The Problem with Charismatic Churches

Earlier today, I did some gardening. I love gardening because it lends a certain clarity to my thoughts. As I pulled weeds and rearranged a flower bed, I meditated on the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, in which Jesus illustrates the different ways the gospel is received among hearers:

“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away” (verses 3-5).

He goes on to talk about the seed that fell among thorns and the seed that fell on good soil. Afterwards, he explains the parable to his disciples:

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (verses 19-21).

I believe that part about rocky soil describes many charismatic churches today.

I was raised in the charismatic faith. It’s a denomination that celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (see Acts 2) and emphasizes operating in the gifts of the Spirit. Worship is often characterized by enthusiastic singing, dancing, and the raising of hands.  All of that certainly makes church exciting.

However, I’ve watched far too many people get burned out in these churches and completely forfeit their faith as a result. The modern charismatic church is riddled with problems that, I believe, make them more susceptible to heresies and deception than other denominations. I say this not as a bitter critic, but as one who is honestly concerned. It’s time these problems were addressed–and for good reason!

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