By: Al Cronkrite

I was converted in the early 1960s through the ministry of. Bruce Larson who headed Faith at Work founded by Rev. Sam Shoemaker Shoemaker was heavily influenced by Frank Buchman’s Oxford Groups which were Humanistic, Evangelical, and Arminian. 

For twenty-five years my family and I attended Charismatic churches and followed “Spirit filled” ministers.  We were members of a Charismatic Presbyterian Church that was spawned by a larger church of the same denomination.  Cultic sisters from Orleans on Cape Cod brought their ministry to this new church and we visited their home and sisterhood several times.  New Christians seldom understand the danger of cults.

For almost a decade we attended a Charismatic Methodist Church pastured by a Princeton Graduate who, pained by a lack of church growth, attended a Charismatic home group, received the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”, forsook the Calvinist roots of his alma mater and was rewarded by full pews.  He claimed “the Baptism” freed him to preach a more attractive gospel.

His was a small country church when we began to attend. We watched it grow from less than three score to over a hundred in each of two services.  It was a simple white colonial style structure with a small, narrow lobby and doors at the entrance to each pew.  There was no choir but both the minister and his wife were talented musicians. She could coax angelic cords from the piano and during the collections played popular praise songs softly sung by the audience; an ineffable, heart breaking ambience often filled the sanctuary.

The minister surrounded himself with talented and loyal lay people and along with the attractive Sunday service conducted an extensive counseling ministry. 

His sermons were edifying and the service was emotionally fulfilling; though there was vague talk of obedience, God’s Commandments were omitted and the ministry was humanistic.

We attended for almost ten years and finally concluded that the fruit of behavioral change was missing and with great disappointment we stopped attending.

There were other newly formed Charismatic churches in the area and this church became one of a group that hosted an ever changing procession of Charismatic thrill seekers.  There was fierce competition both within and without.

From the beginning Bob Mumford was a leader in the worldwide Charismatic revival.   In the late 1960s we attended his services at Rev. John Poole’s church in Philadelphia.  There was much talk about the anointing of the Holy Spirit and these services had the same aura as the Connecticut Church; a healing peaceful calm pervaded the service, the church and the surrounding area.

It seemed to us that the entire monolithic Charismatic Movement, though authentic in many ways, created lots of excitement but failed to produce an effective cohesive Christian laity.  In the late 1980s I wrote a letter the Bob Mumford at Life Changers contending that in response to a massive Christian revival the Charismatic Movement had failed to produce the behavioral fruit that God demands and could therefore be under God’s judgment.   Though I had supported his ministry Rev. Mumford did not answer my letter.

I was aware of the Shepherding Movement and knew people who were involved.  However, I had not joined and was unaware that severe criticism had forced Rev. Mumford and four other Christian ministers to recant on some of their previously held positions.  The Shepherding Movement was an attempt to create human accountability in the church.  It was an incipient cult and though accountability is still a serious problem its demise was a blessing.

The theology of cults is often superior to mainline Christian churches.  However, cults invariably seek to cloister and control.  The cult supersedes the family and destroys God’s basic unit of government by dividing and destroying its structure.    

The Reformation dealt with several evil doctrines and practices in the Catholic Church but it failed in maintaining a cohesive Christian voice. The heretical theology of Jacob Arminiius found fertile ground and set the stage for the profanity of Dispensationalism which has denuded the Protestant Church.  Arminianism got a foot in the door and Dispensationalism cut the heart out of Christianity.

Heretical theologies have produced great revivals with impressive numbers of Christian converts but they rarely produce social transformation.  Christians should adore, praise, and seek God and the blessing of His Holy Spirit but pietistic serendipities are ancillary to obeying God’s Commandments. 

When the essential theological maxim of obedience is missing there is a strong tendency to exert human control.  Cay and Judy from the Community of Jesus http://www.communityofjesus.org/ demanded obedience from the students at a School in Canada and from the families that joined the Community.  They suffered law suits and disaffections.

The Methodist Minister in Connecticut was successful in controlling a small cadre and a number of persons that received his counsel but his ministry failed to produce social change agents.

The problem is theological.  Christians are commanded not to lord it over one another. (Matthew 20, Mark 10)  Our leaders are supposed to be servants.  The Biblical system of government begins with the family and members of the family are to obey the Father.   All Christians are enjoined to obey God’s Commandments.  Peace and order come from obedience to God’s Law not from the opinions and whims of sinful men.

The father is expected to be a servant leader who while leading his family is also a servant to it. 

Our Savior’s ministry attracted many followers.  He healed the sick and set the captives free.   But when He went to the Cross the crowds disappeared.  Few preachers will confront the moneychangers in the temple or personally confront the humanist leaders of our time. Jesus sought to do the Will of His Father.  If contemporary Christians would do the same our nation would be growing in peace and prosperity.

The gaping hole in the theology of Dispensational Evangelical and Charismatic churches causes them to seek control over their congregations.  The minister of the Charismatic Methodist set himself up as arbiter through counseling.  The Shepherding movement sought accountability through obedience to other human beings.  Cultic leaders set themselves up as gods to be followed and obeyed.  Pietistic churches fail to teach the primary theme of God’s entire Word.  The Bible demands obedience to God’s Commandments when God’s people obey His Law the blessings God promises are there for all to see and His powerful earth changing army can easily defeat the forces of Satan.

 God seeks to be praised and adored but his primary desire is to be obeyed.  

"Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."

Al Cronkrite is a free-lance writer from Florida. He a is regular columnist for Ether Zone.

We also invite you to visit his website - http://www.verigospel.com

Al Cronkrite can be reached at: fmsinfla@hotmail.com

Published in the June 14, 2013 issue of  Ether Zone.
Copyright 1997 - 2013 Ether Zone.

We invite your comments on this article in our forum!