Spirit Week: Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction?

What foray into the future and integration of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements would be complete without revisiting the one of the most popular series ever on my blog? This is the post that started it all, inspiring a four-part interview with arguably the most controversial contemporary charismatic minister, John Crowder. It’s worth noting that Crowder’s ministry has evolved since 2008, and that he’s recently released two new books reflecting this: Mystical Union & Seven Spirits Burning. And now, without further ado…

What in the name of Pete & Kester is going on? Avant-garde “Holy Ghost house parties” filled with dancing, drinking shots of blessed holy water, and getting “stoned in the Spirit.” Pop cultural references – both muted and obvious – to Cheech & Chong, and Talladega Nights from the pulpit…er, the dance floor in which the speakers convert staid sanctuaries into the threshing floor for something quite different.

So what am I describing? A bleeding-edge European emerging church, like iKon or Moot or Vaux? An alt.worship collective? Perhaps the postmodern revivalist Church Basement Road Show?


It’s John Crowder, occasionally joined by his friend Ben Dunn, provoking their native charismatic milieu and (it would seem) making more than a few emerging types squirm while they’re at it.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. See how a couple of these strike you. The first one, from a meeting with John and Ben:

Now this one, which I think they would see as a ‘prophetic satire’:

Whaddaya think? Steve Knight, in his post The New Charismatics? sums up what I think is a typical (and for him as a non-charismatic, quite generous) take on all this:

“I’d like to introduce you to John Crowder. I’m tempted to describe this guy as an “Emergent” pentecostal…[he] represent[s] a stream of Christianity that I, frankly, have very little experience or contact with: the charismatic, speaking in tongues, no-holds-barred, barking like a dog “in the Spirit” stream…The Crowders’ tagline, “a postmodern prophetic ministry,” is another emergent connection that I find intriguing (although I’m not exactly sure what is “postmodern” about the Crowders’ ministry)…John Crowder literally acts “high on Jesus,” laughing awkwardly and squinting as if his eyes have become dilated, etc. At one point, he says he’s “possessed by joy.” One has to wonder if he isn’t “possessed” indeed…As an emergent Christian, the last thing I want to do is put God in a box and say, “God can’t operate this way.” So instead, I’m simply asking some questions (as good emergents do): “Does God really operate this way?” Or rather, “Why would God operate this way?”

Excellent question, Steve! And I’ll confess: The videos made me – a long-time (post?)charismatic – a little uncomfortable too. But more on that next post. Today, I want to examine what I think could be a bit of unintentional emergent snobbery, as well as put out a (de)constructive way to look at the ‘bizarre creative miracles’ of Crowder & Dunn.

First let me say that I’ve never met John Crowder before, though my friends at Destiny Image published his 2006 book The New Mystics. As a wannabe contemplative, I agree with Carl McColman that this book is an intriguing offering by a fiery charismatic guy looking at a sweep of church history oft-ignored by many Protestant and Evangelical types: the mystics of the church, and their contribution to vibrant Christian spirituality. (He also spends considerable time with Pentecostal/charismatic history, including the controversial Voice of Healing revivals of the 1950s and 60s, whose mantle folks like Crowder and Bentley claim) Crowder’s sweeping, journalistic style makes The New Mystics a good read. And though it might seem to some who read this book that Crowder has strayed far from the contemplative/discernment insights that he expounded in his own book (ie, his saying “I used to have a teaching gift. Now I have a good gift of being struck mute in the middle of a service.”), I think that’s too simplistic a read on him. He still believes in mystical maturity, and coherent teaching, as this segment attests:

So what do we make of ‘tokin’ the Ghost’ and ‘redeeming drug culture for Jesus’? Personally, I think that we emergent types could very easily look down our noses at all this unfairly. In other words, if something this bizarre happened at iKon with a note of irony, we’d be applauding it. But if it happens with our (by our lights) theologically un-enlightened cousins, with apparent seriousness, we’re up in arms. Not that we shouldn’t be curious and express concern if that’s our honest reaction–but what if we’re not giving God enough credit as an actor in this Vaudevillian drama?

As my buddy Spencer likes to ask, what if (that’s really the only part of this sentence that’s a Burke quote) this is actually the Holy Spirit deconstructing Pentecostalism?!

Think of it this way: At its most rancorous, the “Spirit-filled” world has been comprised of sideshow entertainers and hucksters, memorialized in pop culture by everything from The Grapes of Wrath to Robert Duvall’s The Apostle to this:

But even The Apostle is from the 1990s; because this big-tent-revival worship style is from a bygone era, it’s recently attained its own level of collective non-scrutiny (read: polite boredom) by the culture at large. And among the faithful, once-controversial styles and practices have gained the respectability (and the accompanying non-reflection) that comes with time.

So enter the 21st century, when twenty-something DIY charismatics (and the charismatic movement is always its most luminescent when it’s DIY) start appropriating a 1990s “drunk in the Spirit” Toronto-esque spirituality with aspects of contemporary culture (as opposed to early 20th-century culture) thrown in for good measure! So instead of the circus and the theater being the cultural scaffolding on which a move of the Spirit is built, we have Punk’d, SNL, party culture and Talladehga Nights. The result is a praxis of the intoxicating beauty and presence of God being available via an interaction of holy imagination, in which one tokes a baby Jesus figurine, does shots of “Godka,” or drops (invisible, but apparently potent) “‘taste & see’ tabs” on your tongue.

Absurdity? Blasphemy? Charlatanry? Maybe. But people who operate in ‘the prophetic’ are sometimes inspired to do bizarre, demonstrative, symbolic gestures to become living parables, are they not? Ezekiel was called to cook meals over human feces (he managed to bargain God down to animal dung to be a tad more kosher) Getting naked was the order of the day for Isaiah, Micah, and Saul–how would that fly in church? Jeremiah yoked himself up to a cart like a mule. Hosea married a sex worker to make a point. Even Jesus would engage in behavior that gave him the rep of being “a prophet like one of the old prophets.” (Mark 6:15) While I’m not ready to say “Pass the Jehovah-juana” yet (I’m not the only one), Dunn & Crowder’s outré style doesn’t inherently short circuit my spirituality or my praxis.

To look at the ’emergent snobbery’ idea from another lens: Most emerging folks I know are all about creativity and the arts in worship gatherings. But while for us it might look like something carefully planned – or at least a stage set – charismatics are masters of the impromptu (even if it becomes a learned impromptu over time, and is always poured into a certain cultural wineskin). Further, a staple of radical charismatic culture from way back (at least from the ’90s, maybe before, I dunno) is “offending the religious spirit,” at least in rhetoric if not reality. So Dunn and Crowder, they seem actually creative, and actually offensive.

Crowder 1But does the emporer have any clothes, you ask? Perhaps you didn’t think that speaking in tongues could involve inonations ob-la-dee, ob-la-da. Well, here’s where deliberate creativity and spontaneity could be playing with each other in the Spirit. I have no argument for the idea that some of their altered states are put-ons. But if we’re honest, isn’t much of our spirituality ‘fake it ’till you make it’? They could be pre-empting being ‘stoned in the Spirit,’ but that could be the catalyst to truly enter into that state. I think intention creates actuality many times. It might be too postmodern of me, but I think that, when it comes to spiritual manifestations, what we expect/act out of ends up being made real in our midst–for better or worse. It’s how spirituality is activated.

I have a genuine affection for the charismatic church of my youth. And I long to see a de-cultured, re-cultured (post)charismatic expression firmly situated in the web of emergent spirituality. I care very little for the culture, but along with Jamie Smith I love the core theopraxis assertion: That God the Spirit is integrally involved in all reality, and is intimately stirring in our midst, here and now, in each unfolding moment. I think that even as we are entering a milieu beyond classical theism and its untenable dictates, we are simultaneously plunged into the powers of God’s new covenant world, spiritual enablings that the first-century sign-gifts were but a foretaste of. (Yes, this is an eschatological assertion) Not only am I not a cessationist, but I think we’re in an era of unparalleled possibility with regards to co-creating a new world with God, based on God’s good dream for the cosmos enabled by the amazing grace radiated from Christ.

But before we get to working with God’s 4-D Renaissance paintbrushes, we need to grow tired of the tinker-toys and the paint-by-numbers kits. To this end of (wholly) spirited deconstruction, I think that Ruah Hakodesh might well be using the John Crowders and Ben Dunns (and who knows? Lakelands and Todd Bentleys) of the world to explore, in a playful way, the potentials and limitations of the Pentecostal/charismatic experience.

At least, these are my thoughts at the moment, subject to change. But lest you think that I’ve chucked True Discernment™ and common sense for some undergrad literary-criticism approach to the spiritual health and vitality of roughly half of the planet’s Christians (yeah, about 1 billion globally are either charismatic or Pentecostal or both), I will air three concerns I have about Holy Ghost House Parties, next post. But for now, what do you make of all this?

I leave you with this final music video, from nu-charismatic artist T.R. Post, his new album “Chill & Refill.” I have to confess I can’t stop watching:

Related blog roundup spanning the gamut of opinion:

Our Tall Skinny Kiwi Goes into it thrice, invoking yours truly on this last one. (Thanx for the love, Andrew!)

Be A Forerunner

Lyle B. Phillips – Heaven’s Snozberry Juice

Available Light thinks we shouldn’t even watch the stuff

Jesse Kade gets stoned in the Spirit

The Wittenburg Door is not pleased, and self-identifies as the “non-emergent Old Fart church.”

Robby Mac Mr. Post-Charismatic himself

Ed Cyzewski favorably explores the Biblical roots of revival

Oregon Mountaineer makes hay about El-Shaddai’s alleged breasts

Kingdom Grace is gracious as always

Brother Maynard Asks But Is It Revival?

Steve Knight, who kicked all this off, offers some additional thoughts via Emergent Village

…and Cynthia Clack reminisces from her Holy Spirit glory days but also raises some interesting questions regarding the power of suggestion, something I might get into next post.

This was originally posted on May 27, 2008 – and sparked off a quite intriguing conversation. More to come…

62 Responses to Spirit Week: Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction?

  1. andrew May 27, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    nice post, mike

  2. andrew May 27, 2008 at 4:29 pm #

    sorry – i should say more.

    yes – i am sure this is some emergent snobbery mixed in with discernment and taste and also a little aftertaste from the toronto and howard-browne meetings (how much money did you guys give to Rodney?)

    which is another way to say “nice post, mike”

  3. Jason May 27, 2008 at 5:28 pm #

    I’ve been to Toronto a few times and dozen renewal meetings in episcopal churches where there was much dancing, singing, laughing, repenting, prophetic utterances and the like. I’ve seen clear and pure moves of God in meetings and true prophecy and manifestations. I’ve seen people mimicking in a desperate attempt to experience “the glory”.
    In my experinence in Toronto and elsewhere this is frowned upon and clearly expressed from the pulpit that excess is not spiritual but carnal. I suppose that term is as open to interpetation as “decent and in order”. Some would see laughing at all as out of control.
    Sadly things did go on a decade ago that both John and Carol Arrnot have recognized as not good. I’ve been in small meeting with John where He and I discussed the learning curve. Frankly, if such a wind were to blow through Raleigh North Carolina or Canton Ohio we’d probably miss the boat as well.

    Why do we think that moves of God only happen in a perfect place with perfect people who understand all things and are totally Christ like? I don’t see that in Acts 2 or really anywhere in the NT. Corinth anyone????

    Furthermore, I’ve read a great deal of mystics in many traditions and I’ve found very little that I feel is redeemable. How is chasing a inward non-experince any different that chasing an outward MANIFESTATION? As is noted in 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity most group outside the IC and most if not all Christian mystics also moved in the power of the Spirit…including laughing…levitation…talking to animals. We can take any true thing of God and make it fleshly and man centered.

    This is not to make excuses for excess and ignorance. Nor is it to gloss over the disturbing nature of John Crowder and the hyper charismatics. I however do not want to generalize and lump him or his cohorts into the same boat as others.

    Lastly, why do we need to seperate the mind, the emotions, the will, and the spirit of a person? Sure the soul and spirit are traditionally viewed as two seperate parts but did Jesus not command for us to love God with all our being? Even our bodies (i.e. sinning against the body = fornication and the like)

    Body= Personal holiness and tangible compassion. Giving a cup of cold water. Fasting. Giving someone a hug. Lifting your hands. Clumping…well maybe not that.

    Will=Action…social justice…”ministry”. You can’t do unless your willing

    Mind=The renewed mind viewing self/others/God as He does. Seeking truth and having wisdom.

    Feelings=Holy emotions

    Spirit= The part that is one with Christ. Christ by the Holy Spirit governing the soul and the body

    The real meaning behind being “filled with the Spirit” is for the Spirit to indwell and govern your innermost personality.

    God is mystical and practical. Intangible and tangible. A mystery that is revealed. A manifest invisible God who can be seen. God is.

    • Matthew June 19, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

      hey, can I repost some of the statements you made here? specifically in this order:
      “How is chasing an inward non-experince any different that chasing an outward MANIFESTATION? God is mystical and practical. Intangible and tangible. A mystery that is revealed. A manifest invisible God who can be seen. God is.” – from blog comment by Jason (last name?)
      at “Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction?”
      unless you wrote this elsewhere. I loved the wording of what you said. I have long believed in the distinction between hiddenness and manifestation. I’m still processing all of this, but I like what you said.

  4. becky May 27, 2008 at 5:31 pm #

    Having seen the Charismatic church movement infuse portions of the Episcopal Church, I see the beauty. Having seen this same movement take a hard turn to the right, I see the warning signs. As the Apostle Paul points out repeatedly, we need to discern the spirit or else we start following some fundy fanatic or spouting New Thought nefarious nonsense. I will say this as a satirist – anyone who engages in really out there performance art (especially if it comes off cheesy like Crowder) is liable to become Door fodder. Bex

  5. natrimony May 27, 2008 at 5:59 pm #

    O.K. ‘zoecarnate’ is it?

    Long post. O.K. I’ll bite. John Crowder’s shtick is good for a few laughs–until you figure out that he’s really serious about toking the Ghost. I’d rather hang out with an honest pot-head than someone who claims that they get high off of smoking Baby Jesus figurines.

    Bentley is another matter. Somehow he’s gained Charismatic poster boy of the year status. I guess they had to pick someone right?

    Listen, I know that God can call people to do strange stuff. But, strange is one thing–showmanship is another. Todd Bentley isn’t doing anything different than the standard radical Charismatic revivalistic model which William Branham popularized in the mid 20th century. He’s basically Benny Hinn with tats and a Myspace page. I don’t believe God gave us commonsense for no reason. I long for revival. But I can’t check my brain at the entranceway to the brouhaha in Lakeland. And, I don’t think that I have to.

  6. markvans May 27, 2008 at 6:47 pm #

    Great stuff. I’m hoping that more and more emerging types begin to discuss Charismatic stuff in a serious way. Maybe it takes stuff like this and Lakeland happening to get our attention.

    I came into the faith through a Charismatic church. I still think of myself as a charismatic (or at least a post-charismatic). While I place myself primarily within the Anabaptist tradition, there is HUGE overlap between Anabaptism and the Charismatic movement. I still pray in tongues. I sometimes get “words.” And my prayer life, still has elements of the mystical.

    But I struggle. Because Charismatic culture is all-too-often so DAMNED cheesy and unreflective. It is filled with thoughtless cliches, unchallenged assumptions, Scriptural manglements, and personality driven movements.

    On top of that, my experiences with the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements tells me that they are all-too-often theologically inconsistent. Which is easy for them to be, since their anti-intellectualism makes them ripe for sloppy thinking and deception.

    But I still call myself a charismatic (if pressed) because I affirm with my whole heart the conviction that the Spirit is still active, still does the same stuff that s/he did in the Bible, and that the Church is only healthy when its members diversely manifest the Spirit in community.

    For some reason, I find myself being a snob to this, my home tribe. But I get angry when non-Charismatics are snobby. Why? Because so much of what the emerging church needs to learn these days, they are only likely to learn from Pentecostals and Charismatics. Like how to experience the Spirit. Like how to connect with lower economic classes and ethnic diversity. Like how to empower women in ministry. In all of these areas Pentecostals and Charismatics have much to teach. Even if they don’t do it intellectually.

    While Emergent types are getting hot and bothered about Continental Philosophy, the West is seeing an influx of 2/3 world immigration (and Pentecostalism does well in the 2/3 world). And as we move from certainty to mystery, we need to embrace a more mystical, Spirit-centered, approach. And the last time I looked, the largest Christian mystical tradition in the world is the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement. Especially among Protestants.

    • Joan Ball November 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

      This comment points to what I believe is one of the biggest challenges facing the American church today. Emergent stuff, charismatic culture, Pentacostalism, mystic christian tradition…these delineations that are assumed by those who grew up in the church create divisions that do not exist in the Biblical texts. As an outsider with no Christian tribe who came to faith as an adult I have never struggled with the notion that all of this may be “right” even when it contradicts itself. That is the very nature of the Bible…all right even though it all contradicts itself. Now I get a lifetime to pursue the mystery of what that means and how I am meant to amend myself to understand it further.

  7. Bill Kinnon May 27, 2008 at 6:57 pm #

    Who you calling emerging? 🙂 Submerging would be more like it.

    Good post, Mike. Even if I’m inclined to be a lot harsher. But. Then again, I live 60 feet from a church that’s been effectively destroyed by the “Toronto Blessing”… in Toronto, no less. And, I say this as a post-charismatic – who believes the Holy Spirit is alive, well and moving.

    I’d be with Natrimony on this.

  8. Micah May 27, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    Hey Mike,

    I think that this is an interesting thing here. On one hand.. I bet many of these folks are having a great time, and probably a genuine experience of the Lord in doing this… I think though what it reminds me the most of is what I was reading in the Irresistible Revolution last night..

    “So we do as we do in our culture. I thought perhaps I needed to buy more stuff. Luckily, I found an entire Christian industrial complex ready to help with Christian music, bumper stickers, T-Shirts and even candy. They had a list of bands and the Christian alternatives to them.”

    I think that the leadership of a largely irrelevant church is so freaked out about losing the youth that they feel the need to go to any lengths to hold on. “Well, if the youth like to go to clubs and house parties.. lets have a CHRISTAIN house party.. if they like to smoke weed and get drunk.. let’s show them how Jesus can actually get you high. This reminds me of someone I know who is so desperate that her five year old accepts Jesus, she renames all of the child’s treasured possessions Jesus. Barbie is Jesus. Unicorn is Jesus.

    I am not disturbed the “freedom” and the odd associations.. I think I’ve told you a couple of times that I find “being in the spirit” a very similar experience to being intoxicated. What disturbs me is the repackaging of the world, and it’s way as Christ in order to keep youth interested. I guess my question is, What did Christ have to offer? Did he offer the same culture and “ways of the world” repackaged and relabeled? Or did he offer an entirely new way of life, and an entirely new way of looking at and interacting with the world around us?

    I also offer a challenge to the idea that there is anything wrong with going out dancing, or enjoying a glass of wine, and wonder why we would feel the need to try and co-opt and replace those things with a “Get high on Jesus” T-Shirt? If we cease to look at the world around us as something that we need to flee, and the Church as a way to cloister ourselves, but look at everything and everyone as an opportunity to experience and express Christ.. well I wonder if this would even happen?

    So I guess I’m making somewhat of a contradictory statement, but it makes sense to me:

    a) I think it’s weird, creepy, and a sign of total misunderstanding and irrelevance that the church needs needs to have Christian house parties and the like.

    b) As long as one continues to follow Christ and put him first.. is there anything wrong with going to a “normal” house party or whatever the church is trying to keep youth from?

    Anyways. That is my snobby critique of these guys. 🙂 I do thing though.. that there is something genuine of the Lord happening among some, maybe all of these people. Though my instincts would say that this is more of an example of God meeting us on our terms, rather than we meeting God on his terms.

    Any how.


  9. Micah May 27, 2008 at 9:29 pm #

    Also, for what it’s worth.. were this happening in an Emerging setting.. I think I would hold the same opinion.

  10. Gunnar May 27, 2008 at 11:31 pm #

    On the first video, when I saw the invitation for us to be ‘suckling at the breast of God,’, that made me laugh pretty hard. I have no opinion on it, but I have never heard THAT, and it caught me off guard.

  11. Steve K. May 28, 2008 at 12:24 am #

    Great post, Mike. Thanks for ruminating on this a bit further and putting your thoughts together for us. I was really hoping that by “kicking things off” with my (hopefully) playful, (mostly) tongue-in-cheek post that others would pick up on my sincere questions and take it the next step further — which you, and others, have done brilliantly. I’m just lucky to be the recipient of your intelligent (and Spirit-filled!) analysis.

    And I know that as you are calling some of us out for “emergent snobbery” (“elitism”?) that you are doing this in a loving, playful way as well, which I appreciate. As much as I love the emerging church conversation/movement and the Emergent Village community in particular, it has concerned me that there seems to be very limited interaction with our Pentecostal brothers and sisters — which, as has been pointed out, make up a large portion of the global Church. So I’m glad this extreme stuff (of John Crowder, Ben Dunn, Todd Bentley, etc.) is stirring the pot and causing us to be challenged and reimagine our own trinitarian theology (and how big or small the Holy Spirit is in it).

    I would just reaffirm what Tony wrote in “The New Christians” about the importance of the Holy Spirit and encourage others to read that and to pray for those of us who would confess “the spirit is willing [to be open to the movements of The Holy Spirit] but the flesh is weak.”

  12. natrimony May 28, 2008 at 12:53 am #

    Steve K.,

    Sometimes the pot doesn’t need to be stirred. When you’re making gravy you don’t want to stir the fat back into the mix. You let it rise to the top. Then you can scoop off the fat, pour it into an empty green bean can, and then set it in your fridge until the next time you make gravy. When the can gets full, you throw it out.

    Reimagine our trinitarian theology? Wow. Daggum. I’ve got some real questions now. I’ll just start with one. Do you mean that it was imagined to begin with–Trinitarian theology that is?

  13. markpetersen May 28, 2008 at 3:15 am #

    Fascinating post Mike. Thanks.

    I’m with Bill Kinnon on this one (we were part of the same Toronto church he was talking about); I’d call myself post-charismatic having spent years in this kind of stuff in Latin America and Toronto. But where is service outside the community? Where is an orientation to season society as salt? How does spirituality engage with society in a meaningful way – in a way that our societies are seeking / requesting / needing?

    This whole thing is not missional, but attractional – get people in the door to have an experience – thus, I don’t think we can call it emergent pentecostalism. It’s just Benny on bennies.

  14. zoecarnate May 28, 2008 at 3:53 am #

    Benny on bennies


    Wotta line.

    Okay, I’ll interact with the rest of you fine folks tomorrow. Promise. 🙂

  15. grace May 28, 2008 at 4:20 am #

    Well said Mark.

    I know that at times the Spirit can move in ways that affect our physical state. To outsiders, it can look pretty bizarre. To insiders, it can become a quest for the experience and a habit of physically reacting (or over-reacting) to the presence of the Spirit – a kind of spiritual tourettes where normal inhibitions to outrageous behavior is suspended.

    I am not offended with manifestations, but an overemphasis on manifestations will always lead to weirdness and immaturity, not spiritual edification or growth.

    I do not understand what about Crowder and Dunn is emergent or postmodern. I certainly would not describe their behavior as prophetically symbolic. I find his overemphasis on drinking and drug references to be nothing more than sensationalism and a gimmick.

    My frustration with the “intimacy movement” is that there has not been a missional outpouring as a result of all of the soaking and seeking.

    In this regard, the emerging people have led the way in actually following what the Spirit is doing. Is there emergent snobbery about charismatic things? I am not involved enough to know.

    I do believe that there should be a bridge between the two movements and out of that the creation of a new way to view being spirit-filled and spirit-led, probably without some of the traditional charismatic markers but fully open to the supernatural aspect of the Spirit.

    To participate with God in new creation, the emerging/missional church must embrace and cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Likewise, charismatics will have to learn from the emerging church a whole new way of being the church in the world. For the most part, we have no understanding of the function of spiritual gifts apart from church meetings.

    It is time to get outside the walls. I don’t see that happening with circus tent revivals or pretending to be high on Jesus.

    Good post. I’m looking forward to the next one.

  16. johnohara May 28, 2008 at 6:42 am #

    Thanks for giving this so much reflection, Mike. I agree with Mark Vans about the potential of the pentecostal/charismatic tribe to bring spirit-sensitivity and downward mobility to the emerging church conversation.

  17. Jason May 28, 2008 at 6:47 am #

    Very interesting post, Mike.

    I have a hard time understanding what these two guys are up to outside of some savvy showmanship. Growing up in a charismatic church, my “post-charismatic” reflection tells me that something is amiss here. When things out of the “norm” happened in the Bible, there was usually a purpose that resulted in breaking down cultural norms to ultimately show others the heart of God. Making videos of people toking on a baby Jesus doll hardly fits that category.

    I believe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts was to empower people to do the works of Jesus. If I find out that tokin’ on a baby Jesus doll or yelling gibberish and calling it tongues empowers someone to go out and be the hands of feet and Jesus in such a way that it transforms their own lives and the lives of those around them, then I my reconsider what I think about these guys. But for now, it looks like shenanigans.

  18. Marla Abe May 28, 2008 at 2:21 pm #

    Wow! I only had a chance to watch part of one video…my sound system has this horrific buzzing that makes me nuts after a few minutes.
    I have been part of the charismatic movement, since I first personally encountered Jesus, more than 37 years ago.

    I have experienced that being overfilled with joy, as if I were drunk. I had to drive home, and talked to my son and daughter-in-law on the phone, because if I had no conversations, I was too drunk on God to concentrate. It was awesome. Do I need it again? I don’t think so, but if it comes it comes, and I will be glad.

    Here is my general take on these things. Youth like spiritual exploration,and especially experience. One method of rebelling against parents is to be more deeply spiritual than the parents are. I see a lot of youth/young adults who are involved in charismatic movements, but later move on and consider it an experience of a childish youth. I suspect that they often lack older mature long time charismatic leaders and friends to teach them how to live in this way, obedient to the Spirit and in line with the Bible.

    For me the biggest error the charismatic movement can make is seeking the experience, rather than the experience Giver. Just like love is not always a high, neither is our walk with Jesus. Our walk with Jesus in not based on how much emotion we feel. I am fortunate to usually have a “feeling” when the Spirit is present. But I also know that the Spirit is present when I don’t have that feeling.

    I attended worship at the big Airport Vineyard revival in Toronto. People danced and sang, and were slain in the Spirit. They also roared like animals, and had uncontrollable laughter. My two non-Charismatic friends felt the presence of the Spirit, but it was way too odd for them. I bought tapes of their preaching, and listened to them, and realized that I had wasted my money. Either the speaker started laughing and couldn’t speak, or the animal sounds drowned out his message. I realized that Paul asks us for order so that we can hear the messages of the prophets. I read later that Wimber asked them to tone it down, to get it into more order, and they almost left (or did) leave the Vineyard. Wimber said he was reluctant to close down any new manifestation of the Spirit, and would rather give it time and see what happened, what fruits emerged.

    The other issue I have with charismatics is the desire to get the
    tools…i.e. tongues, prophecies, healing, simply to have in their tool box rather than to use them. They are seen as something to acquire, rather than something to use to bring the Kingdom.

    Finally, I will never give up my charismatic roots and will encourage
    others to follow this path…but with leadership and guidance. Being
    emergent or postmodern or missional has not changed this, though the new things have deepened both my faith and understanding and love for God.

  19. Jason Aldridge May 28, 2008 at 3:12 pm #

    Mike what would western Christianity do without you? I’ve noticed that a lot of your blog responders tend to think of charismatic types as idiots in terms of theology. I think this has to do with the history and nature of the movement. That’s what it is…it’s not a uniform collective. It’s really random people from all sorts of backgrounds who’ve had an experience. I suppose that in the last 15 years the movement has crystallized into more of a denomination or umbrella term. Still the term charismatic is still very broad and by the very nature of it I doubt will see systematic theology anytime soon. As you noted the groups tend to adopt whatever theology, or retain for the most part, of the larger group the came out of.

    This movement wasn’t only low church or no church (Jesus movement) it was also high church. It’s just the places like Calvary chapel and Vineyard became wildly popular and the older denominations and mainline groups have shifted away from manifestations and oftentimes the gifts all together. So what we see is the mega churches which are mostly independent and diverse in their creeds and theology as well as practices. Just as “The Emerging Church” is very broad (despite your blog entry I still think it’s broad) and attempting to “dialogue” about it’s goals and nature in reforming society and Christian thought. Th charismatic church is trying it out s well. It is after all about 30 years old.

    What 30 year old person do you know who has life figured out? let alone a collective group of human beings? If the emergents are around 3 decades from now (I think the independence will fade as the fad does and the reforms will be integrated, most likely in charismatic of charism friendly chruches).

    As far as the bless me mentality. It’s there. But it’s also in every circle of our faith. Even emergents can be so lost on their own journey that they forget the point. In fact, the charismatic church (in some circles) sees the glorious bride as attainable this side of eternity. They thought it that we should become more like Jesus through intimacy and spiritual transform they very creation around us with the glory of God. Their is a huge heart for the poor, the environment, the lost (thought you dislike this term), and it is not all church growth centered. I think non charismatics watch TBN and think that sums us all up.

    Take a look at Winkie Pratney and his 21 Century Reformation Series

    My friend attended YWAM Tyler which is theology/experience/mission heavy. He was radically changed is is probably the most Christ like man I’ve ever met. He believes in open theism. He serves as a worship leader but believes in community (as YWAM endorses clergy-less house church) so he’s seen it work. He cares deeply about fair trade as do most YWAMers from Tyler. He is constantly reading various books of theology and he loves Brother Lawrence. He was impacted deeply by Irresistible Revolution. He moved out of the community here and back to Cleveland. He goes to a vineyard church that has open Sunday meetings where everyone participates. There are about 300 of them.

    Of my friends this man is the norm….I have lots of friends. Like Rowdy Roddy Piper said:

    “Just when you think you know the answers we change all the questions”

    Love Ya Bro

  20. steve hollinghurst May 28, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    all very interesting, and thanks for the heads up on the alt-emerging forum Mike.

    some thoughts here but i think worthy of kicking me into a blog post after a long break whilst trying to finish a book! so thanks there too.

    what i saw suggested nothing pomo or emergent but what i call the ‘translation myth’ that is the idea that if you put something in the clothes of a culture you are doing something cross-culutral. this reminds me of lots of stuff that is simply old style charismatic with a dance beat that then claims it’s pomo. this appraoch tends to beleive it’s preserving the ‘core’ of the faith, in fact translation always changes meaning. but it is also missing the reality that the properly pomo needs to enter that culture at the level of the core. it’s like the incarnation in that repsect, a translation approach is like a docetic christ, it’s just prentending to be incarnate. incarnation changes everything yet if done well always stays faithful to what it brings.

    that said i think the charismatic is very important to any faith that will resonate in today’s culture…not the cheesy culuture or the tendancy to overbearing control or ill thought theology that happen in some circles (though i am glad to say not all) but the idea of the mysrical and the miraculous. i come at this as a cross-cultural evangleist as awell as part of the whole alt-emerging scene for a good 18 years now, so perhaps have my own take. but what is ee is a great rise in interest in the mystical outside the church and i think we need to connect wiht that. indeed in the mystics and charismatics and pentecostals we have a long tradtion of this. the challenge however is to incarnate that genuinley in our culture. i think most chrarimatic churches fail to do that. equally most have a dualistic theology that means they won’t be doing what i do, wich is taking part in new Age and Pagan events as a sort of pomo christian mystic. well that’ll do for now, but good to be thinking on this.

  21. Brian May 28, 2008 at 8:13 pm #

    Looks like a lot of self-induced hysteria to me. I guess it could be fun and evoke feelings of euphoria. I’m not going to judge it other than to say it’s not for me.


  22. dave May 29, 2008 at 12:02 am #

    Good thoughts, Mike. As a graduate of Oral Roberts University, Victory Bible Institute, etc., etc., I too may be lumped in with the ‘post-charismatic’ category. I was at ORU when Rodney Howard Browne spread his ‘holy laughter’ and I come from an ordained Charismatic family. Anyway, I have always…always…been personally concerned with extreme ‘anointing’ like this. Not ‘concerned’ in the dry, institutional, looking-over-my-bifocals sort of way, but just one of those ‘it just don’t feel right’ kind of ways. However, I am not a cessationist.

    As you mentioned, Todd, John and Ben are simply carrying on a long tradition of Pentecostal fervor. By the way, I didn’t see anyone mention Katherine Kuhlmann (sp?) here. Talk about holy-ghost flamboyance…but some of the nu-Charismatic stuff puts her to shame.
    I might also mention that, while watching a recent Todd Bentley clip, he pops a guy in the belly with his knee. BAM! 😉 …This is straight out of Smith Wigglesworth’s stories. So, these nu guys are heavily influenced by their forbears…and I will also mention that Todd Bentley was ordained by a lady who says that “The angel Emma” guided her meetings. (If anyone remembers the busted gold dust phenomenon, “Emma” was behind that.)

    All this is to say that, while, once again, I am definitely not a cessationist, I will say that the placebo effect can be very powerful. And while ‘fake it til you make it’ can sometimes be advantageous, hearing many many stories about the spoiled fruit spawned by some of the forebears of these guys would make even the most flamboyant mystics and true prophets turn over in their…oh wait, they all took ‘taste-and-see tabs’ and were taken up on chariots of fire…nevermind. I’ll just stop there. Maybe I’ll write a deeper treatment elsewhere.

    Anyway, as has been said we definitely need to bring things like this into the discussion. The emerging conversation has been devoid of this facet of the diamond. THANKS!

  23. Leahs May 29, 2008 at 12:39 am #

    the pace and energy of this post are fabulous! I need to come back and read it more thoroughly, following the links, too; thanks for mentioning it in your FB status!

  24. natrimony May 29, 2008 at 11:57 pm #

    Todd Bentley is now into kicking in teeth for Christ. Here’s a video displaying all of the ruckus Bentley likes to bring to the ring when this Holy Ghost hitman comes a flyin’ off the turnbuckle.

  25. Brian June 2, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    This looks like pure silliness to me. I could see it being kind of “fun” when I was in my 20s. I guess I don’t see much harm in it (though I can’t imagine why you’d want to imitate smoking marijuana other than a conscious or subconscious desire to really smoke pot).

    I grew up in a Pentecostal church. I’ve been to my share of “charismatic” services. It’s definitely not my cup of tea. But, these “services” make the ones I’ve been too look like a meeting of the British Parliament.

    I’m not going to knock anyone for having good harmless fun- which is what this looks like to me.

  26. digitalnomad777 June 3, 2008 at 1:45 pm #

    I just want to say that I loved this post. I also love John Crowder, and have not only read his book and watched all of the videos, but I have also attended several conferences where he was speaking. It was truly an amazing experience, and I feel that John is reaching lots of people that would never be reached by the organized church. There is a lot of freedom in his message, and I would just say that if it offends you, don’t listen =)

    There are those of us who happen to ENJOY this type of teaching as some of us come from rough backgrounds and have drug history ourselves. I have found the love of Jesus to be better than crack myself, and finally found something worth investing myself in as opposed to narcotics. The good news is, that there are people out there (such as Vineyard folks…I attend a Vineyard too) that are reaching the outcasts that most people in organized church do not want anything to do with. We happen to be human beings too, and Jesus also died for us, believe it or not. Throw in the fact that I was also a practicing homosexual for over 13 years…and WOW! Jesus is really awesome to have delivered me from all of that huh?!

    Maybe we should quit being so self centered with our opinions about what other people are doing, and whether or not they are of God and just realize that Jesus might actually be reaching the people that I am too prideful to deal with through them. =) Paul said that he was “All things to all men, in order that he might save some”.

    Jesus didn’t come for the healthy, but the sick. He is still very much in the business of loving and reaching and saving the outcasts and the people that nobody else want. Even me.

    Thank you I will shut up now haha.

    Great post!

    with love,


  27. Charis June 3, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    Mike, this is such a great place, thanks so much for the invite. I identify loads with Mark Vans here though for me, being in this limbo-in-between place for so long has been paralysing.

    So nice to hear Jason Aldrige speaking from the best of the Charismatic traditions. I have always felt that many emergent folks quite likely have not experienced the more grounded and missional streams. I womder if perhaps the latter represent a higher percentage of the charismatic sector in the uk?

    Grace: “a kind of spiritual tourettes” Hey that’s good ! Like your thoughts on the need for a bridge…..I am wondering if that could hapen easiest in the pursuit of joint missional activity outside everyone’s walls.

    Markpeterson, I hear ya on the prevalence often [me:but by no means always, of the ‘not missional but attractional’ approach.

  28. Charis June 3, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    Digital, that is wonderful testimony which will give all of us pause for thought, I think…….I have always loved that quote of Paul’s about becoming all things to all men……and it does rather seem to be particularly apt here. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts like this. Perhaps it confirms part of Micah’s insights re God being willing to meet us where we are at. I must say I was tending to affirm the rest of Micah’s post more about ‘re-packaging the world’…….hmmmm BTW do you know of Jackie Pullinger’s work amongst addicts in Hong Kong ? That too has been powerfully life-changing for hundreds and was a different, charismatic approach. I would love someone with experience of both approaches to contribute. Maybe the difference is not that significant anyway ???

  29. Jason Clark June 10, 2008 at 1:54 pm #

    Great post Mike. Your email to me about this spurred me on to take some time to think about how I am going to navigate this, and respond to questions by others.

    I took a first run at it here:


  30. simplemann July 19, 2008 at 10:28 pm #

    Wow. Do people even read their Bibles any more? Todd Bentley? Toronto Blessing? Holy Laughter? Revival… of WHAT!? I cannot think of one person in the entire Bible who came face to face with God (or with a messenger of God) and did not fall on their face in complete and total fear and humility. I can think of no one being “slain in the spirit”, no “holy laughter”, no circus-antic three-ring shows like what takes place regularly in the charismatic circles or on “God TV”. But there are plenty of examples of fear and reverence, which seem sorely lacking in all these “movements of God” taking place these days.

    The closest thing I think any sane-thinking person might be able to draw on scripturally is Peter’s statement in Acts when someone accused the Galilean Christians on whom the Spirit fell (who were praising God in the languages of foreigners and which they had no prior knowledge) that the people were not drunk, it was on 9 in the morning. It does not appear that it’s because they were high as kites, slap-happy, running around barking or bocking like chickens, or generally acting like idiots. No, the text just says that they were praising God in languages they had no prior knowledge of, and that as a result several other foreigner visitors were witnessed to. That’s all.

    Someone else here mentioned the church at Corinth and the manifestations there, which is common for the charismatically inclined. However, if you read the letter of reproof Paul sent to that church, it is clear that Paul was trying to exhort them to grow beyond the completely immature level of faith they were at while dealing with many, many issues that were very disconcerting to him–while at the same time trying to rebuke and encourage them in a loving way.

    It would not be long before several of those worshipers in Corinth decided that Paul himself must have been in error, for by his second letter to them, apparently many had been influenced by false teachers spreading “new winds of doctrine” and “fresh moves of God”. Much of the second epistle to the Corinthians was obviously Paul’s tormented vindication of himself and his apostleship to this church that he himself had poured himself into. And yet, so many charismatic churches gladly–even proudly–think of themselves like Corinthians! That is mostly because they are so enamored with “spiritual gifts”, “miraculous healing”, “speaking in tongues”, and “words of prophecy”. Is it any wonder that modeling a modern church after this most “carnal” church of the New Testament often results in the exact same problems and defects?

    Wake up, people. Our flesh longs to make God some sort of ecstatic drug-like experience, but His ways are not our ways. Just as with human relations, there is such a HUGE difference between a 50-year intimate marriage and a one-night stand that it demeans the former to even compare it to the latter, so it is with a life that is truly committed to Christ compared with one of these “spirit-filled” experiences that actually have more in common with pagan rituals and experiences than anything recorded in God’s word. But just like Jesus said:

    Joh 3:19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
    Joh 3:20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
    Joh 3:21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

    For those of you who grow up watching cheesy TV in the 70s, you will recognize this reference. We are more lost today than Marshall, Will, and Holly ever were, and the sleestacks rule the world.

    Peace & Blessings,
    Simple Mann

  31. simplemann July 20, 2008 at 10:01 pm #

    markvans wrote, “the West is seeing an influx of 2/3 world immigration (and Pentecostalism does well in the 2/3 world). And as we move from certainty to mystery, we need to embrace a more mystical, Spirit-centered, approach. And the last time I looked, the largest Christian mystical tradition in the world is the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement.”

    Doesn’t that give you pause that the reason these people may be drawn to the Charismatic/Pentecostal faith is because it is the closest thing to whatever non-Christian belief system these people had already? I have attended Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, Church of Christ, Baptist, and Reformed churches, and I have to say that even though I got “swept up in the spirit of things” when attending the charismatic church services, to be quite honest the one that most resembles “the world” and appeals to “the flesh” is the Pentecostal/Charismatic church. That’s why the prosperity gospel is so popular there, and speaking in tongues and other “miraculous manifestations”; why “name it and claim it”, angelology, and other pagan/occult-influenced practices are so popular.

    I am not trying to start an argument or criticize anyone, but before Christ came and yanked me out of the pit I spent nearly five years studying world religions, estoeric systems, mysticism (of many varieties), and the like. The practices of many (I am not saying all, but certainly the majority) Pentecostal and Charismatic offshoots often has more in common with ancient or pagan mystical traditions than it does with traditional Christianity. The seeking of that mind-blowing, ecstatic “spiritual” experience–whether it be “spiritual drunkenness”, “holy laughter”, “miraculous healing”, “prophetic divination”, “speaking in tongues”, “being slain in the spirit”, or whatever you want to call it–is not at all unlike when people become enticed and chase after the ultimate “sexual” experience. Although, God would rather us love and be committed to another person in the ordinance of marriage–not just to have mind-blowing sex, but to have a much, much deeper experience where that union is just a *part* of the overall picture and not the focus or the primary objective–so it is with our spiritual union with God.

    If we are chasing after an experience that makes us feel good while neglecting the bigger picture, developing a deeper relationship with Him through His word and through obedience and commitment to Him in every area of our life, we are lost. We might have those mind-blowing experiences we seek, but they aren’t coming from God. When it comes to sex, there are many, many lost souls in this world who seek mind-blowing experiences outside of God’s ordinance–in complete sin and depravity.

    When it comes to the spiritual realm, there are just as many who do the same. They think they have experienced a move of God and that they are saved because they went to a service and flopped around like a fish and had some mystical ecstatic experience, or because the babbled incoherently and the pastor said it was “the spirit”. Quite often, this does not involve any true experience of repentance by the individual; there is no recognition of their depravity, there is no new relationship with or hatred toward their sin. Instead, the person had an experience very much like taking a drug (very similar to the mystery religions, shamanism, or other mystic traditions), experiences some sort of altered state, and based on that *experience* determines that they have experienced salvation.

    This is NOT of God, but is a deception of the evil one. And that this is one of the formative traditions that forms the foundation of the Pentecostal tradition should give anyone involved with it some reason for concern. But most often when these things are brought up by someone in the faith with genuine concern, the deceived party accuses them of trying to “quench the spirit”, or they quite commonly believe that the other “believers” who have not had the same questionable experiences they have just have not received the spirit (I refuse to capitalize that because I do not believe it is the Holy Spirit that is being “received” in most cases).

    All too often, especially since the rise of the neo-Pentecostal movement that began at the beginning of the last century, subjective experiences are use as the lens by which the individuals who have had them interpret scripture, instead of scripture providing the lens by which to interpret subjective experiences. It is obviously much easier to see that this is in error when you are not the one involved. It really does no good to discuss these things with someone in error–at least not in this type of forum. While I do know the true Spirit of Christ delivers some people from a spirit of error, it is really the work of the Holy Spirit that accomplishes this, not some part-time theologian on the Internet discussing his own subjective experiences that accomplishes anything. For what it’s worth.

    Peace & Blessings,
    Simple Mann

  32. simplemann July 22, 2008 at 12:53 pm #

    I just watched the video in this post. My earlier commments were just based on the blog and some of the responses. Now that I’ve actually seen the video, all I can say is that anybody who is too chicken-hearted to call this blasphemy needs to re-examine themselves. Read the epistle of first John.

    Do not love the world nor the things in the world.
    If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

    For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh,
    and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life,
    is not from the Father, but is from the world.

    The world is passing away, and also its lusts;
    but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
    (1 John 2:15-17)

    What you are seeing more and more with the likes of Crowder and Dunn, Bentley in Florida, all those Word of Faith charlatans, Osteen, and The Shack… these are all of the world folks, and if you can’t see that it’s because you are, too. The majesty and magnificence of God has been lost to the lost, and people with low minds defend their vain attempts at dethroning God with the weak cliche that they don’t want him in a box. The truth is you don’t want the God of the Bible, so you attempt to redefine Him as something He’s not; then you say “He’s out of the box” and now you can accept Him. You want a god you can make, not the One who makes and sustains all things with His word of power. You worship the god of this world, and he is the father of lies.

    If you really want “a word from the prophetic”, try this timely message written almost 50 years ago:

    “The church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic. This low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.

    With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper in this middle period of the twentieth century.

    This loss of the concept of majesty has come just when the forces of religion are making dramatic gains and the churches are more prosperous than at any time within the past several hundred years. But the alarming thing is that our gains are mostly external and our losses wholly internal; and since it is the quality of our religion that is affected by internal conditions, it may be that our supposed gains are but losses spread over a wider field.”
    -A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

  33. J. R. Miller July 29, 2008 at 10:18 pm #

    You might like to see this video… I am not certain, but I think it is from a recent worship set from the “tokin the baby Jesus” tour.

  34. Dylan Baker November 19, 2008 at 6:24 am #

    I was wondering what the beliefs or what the goal of emergents or emerging pentecostals are. Do emerging pentecostals believe in the complete word oF God (Bible).

  35. zoecarnate November 19, 2008 at 1:36 pm #

    Hi Dylan,

    Welcome! Probably the best place to go for an introduction of what many are calling the ’emerging church’ is right here. Then you can explore thousands of emerging church blogs, churches, and other websites on my main site.

    But briefly, in my own words…the ’emerging church conversation’ is just that – a conversation among Christians from diverse backgrounds (Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Quaker, etc…) who are seeking to know & follow God in the way of Jesus & the presence of the Holy Spirit in the twenty-first century. As you could imagine with so many conversation partners, there’s a wide variety of beliefs – I don’t think it’s really possible to name a ‘core,’ it’s more like a ‘web’ of interrelated concerns and interests.

    This doesn’t mean that individual participants just lay their beliefs & convictions aside, however. We all come from where we’re coming from, and we see this as enriching the overall conversation (& the actions that flow from it) rather than detracting. So for instance, there’s a growing presence of Pentecostals, Vineyard people, etc., participating in ‘the conversation’ – they still believe in the power & activity of the Holy Spirit, and every other distinctive you can think of – and the other conversation partners are usually quite open to this, by the way. But seeing the church in a process of holy ’emergence,’ we all (regardless of our background) question ourselves in the way we believe, and the fruit our beliefs are bearing. We try very intentionally to learn from one another – you could say we’re seeking the whole gospel (and path of sanctification or apprenticeship to Jesus) from the whole Church for the good of the whole world.

  36. dylan baker November 19, 2008 at 5:10 pm #

    I was watching some of the videos from this site and I have to be honest bro I dont think that is the Holy Spirit. I am baptised in the Holy Spirit and experience Gods presensce and speak in tongues, but those guys are making God seem whacko. If you dont mind me asking what church are they a part of and do you guys support them. what roll do those guys play in all of this.

  37. zoecarnate November 19, 2008 at 5:59 pm #

    Hi Dylan,

    John Crowder has been my guest on a series of blog entries (see the list at the top of the post), and he’s written an insightful church history book called Miracle Workers, Reformers, & The New Mystics. He’s not been officially active in any ’emerging’ conversations & I wouldn’t take him as in any way ‘normative’ of where the emergent Pentecostal folks are coming from – though they can correct me if I’m wrong. I was simply bringing attention to Crowder & Dunn’s ministry as one way to be ‘Spirit-filled’ and active in our contemporary context, though certainly not the only way.

  38. Orla August 14, 2009 at 6:13 am #

    I’ve been researching John Crowder for a couple of days now, trying to figure out exactly where this guy is coming from. On paper, he reads as a fairly together guy. But all those youtube vids? Crazy shiz like that makes me want to run a mile. And this is the reaction of someone whose feet are quite firmly planted in the liberal camp. I don’t have issues with unusual manifestations. What I do take issue with is hype. And this guy seems to have it in bucketloads.

    Claiming to redeem the drug culture by ‘tokin the holy spirit’ and ‘smokin baby jesus’ is some of the most misguided, nonsensical and (dare I say it) offensive stuff I’ve seen.

    I’m all for new ways of experiencing God, but seriously – do you think Jesus sat around all day blissed out of his head on holy ghost crack? Did the disciples pass around the baby jesus bong at the Last Supper?

    It looks like the pendulum has swung from one extreme to the other – from dead legalism to over-the-top liberalism – and neither one produces life.

  39. Richard Abelson January 17, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    I have a hard time watching these various videos. All the so called ‘conversation’ all these people are having.. Its the word of GOD, what exactly is there to talk about? It was laid down from the beginning, is set in stone..

    As far as these guys are concerned, as well as, the emergent church, getting whacked, house parties, and all these other detractions to true communion with god…

    It says it all plain in the word.. in the end times, many of the elect will be led away by their own evil desires and doctrines of demons..

    I never understood how people as a whole when they see a large ‘movement’ for any reason is the ‘right’ thing.. people do what other people do

    Jesus WARNED Christians About Religious Deception!
    The first thing Jesus mentioned when He answered the disciples’ questions about the sign of His coming and the end of the age was to watch out for religious deceivers:

    Jesus answered: Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (Mat 24:4, 5)

    False Prophets
    The Lord also mentioned the success that false prophets will have in their deceptions. This should cause all Christians to stay on their spiritual guard, for many will be deceived:

    Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (Mat 24:11)

    Miracle-Performing False Prophets and False Christs
    The Lord went on to give specifics about how the false Christs and false prophets will deceive people:

    For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. (Mat 24:24)

    For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. (Mark 13:22)

    Did you notice that signs and miracles can be performed by deceivers? Furthermore, they seem designed to deceive the elect, if that were possible! Some people think it is not possible for the elect to get deceived, but we learn from others Scriptures that it definitely is:

    Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. (2 Tim 2:17,18)

    But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Cor 11:3,4)

    Paul clearly believed the elect could be deceived, for he mentioned two false teachers by name and stated that their message destroyed the faith of some Christians. He also revealed his concern for the Corinthian Christians, thinking they may become deceived as Eve was.

  40. ed cyzewski November 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Thanks for taking such a thorough, careful look at this Mike.

    I’ve been in charismatic and non-charismatic settings, and I have a sense that they both have struggles with power and weaknesses that come from overemphasizing a strength.

    Non-charismatics like my baptist friends pride themselves in sound doctrine, but they can take that too far and try to manipulate others with it, among other problems.

    Charismatics can hear from God, share words of prophecy, and be used to heal others, but they can try to control that power or use their words to manipulate others.

    My sense is that the out of bounds charismatics strike us as far more odd than the out of bounds non-charismatics, and therefore it’s easier to write off the charismatics because of those on the fringe even if we can discern the difference between non-charismatics who are out of bounds.

    After typing all of that, I hope that makes sense… 😉


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  4. Random Acts of Linkage #62 & Road Report #2 : Subversive Influence - May 31, 2008

    […] the Post-Charismatic world, Mike Morell has a good discussion going with summary of what some others of us are saying, followed by a guest blog by John Crowder, who […]

  5. Charasmatic Chaos: A response to John Crowder « Practically Christian - June 2, 2008

    […] tounges My friend Mike Morrell stirred up a hornet’s nest the other day with his post Charismatic Chaos, or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction. Being somewhat skeptical, or perhaps more accurately, ornery in nature, I shot off a quick […]

  6. In defense of the Spirit « Practically Christian - June 12, 2008

    […] kingdom, spirituality, the spirit A couple of weeks ago my friend Mike Morrell started quite the conversation about John Crowder and his jehovah-juana toking, Godka drinking ways. I had the privilege of […]

  7. New Wine Party / Chill & Refill « zoecarnate - July 12, 2008

    […] Vineyard, Voice of Healing Revival, Worship, worship music Meet Todd Post. At the height of my interaction with John Crowder, Post & I had a brief exchange of our own. He’s posted many of the […]

  8. Revolt Towards - July 22, 2008

    Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction?…

    This is part of a post taken from Soliton friend Mike Morrell’s blog….

  9. simplemann.net » Blog Archive » Counter-Fit Christian Culture & The Holy Spirit House Party - July 26, 2008

    […] Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction […]

  10. Call it Apostolic Fallout : Subversive Influence - August 13, 2008

    […] being reported leaves one with a strong cautionary note. Not everyone carried the same tone, but almost all of us opined upon the matter. I understand even my CLB has been cautious… I’m told that […]

  11. Steve Brown Etc. » Blog Archive » Etcetera - 10.15.06 - Toking The Ghost? - October 16, 2008

    […] Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction? Mike Morrell on Crowder and Dunn complete with video and an interview with John […]

  12. Galliblog » Charismata on Steroids - April 21, 2009

    […] up to a post by Mike Morrell, and encourage readers to check out his blog Zoeincarnate, especially this page. There you’ll read about what seems to me an example of “charismata on steroids” in […]

  13. Guzzling Some Godka – Altered States & Permanent Traits of Spiritual Consciousness « zoecarnate - October 20, 2009

    […] If you missed it last year, here’s my six-parter looking at the Pentecostal/charismatic avant-garde, kicking off with Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction? […]

  14. Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction? « zoecarnate - November 19, 2011

    […] popular posts – wherein I take a look at the ministry of John Crowder? You can find this post right here on my new blog, MikeMorrell.org! For more posts like this, please update your bookmarks and RSS subscriptions […]

  15. Spirit Week: Does ‘the Prophetic’ Have a Future? | Mike Morrell - November 21, 2011

    […] great feedback on Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction! I will be interacting with all of your thoughtful replies soon. And while that post outlined my […]

  16. Spirit Week Guest Blog: John Crowder Speaks! | Mike Morrell - November 21, 2011

    […] despite (or because of!) the real differences that exist at the end of the day. When I posted Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction? I emailed John Crowder and Ben Dunn privately to a.) Let them know about the post and b.) Let them […]

  17. Crowder & Morrell Dialogue: What About the Fam? (Or, ‘Sex-Crazed Charismatics?’) « zoecarnate - November 23, 2011

    […] Spirit-filled minister John Crowder speaks for himself in this followup to my Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction? post. Want to read it? Then go here to my new blog home at MikeMorrell.org! Here you’ll be […]

  18. Crowder & Morrell: Charismissional – What About The Poor? « zoecarnate - November 24, 2011

    […] Crowder & I talk about Spirit-filled believers & social justice in this followup to my Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction? post. Want to read it? Then go here to my new blog home at MikeMorrell.org! Here you’ll be […]

  19. Micah Mayo: In Defense of the Spirit - Mike Morrell - November 29, 2016

    […] couple of weeks ago my friend Mike Morrell started quite the conversation about John Crowder and his jehovah-juana toking, Godka drinking ways. I had the privilege of […]

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