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From The Sword & Trowel 2007, issue 2 by Dr Peter Masters
Leaving the charismatic movement involves leaving friends, worship-style and entering an entirely new environment. Here is advice to spiritual shepherds about helping those who come to sound churches.

The title of this article is obviously not meant in a charismatic sense. We offer no advice on how to cast out demons, rather on how to help true believers who have been heavily influenced by charismatic ideas, and who have come to see them as wrong. They have come away from the world of tongues, visions, prophecies, ecstasies, dancing, falling down slain, and all associated activities, and have sought fellowship among ‘traditional’ Bible-believing Christians.

These friends often have many problems, and pastors and church officers must be ready to help. Some former charismatics have made the transition so well and so speedily that one can scarcely believe they once thought and acted very differently. We readily acknowledge that some need little or no help in adapting to conservative, biblical Christianity.

Many, however, find that their time in the charismatic movement has left them troubled, unsure, and perhaps even scarred spiritually. They have wrested themselves away from a host of emotional props, and severed connections with numerous dear friends, and this has cost them much pain.

Doctrine, worship, fellowship and service now take a vastly different form. Their new environment has a way of thinking and looking at matters utterly unlike that of charismatic circles. Furthermore, in the back of the mind lies the nagging fear that these ‘traditionalists’ are indeed the cold, lifeless formalists they have been long warned about – people who have never tasted the Spirit, and who wilfully oppose his liberating power.

Broadly speaking, there are three causes for people leaving the charismatic movement. The first one mentioned here is the best, and most often leads to them adjusting wholly to orthodox evangelical teaching. The last two give rise to the least stable ‘converts’.

A first cause of leaving occurs when people experience some serious disappointment or disillusionment with the charismatic movement, and begin to evaluate its claims more carefully. Perhaps a relative or close friend has died and they have seen at close quarters the false promises and the failure of -healing prophecies. It may be that they have seen through some of the dishonesty and pride which stalks the citadels of charismatic activity, and have recoiled with shock.

Objective Bible study then caused the entire edifice of charismatic practice to crumble and fall before them

Some years ago, for example, charismatics all over the world were shaken by the wild phenomena of the Toronto Blessing, and they turned to God’s Word in a new spirit of enquiry. Objective Bible study then caused the entire edifice of charismatic practice to crumble and fall before them.

A second cause of departure from charismatic activity is personal disaffection. While this may lead to people’s eyes being opened, it often does not. In charismatic house groups and cells an artificially high degree of emotional interdependence is fostered, and in such a climate offences can occur which drive people out. These may come over to the derided traditionalists almost as an act of protest. The real issue is one of personal disaffection, not doctrinal unease, and while these émigrés may criticise everything they have left, it may only be the outworking of hurt feelings.

Sometimes people leave because their ‘gifts’ have not been sufficiently recognised, or their own leadership hopes have been thwarted. Such leavers will probably return, if not to the same group, to another section of the charismatic camp. We may almost say that the more heated the invective, the sooner a person will go back. We certainly have an opportunity to help such disgruntled people see the real issues, and we pray that the Lord will open their eyes, but our efforts may well be in vain.

A third cause of departure which usually leads to people returning is that of a generally unstable temperament. This is not a comment on the mental stability of people, but on their inability to think clearly and to recognise foundational principles of biblical conduct.

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