This is the eighth post in this series of fourteen. In the past fifty years our imagination about what it means to be God’s people has been shaped by imported models and by a variety of traditions — you can name the one you know — but those traditions themselves have been conditioned by the preachers, leaders, books and churches that have dominated the media — mostly from the U.S.A. The most prominent of these being Willow Creek.
We are now in the intriguing place of recognizing the limits of an imported imagination of ecclesial life. There are signs that the work of theology, and of mission, in place — in THIS place — and the interaction of these two, is being taken with new seriousness by Canadian believers. Thus this series of posts on the work of Canadian authors.
My last post considered “Plunging Into the Kingdom Way.” This time we’ll consider Rob McAlpine, Post-Charismatic?.
In the introduction Rob writes,
“There are many people, of all ages, who are questioning church structure, the role of leadership, the foundations of theological thought, and many of them are also leaving established churches at an increasingly significant rate.
“Within this group are many people who also refer to themselves as being ‘postcharismatic’. In some ways they are very akin to those postmodern people I meet who are open to God but indifferent or hostile to church. These self-described post-charismatics are open to the working of the Holy Spirit, but due to excesses and abuses that they have seen or experienced, they are skeptical and even wary of ministries that are charismatic.
“Further, there are some who have come to a place where they overtly reject – or passively neglect – the more obvious supernatural workings of the Spirit… they are leaving the same charismatic fellowships that once represented a breath of fresh spiritual air for them…
“It would probably be more accurate to not call these people ‘post-charismatic’, but rather ‘post-hype’. They are tired of hearing great stories about the good old days, jaded from hearing too many prophecies about the great move of God that seems to be always just around the corner, fed up with exaggerated or even fabricated stories of healings and miracles, and disillusioned with a view of spiritual formation that is lived through a weekly crisis moment at the front of the church.” (4-5)
Broadly speaking, there are four major areas that come up repeatedly as reasons for postcharismatics
pulling away from their charismatic roots. The four areas are:
1. Abuses and elitism in prophetic ministry, coupled with a ‘carrot and stick’
approach to holiness that many find legalistic, manipulative and repressive.
2. The excesses of Word of Faith teachings (Health and Wealth, Prosperity doctrine)
which clash with the emerging generations’ concern for a biblical approach to
justice and ministry with the poor.
3. Authoritarianism and hierarchical leadership structures that exist more to control
people than to equip the saints for works of service.
4. An approach to spiritual formation (discipleship) that depends on crisis events –
whether at ‘the altar’ in a church service, or in a large conference setting – but
either neglects or deliberately belittles other means of spiritual maturation.
The copy that Rob sent me does not include a TOC, but he states his direction clearly in the Introductoin.
“We will be looking at the Latter Rain movement, which is the genesis of much of the teachings that resulted in item #1 above; the Word of Faith teachings (as set out originally by E.W. Kenyon and Kenneth E. Hagin) in response to #2; the Shepherding movement as the most recent exporter of the covering and under authority concepts that typify the abuses of authority in item #3; and for #4, taking a retrospective look at what discipleship means and how it could be approached in a way that is Spirit-led while not neglecting human responsibility.
“Then, our gaze will shift to the future advancement of the Kingdom, as we explore a reformed praxis (practice) of the gifts of the Spirit, to build up, encourage and strengthen the body of Christ.”
“Post-Charismatic” is 228 pages in length and published by David C. Cook. You can find a copy at AMAZON.
Previous posts in this “Made in Canada” series:
A Happy Ending, published by The Story in Sarnia, Ontario.
Beautiful Mercy, published by St. Benedict’s Table in Winnipeg.
The Cost of Community, by Jamie Arpin-Ricci in Winnipeg.
Where Mortals Dwell, by Craig Bartholomew in Hamilton
The Missionary Letters of Vincent Donovan, by John Bowen in Toronto
Plunging Into the Kingdom Way, by Tim Dickau in Vancouver
Sacred Space for the Missional Church by Bill McAlpine in Calgary