Updated: Jan 25
Pentecostalism and Charismaticism have in recent times made many inroads into evangelical churches, including amongst the Mennonites. Some depart from more “conservative” type evangelical churches into Pentecostalism or Charismatic-type of neo-evangelical churches. The lack of continuationism is a game changer for them; they want the sign gifts, the healings, tongues-speaking, exorcisms and secondary baptism of the Holy Spirit, since they want to believe God is continuing to work through signs and wonders, even dreams and visions today.
When two beliefs contradict, they cannot both be true. In the end, when life expires, no one wants to discover he has believed a lie all his life. Nor is it God’s will that men should believe a lie, so He has graciously imparted His words to mankind to prevent this. Anyone who actually and genuinely loves God will eagerly apply Scripture to what he or she believes and practices to ensure that it truly honours Him, and that includes to the subject of Pentecostalism/Charismaticism.
This subject is so extensive, so vast, to do it any sort of justice one would need to at minimum write a book on it. Others have done that (e.g. here), so I won’t reinvent the wheel, through I believe most are to soft on their denunciation and don’t pinpoint the major reason why so many follow these false teachings. What is reported below is merely a summary only, aiming for succinctness.
Who is a Pentecostal and Charismatic?
Pentecostalism denotes any of a number of movements and individuals that profess Christianity while emphasizing a secondary baptism of the Holy Spirit which will be evidenced by that individual or people through speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing, and exorcism, using the baptism in the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost (Ac 2:9-11) as their basis for belief. Pentecostalism and Charismaticism were founded through the Keswick movement, especially what occurred in the United Kingdom in the early twentieth century under the demonic heresies of Evan Roberts, who along with Jesse Penn Lewis and others destroyed the real Welsh revival and contributed significantly to the growing heretical Keswick movement. Some of the most well known Pentecostal/Charismatic denominations or churches include Assemblies of God, Church of God, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel denomination, Calvary Chapel, Association of Vineyard Churches (exposed here: Exposing the Heretic John Wimber and the Vineyard Churches), Open Bible denomination, Charismatic churches, People of Destiny churches, etc.
For all intended purposes, Pentecostals are charismatics, though not all charismatics are Pentecostals. A charismatic participates in “gifts” of “tongues,” “healing,” or “miracles.” The term charismatic comes from the Greek word charisma, which essentially means gift. As this term relates to the charismatic movement, these (tongues, healing, miracles) are sign gifts of the Holy Spirit that the New Testament (NT) calls “signs and wonders” (Jn 4:48). The “sign” originally, points to a supernatural happening that validates Scripture. Most of the gifts of the Spirit (such as teaching, giving, ministry, exhortation, helps, etc) have the purpose of edifying the local church. In the NT the gifts of validation (signs) and edification were genuine gifts from the Holy Spirit that were received at the moment of one’s faith in Christ for salvation (Jn 14:16-17; Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:7-11). The modern charismatic movement claims that the gifts of validation, the sign gifts, continue today. In addition, many Charismatics also maintain that God still provides believers special revelation on the same level of the Bible, so extraBiblical revelation. Further below I will expose some of the more fundamental charismatic beliefs.
Pentecostalism/Charismaticism is largely backed upon personal experiences, but God’s Word is clear that experiences often deceive. Unsaved people are easily deceived, since “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jer 17:9). Saved people can also be misled, but its limited and only temporarily (cf. 2 Pet 3:17). You cannot believe and act upon how you feel because “there is a way which seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pr 14:12). Satan, the adversary, is also called a deceiver and seducer (1 Tim 4:1), and a primary element of his MO is deception (2 Cor 11:12-15), and many times he does that through the means of experience. He presents himself as “an angel of light” and “it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor 11:14-15). How do we know the difference between a true minister of righteousness and a false minister of righteousness? By their personal experiences and abilities? Or by what the Word of God says? The Samaritan people said of Simon the sorcerer, “This man is the great power of God . . . and to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries” (Ac 8:10-11). The Lord Jesus warned that in the last days “there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt 24:24).
God’s Word is very clear that it alone is sufficient and reliable to test everything by its truth. Experiences on the other hand are characteristically unreliable. The Bible is truth (Jn 17:17) and is sufficient for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). Saved people walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). God is pleased only by faith (Heb 11:6) and faith comes from God’s Word (Rom 10:17; Jn 20:30-31). Experiences (“sight”) and faith are mutually exclusive (2 Cor 5:7). Seeking experiences is wicked and unfaithful. The Lord Jesus said that those seeking signs—tongues, healings, miracles—commit spiritual adultery, that is, they are unfaithful to God: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it” (Matt 12:39). Experiences should be rejected as non-authoritative competition with the truths of God’s Word. The Bible is complete and extra-Biblical revelation is adding to the Bible (Rev 22:18). No more words are written into the Bible. Ju 1:3 is clear on this, declaring that “the faith . . . was once (forever) delivered (completed action) unto the saints” and Rev 22:18-19 guarantees a curse upon anyone who adds or takes away from Gods completed revelation, which is the 66 books from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. Even valid experiences by the apostles are less sure than the Word of God. Peter writes that his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration is less sure than the Word of God (2 Pet 1:12-16). The most incredible experiences still fall far short of the Bible. What greater experience could there not be than seeing someone resurrected from the dead? Surely it would be sufficient to save a soul. But that is not the case. It is not sufficient because experience (sight) does not produce faith; Gods Word alone does that. In the account given by the Lord Jesus of the rich man and Lazarus, after the rich man in hell implored Abraham to send Lazarus who was with Abraham to preach to his five living brothers, Abraham said to him, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Lk 16:31). The incorruptible Word of God alone is what generates faith and saves (1 Cor 1:21; Rom 10:17; 1 Pet 1:23-25). Our judgment will never be based on experience but on the Word of God, as the Lord Jesus Christ made clear: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (Jn 12:48). Charismaticism is loaded with unscriptural worship but God rejects unscriptural worship because worship of God must be in truth (Jn 4:23-24). Those who are on the business of pleasing God and not man (Gal 1:10 — which is all true, legit servants of Christ), will, and must, test every belief, practice, and experience using the Word of God. This is a foundational Scriptural principle.
With that said, let us set aside our feelings and opinions and experiences and test some of the teachings and practices of Pentecostalism/ Charismaticism by the Word of God.
Foundational False Doctrines in Pentecostalism/ Charismaticism
1. The Heresy of Healings.
If someone has the Biblical gift of healing from God, then his gift will mirror what the Lord Jesus and the apostles did in the Gospels and the book of Acts. Let’s examine whether this to be the case when it comes to Charismatics/Pentecostals.
The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements notes:
“The formative years of development for the classical Pentecostal churches were from 1907 to 1932. As the movement aggressively grew and spread, so the doctrine and practice of divine healing was extended since it was one of the movement’s cardinal doctrines” (p. 370).
The largest Pentecostal denomination, the Assemblies of God, founded in 1914, promote the doctrine of miraculous healing and that its available in the atonement, of the type mirrored by Christ and the Apostles, in their Statement of Fundamental Truths, section 12:
“Divine healing is an integral part of the gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers …”
Charismatics/Pentecostals say that you need faith to be healed. The Bible however does not say that healing requires faith by the recipient. The few times that Jesus says, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matt 9:22; Mk 5:34; 10:52; Lk 8:48-50; 17:19) in the context of healing someone, the Lord was specifically referring to the faith that saved them from their sin (“whole” comes from the same Greek word translated “saved,” and means “salvation from sin”; the same Greek is translated “thy faith hath saved thee,” — Lk 7:50; 18:42). In no instance did the Lord Jesus Christ require faith as a basis for healing. He healed without discrimination as to person or affliction. The vast majority in Galilee did not believe in Christ, but He healed all that came to Him (Matt 4:23-25).
So Jesus healed anyone without the basis of faith, but today do Charismatics or Pentecostals “heal” everyone regardless of faith? Do they heal everyone regardless of their location, be it in someones home or on the street or on a mountain or in the desert or by the sea shore, or do they heal only in their so-called “church” sanctuaries and “healing meetings”? The Lord Jesus Christ healed throughout “Syria” (Matt 4:24), at the bottom of a mountain (Matt 8:8), in a desert place outside of the cities (Matt 14:14), on a mountain by the Sea of Galilee (Matt 15:30), and in the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan (Matt 19:1). Lk 9:6 explicitly says that He healed “everywhere.” There were no “healing meetings” in the Bible.
Charismatics/Pentecostals speak of healing people. When the Lord Jesus Christ healed, He healed completely. He had no relapses or failed healings. When Charismatics or Pentecostals “heal,” do they heal with that same level of perfection as Jesus did—completely? That is the basis of healing, and anything less than this is not “healing.”
Is the Charismatic or Pentecostal able to heal everyone, regardless of their condition? Are they able to reattach amputated body parts, give sight back to the blind, hearing back to the dumb, straighten out withered limbs whether it be legs or arms, etc, as Jesus was able, and the Apostles were able as Jesus gace them that ability? The Lord Jesus Christ reattached the ear of Malchus after it had been completely cut off by Peter (Lk. 22:51-52). Jesus healed “every sickness and every disease” in Galilee (Matt 9:35), “healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt 4:23). In Jn 9 He healed a man born blind (Matt 9:27-30; Mk 8:22-25). Matt 15:30-31 reads: “And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.” Someone who truly has the gift of healing will be able to reattach the body parts of people who have lost them or return a body parts natural ability.
Furthermore, not only was Christ’s healing perfect, it was also immediately. No one had to wait for Jesus’ healing to take effect. He took care of their sickness or injury immediately. He immediately cleansed lepers (Matt 8:3; Lk 17:14) and He immediately restored the hand of a withered man (Matt 12:10-13). How long do the victims under Charismatic or Pentecostal “healing” have to wait before their “healing” takes effect?
Is the Charismatic or Pentecostal able to raise someone from the dead, with their “healing” gifts? The Lord Jesus Christ raised people from the dead (Matt 9:18, 24; Lk 7:12-15). He also had the power to raise those who had been dead for days and were already decomposing (Jn 11). Christ’s Apostles also raised people from the dead (Matt 10:8; Ac 9:40; 20:10-12). When someone received the gift of healing in the Bible, they were able to heal any and all illnesses, issues, and problems, including death. I have never heard of a single person being raised from the dead, in truth, by some hocus pocus Charismatic or Pentecostal “healing” minister.
Yes God still heals people, but the gift of healing (just like the gift of tongues) was for the confirmation of God’s Word (Mk 16:20; Ac 14:3; Rom 15:19; Heb 2:4). Since those who claim to have the gift of healing today do not actually duplicate the miracles of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, their claims are fraudulent. Counterfeits. The Lord Jesus Christ was proven to be the Messiah by miracles (Matt 11:46; Lk 7:20-22; Jn 5:36; Acts 2:22). He proved He was of the Father by His sign gifts (Jn 5:36). Believers accept by faith without signs or wonders that Jesus is the Messiah and that the Bible is already confirmed as God’s Word.
2. The Heresy of Tongues Speaking.
Tongues speaking, according to most Pentecostals and Charismatics, has the following alleged purposes. They claim it is a sign of “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” a sign both to tongues-speaker as well as to those observing. But never are tongues spoken according to what tongues are in the Bible. They also claim it is a means whereby God communicates to the church. This allegedly occurs as the messages of tongues are interpreted. But never are these modern “tongues” actually interpreted because they are not real languages, and no one has the first clue what is being said in the gibberish. Apparently it is a “private prayer language” whereby the “tongues” speaker edifies himself, which then allegedly produces a wide assortment of benefits, including encouragement during spiritual trials, physical healing, spiritual guidance, even a sleep aid! None of these reasons align with Scripture, as will be exposed below.
Consider a few quotes from Pentecostals and Charismatics:
“Speaking in tongues is always manifested when people are baptized in the Holy Ghost” (Kenneth Hagin, Sr., Concerning Spiritual Gifts, 1974, p. 89).
“God took the baptism in the Holy Spirit out of the theoretical by giving the believer an undeniable physical evidence when the believer was filled. That evidence is speaking with other tongues. ... The fact is those who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues” (Charles Crabtree, “How Practical Is the Pentecostal Lifestyle?”, Questions and Answers about the Holy Spirit, 2001, p. 70; the late Crabtree was assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God).
When the Charismatic or Pentecostal speaks in tongues, are they actually real, known languages? The word “tongues” (glossa — Ac 2:11) means “languages.” The tongues or languages spoken on the Day of Pentecost were Parthian, Mede, Cappadocian, Arabic, etc. (Ac 2:9-11). Each person in that multinational gathering heard the Word of God in his own tongue or language. Likewise, the word “tongue” in 1 Corinthians refers to specific known languages (cf. 1 Cor 14:21 and Is 28:11-12—Babylonian). Mere gibberish (unintelligible non-language) violates Scripture. Some might call it a “heavenly language” or “tongues of angels,” but every time God speaks personally or by means of angels, He speaks in an already known language.
When the Charismatic or Pentecostal speaks in tongues, are they translated into a known language? In Scripture we read that,
“If any man speak in an unknown tongue . . . let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church” (1 Cor 14:27-28).
“Interpreting” is “translating,” that is, giving a word-for-word translation in the known tongue identical in meaning to the word in the unknown tongue. Unless someone translates the unknown language, speaking in one is unscriptural. And people must be in attendance who understand the tongues-language being spoken, otherwise there is no need for that tongue-language, something Paul the Apostle makes clear in 1 Cor 14:19,
“I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”
When the Charismatic or Pentecostal speaks in tongues, are Jews present to witness the foreign languages (tongues) being spoken (which are always a sign in Scripture of impending judgement against the Jewish people)? Every time tongues are spoken in the book of Acts, Jews were present, “For the Jews require a sign” (1 Cor 1:22), and tongues were a sign to the unsaved Jews of God’s judgment upon them (1 Cor. 14:20-23; Is 28:11-12; 33:18-19). “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord." (1 Cor. 14:21). This is a prophecy of Isaiah 28:11-12, which means tongues was always a sign designed for the Jews but how many Jews are present when “tongues” are employed by Charismatics or Pentecostals?
When the Charismatic or Pentecostal speaks in tongues, are unbelievers understanding the tongues, that is, are the tongues a miracle to validate the Word of God for unbelievers? 1 Cor 14:22 is clear that this must be the case, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” When someone is speaking in a real language that he has never learned (such as someone speaking Arabic who only knows English), this is a miracle. Unintelligible non-language gibberish is not a miracle, and, therefore, does not validate anything. This also invalidates the practice of private praying to God in “tongues” (cf. 1 Cor 14:13-16).
The modern “tongues” movement contradicts Scripture because tongues, the speaking of real languages, have ceased (1 Cor 13:8b). Continuationism is not true and cessationism is not false. The purpose of sign gifts was to authenticate God’s Word. Since confirmation of the NT was completed with the completion of the canon of Scripture, the miraculous gift of tongues has ceased. Tongues did not reappear (and then only in a fraudulent form) when the Charismatic movement began at the beginning of the twentieth century. Tongues could not have disappeared if they were a permanent gift to the church (apostasy is impossible for true Biblical Christianity—Mart 16:18; 28:20), so they only could have stopped because God had accomplished His purpose for them.
For further documentation on the false teaching of modern tongue speaking, see here: How we Know Modern “Tongue Speaking” is Unbiblical, and Satanic Deception.
3. The Heresy of Other Doctrines and Practices.
(a) Charismaticism/Pentecostalism utilizes women to preach before mixed audiences which include men. 1 Cor 14:29-35 and 1 Tim 2:9-15 however both very plainly command women not to teach or preach to men, which would include not speaking in tongues in a mixed gender gathering.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” (1 Cor. 14:33-35).
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:11-14).
This subject is covered in further detail in the following article, Should Women Ever Hold Authority Over Men?
(b) Charismaticism/Pentecostalism loves the strange fire and golden calf worship music of the world, which they utilize in their personal lives and church services. God however does not accept worldly (Jam 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15), sensual (Jam 3:15), or fleshly (1 Pet 2:12; Rom 13:14; Ti 2:12) music as worship. He calls for Biblical, rational (Rom 12:1-2) worship in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col 3:16), not “vain repetitions, as the heathen” (Matt 6:7). God does not want man’s emotions but a “sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7; Ti 2:6; Matt 22:37).
All “worship” that substitutes fleshly emotionalism for the conscious actings of the mind and heart, and, or, that isn’t in line with the sound doctrine of God’s Word, is demonic. For further reading on the heresy and evilness of contemporary worship music and other worldly music, read Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), Is It Honouring to God? and The Incongruity of Contemporary Worship Music (CCM) and Country Music (High Valley) with God's Word, and Christian Contemporary Music (CCM), the Soundtrack of End-Times Apostasy.
(c) Charismaticism/Pentecostalism embrace the false gospel of losing salvation. This damnable heresy (2 Pet 2:1) is embraced by people who do not understand either the gospel or what salvation is, and have been flattered, misled and brainwashed by smooth talking false teachers (2 Pet 2:1-2). Once God saves someone, no man can pluck that individual out of God’s hand (Jn 10:27-29) or separate that person from God’s love and care (Rom 8:28-39) because he is “kept by the power of God” (1 Pet 1:5). Over and over the Bible tells us that salvation is eternally secure — which is in fact what salvation is, and that it is impossible to be lost. If you need to do something to keep yourself saved, then you are doing the saving. Any religion that teaches you can lose your salvation is teaching you salvation by works, and again, does not understand the true gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God unto salvation. This heresy of losing salvation has NO power. Keeping saved by works and being saved by works are both equally impossible (Eph 2:8-9; Rom 4:1-8). Both corrupt and pervert the gospel (Gal 1:6-9) so that it becomes “another gospel” (2 Cor 11:3-4), for the Holy Scriptures are very clear that “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom 3:28).
Keep reading here as to why Losing Salvation is a False Gospel Propagated by False Teachers.
Charismaticism/Pentecostalism (and likewise neo-evangelical and practically all Reformed Calvinist churches, and others like these including most “Baptist” churches today) are guilty of transgressing God’s Word in these “unfruitful works of darkness” which need to be “reprove[d]” (Eph 5:11) and exposed (Rom 16:17).
There are many other errors, false teachings and heresies in Pentecostalism/Charismaticism that could be addressed but this should suffice to expose that it is unscriptural, heretical and exceedingly dangerous.
Since the modern false modern tongues-speaking, fake healing, and miracles of Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movement are not of God, they could only be Satanic or imposters. As the last days of the last days play out, Satan will primarily use miracles as his means of deceiving people (Rev 19:20), with the “man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition . . . that Wicked . . . whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2 Th 2:3, 8-10). Unsaved people will be more and more increasingly deceived by the signs and wonders movement of Charismaticism/Pentecostalism, but its all Satanic. They will have a love of lies and hatred for truth, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Th 2:11-12). Born again people however are filled with the Holy Spirit and will not speak in tongues, or claim the gifts of healing, or miracle-working. They will boldly preach the true gospel (Ac 4:31; Eph 6:11-20), manifest the fruit of the Spirit in a holy life (Gal 5:22-24) with persecution occurring because of godly living (2 Tim 3:12) and contending for the faith (Ju 1:3), and selflessly relate with others that are truly converted and like-minded (Eph 5:18-6:9), and manifest their spiritual giftedness (1 Cor 12:7-11).
Pentecostal/Charismatic churches undermine Scripture with experience, add to God’s Word, distort the Biblical purpose of sign gifts, reject the clear teaching of the Word of God on tongues and healings and other things, add to grace, corrupt the gospel, misrepresent true Biblical spirituality, and counterfeit NT Christianity. As with any false religion or teachings, the Bible commands complete separation from false belief, teaching, and practice. If you truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you must renounce and separate from Pentecostalism and Charismaticism, which is commanded in Scripture repeatedly, for instance:
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor 6:17-18).
You will then join yourself to a true Bible-believing, independent Baptist (or similar type) of church, where true Biblical spirituality and Christianity is preached and practiced and the true gospel is embraced with only true Biblical conversions accepted, a church that corresponds affirmatively to the Questions to Ask Leadership.
If you continue to scoff and mock at the truth, as the Bible says many will do in the last days (2 Pet 3:3), regardless of the clear Biblical facts put before you, rather than repenting and getting into a right relationship with God, you are in need of true Biblical conversion (which I fear is practically most in Pentecostalism/Charismaticism) and that you can read of here: How A Sinner Can Be Saved and Have Eternal Life.