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The Death of Charismatic Pentecostalism

By Justin Johnson

Charismatic Pentecostalism is dead, and 2020 killed it.

There will still be zombies walking around claiming to be alive, but their claims have been proven false on a very public scale by the events of 2020.

Charismatic Pentecostalism distinguishes itself by a belief in the continuation and practice of the apostolic powers and offices given by the Holy Ghost at the day of Pentecost nearly two thousand years ago.

They claim the power to heal, prophesy, cast out devils, and not be hurt by deadly things as the Bible teaches about the believers at Pentecost (Mark 16:17-18). What’s the evidence of this? In their tongue talking of course! (You can’t understand, because it is an unknown tongue.)

They entirely reject the reality that 1 Cor 13:10 has been fulfilled in the fullness of Christ in the new man (Eph 4:13-14). Their doctrinal position is ignorant of the revelation of the mystery given to the apostle Paul.

The Cause of Death

On a normal year there is plenty of evidence of Charismatic Pentecostal failure, but last year the doctrine died.

The pandemic did not stop in the handicap parking spaces of Charismatic Pentecostal churches. It spread without doctrinal or denominational discrimination.

Pentecostals claimed to “stop the spread” and “cast out the devil” of the coronavirus, but these claims to power did not work. and everyone saw it on charts and graphs from across the nation.

Election outcomes were arrogantly prophesied by many Charismatics, but their prophesies have failed. These were not vague prophesies about things getting better or worse like are normally given. These were specific prophesies about who the president would be.

What’s Different Now?

With the pandemic, election, and other extreme circumstances in our country one of two things are true concerning Pentecostal powers:

1. The Charismatics didn’t care enough to use their powers.
2. The Charismatics didn’t have the power they said they did.

The Corinthians faced the first problem. They had Spirit power to heal and prophesy but lacked charity. The Corinthian carelessness to edify others with their gifts led to divisions in the Corinthian church.

Though it must be true there are some modern day Corinthians in Charismatic circles (as in all modern Christian groups), this does not explain the gross failures of Pentecostal non-manifestation in 2020.

If we grant them sincerity and care (as we would wish to be granted), then it leaves the second statement. However, the second problem is more severe than the first. It is believing a lie.

This is why 2020 killed Charismatic Pentecostalism.

Pentecostalism was too young in 1918 when the Spanish flu pandemic hit, but since that time Charismatic Pentecostalism has been through a few “waves” and has matured to be one of the largest segments within the Christian religion.

But now, 120 years after Charles Parham “rediscovered” the initial experience of speaking in tongues, it is over.

The powers that are claimed by a worldwide movement are based on the lie that God is continuing his Pentecostal ministry. 2020 proved otherwise. They held the stage, and their show was cancelled. They are now all wearing masks.

The Great Mystery

You might recognize the dichotomy presented above as the same given by modern atheists and skeptics regarding the the problem of evil.

The presence of suffering, they say, requires God to either fail at being a loving God, or a powerful God.

The Pentecostals denied his lack of intervention claiming, “God is healing today! You don’t have to suffer! Come and see it! Over here! Over there!” In 2020 there was a worldwide pandemic. Where was God?

The correct Christian response has always been that suffering persists, because God is also purposeful and acts according to his purpose. He has not yet eradicated suffering, due to his saving grace toward all sinners.

Suffering is only a problem when Christians fail to recognize his purpose, attributing his lack of intervention to a mysterious unknown greater plan (or deny it altogether as did the Pentecostals).

The truth is that God has already revealed the mystery of his will to us (Eph 1:9). He explained through the apostle Paul why the Pentecostal powers have ceased, and why his love and power today are not found in removing us from suffering. His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9).

His love and power are found in his grace. He dispenses grace to all without exception. God’s grace manifests his love and his power in the salvation of sinners. It can work for every sinner every time through faith.

“God’s will for all” cannot be said with a straight face about claims of healing after 2020. Not everyone who wanted a healing in 2020 got one, including many in the chief ranks of Charismatic Pentecostalism. Many prophecies failed. It is during such times that even Pentecostals resort to preaching that God’s ultimate healing program is in the resurrection (because that is the only truth about healing for all).

The Obituary

God’s Pentecostal ministry ended centuries ago. Christ put it away when he dispensed his greater purpose by his grace to the church through the apostle Paul. Something that cannot be defeated by a pandemic or a bad election.

Charismatic Pentecostalism tried to revive what God set aside, but in the year of our Lord 2020 the movement was declared lifeless by the evidentiary absence of God’s Pentecostal powers.

What was desperately needed in 2020, and where life and hope is found, is exactly what God is doing today: preaching the grace of God in Christ. The preaching of Christ today is the glory of the cross, not a cure for COVID. Christ is what will give a sure hope to those living through sin and death.

If Charismatic Pentecostalism were true, then 2020 should not have been. 2020 happened. Now they are all wearing masks. They wear their doctrinal failure on their faces.

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Published: March 13, 2021
Last Modified: March 16, 2021
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