Whether or not I suffered abuse when Charismatic churches tried to heal me remains a secondary issue in my estimation. Truthfully, I’d never really thought of any episodes as abusive except for the Pentecostal preacher during my high school days who determined that my Cerebral Palsy resulted from demon possession because “only Satan could make something this ugly.” (I can laugh at his stupidity now.)
But I didn’t turn away from Charismatic theology because of all the efforts to heal me. I turned away because neither its teachings nor its practices line up with Scripture.
I don’t have time today to demonstrate how Charismatic theology violates God’s Word. Actually, it would take a large number of posts to fully make my case. I do want to discuss some of its departures from sound doctrine in future posts, particularly in light of how it has influenced the evangelical church at large. But today, let me focus on the broader idea that Christians must shape theology on the basis of Scripture, not spiritual experience. I didn’t reject Charismatic teaching because I had a few negative experiences. I rejected it out of a commitment to truth.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. ~~John 4:24 (ESV)
If we evaluate the Bible through the grid of personal experience, we can make it say pretty much anything we want it to say. In so doing, we unwittingly replace the Lord’s authority with our own. I don’t believe my friends in Charismatic churches consciously make this exchange, but they certainly do make it. With patience and humility, we need to encourage them to think in accord with sound doctrine, not because their teaching hurts people, but because we love truth.