Monday, October 6, 2008

When the Warning Lights Go Off

This week as I browsed the web and read my email I ran into two sites that bothered me greatly. One was a video of a woman (Winnie Banov)who was ‘drunk’ in the spirit and preaching a message. I pushed past my initial discomfort at the manner in which her message was delivered and tried to understand the message itself. I couldn’t. It was all about Melchizedek and the supposed “bliss” (in the Spirit) that he was supposed to represent. Some how this ‘bliss’ was to put you more in touch with God’s spirit - in a drunk sort of way. This 'bliss' was supposedly supposed to please God if you participated in it.

The next was an email from Francis Frangipane. He talked about how we need to make a covenant with God for particular situations in our lives. He does detail how Jesus completed the covenant that was required for salvation but then goes on to explain how, because God is a covenantal God, we then need to make covenants with Him for our city or our family. He actually says:

Making a covenant with God takes us further into our goal of Christlikeness. It is the highest relationship we can enjoy with God and it is the most deeply surrendered. It is, in truth, that which brings Him the most pleasure. To those who covenant with God, He says, "Gather My godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice" (Ps 50:5). (emphasis mine)

I then read an article from Bob DeWaay about pietism and how it plays out in our lives as Christians today and in history. While I don’t agree with the whole article (I love that I can do this now), it finally occurred to me the problem that I am seeing in the Charismatic church. They believe that you need to add something to the work of Jesus. Pietism is the belief that you can add something of your own to make yourself more holy and more acceptable to God.

I’ve touched on this before, but it finally cemented into place for me. Both of these that I read/watched were telling you something “extra scriptural” that you needed to do/be for God to be happy with you.

Now it would be easy to sit back in my arm chair and say, “I will do nothing. Jesus did everything. Grace is all there is. It is done.” I am always tempted to swing to the complete other side. But that is also not the whole gospel.

Jesus says this, “(Mat 11:28-30 NIV) "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

See, Jesus does not say, there is no yoke. He in fact offers a yoke of his own. His is light but it still exists. There is something that he wants us to carry. There is a yoke that is meant to imply ‘work.’ It may come in the form of praying for our families or our country. It may involve experiencing the Holy Spirit in a greater degree. But it is an easy yoke. It does not involve the angst of feeling like you are not doing enough compared to the next person. It does not involve comparison.

A yoke when used in the animal world is individual for each animal. A burden is carried usually only by one. Jesus has our yoke and our burden that we carry individualized for each of us. And when we carry it or put it on - it is easy and light.

In the future, when someone tells a whole group of people what God wants them to do so that He will be pleased with them…my radar will go up and my warning lights will flash. The chances that pietism is being preached is great and the chances that people are being compared and put into bondage is likely. And that yoke is not easy nor that burden light.


Jeannette Altes said...

Hmm... I thought what gave Papa the most pleasure was when we simply believe...

Sarah said...

Great post as usual Barb. I relate so much! I've just started reading Post-charismatic and it is soooo refreshing!

I absolutely agree that there is this subtle religious performance that is promoted in charismatic culture. And it appeals to spiritual pride in us and promotes a sense of spiritual elitism. Blech!

Joel Brueseke said...

Frangipane's ministry is located about 55-60 miles away from here, just down the road in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. When I was in radio, we aired a weekly (or was it daily? I can't remember) program of his teaching/preaching. It, um, wasn't exactly my favorite program... ;)

Yeah, this whole "covenant" thing (God making covenants with man) misses the whole point of Christ. He doesn't make covenants with us... because we don't keep 'em!

It's ALL Him. He's the beginning, the middle, the end - He's the whole thing. He's certainly not relying on us for anything, but rather calls us branches and says simply, "abide in Me." He Himself is the Life of the branches. We simply live by His life!

Rich said...

"There is something that he wants us to carry."

Perhaps as His dwelling place, living temples, we are to carry Him?
Almost sounds as if He would enjoy our being engaged with Him?

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.

Don said...

Hi Barb,

In light of what you've written here, please tell me what you think of this:

we've visited a church in which the pastor gives good, solid sermons that point people to God as the solution to our needs.

At the end of each message, however, the pastor makes an appeal for people who agree with his message, or who want to show God they're serious about responding, to come to "the altar" and kneel there to pray. Usually one-half the congregation responds in this way.

These meeting-ending situations usually do not include specific prayer by an altar team for healing, etc - just a call for people to come and kneel at the "altar" in order to "do business with God." [I'm using quotes not to mock him, but simply to show the way the pastor describes what he's calling for.]

While these appeals are not long and drawn-out, I feel uncomfortable with them happening every Sunday - as though the pastor doesn't know how else to end the meeting, or wants to see a response to his message.

While I am personally uncomfortable with this, I don't know what to think otherwise. Have you experienced things like this? What do you think of the pastor ending meetings this way, not occasionally but every Sunday?

Barb said...

Katherine, Sometimes it is really that simple!

Sarah, the DeWaay article said you can always tell when pietism is present because it causes comparison.

Joel, Laugh - you are right - we suck at keeping covenants. Covenant keeping vs abiding. I'll take abiding any day.

Rich, I like that. Carrying Him. and the "simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ'

Don, hmmm. This one made me think. I think there could be a man in pastoral office that really does this in a pure way. He just wants to give people a time to deal with what he has shared. But it is all about the integrity of the preacher. So many preachers want feedback on whether they did 'good' that day. The only way you would know would be if NO ONE came down. How would the pastor feel that day. His answer would reveal a lot to me.

Ruth said...

Barb thanks for bringing this point to light about pietism and comparison. It's so subtle and creeps into all variety of churches. Like you said in the boat article, at the time you all believed that other churchs were legalistic but not yours.

A couple of years ago the Lord called me on buying into a performance based faith. I am still getting more understanding on how that shows up in my heart. I feel that this article has given me one of those AHA moments.

Please keep doing what you do!!!!!!

Barb said...

Ruth that was the big aha moment when I was reading DeWaay's article. I could see it everywhere in my old church but everywhere else too. It is so common to man.

Thanks so much for the encouragement!

Mike said...

Great Post Barb. Admittedly, I could not get through the video and this might be a sad eye opener because as I watched the video, I saw the presentation more than the message....

Lord forgive me for my judgmental ways...

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