Silence of the tongue: a charismatic exorcism

Posted: 31st December 2007 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

Note: out of respect for those involved, the letter below has been edited to abbreviate identifying names and/or places. The opening and closing pleasantries have been excised to present the heart of the letter and keep the length more manageable.

October 6 [1969]

Dear Mom,

I understand from [sister] J that you got a letter from the school psychiatrist. It’s funny, but I was talking to the Assistant Dean to the Chapel Saturday on the retreat, and he mentioned the fact that he had gone to see the psychiatrist in order to ask him to speak on something. We compared notes and the Dean said “We’ve got to get rid of that man — he’s out of his tree.” Mr. S (the assistant Dean) said that psychiatrist has got to be crazy — his ideas are really way-out. I said I know. Well anyway — he said he would do his best to call it to the school’s attention and try to get rid of him.

As far as the whole story as to what happened to me goes well here it is. Before you read any further though I want you to read a few things in the Bible first. Perhaps it might be good to go through this with [sister] J; she’ll probably be able to add some insight. First of all read Acts 2:1-13. This is the story of Pentecost — the day the Holy Spirit was out poured upon the disciples and they received the gift of tongues. Now go to I Corinthians and read chapters 12-14. This is all about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is the background for what I am going to say.

Pastor S and Pastor J were both in charge of a Bible study group — prayer meeting type group. Those were the meetings I attended last year at Pastor J’s house (so did all the boys who came to our house this summer). We also attended meetings with kids from Notre Dame U. in South Bend. They had the same type of meeting going on there. On May 11, we went to Notre Dame for a joint meeting: that evening I was given a gift of tongues and I’ve had it ever since. I pray and praise God in an unknown tongue — this is all it amounts to — it’s just a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Two weeks later, at a meeting at [Pastor] J’s house I was given a gift of interpretation of Jeff’s tongue. This is why Jeff and I feel so terribly close — when he prays in his tongue, I interpret it and God has given the group a prophecy or encouraging word.

This is all for the edification of the church. We make no big thing of it — we take it in our stride now. Of the boys that stayed at our house — Jeff, Chuck and Bill all had the gift of tongues. Bob was the only one that didn’t, but it makes no difference. Pastor J prays in a tongue and for that matter — so does Pastor G. It’s nothing spectacular — just an added dimension to prayer life.

There were quite a few people on campus last year (and this year for that matter) that were and are opposed to this charismatic (meaning gifts of the Holy Spirit) renewal movement on campus. But it is scriptural and so they couldn’t do anything. Pastor J was to around to defend us and that was our support from the faculty and administration.

Now Pastor J has gone to Germany and we have no real faculty leader except Pastor S — but he’s so old, he can’t get around and do so much, so we don’t count him as support on the faculty side, although he will stand with us. We are still looking for help from the administration — slowly but surely we are getting it — especially now from Mr. S (Assistant Dean of the Chapel) since he participated in this meetings when he was at St. Louis Seminary. But we must wait and do a heck of alot of praying.

Now as to how this whole thing started. On [Thursday] Sept 11 we had a prayer meeting at a friends house. While we were praying Jeff began to pray in his tongue and I interpreted it to myself. I didn’t know whether or not I should get up to give the interpretation. For as many reasons as I could think for giving it I could find reasons for not giving it. The interpretation was “Why do you sit there like beatles on the ground? Don’t you know that your enemy is among you. Arise therefore and remain faithful. For one of you is in trouble. Satan is among you seeking someone to devour. Remain faithful and strong and I will be victorious.” Well I let it pass until the end of the meeting. I talked to Bill about it after the meeting and I told him I felt like I had a lying spirit in me. Something was forbidding me to give the interpretation. We talked until 1 AM and then went back to the dorm and sat on the steps and talked some more. Bill asked if he should pray over me and perhaps cast the demon out. I told him I really didn’t know. The guy prayed with me for 45 minutes straight (talk about faith). Somewhere along the line I went into a trance and Bill talked to the demon; it was a cold night (despite the fact we were inside) but I was burning and even the books in my hand were burning up with heat. Well Bill found out that this demon’s name was M—k and that he was looking for a home. Around 3:00 AM the demon was cast out but it told Bill it would be back.

Friday we called together some of the group in order to pray for everyone and for me. We met Friday night and did just that — I stayed at the apartment that night with some of the kids. They prayed for me from 12:30 AM to 4 AM and finally the demon was cast out again. Saturday morning we went to Pastor S’s house to ask him what to do. He prayed over me — I was fine (and had been since the night before) and we went back to the campus to eat and get some sleep. Well Pastor S said that just for safe-keeping someone should stay with me all day. Bruce, Bill and I went to the Union and had some lunch. Then Bill went back to the dorm to sleep and Bruce and I went down to the apartment and I fell asleep on the couch.

I woke up around 7:30 PM groaning with sharp pains in my stomach and that area. I had this feeling before (ever since Thursday to be exact). It felt like someone took a knife and slit my insides (it was a sore feeling). Jeff called Bill and told him to come down and that night it seemed like I was going in and out of trances very quickly as if Satan was loosing ground. The kids talked with the demon and I said things to them which I could have in no way known. The kids were convinced I was possessed and vowed to stay by me until the demon was out all together. Everything was over and done with at 2 AM. Everyone went back to the dorm and got a good night’s sleep.

Sunday night I went to chapel with my roommate and some friends. My tongue was silent and I couldn’t participate in any of the worship service — I resented being there and at the end of the service ran out of the chapel. Bruce ran after me because he knew what was going on. He took me down to the apt, and every time it seemed like the demon was coming back, we would pray the Lord’s prayer together and say the Creed and M—k would go away.

At this point some kids went back to the dorm to pray for me, and some how somebody heard the wrong thing and word got out that I was hysterical. Pastor S heard this and got upset and called Dr. R, that is what he heard. Dr. R came to the apt to take me to the hospital — I didn’t want to go but he said I had no choice in the matter. I resented that very much and so did the kids. He had no business coming to the apartment on hear-say. I was perfectly calm when they came (as a matter of fact I was studying) and I was calm and sure of everything the entire week I was in the hospital. No one could figure out what was wrong — all the tests were negative (physical and psychological) and there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with me. All they had was this story; everytime Dr. R talked to one of the kids they would tell him the same story. That’s all he had to go on. He half believed in demons, but then again he had his doubts. Well, everyone is entitled to their doubts — but don’t keep me in the hospital because of your doubts. The psychiatrist thought we were all a bunch of nuts and fanatics. While he had me there I guess he thought he’d work on me, but he didn’t get anyplace because I didn’t change my convictions at all. Saturday [Sept 20] I was released and Jeff came and took me home. And all was fine — except for some bones I had to pick with [Dr.] R and the psychiatrist. I got that all settled and as far as I’m concerned everything is over and done with except for the fact that the school psychiatrist is opposed to our meetings, but his theological implications even upset the theology department to such an extent that they won’t let him teach on campus.

The Wednesday [Sept 24] after I was released from the hospital, I had an appointment with Dr. D (the psychiatrist); he wanted to see me once more since I was out. I went in and he asked me how I felt about everything now as I look back upon it. I said that if I had to choose between this being a purely psychological experience or Satan working through psychological means I would have to say it was Satan working through psychological means. He said he was sorry to hear that; I said I was sorry he was sorry but that was what I believed. He then told me to get out of his office and never come back — because I believed in demons and he didn’t. He didn’t believe in demons because he saw what they did to people (that didn’t make too much sense to me). He said he didn’t want to have anything to do with me anymore and that my God would have to take care of me — I said fair enough. And then he told me to get out. I walked from the office to my next class, rather confused since I had never been thrown out of a psychiatrist’s office before. I met Jeff, Bill and Bruce along the way and told them everything; they were happy to hear that I didn’t have to have anything to do with him anymore.

That Friday [Sept 26] then I went to see Dr. R and told him what happened. He said he would look into Dr. D’s theological attacks. As far as my records go — the results of the tests are recorded and everything goes into a sealed envelop only to be opened if something similar happens again. I’m not worried about it, so don’t you be either.

I have no bitter feelings toward the University and as far as I’m concerned everything is over and done with. No one has given me anymore grief and I don’t plan on given anybody any. People are human — they make mistakes, forgive them and go your way in peace.

Love,
B

  1. Jesus Saenz says:

    ElSheddai, very interesting topic you have chosen for your last two posts. Demonology is not often spoken of or written about. There a few points I want to make about the story.

    1. The charismatic gifts were no longer needed with the closing of the canon which was around 70 ad

    2. When demons were cast out by Jesus or the disciples, there is never an account of that demon returning again to the cleansed person

    3. The dismissal of the demon was immediate, they didn’t argue with it they just cast it out

    4. It is not possible for a demon to possess a Christian.

    I have no reason to believe that demons are not currently active in this world. It is also possible that I have seen demons and that they have purposely scared me in the past. It is also possible that what I thought I saw was only a side effect from youthful indiscretion which includes sniffing glue and smoking PCP, which I later found out stays in your system.

  2. Good points, Jesus. Certainly the scriptures (Luke 11:24-26, Matthew 12:43-45) say that an unclean spirit can return home sevenfold if it has not been displaced by another spirit, unclean or Holy. Though I suspect this is primarily aimed at non-Christians…

    I was reading about #4 last night as I was transcribing the letter. I have no reason to believe that the author of the letter was not a Christian at the time of these events. So the question may be can a Christian be oppressed by a demon, all the while being indwelt with the Holy Spirit.

    I also have wondered about your last comment, given the time frame of the event. There is a parallel article written in a student newspaper about the psychiatrist’s experimental study of the effects of drug use and his subsequent firing from the university, though the author of this letter hardly seems predisposed to have seen Dr. D about such things. That said, the whole letter could be an exercise in creative writing to cover up the author’s drug use to her mother.

  3. Steve says:

    Keep in mind that not only are there several psychological reasons that explain this account handily, there is at least one major theological problem with it being a demonic possession. As Jesus noted above, believers cannot be possessed by demons, since they are possessed by the Holy Spirit; what kind of a lame God would allow His own children to be possessed?

    This person was hanging around charismatic types who look for demonic manifestations behind every nook and cranny, and value such incidents so highly that they will often unknowingly trump them up out of nothing. Believe me, I know about getting caught up in the moment with these people. Maybe I’ll blog about it sometime soon.

    Of course, I am under the belief that the closing of the canon was a few centuries late as the termination for the charismata; in fact, we have no real evidence of the charismatic gifts being used past the first century. Moreover, Peter in Acts 2 describes the Pentecostal events as signs of the Day of the Lord prophesied in Joel:

    16 “No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

    17 ” ‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.

    18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.

    19 I will show wonders in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.

    20 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

    21 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ”

    Then verse 40: “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ ”

    Of course, this doesn’t impinge on the doctrine of modern demonology, but with charismatic doctrine overall. They think we’re living in the last days, 2,000 years after Peter said “This is what was spoken of…” The mission of the church in Acts cannot necessarily be directly applied to the modern church.

  4. Jim Swindle says:

    Hello, ElShaddai.

    I’m no expert, but have several comments. First, a disclosure. I do speak in tongues and can often interpret what I’ve said, but not what others say. Speaking in tongues is not the center of my spiritual life. Jesus is the center. There can be no other. Now, for my comments…

    1. If I’m reading the letter right, she’s living in a house with young men her own age. That’s not healthy, unless she’s married to one of them.
    2. Yes, demons can be active today. I’ve seen someone go from insane/depressed to cold sane. The fellow and I were together for perhaps a couple of hours; I was praying and reading scripture to him and telling any demons to leave. Suddenly he went sane.
    3. There’s nothing in the Bible that says the charismatic gifts ended with 70 AD. It does say the Lord bore witness with the apostles with signs and wonders and various miracles (Hebrews 2:4). but doesn’t say he will never give another miracle.
    4. Jesús Saenz is correct about not arguing with demons. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every demon will always come out at the first instant when we tell it to do so.
    5. As for whether it’s possible for a demon to possess a Christian, I don’t recall that the Bible ever speaks of a demon possessing anyone. It speaks of people who are “demonized.” The Greek would transliterate “daimoniazo.” Many of our English translations speak of demon possession, but I don’t think the whole idea of possession or ownership is there in the Greek. If it’s possible for a Christian to be terrorized, though terror can’t own us, why is it not possible for a Christian to be demonized?
    6. I see no reason to presume that this young woman was on drugs, though I suppose that’s a possibility. Maybe you have other information that indicates that she was on drugs. (If so, you don’t need to say so publicly, unless you think it’s wise to say it.)
    7. The woman certainly sounds like she’s out of balance. The Lord is glorified by the stability of our lives in him. When I was younger (but a lot older than she probably is), I could work myself into emotional circles of worry and self-examination and erratic behavior that I hoped was spiritual. She is too focused on herself, on her own gifts. She is too focused on the demons, and not focused enough on the all-powerful Lord of Heaven. However, this does not mean she’s crazy.
    8. The psychiatrist sounds like he is spiritually blind. Of course, we’re hearing only her side of things.
    9. The young woman’s attitude of forgiveness is the sort of thing you’d expect to hear from a true Christian.

    I pray that her family will respond with much prayer for her and with much love. May the Lord work in and through her, for his glory.

    If she were my loved one, I’d try to get her to some person or group that allowed for the gifts of the Spirit, but that did not major on them. I think of John Piper and Steve Goold (my former pastor) in the Minneapolis area, of Wayne Grudem in Arizona, and of Jim Cymbala at Brooklyn Tabernacle.

    I haven’t seen Steve Goold for over a decade, so don’t know how his views may have changed, but when I knew him, he was neither charismatic nor anti-charismatic. He demonstrated a pastor’s heart.

  5. Jim, to the glory of God, your comment #9 became the focus and identity of her mature Christian life. Regrettably, she was called Home over twelve years ago…

    I have no information to suggest drug usage, though that’s been a common reaction by many given the time (1969) of the event.

    I think of John Piper and Steve Goold (my former pastor) in the Minneapolis area […]

    What a small world… I’ve known several people who worked at Crystal over the years, though I’ve never made it there for a service.

  6. 8. The psychiatrist sounds like he is spiritually blind. Of course, we’re hearing only her side of things.

    To be fair, here is the original letter from Dr. R:

    Dear Mrs. C,

    A little over a week ago your daughter B was feeling depressed and unhappy to the extent that we had her put in the hospital. She was released on Saturday, and all seems to be fine. As soon as I get a complete report from the doctor, I will send you more details.

    At the beginning, there was a double reason for our concern. B expressed the belief that at times a devil took possession of her and that it threatened to kill her; I also received the report that she threatened to hurt herself. Furthermore, B did not always remember what she had said and done when she was in one of these states of depression.

    Our medical doctor ran a rather complete series of physical tests, the University psychiatrist visited with her several times, several pastors visited her in the hospital, and a group of students with which B had been associating continued to pray for her.

    I did not contact you earlier because there was really nothing much I could tell you, and we did not anticipate doing anything which would require parental permission. I am happy to be able to write good news now. If you have any further questions or can offer any additional insight, please write.

    [Dr R]

  7. Jim Swindle says:

    Thanks for your follow-up comments. The psychiatrist’s letter adds more information. Suicidal tendencies are NEVER from God. He’s not the source of self-murder.

    Thanks, also, for your kind spirit in replying. I don’t recall whether you’re charismatic or not; that’s not the most important thing in the Christian life.

    Steve Goold was our pastor in Burbank, CA, back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I learned several lessons from him. One was that a true pastor should never hesitate to wound the individual for the sake of the flock. He never said that; he just modeled it. He wounded almost everyone at one time or another, but only for the good of the flock. As a result, we felt amazingly safe.

  8. @Jim: I’m not charismatic and have never experienced people speaking in tongues, so it’s been hard to get my head around the whole concept, never mind tongues as an awareness of demons or unclean spirits.

    Interesting comments about Pastor Goold. The pastor at my former church unfortunately had a knack for the flip of that: he wounded the flock for the good of a few…

  9. Kevin Sam says:

    Interesting topic ElShaddai. The charismatic movement with speaking in tongues is something I have become familiar with but it seems to have been shoved under the table and not talked about in cessationist circles just because we are so confident, or over-confident that the charismata gifts have ceased since the first century CE. I believe this cessationist theology is totally unfounded and is not supported anywhere in the bible. If they teach this theology to Christians in the southern hemisphere, they would find it quite amusing in light of their realitie, but more likely, find it ignorant. So why are cessationists so adamantly against the charismaa gifts if it is unsupported by scripture?

  10. Steve says:

    It’s not as clear-cut as you describe it, Kevin Sam.

    I come from a highly charismatic background. My family still is, and most of my thoughts on the matter are still kept from them for that reason. Allow me to show you some of the problems.

    “Tongues” as practiced today is not NT “tongues”. This is manifestly the case. For one thing, the term “tongues” is a carry-over from the KJV, which if translated today would read “languages”: the Greek words used to describe the ecstatic utterance are nothing special and only mean “language” in the common sense. And sure enough, when we see the gift of tongues introduced in Acts 2, it is unequivocally human languages. In fact, throughout the rest of Acts it is never redefined!

    Tongues were given as a witness to the Gentiles, but also as a stumbling block to the Jews. In 1 Cor. 14:21-22, Paul applies the judgment passage Isaiah 28:11 as the explanation of tongues: “Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people.” This ties the definition tongues in Acts 2 to the gift of tongues discussed in 1 Corinthians. Throughout Acts, we see that when tongues are given it was to the Gentiles and served as a validation for the Apostles’ inclusion of the Gentiles into the community of faith previously held by Israel.

    Now, do we have any NT evidence of them ceasing? Well, besides the fact that they are predicted to cease (1 Cor 13), the fulfillment of it takes places after the NT, so we shouldn’t expect to see it described as a current reality there. Historically, though, we don’t really have any evidence of tongues after the first century. That is, until recent times, when Christians passionate about God yet ignorant of the gift’s original purpose began to seek it for themselves. The cessation of tongues (as well as the institutions of, although perhaps not all instances of, the other charismatic gifts) is easily explained: the judgment Peter described Pentecost as the sign of in Acts 2 was the judgment on the Old Covenant Jewish system that occurred with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple that occurred between AD 66-70 by Titus and the Roman armies.

    I know this will sound like ethnic snobbery at best and racism at worst, but is it at all surprising that all the foreign countries with the most number of reports of charismatic activity were, as a rule, steeped in spiritualism and belief in sensational phenomena associated with their religions prior to the introduction of Christianity? So many of these peoples claim resurrection, healing, and other miraculous signs even with their pre-Christian religions, so why shouldn’t they when a charismatic Christian evangelist comes in talking about the same things?

  11. Jesus Saenz says:

    Steve, well said. I too was going to make the same statement about the southern hemisphere. It is sad that the charismatic movement has gone into these mostly poor places and have replaced one form of mysticism for another. The charismatic movement is also dangerously close to promotion of false prophets and promoting false prophesying in their miss-application of what the gift of tongues was.

    There are also other problems with the charismatic movement. They allow women pastors, they tend to spend more time being “in the spirit” rather than teaching the Word, they have replaced order with disorder, they rely on emotion and spiritualism instead of logic and reason, they ignore the special revelation found in scripture for subjective revelation given to the individual.

    Getting back to the issue of demon possession, is it possible that allowing yourself to lose control while being “in the spirit” that you allow for the demons to control you instead?

    There is also another angle that I would like to further explore. Is there a difference in seeing “things” and with possession itself. Yesterday I was at a friends house for the traditional “New Years Day eat Hawaiian food not till you’re full but you ’till you’re tired”. There was plenty of people coming in throughout the day to eat. There was a couple with their two kids, when my friend relayed a story about the couple and their kids seeing “ghosts”. Even a story of the father thinking that his 2 y.o son had jumped on him in bed yet there was no one there.

  12. Jim Swindle says:

    I can’t resist a few more thoughts on the charismatic gifts and the charismatic movement.

    Though I’m charismatic, most of the criticisms of the current American charismatic/pentecostal movement are valid. I’m saddened by the false prophets, the heretical theology, the emphasis on feelings, the instability, the sensationalism, and so on.

    I sometimes tell people, “Ask the Lord to fill you with his Spirit, and let him define what that means.” He has a right to fill you in whatever way he wants, but you can know that if it’s from him, it won’t contradict scripture, and won’t put the focus on you. The Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus, not glorify you.

    As for speaking in tongues and the demonic, I’d think it would be possible for demons to produce speaking in tongues, but I’d want to be very, very cautious before telling someone that demons were the source of his speaking in tongues. We know from the Bible that the Lord can produce speaking in tongues. We know that the demons hate the Jesus of the Bible. If a person’s tongues are glorifying Jesus (the same Jesus of the Bible) and are done with humility, not for personal show; if they increase the person’s joy and peace instead of decreasing it; if they tend to make the person more eager for evangelism and for obedience, then I’d say they are from the Lord. On the other hand, if the person’s tongues are the opposite of all of that, I’d think they’re from self or from demons, even if the person thinks they’re a wonderful spiritual experience.

    Whatever is from the flesh or from the devil will produce the devil’s fruit. Whatever is from the Lord will produce the fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, and so on; see the end of Galatians 5.

  13. Kevin Sam says:

    Well said Jim. You speak from personal experience and understand the charismata intimately. I agree whole-heartedly with what you said. Thanks for your fair-minded comments on behalf of charismatics.

    Jesus Saenz, as a cessationist, I can understand where you’re coming from. Your claims seem to dwell on the problem issues that crop up with some charismatics. And from what I’ve heard in the past, cessationists seem to have a strong tendency to do that.

    Steve, yes it does sound like ethnic snobbery. If you tell that to charismatic Christians in the southern hemisphere, they would definitely not like it and would find that very offensive against their faith. To link the gifts of charismata to the spiritualism of their pre-Christian past is illogical and unreasonable. Tell that to the early church fathers like Tertullian and I wonder what he’d say about that. Many other post-New Testament church fathers recognized the practice of the charisms in the post-first century church: Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Iranaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Novatian, Hilary of Poitiers, even Chrysostom (4th c.) who tried to formalize a prohibition against tongues. Charismata has existed since the early church, including the Montanists who widely practiced tongues. If we look into the history of the early church, you’ll find that the charisms never ceased. The only people who tried to stop it also tried to wipe it out of history.

    From my experience, the majority of charismatics love to listen to the preaching and teaching of the word, as well as “be in the Spirit.” They appreciate order and frown upon disorder. They understand and love logic, reason and the written and revealed word of Scripture too. It is impossible to lose control of oneself when s/he is in the Spirit. In fact, the Spirit desires to give us the fruit of self-control.

    If you want to be fair, I can be fair too. I can tell you that I have witnessed cessationists who don’t appreciate “being in the word,” are disorderly and over-emotional, exhibit absolutely no reason and logic to what they say, and have no self-control. Now is this fair?

  14. Steve says:

    Kevin,

    I was speaking of tongues. And I think you will agree that the Fathers stated blatantly their bewilderment at the cessation of tongues. For instance, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessationism#Historical_Evidence

    I hope I don’t have to point out that the Montanist movement was widely viewed as heretical (have actually studied their claims?!), and made no evangelistic inroads as one would expect for so dynamic a ministry and as charismatics claim for today. I don’t know where you got your info, but Chrysostom agreed that tongues had ceased, and made no exception for the Montanists.

    I have no idea where you’re coming from with the last half of your post. I never claimed that charismatics don’t love “to listen to the preaching and teaching of the word” or “logic, reason and the written and revealed word of Scripture”, or that they as a rule “lose control” when “in the Spirit”. I made no such statements. As a former charismatic, I have seen abuse as you claim that I claim, but I have seen others who try to systematically apply reason to their faith (Gordon Fee being a notable example).

    I am very sorry that charismatic Christians south of the equator would be upset, but spare me the emotional appeal: any Christian the world over whose doctrinal beliefs and experiences are disparaged or critiqued may feel distressed, but that doesn’t negate the critique. And don’t misunderstand me as a typical run-of-the-mill cessationist: I don’t believe everything miraculous necessarily passed away. Tongues? Yes.

  15. Jesus Saenz says:

    Kevin Sam said:

    If you want to be fair, I can be fair too. I can tell you that I have witnessed cessationists who don’t appreciate “being in the word,” are disorderly and over-emotional, exhibit absolutely no reason and logic to what they say, and have no self-control. Now is this fair?

    Kevin, for you to even begin to be fair, you need to demonstrate that these flaws in the cessationists are due to their doctrine.

    If anybody is offended by the truth of the gospel, their problem is not with the messenger but with the Bible.

  16. Kevin Sam says:

    Jesus said:
    Kevin, for you to even begin to be fair, you need to demonstrate that these flaws in the cessationists are due to their doctrine. If anybody is offended by the truth of the gospel, their problem is not with the messenger but with the Bible.

    Well Jesus, to be fair, charismatics should also be judged based on their doctrine, just like you say should be for cessationists. The claims you made against charismatics below are clearly not based on doctrine. You said:

    There are also other problems with the charismatic movement. They allow women pastors, they tend to spend more time being “in the spirit” rather than teaching the Word, they have replaced order with disorder, they rely on emotion and spiritualism instead of logic and reason, they ignore the special revelation found in scripture for subjective revelation given to the individual.

    Are these based on doctrine?

    Steve, sorry the last half of my comment was really directed to Jesus Saenz’s comment, not yours.
    Yes, some of the early church fathers said that tongues ceased or were rarely witnessed, but the fact was that they had not totally ceased. They had only decreased in percentage of those who practiced tongues because as the Church grew in numbers, the percentage of those who did not practice tongues also grew in numbers. But the montanists continued the practice of speaking in tongues throughout the centuries and so did Tertullian, personally. He even wrote a book on charismata and ecstatic utterances, however, the book no longer exists. A big reason why the charismata ceased was due to the institutionalization of the Roman Catholic Church. Some of the popes actions even put a stop to the underground/cell church practice. This greatly hampered the charismatic church. This is not surprising in light of what is happening even today in authoritarian countries like China. The underground-cell church in countries like China is practicing the charisms like tongues, healing, etc. but the government is trying to put a stop to this through it’s sanctioning of the official state church and a prohibition against the underground church. In approaching it from this perspective, one can see how the charismatic church was systematically stamped upon throughout the centuries by the Roman government.

  17. Nick Norelli says:

    El Shaddai,

    Quite honestly, I don’t have any problems believing the account given in this letter. I’ve witnessed similar events among believers and non-believers (more times than I would have liked to).

    I don’t really want to join the whole continuationist/cessationist debate because it rarely if ever goes anywhere. I’m happy to just state my opinion and move on. IMO, cessationists don’t have an exegetical/theological leg to stand on, despite the comments above.

    But as far as demonic “possession” is concerned, I like what one of your earlier commentators said about “demonized” not indicating “ownership” — I think that is a very valid argument. I see no reason to believe that believers are somehow exempt from spiritual attack.

    Thanks for passing along the link.

  18. Thanks for the comments, Nick. It’s been fascinating to hear everyone’s perspective on the reality of spiritual life and warfare. Sadly, I wonder if American Christians have been lulled into spiritual slumber to the point of not being able to recognize the other world around us.

  19. Nick Norelli says:

    ElShaddai,

    I think we could say that. In the post-Enlightenment world many people have found themselves in the same position. I’ve often heard preachers say that the spiritual world is more real than the world we see. I don’t know if I’d take it that far but I’m willing to say that it’s just as real as the world we see.