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Matthew 18 and Opposing Charismaticism

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During the fight against the Toronto Blessing, I was constantly told two things: (a) That I should never have made my opposition public (because I was supposedly opposing fellow believers), and (b) That I should have applied Matthew 18 to the situation. I have already discussed (a) in other publications. Now let us look at (b).

The basic question is this: should I have applied the injunction in Matthew 18? Before we can answer that, we must examine the text in its context. We will find that this text has nothing to do with the matter! I am amazed by the inability of the theologically-minded to supply straightforward interpretations to straightforward texts! Indeed, pro-charismatics do not even get close to proper interpretation of many clear texts: as we have observed before, since the onslaught of the Toronto Blessing, pro-charismatics have displayed a gross and willing rejection of true interpretation, and an inability to understand what ought to be simple teaching.

Matthew 18:15-17

"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he

neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."

This is sound advice as well as scriptural teaching, which I support totally. But, this text and command does not apply to the present situation! Note that the whole text refers to a brother (fellow Believer) in one's own local church. It tells us what to do if such a brother, known to us, 'trespasses' personally against another person and is at 'fault'.

To trespass, hamartano, is to offend or do wrong against another. If a fellow Christian we know does this to us, we are at liberty to 'tell him his fault'. This is not the soft-pedalling false 'love' idea churned out by charismatics. To elegcho is to treat the fellow strongly; it means to admonish or reprove, or to reprimand severely. To be a Christian is not to be a wimp! If the wrongdoer does not listen, then the offended party must take two (or three - there is no exact figure, but there is no need to expand the number of people who should know) others with him as witnesses. If the wrongdoer does not listen to sense, then the whole (local) church becomes involved. If the wrongdoer still refuses to repent and repair the breach of friendship, then he is to be treated as an unbeliever. In other texts this involves shunning. (For full details see book ‘The Left Boot of Fellowship’).

This is all well and good, but it has nothing to do with exposing and rebuking heretics in public. The same applies to texts that warn against bringing charges against elders: they refer to exposing one's own elders or pastors. We can, however, expect charismatics and pro-charismatics (who also include ecumenists) to misuse and misinterpret such texts, for it is in their own interests to do so. Surprisingly, even non-charismatics fall for this misuse. For this reason, some faithful pastors in my home city avoid me! During the hottest fight against the Toronto Blessing, NOT ONE of them came to my side, or called me, or even sent me a short note of brotherhood. Only one visited me on equal terms, once, but later dropped the acquaintance. This is because they thought I was wrong to make the issue of heresy public and because they did not wish to be associated with one who was 'controversial', fearing harm to their own status. As I have shown above, this fear was unwarranted, for it is based on a misapplication of Biblical text.

Until the Toronto Blessing arrived I remained silent about charismaticism, even though I secretly thought it to be in error. I later repented of this silence. The Toronto Blessing was not just a single pastor doing something wrong. It was a world-wide movement, and very sudden in the form it took (although it took years to grow to its 'sudden' stage), sweeping through whole countries like a bush-fire. There was no way one man could approach every individual concerned, with Matthew 18. But even if there was time, the text was not applicable to the situation!

The scene was as follows: One of the couples in our church, of which I am pastor, has a young daughter, who was supposedly taken swimming by a couple who lived nearby - they were taking their own children. But, they actually took the children to a large Toronto Blessing meeting and the girl, one of our own Sunday School, was 'zapped' and fell backwards! I was furious. I discovered, to my alarm, that many children were similarly being 'zapped' and so I warned the city through the local newspaper.

The meetings were very large and had already affected thousands. With every day that passed many more thousands were being affected and seduced into attending. Given the secretive way in which people were being drawn into this web, and the way children were being involved without parental permission, I had no option but to issue a public warning. Public sins require public attention. No names were mentioned.

The response was a newspaper letter rebuking me for making the issue public (even though it was already blatantly public), but note that the one rebuking me also made the issue public! However, scripture tells us that public sin must be dealt with in public. And that is why I had no qualms whatever about doing so, especially as there were already sexual and other evils manifesting themselves in such meetings.

The meetings were publicised widely in the press as a 'move of the Holy Spirit', but the teaching was heretical and sordid. The preaching (where it existed) was Arminian and many thousands were led to believe they could be 'saved' simply by attending, being 'zapped', or by accepting certain intellectual truths. Because of the mass public nature of this heretical teaching and preaching, I had no choice but to make my own opposition public also.

Note that NOT ONE other local pastor said a word, so thousands were being led astray without any warning at all. I could not allow that to happen and had to denounce the whole movement as evil. Subsequent examinations of the movement proved my point. In the Old Testament we are even told to shout warnings from the roof-tops! Yet, NOT ONE local pastor (and very few national figures) bothered to object. Those who did so, were very circumspect, thus making a bad situation far worse - especially when the Evangelical Alliance were forced to act. In the event they fudged the whole thing and aligned themselves with the heretics, keeping comments to their own members.

Matthew 18 did not apply, and still does not apply, because my brethren did not offend me personally. I bear these heretics no ill will of my own. They have offended Almighty God and they have desecrated the Name of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, bringing His word into disrepute. No Christian worth his salt can allow such evil to go unchallenged! Sadly, though, even those known to be faithful stayed in the shadows. They watched as people like myself were ridiculed and attacked by charismatics. Many of them even joined the assault by accusing us with Matthew 18, etc. They failed to understand that their theology was wrong. They did not see that we were dealing with apostates who were sweeping the world with heresy and evil. And today they fail to see that as new 'converts' are joined to charismaticism, so there arises a brand new 'church', without Biblical basis or salvation! By all means use Matthew 18 - but only where it legitimately applies.

© August 1996

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Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
United Kingdom