Saturday, April 09, 2011

Now you see it, now you don't

[Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, Jan. 19th, 2011]

There's been a bit of a fuss recently on The Elijah List, Steve Schultz's e-list for charismatics, which sends e-mails to thousands of people worldwide.

Evangelist Dennis Cramer sent an e-mail to the list critiquing what he sees as some of the failures and abuses of some teachers in the charismatic movement. The e-mails on The Elijah List are sometimes sent in partial format--in order to see the full items, you have to click on a link to The Elijah Lists' own website. So, if you waited a day or so, and wanted to read what Cramer had to say, you were out of luck. The full e-mail message of his critique had been pulled.

On January 10, Dennis Cramer, who teaches and preaches widely, sent his first e-mail out to Schultz. Schultz passed it along to The Elijah List's subscribers.

I will be posting all the various e-mails in full in the comments underneath, in case more disappear. But I will refer to each briefly so you can follow what went on.

Cramer opens by arguing that he fears that most Christians' Bibles are covered with dust:

"....Sadly, many Christians now read more books about the Bible then they do the Bible itself.

Consequently, many in the Church have gradually and somewhat unknowingly, become Biblically ignorant, unaware or stunted. And doctrinally speaking, anything goes. There is now wide-spread acceptance of "marginal to heretical" doctrines. Just 25 years ago individuals would have been thrown out of the Church if caught teaching these heresies. How did this happen?

Simply, we have become Biblically ignorant. We have not been diligent to feed on the unadulterated Word of God. We are at best malnourished, and in some cases, starving to death. Biblical ignorance is on the increase in the Church, even to epidemic levels! Like any form of "lack" created by ignorance which can lead to sickness, only the proper "intake," or in these cases, only proper Biblical education can remedy it.

Warning: We Live in an Age of "Anything Goes" Theology! The Charismatic Church is in Big Trouble!...."

Cramer adds "....In 40 years of serving God, I have not heard so much bad doctrine preached from so-called "Bible-believing" Christians – specifically charismatic Christians...."

He then goes on to specifically condemn various practices as "BAD DOCTRINE", and "stretching the truth" He has in mind things such as "Divorce among Christians without consequences", going into trances, visiting heaven and being transported from place to place "at will"

Cramer wrote that he fears "mass deception" in the church.

Okay, I though to myself, he's one of the more conservative--if not more orthodox--members of the charismatic movement. He has good points and it will be interesting to see what kind of dicussion and debate results from this.

Well, it's kind of hard to have a debate when one side disappears.

Steve Schultz, I will admit, has a difficulty. He needs not to annoy a big segment of his audience as The Elijah List does not have charitable status. So, every day, he has to send out paid e-mail ads for conferences or for materials that he sells online. And for every Cramer in his audience, there is someone in his audience who has no issue with what Cramer decries. And boy, did Schultz hear from the "other side" of the debate, and quickly.

The very next day, January 11, Schultz had pulled Cramer's "word" from The Elijah List website. He then e-mailed an "Important Clarification" to The Elijah List's readers.

Schultz wrote:

"There was a huge number of people who were unclear on a few issues with Dennis Cramer's word from the Lord and they wrote to us about it. There was likely an equal number of people who are upset with us for TEMPORARILY pulling Dennis Cramer's word for clarification. This has happened before when a word went out and people didn't quite understand what was being said.

Many people LOVED the word and understood it from the start. Yet many others were confused. It was simply "many" on both sides. Since the response was so intense, we pulled it quickly....."

Schultz does concede to Cramer that teaching that Christians can go to heaven whenever they want, i.e., "at will" is un-Biblical. But God can chose to do these things with you as He chooses. God "calls the shots".

After walking the fence, Schultz posted a rewritten word from Cramer on January 15.

To Schultz's credit, as I wtite the new version of Cramer word is up at The Elijah List site. However, the frank language above, which added a lot of passion to what he has to say, has in places been changed.

Cramer explains why he thinks his critiques of some charismatic practices are valid.

Credit to both of them, I say. However, it will be interesting to see what happens to The Elijah List's advertising. Will the more "wild-eyed" use another e-mail list in response to HOW Schulz has chosen to handle this?

And I do need to note that, like all of us, Cramer "sees through a glass darkly". Online Christian apologist Bud Press notes several occurances where Cramer issued prophecies that did not come true. This was in 2006, with extra details here. A prophecy of a trumphant warrior bride of Christ in 2007 as struck Press as kind of iffy. [Press asked "Please explain your reason for using these statements in conjunction with a picture of a woman carrying an M16 assault rifle on your website."] Hopefully Cramer has a response for Bud Press.

That said, though, Cramer's call to charismatics to take their Bibles and check the validity of what they say and do is a breeze of fresh air. I'd like to give Cramer credit for trying to do the right thing.