Whether or not we would like to admit it, evangelicalism and Charismatic churches are at a crossroads. While it is estimated (on Wikipedia) that 1 in 4 Christians worldwide derive there understanding of the faith from this branch of the family tree so to speak. From what I have read and observed from over 30 years of active ministry that an oversimplification of the basis for this branch would be “right belief leads to right actions.” Thus this branch has experienced schism after schism after schism, all claiming to be unique, all claiming to be right.
The unspoken theology is that a right belief system equates to acceptance by God.
So let’s take a look at one of the major tenants of this branch. God is a Trinity (I am not stating that this isn’t true just that the need to beleive it may not be as necessary as we tend to beleive). On this one issue alone, ministers can be disbarred from speaking within any subgroup of churches. Yet the theology of the Trinity was not worked out until almost 400 years after Jesus lived and walked on the earth and did not become popular and accepted until almost 500 years after Jesus. So are we to assume that God did not ordain or make use of any pastors who did not even hear of such a doctrine or beleive in it for the first 500 years of the church? So God did not accurately interact with the household of faith for almost 1500 years prior back to the formation of the Israelites? God surely missed a great opportunity to make himself known as a Trinitarian on Mt. Sinai when writing the law on tablets of Stone. So if you will pardon the pun, “The doctrine is not written in stone after all!”
Once again, we find ourselves back to the story of the woman at the well:
- John 4:21-29 NASB – 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am [He.]” 27 At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?” 28 So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I [have] done; this is not the Christ, is it?”
Here we find Jesus interacting with someone who may not fully understand the implications of what they beleive. Yet once she meets Jesus, she is then free to tell the whole town of her encounter. And what were the disciples up to at this time? Despite claiming to be in the know, they told no one about Jesus. It was left up to the woman at the well who had three societal strikes against her that would bar her from most Evangelical Churches. First, she is a woman. Second, she has had multiple marriages and is currently living with someone. And thirdly, she comes from a blended form of faith as a Samaritan who mixed Judaism with local cultural customs.
I will link the rash of false prophesies that have sprung up over the past year to the overwhelming desire to be proven the one in the right, not the one proven to be who is the most loving. In my humble opinion, the need to be right over the need to be loving is what is causing the demise of the evangelical movement. Whether it is the need to be right through doctrine, or the need to be right from hearing the active voice of God. Nowhere does Jesus ever command his disciples to be right as he is right, but instead to love as he as loved.
As I will openly admit not feeling at home in the Charismatic Evangelical movement for the time being, yet I would consider myself as part of both. But I now find myself finding that I would rather make my home with a group of Christians who demonstrate their doctrine by their love, than by the doctrinal quizzes they pass.
As I too search out within myself what it means to love, I encourage you all my friends to continue to love much . . .