What Happened to the Fire? by J. Lee Grady © 1994, Chosen (A Division of Baker Book House), Grand Rapids. Reviewed by Bill Alnor © 1995 The Christian Sentinel Posted with permission
This could be one of the most important books for charismatics and Pentecostals to read in a long time. Author Lee Grady, a well-known charismatic writer and editorial director of Charisma magazine, has displayed courage in saying what needed to be said in a clear, non combative manner.
Grady's message goes against the grain of the charismatic and Pentecostal movements that has consistently failed to test their own teachers. The result of their failures is that the church is infected with false and dangerous doctrines that have often hurt believers. It still remains to be seen whether charismatics will receive what Grady has to say. My guess is that they won't, and that few prominent voices in the movement will publicly embrace this book.
I find it interesting that Grady went outside the Strang group to get this book published. Besides Charisma and Christian Retailing and a few other magazines, Stephen Strang is also publisher of Creation House books, one of the most powerful charismatic publishers.
Nevertheless Grady's message is loud and clear, and his book will be a beacon for those who will listen.
"The thesis of this book is simple:" Grady writes. "Charismatic churches in America today are laden down with tons of baggage that needs to be thrown over board. If we would reject our misguided mysticism, our smug elitism and our hollow egotism, I believe our churches would be aflame with holy zeal. If we would renounce our bizarre infatuation with money and success, I believe, God would grant us true passion for the Savior. If we would stop mistreating the flock of God, He might give us man more sheep to tend. And, most importantly, if we would stop building our own human-centered kingdoms, He might afford us the honor of playing a part in building His."
Grady takes us through a personal journey of how he received the "second blessing" of the Holy Spirit and became involved in the much criticized Maranatha movement that collapsed in 1989. He then went on to compare some of the shortcomings of that ministry to what is happening in the charismatic/Pentecostal movement as a whole. He declares the Word-Faith (or positive confession) movement bankrupt: "The Word-faith movement has, in many cases, infected the Body of Christ with gross materialism. Rather than focus our attention on meeting the needs of people less fortunate than we are, or on reaching the unreached for Christ, the prosperity gospel has turned our concern inward, on how we can acquire more wealth, nicer cars or bigger houses."
He rejects the idea that believers must speak in tongues as evidence they are "Spirit-filled.": "Sadly, many American churches that claim to be Spirit-filled are filled instead with spirits of immorality, deception and fraud."
He rejects the idea as unbiblical the charismatic/Pentecostal line that there's a new wave of the spirit comprised of last day super Christians. He says this idea is "elitist" and is left over from the heretical Latter Rain movement of the 1950s: "Nowhere does Scripture foretell a special breed of Christians who will one day surpass all others in their spirituality, and the sooner we banish this perverse doctrine from our midst the better. The Bible is clear. All men and women fall into one category: unrighteous."
In accepting the idea that there are super prophets with us today such as Bob Jones, who was affiliated with the Kansas City Fellowship run by Mike Bickle (which was later incorporated into John Wimber's Vineyard Movement), we are accepting "witchcraft" into the church, Grady writes on page 104. (Jones, who was using his spiritual authority to induce women to disrobe for him, was removed from that church.) He writes that another super prophet, Paul Cain, also of Wimber's movement, has given numerous false prophecies.
Grady also gives names of Charismatic leaders throughout the book whom he believes have taught wrong doctrines, but he states that some of these individuals have modified their teachings and he believes them to be correctable. Others are outright frauds, but he doesn't say who they are. Among the many names mentioned are Robert Tilton, Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Roberts Lairdon.
In a chapter entitled "Fabricating the Anointing" Grady gives one of the best explanations of the "slain in the spirit" phenomenon I have seen. He correctly states that it is not biblical nor was "collapsing under the power of God" common in the early church. He says much of it is learned behavior and adds: "I have also watched evangelists send believers tumbling to the floor by brute force, by whacking them on the forehead. Pushing people to the ground to simulate God's anointing is a sham that cheapens the gifts of the Holy Spirit."
Finally Grady attacks the shepherding movement that became aligned with the "Fort Lauderdale Five" -- Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, Don Basham, Bob Mumford and Ern Baxter (most of whom apologized for their roles in founding this movement). He said although this movement -- which was formulated around the idea that every believer has to have an over shepherd to guide him through life's decisions -- ended some time ago, there are still tendencies within charismatic circles to accept extreme authoritarianism in their midst. He gives us seven warning signs to help us guard against authoritarianism.
In all, this is a powerful book. My prayer is that its message gets into the hearts of the movers and shakers of the charismatic movement starting with Grady's boss, Stephen Strang, and Paul and Jan Crouch of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, who have consistently and eagerly given international platforms to some of the worst false teachers imaginable. It is unlikely that Lee Grady will be a guest on TBN to promote this book.
William M. Alnor
Visit William Alnor's web site at: http://www.cultlink.com
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