In a scathing attack on charismatics which is tantamount to declaring spiritual hostilities on that part of the Body of Christ, Pulpit & Pen’s Bud Ahlheim compares the charismatic move to Islamic militants Daesh.
‘The charismatic movement is to evangelical Christianity – whatever that can be defined as these days – what ISIS is to Islam; the latter extremists slaughter in the name of a false god while the former discernment-free adherents damn with a different Jesus and an emotions-intense, “other” gospel.’
These are the kinds of verbal attacks streaming out of Pulpit & Pen, where moderator J D Hall has recently condemned Dr Michael Brown for rejecting his offer of a public debate, and stated that many charismatics are not Christians, following and preaching occult practices.
Ahlheim’s comparison of charismatics to ISIS is the work of an extreme polemicist intent on a severance of non-Reformed theologists from what he sees as the true doctrinal standard – cessationism. Pulpit & Pen writers pride themselves in being harsh in their tone towards the charismatic wing of the Church.
In fact, they do not consider charismatics to be part of the Church at all. Says Ahlheim…
‘Perhaps not since the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church, still in full swing after all these centuries, has there been such a soul-damning, Scripture-defying movement as the modern day charismatic movement.’
If he truly knew anything about the history of the charismatic movement, he would know that the adherents are originally and mainly from traditional denominations, holding to generally accepted evangelical doctrine.
He would know that the only difference between those in the charismatic move and traditionally orthodox evangelicals is the acceptance of the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the Body.
Evangelicals with the Spirit
He would know that charismatics have come from the traditional evangelical denominations and been filled with the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
They have embraced the work of the Spirit in healing, deliverance, the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, and the ongoing confirmation of the preached gospel with signs following – exactly as it was in the Book of Acts, and as God intended.
These are all scriptural ministries. Any spirit-filled, Bible believing Christian who can rightly divide the Word of God could walk Ahlheim and Hall through the basics of the ministry of the Holy Spirit since Jesus ascended.
The writers at Pulpit & Pen and their supporting blogs such as Pirate Christian Radio and the Churchwatcher sites have embraced cessationism and promote it as if it is gospel. But there is not a shred of Biblical evidence for cessationism.
As its name implies, cessationism claims that the Holy Spirit has ceased from the works He displayed during the early New Testament era, especially through the ministry of Christ, His Apostles, and the burgeoning Church of the Book of Acts.
No evidence or scripture
Cessationists say that the Holy Spirit gradually ceased doing what the Word says He does in the New Testament, and stopped altogether sometime around when the canon of scripture was formed, which, arguably, would have been around the fifth century after Christ, although, for Calvinists, it wasn’t confirmed until the 17th century in the Westminster Confession.
There is absolutely no scripture to even suggest that the ratification of the canon of scripture replaced the work of the Spirit. In fact, the canon speaks about the ongoing work of the Spirit.
In their unbelief they have formed a doctrinal stance that is at odds with scripture, which, in fact, if they could only open their spiritual eyes and see it, teaches a great deal about the work of the Holy Spirit in, through and with the Body of Christ. This has never ended. The Holy Spirit is the same Holy Spirit that filled Christ, and filled the believers in the early Church.
He fills us still today, and His works are still with us… because they are His works. The manifestations are still with us… because they are His manifestations. The gifts are still with us…because they are His gifts. He is showing Himself to be in, with and upon the Church.
He is with us, in and upon us, according to scripture. This was the promise made by Christ to all believers. And He is the same today as He ever was. And will be the same until Jesus comes for the Church.
Ahlheim’s claim that charismatics are as evil as Daesh is an indictment on his own attitude towards godly men and women who simply see the work of the Spirit in a different light to the writers at Pulpit & Pen.
Ahlheim, showing his ignorance, continues…
‘The movement, itself barely a hundred years old since its Azusa Street inception in 1906, has swiftly entered into historically orthodox denominations that, during the movement’s infancy, declared it fanatical, excessive, and heretical.’
Of course, Azusa Street was the beginning not of the charismatic move, but of the Pentecostal move, which is a different stream altogether.
Pentecostals have their own doctrines and teachings and are not the same as charismatics in that they were not of traditional evangelical denominations, but rather formed what became the Pentecostal move, coming out of the holiness churches of the late 19th century, and hungry to know more about the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit, especially the baptism with the Spirit.
Charismatics are still lagging behind the Pentecostals in many aspects of their doctrine of the Spirit. They are still quite experimental in many ways, which is the root of some of the controversy surrounding their practices at times. Their origins can be traced to the conclusion of what was known as the Healing Revivals of the 1940s and 50s, and were really commenced in the 1960s and 70s. During the 70s the move impacted many in the Catholic Church.
Just because Ahlheim throws around emotive terms like ‘heretical’, ‘fanatical’, and ‘excessive’ doesn’t make anything he says right. That is simply hyperbole, something Pulpit & Pen writers are prone to lean on for effect, adding strong and harsh assessments to be more striking in their prosaic attempts at criticism. Throwing a few adjectives around doesn’t make for a sound critique. In fact, it could be said that they are far more excessive, fanatical and heretical in their outlook than those they accuse.
Ahlheim, of course, has not a shred of evidence to support his claim that charismatics are in any way as evil as Daesh. He bases his assumption on his own presumption. He thinks the Holy Spirit has ceased His work, therefore he believes everyone should agree with him, and anyone who doesn’t must, therefore, be an evil demonised heretic sending people to the Lake of Fire and eternal torment.
This logic is excruciatingly juvenile. It is unbiblical and divisive. It is also plain wrong.
The Holy Spirit is that Spirit promised by Christ to be another just like Him that He would send from the Father to the Church so that we could experience and live by the fulness of the Godhead in this time in this earth in this ministry through the Holy Spirit and Word of God.
There is more to come from this and other pieces written by Ahlheim, but suffice to say that he has well and truly overstepped the mark in his assault on charismatics.
Fortunately Jesus taught us how to turn the other cheek, so, despite pointing out Ahlheim’s error, we can walk on in the Spirit and enjoy the wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and ministries as He shows Himself mighty on behalf of the Church again and again.
Praise God for His love and mercy.