History of the Charismatic Movement
Please read this section first. It is an excellent and short tutorial on the history of the Charismatic Movement.
By Pastor David C. Forsyth, from ChristianFallacies,com
The First Wave 1906-1960
April 18, 1906 is generally credited as the beginning date for the
modern Pentecostal Movement. On that date at the Apostolic Faith
Mission located on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, there occurred an
outbreak of “speaking in tongues.” The pastor of the little church was
William Seymour (1870-1922), who in close association with his mentor
Charles Parham (1873-1929) had developed the doctrine that speaking in
tongues was the evidence of the “baptism in the Spirit.” The Azusa Street
revival lasted until 1909 and was visited by thousands, although shortly
after its beginnings Parham and Seymour suffered an irreparable breach
over Seymour’s refusal to prohibit seances and occult trances from the
revival services. It is generally conceded that virtually every Pentecostal
Movement worldwide can trace its origins directly to the Azusa Street
The theological roots of Pentecostalism lie in the Holiness Movement
pioneered by John Wesley (1703-1791). Wesley promoted the idea of“Christian Perfectionism” which he defined as freedom from self-will and a
desire for nothing but the holy and perfect will of God. Charles Finney
(1792-1875) later equated the idea of Wesley’s second work of grace with
the concept of the baptism of the Spirit.
As the Pentecostal Movement developed through the early 20th century
the emphasis on divine healing was added to the mandate for speaking in
tongues. This unbiblical emphasis on healing, coupled with the many
charlatans which associated themselves with healing services, prompted
B.B. Warfield to write his 1917 book Counterfeit Miracles. Healing
ministries received national prominence when, beginning in 1948 Oral
Roberts began healing crusades, which he later began to televise.
The Second Wave 1960- 1982
Whereas the Pentecostal Movement was for the most part a separate
movement outside the mainline denominations, the Second Wave or
Charismatic Movement was very much a mainstreaming of Pentecostal
theology. Beginning in 1951, Demos Shakarian, a Southern California
millionaire businessman, launched the Full Gospel Businessmen’s
Fellowship Int’l, whose stated purpose was to spread the Pentecostal
message of tongues and healing via nonsectarian luncheons and
On April 3, 1960 the Charismatic Movement went public when Father
Dennis Bennett, an Episcopal priest announced to his Van Nuys, CA,
congregation that he had personally spoken in tongues and that he
believed that this was the pattern for the church. Later in 1966 the
Charismatic Movement penetrated the Roman Catholic Church where it
was readily received by a laity and clergy opened, via Vatican II, to new
ideas on church renewal.
The Charismatic Movement differs from old line Pentecostalism in
several significant ways including a rejection of the necessity of speaking
in tongues as a sign of the baptism of the Spirit. However tongues
speaking does remain a very important element in most Charismatic
circles. Today the Charismatic Movement has enetrated every mainline
denomination, and has affected virtually every church in the world, and
although the Charismatic Movement is far from a monolith it does teach
and exhibit certain distinctives such as:3
- Experiencing Jesus in a personal encounter puts one into the position of receiving the baptism of the Spirit, which allows the individual to have Jesus not just as Savior but as Lord.
- Power gained through the baptism of the Spirit brings victorious Christian living.
- Worship is at a higher dimension because of the baptism of the Spirit.
- Prayer is more fervent and successful (including praying in unknown tongues) because of the baptism of the Spirit.
- Sign Gifts as listed in I Cor. 12:8-10 are meant for the church today.
- New revelation is given today as God speaks directly and regularly to His people just like in the 1st century.
- The Bible is exalted and believed as a source of divine revelation,
although “God reveals deeper truths to those who have the anointing.”
- Demonic activity is greatly emphasized, as well as the Christian’s need to engage in deliverance ministries.
- Evangelism is emphasized and practiced based upon the baptism of the Spirit granting greater power and effectiveness to ones witness.
The Third Wave 1982- Present
The Third Wave or Signs and Wonders Movement originated in 1982
with John Wimber (1934-1997) when he left his association with the
Calvary Chapels to pastor a church in Anaheim, CA, called “The
Vineyard.” Also in 1982 Wimber began teaching a class at Fuller
Seminary called “Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth” which as part of
the class time included healing the sick and casting out demons. It was in
the context of Fuller Seminary that Wimber connected with C. Peter
Wagner, an “expert” on church growth from the Fuller World School of
Missions, who in 1983 coined the names 1st, 2nd, and 3rd waves.
Wimber was of the view that present evangelism is not truly effective
because it is not accompanied by the “in-breaking of the kingdom” in signs
and wonders, as was true of Jesus’ ministry. Wimber coined the term“Power Encounters” for these supernatural manifestations of God in the
life of Christ. Under Wimber’s leadership the Anaheim Vineyard Church
grew rapidly and spawned thousands of other Vineyard churches, which
are affiliated in the ssociation of Vineyard Churches. This association
produces their own statement of faith, has their own leadership and in
many ways acts as a denomination. For example, in 1995, the leadership
of the Vineyard Association disfellow-shipped the Toronto Airport Christian
Fellowship for their unbiblical practices connected with the “Toronto
Although the Vineyard Association is neither Pentecostal nor
Charismatic in a classical sense, they do hold to a number of doctrinal
positions that concern us.
- Sign Gifts – They believe that the gifts of prophecy, tongues, healings, and miracles are all continuing today.
- Spiritual Warfare Movement – They believe that Christians can be demon possessed.
- Highly Ecumenical – experience rather than doctrine draws people to the movement.
- Power Evangelism – They believe that for evangelism to be truly effective (especially in 3rd world settings) it must be accompanied by signs and wonders.
Where Do We Go From Here?
When subjective experience rather than careful examination of the
Scriptures becomes the driving force behind your theology, then you are
open to all sorts of abuses. While we admire the desire for close
fellowship with God, and the desire to see His work grow and expand in
this world, we believe that the Pentecostal Movement and its stepchildren
are trading the birthright of the Holy Scriptures for a bowl of pottage
named experience. We hope and pray that leaders will arise in these
movements who will bring the people back to the Word of God.
We trust that this short study has been profitable for you and contributes
to your obedient walk of faith. Psalm 119:105
This article is copyright 2000 by David C. Forsyth. This article may be quoted, in part or in
whole, without permission.
False Teaching of the Charismatic Movement
I decided to present the previous section above in its entirety because it was so well written and presented in terms of the historical content. I wanted you to read it because it presents the fact that like many false religions and cults, The Charismatic Movement is a modern creation based on an incorrect interpretation of Scripture and emotion verses fact. This movement was never accepted by sound Christian Preachers and Teachers. It was rejected and remains outcast from all Bible-believing Churches. One group that has not only accepted, but eagerly embraced The Charismatic Movement, are Catholics. This may surprise you since it is a fact that many or most Catholics are not Christians (as defined by the Bible) and are already following a faith that accepts tradition and myth as equal with the Bible.
Many unsaved and even saved people unknowingly become involved with The Charismatic Movement because they have been deceived into seeking special powers and gifts that were once available to Believers for specific purposes and are no longer offered. The Bible tells us that before the entire New Testament was available and God's Word was complete, these gifts were made possible for various reasons. However, even at that time it was clearly stated by the Apostle Paul that these gifts would go away and be replaced by the complete Bible and the power of God to call sinners to repentance through the preaching, teaching and witnessing of Christians called to these tasks:
I Corinthians 13:
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Many Charismatics look at the phenomenon of Tongues as a unique and heavenly language when, in most cases, it was the ability of those preaching and teaching the Word of God to speak other known languages. Do we see that today in any Charismatic Church? No. Unless you have learned a foreign language through other than supernatural means you are not going to be able to speak one. Equally at error is the belief that you need to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to be saved or serve the Lord. According to most Charismatics, that special gift comes with the ability to do things like speak in unknown tongues, receive the word of knowledge (knowledge supernaturally received) or the ability to heal. When is the last time we have seen anyone raise the dead in any church service? See my article on Baptism for more on this.
The Charismatic Movement is all about experience and emotion above Scripture. A Christian knows that he or she is saved because the Bible tells us that once we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord we have eternal life. Most people are happy to be saved and will see changes in their lives as a result of that salvation as Jesus comes into their lives and they begin to seek how they may live for God and serve the Lord by reading the Bible and being taught by sound Preachers and Teachers. That does not mean you will experience some special feeling or supernatural event that can be seen when you accept the Lord. Like most of the Devil's tricks and tools, the false teachings of the Charismatic Movement are designed to replace the Bible, keep unsaved people from being saved and keep saved people from obeying the Lord.