Tag Archives: charismatic movement

Moving Beyond Confusion with the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” (#7)

Fired up by enthusiasm, the theology of “the baptism in the Holy Spirit,” is taking over the globe. But what is it exactly? (photo credit: Getty Images, Economist magazine)

The seventh (and last) in a multipart blog post series

Let me share with you some of my personal journey. When someone says “charismatic,” with respect to the Christian faith, it can evoke a lot of different reactions….

I have had a number of friends who would consider themselves as “charismatic,” as well as friends who are “non-charismatic.” I have helped to lead worship at a Pentecostal church, back in college, as well as church fellowships that take a rather dim view of all things “charismatic.”Some friends really look forward to worshipping at a “Spirit-filled” church. Others will not touch anything “charismatic” with a 10-foot pole. I even had a girlfriend years ago who dumped me because she said I was too “charismatic,” which was strange, particularly since I do not think I have ever genuinely “spoken in tongues,” and certainly never around her!

Like British Bible teacher John R.W. Stott was, I consider myself open to the charismatic movement, but I am cautious. Like Stott, I do not believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit can be turned on and off at will, like a water spigot. Sure, there is the whacky stuff associated with many TV evangelists that drives me crazy, but my main concern is theological. It all started with that awkward conversation with my high school friend, some thirty years ago, that I mentioned in the first blog post in this series. I lost track of her over the years, but the theological conundrum she left with me has stayed with me:

Clarke, have you received the baptism in the Holy Ghost?

In one sense, the inner turmoil turned out for the best. I had to search the Scriptures for myself, seeking God deeper in my prayer life, asking that I might be filled more with His Spirit, in obedience to His Word. I still desire that, today. For that, I am most grateful for that conversation.

But in another sense, the question left me in a state of needless confusion. I read books by John R. W. Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones on this topic, and both had very different conclusions. Which one was right? I would have conversations with various pastors, all sharing conflicting views on the “baptism in the Holy Spirit.”

How was I to make sense of it all? What does the Bible really teach about the “baptism in the Holy Spirit?” Continue reading


Power to Witness in the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” (#6)

Fired up by enthusiasm, the theology of “the baptism in the Holy Spirit,” is taking over the globe. But what is it exactly? (photo credit: Getty Images, Economist magazine)

Continuing on, with the sixth in a multipart blog post series

Revival: The church’s greatest need.

So reads the back cover of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic Joy Unspeakable…. and Lloyd-Jones is still right!! How can the church accomplish her God-given mission without the inward, transforming power of the Holy Spirit?

Once you observe how Old Testament prophecy works in the New Testament, regarding the Holy Spirit, such as in the narrative portions of the Book of Acts, then the whole framework of “the baptism in the Holy Spirit” falls into place. But not only does “the baptism in the Holy Spirit” in the Book of Acts fulfill prophecy from the Old Testament, it does so for a purpose, namely, that the believer might experience the power to witness for the sake of the Gospel. Continue reading


Prophecy Fulfilled in the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” (#5)

Fired up by enthusiasm, the theology of “the baptism in the Holy Spirit,” is taking over the globe. But what is it exactly? (photo credit: Getty Images, Economist magazine)

Picking up from where we left off, the fifth in a multipart blog post series

Is “the baptism in the Holy Spirit” something that happens to the believer upon conversion, or is it a subsequent experience in the life of a Christian? In examining the teachings of Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John R. W. Stott, two British evangelical heavyweights of 20th century preaching, I have since found Stott’s arguments, in favor of identifying Spirit baptism to be synonymous with becoming a believer, to be more persuasive.1

Here is what tipped me in favor of John R. W. Stott’s view, and it is something that Martyn Lloyd-Jones did not address, as I read them both in college: What is the importance of biblical prophecy regarding the empowering work of the Holy Spirit? Discerning the role of biblical prophecy helps to cut through the confusion surrounding “the baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Continue reading


Is “Speaking in Tongues” the Sign of the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit?” (#3)

Fired up by enthusiasm, the theology of “the baptism in the Holy Spirit,” is taking over the globe. But what is it exactly? (photo credit: Getty Images, Economist magazine)

After a break for a few weeks, we are picking up again with the third in a multipart blog series….

Azusa Street. Los Angeles, California. April, 1906. A new African American preacher in town, William J. Seymour, a son of former slaves, stood up to preach for several nights in a row. Seymour had been blinded in one eye, due to contracting small pox, when he was young. But this did not deter Seymour from delivering his message.

According to Seymour, many churches in his day were spiritually dead. The movement of the Spirit was not to be detected. Teenagers were bored by long, droning sermons. Petty squabbles consumed the energies of church people. Spiritual lifelessness had permeated congregations. Even in Los Angeles, churches were strictly divided along the lines of race. Something was severely lacking in the churches of early 20th century America.

Seymour began preaching for revival.

Crowds began to gather to hear Seymour preach. The meetings were so packed that the small buildings where they met started to crack, and larger meeting places were sought after. The emotional excitement was electrifying. People gathered from all backgrounds in the hundreds. Rich and poor, men and women, black and white, all gathered together to experience the movement of the Spirit. Economic, racial and other barriers collapsed as people were somehow…. moved by the Spirit. Continue reading


Charismatic Shift?: Evangelist Greg Laurie Joins the Southern Baptists

During this break from the Veracity series on the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I could not passover a recent news item. Greg Laurie, the dynamic evangelist and California megachurch pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, announced earlier in June, 2017, that his church would join the Southern Baptist Convention. Why is this significant? Let me explain.

Greg Laurie’s Harvest Christian Fellowship is the eighth largest church in America. Greg Laurie, and his church, came out of the Calvary Chapel movement, that began in the early 1970s in Southern California. What is notable for those interested in the teaching of the “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” is that historically, the Calvary Chapel movement has been associated with the charismatic revival, that hit mainstream evangelicalism, starting in the 1960s. Calvary Chapel-type churches, like Laurie’s, are therefore not cessationist in their doctrinal teaching, Cessationism is the teaching that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit ceased to operate after the end of the apostolic age, in the early church. Instead, Greg Laurie would most likely affirm a continuationist view, that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit continue to operate today within the worldwide church.

What makes this quite interesting is that the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America, has historically been cessationist, when it comes to these types of issues. Southern Baptists do not have an official teaching position about “speaking in tongues.” But it appears that the long-time, historical resistance to the charismatic movement could be changing in Baptist circles, as the Southern Baptist International Mission Board rescinded its policy of banning charismatics from becoming overseas missionaries, just a few years ago.

It would be careful to note that Greg Laurie’s position, while surely not banning charismatic gifts, is much more low-key than what you find in classic Pentecostal churches. You might hear “speaking in tongues” in small group meetings, but rarely, if ever, in a corporate worship setting.

I would call it “charismatic-lite.”

So, what does this mean for the Southern Baptists and for Greg Laurie’s Harvest Christian Fellowship? With respect to the charismatic movement, it is difficult to say. Is the charismatic movement declining among the Calvary Chapel-type churches, such as Harvest? Or are the Southern Baptists warming up even more to the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit? Is this part of a general, shifting trend throughout the evangelical church at large? If so, what is this shift?

What do you think? Below is the announcement from pastor Greg Laurie.


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