Yesterday, we annihilated Rome’s rejection of Sola Scriptura by her appeal to “Tradition”. Today I would like to show how her appeal to Tradition is almost exactly mirrored in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. Though I realize how offensive this proposition might seem to many, as one who has labored in Gospel ministry for many years, I feel it incumbent upon me to speak the truth in this matter. Upon Augustine’s conversion to Christianity, he expended a great deal of energy refuting the Manichaeism he was once an adherent of. Likewise, as one who was formerly beguiled by the Pentecostalist arguments, I feel compelled to refute them. I do this, not to soothe my own conscience or to reassure myself as to the rightness of my rejection of said doctrines, but in the hopes that others, who were duped like I was, will see the truth and return to the position of the Reformation.
Yesterday I presented and refuted Rome’s appeals to history and Tradition. Today I will attempt to demonstrate how this appeal is mirrored in the way Pentecostals and Charismatics argue for their continuing revelation by means of Tongues and prophecies.
We noted previously that it is a mistake to think that the difference between Protestants and Rome is that we believe in the Scripture alone, while Rome believes in Scripture plus Tradition. Rome places both Scripture and Tradition under the feet of the papacy. Both are subject to the supposed infallibility of her Pope. There is no basis for this in Scripture. There is not the least suggestion in the Bible that peculiar authority of Christ’s Apostles would ever be handed on to anyone else.
In case any should suspect that I have gone too far afield in debunking the papal appeal to Tradition in an attempt to link it to the Charismatic movement, I assure I did not go off on a tangent. The Romish appeal to Tradition produces in her at least four errors which appear virtually unchanged in Pentecostal and Charismatic teaching.
1. Scripture does not even hint at a continuing Apostolate. Rome considers the Pope to be the successor of Peter, thus making, at least Peter’s apostolate, continual. Charismatics are now, like Rome, asserting a continuing ministry of Apostles. In Acts, however, when Judas Iscariot was to be replaced as an Apostle, the condition of Apostleship was physical presence with Christ from the time of His baptism until His ascension. Even at that early date, only two men fit the bill. Matthias was chosen. So unless Joseph “Barsabas” Justus is still alive, there is no living human being, now or ever, who can be added to the number of the Apostles.
2. Rome believes that the oral message originally spoken by Christ and His Apostles was far more extensive than the written message that is contained in the Bible. In actual substance, this is indistinguishable from John Wimber’s infamous refrain that God is a lot bigger than His Word. This is the whole basis undergirding for all messages of so-called prophecy or Tongues. God is allowed to expand on what He has already revealed, thus the body of revelation, to borrow Vatican II’s words, is developing. The appeal to a dream, vision, or mystical experience as a conveying instrument of God’s truth is in no significant way different than the Romish appeal to unwritten tradition.
3. Continuation of the revelatory sign gifts has always been a distinctive Papist belief. B.B. Warfield wrote, “Pretensions by any class of men to the possession and use of miraculous powers as a permanent endowment are, within the limits of the Christian Church, a specialty of Roman Catholicism. Denial of these pretensions is part of the protest by virtue of which we are called Protestants.”
Medieval Catholic mystics had visions which have been given the stamp of papal authority. Many of these visions lead to teachings that are virtually indistinguishable from Hindu pantheism. We now have Pentecostals and Charismatic having visions in which they claim to speak personally with the risen Christ. Kenneth Copeland claims to have had a vision in which Christ told him personally, “I never claimed to be God.” Benny Hinn has claimed to see Jesus’ actual footprints in the carpet of his bedroom, when Scripture definitively asserts that Christ will remain in heaven until the consummation.
4. Benny Hinn’s fascination with the grave of Kathryn Kuhlman rivals any piece of relic worship from the Middle Ages. Many Charismatic ministries send their supporters water from Galilee and other relics from the Holy Land.
I have in a previous post referred to Pentecostalism as ‘closet popery.’ I fear that the only reason that the term ‘closet’ is applicable is because most modern Christian are ignorant of the Gospel truths for which our Protestant forbearers lived and died. If the vile blasphemy of the Mass were known to the generality of Christians today, Benny Hinn would have been laughed off TV when he stated that when we take communion we are ingesting the actual body and blood of Christ.
Before I wrap this post up, I should also note that, at bottom, Rome’s theology of salvation is Pelagian. Much of what passes for Evangelical soteriology is equally Pelagian. This can be seen most clearly in all forms of Arminianism. Augustus Toplady, author of the hymn Rock of Ages, called Arminianism the “road to Rome.” The obsession with “free-will” that plagues Arminianism can be seen in Erasmus, whom Luther confuted in his Bondage of the Will. Water does not rise higher than its source. If you start out with Romish presuppositions, don’t be surprised when you come to Romish conclusions too.
Let us hold fast to Scripture and not be turned aside from the simplicity of the Gospel. Let us always “Remember the Alamo” of the Reformation. Never let our stance against apostate Rome, and all apostate churches ever soften or grow slack.