This article was written by Caleb Nakina, 4th year student at CABC…
The Tendency to Undermine Preaching
Charismatics tend to undermine preaching in favor of substituting props. Miraculous performances seem to be the most central pillar of Charismatic doctrine. I would contend that it is impossible to rightly define Charismaticism without any reference to their unhealthy degree of interest in the supernatural (see also MacArthur 158). Charismatic churches are known for their “deliverance” and other alleged “miracle” sessions. Although they think that they are returning to the faith as portrayed in the book of Acts, hence the designation “Pentecostals”, they are ironically far from the norm of practice in the first Century church which gave the highest priority to preaching and prayer (Acts 2:42; 6:2, 4, 7 etc.). It is sad that those who appear to be so enamored with the Apostolic Age should undermine preaching. In fact, nowhere in the New Testament are miracles performed in local churches. It has been pointed out that the pulpit is centrally located in the church as a continuous reminder that the Word that is preached from it is central to the life of the church. The apostles clearly had a centrally located preaching ministry.
Music is usually another poor substitute for preaching in Charismatic circles. Ken Ham, a widely traveled preacher, observes a new phenomenon that cuts across denominations, “music has become the dominant part of church services, and the teaching of God’s Word has become of less priority” (35). If miracles are the king in Charismaticism, music is the queen—and a powerful queen for that matter. Personally, I have observed several Charismatic church services in which the preacher was restricted to a 20-minute homily after the singing had gone on for hours (cf. Weil 186). Again this derives from a mediocre understanding of the place of the Bible in the lives of believers. Charismatic Churches that sing for hours on end and listen to twenty minute homilies are not rare. Ham says, “I have seen this pattern in other countries too. Churches have a ‘praise and worship’ time that is more often like a concert… the teaching of God’s Word is secondary” (36). This is a practical demonstration that they believe that even music is more important than the exposition of the Scriptures.
In all fairness, there are individual Charismatic believers who steer away from some of the typical Charismatic ills portrayed in this paper. There are even some Charismatic churches that do likewise. However, such are the exception rather than the rule. As we mentioned at the beginning, so here: our focus has been on the Charismatic Movement as a whole and not on every individual Charismatic Christian or congregation.
In fact, going by the stricter definition of Charismaticism, such conservative Christians who are identified with Charismaticism may not even qualify to be called Charismatics. May God help protect the church from the “ravenous wolves” – those false teachers who have brought strange doctrines to the church through the Charismatic movement! And may He open the eyes of those of us who have not been sucked into this movement to ways in which we can show our friends who have been the dangers that it poses, and thus draw them back closer to God.
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I call them “alleged miracles” because they hardly, if ever, have clearly documented evidence for their miracles with impartial witnesses to corroborate the stories. This stands in stark contrast to the miracles of Christ and His apostles which were verified as genuine even by their enemies. For an example of such verification of Jesus’ miracles by His enemies, see Luke 13:14.
To see why this quote applies specifically to the Charismatic movement in this paper, remember that Charismaticism is not a denomination, but rather a movement that has swept across all denominations, and it usually comes with its advocacy for fancy “Praise and Worship” teams and choirs.