But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
I was raised Catholic, so my feelings of guilt and condemnation were taught to me. By the time I was an adult I was what we called a non-practicing Catholic. Basically, that meant we believed in God. We believed in Jesus. We just couldn't believe He wanted us to get up early on a Sunday to go to church. In 2002 I was brought to a Charismatic church. We arrived in the middle of worship and I leaned over to my friend who brought me and asked what was with all the singing and dancing. She responded that they were happy to which I replied, in church? I was saved that day, radically changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. I know this not because of the sinner's prayer and I cannot even remember the sermon topic. I know because God dealt with me that day with my sin and nothing has been the same since. Perfect? Hardly. I am amazed when God uses me for anything. The new journey started that day however and has lasted through this moment. Growing up from spiritual infancy, over the past 20 years, discernment has been a demanding taskmaster that has forced me to always reexamine my beliefs in light of scripture. At every turn when faced with my personal experience and the truth of God's word, I had to side with His word. Why? Because my heart is wickedly deceitful above all things and while I may have no problem lying to myself, God never will. I say this as a backdrop to a frank discussion about the Holy Spirit, the often-misunderstood member of the Trinity. So, let us reason again together through the above linked article from J. Lee Grady and let us see what we can learn.
"When I was filled with the Holy Spirit many years ago, I knew my Southern Baptist mother probably wouldn't be happy about my Pentecostal experience. She and I shared the same core beliefs in Jesus and salvation, or course. But I knew that some Christian denominations don't encourage believers to be baptized in the Holy Spirit or to practice the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament. So I didn't share my testimony with her for a few years. I'll never forget the day my mother learned of my experience. After she told me a story from her childhood, in which she witnessed some Christians "rolling in the sawdust" at a backwoods Pentecostal meeting, she widened her eyes and asked: "You don't speak in tongues, do you, Lee?" "Yes, mama, I do," I said. I didn't apologize for my experience, even though she was visibly horrified. And I reminded her that I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit while praying at our Southern Baptist church in suburban Atlanta. I first spoke in tongues on Baptist property!" - J. Lee Grady
I can commiserate with Grady's pain here. I do not remember how long it was before I told my mother that I was born again. Catholics, like Baptists, do not always encourage such conversion, let alone understand the gifts of the spirit. As I would discover through the years however, the Charismatics did not understand the gifts either. The problem most on the outside do no not get is the "rolling in the sawdust" issue and while it took many years to realize - they are right. The gibberish as tongues is problematic enough because it is not biblical but to this day the defense of the indefensible destroys the Charismatic witness. For example, I assume Grady would defend the Toronto outpouring, which was clearly demonic. The notion that the Holy Spirit would force believers to roll around on the ground, laughing uncontrollably, while making animal noises is unbelievably ridiculous. One of the fruits of the spirit, listed in the key verses, is self-control! Most Charismatics to this day defend the Kundalini spirit outpouring at Pensacola where the Holy Spirit was blamed for violent shaking and convulsing. Or they defend Todd Bentley's ministry where he said the Holy Spirit would tell him to kick people in the face to impart healing. These are just the most public examples and when you are forced to face these truths you must conclude that like Catholicism and the Baptist church, false teaching is prevalent. We must use the indwelt Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, not to laugh like a lunatic.
"Since then I have shared my story with countless people, written books about my testimony and prayed for hundreds of people to be filled with the Spirit. But I've also been shunned, rejected, misjudged, ridiculed and treated with suspicion by brothers and sisters in Christ because I embraced an experience that brought me closer to God. I've learned not to take these reactions personally. I love God's family, with all of its flaws and divisions. I don't just love Christians who agree with me. I love Christians who think I'm deceived or even dangerous. Since love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, it would be counterproductive if I lashed out in anger at a brother in Christ. But why are so many Christians afraid of the Holy Spirit? From my observations, there are six reasons:" - J. Lee Grady
Fair enough but the core problem remains. Not everything Grady embraces is true or biblical. His runs his writing for example on Charisma News, a virtual cesspool of heresy. His articles stand next to Jennifer LeClaire's sneaky squid spirit and angels of abundant harvest. They are approved for publication by Stephen Strang, a notorious NAR dominionist. Grady recently wrote defending the wildly heretical Chosen TV series, produced by Catholic priests and Mormons. It is a shame because there are many things Grady writes about that are correct. His approach here leaning into the fruit of love for example is spot on. Too bad he cannot lean into self-control for the facets of Charismania that are clearly out of control. Notice here his premise. If people choose to not experience the Holy Spirit as he does, they must be afraid. Never considering that he just may be wrong. Let's see where the chips fall.