Charismatic Or Apostolic
By: W.C. Parkey
One of the greatest phenomena that is going on in the religious world is the practice of tongues-speaking among the non-pentecostal denominations of the world. This rapid rise of a new group of people believing in the gifts of the Spirit and the practice of speaking in tongues has resulted in a distinction being made between the two groups of tongues speakers. This distinction is observed, not only by writers who are discussing the pentecostal movement, but by the new group themselves. They prefer to be called “charismatic” or at least non-pentecostal.” By this, they are distinguished from those who though the years have formed denominations based upon the Pentecostal experience.
Included in those who have been advocating the pentecostal experience of speaking with tongues for many years are a group who have been given the name “Apostolic” because they have insisted not only upon a return to the pentecostal practice of speaking with tongues, but to all of the teachings of the original apostles’ doctrines including baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. Included among those who are commonly called “Apostolics” are the members of the United Pentecostal Church. The growth of the charismatic movement with its emphasis upon being distinct from the old line pentecostal denomination has caused an identity crisis in some Apostolics. They are not sure whether they should continue to manifest their apostolic doctrines or emphasize the teachings and traits of the Charismatics.
While there is always a danger in generalizations, and sometimes Names can be misleading, it is still true that there is a difference between the “non-pentecostal” movement who call themselves Charismatics, and the “Apostolics” who have contended through the years for the doctrines of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ and the oneness of the Godhead as well as other doctrines which relate to holiness and right living. Though there may be some neo Pentecostals who teach some doctrines taught by the Apostolics, and there may be some Apostolics who have embraced some practices of the Charismatics, the apostolic movement in general is on a different wave length from the charismatic movement. It is based upon a different concept and in many cases on a different experience and it is contending for a different cause and Is headed in a different direction. In recognizing some of these manifest differences it may be possible for an individual to make a distinct choice between the two for it is impossible to be both charismatic and apostolic.
The most important distinction that can be made between Charismatics and Apostolics is that based on biblical principles. In the first sermon of the New Testament church as preached by Peter and the rest of the apostles on the day of Pentecost, from whence the name of Pentecost is derived, certain principles were laid out. These are succinctly stated in Acts 2:38: “Repent, and be baptized . . . in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Apostolics have accepted repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and the receiving of the Holy Ghost as the standard of complete New Testament salvation. Any experience short of this is an incomplete, deficient, sub-standard experience. Not so with Charismatics!
Charismatics teach the receiving of the Holy Ghost as a gift subsequent to and different from salvation. It is presented as something that everyone should receive as a blessing or for more power, but there is no question of it being a part of salvation. While the Apostolics and most other pentecostal denominations believe that the initial evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is speaking in other languages as the Spirit gives utterance, there are a great variety of ways the baptism of the Spirit may be received in the charismatic movement. Some have been given unintelligible phrases to repeat until they were told that they were “speaking with tongues.” Others say that the baptism of the Holy Ghost is to be accepted by faith and that the tongues will come at some future time down the road. Others are told not to speak in English but to begin to speak words or phrases which they do not understand and then they are reassured that this was the voice of the Spirit.
While some of these practices may also be observed in isolated instances in the apostolic movement, they are reflected by the movement at large as being unscriptural, unscrupulous, and indefensible. On the other hand, some Charismatics practice baptism in water in the name of Jesus Christ, but, once again, baptism is not treated as a part of the plan of salvation. In the world of charismatic ecumenicity the Methodist continue to sprinkle, the Catholics to pour, and the Lutherans to practice infant baptism. It is considered better by some to be immersed and by others to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, but certainly not necessary.
In these important points and many others, there is a significant difference between the Charismatics and the Apostolics.
The fact that there are still Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist distinctions among the Charismatics is not an accident or an anachronism; it is a result of the attitude of the non Pentecostals. They advise their adherents to retain their old church ties as long as possible. There is something to be said about returning to your old associates and telling them what God has done for you. However, when this results in a continuation of unscriptural practices that are contrary to the Word of God, when it results in an indistinct testimony that confuses others who might be interested in truth, and when it causes a continuation of old habits and practices that bring the individual back into bondage, it is regrettable.
Jesus reminded His disciples that they would be turned out of the synagogue from their testimony, and some of them were? Many of the Pentecostals who left their original denomination did not do so willingly, but only after their burning testimony had caused them to be excommunicated for their beliefs. It is hard to believe that these same churches are accepting members who are giving the same testimony.
One of the greatest groups of Charismatics is found within the Roman Catholic fellowship. This world-wide religious body has seen fit to give a limited permission for Charismatics to remain within their ranks. However, there is a price that they must pay. They must continue to accept all of the church teaching and be subject to its hierarchy. So, the charismatic Catholic priesthood can continue to offer mass and baptize infants and the charismatic Catholic can continue to burn candles to images, pray to Mary and the saints, and revere the rosary.
The Roman Catholic Bishops Conference in America has recognized the differences between certain Pentecostals and between its Charismatics. The report of the Committee on Doctrine of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops submitted to the bishops in their meeting in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 1969, says:
“Beginning in 1967, the so-called Pentecostal movement has spread among our Catholic faithful . . . . In calling it a Pentecostal movement we must be careful to disassociate it from classic Pentecostalism as it appears in Protestant denominations, such a the assemblies of God, the United Pentecostal Church, and others.”
Life Style Differences
From its beginning, the Twentieth-Century Pentecostal movement has been a holiness movement. They have taken literally the scriptural commands concerning modes dress, outward adornment and worldly conformity. In addition to the explicit scriptures concerning such matters, they have placed great emphasis upon cleansing themselves from defilement of the flesh and spirit. They have heeded Paul’s command: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” (Romans 12:2 Philip’s translation.)
As the modern trends have become more and more bizarre, many of the pentecostal movements have succumbed to the pressure of worldly conformity. However, the apostolic movement as a whole has continued to strive to keep its sanity in a world gone mad. Their woman have retained their femininity and their long hair. They have rejected the mini-skirt, the pant suit, and the painted face. The man have continued to dress distinctive from the women and to avoid the shame of long hair. Both sexes have avoided the use of cigarettes, liquor, and narcotics.
While some of these prohibitions are no doubt taught as a better way of life within the charismatic movement, some of them are disregarded and some of them are mocked as an abuse of the liberty of a Christian.
After observing all of these fundamental differences between the charismatic movement and the apostolic movement, there should be no question about the fact a to our attitude in regard to the charismatic movement. We must continue to treat each person on an individual basis in determining which direction he is headed. If They are sincere in seeking for a deeper experience and a closer walk with God, we have a responsibility to explain to them the way of God more perfectly. We must recognize whatever work God has done in their lives and treat them with love and concern and friendship. There may be a Paul among them who needs a Barnabas to bring him to a acquaintance with the leadership of the church. There may be a disciple who has not yet heard some of the truths that are commonplace to us. We must instruct these in love peradventure God will give them acknowledgement of the truth. We can treat them differently from those persons who are walking away from the truth that is known or who are rebellious toward leadership and authority. We must warn them of the consequences of walking away from light and back into darkness. Such action can result in the misty path where light becomes darkness and darkness light.
As a group and as a movement we have no choice but to reject those whose doctrines, whose principles, and whose social and moral practices are contrary to what we believe is right. Our action in doing so will be based on sound biblical principles
The Bible is clear on the teaching that contrasting systems cannot exist simultaneously. How can two walk together except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3) A house divided against itself cannot stand. (Mark 3:25) We must all speak the same thing and be joined together in the same mind and judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10) God is not the author of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 13:33)
The Apostolics cannot worship in fellowship with the Charismatics without violating their principles and their consciences as well as the Word of God. “If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.” (John 11:10) If the Apostolic would proclaim his message in the assembly of the Charismatics, the Charismatics would call it confusion. If the Charismatic would proclaim his principles (or absence of principles) in the midst of the apostolic assembly, the Apostolic would accuse him of compromise.
Experience has taught that the road of compromise is a dangerous journey for the truth. Once-great churches that did not take a strong stand for the name of Jesus in the times when these truths were being revealed among the Pentecostal churches soon lost their witness of this great truth. Those who compromised on oneness principles for the sake of fellowship woke in years to come to find that their churches had been stolen, their children brainwashed in Trinitarian Bible schools, their saints snared in worldliness, and only by massive efforts were they able to save themselves.
Jesus gave the right answer to His disciples when they questioned him concerning certain persons who seemed to be doing so well. He simply said, “Leave them alone.” Gamaliel gave the same advice regarding the early Apostolic church. He said, “Refrain from these men, and let them alone.” Jesus was saying, “Don’t join up with them.” Gamaliel was saying, “Don’t persecute them.” We can say no better advice concerning the Charismatics.
While we cannot condone the erroneous practices and the unscriptural doctrines, and we deplore the tragedy of those who are deceived, We have no personal vendetta against them. On the contrary, we do not feel that we need to borrow their practices or share in the fellowship. We should continue to preach the message of full salvation which has been given into our hands. To those who hear our message we can say with Paul, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
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