On Being a "Discriminating" Charismatic Christian
I wrote yesterday of being "a critical Christian." But of course the word critical has, for many, an automatically negative connotation. The first of seven definitions at Encarta says, "tending to find fault with somebody or something, or with people and things in general." Synonyms might be: captious, fault-finding, censorious. Hmmm.
But then there's another side to this ill-favored word: "characterized by or involving careful and exact analysis and evaluation" (from WordSmyth). Here the synonyms would be: evaluative, discriminating, discerning, investigative.
Thing is, many Christians, perhaps especially the charismatic variety, tend to want to exempt themselves and their own thoughts and notions from this exacting process, and they do so by prefacing their thoughts with words like, "The Lord is telling me. . ." Or, "I'm getting a picture . . ."
Who has not known the Charismatic Christian who uses this sort of language to privilege his own beliefs, ideas, or impulses? It reminds me of the time some friends of mine went to the Toronto Airport Vineyard. A young person there spoke a prophecy over one of these fellows, and when the recipient expressed some skepticism about the "revelation," the young prophet replied, "Hey, it's my vision, man. Don't dis my vision."
Oh, well. So much for testing the spirits. But my point is that thought, human reason, which is after all a gift of God, gets disempowered in this process, and becomes something like an ugly step-sister to revelation.
I need to add here that I am a "charismatic" Christian, but I do believe there is a healthy approach to these matters, and that this "disempowerment" of the mind is not inevitable among us. And to help me think this through, I'm hoping soon to read Full Gospel, Fractured Minds? A Call to Use God's Gift of the Intellect, by Rick M. Nañez.