Imagine me, now an apologist for charismania. How did that happen? I would rather see informed critique from insiders than misinformation from those who haven’t been there.
Some things just aren’t meant for watching. If you are not an active participant experiencing the situation, there is an element of voyeurism that makes charismatic experiences seem bizarre. Even “normal” charismatic stuff looks weird on video to those who are unfamiliar with charismatic experience.
Writers are now taking all of these terms and movements and lumping them together into an accusation of cultic conspiracy for world domination. The bottom line is that that is an exaggeration. For the most part, many of these terms are linked with the average charismatic church.
Pentecostals of every stripe believe in the supernatural. Period. Degrees of normalcy and extremism vary greatly.
Pentecostals of every stripe believe in the possibility of divine intervention when they pray, including the possibility of miracles, healing, and deliverance or relief from evil, pain, and suffering.
Again degrees of extremism in expression of this belief vary widely. In spite of the recent Todd Bentley debacle, very few pentecostal/charismatics would consider kicking or head-butting a valid method of healing prayer. To use this as an example of what charismatics believe is misinformed.
As I said in my previous post, almost all charismatics today have influences of latter-rain teaching. This in no way implies that they have embraced the extremes of latter-rain heresy. In another post we will take a look at some of these doctrines and where they factor in.
The charismatic movement brought the pentecostal experience to mainstream churches. Also many independent fellowships formed from this movement. The term charismatic is now often used interchangeably with pentecostal although technically there are differences.
For the most part charismatic now refers to christians who believe in the supernatural. There is a wide range of expression and degrees of normalcy or weirdness encompassed in this group.
The shepherding/discipleship movement was very short lived. There are very few groups directly linked to that movement. However beliefs about accountability, covering, and alignment can be traced back to the teachings of this movement, for example recent references to apostolic alignment.
What about the “evil” Third Wave, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), Dominionism, Joel’s Army?
Well, let’s break it down.
Third Wave is a “junk drawer” term that encompasses much more than just the NAR. As you can see from the charismatic family tree, there are other groups that fall under this label. Even those groups who are not directly third wave associate with third wave groups through conferences, teaching, and other events. In other words, you technically, by association, could tag most charismatics with this label today. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they embrace the extremes that can be found in various sectors of this group.
New Apostolic Reformation refers specifically to Peter Wagner’s group of apostles. Many leaders within the charismatic realm today are linked either directly or indirectly to this group. The participation of most individuals and churches with NAR is simply as consumers of the books and conferences sold by the leaders connected with this group.
The term dominionism is inaccurately attributed to this group. The actual term dominionism more accurately reflects the christian nationalism that is often portrayed by the Religious Right. The language of dominion within charismatic groups translates more to eschatological (end times) ideas than actual socio-political influence.
Joel’s Army is a minimal threat risk. It is not an organized movement to train youth to take over the world. It is hyper-spiritual language to rally christians and create a sense of importance and purpose concerning their place in the christian realm. Outside of their own circles of prayer and conferences there is little relevance to politics, the United States, or world domination.
That is a brief overview about what these terms actually mean in the charismatic world. I hope that it is helpful in determining what is normal charismatic christianity and what has been exaggerated.
I will take a closer look at latter-rain doctrine in another post.