem. I attended Howell Assembly of God for most of my formidable church-going life. I have been around charismatics and pentecostal is somewhat normal to me. In the end I left because I was looked at as a second class citizen because I didn't manifest the gift of speaking in tongues. Apparently if you don't you can't be a card carrying AG'er. The focus in my opinion wasn't on the relationship that preceeded the gift but on the gift itself.


My personal feelings aside (and I have plenty for speaker here but strive not to sin in blog or deed) this kind of stuff makes me whince. It appears at first like some sort of new backwards pentecostal wave gone horribly awry. These people are moments away from handling snakes. It is clear that they are there for an experience and I'm assuming they don't want to diappoint given the boom mike and the camera that had to have been there, notice the A&E in the corner. They are there to experience the Dr. and his red-bull fueled cult of personality. Correct me if I'm wrong but outside of the first chapters of Acts the Holy Sprit makes himself known in subdued ways and never seeks to make it about him or how he works. These people are spiritual stunt men flailing around the stage in self induced seizures. I have never in almost 40 years of Christian life seen anything like that proved legitimate. While I don't doubt the spirit's power and ability; I do doubt his need to fling me like a doll all matrix like to get his flow on. I have known many sincere good people who were charismatic (not crazy) pentecostals and can say with some assurance that this does not represent them. Hope my sarcasm was taken as such.

Kevin Davis said...

Mike - that comment is exactly why you need to blog - you have opinions and an articulate/funny way of saying it. In particular, 'red bull fueled cult'. But part of your problem, which you'll have to admit, is that you went to an A/G church in Howell, or that you ever lived in Howell - okay, not really but I had some continued conversation about this last night and I feel like I'm a good mediator. I've found that most people who have harsh critiques against the Pentecostals have never actual been a part of a more charismatic church - so they have a lot of misfounded criticisms.

Corrie's Mike said...

Yeah you're right I probably have a not-so-subconcious ax to grind in light of my past. As far as the parishoners who do find their expression in the petecostal fold and maintain a balanced perspective I have much love and respect. Benny Hinn, however, is the spiritual equivalent of the WWF.

Carrie said...

Kevin, not sure you really want my opinion on this. Okay, maybe you do. I'll try to keep it level headed here.

I grew up in church - moved a lot and went to all different kinds including several of some flavor of charismatic (AG, indie, Vineyard). My brother is a Vineyard pastor and he and I have gone many rounds (lovingly for the most part) on this issue.

I say: Nearly every time I've encountered "manifestations" of the HS such as public speaking of tongues, falling, shaking, spontaneous laughing/weeping/etc., God has been less glorified than if it had not happened. The fruit may be positive for the participant, but observers are left confused, turned off, weirded out, or at the very least distracted from the message of Christ. At worst I've seen baby believers or sort-of-not-sure-believers or believers-who-are-in-unrepentant-sin using manifestations (probably fake but who knows for sure?) as a circus freak show. Can I just say I hate that? No, I do. I hate it when I see people who should be (or are close to) taking major steps of faith be derailed by "manifestations" which are in many cases a mockery of God's power and mystery.

My brother says: God tells us we should desire these gifts. They are good gifts that edify Him.

I say: fine. In the right setting. NOT with non-believers or baby believers present. NOT in a spirit of confusion. NOT replacing other types of edification which are more helpful and less confusing to those present.

He says: We need to "invite" the Spirit in worship (ie, as we sing).

I say: What, you think something you do as a musician controls whether the HS shows up or not? That's sick pride. Sick.

He says: What I do as a musician can help people focus on the HS and His presence.

I say: You're inviting hyper-emotionalism and even if the manifestation itself is true, it leaves the person open to doubting its real-ness later. At the very least it leaves doubts in the minds of others who witnessed it.

I have to say, Brother and I still disagree on these points but we've come to some pretty good mutual understanding. And he's backed off on the importance of manifestations as he's matured as a leader and pastor...at least those very public manifestations.

So I guess you can figure out from that, where I stand. I spent years working through the fear and confusion around my experiences with manifestations of the Holy Spirit, and more years in huge frustration over the "fruit" of their misuse. Of course, the HS can work in amazing and incredible ways and I'm not saying that He can't. I'm just saying, it takes an extremely mature and sensitive leader to correctly lead a group through experiencing them.

Hope that makes sense as I haven't proofed it. You're getting gut reaction here.

Kevin Davis said...

Mike - WWF is a pretty good analogy. You should check out some of his other YouTube vid's - in one of them he is repeatedly hitting people with his suit coat!

Carrie - I think your opinion is your opinion and is fine. You have had to balance it through your relationship and love for your Brother. It is good to have that tension on doctrine and religious practices - it forces us to go back to the scripture, search our own hearts and motivations - we just need to do it out of love. We can't pretend to speak on behalf of others experiences, just as I would be bothered by someone else trying to legitimize mine.

What I would say to someone like yourself, who has not had a positive 'charismatic' experience is to make sure you don't shut the door to God moving in your life, outside of what you understand or are comfortable with - we can't trust other humans to be balanced, but we can trust God.

Carrie said...

@Kevin - thanks for your response. Duly noted on not shutting the door to God (Only if He doesn't do anything crazy weird!) Ok, just kidding on the last part.