Servants' News

May/June 1999

Some Common Charismatic Terms


Baptism of the Holy Spirit:

Most Charismatics believe that salvation involves not just original faith and repentance, followed by the public act of water baptism, but that there is another step, the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit". This event may happen at the same time as initial conversion, but frequently is said to occur some time later. The evidence that this has happened is the fact that the person immediately begins to "speak in tongues". Usually, it is "an unknown tongue", though a few Charismatics will claim to speak a foreign language that others can understand. Opinions vary in Charismatic circles as to whether a person who has not spoken in tongues is truly "saved". Some groups teach that the purpose of this Baptism is to empower the believer for service, but its lack doesn’t keep one from eternal salvation. Others teach that only the "Spirit Baptized" receive salvation.

Slain in the Spirit:

At typical Charismatic or Pentecostal healing revivals for many decades, the evangelist may touch the forehead of those coming to him. At that point, quite a number of participants fall backwards in an apparent faint. This is referred to in Charismatic circles as being "slain in the spirit". It has usually been accounted for by the suggestion that the "power of God" involved in the healing just overwhelms the physical body to the point it can no longer stand erect. Connections are made to incidents in the Bible where prophets "fell as dead" at the feet of God or an angel. (In reality, the Bible gives no examples where a person clearly falls over backward because of God’s power.)

Recently, however, it has become quite common at Charismatic gatherings for many to be "slain in the spirit" not by touch, but by a mere wave of the hand of evangelists such as Benny Hinn. And often it is not just one person affected, but whole rows of people on the stage or in the audience—even hundreds or thousands at once. It usually has no direct connection with healing. It appears to just be a "show" of supernatural power. To a "believer" it may be "proof" that God’s presence is in the meeting. To a skeptic, it may appear to be just "spiritual bullying" by the evangelist, caused either by some sort of hypnotic suggestion, or by a supernatural force not necessarily Godly in nature.

"Confession Brings Possession":

This is a cliché often included in writings by teachers who are part of the branch of Charismatics known as the "Word-Faith" movement. The implication of the cliché is that there are certain statements in the Bible which can be taken as promises from God, and you need only "confess" them to "possess" them. You are not to pray and ask God for them, using the words "according to Your will, Father," but rather to merely "confess" (or "profess") that these blessings are already yours by decree of God. In fact, many such teachers insist it is almost blasphemous to tack on the words "if it is Your will" to a prayer of this type. Such teachers include as "promises" from God such general statements as John’s greeting to the recipient of his third epistle:

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth (3Jn 1:2)

This is taken, not as a pleasant wish from one person to another, but as a promise from God. Thus such teachers insist that it is always God’s will for any Christian to receive financial prosperity and instantaneous healing.

The original form of this cliché appears to have been "What I confess, I possess", coined by E.W. Kenyon (1867-1948).

The phrase "confession brings possession" has been widely used by Charismatic speakers and authors for decades. One example from Hobart Freeman (1920-1984) in his book Faith: "Confession brings possession, for what you confess is your faith speaking." In fact, a little tract by Norvel Hayes, currently available from the "Charismatic Interest" section of many Christian bookstores is titled "Confession Brings Possession".

Power Evangelism:

Many who believe that the current Charismatic movement is a manifestation of the power of God insist that the only way to effectively evangelize the public in our time is to provide alleged demonstrations of God’s supernatural power, such as those manifestations seen at Benny Hinn campaigns.

The Third Wave:

The Power Evangelism movement mentioned above is also commonly referred to by charismatic authors as the "Third Wave"(the "first" wave was the Pentecostal movement, the "second" the general Charismatic movement). The following quote, allegedly spoken by God directly to televangelist Rod Parsley, characterizes this concept:

There is a wave coming! A wave of supernatural Holy Ghost power! A wave of unexplainable demonstration of My ability and proof that I am God. There is a demonstration of the Holy Ghost coming! It is coming in a mighty wave, and when it comes, if you are not prepared, it will crush you under its thundering torrents! But if you will get ready, if you will prepare yourself, the wave that will crush others will propel you to the heights and realms of the demonstration of the glories of My kingdom." (The Day Before Eternity © 1998; p. 164).

— Pam Dewey

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