In comments on previous posts Stuart Onans raised some concerns, saying people involved in prayer ministry are spiritists. I quote one of these comments in reply to my asking for his idea of what a spiritist is:
You must know the meaning spiritist: contacting demonic spirits.
The Holy spirit you contact is not the Holy Spirit of God. You have been fooled by unsound doctrine. 20th century methods who broke away to get more Holy Spirit and formed the pentecostal movement are a bunch of subjective Heretics. The tongues and prophecy in the early church were attributed to the apostles who planted those churches. The ordinary gifts stopped when the apostles died. However, the extraordinary gift of healing continued. This is Calvin and this is Biblical. I pray that God may destroy the Pentecostal movement within my lifetime.
More recently Stuart sent me this email:
I have a question.
Are you a spiritist or a Christian?
Because the prayer activities you engage in at with prayer ministry groups
is subjective and spiritist by nature.
How about that!
Thank you for your concern about our welfare, and the welfare of those you probably think we are leading astray. I appreciate you taking the time to correct what you see as our errors. The points you raise are certainly important ones, and we always wanting to learn more about how to live as true believers in an increasingly godless age.
>Are you a spiritist or a Christian?
> Because the prayer activities you engage in at with prayer ministry groups
> is subjective and spiritist by nature.
I will attempt to answer your question. I am indeed a Christian, as I understand the term; and in no way a spiritist, as I understand the term. However, because there are so many different views on just what constitutes a Christian today, and a great deal of misunderstanding and misinformation, I don’t think this conveys very much. The word ‘Christian’ has become a debased label – it means whatever each user intends by it, and something else to each listener. Because of this I prefer to call myself a follower of Jesus, which is what I believe the early church also did before the Romans bestowed the label on them as a term of abuse. They proudly accepted and adopted this epithet, and I would do the same, except that in their case each knew what the other meant, which is no longer true today. You will need to tell me what you mean by ‘Christian’ if you desire a more useful answer.
However, I will give you are short version of my understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, come in the flesh, born of the virgin Mary. He renounced the privileges of Godhood and became a human, lived a life pleasing to Father God, in total obedience, and committed no sin. He worked wonders on earth, as a man filled with the Holy Spirit, who came upon him at his baptism by John. He was falsely accused of blasphemy when he truthfully declared who he really was, was tried without attempting to defend himself, and executed by the Roman authorites at the instigation of the Jewish leaders. However, they did not take his life – he willingly gave it for us, to pay the price for our sin. As the Second Adam he descended to hell where he preached about who he is, and took back the keys of authority handed over to Satan by Adam. God vindicated him on the third day by raising him from the dead. The resurrected Jesus met with his disciples, both men and women, breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” He then commissioned them to do the same things he had been doing, and to teach subsequent disciples (followers) to do the same. He ascended to his Father, who gave him all authority in heaven and earth. Jesus asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit to live within all who would accept what he did for them and commit their lives to him. This Holy Spirit is the very presence of God, and the Spirit of Jesus, by which we are able to do the same things Jesus did while he was on earth in the flesh. The Holy Spirit is the source of our eternal life, which begins now, not when we die. To be a follower of Jesus (or Christian) is to live as Jesus lived, in obedience to the Father, and to do his work by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is possible because of the gifts the Spirit provides. The Holy Spirit is also regenerating those he lives within, giving them a new nature that is able to resist sin, and is no longer subject to Satan’s rule. A follower of Jesus once again has the spiritual authority that Adam had before the Fall, and has the ability to know the presence of God, to hear and see with spiritual ears and eyes in a way they did not have before, and the power to obey what they hear and do what they see the Father doing, like Jesus did on earth.
Now some questions for you:
1. You use the word subjective as if it is a bad thing. Why?
2. You use the word ‘spiritist’. What do you mean by it? If, as you say, it simply means one who contacts demonic spirits, then Jesus is guilty as well as the early church apostles and disciples, and the church fathers that followed them. Surely the reason for talking to demons must have a bearing on this!
3. Which particular activities are you refering to as spiritist?
4. In what way are those activities spiritist?
5. You say, “your subjective procedures for contacting God are not scriptural.” If you would like to thoroughly read our teaching on this in the website www.listening2god.com you will see that our ‘subjective procedures’, as you put it, are scriptural. If you rule out the possibility of God using the subjective as well as the objective a number of difficulties arise. First, you are limiting God and telling him what he may and may not do. This puts you in the place of God. You are also casting doubt on the wisdom of God creating in humans the ability to be subjective as well as objective. Without the possibility of subjectivity there would only be logic – no love, beauty, joy, faith, and so on. After all, faith is the evidence of things NOT seen!
To me, the test of the objectivity of something is not whether it is strictly logical, or physically concrete (that is Greek thinking, not Christian) , but whether it produces the results it is supposed to produce. In the case of being a Christian, surely the test is whether you are able to do what Jesus commanded his followers to do. And what did he command them to do? To preach the gospel, to heal the sick, cast out demons, to raise the dead. In fact, he said we would do GREATER works than he did! In what way they are to be greater is not clear, but we are certainly seeing wonderful healings, having people come into the Kingdom, and even hearing reports of people being raised from the dead. But this would not happen if we relied on our own understanding without constantly listening to God’s voice, and using his spiritual gifts. We tried it that way for decades, with very little lasting fruit. If you are interested, I was brought up in a reformed, fundamentalist, protestant church. They were VERY zealous for the Lord, but to little effect. They were excellent at arguing their doctrinal positions, and had an explanation for everything, but it brought death to my spirit, not the life I experience more and more since leaving that church and seeking the reality of Jesus in other circles. Far from throwing my intellect out the window, I discovered that the Holy Spirit is now able to teach me and show me things that my heart has long desired but could never see before. And it is very intellectually satisfying. Do you expect me now to go back to what I had as a child? That’s not a very attractive proposition. Once having tasted …!
A Christian lives in the same reality as a non-Christian, but that reality is enormously greater than the physical world. It is a spiritual reality that encompasses earth and heaven, humans, angels and demons, and God (although he is not contained by it). The difference is that the Christian can be aware of what is around, and live accordingly. Too many ‘Christians’ live in a diminished, impoverished subset of what is actually there for them to possess. When we learn to engage with all of reality, with the authority and fearlessness that being an eternal, spiritual being makes possible, life takes on a new, truer meaning. One of my favourite Bible passages is the one in 2 Kings 6 where Elisha and his servant are surrounded by an enemy army. Elisha asks the Lord to open his fearful servant’s eyes, and he sees that the hills surrounding them are filled with horses and chariots of fire. He then asks the Lord to blind the eyes of the enemy and singlehandedly leads them into a trap. This is the sort of spiritual vision and authority available to the follower of Jesus today, but so few desire it. They appear to be afraid of it. They would rather remain blind and themselves be led into a trap by the enemy of their souls.
6. In your posts to the group you use the word ‘Reformed’ as if this makes everything you say correct. Would you like to justify this position for me please? For example: Which particular type of ‘Reformed’ are you? Was Jesus ‘Reformed’? Were Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter or Paul ‘Reformed’ the way you are? Or do you have to follow Calvin to be ‘Reformed’? Or Luther? (Neither were very nice men, and both had some very strange ideas, even though they were both mightily used of God). Perhaps you prefer Zwingli? (One has to wonder about the ‘Christianity’ of all of these ‘Reformers’ given their murderous treatment of fellow believers such as the Anabaptists). Are you Calvinist? Hyper-Calvinist? Dispensational? Pre-mil, post-mil, a-mil … I could go on and on.
There are many other varieties of ‘Christianity’ – Arminian, Lutheran, Anabaptist, Baptists of every doctrinal perspective you care to name, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Uniting Churches of many kinds, Churches of Christ, Anglicans, Anglo-Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic, non-Charismatic, Coptic, Orthodox, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Emerging, Modern, Premodern, Postmodern, Ancient, Contemporary, Fundamentalist, Liberal, Reformed, Messianic, etc. Then there are the many mixtures of these. I even heard the other day of a group of Calvinistic Methodists!!! And there are many groups that call themselves ‘Christian’ but explicitly do not follow Christ as Messiah, such as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Spiritualists (not Christian but certainly spiritist), and Christian Scientists (neither Christian nor scientists) – what does this say about the meaning of ‘Christian’? You see, the trouble with allowing only objectivity is that EVERYTHING then must be defined and labeled. Then the labels are thrown around as if knowing a thing’s name exempts the user from having to be able to explain what they understand it to be.
7. You say, “The Holy spirit you contact is not that of God’s.” Who is it then? Do you know this because you heard it from God? Is it knowledge formed from your own experience of how God still speaks to people today? Or is it a deduction from your theology about how God has changed and no longer does what he once commonly did? It would be wise for you to also consider the ramifications of your being wrong. You will then be declaring that something that is of the Holy Spirit is of some other spirit. This is a risky position to be in. How did the early church decide it was the Holy Spirit speaking in Acts 13:2 which resulted in Barnabas and Saul being sent off on the missionary journey?
8. You say, “You must stop your tongues and word’s of knowledge.” Why? You have said this before and when others contradicted you you ignored them. Would you like to tell me why you think this way? After all, Paul very clearly teaches that tongues is a gift of God and that he wished more people used them more. He said he himself used tongues more than any of them. Peter used words of knowledge – the story of Ananias and Sapphira being a prime example. Was he wrong to do so? After all, God certainly vindicated him in the resulting events.
Because your charges against us have been made in a public forum, it would be more appropriate to continue the discussion there. So I will put this post up on the blog and Google group and we can discuss it with others in the comments.