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July 30th, 2020

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Why Does it Seem Charismatics Have Such Integrity Struggles

I have been recently involved with leaders from around the world to produce a statement on integrity for five-fold and charismatic ministry leaders.  It is gaining great traction.  We have great hope, but it raises a large question for me.  Why does it seem that charismatic leaders are so lacking in integrity, including prophetic statements that do not come true with no repentance, financial mismanagement, supporting power ministers who are not sufficiently vetted, and then fall into sin, bizarre practices and amazingly weak approaches to interpreting the Bible?  What goes on under the name of spiritual warfare sometimes seems more like wishful thinking and magic than biblical faith.

I first want to say is that I don’t think it is true that most charismatics, and I include Pentecostals, lack integrity.  We get this impression due to some people who have large platforms, either a large church from which they become famous, or have a large traveling ministry and platform with today’s great media presence.  Many pastors of large churches are not well known nationally or internationally.  However, I know many leaders in church streams and denominations with great integrity and who have built very good structures for integrity. When such people show a lack of integrity, we get the impression that they are the charismatic world.  Here are some reasons as to why this integrity gap takes place.

  1. The rejection of denominational structures often came without a commitment to learn from the integrity standards and processes of the denominations.  There was disrespect or dishonoring.  This is one reason why Pentecostal leaders tend to do better than their fellow charismatic leaders, but again, I can name many such leaders of very good streams.
  2. There is a lack of leadership discipleship into the best practices for integrity.  This includes being very clear on maintaining biblical standards for leadership as in I Tim. 3 and Titus 1.
  3. There is a lack of education in biblical hermeneutics (interpretation) and how the whole Bible is our authority and is to be applied.  There is an amazing level of interpretive error on the issue of the authority of the Hebrew Bible.  Preachers and teachers speak of Jesus as their key to understanding, and then from this understanding, the parts of the Bible that do not fit are canceled out.   Of course, this is not really Jesus but their idea of a very indulgent Jesus.  The second issue is that leaders are not trained on how to build doctrine on a contextual interpretation that gives authority to the whole Bible.  Craig Keener’s book Spirit Hermeneutics could be a great answer.  Keener shows how the Holy Spirit can speak all kinds of things from biblical texts, but that the meaning of the text is contextual meaning and we can only build doctrine on that basis.
  4. One of the biggest issues is the desire of charismatics to see the power of God. Many will say that the fruit of the Spirit is more important than the gifts, and that character is more important than power.  However, the desire for revival and power is so great that when a minister who shows something of the power falls morally or ethically, there is an unwillingness to deal with it due to a fear of undercutting the power of God.  I think this was a big part of the Todd Bentley phenomena.  Yet, deal with it we must, or great ruin will follow.  We need to remember that the great revivals were revivals of holiness, characterized by deep repentance form sin.  Power and holiness must come together for deep revival. Let us not be take away from integrity due to miracles or suspend our judgment.  The miracle may be due to the faith receptivity of the recipient and the mercy of God and not the power minister who is in sin. Discipline must never suspened due to manifestations of power.  My book Due Process, A Plea for Biblical Justice Among God’s People, deals with these issues.
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By | 2020-07-31T11:01:45+00:00 July 30th, 2020|6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Barb Koob July 31, 2020 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    I love this good word. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Keith Yoder July 31, 2020 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Dan,
    Thank you for your moral, spoken, and written mobilization of attention to this issue.
    Brother Keith

  3. Steve woita July 31, 2020 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Amen, Dan! Accountability, biblical accountability!!!
    A foundational truth of the church is that we need one another and are accountable to one another. Protestantism has ignored this too long!
    Steve Woita

  4. Anne M Chick July 31, 2020 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    This is a much-needed and very well-thought-out article. Sounds like your book will be an extremely valuable resource for all Spirit-filled leaders and congregants!

  5. Judith Grominger July 31, 2020 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    Well written article, Dan. Thank you. Your views as a major overseer have been invaluable over the years. You’ve seen a lot and speak occasionally, so wise.
    I have noticed and have seeln similar concerns from the late Billy Graham, Robert Henderson and others that the invitation to salvation includes repentance from sin, receiving Messiah as Savior and then also choosing to come under His Lordship. I have noticed over the years not many leaders lead people in to repenting of sin at the beginning (crucial to experiencing salvation). I have also noticed few invite people to come under the Lordship of Messiah, surrendering all rights and privileges to He who reigns over all. Those who recognize their place also recognize what Messiah accomplished for us on the crucifixion stake. Those truly surrendered to His Lordship, have died and are risen with him as it says in Ephesians 2. This pertains to leaders in any denomination, any church group that gathers. God bless you and Patti. Judith Grominger

  6. Dragan Vujic August 7, 2020 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    The apostle Paul (Shaul) was one of the most ardent charismatics in the early church. However most of his letters to believers in Yeshua are centered on teaching to deny ourselves and strive for Christlikeness (e.g. Philippians ch.2&3, Galatians 2:20; 5:13-26 – walking in the Spirit and fruit of the Spirit, etc..). He also warned the Corinthians who used to overuse some spiritual gifts like tongues and not properly use others like prophecy, interpretation of tongues, often lacking discipline and order in excercizing the gifts of the Spirit. Some of them lived in excessive sin too (e.g. 1Cor.5) and fought each other through worldly secular institutions (1Cor.6). It was a gifted church (first nine verses of the first letter), but also given to sectarianism. They needed a correction and warning about the fundamental principles of life in Christ and biblical morality. Very much needed for contemporary charismatic church too. Paul said: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”. Very much needed for all of us in these last days as we are waiting for Yeshua to return, in whatever denomination we might serve. Thank you Dan for your word! It is so fundamental.

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