Saturday, June 17, 2006

Internet Monk Weighs In on Pentecostals

This article, titled "A Growing and Awkward Silence: Things I Can't Talk About With My Pentecostal and Charismatic Friends" is long but worth reading for anyone who is interested in the relationship between both individuals and denominations of differening "stripes."

I am deeply saddened to say that I think every point he makes is desperately needed. I am getting tired of saying things like, "I am sorry that your Charismatic neighbor said that. I don't agree with that" or having people think that Pentecostal means a lover of all things TBN. (Aaaaaarrrrrrggggggh!)

For the record, I do not listen to Rod Parsley, TD Jakes, or Kenneth Copeland, to name just a few. And I do know what expository preaching is.

This fellow looks all too familiar.

Perhaps I should send a link for Monk's article to our headquarters.

9 comments:

ruthiebgr8 said...

Wow! A great article. He said what I was thinking 30 years ago so it's not really something that has just infected the church. I know some P/C preachers who are very good, including you dear friend!, but there are many out there who are not.

However, I must say that some of these problems are not confined to P/C churches. I see some of this in other evangelical churches as well.

I'm not sure how I feel about it other than uneasy....

SingingOwl said...

I know there are some really good P/C preachers. I could name several. I was interested in checking out who the speakers were at the much-publicized "Azusa Street Gathering" recently. I am from CA and thought it might be a good reason to go west for a few days. When I took at look at the website I could have cried. And told my DH, "Don't bother thinking about it." The speakers were (God forgive me if my attitude is wrong) the very celebrities that some P/C folk these days seem to assume can say no wrong. Copeland, Jakes, and the rest of what I call the "TBN Gang." (BTW, there are some people on TBN I do like. J. Lee Grady was featured recently, and I'd go a long way to hear him.) We stayed home. Where were the men and women of God who would speak the truth and call the church to holiness and repentance? Not there, except for one or two. We stayed home. I sound smug maybe. I don't mean to, but I am dismayed by so many things that sometimes...I am ashamed of being what I am...even though I'd never deny it or go back to my earlier self. Hard to explain.

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

Interesting article. There is much I don't understand it in. But point 3 on prayer struck some cords in me. I think that there is a fine line between "ask and you shall receive" and telling God what to do. [We just had a conversation this evening with our daughter in which she was insisting she was "asking" us for a favor but she was actually telling us that we HAD to grant her that favor. My husband told her she was being arrogant.] I can't help but wonder what God thinks about some of these prayers. Good thing there is GRACE!

I watched the 700 Club in 1984 on which there was a word of knowledge that a condition I had was being cured right then and there. Hmmmmm. How many millions were watching and certainly a few had that cured through natural means that very day. But I was set up for disappointment.

On the other hand, wishy washy prayers don't seem to follow what Jesus said either.

Point 4...This is out of my tradition, of course. I've always wondered how the "famous" preachers, even those who are not P/C, seem to be independent, not in a denomination. So if they go off the deep end, theologically, spritually, morally, etc. who reins them in? In my tradition, I've known personally of pastors who are yanked out of a church because they do something bad. And if there seems to be problems with a pastor, there is mediation from the synod.

What I don't know, and this article doesn't answer, is how representative these famous preachers are of the whole tradition. And I also can't figure out from the essay if this writer has a representative sample in mind when he makes his comments. Certainly some of the things I've seen on TV seem to reflect some of the same things he is saying, but maybe only those people over the top make it to TV.

I guess you could call me an open minded Christian who is, at the same time, very happy in the tradition in which I worship. I am always interested in the "different windows" through which different people view the same God. And I rejoice when people of God have faith experiences that help their lives. There are those in some branches of my tradition who are openly skeptical, hostile really, regarding faith experiences, believing that putting a large emphasis on this is some kind of heresy. I don't understand this kind of exclusivism. The essay comments on this from the other side.

D. P. said...

Very good article. Thanks for pointing me to it.

SingingOwl said...

I wondered about the "sample" as well. I do not believe that the independent charismatic types (Osteen, Jakes, etc.) are necessarily representative. The "name it and claim it" folks have lost some steam (Praise God!) over the last decade or so. But it now seems to have morphed into sermons and books that focus on ME -- my life, my success, my health, my finances. A very self-centered kind of faith, to say the least.

I'm pondering here. The AG church up the road has a pastor who would not fit the article's description. Neither does the one in the next county. I certainly do not. Neither do the ministers who are in my "ministerial fellowship" group. They are all (about 11) from a reasonably close distance. So perhaps he is describing a particular segment of the P/C world. On the other hand, I've had some online conversations with Rev Gals that indicate that traditional AG folks have said some pretty foolish things. And a post at Rebel Without a Pew (about how the Holy Spirit moves) generated so many unkind and untrue comments about charismatics that I sort of lost it. My post did not receive any replies. LOL! I'm uneasy, as Ruth said. Don't know what to do.

SingingOwl said...

Okay, here is a question. Do any of you feel the way I.M. does about discussions with Pentecostal or Charismatic friends? (If you have any...grin.)

D. P. said...

Can't say that I have...and I do :-) I do, however, remember a few incidents in interdenominational meetings where the non-Pentecostal/Charismatic partner in the conversation caught him/herself before making some potentially awkward comments about what being "Spirit-filled" means--and who is and who isn't :-) (An issue I have attempted to tackle here)

Psalmist said...

Singing Owl, I have experienced this in the past, though never with AG's. However, none of the P/C people I currently converse with fit the description and we don't seem to have an issue, either. For their part, they accept that though my experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit is somewhat different (one calls it "quieter") than theirs, it is nevertheless a genuine experience. For my part, I accept the same about their more exuberant experience.

I think there's a similar kind of "uneasy silence" in many relationships on certain topics of potential conversation. I've discovered one such area with my pastor, a woman I've come to cherish as a close friend. I don't know if she's aware of it yet or not, but I've decided that I don't wish to discuss political issues with her anymore. In this one area she abandons gracious discourse and falls back on a degree in history to lecture me on how wrong my views are and how right hers are. Also, she considers her political opinions more correct than mine because she listens to talk radio, which I no longer do (the slant is so bad, I get blood pressure issues from both sides of that aisle). I've even worked out "scripts" on how I can graciously change the subject in the future when she waxes political.

All this to say, I think sometimes a silence is preferable; it means that even if I think someone is totally wrong about something, I'm willing to disagree with a friend instead of making my disagreement a source of division. It is sad, though, when in the relationship things change from an easy comraderie to this less comfortable place where we don't talk about certain things.

I am grateful to my AG friends, past and present (including one particular online bud, S.O.) for their grace and inclusion. And for the record, the one immersion baptism I participated in when I was pastoring, was at the church pastored by one of these AG friends, a dear older man who never failed to credit his Methodist mother for his upbringing and early faith eduction. He was delighted to help out a green UM pastor and was one of two male pastors in that small town who accepted me as clergy. We could genuinely laugh easily over our areas of difference and have fellowship together anyway. This dear brother taught me a lot.

These days, I'd say I get a lot more "uneasy silence" over not being considered evangelical than over not being considered charismatic/pentecostal. People think they know more about me than they really do once they decide on a label they think fits. :(

SingingOwl said...

At one of our former churches the Methodist pastor joinded us for a baptism service. I had forgotten till you mentioned a similar occurance. I'm glad the elderly AG guy was kind to you.

Something that occurred to me last night...maybe I should email I.Monk?...anyhow, I think you both have seen my posts (elsewhere) on the silent retreats I have attended.

They are led by an AG pastor who came to us during the charismatic days of the Catholic church. He still spends one week each year at a Jesuit retreat house.

The retreats are held at St Norberts Abby, near Green Bay. There is a yearly retreat for ministers, a yearly retreat for men, two for women, and two additional ones led by other AG churches.

The funny thing? One of the Norbertines told me that the Assemblies of God in Wisconsin is the group that uses the retreat center the most.

Isn't that wonderful?

I'll have to post about it next time I go.