Monday, November 15, 2004

Winsome Indeed – The Importance of Theology!!

Winsome Indeed – The Importance of Theology!!

I almost want to retract my post on the KC Prophetic Movement. I hate the spirit of criticism. If we are to criticize another community of faith, we must do so with tears of love for our brothers and sisters. The elder brother was filled with disgust. The Pharisees were filled with disgust. Disgust for another person is in itself morally repugnant. I do not blog politics and I did, but shouldn’t, blog criticism. So I have decided to blog on a positive note and answer the question, “What does a healthy marriage of evangelical theology and Charismatic experience look like?”

Winsome Indeed – Theology IS Important!!!
Though I am going to take a long route to say it, my point here is going to be two-fold.
To walk the fine line between dead evangelicalism and charismania and find vital Christianity, we must:
1. Know our Theology. By theology I mean the very subtle arguments that have gone on in church history over such issues as the atonement, the Trinity, God’s sovereignty, Justification by faith alone, the five solas….To walk the fine line, you must come out of your theological studies with a strong reformed, historic evangelicalism. Respect the theology of the great church leaders of history.
2. You must know your church history!! For example, Jonathan Edwards struggled with the same practical pastoral problems that the church is going through today. He is a great teacher to help us separate the bad from the good, vital Christianity from fanaticism.

That being said: I am going to post what I wrote last night.

What could have been. What is Third Wave?
It was with great trepidation that I wrote my first installment regarding the errors of the KC Prophetic Movement. Some of my dearest friends, people I have prayed for many, many times, hold the leaders in KC in the highest regard. These people are precious brothers and sisters in the Lord. But I as a pastor, I believe that to see the root cause of some harmful practices and theologies can help all of us grow in our quest for holiness and in our unity. The heart of God is love and the purpose of all correction is to heal and bless. My motivation is to help people embrace the historic faith which includes a positive view of experience yet avoids fanaticism.

Often on the radio or maybe on TV, I hear a person criticize another church community. Often, I have been a member of the community which is being criticized. My response is always the same. When church critics have criticized communities I have been involved in, I become acutely aware that this man doesn’t understand our hearts or our passion and loves for the Kingdom. From such experiences, I have learned to never criticize unless you have done your anthropology and loved a people like Christ loved us. He dwelt with us and loved us and certainly the gap between His love for God and ours or His wisdom and ours is greater the gap between our insight and the one’s we criticize. Nonetheless, Jesus still puts up with my nonsense and my ignorance and is gracious. Jesus still calls me His bride. Therefore, we must never make judgments about people’s hearts or their love for our mutual Savior. This being said, I do think it is valuable to see the subtle errors in thinking that can undermine our own pursuit of sanctification and Moral Beauty. If there is any value in criticism it is in our humble willingness to apply similar criticism to oursleves.

Some Very Important Distinctions- A Review of History
The Kansas City prophetic movement is not the third wave. In the early 80’s, C. Peter Wagner, a missiologist from Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote on the history of missions in the 20th Century. Wagner wrote that the first great wave of 20th Century missions happened as a result of the revival at Azusa Street in the early part of the century. This move of God gave birth to many new denominations known as Pentecostalism and included I believe the second big wave of revivalism in the 1950’s which gave birth to evangelists like Oral Roberts and the later rain movement. But all of these denominations and their offshoots are in culture and roots first wave. The second wave was seen as the renewal movement within the mainline charismatic churches. Wagner saw the incredible number of Pentecostal (first wave) and charismatic (second wave) believers in the world as a great move of the Holy Spirit. The third wave was seen as the embrace of the charismatic gifts, especially healing, and experiential worship by evangelicals. This third wave was seen as very different in character from the first two waves. Characteristics of the third wave include a very low tolerance for hype and emotionalism.

The greatest difference between the third wave and the other Pentecostal and charismatic “waves” is in the Third Waves view of sanctification.


I know that all sorts of problems have developed since the early 80's. That is the point. !! Case in point "C. Peter Wagner". What Peter Wagner is doing now is the opposite of what the Lord was doing in the early and mid- 80's in the Vineyard. The goal of the early Vineyard was a healthy marriage of evangelicalism and experiential worship and healing.

The model of the third wave was the Vineyard led by John Wimber, who was a friend of Wagner’s while at Fuller. John Wimber was very NOT Pentecostal. John was very self-depreciating and humble in his approach to ministry. He would say he was just a fat man going to heaven or would readily admit a mistake. At the same time, Wimber loved the whole church or as he would say “God loves the whole church smells and bells and all”. There was no elitism in the DNA of the Vineyard. The core of this humility was the emphasis on worship. Worship keeps our hearts God-centered. This God-centeredness was deep in the culture of the Vineyard. God was big, and we were small. This culture is Calvinism in practice. In my early days, I used to say, “I don’t care if you are Calvinist in doctrine just be Calvinist in practice and in worship.” I say all this to help the reader realize that the Vineyard and the legacy of John Wimber is not the KC Prophetic Movement. I obviously have great affection for the Vineyard and all it was before the KC Prophetic Movement came, and I desire to make the distinction clear.

When I used to say, "I don't care about your theology, it is your practice that matters", I WAS WRONG. That is what people are saying still today in the Emerging Church. "It is all about practice not theology!!" This is wrong. In the early third wave, it is precisely a lack of close attention to the theology of sanctification that allowed the errors in. In future posts, I am going to articulate the evangelical view of sanctification. Errors are very subtle and require deep thought and good theology. So be patient.

I am going to return to my former blog pattern of working through the life of prayer, and as I feel I have something to say on a proper view of sanctification, I will post under the heading of
"Winsome Indeed"

God Bless,

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