Why I Left the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement

This is my story. I have spent 20 years of my life in the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement but something happened to me recently that caused me to walk away completely. I am writing this blog in hopes that if you stumble upon it that it will be a source of great comfort to you. It is a very disorienting thing to walk away from a long held belief and a system you have promoted and loved for many years. One of the greatest resources that helped me through this difficult time has been others sharing their stories and so I am compelled to share mine.

I have not walked away from my faith in Christ, only what I now consider false teaching and a system that is overtaken with false prophets and corruption.  I guess this has been a long time coming. Many times I would sit in church and hear the preacher say something and wonder, “Is that even biblical?” then I would wonder if I had a demon or an evil spirit of unbelief (welcome to Pentecostal thinking my friends). I was listening to Bethel worship, Hill songs, all the cutting edge worship.  I was a devoted follower of the Ramp, founded by Karen Wheaton featuring Perry stone (OCI ministries) Damon Thompson, Dutch Sheets the N.A.R crowd and many other famous ministers. Kansas City (IHOP), Morningstar Ministries and Bethel Redding are what I considered great men of God preaching the true gospel. That should give you a clear view of the people I was running with. Those ministries are considered heretical by many orthodox Christians…I had NO clue. When you are in a group think bubble you really cannot see other perspectives at all.  I have come to realize it was like living in a bomb shelter cut off from society.

I kept up to date on  things going on in the charismatic movement; Scandal after scandal with International House of Prayer (IHOP), Morning star, Hillsong ministries and the list goes on. It was a pattern, one that bothered me. One incident occurred when Judy Jacobs a famous TBN minister got up at the Ramp in a prideful arrogant tone and demanded the young kids at the Ramp (Youth Ministry)  dig down deep in their pockets to give money for an offering so Karen Wheaton could buy a Bentley! Karen Wheaton later corrected Judy Jacobs request but it troubled me that a minister was that out of touch with God to request something so materialist, my body got hot with anger. I could not believe this woman would manipulate teenagers out of what little money they had with zero shame. As I shared the incident  with other believers in righteous outrage,not one person said a word at that table, Not one. They looked at me like I just kicked a newborn baby off a bridge?!  like I had done something wrong? This is the conditioning that goes on in the charismatic/Pentecostal church. If you call out a minister on their poor or even criminal behavior and present facts to back up your claim they either ignore you all together or get mad as a hornet. They claim you are speaking out against the Lords anointed. It is a common practice to protect  corrupt ministers. Many believers have been deceived into thinking  if someone exposes a  false teacher they are literally fighting with God himself. The bible warns 17 times in the NT against wolves/false teachers but ministers selectively pick feel good scriptures and ignore others; you know, the ones that bring them under scrutiny or accountability .Sadly most Christians don’t know bible scripture so they  believe pretty much anything the preacher says.  In this movement ministers are worshiped like infallible gods above reproach.  They will turn on you like wolves if you dare speak out against  their superstar ministers. You will be harshly snubbed. Love is a scarce commodity to find in churches and I’ve sat in them for 21 years….scarce.  You are  considered judgmental, divisive and condemned for stirring up dissension among the brethren which is them taking scripture completely out of context to stay unaccountable, complacent and feeling good about their extreme idol worship.  You learn to keep your opposing views to yourself. Total conformity is required to fit in although it is unspoken, everyone knows it.

I became increasingly aware that the preachers I was listening to used bible scriptures here and there but mainly they talked of their own experiences and turned it into doctrine. It sounds good but not God is the way I would describe it. It strays far from biblical teaching but yet it is wrapped in Christian language. It is so subtle that it is unrecognizable to the biblically ignorant and undiscerning. There was constant talk of apostles and prophets that God was raising up in these last days. How God was going to send a great revival which didn’t make sense to me because the bible taught of a great apostasy the polar opposite. They taught  we were the special generation that would usher in the return of Christ. I began to notice a theme; I was all about US and not God. It put an enormous focus on the gifts of the spirit such as speaking in tongues/prophecy and how we were the Elijah generation and we would walk in signs and wonders and how that would cause this great revival. There is an air of spiritual elitism about it.  Once we were all encouraged to speak in tongues and shout out our cities name as claimed territory In the name of Jesus.  As I was screaming my babbling prayers  and becoming exhausted doing it I stopped to look around and thought to myself, “So we can just stand here and scream and God does what we say?”  I look back on that moment and believe God was waking me up to the great delusion I was in. God was treated like a genie in a bottle many times in church services.  I could get a fresh prophetic word every Sunday at the altar as people prayed for me.  I learned to live from word to word and conference to conference, it was a spiritual high I was chasing. I’m certain at one point I was pursuing God but it became an idol itself.  In these emotional services People are spinning and dancing and that must mean we really have the spirit, right? I find that so laughable now to look at people who are expressional during worship as a definitive sign that God is moving. I now know it is manufactured, carnal and the tool Satan is using to raise up false converts with zero knowledge of the Word. I have also noticed music is a main attraction in church; It has replace bible studies.  Our Church actually phased out Sunday morning bible studies and the Wednesday night ones were more secular than anything,  I would call it positive philosophy. All I know is the Pentecostal church as undergone some big changes since I first began and none of them are helping people learn bible Scripture or to understand verses in context.

I am so grateful that I read the NT when I came to know the Lord it helped me to stay grounded and ultimately saved me from this movement. Through the years I didn’t buy into many of the man-made traditions we had adopted like falling on the floor or thinking one had to speak in tongues to have the Holy Spirit nonetheless I went along with it because I didn’t think it was hurting anyone. I see now I was very wrong. To tell someone they don’t have the Holy Ghost if they don’t speak in tongues sets people up to speak in fake tongues or doubt their salvation.  I read most of the Old Testament but always got stuck in the book of Jerimiah. I would allow time to pass and felt I had to start all over again. Maybe if I had read it I would have understood how God views false lying prophets and a corrupt priest which brings me to my point, false prophets and corrupt ministers leading many astray has become a staple in the charismatic movement that I could no longer ignore or be a part of with a clear conscious.

As I sat in church all these years I couldn’t help but become bored with hours of worship, music, lights, TV cameras and pure emotional hype.  I guess that meant we were really reaching the world with the gospel, I mean we were televised, right?  The worship leader is always pushing you or manipulating the crowd to be more expressive but it seemed  so contrived like the more exuberant the crowd was the more validated the worship leader felt in doing God’s work. It  looked and felt like a big show. I was 21 years old when I truly came to know Christ and now I am 40 and let me tell you this stuff gets old. I was hearing 20 years ago how special MY generation was. Generation X marks the spot was the trending evangelical phrase in those days. How God had great and mighty plans for my generation and how he was going to use us in a MIGHTY way. Let me tell you what type of disillusionment that sets a young person up for. It is so unbalanced an sends people out on wild goose chases they may NEVER come back from. Its this  idea that some magical  epic event will transpire in the distant future and THEN you will have “arrived” into your destiny moment. Complete garbage. It is an  out of balance, unbiblical view of being a disciple of Christ.  Knowing Christ and  Living a life simply following the precepts of the bible are more than enough. I don’t need to move to a foreign country as a missionary to be mightily used of God or stand behind a pulpit. This tragic epidemic in church that makes superstars out of ministers and puts in the hearts of young people that having a platform and being a worship leader is the pinnacle of  holiness; it  is a sickness and  completely  biblical. It is a Christian Hollywood full of idols and idolatry and it is rampant in these evangelical circles.

Oh yes, we were always ALMOST THERE, wherever there was. God was ABOUT to do something amazing in our mist. I didn’t know if I could possibly  sit in another “Amost there, about to happen moments” at church it was starting to get under my skin. In fact many things began to bother me in this chaotic movement.  We were all conference junkies running to whatever new “move of God” Charisma magazine was publishing that month. I mean we were God chasers after all, soooo benevolent we were in great pursuit of God.  Nothing says,  “I  love you Jesus” l like paying big bucks for the T-shirt of our favorite superstar minister’s new catch phrase and getting a bonus CD half off. What a bargain! We get to validate his false prophecies and bad theology and they get our money…win, win?

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when a super  Christian guy I was dating and who had become deeply imbedded in this movement broke up with me because God told him too. I told him that did not line up with scripture but he assured me God had spoken to him. Mind you he left me sitting in a worship service for 45 minutes to chat with another girl that he ended up dating weeks later. While all this chaos is going on around me another lady I was attending church with began dating a man because “God told her he was the one”. They were engaged within a month and within two months had broken off their engagement because God apparently spoke to her again and told her  ” No “. Another lady received a prophecy at the age of 38 saying she was to have a child out of her womb, she was now 52 and could not understand what was going on. These three simultaneous events sent me running back to my bible.

I was very hurt that someone deceived me and tagged Gods name to it. The fact that it did not line up with Gods word or his Character made me even more angry. I saw so many people using Gods name in the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement it is dizzying. All the false prophetic words I have heard through the years and was still hearing.  all these  people saying God told them this and that. Most of these people didn’t even know the word much less if God was speaking. Many times there was no biblical backing for their claims.  I prayed,  “God I know how I feel about lying prophets and people using your name but how do you feel about it?” I opened the bible and read Jerimiah, bingo! Now I know God. These men prophesy lies and the people imagine vain things. It was like scales fell off my eyes and I was free. I always thought the verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 was peculiar.  God sent a strong delusion upon them so that they should believe the lie because they loved not the truth. When I read that it was like I saw it for the first time, I mean truly understood it.  Your word is TRUTH God. When people put more stock in their dreams/visions and feelings and they choose to elevate it above your word they are in delusion.

God why was I  deceived? I loved church fellowship and dressing up for church. I loved my friends but my heart was far from God. I was living in perpetual sin and stuck in a cycle. I was going through the motions. I remember being in a church service with my hands raised singing a love song to God and realizing I was so lost. Hands raised utterly disconnected from God. I looked so holy I’m sure in my Sunday best. In that moment I said God I’m singing these words to you but I don’t mean it; help me to mean it And he did. I believe it was a culmination of things that brought me to truth. Being hurt, seeing confusion in the life of my friends lead me back to God.  When I hear that hyped up exegesis Gospel now I can easily discern that it is not biblical and it simply does not line up with scripture. If we truly belong to God he will lead us out. The Evangelical Church as a whole is in great delusion. I would describe the modern church as apostate and I have left the harlot church system in my rear view.

I’m grateful for my experiences and grew in the Pentecostal church regardless of the imperfections. I  have a storehouse full of wonderful memories but it has strayed like a boat without a compass; ever so subtle without even realizing it. The erroneous Seven Mountain Mandate and New Apostolic Reformation doctrines have flooded in.  It sounds so Godly no one has stopped to examine weather it lines up with doctrine. What once nurtured my innocent soul began feeding it imitation meat and I ended up in darkness and  delusion. I still believe in miracles, the gifts of the spirit and the Word of God. I still pray but I’ve come to understand we must hold fast what is good and the greatest testimony is simply obeying His word regardless of the goosebumps.

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127 thoughts on “Why I Left the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement

  1. Thank you for this post. I can relate to so much of what you are saying. And the anger… oh the anger. It is the hardest part.

    Again, thank you for your bravery in writing this.

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  2. I am a born again Spirit filled believer in Jesus Christ and I also felt tired of the continual prophecies. I have been enjoying reading about the revivals of the past when God impacted communities without any involvement of man. Their job was to seek Him with all their heart in persistent prayer. As regards fellowship, I enjoy attending a very traditional Episcopal church where large sections of all scripture are read and liturgy is the foundation of the communion service. I like going to church for corporate worship singing the old hymns which I believe have powerful lyrics. I am exceedingly wary of much that purports to be of God and long to see a real move of God accompanied by conviction of sin and a resulting holiness. I am also blessed to have a few Christian sisters who feel the same way as I do regarding a true move of God and can have quality fellowship with them.

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  3. wow this resonates so much for me I was so damaged by the charismatic/Pentecostal church as i am now in my 30s, when i was a teen a knew i was gay and i told some trusted people and was told that God would take it away and make me straight basically and that he had a wife for me (i even had a “prophetic” word about it , gradually as i got older i became disillusioned with church, i knew my sexuality was not going to change and i knew that i was not going to get married either so i have decided to stay away from church, my faith is still there but i have become deeply skeptical of the charismatic church in general but also Christians in general though i still believe in the tenants of faith despite the fact i am a gay guy, so now here i am trying to figure all this out and put myself back together after being messed up by the church …

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  4. I had many questions concerning the church and gender orientation. I sought God for years for understanding, after all it is all based on love or at least appears to be ?

    Here is how it was shown to me; If i look for love and put my hope and desires in another human, no matter the gender or preference of interest, i will aways be led off the narrow path. Neither gender nor sexual desires can be a foundation for true love and fulfillment. Once we seek any kind of fulfillment from another human being, we have made shallow our path. We will never know the length the width the depth and the breadth of God’s love depending on another human for fullfillment on this earth. This can only come with surrendering our whole hearts to God and His son, He can only offer us this true love we seek. It is far from a physical relationship. Our flesh will aways lead us on the wide road of destruction , it satisfies for a time, there in lies the disillusionment. Paul say’s it is better to remain single so we may wholeheartedly serve God with all of our hearts, a servant heart is the only way to be truly fulfilled. May we all see He is the only true love we seek, the one true spirit. A spiritual relationship without human influence is the way to understanding the mind of Christ.,,,…. HOBO= Humble, Obedient, Bond -Servant , Of ‘No Reputation…’

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    1. I love this! So true. Carnal desire and romantic love fades and becomes so secondary as you grow older and learn with heartache and experience that human love is so failing BUT GOD. I love love love your comment!

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      1. Beautifully explained Lynn. My people have committed two evils. They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters and are drawing from cracked cisterns which hold no water. Jeremiah 2v13

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  5. Blessings, It was writ in spirit and in truth. Completely His direction as I asked and it bore witness with my spirit.
    He feeds the hungry. We have not because we ask not, this means the deeps, nothing external ought we desire, thus comes the fulfillment. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (internal) and all these things shall be added unto you. We must not consider what ‘all theses things’ to be added are for this has no matter , His righteousness is our matter.

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  6. Hello, I stumbled on ur blog after reseavhing Pastor Judy Jacobs( couldnt sleep and saw her on tv) ur story resonated in my heart, group think and rwligion w false teachings is so prevalent…I too was involved w the United Penticostal Church, Antioch , in Arnold Md.some 30 yrs ago…raised Lutheran O was searching and growing my spiriuality….Antioch seemed enlighteningbat the time..Shunning my friends and neighbors, family that didny convert within 6-12 months….agter 3-4 yrs of growing in the chutch, having bible study in my home and attending church 3-4 niggts a week w small children became roo much
    ..pressure from elders was growing….in mu heart I loved the Lord and felr it was the wrong church and surroundings for myself and family..no regrets for leaving….I know God led me away drom that mess..

    But it dos taint my children from religion and church
    ..for that I have regtrts for not leaving the Pentecostal UPC church and their twisted beliefs.
    Prayers that ur search for growth in spirituality evolves and younfind the peace in which I have over the years….Peace and Light….thank u for sharingbur story and it gives peace to many hearing the truths regarding Pentecostal- Holiness type churches.

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  7. This is a very fair, well-written article. I too was involved with The Ramp for many years and even lived in the community for a few years. I’m not sure who you are but we’ve probably met or been acquainted at one point in time. I have a VERY similar experience and am encouraged that you’d share yours. It is SO hard to have this conversation with those who are deceived by it. Like you said there is definitely a conditioning that takes place and I think that we’ll meaning people even play a part in it. But yeah…good read and blessings to you. BTW did you live in Hamilton or have friends there? If so we probably have mutual friends. It’s a small world.

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    1. I’m so encouraged to read your comment. It’s wonderful to know we are not alone. It’s very possible that we have crossed paths. I am 40 now and began attending in my mid-twenties so I was around when the ramp was at the 180 building in Cleveland TN, and also at the Christian bookstore. I never lived in Hamilton but attended many conferences. My daughter was raised in it as well. I agree that well meaning people are deceived. That’s what the Bible says about false teachers. They are deceived and in turn go about deceiving others. It’s sad and I’m grateful to finally be awake not on some wild goose chase. I don’t try and convince my old friends of anything, they have made up their minds but I speak what I know to be the truth. They can’t and don’t try and dispute the overwhelming proof of corruption yet they won’t walk away from it either. I have found so many more people who know and have ALWAYS known Pentecostal theology is horrible. I stick with a more rational school of thought and find that my life is so much more peaceful w/o the emotional chaos that is rampant in that movement. As I think back on it I wonder how I lived so long in such a hysterical environment. Here’s my info. Feel free to reach out.

      https://m.facebook.com/jenny.ayala.10888

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      1. Do you believe that Karen is a false teacher or just deceived? I a hard time paving a lot of things that I saw and learned because their waS definitely a mixture of genuine Christians and imposters. The ministry circles that the Ramp was surrounded by are very concerning to me. Always wondered how born again christians could run along side false teachers for years on end and not realize that they weren’t born again. Was it the charismatic church that you were involved with that was the final straw or was it some experience with The Ramp?

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      2. I studied the difference between exegesis and isagesis teachings and watched the Strange Fire conference with John MacArthur which helped tremendously to explain what I was looking at. I was so confused and bewildered coming out. That’s the biggest reason for sharing my story. I certainly outgrew the emotional hype. I believe in simply living the precepts of the Bible are enough w/o all the drama. The N.A.R , 7 Mountain mandate and New Apostles and prophets doctrine they have conjured up are False doctrines that promote spiritual elitist mentality, I certainly saw a lot of Christian super-stars being lifted up. I think she’s deceived and in turn is deceiving others. I encourage you to watch Justin Peters testimony on YouTube. His story helped me as well. I researched all these teachers/ministries relentlessly and found the origins of this movement to be corrupted to the core. Look up bob jones and how the “angel Gabriel” appeared to him giving him the same false doctrines Karen teaches. Bethel Reddings visions have filtered into that movement and they do grave soaking. This stuff is so far removed from biblical teaching it’s outrageous. I knew 8 years ago the Ramp was cultish when Damon Thompson tried to barricade 10 thousand ppl in the Chattanooga convention center and the guy I was with told the kids they couldn’t block the exit because it was a fire safety hazard. There was such a dark cult atmosphere that year but like my group, I dismissed all the red flags and thought there was more good than bad so just take what is good. In my article I mentioned a culmination of Incidents that drove me back to the Bible. All the false prophecies and watching friends believed in these lying words to the point it was hurting others and ruining lives. I consider the Ramp a cult full of false teachings.

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      3. Do you believe that Karen is a false teacher or just deceived? I a hard time paving a lot of things that I saw and learned because their waS definitely a mixture of genuine Christians and imposters. The ministry circles that the Ramp was surrounded by are very concerning to me. Always wondered how born again christians could run along side false teachers for years on end and not realize that they weren’t born again. Was it the charismatic church that you were involved with that was the final straw or was it some experience with The Ramp? I also bear wormed worth something you said about your friend’s reaction to honest conversation. That’s one common denominator that I noticed in the movement. If you try to have an objective biblical conversation about something that may not be ok, people tend to either make light of what you said or just blankly acknowledge that you said something and happily carry on. It’s one of the main things that I realized that helped me come to my senses and wash my hands of the movement. As much talk as there is of accountability it almost never applies to leaders even though they are saved sinners just like everyone else and true, objective, biblical accountability or scrutiny is shunned. That in itself should be enough for any christian to realize that it’s a toxic environment and get away.

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      4. Whatever the rights and wrongs I think you will find many a Christian becomes disillusioned with whatever church or ‘movement’ they belong to after a while. I did and I know others have whether Charismatic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Anglican, Sally Army, Methodist etc etc. Often we just mature and wherever we are at has served it’s purpose and it’s time to move on.

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