Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Holy Ghost----> Are things supposed to be this Scary?

If you belong to one of those denominations and/or churches that keep the Holy Ghost bound in the back room with the communion wafers, anointing oil, and the wine (or grape juice-lest I offend), you have a holy obligation to let your pastor or priest know: “The Holy Ghost is Back…Now let Him Loose!”



I remember when I was 14 years old, I visited my friends parents church, which just so happened to be a “Holy Ghost” filled Pentecostal church. After the last worship song was finished, a hush fell over the sanctuary. It was the kind of hush where you could hear someone’s stomach rumbling from four pews away, as well as many other bodily functions. The pastor was in the pulpit, lifting his hands to heaven, which I just assumed was some pre-sermon calisthenics or attempts to channel the divine. But then suddenly, like a thunder-clap from heaven, the pastor began speaking, very loudly, in some sort of barbarous language that sounded like a cross between yodeling and pig-Latin. Now I had no idea what that man was yelling, but I will say-that this mysterious tongue really set the congregation ablaze (or perhaps a better descriptor would be “a-daze!”) For as soon as these strange orations hit the parishioners ears, they started dropping to the floor like flies. My first thought was that there was some sort of gas being pumped through the ventilation system causing everyone to pass out; so I held my breath and dropped to my knees. Out of the corner of my eye I could see people crawling around the sanctuary, and the room was filled with the most awful sounds of moaning, wailing, and lots of other indiscernible gibberish. I then looked to my friend sitting next to me who did not seem to be the least bit worried. Apparently he had been through this holy ghost-fallout-drill a time or two. As soon as he looked at me and smiled, a spirit of teenage laughter took over our bodies that was so strong it almost brought on another spirit called- incontinence!


Since that time I have been in churches where the Holy Ghost has supposedly brought on Spiritual drunkenness, Spiritual laughter, or the Spirit of causing someone to get up and run around the sanctuary like  an epileptic on fire. I was also privy to watching the Holy Ghost supposedly glue a parishioners feet to the floor for an entire sermon! Now many brave strong men tried to free him, but when the Holy Spirit glues your feet to the carpet, trust me, no man can put that asunder!

Also, when my wife was a teenager, she attended a youth conference where she learned that if you are ever caught up in the “Spirit of Laughter”, and you are hyperventilating, slowly breathe in H-O-L-Y….And  slowly breathe out S-P-I-R-I-T. This way you will not pass out and cause yourself undo holy injury. Though getting battered and bruised while being caught up in the "spirit" is closely related to the Catholic Stigmata, which I hear is admirable.

In closing, I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and experiences in regards the Holy Spirit, and the appropriateness of the various manifestations. Thank you for reading and commenting!


Blessings,





15 comments:

  1. I grew up in the A/G denomination, and I've seen all sorts of things. And a lot of the time, I can't find any Scriptural precedent. I also believe that it's impossible to prove (exegetically, of course) that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased.

    But why is it that these gifts only seem to be on our minds for an hour or two on Sunday--and occasionally on a Wednesday night? Why are such gifts not part of our everyday life? If they are given for the purpose of edifying the Church (not the building), I would think God's business hours (and He never sleeps nor slumbers) should be followed instead of the service times on the sign out front. And if our gifts and our Spirit-driven hunger are only stirred up for that oh-so-tiny portion of our time, are they legitimate to begin with?

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  2. Ok Ok...I grew up Pentecostal and I have seen lots of weird and wild stuff....uncontrolled dancing, arm waving, and yes even the fiery epileptic circling the sanctuary. I have seen the gifts abused and used for the glorification of self and people seeking the gifts instead of the Gift Giver. I agree with the first commentator that it is impossible to prove that the gifts have ceased, but I do think, from a personal perspective and study, that they are not be normative in the public worship of believers today.

    The bible is materially sufficient for all faith and morals ( sola scriptura ) without ruling out the possibility of the continuing gifts.

    God can still use tongues and interpretation, but does HE?

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  3. I grew up straight laced quasi-fundamentalist where the Holy Spirit only convicted people of their technicolor sins. So therefore your description is a whole different realm to me, and I find it intriguing. Intellectually I believe in a Kingdom of Power, but oddly enough within the confines of church walls it doesn't seem right. It seems like if the Holy Spirit is going to fill people up and set them ablaze it would happen so they could do it with a purpose.

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  4. When I was young- it was these types of theatrics that turned me off from Christianity. Combine the above with judgement, ( totally devoid of love) hypocrisy, and you have a recipe for disaster. Praise the Lord for his infinite kindness and mercy that drew me back to HIM!

    You also make a great point about the Holy Spirit moving with a purpose...especially outside the church walls. This thought is definitely pulpit worthy.

    Thank you for visiting, and for your great comments!

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  5. When I was young- it was these types of theatrics that turned me off from Christianity. Combine the above with judgement, ( totally devoid of love) hypocrisy, and you have a recipe for disaster. Praise the Lord for his infinite kindness and mercy that drew me back to HIM!

    You also make a great point about the Holy Spirit moving with a purpose...especially outside the church walls. This thought is definitely pulpit worthy.

    Thank you for visiting, and for your great comments!

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  6. I have experienced the Holy Ghost when I was a teenager. I sometimes doubt it as an adult, yet I do not want to question the memory of that experience as a young person. I believe it was a true experience. I did feel "drunk with the holy spirit" complete with dancing, laughing, and "speaking in tongues." It was one of the most freeing experience in my life. I have felt the Holy Spirit in church since then, but not to the Evangelical extreme I did as a youngster. I would not question the validity of these experiences. Besides, other religions have similar spiritual experiences like trances, "enlightenment," chanting, and dancing. I think all humans are capable of this kind of connection with the divine.

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  7. I have never witnessed something quite as dramatic as what you mentioned, or the camp that Carla went to, but I have been in a church where people have gone to the front and been prayed over and fallen down, lots of groaning, crying, dancing, weeping etc.. It made me pretty uncomfortable, but it also made me feel like I was this strange useless Christian, because people always said that it "just happens" to them, and it NEVER "just happened" to me...so maybe I was just not good enough, or maybe they were holier than I was.

    I think that so many things in the Christian world that have become "acceptable" or even a "requirement" have been misunderstood and misused. We have become reliant on what people tell you is the right way to act, instead of seeking and searching for the answers from the Bible for themselves (all the answers are there).

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  8. Luther:Living GraceMarch 31, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    That is one of the problems HL.... The statement of faith from the church I was saved in said " baptism of the holy spirit subsequent to a clean heart, ". How clean? By what standard? The Word tells us were were sanctified, our hearts were circumcised, and that for believers the Spirit already in dwells them. The lack of miraculous gifts , whether intentionally or not, made one feel like a second class Christian or as you said " less spiritual "

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  9. Hi Luther! You make some really good points. This very topic seems to be discussed in many Christian circles and at times can be dividing. I believe Paul spells everything out pretty well in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14. I think God can and does use tongues and interpretation today but many churches that believe in the gifts of the HS don't actually follow Paul's lead. Most of the time you have 50 people speaking in tongues and a dozen jumping and flailing around, its chaos, and God is order. Unfortunately I think many times these aren't true manifestations but manifestations of ones susceptibility to emotional worship. Christians come to church looking for a high once a week instead of resting in the Lord. I worry for those whose faith is based on emotional experiences, because there is not very much substance.

    Thanks for you comments!

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  10. I grew up Catholic and guess what? I experienced tongues and other gifts of the Holy Spirit. Most people don't realize Catholics believe in this stuff too, it's just kept well under wraps. I think manifestations of the Holy Spirit that are more for personal gain (tongues, laughter, seizures) are to be kept in private prayer- because they do nothing for the congregation. Paul talks about this is 1 Corinthians 14:6-19. Truly the only times in my adult life that I have received such gifts was in private prayer time, and not when I was ordered to speak in tongues at church (I've been in several congregations where this is an order to everyone).

    I liked that you mentioned we should be filled with the Holy Spirit for a purpose. After all, aren't we always full of Him, doesn't He dwell within us. Why would we always need to be refilled? But the times I've asked for immediate guidance there was definitely a purpose. One time at our Bible study we were desperately trying to get through to a lost young man you usually attended for the free food. I was getting frustrated with him and had nothing productive to say, but asked for the guidance of the HS. To this day I can't tell you what I said, I know I was shaking and on the verge of tears and when I was finished there wasn't a dry eye in the house. It was powerful, but it had nothing to do with me. God used my vocal cords and my mouth, but the words were not mine. That, I think, is the best kind of manifestation.

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  11. All humans are also susceptible to being led into responding a certain way. Any of us who have experienced these movements of the Holy Spirit know that many times there is some really moving music being played, the pastor (someone you trust) is speaking in a booming voice about all the wonderful things God is doing and many times you are also told that you are not a mature believer if nonsense doesn't suddenly erupt from your mouth. Do I think that people speak in tongues and experience other gifts because of the power of the Holy Spirit? Yes, but I think that as much as we see it today, it is not real. It is an emotional response, a way of getting high on God and I think it can be detrimental to some folks. We shouldn't have to rely on our feelings to have faith or experience God. Our feelings are unreliable. I've seen movements of the Holy Spirit that I do believe are real, but they don't take all this gearing up and they usually produce some scripture reading, or a discernible prayer, and, yes, a translation of the tongues spoken. This has been discussed for 2000 years. Paul faced this same debate. Here is a snippet of what he had to say,

    "18 I thank God that I speak in [strange] tongues more than any of you or all of you put together; 19Nevertheless, in public worship, I would rather say five words with my understanding and intelligently in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a [strange] tongue." 1 Corinthians 14:18-19

    He had a lot to say on the matter in chapters 12-14. He agrees it is a powerful experience but that it is not as important as other gifts, like love.

    Anyways, I'm rambling again.

    Thanks for your comment Charlotte! I always look forward to your point of view!

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  12. This is unfortunate, and I have seen it quite a few times. I've actually seen a church call the people who haven't been "baptized in the Spirit" to the front and basically prayed over them until they manifest tongues. That's quite a bit of pressure. Unfortunately in the statement of beliefs in many churches there is a section about tongues and a quote from Acts. What I can't understand is why there always seems to be such a focus on the tongues of Acts- when the Holy Spirit first came upon the apostles- and the tongues of 1 Corinthians, where Paul discusses worship. I really think its another form a legalism. Stating one has to receive the gift of tongues to be truly born again is just another way to alienate people and make them feel unworthy. I believe Paul stated that LOVE trumped all these things.

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  13. "God can still use tongues and interpretation, but does HE?"

    This is a good question. I personally believe that God gives people a Word for a congregation in order to edify, encourage, or possibly convict. Now whether that Word has to come through an interpreter via tongues, is up for debate? I try not to limit any possibility when it comes to gifts of the spirit, but I also believe that if someone has a message from the Holy Spirit the can just use their native tongue.

    Anyone else have thoughts on Luther's question?

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  14. I have had a myriad of experiences like those mentioned above. I believe they manifested for a specific personal reason and for a reason to encourage the congregation of believers. The problem lies in the fact that people stop and are satisfied with mere manifestation of the Holy Spirit and not to the instruction therein. It`s like playing football with a Bible. You can have fun but you are using it the wrong way.

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  15. I'm a firm believer in tongues, and gifts of the spirit. However when these "spiritual gifts" turn the sanctuary of the church into a dog-n-pony-show...there is something wrong. For you never know if there is someone visiting, or someone new in the faith. If so, these types of tirades could be a stumbling block for them. Then like you said...you might as well toss around a Bible as a football too:->

    Thanks for the comment Stephen! Praying for the safety and well being for you and your family.

    Blessings,

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