Whilst searching out information on prophecying, glossolalia (speaking in tongues), etc, I ran into this post on [url=http://www.christianrecovery.com/vb/index.php?s=d7de575b2f671c4f9adb3c695d301580]Christian Recovery Forums[/url] - a forum for people who've experienced spiritual abuse at church.
There are some good points here.
While there are some good points to what many people see as the "flakier"side of Christianity, there are a whole pile of pitfalls that need to be watched for that can lead to spiritual abuse, false teaching, and the "elitism" of a charismatic congregation.
I would like to open up some discussion of different opinions on the matter, specifically from the charismatic perspective. Let's not turn this into a "liturgical" or "evangelical" vs. "charismatic" argument, but just your views on how good charismatic churches can go wrong.
Note: the manifesting I refer to below includes (but is not limited to) speaking in tongues, shaking, dancing uncontollably, disruptive verbal outbursts (both words and various noises), and uncontrollable physical gyrations.
Signs of a sick charismatic church (IMHO):
1. Those who "manifest" are more popular with leadership. Those who don't manifest are tagged as "not breaking down the walls" or "not entering in" and are basically ignored. As soon as they decide to start manifesting (including tongues) they are accepted as being on a higher spiritual plane.
2. Prophetic words are not screened by a mature christian with a high level of discernment and searched out with the Lord before they are spoken. Prophetic words for an individual are allowed to be spoken from the pulpit.
3. The focus is on the next collective "wave" that comes down the pipes. People with real spiritual, physical and emotional needs are ignored if there is a collective manifestation in progress. All attention is payed to those who are manifesting.
The person waiting quietly, praying for someone to help is ignored.
4. The "prophets" in the group are in seen as infallible, although this will never be admitted to. If a prophetic word doesn't come to pass it is always someone else's fault (not enough faith, sin in the camp, etc.). Never, "I guess I was wrong".
5. Experience has displaced sound Biblical teaching and life application. "Soaking" becomes the preferred method for hearing from the Lord. If the vision/word given juring the soaking session can be backed up with scripture (even out of context) it is good to go with. Even if it is not backed up by scripture, the view is that it must be in there and I just can't find it. Words or visions presented by those who don't manifest are ignored.
6. Every "word" or "vision" that occurs juring a service must be from the Lord, because we covered the place with prayer before starting, which "binds" false, satanic, or things from the flesh. This is dead wrong. Satan and his crew is free to use whatever ground we offer him through false motives, lack of discernment, etc.
7. There is no real personal growth despite hours of wild manifestations and soaking sessions. In the Bible, when the Lord met with someone on a level that made them manifest SOMETHING MAJOR ALWAYS HAPPENED, either in the persons life, or the lives of those who His word was intended for.
8. It is the view of leadership that the gift of discernment is only given to those who manifest.
9. Music is the preferred, perhaps only, catalyst that can spur the Lord to speak to His people.
10. There is a disproportionate number of prayers and songs asking the Lord to "bless me", "bless us", "bless them", and very little in the way of "Bless You".
These are just a few warning signs that I know can lead to abuse or elitism. There are probably more.
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