Friday, February 10, 2006

Are Charismatics Gnostics?

My position on this has been hardening somewhat over the past month.

Charismatics are gnostics, because they believe that God gives special revelation to people at different points in their spiritual development. This then gives those people additional power (spiritual or temporal depending on the church). These points of progress involve initiations, central to which are church leaders. e.g. the initial public demonstration of receiving the holy spirit, or later receiving prophetic words which may act as the church's permission to undertake oa specific ministry.

Evangelicals believe that the bible is the whole of God's revelation and it is up to Christians to study the word and apply it in their lives. This is aided by the holy spirit who indwells every believer. There will be no further revelation other than the bible.

Thisis my honest assessment of the divide. I am not trying to get at anyone and you don't have to agree with me, its just how i see it.

These two sides are not reconcilable because charismatics, by their own definitions, view evangelicals as partial christians or lower level christians. Therefore, all that can be achieved by discussions like this is strife.

In practice its perfectly possible for charismatics and evangelicals to work together on a one to one basis if they know each other as friends. I have seen charismatics (especially young ones) question what they have been taught when they first come into contact with evangelicals in mission and evangelism. In my experience traditional pentecostal churches can also work well with evangelical churches. Its the shepherding/covenant type churches which practice greater separation (and of course the black led churches).

Monday, February 6, 2006

Christians who do not go to church.

This is a significant issue for many Christians and it’s what caused me to lose my faith after a 10 year gap of going to church.
It wasn't the gap that caused the problem, it was the going back to church and not getting any sort of fellowship or friendship over several months (I did not expect it to happen instantly but after a few months it really should have).

Here is how I have identified the problem and how I am overcoming it:

1. The church does not matter.
No one has ever been saved by going to church.

2. People are fallible and make mistakes. I allowed this to cloud my relationship with God. I truly know that God loves me and nothing anyone can do to me can take that away. This is the knowledge that kept me in my faith for 10 years during which I had limited contact with other Christians, and it’s what is keeping me going now.

3. Just because I don't have a live church connection does not mean that God will not use me to advance his kingdom.
I used to think I was "out of the ministry" because I did not go to church. I now know this is wrong. There are many ways in which you can minister to other people outside of church. In fact its easier to serve God outside of the church because that’s where all the unsaved people are (and all the jobs are spoken for in most churches anyway as they have limited opportunities to serve, they basically make 80% of the congregation impotent).

Now, it would be nice to find a church and have my faith strengthened by fellowship with other Christians but if you walk into a church the only thing you have in common with the people there is that you are born again. Yes, its a big thing but its not enough to base normal social relationships on, therefore I think I think anyone looking for a church needs to find one where the people have similar interests, aspirations and personality types to themselves.

BUT, like you I live somewhere where there is no real choice of church.
The church I attend has a warped sense of community. For years they have been trying to reach people who live round the place where the church happened to have been built.
However, if I look at the church its real sphere of influence is the families, friends and contacts of the members, who may live further a field. They just ignore that community and beat themselves up because they are not reaching people in the next street.

I am looking at two areas right now which I hope will address my feeling of not belonging:

1. My personal ministry. How I relate to other people both in conduct, and in sharing the gospel. As someone who is "powerful" by human standards I should have less fear of being open about my faith as I have less to lose, but I don't because I have not always been in the position of having status. I am what is known by marketers as an "opinion leader". I now need to start leading some opinions!

2. Para-church organisations. There may be opportunities to mix with other Christians in other organisations with specific ministries. I may do something musical in this area.

Another area I have been looking at again is money. I gave up everything financially to go into full time ministry and when that was taken from me by illness and other things I got the opportunity to serve others through charity work. This also did not pay well but I was happy. I believe that God has blessed that faithfulness and also the 10 years I had away from the church by making me financially secure and successful in business. My company already gives more percentage wise to charity than most other companies I know of but we could go further. I want to investigate that this year. My problem is that I really do not like blowing my own trumpet. I even conspired to conceal some of our giving in the company accounts so that it was not so obvious even if that meant paying tax on some of those donations.
It has also caused people to see the wealth and go on about camels and eyes of needles when they did not know me in the days when i would save up £5 a month until I had enough to buy a reconditioned Hoover Junior for £50, or when I lived in a house with peoples cast off furniture and sleeping in the pyjamas my grandfather died in.

So....... I think i need to just be more open and honest with people about the money issue. I enjoy life, I enjoy helping other people and I enjoy having nice things, (but I own them, they don't own me and I won't have them forever) and I am not going to let anyone steal my joy.