J. Lee Grady, Editor of Charisma Magazine
In many charismatic ministries today, basic Christian morality has been hijacked.
How would you feel if your pastor announced from the pulpit that he had uncovered a new revelation in the Bible? His discovery: That a church leader can have more than one wife.
Hopefully, you and everyone in the building would run, not walk, out of that church and never come back until the pastor had been replaced. But I am afraid too many of us gullible charismatics might stay in the pews and eventually give the guy a standing ovation plus a $10,000 love offering.
That's how strange it is getting out there. Something has gone terribly wrong in our movement. Everywhere I turn I find that leaders of so-called Spirit-filled churches are making bizarre choices that compromise basic Christian integrity. Some examples:
a.. At one charismatic megachurch, staff pastors successfully convinced all their wives and female staff members to get breast implants. (I wonder: Was this discussed at a staff meeting?)
We can all say together: Eeeuuuwww!
What has triggered this madness? The devil is working overtime, yet our discernment is at an all-time low. Satan's tactics are more brazen than ever. We might as well let him walk into church on Sunday morning and give him the microphone.
We've been bewitched. What matters to us today are the carnal things. We want flash, bang and the wow factor. If a person can shout loud enough and get everyone to swoon at the altar, we don't care how he or she lives at home. Morality is irrelevant.
In 2000 Charisma reported that charismatic preacher Clarence McClendon had divorced his wife of 16 years, Tammera McClendon, and married another woman after only seven days. The ceremony was performed by Bishop Earl Paulk, founder of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Atlanta. Several prominent ministers attended the wedding, lending their endorsement to McClendon's actions.
Tammera McClendon later informed Charisma that Clarence had told her while they were married that God had already shown him the woman who would replace her as his wife.
McClendon left his denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, after his divorce became public. He began a new church, Full Harvest International Church, which currently meets in Gardena, California. His preaching is aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and he was a featured guest on TBN's Praise the Lord program last week.
In fact, McClendon collected the offering during the network's annual telethon. When I turned on the program and saw him raising money, I stared in disbelief.
How did we get in this pitiful condition? The very pulpits of America have become defiled because we are unwilling to confront sin. We are playing political games when the very health of the church is at stake.
Some Christians write letters to me saying: The Bible says we shouldn't judge. Sure these leaders have stumbled, but no one is perfect. We need to forgive.
What Bible are these people reading? Mine says plainly that it is our responsibility to judge sin in the church. Of course we forgive, but forgiveness does not involve putting a preacher back on stage the next week if he just had a serious moral failure.
When the apostle Paul learned that a man was living in an immoral relationship with his father's wife, he tore into the situation with a vengeance. He said: Are you not to judge those inside [the church]? Expel the wicked person from among you.
Those are not politically correct words, but they were spoken by a true apostle. If we want a restoration of genuine, apostolic Christianity in our generation, we need to dispense with the craziness and initiate some apostolic confrontation.
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma and an award-winning journalist. He writes a column for Charisma Online twice a week.
Note from Dave: I can tell you part of what has gone wrong. The so-called Toronto Blessing was a Trojan horse bringing in religious spirits disguised as gifts to those who were willing to depart from the Word.