Many years ago, I wrote a seven-part expose of Roman Catholicism entitled Scarlet Threads. In part five I told of the way the charismatic experience was being approved of by Rome. Obviously, Rome was losing many to this new-found teaching, and had to either excommunicate or embrace. The former was no longer politically acceptable, so the romance began. Here are my comments from the book.
(Please note that at the time of this writing I was in the Pentecostal movement myself. I could see the danger, but hadn’t figured out the solution to the problem as yet. I have since left “Pentecost”, though not the Spirit of God.)
SIXTY-SIX: THE CHARISMATICS
I believe that the [so-called Pentecostal] experience gave rise to problems, just as the first outpouring of the Holy Ghost did:
First there were and are unscrupulous men who take advantage of God's people when they are in a heightened state of spiritual emotion. Let us put the judgment where it belongs here, on the unscrupulous men, and not on the spiritual emotion.
Second, the experience God gives to refresh is often interpreted by babies to mean an authorization of all personally held credos. The big Divine "O.K."
Thus, hungry Roman Catholics, suddenly exposed to life-giving words from God, and even [perhaps] a surge of Holy Ghost power, begin to believe, as they hurriedly seek counsel from a priest, that God is ratifying their doctrine and position. It is God's joy to meet a man where he is, after all. The undiscerning, and the clergy-controlled, will tend to stay put, mouths wide open, waiting for more.
The charismatic movement among Catholics gains grudging, then much wider, approval in Rome's officialdom. Then it even becomes a part of the norm in Catholic circles. Finally, the Vatican itself is forced to rubber stamp approval for the strange happenings, rather than lose hosts of people to the Protestants. Many, of course, leave anyway.
But many do not leave. And with the full approval of Rome-Babylon, which has always majored in confusion, they speak in tongues and go to Mass. They prophesy and praise Mary. They receive revelations but honor the Pope as their grand revealer and head of the church.
Much has been gained by this particular political move of Rome. The Catholic organization is now seen as a safe haven for Protestant charismatics too. Sure, a Protestant will still feel ill at ease at a May-crowning procession, but he is made to understand that there is "something for everyone" in Rome. Maybe you can't pray to Mary (yet), maybe Purgatory is still outside your theology, but we do have common ground in this tongues thing. Come home to Rome, whence we all came.
It's a tough argument to overcome for many
Vatican II and the charismatic renewal (as used by the unscrupulous and unwise) create a new atmosphere in Christianity. Pro-Roman (as opposed to the obsolete “anti-Protestant”) propaganda has people saying that, due to Vatican II, the Reformation is lessened in importance. The breakaway was a phenomenon of that past day from which we can learn, and then move on to greater things.
A "good Lutheran" is heard to say,
"...joint worship services have been held in which it would be difficult for any Christian to find anything false or wrong."
In the same book he calls Rome, "A mother church in Christendom." (He is unquestionably correct, according to John's Revelation.) And he says,
"The church of Rome undoubtedly has a direct and unbroken contact with Jesus Christ, His Word, and His holy apostles." And, "The Roman Catholic Church administers Christian baptism...She reveres the Holy Bible as the inspired and infallible Word of God."(Vatican II, Renewal or Reform, Manz)
Uh, I don't think so…
The "Spirit-filled Catholic." Quite a combination of images. And what happens if that Catholic just happens to be a priest?
Tom Forrest is such a one. I quote him here, speaking at a Charismatic Conference in the early 1990's, Indianapolis.
"Every born again charismatic must join a Catholic parish, for this is the church, the true body of Christ...The Catholic church is the only body of Christ...Catholics have the living Christ every week. They partake of the literal body of Christ and the priest partakes of the literal blood of Christ...I believe in purgatory; thank God for purgatory. If there were no purgatory, I would not go to heaven...When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we are led into the true church, the Roman church...You do not invite folk just to become Christians, but to become Catholics...we are saved by the sacraments of Consecration and become Christians...the priest can still forgive sins...no need to go to Christ...the Roman priest can forgive sins...Mary is praying for us till she sees us in glory..."
Depressing, isn't it? I mean, assuming you love the Scriptures and have a personal relation to Jesus based on His Word. Did the Spirit of God speak those things through him? Why then did not that same Spirit speak those same things through the foundation-stones of the church, the apostles?
My heart is sick at such statements. The errors are obvious. Oh may we stop following everyone who has a glib "Hallelujah" or "Praise the Lord" on his lips! And when a man says he is filled with the Holy Ghost, let us be discerning enough to examine his fruit, both in life and doctrine.
What are we saying here? That first intense study of mine has now been looked at up close and personal for decades. By me. I admit it. What started as spiritual hunger and evolved into personal commitments, even that of marriage, placed me in the center of the very worst elements, and the best too, of the tongues movement.
Since that 1990’s book, the movement has become far more than any could have imagined. It now even mixes with the New Age Movement. It is increasingly ecumenical and boundaries-breaking. It approves any and all who will follow. Why, it sounds much like the Rome of old. Try to cross her and you will see what I mean.
What Rome could not do with force of arms, this movement is doing with its strange practices and music. It is taking over Christendom, uniting her into one mega church, with which she thinks will be the power to take over the world. For Jesus, of course. Always for Jesus.
The Scripture does not concur with this assessment. At least, the Jesus part. The world, with its professing church, will get worse and worse. A revival of evil, not of righteousness, is foreseen, and the professing unholy church will be at its forefront. Bible believers will be hated and killed.
The prophet Jeremiah, together with the apostle John, are instructive here.
Jeremiah 51:7. “Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations are deranged.”
That’s pagan Babylon, but seen in a last-days scenario having control over the whole world. Jeremiah’s Babylon, like John’s, is to be destroyed instantly. Pagan Babylon fell only very gradually over the centuries. Is there another Babylon? Listen to John:
Revelation 17:3-6. “He carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast [the woman is identified as Pagan/Papal Rome at the end of the chapter] …arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her head a name was written: Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth. And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”
A drink of wine that brings crazed drunkenness to the nations. A drink of blood from God’s special people. She covers the earth. Prosperous and powerful. An abomination.
So it’s not true that wide-spread popularity is a good thing. It’s not true that the prosperity message, quite often a by-product of the tongues movement, is a good thing. The mysterious and the mystical are not necessarily a good thing.
And if you want to see actual drunkenness in today’s church experiences, it’s easy to find online. These folks have twisted a simple comment of Peter about what was going on to a call to act like drunks on public media, giving the world the idea that this is Christianity at its best.
I leave you to take it from here… we cannot judge and separate all lest we hurt true believers in the midst of all this. As for me, I have heard the call out of the Grand Mixture, out of the broad way that leads to eternal loss.