Of being a former Pentecostal/Charismatic preacher

The price to pay for being a former Pentecostal preacher is often high and it comes in all sorts of currencies. People often look upon you as “a little of that, but not much of that other” as in “too Pentecostal for the Calvinist and too Calvinist for the Pentecostal”, a phrase that causes a few to laugh but that it is a huge roadblock if one wants to change his image into a reasonable and well balanced Christian. Bearing in mind that if you are a Christian many will find you unreasonable anyway is not something that soothes the pain of being stuck with a label that is not only slanderous but it is also an impediment for any progress in the denominational circles in America Evangeliville. There is one softer side, however, which often assuages one’s ire of such unfair state of affairs, though: That’s when people still look upon you as a superstitious Pentecostal (if there is any other kind…), and when they meet you in a public place, as a restaurant, for example, they feel that they should come to you and tell stories upon stories that are completely insane, to say the least, that cannot be substantiated, that, if true, the whole world would have known, believers and unbelievers alike, the latter, a kind that would be nothing but extinct if these stories could have been validated and authenticated. Indulge me in presenting to you a recent event and the way it ended so, perhaps, I can contribute to your day laughing quota.

Here it goes:

I am sitting in this rather popular restaurant chain and all of sudden I am reminded of what a teacher told me once about undesired encounters: “You turn on the lights and you won’t be able to control what kind of bug crawls or flies in.” A person who recognized me as a former Pentecostal preacher, but who knows how diametrically opposed I have become on the superstitious nature of Pentecostal/Charismatic faith and felt that they have to “witness” to me a few things that are happening in their hallucinating world. Needing a few inward laughs in that busy and hard day, I gave ears to the story about a certain preacher whose name I will leave off the story, in whose services God is doing something that unquestionably He is capable of doing, but one can hardly find a purpose for Him to doing it and also the results whereof, should He have really done it. “Oh, and God is filling tooth cavities in those services; the anointing (as they call not knowing that references to “anointing” in the Bible are references to the Anointed One), is so heavy that some people had their cavities filled! Isn’t that wonderful? (Expecting me to respond…) Since my silent is deadly, they continue: “Oh, and there was a diamond rain in the service! The Lord poured down a rain of diamonds in that service”. What a wonderful thing the Lord is doing through the ministry of (names the person). Now, at this point it is useful to mention that the person relating these purported Godly feats to me is doing so as if “it” was there in person (I don’t want to reveal whether “it” was a man or a woman); in other words, I was made, by the emphasis and detailed exposition of the facts that this person was there and saw the tooth fillings and the diamond rain, perhaps having picked up some gems, and all the other miracles that “it” mentioned to me and that I don’t mention here because they are common in Pentecostal/Charismatic conversations.

The Truth Comes Out

Well, still being warm-hearted to this person, I preamble a question and then asked it as so: Wow, how interesting. Listen I write in a blog in the Internet with a certain degree of readership and it wouldn’t be wonderful if I could meet some of these people with tooth fillings, obviously with their dentist records that the tooth was unfilled so as to avoid the mockery of skeptics (heh heh), and interview them, and also have someone show me one of those heavenly diamond rocks, or dust, or whatever, and photograph it since I think it would be such a blast to have these great things published and allow the public to know of them and of your preacher?. Silence! Total silence! One can expect the other to be in awe at these stories or object to them, but, ASKING EVIDENCE??? O, no, that is unusual and in the Pentecostal/Charismatic circles it is the same as “persecution and unbelief”. After all you don’t question miracles do you? Well, I don’t question miracles; I just want evidence because the miracles in the Bible had evidence that others, including unbelievers could verify!

Then, after the silence, the truth comes out: O, brother, I am sorry if I gave you the impression that I was there… that was related to me my so, and so, daughter. Okay, I continue my pursuit of authentication, and say: My I have an address, a name that I can search of this person so I can verify these miracles and publish them? A few seconds of the same silence as before and then… “Well, I don’t know if “their” daughter was there, I think someone who was there told her. But why in the world do you want to publish this?” Well, beloved, (see I am nice), don’t you think that if God is doing these things today they shouldn’t be in the papers, on TV, on Bill O’Reilly, Oprah, so the world could know what a mighty God we serve (alluding to one of their chorus)? Don’t you think that would be good for people seeking God to “seek him even harder”? (I am NOT entrapping anyone… I am looking for authentication). O, brother, (here we go again), unfortunately I can’t tell you because it is something that I heard from a very good person who is really a powerful sister in the Lord… (and then the illogical challenge): “Why do you want to see proof anyway; don’t you believe that God is capable of doing these things?” I have a prepared answer for this kind of question that I used to Mormons when they ask me if I doubt that Jesus had power to come to the Americas and present the Gospel to natives): “O, I believe He has all the power, He is all powerful, including the power to end the world right now and kill us right now, but, is He doing it or has He done it already?” Usually I get silence, but what I got was a shift on the conversation to the political situation in this country…

How it spreads and become believable?

What I am trying to relate here is a true fact. People will relate these things to others of the same like faith (or what they call faith) and it will spread as uphill fire or and downhill water, just as fast and deadly. People who believe as this person does will never challenge anything and will hurry in relating to others the same story and always presenting it as if they were physically in the place where these events took place. As such, these stories spread and the breath, width, heights that they go are now damaged by something involving the name of God and the faith of Christians that cannot be substantiated by facts and not supported by evidence. What they really want, as all sycophants want, is to convey the idea of familiarity with the minister in whose services these things are happening and find a social acceptance among those who believe the same way they do… As dogs sniffing the other dogs backside, these people use these stories to find their pack (no offense to the dogs).

How it ended?

I could finish my meal with the certainty that such person would go home and reflect on the meaning of evidence as I enjoyed my so much needed inward laugh aware that I was laughing at a tragedy and not at a comedy; the tragedy of misplaced faith and the deceitfulness in the ministry; I was also aware that I was mocking and mocking is a often a sin and took the opportunity to pray for that person, asked forgiveness for mocking, as I thanked Him for exclusively by His Grace, removing from the circles where people think that God needs to endear Himself with miracles so people can believe Him, and that the message of the Gospel, in its less adorned and sugarcoated way is not enough for Him to do His work in saving those whom He will save, and that I am no better than that person other than the Grace that God bestowed upon me saving me when I was a disgraceful sinner occupying His pulpit! While I chewed another bite of a baked salmon, since God doesn’t mind me speaking with my mouth full, I prayed for the story teller in front of me and I prayed for me that I would never feel compelled, by any situation in my life to go back to the vomit of Pentecostal/Charismatic superstitions.

Laughed with me?

If I really contributed to your laughing quota of the day, I have also contributed to your need to pray for yourself as it happened to me; so use this post as an opportunity to do so.

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7 Replies to “Of being a former Pentecostal/Charismatic preacher”

  1. Milton,

    I share your desire to balance both authentification of such stories and respect for one’s faith–not always easy, particularly when evidence is lacking. This reminds me of an occurence years ago when my friend found himself in the midst of several pentecostals who were speaking in tongues. My friend said that there should be an interpreter present when one speaks in tongues (per the apostle Paul/1 Cor 14) or that they should not speak. The pentecostals did not have their own interpreter, so my friend volunteered to interpret. After a few minutes of continued tongue speaking, my friend said…”This is what you said, ‘I am a false prophet and I am not speaking in tongues but in some type of jibberish that is intended to look like something spiritual but it is not. Do not believe anything that I am doing or telling you.'” With great consternation, the pentecostals said that is not what they were saying or doing, to which my friend replied, “Remember, I am the interpreter.” The tongue-speaking ceased…

  2. The only “speaking in tongues”, I am interested in, comes next Tuesday. Apple supposedly introduces iPhone 6. I hope Siri is more intelligible than in the past. For the evangelical crowd, Apple might provide a voice option, to select from a variety of evangelical preacher voices. It would require less computing power in the answers. “Can I help you?”, and “You are going to Hell”, could be the most common phrases. We wouldn’t even have to go to church, or watch TV, to be saved.

  3. I almost choked on my breakfast; I laughed out loud, delighted in your wit, humour, writing, and your scathingly open vision. I admired your analysis and analogy.

    These stories, this cultural distortion of the gospel deserves derision.

    I part from you in your recommendation that we pray for ourselves when we laugh at falisty and the illogical comedy of it. I disagree that our laughter is evidence of our own sinfulness.

    The fine distinction for me is this: If I allow my laughter, my discernment, my disdain for shoddy ideas or falsities stop me from being kind to someone who presents or believes these conceits, then THAT would be sin.

    Even with every reason to scoff at that person in their face, to turn your eyes and body away form them and publically humiliate them, you did not.

    You spoke up for truth in a patient and discerning way. That you laugh out loud because of the foibles of a section of humanity which grasps on wondrous lies things because every day lives are devoid if it, is no sin. It woudl be a sin if you did not also weep.

    …..laugh away. Weep for the tragedy, laugh at the comedy. The Greeks had it right: we can have both in equal measure.

  4. Milton,
    Thank you for sharing this story. Yes, I laughed with you; and, yes, I wept with you. They were there in Jesus’ day, following Him for the loaves and fishes. The greatest miracle is the salvation that Christ brought to me and the ongoing sanctifying process to create in me His very image. To yield to Christ, to obey and follow have given such blessings in my life that, sometimes, I am hard-pressed to contain the thrill of God’s presence and work. Each day, I live a miracle of the grace of Jesus poured out over and over in my life. For a once selfish sinner to be transformed into a “love the Lord your God with all…” child of God is more than satisfying. May the Lord continue His blessing in your life and ministry!
    Your brother in Christ,
    Don

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