Open Letter To Terry Arnold and Mike Claydon
To Whom It May Concern
Christian Greetings in The Risen Lord.
I am grateful to have been copied this as I am named in it, and therefore I assume I have a right to cordially respond.
While I speak only for myself, it appears that there is a misunderstanding of my position and that of Pastor Philip Powell and of Brother Ed Barclay. I use the term ” misunderstanding” intentionally as a matter of Christian grace. If I were to use the term “misrepresentation”, that in effect would implicitly convey the charge of deliberate lying, and I hope this is not the case.
While Philip and Ed are entirely capable of speaking for themselves, they, like myself, Pastor Bill Randles, Mark Mullins, Roger Winter Smith, Aeron Morgan, our late Brother Larry Thomas (now with the Lord), and a host of others in our groove are known globally for our opposition to hyper-Pentecostal and hyper-charismatic extremism, and its various attributes and manifestations such as ecumenism, experiential theology, delusional counterfeit revivals such as “The Toronto Deception” (which had clearly demonic elements), Word-Faith financial con-artistry, hype-artistry such as Hillsong, and the general combination of mysticism, manipulative psychology, and unbiblical doctrine that painfully defines most of today’s popular Pentecostalism.
Although we have repeatedly challenged the key Pentecostal leadership on biblical grounds (especially since the Pensacola fiasco), for our stance we have all uniformly incurred the disfavor and black listing of most of popular Pentecostalism and its leaders such as the Assemblies of God, the Elim Movemen,t etc. They consider us as “notorious” for our opposition to them. Frankly, without wanting to sound rude or offensive, to place any of us in the same category with that with which we have been “notorious” for opposing is frankly too ludicrous to warrant serious comment. It would simply be factually illogical in the mind of any reasonable person familiar with our public reputations among Pentecostals to do so. All anyone would need to do is avail themselves of our recorded, published, webcasted, televised, broadcasted, or e-posted material to see the ridiculousness of tarring us with the same brush as contemporary mainstream Western Pentecostalism we have consistently opposed from the Scriptures on a very broad gamut of issues. Many of them do not even regard us as being true “Pentecostals” as they would now wrongly define Pentecost.
Philip, Ed. myself and our contingent, for want of a better label, are usually defined as “Biblical Pentecostals”. By definition our views of Pentecost and ‚ “charismata” are defined not by Azusa Street or popular Pentecostalism but directly by the teachings of the New Testament. We do not look back to Azusa Street in Los Angeles in the early 20th Century or to Campbell Irving in The North of England for our doctrine or our heritage, but to the Apostolic Church in Jerusalem, Antioch, and Berea in the First Century. Our patriarchs are not Messrs. Seymore or Parnham, but rather Peter, Paul, and John.
Again, I speak only for myself, but most of my friends sharing my position would largely agree that although phenomena like Azusa Street may have began as an authentic move of God’s Holy Spirit, a spiral of lunacy, false doctrine, and even moral scandal quickly began to beset early Pentecostalism in the earlier decades of the 20th Century just as the same unfortunate trend just as quickly began to beset the charismatic movement in the closing decades of the 20th Century. Both may have began as moves of God but were corrupted – with one major difference between them. In Pentecostalism, godly men put grain into the poison stew and corrected the error. Right doctrine and a standard of holiness was the response by an earlier generation of Pentecostal preachers to the heretical teaching of Kenyon and Branham, the madness of Amy Semple Mc Pherson, and the adultery of ‚ Kathrine Kuhlman (for which she did at least repent).
With the charismatic movement, and with most of contemporary Pentecostalism however, this has not been the case. There has been no solid biblical teaching and efforts to introduce solid grain into the toxic stew have been rejected. Most of modern Pentecostalism has lost its biblical compass and does not know its present bearings have it on a straight course to Babylon. Most of the charismatic movement never even had a biblical compass to begin with. Philip Powell and Ed Barclay both know this and both broadly share a similar point of view to my own. Philip and Ed mourn the fact that a homosexual pedophile like Frank Houston is celebrated as a Pentecostal icon and that the same false doctrine dismissed as heretical by earlier Pentecostals such as “Manifest Sons” is now tolerated as mainstream. (On one occasion I even found myself at odds with the actions and unbiblical teaching by a more traditional Pentecostal, David Wilkerson). The morality and biblical dogma have given way to immorality and apostasy.
What Terry and Mike seem to overlook, however, is that this avalanche of last days apostasy is by no means at all limited to Pentecostals. Rick Warren, whom I perceive as the arch-deceiver in the church today, is a Baptist. The apostasy, homosexual and lesbian ordination, and theological liberalism of Reformed Calvinist denominations such as the United Reformed Church, the Presbyterian Church, and Tte Church of Scotland is actually much worse both doctrinally and morally than the Pentecostal Movements, and the established denominations such as the Anglicans, Methodists, and Uniting Church are often even worse still.
It is therefore on this basis both unfair and unreasonable to single out Pentecostalism as if it were the mega culprit. We live in age of apostasy affecting most movements and denominations in a post-Christian / neo-pagan world where Protestantism is in spiritual, doctrinal, moral, and social decline across the board. In such an age of tragedy and shame it is absurd to limit one’s focus to the evils of the Pentecostals. To be honest, I wish it were only the Pentecostals, but it is not. We are witnessing the emergence of a post-modernism and a departure from the Word of God and the God of the Word that I am rather convinced is nothing less than the prelude of the Great Apostasy of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 and the dawn of the Antichrist.
It is not just the apostasy and erosion of biblical moral standards itself, but the exponential rate at which this maelstrom has gained pace that admittedly at times nearly terrifies me, driving me to a state of prayer and repentance that I and my family in God’s grace will be preserved. Indeed, the only respite I can find in any of this heartbreaking treachery and mass backsliding is that it heralds the coming return of Christ. Here is my hope. Hope is not in Pentecostals, or movements, or so called “revivals”. Hope is in the coming return of Jesus. I know for a fact that my friends like Philip and Ed believe much the same.
Having said that, I yesterday returned from Asia. I was speaking to thousands daily in the world’s largest Moslem country demographically ” “ Indonesia. As Islam makes strident gains in Australia, Britain and Europe, and North America ” “ I saw a persecuted and under-resourced church kicking Islam’s teeth down its throat. The Indonesian government officially admits to a 7.5% Christian population. In reality it as at least three times that in a nation where millions of Moslems have turned to Christ. This demonic religion of Islam is steadily losing people to Christ in Malaysia, Bangladesh, and in areas of Africa. I believe the trend can reach the Middle East itself before Jesus comes again.
But which churches are growing fastest and seeing the most Moslems saved? The absolute answer is Pentecostal ones. As the Roman Catholic population of Brazil, the world’s largest Catholic country, has plummeted from 97% Catholic to around 73% since the 1970’s ” “ which churches are at the forefront of seeing the harlot church of Rome plundered and souls saved? The honest answer is once again ” “ Pentecostalism. The same is generally true throughout not only Latin America, but the Third World.
With respect, it appears to me that Mike Claydon and Terry Arnold have a very parochial misperception of global reality. At any time in history God has tended to use one movement mightily. No matter what we may think of them today, in their day Methodists, Mennonites and Anabaptists, Plymouth Brethren, Lutherans, Waldenseans, etc. were forces to be reckoned with that God used to smash Satan’s hold and bring revival in their respective eras, locations, and cultures. By any objective barometer of church history, real church growth today has shifted from the developed world to the Third World and the Pentecostals are clearly having their day.
To attempt to deny this would be silly. For sure they have their problems ” “ so did the Brethren, the Lutherans, the Anabaptists, The Methodists and every other movement God has used. God’s strategy however is to put grain into the stew. So this is what I do.
Again, I am not wanting to sound rude, but Mike and Terry really do not seem to grasp the total picture but tend to pontificate strongly on matters they really do not appear to understand beyond a rather limited point even though they do say some true things. While I do not wish to pass judgment on them or their motives (I would like to assume they are of noble intention) their judgments too often fail to accurately reflect biblical and historical reality and they certainly do not comprehend either the convictions, the actual beliefs, or the heart of men like Ed and Philip.
Terry and Mike, and Ed and Philip, and myself may all mutually feel the victims of injustice by the rival parties. But surely we all agree that we all must do justice to the facts.
- The first fact is that ‚ Ed, Philip and myself – are demonstrably not party to what we have been wrongly identified with ” “ the mainstream Pentecostalism of OZ/NZ/ USA/ UK as it has very sadly become today. In fact we are all at fundamental odds with it.
- The second fact is that the current apostasy in the church that Philip, Ed and I interpret as being of eschatological significance is not in any sense limited to Pentecostalism (many others are even worse), and God is using Pentecostalism incredibly despite itself to break the strongholds of Satan in the Roman Catholic, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist worlds.
- The third fact is that the REAL ISSUE is not Pentecostalism as a movement, as an institution or even as a historical phenomena. The issue is not Azusa Street or any other such thing. Introducing such matters is a counter-productive diversion from the real issue. The real issue is “Cessationism” which Philip and myself maintain is an unsupportable and contra-biblical doctrine predicated on the exegetically bogus presupposition that charismatic gifts ceased with the Apostles. To us this is as co-equally false a doctrine as any other false doctrine we would oppose.
If we are to debate, let us refrain from unbecoming ad homonym nonsense that befits none of us and serves only to dishonor Christ.
Rather let us properly debate the actual issue, Cessationism , in a proper forum with an independent moderator and one Greek language academic and one Hebrew language academic as co-moderators, with right of rebuttal and with audience questions all held at a neutral venue.
Let us debate the real issue on the basis of pure biblical exegesis alone. Philip and myself ‚ vs. Terry and Mike.
This is fair, reasonable, and certainly more edifying than the pointless spectacle of assailing one another over the Internet.
If Terry and Mike wish to defend Cessationism, which Philip and I hold to be erroneous, now is their chance, and it will be a fair chance.
If they do not wish to defend their Cessationism or if it is their claim not to hold to Cessationism, further Internet or e-mail dialogue is all the more unconstructive and pointless and pursuit of further discussion on these matters should be terminated at once as void of any constructive purpose.
Respectfully In Jesus,
J. Jacob Prasch