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Chapter 1, Section 1

Deepening Furrows

The charismatic movement is beginning to deepen the furrows it has plowed into the smug complacency of the main-line churches, and indications are that the furrows will remain. With more than 40 different denominations actively involved, with millions of dissatisfied Christians longing for a deeper personal experience with Christ, and with the ever expanding circles of influence flowing out from the thousands of prayer groups that dot the world, we seem to be standing on the threshold of an uncontrollable emotional high that could change the total image of Christianity.

Only yesterday, major national publications compared the movement in importance to the activities surrounding the Protestant Reformation. (See Time, Nov. 2, 1962; Life, June 9, 1958.) But perhaps without realizing it, they were speaking prophetically; for its influence has breached the dikes of human intellect and is tearing at the seams of every church.

What's so different about that? Hasn't every major modification in doctrine had this effect on organized religious life?

Certainly it hasóbut the charismatic movement has pointedly deviated from the established ways and has based its reason on feeling, not its emotion on intellect, and the result is a development that some find frightening.

At issue in any typical discussion you may have with any charismatic is the question of whether or not the "uncommitted" has received the Holy Spirit.

"If you don't speak in tongues, you don't have the Spirit," is a common assertion. "Only when you can exhibit the language of the Holy Spirit can you be sure that the Spirit resides within you."

This is official doctrine, notwithstanding the disclaimers issued by some.

The Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal group par excellence, have gone on record with the following statement of doctrine:

"Resolved, That this Council considers it a serious disagreement with Fundamentals for any minister among us to teach contrary to our distinctive testimony that the baptism in the Holy Ghost is regularly accomplished by the initial, physical sign of speaking in other tongues."óCited by Carl Brumback, Suddenly From Heaven (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 1961), page 223.

What they are actually doing is this. They are claiming that you must test your Christian experience by whether or not you have the gift of tongues. At least you have to be able to exhibit something supernatural or spectacular to prove your Holy connection. What does the Bible say to this?

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." Galatians 5:22-26. (Italics supplied.)

According to Luke 11:13, the Holy Spirit will be granted to everyone who will ask for it. "How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Jesus says. This is sound Christian doctrine, for if we were required to do something in order to receive the Spirit, then we would have salvation by works. But it is also plain that someone would not or should not be asking for the Spirit unless he really meant to live in such a manner as a life in Christ would indicate.

In the charismatics' experience, love is to be the supreme experience. Naturally they call upon the Holy Spirit with sincerityóbut theirs is basically a doctrine of love, and to them nothing is to surpass this.

Since God is the embodiment of Love, one has to assume that love includes a deep fellowship with God the Sonónot just in words but also in deeds. But discussing with a charismatic the relationship of love to sincerity is much like playing a game of spiritual poker.

Are we playing spiritual poker?

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