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.