Wednesday, March 23, 2011

#227-Gnostic Pentecostals? Maybe. Hopefully Not.

There are two things I giggle at these days. This will be one of those:

A kind of gnostic Pentecostalism that forfeits itself and the Christian duty to reconcile the world and serve. By gnostic I simply mean a kind a Pentecostal who believes in a "secret kind of wisdom" that is revealed to them by God that is distinct from that which may be discerned by the Word of God (e.g. "God has revealed to my that Spirit X is attacking us and holding us back from revival.").

We all know it is Christ hanging dead from a tree that saves us. However, for the gnostic Pentecostal, they would be much more comfortable with Christ's sacrifice being done in intense prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (though that scene is remarkably moving). Christ however did not bring salvation by praying for a revival vis-a-vis breaking spiritual strongholds in the mystical "spiritual realm" that sets up a kind of Christian dualism. Instead Christ brought salvation and restoration by allowing us and our sins to kill him. We killed God and only in that innocent body of the dead God-Man  can we find the awe-inspiring love that he intended for us. Yet these Gnostic Pentecostals for reasons that I find comedic, cannot grasp that Christianity is absolutely about action in the here and now. Instead they find strength in prayer and talking to God and also sometimes deluding themselves into thinking there is some authority in uncut hair other than simple obedience, if they interpret I Corinthians 11:1-16 as a universal command.

Christianity should not be an escape, but rather a confrontation with the world separated by a holiness unto God. But for gnostic Pentecostals, they avoid the confrontation with the world and escape instead to confront an enemy which nobody can see. For Gnostic Pentecostals,

To confront Satan as the problem of why our church is not growing is much easier than to actually try engaging with a culture and world that is foreign to us.

In other words, Gnostic Pentecostals live their Christianity in prayer acting like that does anything to saving the world instead of actually taking action in saving the world. It is not that praying does nothing, but along the lines of Kierkegaard, prayer doesn't change God, but rather prayer should change the one who is praying. Thus in terms of saving the world, talking with someone about God or helping someone out with a chore around their house will be much more productive in terms of redemption than simply praying for them (of course prayer is a good supplement).

The reality though, for such Gnostic Pentecostals, they preach much,  pray more, tell themselves about themselves about having the full truth (which apparently resides in a "spiritual realm") and follow a strict moral code based in Biblical obedience. They do all this so they can excuse themselves from doing anything of actually acting out a love for their neighbor (other than hosting a promotion Sunday on their very church grounds).

Thus such a brand of Pentecostalism (though this is certainly the exception amongst our populous) talks much to God and to themselves so they don't have to do anything. Love for your neighbor for them is done in prayer for them and sending warm Christmas cards or a text message saying "I have been thinking about you...Love you."

Thanks for that!

I'll take Jesus and a sacrifice that isn't defined by simply dealing with love by way of a prayer and complaining about split-ends...


  1. I agree. For the past several months, we have been on the topic of "Serving One Another" at our church. In so doing, we have all taken a spiritual gifts tests and also a personality test. That may sound silly, but we are learning our strengths so that the church body can do it's thing properly. We all have a gift but we don't all know what it is. We can have some negatives to our personality, but if we let the spirit control our lives, those negatives can become positives. The goal is to use our gifts and talents that are all unique and different to serve others and bring others into the kingdom of God. I am thrilled to have discovered my purpose and how my past has shaped me to be exactly what God has wanted to share the gospel with others in a way that only I can do. That was a mouthful, but you know what I mean. I think we are on the same page, Joel.

  2. but back to the heart of the matter. The Bible says "how beautiful are the feet of those who spread the Good News". Love that verse. It is fairly obvious to me (not trying to bash anyone), that it is much harder to share a "revelation". I found it difficult to the point of not doing it at all, like the Gnostics you refer to in your post. Do you find it difficult also?

  3. Hmmmmm, another baby/bathwater dichotomy? The church needs to walk in love, for sure. That includes loving the world in practical ways. We also need to walk in truth and part of that is sharing the truth of God's word. That involves knowing, learning, and studying the Word. We need to walk in the power of God's Spirit. That is, pretty much exclusively, the result of faith that comes from the Word, and an empowering from spending time in prayer and fasting, ie, intimacy with Jesus. And there does seem to be spiritual darkness that is damaged by our prayers and worship, and thus the expansion of the kingdom of God is made possible.

    So, as Jesus said in Matt 23:23, there are several things we need to be effectively juggling and we can't neglect one over the other.

    We need to pray that strongholds are broken, we need to show meaningful love to the people that God has led us to, we need to speak the Truth to them in love, and we need to believe that the Spirit will anoint our ministries and their hearts so that the connection is made that leads to revival.

    Spiritualizing our laziness, our evasion of our responsibilities, and our embarrassment for what we are in Jesus will never, ever spark a move of God.

  4. I agree and disagree. Reading Verbal Bean's book on Prayer, and hearing men of God (whom I will not name, but are the most sought after evangelists in Pentecost today) I know effectual, fervent, prayer is necessary. And crazy things start to happen. As long as you are willing to put feet to your prayer and get moving.

  5. fairly new to your Blog and so far me likey...however, in commenting on this issue I would like your input on the "word of wisdom and word of knowledge"...Also, without being contentious, PRAYER CAN AND DOES CHANGE GOD...Hezekiah being healed via his prayer came to my mind while reading this post.

  6. oddymach,

    God granted Hezekiah his desire to live but it was during that time that Hezekiah made his greatest mistakes...1st. He showed Babylon ambassadors the gold and riches and in turn putting a bulls eye on Jerusalem. Isaiah told him because of his pride that everything Hezekiah showed them would be taken as well as the people into captivity. 2nd. Many Scholars believe it was during that time that his son Manasseh was born which he was the worst king in the Southern Kingdom. God was so displeased he pronounced the southern kingdoms judgement into captivity.
    Prayer can change God but that does not mean it will end up a good thing. matter of fact, Because of monetary gain, baalam prayed until God gave into his request. Which almost cost him his life.....

  7. The last two comments reminds me of a situation I walked through in my own spiritual life. I knew of someone who had a heart transplant and countless people prayed and prayed for the child to live. Four long months spent in the hospital and our prayers turned to "If you aren't going to heal him, then take him. It's too much to watch." and God took him. I'm nearly convinced that he was meant to die on the operating table but God kept him alive because we so fervently prayed for it...but God never truly intended him to live. It wasn't until we changed our prayers that God would take him.

    It took me several years to come to that realization...

  8. Yeah, why pray. It's useless. lol.

  9. Brian,

    The point being made is not to pray but how to pray.

    Jesus told us to pray Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done. His Kingdom is coming whether we pray for it or not. Then why pray? Because prayer is how God enlists us into what he is doing. Not my will but thy will be done. That is the point.

  10. Ephesians 6:12-13 GNB

    For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. So put on God's armour now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy's attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.