Why I am no longer a Charismatic

john-apologia8Dan Phillips wrote this today on his facebook page: “Delighted to hear that brother John Samson no longer IDs himself as a charismatic. It’s a path we both walked, with at least some similarity: I was a charismatic Calvinist, and eventually rethought and renounced my charismatic beliefs.

So I’m wondering: if you have the time, John, what particularly moved you to rethink?

For me it was chiefly a combination of my own realization of what Sam Waldron now calls the “cascade” argument (http://tinyurl.com/z2a3vtq), plus seeing that modern putative revelatory/attesting gifts simply did not measure up to the Biblical data.”

Here’s my brief reply:

Dan, though I would not have used the term at the time, I was thoroughly Arminian (a synergist), and not only charismatic, but a pastor in the word of faith movement. I was a local host for TBN, regularly hosting a live 2 hour program and… actually asked people to call the number on the screen. Yes, it doesn’t get much lower than that. 🙂 The Lord rescued me, breaking through with His truth concerning His Sovereignty back around 2000-2001, and like a huge rock being thrown into my theological lake, the ripple effects continued to shape and change my thinking in a whole lot of areas, especially ecclesiology. It greatly bothered me that although I had been around charismatic Churches and Christians for 3 decades, I had never witnessed someone speaking in an unknown tongue (unknown to the speaker) something that was known to the listener – which is what we see in Acts 2. I heard stories of this kind of thing happening elsewhere, but it was always just that, stories. It was never something I had personally observed. This led me to question whether what I was seeing in our time was what we read about in the New Testament. Dr. Sam Waldron’s cascade argument did have an impact on me also, but I think the final nail in the coffin to my charismatic tendencies was the “Strange Fire” Conference John MacArthur had, with Phil Johnson’s sessions being especially helpful – “Is there a baby in the Charismatic bathwater?” “Providence is Remarkable” and another teaching he did, “Is That Voice in my Head Really the Holy Spirit?”

A quote I read by John Owen also was like a punch to the stomach (theologically speaking) as its truth hit home to me, “If private revelations agree with Scripture, they are needless, and if they disagree they are false.” I have experienced so much mercy from the Lord in all this, especially when I realize that, very sadly, I don’t personally know of any fellow pastors in the circles I was in, making this kind of transition. Deceived people, deceive people, and my prayer is that God will continue to root out of my thinking, anything that is not in full accord with His word. And may He do this for many of those still entrapped in deception, as I was.

Dan responded: “Praise the Lord. That’s wonderful to hear. Thanks. It is disheartening: one sees so many either deepening in error, or drifting in the wrong direction. A testimony like yours is heartening. It must mean a lot to Phil as well.”

My reply: Yes, it is indeed disheartening when so many will not even stop for a moment to examine their traditions. The fact that I did is a testimony to the Sovereign mercy of the Lord towards me. I wrote a book outlining Sovereign mercy in election, especially seeking to answer objections (called “Twelve What Abouts: Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election”) and am now working on my second book which has a working title of “Run for Your Life” aimed at helping those in the word of faith come to sound theology. I would value your prayers very much.

P.S. Dan Phillips wrote this article about Benny Hinn yesterday that is well worth reading.

4 thoughts on “Why I am no longer a Charismatic

  1. Loved “Strange Fire” by MacArthur. I have a number of friends who still stand by so called spiritual gifts without being able to support them Biblically, especially tongues. They claim to have entered their prayer closet and prayed in an unknown tongue, not having a clue to what they may have said, claiming one will never experience that closeness to the Lord until they have experienced that. I have shared with them that my praying in English is just as effectual as prayer in any language. 1 Peter 5:8 – Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

  2. This was a great article. I spoke in “something” for 57 years. I was born in 1945 into a family who was Assembly of God Church, embraced the Word of Faith about 1972, watched TBN all the time. THEN my son-in-law gave me the Strange Fire book. When gty.org published the Strange Fire conferences I watched all of them….twice.

    After our AoG pastor began teaching out of the book, The Circlemaker by Mark Batterson I knew that it was not biblical so I googled it. April 2014, I found Chris Rosebrough debunking The Circlemaker. I began to listen to Pirate Christian Radio every day. My husband and I are now attending classes at Saint John Lutheran Church to become members.

  3. I greatly appreciate you, Pastor Samson. The Strange Fire conference certainly helped me as well, and attending John MacArthur’s college is only putting the nails in the coffin! 😉

    Hope to stop by King’s Church at some point this year. My dad and I have been meaning to do that.

    Thanks for all you do!

  4. I, by God’s grace and mercy, came out of the Word of Faith Movement as well. I did not grow up in a religious home, but upon moving to Tulsa Oklahoma in the mid 90’s I was bombarded with Word of Faith doctrine, and eventually I began attending Victory Bible College (operated by Billy Joe Daugherty). Thankfully also at that time I was introduced to Hank Hanegraaff’s radio program, and shortly thereafter R.C. Sproul’s radio program.
    God opened my eyes and my understanding and I was converted. I wrote a seven page report detailing all that I had learned about the false teachings of the Word of Faith Movement, and presented it to the President of Victory Bible College. I asked him, “If I’m wrong in this report, please show me in Scripture.” Instead they kicked me out of the school and did not refund my tuition or any of my deposits.
    I did by God’s grace and sovereign plan go on to attend seminary, and I now pastor a Reformed SBC church. I also still live in Oklahoma where I, at least once or twice a month encounter someone who is being deceived by the false doctrine of the Word of Faith Movement. I very much relate to you Pastor Samson, and I would that those being deceived would come to the knowledge of the truth, but we must not grow weary in presenting that truth.
    Thank you for this testimony and may the Lord bless you in your work.

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