There is an undeniable emotional/spiritual power that some Charismatics possess and, especially in their worship services, even non-Charismatics and non-believers are influenced by it. People are convicted through it and they come to Christ because of it. Charismatics revel in this power, and often consider other churches "dead" because they lack this very real spiritual/emotional influence. (Although other Protestant churches will talk about the "Spirit moving" during a worship service.) Honestly, I've always been a little afraid of this very real influence/power, however, because to me it feels the same as that exercised by many secular leaders and orators. Yet I don't want to deny a true work of the Holy Spirit. Is this "charisma" (this natural speaking ability and power to sway an audience) simply a natural gift, or in the case of one well-known televangelist, a learned skill based on voice tone and rhythm, or is it ever a true manifestation of the Holy Spirit? In some cases, when we don't know the speaker, it can be hard to discern or test the spirits. (Note: I'm not talking here about cessationism or whether the Sign Gifts are still operating today, but more about the tangible "power" felt during some Charismatic services and exuded by some Charismatic leaders.)
Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
I've attended a charismatic church for almost thirty years, and I've also attended many other kinds of churches with relatives or friends on special occasions during my lifetime. While I certainly believe that the power of God is evident in my home church meetings, I can honestly say I've observed that the power and presence of God is equally evident in many other kinds of churches, as long as they are genuinely Christian, Bible-based churches. John 4:24 says, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth." Where people worship in Spirit and in truth, the people of God can expect God to reveal Himself. What I think you notice as unique about Pentecostals and Charismatics is a matter of style, not necessarily power. For example, Billy Graham is arguably one of the most influential and successful evangelists of our time, yet he is not affiliated with the charismatic denominations at all, and is somewhat cool, calm and collected in his delivery style. Even so, he speaks with Spirit, truth, and authority, which enables him to deliver his messages with power and influence. Style can be misleading, which is why it is important to test the spirits, as 1 John 4:1-3 tells us to do: "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." Also Matthew 7:15-20: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." No matter what kind of church we attend or no matter what the "style" is of the speaker to which we are listening, it's important to be certain that we're listening to and experiencing truth and what is genuinely offered from the Spirit of God.
It is a valuable Spiritual lesson to learn that the channel between us and God, via the Holy Spirit, is open 24/7/365. The "store" never closes. One absolutely must "get out of the way" in order to experience His Presence. John 4:24 is the equivalent of saying "get out of the way." I'm afraid that that is not happening in much of the Charismatic approach to scripture. Charismatics typically endorse "name it and claim it," "you shall have what you say," in other words, speaking into existence some thing or some spiritual event (small s). They enjoy experiences that empower them to do something beyond the physical, e.g., healing, tongues, words of knowledge, raising the dead, and similar. Charismatics typically are looking for empowering experiences that are non-biblical and in fact a reflection of the emotional capacity being in control; emotional "highs". One takes a suggestion from the Pastor as an opportunity for loud praise, hand waving, tears, and other emotional outbursts. TV preachers announce that they have "just seen" something in the Bible that they haven't seen before, that it is a "revelation," and that it is going to result in miracles, especially financial ones, some "in the next 20 minutes." Emotional experiences replace God's Word in an abundance of areas of scripture. "The Lord told me to tell you that all your bills are going to be paid." "The Lord said to me that ...............". There is an overwhelming tendency, if not objective, to alter one's Spiritual relationship with Jesus to one wherein words are experienced, resulting in euphoria. As most Christians know, euphoria is seen quite often in various pagan religions where it leads to babbling and bodily behaviors. In the latter cases the "spell" these worshipers find themselves in may go on for hours or days, until there is a collapse into utter exhaustion. For Charismatics, the ritual may go on for an hour or so during a worship service, and then as soon as the Pastor says "Amen," or closes the service, everyone returns to normal. During the service God supposedly talks directly to certain persons but when the service closes THEY abruptly end the conversation! Euphoria, then, comes quickly, and soon departs. One goes for an entire week as a normal person, but on Sunday, goes euphoric. If one's initial euphoric output is not as "real" as those gathered around, they are very apt to be coached by others during the service and afterwards. I have personally met many of those who, in fact, IMITATE euphoria, including tongues, and share their emotional experience with others as if it was a personal message from God. I have experienced euphoria (joy; rejoicing) Spiritually, and I can't imagine imitating it and then faking that episode with others, in or out of a worship service. TV Pastors, during fund drives, are fond of saying "The Lords' presence is so thick I can feel it." "The Spirit of the Lord is all over this place," as if HE is external and something like a cloud that suddenly appeared. Didn't He arrive in each born-again Believer? Whoa! Charismatics refer to their euphoria as an "anointing" from God, not realizing that the word for anointing in scripture describes POSITION, not euphoria, not emotional experiences. It is positional, not "experiential empowerment." The Greek terminology demands a once-for-all positional anointing at salvation, for example. I recall a popular TV preacher announcing mid-sermon that the glory of God was about to fall on "this place," with signs and wonders and most likely the Rapture. A lone lady stood up, entered the center aisle, and began euphoric utterances and body movements, raising her hands and jumping up and down. The Pastor yelled, HERE IT IS!!! HERE IT IS!!! with great vigor, and the woman increased her behaviors. After a minute of that the Pastor continued his message, but shortly yelled, "HERE IT IS!" again. The woman, who had stood there motionless and silent, now began her euphoric episode again. Nothing happened. The Pastor moved on in his message for a minute or so, then shouted "HERE IT IS!" Once again the motionless and silent lady began jumping up and down, raising her arms, and shouting words like "hallelujah" and similar. Nothing happened. The lady sat down. The Pastor closed his "message" with a switch to a commerical appeal for financial support. He is still on TV. John writes (1 John 2:20; 27) about anointing as positional, not experiential. Positionally, we Christians are in the position to Spiritually digest Spiritual matters, not learned through euphoric emotionalism but by studying and learning what God is telling us in His Word, individually, from our Pastor-Teacher, from evangelists, and our teacher-friends, as in "Sunday School." In other words, Spiritual matters, Truth, come from God, not from emotional experiences. One who is inhabited by the Holy Spirit --- one who gets out of the way --- is inhabited 24/7/365. He is present for us 100% of the time, no matter what. When we drift into sin, we are on our own, but He continuously calls us back (it is known as "conscience," in secular terminology). Our insights reveal that Charismatics believe in their emotional forays more than they believe in God's sovereignty. They believe that their experiences "add to" what God has written, that there is "more out there" available, beyond God's Word. They interpret "Thy will be done on earth" as a duty for them, rather than a recognition that He is sovereign and carries out His will as He sees fit. In fact, Jesus was addressing the coming Jewish Kingdom of God on earth when He taught that prayer! The Apostles were to acquiesce to that Truth, not see themselves as the originators of it. God will establish HIS Kingdom on earth when HE wants to. "My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure; I have planned it, surely I will do it" (Isaiah 46:10-11). Trust Jesus, not "euphoric experiences."
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.