The Way Is Narrow

Weird or Winsome, an essay on what troubles one man’s mind about some in the modern prophetic movement.

I wish to be very careful in forming my response to this post. Very,very careful. It crosses many of the more sensitive triggers of snares in the Church today.

Brad Hightower takes issue with the KC prophet(s) movement. He comes from the Vineyard experience in background. Contrasting the two : Vineyard in its inception as the winsome-ness and the influence of the KC prophets as the weirdness in the equation. I hope I got that right- that is the gist as it appeared to me. I want to take it a step farther adding in my own experience of those two things along with my experience in the ATIA/Gothard program. Whew! Got all that?

Brad says let’s get back to a gentle, inclusive gospel and be ‘winsome’, I say the gospel is either both winsome and/or weird depending on the beholder’s point of view. To try to make out that it is either, based on your experience, is just mistaken.

Yet, I highly identify and mostly agree with Brad on certain points.
“I detest the demonization of people just because they differ in their opinions” Agreed.
“I found this God-centeredness and passion for God to be a very true description of the early Vineyard.”
Seems true to me.
“my faith is such that I have very high expectations of the Gospe,l and I have high expectations for the normal mode of Christian life. Particularly, the bible teaches that we have been given everything necessary for life and Godliness.” Agreed.
there are some observations, that while having some merit, go as far in extreme as Brad feels the men in the KC movement have done.
e.g. “The leader of the church is to be of good repute to outsiders. The natural discernment of the common man should say that our life is very healthy and our life is beautiful. People think we are weird because we are weird. God calls us to be winsome not weird.”

Good repute does not mean well-liked. It depends on the beholder, and what they value.

Brad’s statement is the type of winsomeness that Bill Gothard teaches: the world viewing us as healthy, happy, shiny-haired, bright-eyed and smiling upbeat Christians.
You say it is far from the Vineyard warm and welcoming, coffee-infused home-group based gentility? Only in the details. It is still the user friendly gospel – not that I have a bone to pick with Vineyard, I am now attending Vineyard- but I have gone through this route. Can I explain?

Allow me to get my main point out right now: I contend that there are useful, important, meaningful, and necessary emphases in each of the points of advance mentioned . We need all and we need balance.

It is the imbalances that cause the difficulties. And man is prone to imbalance, maintenance of balance is a work of the Holy Spirit within the Church… bringing balance will feel like imbalance at times. We need discernment to tell when we are off. Here is where the historical references and the scriptures star. But what those who emphasize Sola Scriptura sometimes overlook is that it is the Spirit that gives life and the letter killeth. That is, depending upon scholarly approach alone.

And I have found off-points in each of these Church environments. That is why I don’t trust myself, and go slowly nowadays in drawing the conclusions.

Brad mentions ‘hyper-spiritualism’. That word could contain a world of errors, but not all would be in one camp and not another. It manifests in the ‘dress codes’, and in the employment of methodologies, exalting personalities ( respect of persons), and myriad forms.

In certain contexts I have seen even ‘regular’ spiritual things categorized as hyper-spirituality. That is, outside what one should expect in the Christian walk.

The fact is that pastors are known to become controlling, and the Bible warns specifically against that. The fact is that in trying to address the practical concerns of the person one can be stalemated over and over by the basic spiritual imbalance in that person. It just isn’t a cut and dried methodology. And this is where I fault any of us who want to outrightly label areas of the Church as heretical, without real base to do so. It creates a distortion when facing true heresy.

“You shall know them by their fruit is the exact opposite of “God offends the mind to reveal the heart.” We are to use our natural discernment to judge both people’s teachings and their lives.”

I basically agree with this. I was raised in the Reformed stream of faith, and this is one of the strengths of this stream, but it has it’s balancing truth: many scriptures warn of man’s mind being in enmity to God. We do not perceive and value the things of God automatically and our culture may outright reject God’s ways out of hand.

I mean, have you really looked at the way Jesus expressed things? Have you seen how He approaches the prestigious things of the world? Some would call it weird the way He spat into clay and healed peoples eyes.

Are we really reading our Bibles? Are we really listening to God? Or are we more worried about the responses of our culture? And yes, when people move towards God, and seek to obey Christ’s voice there are some very unscriptural attitudes and results that happen. I am not saying overlook or accept the false, I am saying let’s be careful. There was a time the Reformers were burned. They were restoring something that had long been lost. All of the Apostolic flow has not come to us either unhindered nor without active efforts to restore and further.

Face that. We are not automatically where we should be.

I was raised in the Reformed stream, as I said, but I was saved through the stream of the Jesus Freak movement: the outpouring of the Charismatic movement. Many of my generation would have been totally lost to the gospel, had it not been for that move of the Holy Spirit. And as a group we were where the Vineyard movement was later: loving, compassionate, gentle people. But the sheep without Shepherds get scattered. If you wish for the gentle people to go on in their immaturity in spiritual things of learning how to handle the devil ( Jesus did first thing -during His Temptation in the Desert) then you are not familiar with the heartache of seeing many beautiful Christians come to an end, all wounded and fallen.

The prophetic is a calling to strengthen the Church in standing. It is a part of the gifting as is the calling of mercy ministry.

And one may hate it and deride it for its inconsistancies in application, but to what end? Are we yet perfect? Is Vineyard, or Calvinism to remain as static in the world? We are a body with diverse callings. We make mistakes and we are faulty as individuals.
But be careful who you skewer.

Bill Gothard’s program has severe imbalances, but there are truths in there, too. The conservatism and the methodology are crushing, and that alone calls for sharp criticisms, but there is a seriousness about following ones faith in consistancy and its own revolutionary type of calling the culture into account that more of the Church could walk in.

If we were not so quick to wall off these different calls to accountability, we would not have such extremes as isolation breeds. We would sharpen one another, iron against iron. And our weaknesses would not be so glaring, as the Father has built into the body the ability to be healthy and whole. But it takes all the body together with respect for what God is speaking through each part.

We won’t get that calling out the KC Prophets by name with a seal of rejection upon them. Maybe they are off… my experience is not with them personally, but I know that when God restored my battered, beaten down faith… He began speaking to me, and moving me in the direction of the Prophetic movement ( of which KC s only one). God awakens His people, and we ought to ask why we are so lulled and neutralized, not cry out against one of the instruments.

2 thoughts on “The Way Is Narrow”

  1. ilona,
    Thanks for the analysis of what I was trying to say. I think I must have not been too clear on a few things. The reason I was being a little pro-vineyard was because I am so wearry of being critical and I did not want people to “throw the baby out with he bath water”. I am not trying to be partisan for or against Vineyard or any other movement. The point is to pastroally help people find balance between charismatic abuse and true passionate experience filled Christianity. I think like you say the road is narrow, and we need to learn through wisdom how to walk the fine line.

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