September 21, 2008
Keep the Faith and Your Faculties
When I was saved back in 1981, a co-worker
warned me that Christianity could make one crazy. He said that when his
wife converted, she soon became detached from reality and had to be
committed to a mental asylum. He soon divorced her. "I would hate to
see that happen to you," he warned. "Stay away from that
I was flabbergasted. "How could something that substituted the turmoil in my life with tangible peace be harmful to my mental health?" Christianity wasn’t toxic –the exact opposite was true! I considered the source and dismissed his dire warnings as hostility toward Christ.
Another coworker, a young woman named Ellen, a few months later at a different job asked me kindly to stop talking about the Bible around her. She told me that it gave her nightmares. I pressed her for the details and she told me that she was talked into going to a revival with a girlfriend and said strange metaphysical things happened there that resulted in her having panic attacks and a feeling of pending fear. She said that once she determined to get rid of her Bible and stop attending those "revivals" the fear dissipated and her life returned to normal.
Another co-worker, Cindy, chimed in and told me about attending a revival in which a man was zapping people on the foreheads as he walked through the crowds "ministering" the "Holy Ghost." She came from an Evangelical background and this was her first exposure to Pentecostalism. She kept praying that the man wouldn’t get near her. She was pregnant and feared falling and the man gave her the creeps, she said. She couldn’t get away from him as he came in her direction and she doesn’t recall if he actually touched her, but she went down and couldn’t move and a shadow of fear enveloped her.
Hearing these things as a new believer alarmed me, but my love for the Lord Jesus Christ was more powerful than these well-intentioned warnings. I stayed out of all churches for six months or so after my born-again experience and just studied my Bible.
When I began to look for a church to attend, I visited several of them before returning to the first one I started out with. One fringe church I visited started out their worship service by singing in tongues and stomping on the devil. The dark atmosphere in that place sent me out of my pew and running outside. The fellow who brought me there came out and told me that I must have a demon or I wouldn’t have been disturbed. He prayed a deliverance prayer over me and then led me into a prayer for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and bullied me into babbling – leading me into it by telling me to practice, practice, practice babbling – though he didn’t call it that. I did as he said and found when I did so, that same dark cloud would envelop my head. That initial peace and joy of the Holy Spirit was squelched until I repented and stopped practicing those vain repetitions.
At the next church, a visiting inner healer got his grip on me. His prayers delivered me from that spirit of oppression I had received from the deliverance church and then he did some counseling sessions on me teaching me how to go back through my past to relive my life's hurts. No more peace there either. He would "prophesy" over me in a manner that I couldn’t tell apart from psychic fortune-telling. At that time, I also began attending the late Walter Martin’s Bible studies and when I mentioned it to this inner healer he became hostile. I became very uncomfortable alone with this guy when he began to direct my memories to the sexual arena. I got out of there with my faith and my sanity still in tact – glory to God!
What a confusing world for a newly saved child of God to be thrust into! I learned the hard way which "places of worship" to avoid and which ones were safe. Being young and pretty and single only increased my vulnerability in the "Christian" community where savage wolves were lurking at every corner. (That’s another episode altogether – sexual predators in the church abound.)
The sub-culture of Pentecostalism/Charismania is more dangerous to new believers today than it was 27 years ago. Young people who walk into a church like Stephen Strader’s Ignited Church in Lakeland, Florida or Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding, California risk losing their faith and their mental faculties. Just about any church or conference you see advertised in Charisma Magazine could be risky to attend for anyone not grounded in the Word of God.
Just go to YouTube and look up the words "fire tunnel" to see what a church service might look like somewhere like the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in Canada.
I recall a classic film from 1948 – called "Snake Pit." It starred Olivia de Havilland as a depressed women committed by her husband to a nuthouse against her will. All sorts of horrible therapies were forced upon her – such as water torture and shock treatment. By the end of the film she was just as crazy as the other mental inmates. The film ended with a close-up of the woman and pans out to show an aerial view of a room full of loonies disconnected from reality-- insane people in their own inner worlds oblivious to their surroundings. They resembled a pit full of snakes slithering around aimlessly.
The same effect could be reenacted today at TACF or Lakeland should a camera take an aerial view and pan out. No need for actors to stage the chaotic scene. Just recently at the Lakeland "revival" it was reported by Charisma’s publisher Stephen Strang that the tattooed scandalized revivalist, Todd Bentley, suffered some sort of breakdown.
Another revivalist, popular in the "New Apostolic Reformation" by the name of John Crowder has obviously lost his marbles, yet people still follow him at a risk to their own spiritual & mental clarity. Crowder is the founder of the Sons of Thunder and author of "The New Mystics." He can be seen online in videos toking on a holy ghost joint and repeating his mantra "Oingy" over and over again.
We certainly can’t worship the intellect, yet the Lord gave us our thinking capacities to use. Christianity is reasonable as it is supernatural. False religions and the occult are mythical and unreasonable and can be downright haunting. True Christianity does not scare the believer – rather it comforts them.
All this plays into the hands of the watching world that ridicules Christianity because of the behavior of those using His name. Deceitful workers who name the name of Christ but traffic with deceiving spirits and misrepresent the true faith not only drive followers over the edge, but open the Lord Himself up to ridicule.
Next month a film will be debuted by Bill Maher, former cynical host of "Politically Incorrect", that puts the nail in the coffin of the Church Age – it’s easy to make fun of Christianity when Christians act stupid in public.
The name of the documentary film is called "Religulous." Maher was a recent guest on Larry King Live in which he showed how this film makes Christianity a laughing stock. The film’s director is the same man who directed the movie, "Borat." They showed a clip of the film in which Maher visits the Holy Land Adventure theme park, owned by TBN, that shows a dancing, singing Jesus making a fool of himself. Maher interviews "Jesus" who has no answers for Maher’s loaded questions.
New believers need to be rescued out of the hands of these snake oil peddlers. Mature saints who think it is negative to criticize those who have orthodox statements of faith yet traffic with dark forces share in their sins. You cannot be silent while fellow saints are being spiritually abused.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
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