Why I’m No Longer a Charismatic

Within the past 6 months, I have begun to identify as, what some would call, Reformed. What was I before? I was, as some would call it, Charismatic. Now, anyone who would have known me a year ago would be surprised to hear that I now identify as Reformed, because I was utterly disgusted by Reformed Theology not too long ago. In fact, I had arguments formed against it and why I believed it wasn’t helpful to the Christian faith. I was an Emergent church Charismatic. Quite frankly, I believed that because I was into philosophy and I was never surrounded by people who were concerned with being biblical, aside from my youth pastor. Existentialism makes a whole load of sense to a newbie in philosophy and someone who hadn’t read their Bible much or very critically.

But, eventually that well runs dry. Existentialism cripples you in unexpected ways. You find yourself being unable to form an argument because everything is relative. You find yourself constantly unsatisfied with any answer because Truth doesn’t exist in your worldview… Thus begins my journey of radical faith change…

Step One: Absolutism

Absolutism is the philosophical worldview that affirms absolute truths as existing. I didn’t come to affirm this worldview until I listened to a debate between an absolutist and a relativist and I was struck by one very simple rebuttal.

Relativist: “All truth is relative to the person who is interpreting it. There are no absolutes.”
Absolutist: “Is that absolutely true?”

The relativist had no satisfying response to this simple question. There was no logical way to rebut this for the relativist. Logically, absolute truths must exist. I thought about this long and hard. I had, in theory, been an absolutist for a while. I was constantly seeking Truth. In fact, my youth pastor once commended me for being a Truth-seeker. Now, I saw how silly it was for me to affirm relative truths and deny absolutes. This heavily influences how a person reads the Bible. It removes this “gray area” mentality that oft plagues the Church. I was now armed with a philosophical worldview that would change my life.

Step Two: Apophaticism

The next paradigm shift I had actually came from the realm of Emergent Church theology in which I was interested. Apophaticism is a step from the purely philosophical and into the more theological. It is the act of painting an image of who God is through negation. For example:

God is love.

God is not love, for he transcends our understanding of love.

God is not not love.

What this does is bring us to the end of human language in terms of attempting to define God. Further still, it acknowledges the limits of the human mind in understanding how God works in our world. It is a rather humbling practice which forced me to let go of my precepts of what God looks like and what His love looks like. How arrogant of me to assume I know how God loves.

Step Three: The Holy Spirit

Here comes the most purely theological aspect of my conversion. I had long had a problem with the Charismatic view of the Spirit, but I never knew why. I never knew why because no one had ever taken the time to explain to me what the Spirit was. Which is where the problem was… I viewed the Spirit as a “what” and not a “who.” Then, I read Spurgeon on the Holy Spirit. In retrospect, it was completely providential (as are all things, really), because I was literally just in a used book store, yearning for strong theology to heal my damaged soul from being a part of a spiritually manipulative Charismatic worship collective. I looked up and saw Spurgeon and thought to myself, “I know that name. My buddy who is solid likes him. It’s only $4?! Sold.”

Armed with the philosophy of absolutism and the theology of apophaticism, I was ready to properly engage with the doctrine of the Spirit. Spurgeon posed logical, biblical support for who the Spirit was and I could feel my heart softening to the Truth with each proof. It was undeniable. My philosophy told me that Truth was out there. My theology told me that I couldn’t understand how God works. My background told me that Scripture was True. I had to face the facts: I was not in control of my own destiny. People were only saved through the understanding given to them by the Spirit. The Spirit only comes from God…

Reluctantly, I began to identify as Reformed. I was not happy about it at all. I became something by which I used to be disgusted… But, that’s how I know it’s true. Many a theologian has said that if how God works always agrees with how you think He should work, you may, in fact, be worshipping a deity of yourself. I know that what I now believe is true because it still doesn’t always set right with me. But, it’s biblical. It’s logical. More importantly, I have never been as close to God as I have since this shift in my theology. A richness of faith came along with this change.

I am still baffled by how this change occurred. It is yet another testament to the mysterious, yet providential, ways of the Lord. I thought I had it all figured out. That was my problem. Now, I know that I don’t have it all figured out. I will continue changing all of my life. I identify as Reformed simply to distinguish my two faith walks. I am certainly not traditionally Reformed and I’m sure my theology will evolve in the years to come. But, I know for sure that I will never go back to where I was.

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8 thoughts on “Why I’m No Longer a Charismatic

  1. You are such a deep thinker, I LOVE it! I’ve never been Charismatic myself but my mom’s side of the family all are. It is frustrating because I always think that if they only understood the gospel from a reformed Christian perspective they would grow more in their relationship with the Lord and probably have way more zeal. The Bible definitely elevates God and brings man really low. The world’s philosophies are humanistic, so when you bring that into the church you’ve got all kinds of messes and wrong thinking. Thanks for sharing this–gives me hope that maybe one day some of my relatives will realize the errors of the charismatic teaching. All I can do is share my thoughts with them and pray!

    1. Hey, thanks! I would say that I was only a Charistmatic because I didn’t know anything else and because, frankly, Reformed theology didn’t make sense to me because I had more of a philosophical understanding of God than a theological one.

      1. Yeh I know what you mean. Even coming from a reformed Christian background I wrestled with/didn’t understand certain things in the Bible. Especially Rom. 9. It helps to remember that His ways and thoughts are much higher than ours though. When we submit to the truths we don’t like in the Bible we eventually learn to like them because they’re all part of God’s perfect and just plan.

      2. I came from a non-churched background, myself. Haha. We live in a time where everyone wants to understand everything. When we admit we can’t or feel like we can’t, we feel inferior.

  2. Kind of like how Eve sinned because she wanted to know more… Knowing everything (or wanting to) isn’t always a good thing. If we could understand everything about God we would be God. We can only understand what the Holy Spirit reveals to us through His Word. That’s why we will probably be learning all of eternity, which is an exciting concept!

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