“The spiritual gifts practiced in charismatic churches – including the controversial gifts – are legitimate and important. Unfortunately, they can be abused and confused with hype, flesh, and misunderstanding.”
This book by Michael Klassen is a well-written and interesting addition to the post-charismatic library. With a fair combination of critique and validation, the author expresses the desire to bring balance and maturity to both the beliefs and practices of charismatics.
A Few Favorite Quotes
“Over time, people who only indulge in charismatic influences tend to see reality through a singular charismatic lens. We begin to believe that only charismatics have something significant to say to the church and to the world.”
“Claims of spiritual exclusivity lead people – and movements – down dangerous paths.”
“As we study church history, we discover that many of the challenges and false teachings we face today have appeared sporadically since the first Pentecost.”
“The pursuit of the charismatic and Pentecostal is power. The charismatic movement is more about power than anything.”
“In our pursuit of power we lost sight of Jesus. We tried so hard to be used by him that we pursued Jesus’ power more than his person.”
“God doesn’t need someone to whip the crowd into a frenzy in order to pour out his Spirit.”
“The Spirit is already at work in our lives, regardless of anything we do to manifest his presence.”
Michael presents topics relevant to the charismatic movement in easy to digest chapters. While not an indepth study of the issues, the chapters provide enough points of background and scripture to begin the process of reflection and discussion for those interested in examining their charismatic practices.
There are chapters covering authority, titles, and the cult of personality. Others address specific practices such as tongues and personal prophecy. There are also much-needed chapters discussing peculiar behavior and strange theology.
Because he is a graduate of ORU and former card-carrying member of the word of faith movement, I was interested in the author’s perspective on prosperity teaching, positive confession, healing, suffering, faith, God’s will, prayer, and spiritual warfare. The chapters devoted to these topics were an accurate portrayal of the word of faith teaching that I have been around.
The chapter title Is It Okay to Pursue a Spiritual Buzz? caught my interest. This chapter deals with the legitimacy of experiential encounters. Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the author states, “experiences with God play a significant role in our life of faith,” but they should not be the sole substance of our faith. He goes on to explain that true transformation is not a quick fix, but happens over time as we know and abide in Christ.
Michael finishes the book with a look at the future of the charismatic movement and the hope for a new kind of charismatic where the distinctions fade and we are simply known as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Over recent years, I have come to many of the same conclusions concerning the charismatic movement that Michael describes in this book. Those who identify themselves as post-charismatic will find this to be an enjoyable read.
I am curious to see the response of the charismatic community. Hopefully rather than reacting or responding defensively, there will be ears to hear the message of this book.