Mar 27, 2011

The Proof Is In The Paralysis

This post may challenge your theology. It challenged mine.

But we're in a season where God is once again asking us to set aside some of our agendas and let Him show us things in His kingdom we haven't yet considered.

I've taken some heat lately for not standing against John Crowder, who is featured in today's testimony. To be honest, I don't know much about John. But in a recent exchange, when I didn't join others in condemning Crowder, a few people who believe he's a false teacher became angry with me.

OK, it was a little worse than that. They accused me of being deceived. One of them started his own blog to proclaim the truth I wasn't seeing. And that's pretty much how these things go.

One of the troubling things I've experienced (though it seems to happen more to my friends than to me) is the tendency of some Christians to label anyone who doesn't agree with them as a false teacher or false prophet. Crowder is one of the biggest targets for criticism these days.

So I went to the Holy Spirit and asked what's going on.

This is what I heard:

People who reject ideas that conflict with their own, do so because their identity comes from what they hold to be true. They call themselves Christian, Calvinist, Atheist, Republican, Lutheran, etc, based on what ideas they believe to be true and to some degree what experiences they've had.

For many, these labels have become their identity. Instead of taking their identity from the God, they form one based on philosophies, doctrines, morals and experiences. When confronted with a theological idea, their identity comes into question. If they affirm the idea, they allow it to become part of their identity. If they reject it, they maintain their identity.

For these people, every discussion about God or religion challenges their identity.

Herein lies a great problem.

If we tie our identity to our beliefs, every time we discuss something theological, our identity is at risk. If we don't want to change our identity every day, we must reject all experiences and teaching that differ from our own. From this, we first reject an idea. If an individual confronts our identity often enough with "false" teaching, it's easier to label them a false teacher and reject everything they say. This reduces the exposure of our identity to challenges.

This is the operating mode of people who are sometimes referred to as "heresy hunters".

There is another group, whose identity isn't tied to what they believe to be true. They take their identity from what God says about them. Some have heard Him say, "You are one of my prophets" or "You are my chosen vessel for leading worship". Once God declares their identity it never comes into question again. They believe what God said and that ends the debate.

People who take their identity from the Father can be challenged in their beliefs, because their identity isn't at stake in theological discussions. Their beliefs are a bit more flexible and will change from time to time as experiences and revelation continually shape them.

These people are free to disagree with one another without the need to label anyone a false teacher because they have little at stake personally in the discussion.

Bearing these things in mind, I'd ask you to consider this rather amazing testimony from John Crowder and his friend concerning a spiritual revival at Walmart that began with the healing of a woman who was paralyzed.

For those who aren't familiar with what it's like to be drunk in the spirit, that is what they're referring to when they talk about getting whacked, juiced, drunk, etc. They haven't been drinking alcohol. It's the same thing the apostle Peter defended when he said, "These are not drunk as you suppose.... but this is that which was spoken of by the the prophet Joel." (Acts 2:15-16)