Friday, February 22, 2008

Confusing Charisma with the Charismata

As a minister of God’s word within the charismatic stream of Christendom, I’ve persistently seen these three errors:

• Some confuse fully-empowered preaching with a preaching style: Some think that if a person is loud or emotional (esp. both), then the minister and message is “anointed.” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard preachers bellow and blow (sweat pouring down the face…) and what little is said!!! And yet some walk away saying, “that was anointed.” They have mistaken charismatic individuals with the charismatic. People cry when Obama speak for the same reason. Some of the greatest preachers were poor orators.

• Some believe that fully-anointed preaching will most likely be Event-Oriented: unless the worship service ends with an altar call in which people have power encounters, the service failed at its potential. This can be dangerous if it becomes the norm. Although we can have significant moments of breakthrough during times like this, most long-lasting spiritual growth occurs incrementally through the daily discipline of our lives for godliness. It’s not one Bible Study that makes a person more Christ-like (or one prayer), it’s the long term exposure of the word of God through its preaching and proclamation, a life of ever-increasing prayer, and godly relationships of accountability which transform us. In an event-oriented environment, we devalue the very thing that will provide long-lasting growth: a good old-fashion daily fight against sin. I find that this venue has been abused by some who want a quick –fix to what God wants to work out through daily faith.

• Some believe that fully-empowered preaching cannot be Intellectual: if the preaching is structured, scripted, content driven, then it is probably less empowered than something that is less structured, unscripted, and on the fly. Here are two problems with this sentiment: (1) Scripture ranges from expressions of ecstatic rapture to precise definitive logic. Yet, All Scripture is inspired. Psalms is poetic, Romans is highly structured and logical. Both are inspired. Both should be appreciated and preached in such a way as to preserve those styles. (2) Personally, I put extraordinary prayer and devotion in what I say. I’m begging God from Monday to the time I’m finished my message on Sunday that I’m speaking the words of God for our congregation (I’m haunted the whole week with it). After a week of prayer and interaction with Scripture, I feel that what I have on paper is “Thus saith the Lord.” To deviate from that which was birth out of a week long process of prayer and devotion to Christ in his word seems presumptuous and contrary to the leading of the Spirit. It like Noah spending all those years building the Ark, and then at the last minute jumping into a dingy.