Another report on the meeting with Pope Francis

Here’s another account of a recent lunch Pope Francis hosted with a group of  charismatic Protestants.

Kris Vallatton writes (with my emphases):

Mike Bickle gets the “guts” award! Everything was going quite smoothly, partly because of the benign questions the pastors were asking. Then Mike stood up and asked the Pope if he believed that Jesus was the “only way” to heaven. (There have been rumors circulating that Pope Francis is a Universalist). The tension instantly rose in the room…the moderator was noticeably shaken. But the Holy Father didn’t blink an eye. He answered, “We might be surprised by who we meet in heaven. BUT the only way into heaven is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way into heaven.” We all breathed a sigh of relief!

SPIRIT FILLED

Pope Francis went on to share about his relationship with the Holy Spirit and indicated that he had experienced the baptism in the Spirit. (I don’t think he used those exact words but that was clearly the connotation I left with).

Maybe one of the most historic moments happened when the Pope spoke of the atrocities the Catholic Church perpetuated on people through the centuries. Then he asked us all to forgive them for their sins. This inspired us to do the same. Suddenly the room was filled with a beautiful spirit of reconciliation.

I admit that I was slightly ignorant because I was pleasantly surprised by his knowledge of the Bible. [I need an emoticon of a face palm.  Yeah, we Catholics do not know our Bible. We created it!]He shared several scriptures, expounding on some Greek words – their meanings and the impact they should have on our lives.

PRAYER

As our time came to a close, we held hands to pray for one another. Then we gathered to pray for him and he for us.

Finally, the Pope got up and greeted each of us, giving us a gift (a book). He allowed each of us to take photos with him, although he was clearly not a selfie guy. The guy is incredibly humble, touchable, and comfortable in his own skin. Although he is obviously famous, he has a way of making everybody in the room relax.

Though I only had about 30 seconds with Pope Francis when I met him last year, I found him to be kind, approachable, and he immediately put me at ease as soon as he glanced at me when I was next in line to greet him.

Yesterday, I was doing some reading on the ‘net about the Argentine evangelist Carlos Annacondia, who was mentioned in Brian Stiller’s article that I posted previously.   I even watched some videos of his evangelistic style and a translated interview with him.

He’s not exactly my cup of tea and I find it interesting how he taunts demons to manifest and then casts them out.

I much prefer the teaching and methods of Neil Anderson in The Bondage Breaker and his other books on deliverance, and of Catholic author Neal Lozano (who is coming to Ottawa to lead a conference on deliverance at the end of October. I am already registered) that does not promote so-called “power encounters” or encourage demonic manifestations, which can be deeply disturbing to be around, but instead promotes a ministry of helping the person who is experiencing demonic oppression to identify the license or permission he or she has granted through response to trauma—lack of forgiveness, bitterness, judgments, curses, believing lies about God and oneself—or through sin, such as engaging in occult practices or sexual sin, etc.–renouncing those and closing those pathways and basically teaching the person how to use his or her own authority in  Christ to command evil spirits to depart.  Anderson also focuses on teaching about our new identity in Christ and about maintaining our freedom in Christ, by putting on Christ, believing His promises and living out our new identity by the power of the Holy Spirit.

But then, I read Annacondia’s audience is generally those of the lower classes, and this kind of thing might jolt many of them free from what might have been lifelong bondage.

So, as much as this is not my thing, I’m not dismissing it out of hand either.

One of the things I found annoying in my reading yesterday, however, was the way these charismatics talk about countries like Argentina as if they are a spiritual wasteland, as if the Catholic Church never existed, never did anything towards bringing anyone to Christ and getting them “saved.”   Oh well, I used to be a little like that, so mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.

Then I came across this most interesting piece by Peter Wagner, one of the leaders of the third wave charismatic revival, on the Argentine revival.  This part was especially interesting and I have been thinking about it ever since.  Again, with my emphases.

I have never observed a crusade evangelist who is as publicly aggressive in confronting evil spirits as Annacondia. With a high- volume, high-energy, prolonged challenge he actually taunts the spirits until they manifest in one way or another. To the uninitiated the scenario might appear to be total confusion. But to the skilled, experienced members of Annacondia’s 31 crusade ministry teams, it is just another evening of power encounters in which the power of Jesus Christ over demonic forces is being displayed for all to see. Many miraculous healings occur, souls are saved, and so great is the spiritual power that unsuspecting pedestrians passing by the crusade meeting have been known to fall down under the power of the Holy Spirit.

-snip-
Winning the Urban Masses
Among the many things we have learned from our evangelical urbanologists is that the masses of people living in the world class cities today belong to the lower social classes: the poor and oppressed. While it is extremely important not to neglect the upper classes and to encourage ministries such as Eduardo Lorenzo’s in Androgue, the fact remains that if we do not win the poorer masses to Christ we will not effectively evangelize the cities of the world. The 5,000 to 20,000 who crowd into Annacondia’s crusades night after night are lower class. The 14,000 per day who attend Hector Gimenez’s services in the Roca Theater are lower class. Omar Cabrera, pastor of the Vision of the Future Church of 90,000 which is Argentina’s largest, uses aggressive spiritual warfare in his own style and it filling his meeting places in 40-50 locations with those of the lower class.

What are people like Annacondia, Gimenez and Cabrera doing that others with perhaps an equal desire to reach the urban masses are not doing? Spiritual warfare is part of the answer, but why are power evangelism and spiritual warfare so effective?

The most helpful analysis I have yet seem to explain something of what is behind this has come from my friend Peter Wilkes, pastor of the South Hills Community Church of San Jose, California. As I traveled through Argentina with Wilkes recently, I saw him using a set of scientific skills acquired through a Ph.D. in physics, his vocation before being called into full-time ministry. His analysis of the evangelistic effectiveness of the high-profile Argentine leaders has now been conceptualized in what I am calling (he would be too modest to coin the term) the “Wilkes Spectrum.” It amounts to a sliding scale of class preferences for Christian values. One the extremes we find a fascinating and immediately recognizable contrast between personal and Christian preferences of the upper class and lower class. Most individuals, of course, are on neither extreme, buy many will profile toward one side or the other.

THE WILKES SPECTRUM
Class Preferences for Christian Values

Personal Preferences

Intellectual – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Intuitional
Rational – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Emotional
Scientific – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Experiential
Deductive reasoning – – – – – – – – – -Inductive reasoning
Literacy essential – – – – – – – – – – – – – Literacy optional
You control life – – – – – – – – – – – – – Life controls you

Christian Preferences

Faith complex – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Faith simple
Conversion gentle – – – – – – Conversion confrontational
Holiness gradual – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Holiness sudden
Biblical criticism – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Biblical literalism
Systematic theology – – – – – – – – – -Pragmatic theology
Relative ethics – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Absolute ethics
Preaching based on study – – Preaching based on prayer
Weak demonology – – – – – – – – – – -Strong demonology

Notice four important observations concerning the application of the Wilkes Spectrum to urban evangelism:

1. From the point of view of personal and Christian preferences, the middle class in the First World would shade toward the left, but the middle class in the Third World would shade toward the right. This is obviously a function of world view, among other things.

2. If there is a trend worldwide, it would seem to be a movement toward the right side of the spectrum. Ironically, both the charismatic movement and the New Age Movement are nudging significant numbers of former left-side people toward the right. Scientism may have seen its day.

3. The masses of the ties of the world, whether Chicago, Calcutta, Cairo or Caracas are found toward the right side of the Wilkes Spectrum. Effective Argentine evangelists such as Annacondia, Gimenez and Cabrera are skillfully contextualizing their message and methodology to communicate with and meet the needs of the lower classes. One of their discoveries, which less successful urban ministers would do well to look into, is the efficacy of power evangelism and spiritual warfare for that particular audience.

4. I hesitate to mention this, but it is a worrisome fact that most of our theological training institutions in the Western world, and many in the non-Western world, talk a great deal about ministering to the poor and oppressed of the world’s urban centers in their social ethics classes, but they have recruited faculty and designed their curricula to train for ministry toward the left side of the Wilkes Spectrum. This may be one of the explanations why a surprising number of the urban metachurch pastors in world class cities are without theological degrees while many with theological credentials are frustrated. I believe that the great days for urban evangelism are yet ahead.

 

Let’s look at this again:

Personal Preferences

Intellectual – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Intuitional
Rational – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Emotional
Scientific – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Experiential
Deductive reasoning – – – – – – – – – -Inductive reasoning
Literacy essential – – – – – – – – – – – – – Literacy optional
You control life – – – – – – – – – – – – – Life controls you

I am more intuitive than intellectual. I like a balance between the rational and the emotional, i.e. if the emotions are not touched at all, and we’re left stone cold, that’s not good, neither is everything being emotional, sentimental irrationality either.

I tend to be an experiential learner, as in, I tend to learn the hard way. I would be better off. As for reasoning, deductive vs. inductive, I am totally flawed in the reasoning department.  As I said, I go by flashes of intuition and insight, and benefit by being around thinkers but I would never claim to be one myself.

I think literacy is wonderful, but for spreading the Good News, literacy should not be a barrier to good preaching.

As for controlling life or not, I think we sometimes have an illusion of control over life that living in a wealthy country with a good safety net etc, gives us that the poor do not have.  But whatever your personal preference or social status, it is easier to be broken and humble when you are poor and at the mercy of your circumstances and hence easier to cry out for God’s help.  All of us, however, have to come to that point of brokenness and spiritual poverty, because it is there we really start to discover God’s faithfulness.

Now this again:

Faith complex – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Faith simple
Conversion gentle – – – – – – Conversion confrontational
Holiness gradual – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Holiness sudden
Biblical criticism – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Biblical literalism
Systematic theology – – – – – – – – – -Pragmatic theology
Relative ethics – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -Absolute ethics
Preaching based on study – – Preaching based on prayer
Weak demonology – – – – – – – – – – -Strong demonology

I confess, I am much more drawn to the right hand side of this spectrum, because the left side looks like modernism.  Faith should be simple and complex; conversion can be either gentle or as the result of confrontation;  holiness can be gradual or sudden (sure been gradual for me, and hey, no one would call me holy even now after years of yearning for it)

I am pretty literal when it comes to the Bible, though I am not afraid of Biblical criticism, as long as everyone sees the ideological blinkers the modernist purveyors of so much of it are wearing.  I of course am able to understand genre and metaphor and so on, so I do not take literally Jesus’ command to cut of your hand or take out your eye.

I want both a systematic and a pragmatic theology.   Pragmatic appeals to me more personally.  I want what I can put to practice in my every day life.

I want preaching based on lots and lots of prayer and it’s great to have that combined with great study and knowledge.  If I had to choose one or the other, I would choose the prayer, actually.  Prayer by someone who really really has a heart after God.   And strong demonology?  A must.

People today are so far gone that rational arguments cannot even get through the demonic blinders most are wearing.   These things have to be understood and dealt with.

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