Charismatic Poll – What Are Your Thoughts?

I thought this Parchment and Pen poll was interesting. With over 1000 votes, it serves as a good tool to gauge where people stand. What are your thoughts and observations?

It was hard for me to believe how many people believe the gifts are continuing, but don’t practice.

38 Responses to “Charismatic Poll – What Are Your Thoughts?”

  1. Save for some aspect of “tongues” for the personal prayer closet, I am “cessationist”! Though of course GOD is always Sovereign! ;)

  2. It’s telling of the demographic this blog draws. :)

    I think the first 2 categories are pretty similar and connected.

  3. “It was hard for me to believe how many people believe the gifts are continuing, but don’t practice.”

    Couple questions.

    Why do you find it hard to believe? Is it because that position poses a somewhat cognitive dissonance?

    Why do you think there is that group of people? I step back from the categorization, nomenclature or percentage and wonder what these people are thinking. Whats going on in their heart?

    Do these folks, in truth, WANT to believe God does supernatural things but can’t honestly say it happens in or around them? They have never seen it happen. Is their belief more hope? Do they need this hope in God’s supernatural-ness because without it they can’t understand how God is actually God?


  4. What would be interesting to know is the basis for a non-practicing continuationist’s belief. How did they arrive at their conclusion?

    Are they influenced by popular opinion, just being nice about it, giving the benefit of doubt to a practicing friend or what? And semantics could be a problem also.

    I am a hard cessationist but I believe God can and does occasionally heal. The healings occur at His discretion only, no “healer” required.

    In other words, did some voters confuse the “gift” with the “effect?”

  5. back at you. Those are questions I have for YOU! :)

  6. Indeed, the history and even the present “Church” is the issue! Does not look good for the idea of ‘continuation”! What is always needed is “spirit and truth”, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself”, … but has “committed to us the word of reconciliation”. (2 Cor. 5:19, etc.)

    WE, are the Body of Christ, now! And are living messengers ourselves! But, the message and “kerygma” of Christ is always the Gospel, itself.. which is Christ of course, Risen, Ascended, but still always the Crucified-Christ! This was the message of Paul and then Luther, as so many other true Apostolic men and people. This trumps any gift, or “charisma”! The true “prophesying”… Christ & the Cross!

  7. Michael,

    The numbers on that rather surprised me too. I think some of it is probably the excesses many of us have seen too much of in hyper-charismatic circles. Fake prophecy, fake ‘glory clouds’ and other numerous bizarre manifestations that have caused us to be wary, even though we believe the gifts continue.

    Also many charismatic churches who do believe the gifts continue don’t make them the main attraction. Christ is. I know when I go to church I don’t want to see a circus performance in order to ‘prove’ God can still work miracles. That just doesn’t make sense to me, since Christ is the most awesome gift we have been given, and if He is not in the building as such, IMO, then the rest is like shopping in a big box store and expecting to find something extremely valuable.

    I certainly don’t mean any insult to my Christian brothers and sisters, however, who do practice the gifts reverently and in order, and with great caution about their genuinely coming from the Holy Spirit.

  8. Practicing charismatic in a reformed church

  9. I believe that God doesn’t change and, therefore, continues giving all of his gifts as he wills. So, all Christians are given spiritual gifts and can only use the gifts they’re given. All gifts are supernatural because God is supernatural. But, false teachers have succeeded in getting Christians to undermine all supernatural aspects of everything, while others get them to make certain gifts more “supernatural” than what they really are. Tongues are angel and human languages. Paul had both kinds and most of us only qualify for human languages. For tongues, especially that of angels, you have to be very strong in Christ and there must be reason for it. Prophecy operates a little differently today, but anyone with that gift will still be given warnings and will warn, regardless. Pseudo Christianity is the name of the game and people want to be their own god and try to accept God at the same time. Self-will and foolishness taint the Church. People don’t want to accept the fact that in order to be strong in Christ, you must obey all of God’s commands. They think that God gives room for disobedience because he is merciful. They also want to make Christianity into a mystic, or any other form of false, experience for whatever reason. Like with everyone else, all Christians know the truth and have to choose to accept it or continue to fight against God.

  10. I believe God heals today, believe he speaks to people, and have myself experienced divine healing. The problem is that I have seen so much hype and hypnotic methods, as well as false claims, that I am very leery of groups that practice the gifts today. Why put people into a suggestible state instead of just letting God’s prophetic word, or healing stand on its own?

  11. What does it mean to be a “charismatic” haha? Are we talking about the preachers on tv that talk with pizazz and heavily pronounced sentence endings?

  12. In 1962, at an Intervarsity retreat in the Hudson Valley, our guest speaker was from the missions branch of the Church of England. One of his duties included a survey of the church worldwide. He concluded that 90% of the evangelicals worldwide were members of conventional evangelicals and 10% were pentecostal. At this time the full gospel movement, later to be rename charismatic, was small and probably statistically insignificant. Thirty years later, I met him again and he told me he had repeated the survey and found, much to his astonishment, that 70% of the new believers in that period were reached through pentecostal and charismatic missionaries and native evangelists. Having had opportunity to listen to his criteria for identifying believers, I imagine that he underestimates the numbers in all categories for scholastic reasons.
    I have also spoken to a missionary who was stationed in one of the countries where the church is often severely persecuted. Her observation was that although cessationist denominations sent numerous missionaries into that country, they either crossed over into the charismatic camp or went home, with few exceptions. The stress of being followed by local police or informants, knowing that one mistake on ones part could mean the torture and imprisonment of national believers, expulsion and being declared personna non grata are probable causes.
    It is easy, in the comfort of an American or European home, seminary or coffee house to argue about the merits or demerits of the charismatic movement, so-called, but in the trenches, “from Greenland’s icy mountains to India’s coral sands,” it may be a totally different story.
    Cessationists, on the whole, have found it easy to criticize, but have failed to view charismatics overall, with regard to their faithfulness to the Great Commission or in other matters of faith.
    Our church has no missions committee, yet 20% have been on short or long term missions to all six continents.

  13. @Don K:
    No committee means people get abandoned. Charismatics on the field tend to be flighty, coming and going as the wind blows them, without the staying power of their “traditional” church brothers and sisters. Charismatic statistics-takers assume that churches worldwide are like them, or are dying, and it is simply not true. When you only talk to people just like you, you end up with only a partial view.

    Greetings from a closed country, where I have been for many years. His grace helped me survive and continue, in spite of my own abandonment. This abandonment was through no fault or sin or lack or results of mine, but was because their own focus shifted. After this happened, I started finding out more about what God was doing outside of my own Charismatic background, and found that he was moving and changing lives in a wide variety of groups, contrary to what I had always been taught and believed.

  14. The Holy Spirit certainly gives us all gifts.

    But the important thing (about those gifts) is the use of them.

    If they are of no good to anyone, then why even have them?

  15. @Recovering:

    People get hurt in all parts of the church and are transformed in all parts of the church. My background is Lutheran and, at times have found myself in different denominations – Presbyterian, Baptist, Nazarene, independent cessationist, A of G, as memory serves – I gave my life to Christ more than fifty years ago and have seen much all the way around.

    Through the lens of your own experience, you have missed the point. The Anglican priest who led the statistical survey was of your stereotypical reserved Oxbridgian Englishman, no friend of charismatics when I met him. It was only after his second survey that he began to reconsider his views. The missionary referred to was raised to be analytical from her elementary school days, is a graduate of a highly regarded American university: flighty by no means. Her sibs’ complaint: too intellectual.

    I am not surprised about what your charismatic church taught you about the rest of the church. Pentecostals, in particular, have had to endure over a century of often withering criticism from within the Church. Many have a siege mentality as a result. Some true charismatics from the sixties and seventies hold similar views.

    No committee does not mean that people get abandoned when more than half the church has family members that have been to the field, nor when furloughed missionaries, both of cessationist and non-cessationist missions choose to make your church theirs because they feel at home there. Because people get it, what being a missionary is about. Because pastors and elders are fully committed to meeting their needs: monetary, emotional, spiritual. Church culture substitutes for committee with a much larger congregational involvement. There is an evangelical church in New York City that at one time fully supported 48 different missionaries through its endowments. Congregational involvement was optional.

  16. @Recovering,

    Don’t be so quick to paint all Pentecostal/Charismatics as “flighty.” The denom I am a part of, Assemblies of God (classical Pentecostal), has a history of missionaries who labored faithfully for years in the fields to which God called them before seeing the first convert (Victor Plymire worked for 16 years in China/Tibet before he had his first convert, and lost his wife and son to smallpox while there, but stuck with it I have personal friends from our local congregation who are returning to east Africa at the end of this year to go into a heavily Muslim area to evangelize as part of an initiative to impact unreached people groups (

    I’m sure every group has its people that give up due to lack of “results” and those who faithfully stick to it, knowing by Whom they were called.

  17. I practice the spiritual gifts, and I considered myself grounded and rooted in the word. I honestly think that pentacostals get a bad rap just like chik-fil-a gets a bad rap. Outsiders usually label and miscategorize an entire group based on obvious abuses of the group, or the most well-known and outrageous (to outsiders) beliefs of that group. But there ARE many, many charismatics who are quiet and not well known who approach the spiritual gifts in a grounded, theological manner. The abuses of the spiritual gifts are an unfortunate reality of a fallen world, just as the financial, sexual abuses of conservative branches of the church are also. The fact that true spiritual miracles are uncommon does not mean they do not occur, or that we should make assumptions about their occurring based on this.

    I’d also like to draw your attention to a study by Professors at Indiana University, who systematically examined the effects of prayer healing by a charismatic ministry in Mozambique and found statistically significant effects using scientific measurements. Again, this is something that would never make the news, but is miraculous AND based on verifiable, confirmed events.

    The ministry studied:

  18. For those of you who don’t have access to the full article, here is the link.

    I don’t believe that it is accurate to draw assumptions about the possible theological principles behind the gifts vis a vis the way people practice them. Eg. the common claim that charismatics are “flighty” and make statements they shouldn’t (which I will admit is often true) does not weigh upon the question of whether the supernatural gifts themselves are still in operation, or whether god has allowed them to continue. In the same vein, non-believers also shouldn’t judge Christianity and its values, beliefs, as a whole alone based on the practices and abuses of the community. To me, the true challenge in understanding the supernatural gifts is not the question of whether they still operate, but whether we can create a body of theologically-informed Christians who can steward the gifts in a responsible and edifying manner.

  19. Given that the survey is non-professional, it certainly does not represent evangelicaldom at large, nor even all those who read or post here. It represents only those who responded, and about whom we readers know nothing other than they came to this site and answered the survey.

    That being said, however, it is certainly provocative that a site that is explicitly cessationist attracts so many that are not. In addition, it is thought provoking to see how many people who do not (in their opinion) experience overt gifts still believe that God gives them in this present age.

    It is no shock to suppose, as many have, that the idolatry of wealth in the west has so limited our life in the Spirit that we do not experience what those in the 2/3s world do. But I also observe that many people do not recognize the activity of the Spirit because they have defined his activity out of existence. That is, it can only be of the spirit, or a gift of the Spirit, of a gift like those in the 1st century, if “___” (fill in the blank).

    My own experience has included the call to pray for couples who were barren, I prayed, they conceived. Yet the connection between prayer and conception was not instantaneous (so to speak) nor did it involve laying of hands. It involved a felt calling, a response, and a result.

    How one views these events in my life depends on one’s framework–was it merely coincidental? and the world is nought but a material place? Was the feeling merely of my own creation?, etc. I experienced it as life in the Spirit, which Paul discribed variously and not exhaustively. And by “life in the Spirit” I do not merely mean that God answers prayer, but that life in the Spirit results in all these things / gifts variously.

    To be cessationist is to make one’s life experiences the rule by which other disciples are measured, and to indicate that their experiences are counterfeit–either of the Adversary, or of their own imaginings.

  20. @John: That last paragraph was simply ad hoc at best! And of course I would challenge it, historically, biblically and theologically! And at 62, almost three, I have lived thru the Charismatic renewal and movement, both Roman Catholic, and the English Anglican. And just to say it, I have both the D. Phil., and Th.D.

  21. Many years ago I attended a Christian & Missionary Alliance Church. Their doctrinal stand on spiritual gifts was summarized in this: “Seek not; forbid not.” I always thought that was incredibly profound as well as liberating theologically. My wife and I are members of a non-demoninational church now, but that summary continues to characterize my belief about God’s gifts. I remain grateful for every spiritual gift afforded to any Christian. I do not believe that it is my place to deny that God can and will do anything, even to distributing spiritual gifts that may create dissonance in my life. I strive to live by “seek not; forbid not.”

  22. Re Fr. Robert and my comment, “To be cessationist is to make one’s life experiences the rule by which other disciples are measured”

    Blogging does not allow for full explanations, and so I apologize for unintended implications and messages. What I was referring to by “cessationist” was not only the hard cessationist but also the sort exemplified by CMPatton who is not intriniscally opposed to continuationism but who doubts its validity given that he has not experienced it and given that there are very good cessationist arguments that account for the lack of the more overt and “dramatic” gifts of the Spirit.

    I do admit that there are reasonable arguments supporting cessationism, including ones based on the Bible. However, such arguments are not conclusive, meaning that they oust any possibility of continuationism being true. The texts involved admit of more than one reasonable interpretation and so can be said to be “not inconsistent” with either position.

    My point is more that the cessationist position–even historically–has always been grounded in the (limited) observation that many Spiritual gifts no longer seem to be experienced (in the world of the cessationist).

    However, if we treat fellow disciples of Christ charitably, then we cannot discount their experiences of such gifts. Furthermore, it is an unwarranted and undemonstrable assumption that all such experiences are not experiences of Spiritual gifts / of the Spirit.

    The most a cessationist should say to a continuationist is “I have never had the experience you claim, and here are reasons to doubt the veracity and reliabilty of your understanding of your experience”.

    My other main point is that the issue is cloudy not so much because of ambiguous material evidence, but because of language failings.


  23. @John: Indeed in the end, this is always a biblical and theological issue for me! And I don’t see myself as a hard cessationist, as I have had myself the so-called gift of tongues, on & off.. in the prayer closet. But no more for me, so basicially I am a cessationist overall, in the so-called visible church.

  24. I can’t see support in Scripture for total cessation, but I believe the open display of “charismatic gifts” were mainly for evidence of God’s work & His will regarding the gospel being also for Gentiles. I believe the gifts are not widespread today; we have the evidence & witness of the NT and Christian history. I’ve read books about previously unreached tribes hearing the gospel, and their experiences are more like those of the first Christians. That makes sense to me.

    However… of my closest friends is the godliest woman I know and she knows Scripture, OT & NT, better than anyone I’ve ever met, including pastors. She was raised as a Baptist & gave her life to the Lord at a young age. At about age 12, while praying alone, she began to speak in another language. She had not been exposed to that ever before. She has an absolutely Scriptural view of tongues and other charismatic gifts — she believes they’re not for all believers, because each is given different gifts, and none are superior to others. She never speaks in tongues in a group, probably because she hasn’t been in a service with people who didn’t know English.

    My other closest friend was raised Pentecostal, and experienced the full gamut of charismatic gifts. One of her memories is of speaking in tongues ecstatically for a long service, and after coming home, she still couldn’t speak in anything but tongues for hours. She stayed out of church through high school & her early twenties, and then committed her life to the Lord in a non-denom church. Now in her forties, she isn’t a cessationist, but says that the more she studied the Bible & grew in the Lord, the less she felt any urge or desire to speak in tongues. In fact, because of the things she saw as a child that she now believes were psychological manipulation, she doesn’t trust many or most claims & occurrences of charismatic experiences.

  25. @Don K, Brian Roden

    When I said Charismatics on the field tended to be flighty, I was not speaking historically, I was speaking of the newer ones. I have met dozens who say that they are called to come here (when they are actually here, so they responded to the call), and in a year, or five years, or after they have to jump through a few hoops to get a visa, they are called to go back home, or to go to a different country.

    I am not trying to generalize this in the same sense as the studies and books referring to the growth of Charismatics worldwide. I am trying to respond to Don K’s statements:

    “they either crossed over into the charismatic camp or went home, with few exceptions….It is easy, in the comfort of an American or European home, seminary or coffee house to argue about the merits or demerits of the charismatic movement, so-called, but in the trenches, “from Greenland’s icy mountains to India’s coral sands,” it may be a totally different story.”

    I have met dozens of people who come and say that God has called them to give their life for _____, but fairly soon they say that God has called them to do something else. In my admittedly limited experience, if a non-Charismatic says God has called them, they take that seriously and you can trust they will be around barring a massive personal emergency. 9 times out of 10, Charismatics that I know here are open to God reversing their call at any time, so often they leave quite suddenly after something they received in their quiet time redirects them yet again. So you can’t trust that they will be around, hence the use of the word “flighty”.

    I admit my own grasp of the big picture is incomplete. My own “training” years ago was much less then comprehensive, even though they claimed it to be. This blog has helped me tremendously in being able to re-focus on essentials, rather than on the “bizarre manifestations” as mbaker calls them, that I was originally trained for.

  26. Recovering,

    Since you quoted me, just so you know, the bizarre manifestations i am talking about I’m sure are not the ones you are saying you were ‘originally trained for’. At least I hope not. I am talking about things like so called so angel feathers , that upon investigation turned out to be bird feathers, gold dust which turned out to be anything but , and gems falling in churches and elsewhere that turned out to be nothing but glass glass. I don’t think that those are true gifts from the Holy Spirit.

    Just so we’re all clear on that.

  27. @mbaker

    gold dust, fillings changed to gold, laughing in the spirit, roaring like a lion, personal prophetic words, and much more. Angel feathers were in there somewhere too. Yeah, was trained for all that. Not trained for much else. Struggled with trying to apply all that out here for many years, with limited success.

    Finally, after they abandoned me a few years back started questioning if there was not a better, more biblical, more focused on the essentials, way of doing things. I know that some was real – some of the healings, some of the hearing from God. I also know that a whole lot of it was hype and using hypnotic methods. So now belatedly trying to learn from this blog, carefully selected books, and irenic individuals I meet; all the things that were left out in my own training.

    And I do constantly run into people here that say they are called for a lifetime, but the Charismatics who say that usually really mean that they hear from God daily, constantly, and sooner or later they feel that their time is up, often quite suddenly – as opposed to everyone on the field in closed countries “crossing over into the Charismatic camp or going home”.

  28. Recovering,

    I am glad you get what I was trying to say. i think we are both agreed on the gifts from the Holy Spirt not being being false and manufactured just to impress their audiences.

    Yet, I find I find I have to respectfully disagree on the issue of charismatics not remaining in the missionary field any longer as compared to others.

    i think it more a matter of personal commitment, because if someone wasn’t committed in the first place, for better or for worse, it doesn’t really matter if they believe in the gifts continuing or not.

  29. @mbaker

    I agree with your last paragraph. I think the dividing line between those with a higher rate of leaving is less where they stand on the continuation of the gifts, and more the subgroup that assumes an active leading and involvement from God on every issue, large and small, that they encounter during their week.

    Many of those that stay believe in the continuation, or partial continuation of the gifts.

  30. C Michael Patton August 19, 2012 at 12:18 am

    “My own experience has included the call to pray for couples who were barren, I prayed, they conceived. Yet the connection between prayer and conception was not instantaneous (so to speak)”

    I certainly hope not! Sorry, I just pictured you laying your hands on the couple when…well, I’m done.

  31. What are we drinking tonight? And how much? Laying hands joke. Flirting with Mark Driscol here? Cool. That was irony btw.

    I am happy for that couple you prayed for!

    We were barren, had prayers and even people “prophesying” over us. One lady told us (seriously) she could see twins. In parallel we had expensive medical treatment with the odds 5:1 against. 5 times, and it happened. The little miracle will be dedicated shortly. I am sure our pastor will ask something related to God answering prayers. What should I respond? Should I please everybody by pulling the classic “well, the first couple of years of hardship was God’s way of testing our faith, then he had enough of being cruel and granted our wishes”? The magic wand kind of Genie in a bottle gesture?

    Honestly 1) my faith in that God would intervene was 0 from the start, 0 in the middle and 0 in the end. Honestly 2) I am so tired of all this “we have to explain everything about how God thinks and acts”, fortune cookies stuff. All this based on observations and behind the scene experience.

    God sent his son to die for our sins. He loves us. We’re on our own here until later, faith in him can help us see past suffering here. I’m not afraid of stating that. If I am wrong, God have mercy on me.

    Oh, I am sure there is a joke about magic wands in there somewhere, if you wish to pick up on that. I mean, hey it’s fun.

  32. Oh, there’s more. Hilarious. @mbaker:

    Charismatics and positions. ROFL

    “Yet, I find I find I have to respectfully disagree on the issue of charismatics not remaining in the missionary field any longer as compared to others.”

  33. Re CMP at #31 – too funny. You have a great sense of humour. I’m gonna be laughing all day. Especially when I think of the anointing with oil that goes with the laying on of hands.

  34. Can I put in a book plug for “Post-Charismatic” by Rob McAlpine. I suspect he identifies one of the reasons in the growing number of people who retain a charismatic theology, but have been burnt by bad charismatic practice and thus attend non-Charismatic churches.

    (Also, the current poll on the RHS has no way of voting for a Biblical charismatic position – that tongues can be of either known (as in at Pentecost) or unknown (ref Paul in various places) origin.)

  35. normativeness

    Fr. Robert and CMP do not, at least from prior posts and threads that I have led, deny that the Spirit can do what he wants, when he wants, to whom he wants. In their thoughtful posts I see a sensitively cautious approach that sees in the lack of normative and widespread experience of the more “showy” gifts as an indidication–possibly from the Spirit–that we need to consider carefully our theology of the gifts, and that given the differences between the 1st century and now we cannot apply what happened then holus bolus to the present.

    Personally, my views have changed from not having a clue that this Spirit stuff existed, to being agnostic about it while studying up on it, to believing it (except baptism in the Spirit), to marrying a Pentacostal, to denying it, and to being open to it again. I’m cautiously disposed to a positive view of it (can I leave myself any more wiggle room), and to seeing our western experiences as potentially the non-normative experience. I find CMP’s posts and criticism on this topic to be very thoughtful as well as thought-provoking, which is why I like interacting with them and being devil’s advocate.

  36. @John: My wife too (born Roman Catholic, though not now), was quite charismatic for many years, she still feels that is her basic persuation. But, also sees that God is just GOD, and does not always use that reality.

    I myself, never get far from the Doctrine of God, which is always GOD, both transcendent & immanent, but always too: God In Christ!

  37. @Recovery (pardon my late response – computer problems, illness)

    “No committee means people get abandoned. Charismatics on the field tend to be flighty, coming and going as the wind blows them, without the staying power of their “traditional” church brothers and sisters. Charismatic statistics-takers assume that churches worldwide are like them, or are dying, and it is simply not true. When you only talk to people just like you, you end up with only a partial view.”

    You have missed both points, I suppose because you have taken your experience and generalized it to all members of a group. It is both unfair and logically fallacious. If you want to tell tales home from school, you can find all kinds of problem people on either side of the cessationist divide. Your experience doesn’t rule, nor mine. Bad behavior and neglect can occur anywhere and as to how much we imagine will be determined by our experiences.
    As to the statistician I mentioned, did you not read that he was Church of England, no friend to charismatics when I met him. But to suggest that to be a non-cessationist would make one a poorer statistician is prejudice. Anyway, The C of E found no reason to fault him in over thirty years: dry academics to read.
    Once again, neglect of missions can be as easily achieved by committee. What we have is a large number of people who are or have been in the field and “get it.” We know the needs: spiritual, emotional, financial. We react accordingly. No committee, in our case, means that no one gets a pass.
    We assume nothing about the church worldwide. Some do. But as to the church here in the USA, the statistics are that each month more than 1,800 walk away from the ministry in our churches, over 19,000 a year. Something is wrong and apparently theological education is not solving it. To put ones head in the sand will not do.
    As to your sad experience, I am truly sorry. I’ve found forgiving speeds healing.

  38. Thanks for all of you who ignored the locker rumor humor and tried to take this post seriously.

    This is big question to many of us as to why normally practicing folks of the gifts have left those churches who do, because of their excesses.

    I am one of them. i believe that the gifts of the church were given to edify it, not to shame it. In recent years we have seen folks who make a mockery of that.

    That saddens me deeply.

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