Is UCG Charismatic

I’ve been trying to decipher this one for a day or two now, but it just doesn’t add up.  A certain blogger has made the claim that UCG is becoming “charismatic”.

Whenever I hear “charisma” or “charismatic”, I usually think of the Pentecostals.  And, indeed, Wikipedia bears this out.

According to Wikipedia article on Charismatic Movement:

Charismatic movement describes an ongoing international, cross-denominational/non-denominational Christian movement in which individual, historically mainstream congregations adopt beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostals. Foundational to the movement is the belief that Christians may be “filled with” or “baptized in” the Holy Spirit as a second experience subsequent to salvation and that it will be evidenced by manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

And, under Charisma:

The term charisma was introduced in scholarly usage by German sociologist Max Weber.[1] He defined charismatic authority to be one of three forms of authority, the other two being traditional (feudal) authority and legal or rational authority. According to Weber, charisma is defined thus:

…a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which one is "set apart" from ordinary people and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These as such are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as divine in origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader.[2]

So, we see a rough outline of what "charismatic" looks like (which may vary in degrees between different groups, obviously):

  1. An emphasis on the “person” of the Holy Spirit.  Typical Protestantism focuses almost exclusively upon Jesus while often ignoring the Father, but Pentecostals treat the Holy Spirit in this manner rather than Jesus.
  2. An emphasis upon emotionalism over logic.  In fact, charismatic churches can oftentimes outright defy logic.
  3. An emphasis upon “gifts” of the Spirit, some which may be legitimately viewed as gifts while others are questionable.
  4. A de-emphasis upon Bible Study, prophecy and systematic theology.
  5. An emphasis upon “signs” such as talking in tongues, healings, uncontrollable movements, etc.

It is important to point out that any movement in just one of these does not necessarily make a group charismatic, although some are more important than others.

We need to speak the truth in love.  For whatever criticisms you may have about UCG, I don’t see applying the label of “charismatic” as being accurate.

0 Comments

  1. Yes, that was on Malm's Shining Light site and is ridiculous. Talk about a suspicious and judgmental guy! I had bookmarked his site yesterday and deleted it this morning, I was so turned off by his attitude of master of all he surveys. Yuck!!!

    Todd Sauve

  2. Mr. Malm wrote the agenda for next week's UCG ministerial conference has charismatic elements to it.

    I take it he's referring to the second day's emphasis on "promoting and cultivating spiritual gifts of service among God's people."

    That's point #3 on your list — but I don't see the other four points on the agenda, unless you count President Luker's previous admissions to being a "heart guy" as #2.

    It's good to see a return to theme of "Christ-centered servant leadership." Clearly that was scuttled a few years ago — probably due to ministers insisting UCG be "Father"-centered. They're both God, people!

  3. I believe he made the claim that it is becoming charismatic, not that it is. Reading some of John Elliott's writings, it is difficult to deny.

    I find it interesting you used to at least mention Malm's name, now not even that. Yet you have often linked to Shadows of WCG, a site with such obvious Biblically incorrect writings.

  4. Anonymous wrote: "I find it interesting you used to at least mention Malm's name, now not even that. Yet you have often linked to Shadows of WCG, a site with such obvious Biblically incorrect writings."

    Make many mountains out of molehills lately? Seems odd that you didn't criticize me when I did the same for Shadows in the past.

  5. Well this is sort of related. I have been reading James’s blog for the past week and a half or so and actually agree with a lot of what he says. I did however take exception with his post of a few days ago. I commented today and my post was edited to one line my second post in response seems to have simply been deleted.

    I took exception with a source that he cited as I feel the individual acted without integrity. As James would not post my comments I will place them unedited including the grammatical errors I have noticed J below. I would have liked it if his own readers had been given the opportunity to judge the merit of what I am saying but from James reaction I guess hearing differing opinions is not a good idea.

    I honestly would like comments as to whether I am wrong…….am I just being nit picky?

    To me someone who frequently quotes un named high placed sources asking that the readers accept their vouching for their integrity then cites someone who is named and appears to be ethically questionable should be a little more open to criticism……ah well live and learn. Both posts are below along with James response to the first one.

    Devidep as it is too big for one post

  6. James you quoted this in your post, titled “Undermining The Foundation of Sound Doctrine in UCG” I realize that this was not the subject of today’s post but I am just catching up, I hope it will be ok.

    • I have attached below this letter the results of my Bible Study for this Sabbath. The background on this one goes back to the FT at Daytona Beach this past year. Because I had an infected sore on the bottom of my foot, I got a seat in the front row in front of the stage and by coincidence near a major entry way for people looking for seats. This is how i got to meet none other than Leann Luker, wife of the president.
    I decided to play dumb and introduce myself and tell where I was from and then ask, “and who might you be?” I have found this an excellent way to allow people to show themselves for who they really are. When she said her name, of course i recognized it and welcomed her to Florida and asked if being the wife of the president of the UCG made her the “first lady” of the UCG. To her credit, she insisted that no it did certainly not do any such thing and that I should regard her as “your sister in the faith”.
    As pleasantries continued and we talked about the rather difficult situation that both her and her husband had stepped into, she made the comment that she wasn’t worried because, “you know Tim, it’s all about Jesus”. This immediately set alarm bells off in my head, (because I remembered my own wife saying the same thing as she embraced the heresies of the post-’95 WCG) but all I said was ‘Jesus said He came to reveal the Father” and He also said “I and My Father are one” and then I said, “you sound like Joe Tkach in the late 80′s”.
    Well she just freaked out and told me that she in no way was like Joe Tkach and if she and Denny had been they could have just stayed with Worldwide but they didn’t, etc…” Before I had a chance to reply the announcer asked everyone to find their seats because it was time to begin services so I said to her,”to be continued at another time”.
    o Margaret Replied
    Enjoy reading your website, I don’t agree wtih everything but you do have many valid points. The conversation with Leanne Luker though reminded me of a “wordly” reporter looking for remarks for a provocative story.
    People seem to be misinterpreting that. The only thing that Tim did was to go to her and introduce himeself without mentioning that he recognized her. She immediately introduced herself and they began to converse. There was absolutely no deceit involved whatsoever. And in fact there is absolutely nothing new in the report. Just do some research into the material of Dennis or his friend John Elliot. James

  7. This exchange gave me pause, you replied “The only thing that Tim did was to go to her and introduce himeself without mentioning that he recognized her.” Is that truly the case?
    Tim “ I decided to play dumb”

    de•cide
    v. de•cid•ed, de•cid•ing, de•cides
    v.tr.
    1.
    a. To settle conclusively all contention or uncertainty about: decide a case; decided the dispute in favor of the workers.
    b. To make up one's mind about: decide what to do.
    2. To influence or determine the outcome of: A few votes decided the election.
    3. To cause to make or reach a decision.
    v.intr.
    1. To pronounce a judgment; announce a verdict.
    2. To make up one's mind.

    idiom, to play dumb, is to pretend not to know or understand

    1. pre•tend/priˈtend/
    Verb: Speak and act so as to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it is not: "I pretended I was asleep"; "she pretended to read".

    Exo 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    Mat 5:27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
    Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    The principal Jesus was teaching was that simply keeping the letter of the law was not enough, but rather we should be keeping the spiritual intent of the law

    Was Tim lying? At first as I considered this I thought of it in the sense of it’s being a lie of omission, but no it was not a matter of simply omitting the truth. Tim makes this clear when he asks “and who might you be?” Any reasonable person would conclude from that question that the person asking it did not know who she was and that simply is not the truth!

    What was Tim’s intent in pretending to not know her? What was his motive in playing dumb?

    The rest of Tim’s testimony may be a completely accurate and truthful account of what was said, I don’t know because I was not there, but as you have sited him as a witness of doctrinal drift in UCG then his testimony must be held up for examination. If we know from his own words that his approach to Ms Luker was at the very least disingenuous, then how much credibility should his testimony be given?

    Do you condone his actions? Your defense of him “The only thing that Tim did was to go to her and introduce himeself without mentioning that he recognized her.” Seems to suggest that you do?
    Do you?

  8. James Reply

    Steve
    January 27th, 2011 at 08:22
    Return to top
    James you quoted this in your post, titled “Undermining The Foundation of Sound Doctrine in UCG” I realize that this was not the subject of today’s post but I am just catching up, I hope it will be ok. Tim . . . . . . . . .
    I happen to know Tim quite well and I was quite aware of what was done and the reasons, before posting the letter. I assure you for a fact that his means of introducing himself was entirely innocent and was just a means to prevent immediate undue famiarity by using her name up front. Further this is a petty point and absolutely immaterial since they immediately introduced themselves and they both knew from the very beginning who each other was. This is a “straw man” issue to distract from the overall thrust and tone of what was reported. This subject is irrelevant, immaterial and a pointless distraction. This subject is closed, think whatever you want. The attitudes of these people have been available for decades in audios, writings and sermons. These things will be brought out more and more by themselves over the coming months, now that they have full control and power. Have patience, now that you have been warned; keep eyes wide open and watch for the maturing of the fruits. James

  9. I have read your blog because I am interested in what is happening with people who are distantly related to me (in Christ) and my heart goes out to them for what they are going through. I agree with much of what you have said but I was greatly disturbed to see that you would use and apparently approve of the testimony (which seems to me) of someone who despite whatever his intentions may be is being dishonest.

    I must also say that your response to my questions “This subject is irrelevant, immaterial and a pointless distraction. This subject is closed, think whatever you want.” Seems extremely dismissive. Is questioning why you would support this behavior truly irrelevant, immaterial and a pointless distraction. I would ask a distraction from what? The message you want to get across? As I have said I agree with much of what you have written, I disagree with using questionable sources.
    Yet since you have in a way put forth yourself as a teacher is it wrong to call you on what appears to be a questionable judgment?

    You said “I was quite aware of what was done and the reasons, before posting the letter. I assure you for a fact that his means of introducing himself was entirely innocent and was just a means to prevent immediate undue famiarity by using her name” respectfully that is not what he said “I have found this an excellent way to allow people to show themselves for who they really are” there is nothing there that says I didn’t want to be familiar with her. You may know the truth of that from personally knowing him……but it is not what he states.

    The attitudes of these people have been available for decades in audios, writings and sermons. I agree

    o Have patience, now that you have been warned; keep eyes wide open and watch for the maturing of the fruits. James Is it only there fruits that should be watched? What are the fruits of using questionable evidence.
    I have enjoyed your blog and looked forward to your posts, I am not an enemy but as with Paul Gal 2:11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; I believe it is inappropriate to use a questionable citation and then to go on to defend it and ridicule someone for pointing it out. And in the long run will damage the credibility of what you have to say.

    Steve

  10. Steve wrote: "I honestly would like comments as to whether I am wrong…….am I just being nit picky?"

    I think you make a valid point, at least up to a point. You don't appear to me to attempting to slam Malm, either, which is why I approved your comments.

    However, I'm sure you know I like to ask challenging questions as well.

    When I consider King David, there are a couple of events in his life that I have found intellectually fascinating. One was after his son Absalom fled to Geshur. Joab had an old wise woman come before David to plead a case for her son (but, it was really an edge to get into a discussion on Absalom). Since she was a "wise woman", that would imply a certain level of righteousness, and yet her "plea" before the king was just a ruse. Even more to the point was when Nathan, an actual prophet, confronted King David about a man who took a "lamb" from his neighbor. However, that was also a ruse. Yet, like Jesus' parables, it was true in a very deep sense.

    And, what of Jesus' parables? Did you know that there are people who will argue that they are not just "stories"? Their argument is that Jesus could not lie and telling fiction is a lie. Therefore, so goes the argument, they had to be about things that actually happened.

    Now, I don't believe that parables have to be true stories. After all, they are called "parables", which basically means a narrative or story.

    And, what of God, anyhow? Did God ask Adam where he was because He did not know? Why did God ask him, "Who told you you were naked?" Surely, God knew! So, why did God ask as though He did not know?

    So, where should you draw the line? I guess I don't know. It is best to be so honest that you are transparent. However, even God, Who cannot tell a lie, does not tell us everything. It is evident that He sometimes wants to see what our reaction will be. I guess the line is where it crosses from curiosity or protecting someone or something into outright deception.

    So, if Nathan and Joab were deceiving David, then I guess Tim above was deceiving Mrs Luker. If not, then …

  11. Then, based on your examples from the Bible, it is perfectly alright for ministers to deceive the congregation by following that same line of thought. All that they have to do to defend their position, is to quote those same examples. Therefore no end to religious deceptions. Am I right?

  12. Wow…..very good points John! Where do you draw the line indeed? This afternoon I would have thought I knew; now I am not so sure.

    As I said I have been reading James blog for the past week and a half and found myself agreeing with a lot of what he said. Today I found myself disappointed in him with what I saw as a dishonest approach, sitting back this evening it seems funny to be disappointed in someone I don’t truly know.

    I guess if you are going to draw a line then it would be with their motives, but I am not God and I cannot see into their hearts so I guess I can’t say for sure what their intent was.

    If I have in fact acted from emotion (very possible) and misjudged their motives then I offer both Tim and James my sincere apology.

    John you have reminded me that I still have a long way to grow, thank you.

    Steve

  13. @Anonymous: I guess if you wish to twist "I guess the line is where it crosses from curiosity or protecting someone or something into outright deception" into "it is perfectly alright for ministers to deceive the congregation…" then I cannot stop you. I guess you might as well twist it into me believing that God is a deceiver while you're at it, since I mention that God asks similar questions. Is that really what you think I said, or are you just being another anonymous troll?

    Or, maybe you could re-read what I wrote rather than reading into it, not to mention the examples in the Bible that I pointed out, and come to a very different conclusion.

  14. "Make many mountains out of molehills lately? Seems odd that you didn't criticize me when I did the same for Shadows in the past."

    John, do not misunderstand me; this is your blog so I would not criticize you for posting what you want, for I choose to come here willingly.
    I did not criticize you then and neither am I criticizing you now. I simply said I find it interesting the measures you take to avoid linking to Malm's site in comparison to Shadows and the obvious difference in their content.

    So now I will ask you: is there a reason you have no issues with drawing attention to Shadows but you obviously do not want to draw any attention to Shininglight?

  15. "So now, please tell me what you are talking about."

    I have visited your blog from time to time but have missed some of those entries.
    I hereby stand corrected! I am sorry I even mentioned it.

  16. Anonymous wrote: "So now I will ask you: is there a reason you have no issues with drawing attention to Shadows but you obviously do not want to draw any attention to Shininglight?"

    I dunno. Still sounds like criticism to me.

    At any rate, how can you say that? In fact, is there any "pro" COG blog or website I have not pointed to or mentioned at one time or another (even the ones I would not recommend)?

    Let’s Be "Fair”, Whatever That Means

    With a Prophet, Prophet Here and a Prophet, Prophet There … Everywhere a Prophet-Prophet

    UCG, Dennis Luker, Leon Walker, Latin America and Some Observations

    FINALLY, The Truth is Starting to Come Out

    Greg Sargent, Roy Demarest Suspended & UCG Current Crisis

    So now, please tell me what you are talking about.

  17. @Anonymous: That's OK. You can see why the question took me by surprise.

    Usually, people ask, "Why point to Shadows at all?" The answers are quite simple:

    1. It is easier to write about a point of doctrine or Scripture where you disagree with someone. It also points out the distinctive beliefs of the COG.

    2. It helps to understand that there is some common ground. There may not be much, but we need to make sure we aren't guilty of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

    3. It is important for people to realize that sincerity is necessary, but so is doctrine. After all, I've met some sincere Hindus in my life, but that isn't going to take them into the Kingdom.

    4. People need to realize that their source needs to be the Bible and not what men say about the Bible. There are a few in some COGs that need to realize that as well, BTW.

    As far as Malm goes, I went out of my way to say he was correct about the UCG breakup, at least in general terms.

    However, he also often takes details and runs with them. Notice his exchanges with Dr Thiel, for example, where Thiel corrects him on some points. Malm also recently got some egg on his face by saying that services were altered in order to allow women to teach.

    So, while I do point to his blog occasionally, I'd advise a huge salt shaker be taken with you.

  18. I had my own run in with Malm recently. In one of his posts, I commented about a misstep he made in his argument and reasoning (on his 70 Weeks post), showing where his reasoning destabilized his entire post without the proper foundation and support he would need. It wasn't hostile, but it would've cast a lot of doubt on what he was saying. He refused to post it as "the post was too long to get into in the comments" (however, that is misleading, as there have been plenty of much longer posts that show up and he writes just as long replies to). But he also proceeded to respond to it via e-mail… which begs the question why could he respond to it just as easily through e-mail but not post it. And when I responded to that e-mail, he simply ignored it further.

    Malm is an interesting charcter. I read his blog to sift information out from his sensationalism and conspiracy theories. He sometimes by chance gets things right, but rarely for the reasons he says. UCG breakup was easy to call–I called it right after the home office move was called for (heard plenty of murmuring at that time) and told my friends "UCG will probably have a major split within three years, give or take" (I was slightly off on the time estimation, but a good reading nonetheless).

    I think the man is very sincere, but as you say… gotta have plenty of salt.

  19. Just a side comment, when we left WCG in 1992, they had just published the GOD is booklet, they claim to trying to understand the other people's belief in trinity, but before this booklet, God the Father was banished, it was "all about Jesus Christ". Look at the agenda UCG's conference, "look to Christ", "Christ's work". The Father is nowhere – when in John 6:38, For I came down from heaven, not to do mine will but the will of him that sent me. From the book of Romans to Revelations, the greetings are from God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The image I have of God is the Father sitting on the throne and Jesus Christ sitting on His right hand. We were told by Jesus Christ to pray to the Father. Once the Father is out of focus, my alarm bells are ringing loud.

  20. I understand the alarm bells, but I'd like you to consider something.

    My take on it is that Paul wrote both about the Father and the Christ. If he did write more about Christ (which I am not certain that is true, as I've never tried to count this), then it seems it was only slightly more.

    I think the WCG was often too extreme in one direction, while Protestants are often on the other extreme (the exception being the Pentecostals). Either both are God, or not. Either both should be worshipped, or not. Focusing on One while ignoring the other presents a skewed view of the plan of God.

    God the Father is the One in charge of it all. Jesus constantly pointed to the Father. Jesus commanded us to pray to the Father. Yet, He also commanded us to pray in His name, to remember His sacrifice with a special ceremony and pointed out that He will return to establish a Kingdom. He is even called "King of Kings and Lord of Lords".

  21. I'm not sure which gown to wear to the wedding

  22. @tim: "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."

  23. hello John–and this is for tim;

    You better be sure that you have on a wedding garment–not just any ole "gown"–as John suggests–or you run the risk of being thrown into outer darkness, as the Parable that Christ gave indicates.
    It is kind of serious when you look at it from that perspective, huh.

    Anony Jon