Why Many Charismatics Lack Discernment

I have always wondered why certain Christian leaders say and do things that are wildly unbiblical and lacking in discernment. How can people who know the Bible endorse false teachers and partner with those who oppose the gospel? How could John Piper share the stage with a female Word of Faith preacher and why would Michael Brown interview Benny Hinn? Both charismatics and cessationists can make decisions that are utterly lacking in discernment, but it seems that charismatics are more guilty than cessationists in this regard. Phil Johnson, Justin Peters, and Tom Chantry have all noted the same trend that charismatics who should know better have no problem associating themselves with false teachers. Why is it that charismatics are more prone to listening to false teachers than non-charismatics?

The reason for this is because charismatics view one another as being more in step with the Spirit than non-charismatics. They are willing to overlook serious doctrinal errors in each other’s theology because they are in agreement when it comes to the gift of tongues and prophecy. Charismatics share a common bond in believing that God still speaks today outside of his written Word and that belief leaves them open to searching for revelation from God in charismatic teaching. The reasoning is, “Well, that preacher might be wrong on a lot of issues, but at least he doesn’t believe I’m speaking gibberish when I speak in tongues and therefore I respect him more than that other preacher who thinks I’m crazy but is more doctrinally precise.” Those churches which do not believe that God is still speaking today through prophecy are viewed as places where the Spirit’s power is absent, even if the church’s statement of faith is pristine.

This is especially true in Pentecostalism with its two-tiered system of Christianity where those who have never spoken in tongues have not yet experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. From this perspective, some Christians have been baptized in the Holy Spirit while others have not. Why would you want to listen to a preacher who has never experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit? He does not have the anointing of God while that preacher who may have questionable theology at least has experienced the power of God in speaking in tongues.

Because all of the teachers in the Word of Faith movement are in agreement that tongues and prophecy are for today, this attracts those who agree with them on this issue. We like to listen to those who agree with us, not to those who hold to beliefs that are different from our own. Charismatics have constructed an echo chamber for themselves in which they can listen to voices that affirm their experience of speaking in tongues, even though many of those voices teach heresy. And the more voices, the better. But we are not called to listen to voices that already agree with us, but to the one voice of Scripture which is God’s final and authoritative Word on the subject. God has already spoken once and for all in Scripture. We do not need to go searching for his voice anywhere else.

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