Why the Charismatic excesses are not fringe

As the Strange Fire conference wrapped up Sunday, many Charismatics were incensed that the conference had deemed their movement as false and rebuked its excesses. Many who defended the movement said it was unfair to lump the sedate Charismatics/Pentecostals in with the "fringe", who were the ones responsible for those excesses.

Christian Post reported,

"Another accusation has been that MacArthur and cessationists are talking about something that is only true of the extreme, lunatic fringe of the movement, to which he contends is "patently not true." Because he believes there is error in the Charismatic movement that sweeps through the entire movement. "Ninety percent of the people around the world connected to the Charismatic movement take ownership of the prosperity gospel," he said. "Twenty-four to 25 million of them deny the trinity. One hundred million of them are Roman Catholics. This is not some fringe; this is the movement. And it is growing at a rapid rate."

But what is the Charismatic movement? What is Charismania? Discernment bloggers, evangelicals, conservative pastors, those who adhere to the doctrines of grace, etc., all know that Charismania isn't fringe, but main body. The scope of the movement and its deep penetration into the heart of the evangelical body is frightening. The numbers are frightening, too. Alex Murashko noted in his article, "After John MacArthur's Strange Fire Event: 10 Things You May Not Have Known About the Charismatic Mov't"

"Islam is not the fastest-growing faith family in the world. Pentecostalism is. While Islam has gone from zero in 610 AD to 1.6 billion today (1,403 years), Pentecostalism went from zero to (about) a billion from 1906 to the present day (107 years)."

So it is obvious that if there are errors in the movement (and there are) and the movement is not fringe (and it isn't) but is overtaking evangelicalism, it needs to be understood and its errors attended to.

The Charismatic Movement is the international trend of historically mainstream congregations adopting beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostals. (Wiki).

Fundamental to the movement is the use of the sign spiritual gifts. In one of the Strange Fire sessions, it was noted that the main influx of it ramped up in 1960, the 1906 beginnings of Azusa Street mentioned above, aside.

What is Charismania? Charismania is a derivative term usually applied by American Fundamentalist Christians to the extremists in the Christian Charismatic movement. In some cases it is used as a byword to describe the entire movement in a negative light. It was specifically coined to describe the perceivable chaos and mood swings (hence mania) that sometimes occur during Charismatic revival meetings.

Such disorderly occurrences as, being "slain in the Spirit", excessive laughing/crying, screaming, wild dancing, violent shaking, and interruptive speaking in tongues and prophesying led many fundamentalists to believe that the Devil was involved while Charismatic Christians asserted that these were manifestations of the Holy Spirit. (wiki)

The mania also includes jerking, shaking, falling to the floor, acting drunk, proclaiming visions and inside intelligence from Jesus directly that are not found in scripture, barking like dogs, violence, and more. It includes heaven tourism, in which a person allegedly has a vision where they are either bodily lifted up or in the spirit lifted to supernatural realms like heaven, or in some cases, hell.

So with the numbers as they are, the spread of it to most continents and nations, its fast growth, its lack of theology, its lack of fruit, its making a shipwreck of the faith for millions, is Charismania fringe? No.

When "Heaven is for Real" heaven tourism book sells 8M books and 1M ebooks, and is seen as more credible than the heaven revealed in the bible's book of Revelation, Charismania isn't fringe.

When John Piper, Beth Moore, Francis Chan teach Roman Catholic mystical practice Lectio Divina at Passion 2012 to 60,000 Youths at the conference, Charismania isn't fringe.

When 'Jesus Calling', a book touting personal revelation from Jesus, wins 2013 ECPA Christian Book of the Year, Charismania isn't fringe.

When Mark Batterson's pagan circle maker practice catches on at 2012 Indianapolis True Woman Conference w/ Joni Earickson Tada & Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Charismania isn't fringe.

When SBC teacher Beth Moore has vision where Jesus appeared to her & revealed spiritual information and was told to share it, & she teaches FROM THAT, Charismania isn't fringe.

Please take some time to listen to the sermons from Strange Fire. Here are some below. They all will be listed at the Strange Fire site soon. This is an important issue.

Are we preachers or are we Witch Doctors?(Conrad Mbewe)
Providence Is Remarkable (Phil Johnson)
An Appeal to My Continuationist Friends (John MacArthur)
Testing the Spirits (John MacArthur)
A Deeper Healing (Joni Eareckson Tada)
Strange Fire (John MacArthur)
Undervaluing Pentecost (R.C. Sproul)
A Case for Cessationism (Tom Pennington)
Is There a Baby in the Charismatic Bathwater? (Phil Johnson)

Here are some good wrap-up essays for you

10 Things you may not have known about the Charismatic Movement (Christian Post)

Lessons Learned at Strange Fire (Tim Challies)

Where There's Smoke, There's Strange Fire (Clint Archer)

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Engage John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference (Trevin Wax)


  1. Amen. I spent my teens and young adult life in a Pentecostal/Charismatic churches. The first was really bad. It was all about emotion and not dividing the Word of God. Have you watched this video on the Kundalini? I watched it last night for the first time and it brings back a lot of memories from that church.


    1. Hi Brad,

      I'm aware of the kundalini cult (Hindu) but I will not watch or research. I did so just before and as I first came to Christ and I could feel that I was being drawn away. So I quit looking into it.

      It is powerful characteristic of the false Charismatic movement and I stay away from it.

      It expresses itself just like some of the demon possessed people are described acting in the bible. When you see someone in kundalini rising (As MacArthur showed a short clip at the SF Conference) it even LOOKS like demon possession.

      It's like Mark Batterson's wiccan circle-making, definitely has demonic roots and looks exactly like what the wiccans do to summon spirits. We are surely in a time of heavy apostasy...

  2. Hello, thank you so much for sharing this information. You always need to be in the word of God, reading, studying to have the truth at the ready at all times. These false teachings creep in I've seen people at my church who read Jesus Calling and share with others on how wonderful they are. It's so sad and scary because again if you are not constantly reading and measuring everything by the word of God you can be drawn in. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump Galatians 5:9

    Thanks again!

    1. Exactly Celida. I too see people reading Jesus Calling. In fact, my old youth pastor posts the Jesus Calling daily devotion up on Facebook everyday. It always gets positive comments. I've warned that person twice, but they ignored me. So sad. Nobody wants to read their Bible these days. They all want to read the latest fad book, which are almost always bad.

  3. They said in the Panel Question and Answer, Session 2 that ninety percent of all Pentecostals in most countries around the world believe in the Prosperity Gospel.

    Wrong, go to the source "Pew Forum Research" website. The truth is 92 % do not support the prosperity gospel
    This source website also shows that a majority believe as same as the Pentecostal do

    1. Hi Rob,

      Here is the link to the Strange Fire web page, Q&A session 2 you mentioned,

      Here is what was said at the SF Q&A session,

      "Yeah, you know, part of what the Strange Fire book talks about is that what people think is the fringe is actually become mainstream. And we talk about a hundred and twenty million Charismatic Catholics, we talk about twenty-five million oneness Pentecostals. John T. Allen in his book Future Church talks about the fact it’s based on the Pew Forum Research, that upwards of ninety percent, in some cases more than ninety percent of all Pentecostals in most countries around the world believe in the Prosperity Gospel. So when you just do the simple math, this is hundreds of millions of people who hold to a false gospel. It is the majority of the Movement."

      Here is what I found of the source they cited, John T. Allen in his book Future Church

      "Some analysts distinguish between ‘neo-Pentecostal,’ which they see as focused on the prosperity gospel, and classic Pentecostalism, oriented toward the gifts of the Spirit such as healings and tongues. Yet the Pew Forum data suggests that the prosperity gospel is actually a defining feature of all Pentecostalism; majorities of Pentecostals exceeding 90 percent in most countries hold to these beliefs” (John T. Allen, The Future Church, 382–83;"

      citing this http://www.pewforum.org/files/2006/10/pentecostals-08.pdf

      I found the SF quote to be consistent with both the John Allen book source and the original data in the Pew source. Have you found different?


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