08 May 2008

The Importance of Hierarchy

My brother Art has a blog that focuses on miracles and the work of the Holy Spirit from a Pentecostal/Charismatic Evangelical point of view. He encourages all Christians to open themselves to the work of the Spirit and seek a deeper Christian life. Through his postings I became aware of something going down in Florida that they call "The Lakeland Healing Outpouring" centered around a young preacher named Todd Bentley.

I decided to watch some of the shenanigans on TV. On the surface it looked like an amateur version of the typical Pentecostal preacher. But after ten minutes my heart was grieved for the thousands who flock to see him. Something wasn't right.

I won't go into a critique of Todd and his wacked out theology that even established Charismatics bring into question. The internet is buzzing with attacks and defense of what is going on. But I had a few thoughts from a Catholic Charismatic viewpoint that I wanted to get out.

1. Even if all the established Charismatic Protestant ministers declared Todd Bentley a heretic, false prophet, fraud, etc. they couldn't do anything about it. He's untouchable as long as people follow him.

2. Regardless of error in doctrine the excuse is "But look at the healings". Truth is subjective to his followers.

By contrast, if Todd Bentley was a Catholic lay preacher at a healing service, any teaching that deviated from 2000 years of Apostolic teaching would be corrected. His actions would be under the authority of a priest, the local bishop, and so on. His choice would be to bring the ministry in line with revealed truth or excommunicate himself from Mother Church.

In the early days of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church there was some wierdness. The Church hierarchy stepped in and straightened their course. A true mark that something is from the Holy Spirit is obedience and humility. That is exactly how they reacted. As a result after 40 years if you were to count the Charismatics in the Catholic Church they would outnumber any Pentecostal denomination, even the Assemblies of God!

If you are a Catholic in need of healing, don't waste your time in Florida, check local parishes for the next Healing Mass, or find your local Charismatic prayer group.

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