As an introduction to this study, I want to discuss ways in which the Charismatic movement has crept into Christianity (Including Roman Catholics, Protestants, and even Baptists). This movement is typically a major part of “non-denominational” or “evangelical” congregations. It is also seen in many modern Baptist churches; both in progressive-type churches, and even more traditional-type, independent Baptist churches (particularly in the South).
In this lesson we will consider some signs to watch for in order to identify the influence of the Charismatic movement in a person or church body. We will discuss some of these more thoroughly in future lessons, as well as the history of Pentecostalism; but for now, let’s just get familiar with some of the characteristics of this movement:
1. A focus on “experience” or “feelings”
I have heard many Baptists claim that we have de-emphasized the work of the Holy Spirit as a response to the Charismatic movement. As a result, some Baptist churches claim others are “dead.” Some try to “liven up” the service with their music, shouting, and lifting of hands.
These aren’t necessarily bad things, but I fear it has opened many Baptists (particularly those who are simple concerning the evils associated with the Charismatic movement) to embracing Charismatic teachings and behaviors. This often leads to the sacrifice of truth for the gratification of (what they believe to be) the Spirit (John 4:20-26, 2 Timothy 3:1-17).
Many Baptist churches have embraced a Charismatic style of “Praise and Worship” music that appeals to the emotions instead of admonishing one another with the truths of God’s Word (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:15-20). Notice the reference to being “drunk with wine” as opposed to walking “circumspectly”(V.15) and having “understanding.”
2. A desire to be controlled by the “Supernatural”
If we are saved, we are indeed indwelt with the Spirit who guides us into all truth (John 16:13, John 2:22; 12:16, Acts 11:16). The Bible (the complete Word of God) is the final “supernatural” revelation of God. (We will spend more time on this in future lessons)
3. A fear of losing salvation
The irony is that this is how we can generally find out if someone is even saved or not. One must be trusting in the work of Christ alone for their salvation and is therefore saved “through faith” (Ephesians 2:8,9). Being afraid of losing one’s salvation is a sign that they are trusting in their own works for salvation.
4. A motivation toward physical and financial Self-improvement.
We see this in what we call the “prosperity gospel," Also known as the “health and wealth gospel" or “name it and claim it.”
(We will discuss some of this at length in future lessons)