testimony

Out of the Charismatic Closet

[eltdf_dropcaps type=”normal” color=”” background_color=””]I[/eltdf_dropcaps] used to be in the charismatic movement. I was a fully-fledged member. I had gone through the rites of passage; I attended the conferences, the leadership seminars, ‘prophesied’, ‘spoke in tongues’, lead worship, played in the church band, wrote a few worship songs, started a Christian band, lead a small group and even had Jeremiah 29: 11 bookmarked. Basically, I was in there!

I had friends, purpose, a church family, direction and a full life. God was always talking to me, all I had to do to hear Him was get on His frequency, and by frequency I mean get myself in the right state of mind. What is the right state of mind you ask? The Scripture free kind, involving listening to a few worship songs to get my spiritual antenna sensitized to His presence. I would then be able to feel God’s presence. Heck, whenever I wanted to have inside info on whether or not to take that job or date that guy or move to that place, all I had to do was pray then sit quietly alone, pen and paper in hand, waiting for the Lord to speak to me. I would write down the first thing that came into mind after having sat quietly. That thing I wrote down would be what the Lord said to me because “be still and know that I am God” and “My sheep know my voice”. I didn’t need to look inside the Bible, I mean come on, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were living inside me. All I needed was within me. I could even get a word for you while I was tapped into the God frequency. I could tell you that I felt God saying this and that to me or that I saw yellow and purple (colours had spiritual meaning yo!). You needn’t worry about the word you got because it was sure to be positive; we kept our negative words to ourselves because negativity encourages no one. It was best not to speak negatively in general because “death and life are in the power of the tongue” and “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”.

As you can see, I was taking-Scripture-out-of-context trained ninja. I could make any piece of Scripture about me, or you, but mostly about me. David and Goliath? Well, that was God telling me that I was sure to conquer my Goliath like David did. And my Goliath was sometimes a job interview, actually, insert any sticky situation, annnnnnnddd Goliath! Joseph and his brothers? Easy, that was God telling me that haters would only take me to my God ordained destination. Peter walking on water? Girl please, that was God metaphorically telling me that I would be able to survive any type of challenge that came my way.

The sermons? They were law heavy, Gospel light, chuck full of life tips and entertaining. Watch a Ted talk for a reference, make sure to substitute the word ‘Universe’ with the word ‘Jesus’. As a church, we were bound to the pastor’s vision, a vision that he had received from God of course. The church would then go in whatever direction the pastor’s vision led. Man-made theology and doctrines were taught regularly, often as the doctrines of God. When Scripture was referenced, it was usually out of context and used to support the man-made doctrine or life tip. Although sin was viewed as a no-no, some of us would lie in wait for a private conviction of a sin. That is, although we verbally acknowledged that a certain sin was indeed offensive to God, we were not ready to deal with it. So waiting for a conviction, even though the Bible explicitly stated a particular action as a sin, was fancy talk for, “I don’t feel compelled to act so I will wait for God to compel or engage me emotionally”.

[eltdf_blockquote text=”This was my life. It was what I knew and understood. It was also sadly misdirected; but the best was yet to come, because the Lord, in His mercy, got me out. Over the course of a year, the Lord used the Scriptures to transform me” title_tag=”h2″ width=””]

It completely wrecked the life that I knew. I was introduced to the world of sound biblical exegesis and that changed how I saw everything. The same Bible that I had been reading for years, it turned out, contained pages and pages of stories about the Lord; stories about His goodness, love, grace, mercy, holiness and wrath.

The Lord used a simple “read in context and compare” method on me. I suddenly did not understand why we made up certain things and occasionally taught the doctrines of man as if they were doctrines of God. I no longer understood why our tongues were not a known human language or why there were no consequences for wrong prophesies; this was not the way I saw these gifts modelled in the Scriptures. I could not comprehend why the belief that scripture alone wasn’t enough existed, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 anyone? I did not agree that I somehow still needed vague prophesies to help me move forward. I was dissatisfied with the major cornerstones of the charismatic movement as a whole.

I eventually started asking a lot of questions and with that, came trouble. I got called out for questioning the teachings of men who only spoke about getting rich, or those who urged me to discover the champion in me when all I saw was a sinner set on sinning. I was not permitted to question the late pastor who said that God needed the assistance of men to perform His miracles because He was illegal on earth. I could not call out a “prophet” in an all-female Whatsapp group who felt that she could ban topics about discernment and decide what was spoken about since God had called her to start that group. I could not practice any discernment lest I be found disobedient to God’s warning to “touch not His anointed ones”. I couldn’t even show disgust and anger at the author who wrote a book about making love to God because it was an action capable of holiness since God created love making. What made me, and still makes me irritating to my Charismatic friends, was that I asked why our doctrines and practices were very different from those outlined in Scripture. That made me one who was divisive. My desire to know the Word and to question the man-made practices led a well-meaning friend to accuse me of leaving the Holy Spirit behind. I didn’t quite understand that accusation as it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the written Word.

So I had to leave. I had to start from scratch; heartbroken, a friend or two less, scarred but surer of my faith and more certain that the Lord was pleased to keep me. So I am out of the Charismatic closet and I want to hear about God in every sermon. I want to be pointed to Jesus (who was there on the battlefield) when I hear the story of David and Goliath, not me. I want to be pointed to Jesus when I hear about Joseph becoming a high ranking official in a foreign land. I want to be amazed as I am shown how truly the Scriptures are about Christ, not me, never me. I now know my place in the Scriptures, I am the worthless and pitiful sinner whose sin Christ volunteered to pay for. I am a beneficiary of an expression of love, mercy, and grace by a Holy God that was orchestrated brilliantly. I am right where I belong.

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