Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pentecostalism is chaotic!

One of the things I found as a former Pentecostal believer in Christ, was that at times our services seemed chaotic. Everywhere you looked there were some speaking; or rather shouting in unknown tongues otherwise now known to me as gibberish. Others were being "slain" in the Spirit and passing out all over the place supposedly under the power of the Lord. Others were "dancing in the Spirit" looking like whirling dervishes, and finally we had others prophesying or shouting at the top of their lungs what they believed to be revelations from God.

 Note: These people are not dead, they have been touched by the Holy Ghost!

As I grew in maturity and biblical knowledge, no thanks to the church I attended, I began to feel a certain disdain for these behaviors. I saw in them many contradictions to the descriptions in the bible regarding the early church. One of the biggest problems was the church teaching that the baptism of the Spirit was followed by the ability to speak in tongues as confirmation to the event. As a result everyone in church wanted to speak in tongues. It was a highly sought after gift and ultimate goal of every believer.

Many detractors like to say that the kind of tongues spoken in Pentecostal or other charismatic congregations was nothing more than gibberish. They state that speaking in tongues was speaking in a known earthly language that was previously unknown to the speaker. They base this belief, although incorrect, on the description of the experience of Jesus followers on the day of Pentecost, when according to the tale tongues of fire fell upon them all and they spoke in foreign tongues miraculously in Acts 2:1-12.

3 and there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves.9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; residents of Rome-11 Jews and proselytes alike -- Cretans and Arabs, we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.' Acts 2:3-4,9-11 (NJB).

But in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 the apostle Paul admonishes the church about a very different gift of tongues and its misuse in the church. He first let's the church know that God is not a God of disorder but of peace, and then begins to speak of the virtues of being able to prophesy or translate what is being said in tongues. But it is interesting to note that he is not speaking of any earthly tongues but one that comes from ones spirit.

2 Those who speak in a tongue speak to God, but not to other people, because nobody understands them; they are speaking in the Spirit and the meaning is hidden.13 That is why anybody who speaks in a tongue must pray that he may be given the interpretation.14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit may be praying but my mind derives no fruit from it.15 What then? I shall pray with the spirit, but I shall pray with the mind as well: I shall sing praises with the spirit and I shall sing praises with the mind as well. 1 Corinthians 14:2, 12-15 (NJB).

According to Paul, there might be something to that gibberish after all. Although I don't believe in these things anymore I think that if you are going to teach the bible you should teach it correctly and in context. But that is not the point of this post. This is but one of the many issues in the charismatic churches that I find contrary to biblical teachings.

Charismatics in general do not rely so much on their knowledge or lack of knowledge of the scriptures. They rely primarily on emotions and good feelings; they are entirely sensory creatures. When I was a believer if I got a tingly sensation as I was reading the bible or making some statements about the "truth" of certain biblical beliefs I took it as a confirmation of the Spirit that I was speaking the truth or properly understanding what I was reading.

Anytime you are willing to let go of your mental faculties to seek out "spiritual benefits" you subject yourself to becoming deluded. You become completely dependent on your emotions and as we all know our emotions have a track record of being for the most part unreliable. I've known people personally who have gotten lost in this sea of delusion based on physical sensations to the point where they can no longer distinguish reality from the workings of an indoctrinated mind.

It is my conclusion that Pentecostalism or any other form of charismatic beliefs taken to the extreme, can lead to a mental imbalance in the adherent from which it would be very difficult to recover.The mind is a very powerful thing, but like all things that are abused it can be used for evil or for good. As the saying goes; 'knowledge is power,' the mind can help you in life to achieve your dreams or its misuse can lead you down a nightmarish path to destruction or outright complacent delusion.


  1. I read a book by Mike Taiabi's son a year ago where he went to a charasmatic church and played along. Many of the congregants admitted there was peer pressure to roll around in the aisle and become overcome, and speak in tongues.

    He was encourage to do the same by his "co-congregants", given instruction on how to make the gutteral sounds. Seems it's all about being part of accepted by the community.

  2. I agree, I have seen that done myself when I was in the ministry. There were occasions where I would visit other churches and witness exactly what you are speaking of. It is not always like that though there are exceptions. For instance if you are convinced of the doctrine that is being taught then you will long and seek for those very same spiritual experiences. You will as I did believe that they are a confirmation of Gods' favor.

    I actually believed that I was spiritually endowed with the gift of tongues. But my way of obtaining it was very different than what you describe. I sought it through lots of prayer and fasting and I believed that eventually God would give it to me if it was his will.

  3. My boyfriend who grew up in the church said it was a matter of pride. Parents praised their children when they received the gift of speaking in tongues, while those who did not were seen as lacking faith. To some people in the church it was not only a matter of being accepted by peers, but by family. Mass hypnosis, bowing to peer pressure and bullying really.