Kidron Tirey’s story closely reflects that of many who have come out of the Charismatic Movement. “By grace, my eyes were opened to the heresy of this movement” – the testimony of one woman finally finding true spiritual rest. Kidron writes, in part:
“Prior to my entanglement with false Christianity, the one true Christ found me at the age of seven. He saved my soul in showing me my sin and empowering me to believe the truth of the gospel and Christ’s payment for my sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 2:2; Acts 13:48; James 1:17-18). In that same moment, my life “was marked in Him with a seal, the blessed Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13). I have a clear recollection of this transformation in response to the Word of God, and it was and remains a genuine reality that no one can take from me (1 John 5:13; John 5:24).
Nonetheless, the spiritual regeneration I experienced at this young age did not prevent me from abiding great ignorance of other sound doctrine and theology (Galatians 3:1). This rabbit hole deepened over a span of two decades, informed by youthful naivete, complete trust in the pastoral office, environmental conditioning and misplaced piety.” (Source)
Kidron Tirey graduated in 2008 from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas with a B.S. in Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations. Having received an Air Force ROTC scholarship, Kidron was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force as an active duty public affairs officer. Assignments took her around the world and renewed in her a love for travel and the written word.
As a strategic communicator, Kidron has worked in both the private and public sector for over ten years. In addition to her military service, Kidron has contributed as a writer across a broad host of industries, including government, academia, science, technology, hospitality, health insurance and retail.
Kidron continued her studies and received a Master’s of Education from Texas A&M University in 2016. Using storytelling methods to teach objective truths would lead to her next academic venture.
In May 2019, Kidron graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Fort Worth, Texas and received a Master’s of Theological Studies. She resides with her husband, Joshua, in North Texas.(Source)
Kidron Tirey (MTS, M.Ed.) writes:
The Charismatic Movement serves a god of human origin, short and simple. For all of their trending songs and heartbeat-skipping sermons, the God of the Bible is not the object of its affection and this claim can be proven.
For background, this movement includes preachers, teachers and worship leaders from every vein of contemporary/emerging/charismatic/non-denominational Christianity, Catholicism as well as Pentecostalism, “the fastest growing religious denomination in the world, with an estimated 500 million adherents” (Hardy 2019). Some congregations may also be described as seeker-friendly churches. Nothing holy happens in these houses.
For twenty years, this modern social phenomenon stole my trust. The charismatic world ate my lunch because I willingly gave it up. And when one is starving, even unsavory things can masquerade as nourishment, as truth. The cycle keeps repeating.
Many who claim to love the God of the Bible hold to the understanding that they must cast aside “religion” in the name of “relationship.” In forsaking a works-based salvation, what is ultimately lost is any sense of connection to historical Christian roots and sound doctrine. Because of this paradox, those trapped in the Charismatic Movement do not know who they are, and worse, they participate in fashioning delusion for themselves (Exodus 32:21-24) where self is front and center along with everything experiential and sensory-based. “Live your best life now,” goes the chant. Escapism-based tendencies fill the temple of their imagination as they arrogantly believe they can transcend on demand into a posture of enhanced oneness with God. Through hypnotic songs and a focused heart, they believe they can woo their Maker and charm Him to draw near; so flagrant is this romanticism of the holy, ending always in a bitter divorce from reality.
I can say this because I was there and this is what I witnessed and was taught, over and again.
Before I am accused of being harsh, critical and/or divisive within the church, let the reader recognize I am doing the exact opposite. Leaders and a great many followers (not all) of this heresy belong to the world instead of the true church of Christ because they do not honor His command to worship Him in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), among other neglected criteria. Thus, it is a most loving and gracious thing to get their attention regarding this blasphemy—whether it is unintentional on their part or not. God is still actively dishonored by their actions.
LONG, LONG AGO DOWN A RABBIT HOLE
Prior to my entanglement with false Christianity, the one true Christ found me at the age of seven. He saved my soul in showing me my sin and empowering me to believe the truth of the gospel and Christ’s payment for my sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 2:2; Acts 13:48; James 1:17-18). In that same moment, my life “was marked in Him with a seal, the blessed Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13). I have a clear recollection of this transformation in response to the Word of God, and it was and remains a genuine reality that no one can take from me (1 John 5:13; John 5:24).
Nonetheless, the spiritual regeneration I experienced at this young age did not prevent me from abiding great ignorance of other sound doctrine and theology (Galatians 3:1). This rabbit hole deepened over a span of two decades, informed by youthful naivete, complete trust in the pastoral office, environmental conditioning and misplaced piety.
Back then, I desired to experience God in a novel way and observed in others seeming spiritual gifts I knew I did not possess—such as the gift of prophecy (spoiler alert: prophetic activity ended with the Apostolic age (1 Corinthians 13:8)). For many, signs and wonders such as these are considered markers of true spiritual maturity. I sometimes pondered what was wrong with me that I lacked ability to discern heavenly dialogues.
In attending charismatic churches, over time a part of me stirred in pensive awareness as to the production of it all. The “atmosphere” for worship (e.g., fog machine, dark lights and hypnotic music) was a mere ruse. The goal all along, I observed, was to create an emotional experience in every service, right on time. Because people buzzed “by the spirit” return.
Yet I did not recognize the greater theological manipulations because I did not know a lick about discerning sound theology and doctrine from false teachings. When I listened to charismatic pastors at the pulpit – with the passionate voice of an orator – their message always boomed louder than my doubts.
So much confusion. Never any lasting peace. Yet no one would think to call it a cult because postmodernism normalizes the nuanced. That which offers euphoria is celebrated (e.g. Bethel Music, Elevation Worship, more on that in a bit.) To each their own is the adage. Yet this sentiment can be further weaponized because many charismatics have been taught they have the secret sauce: a special baptism into the Holy Spirit which permits them a privileged engagement with God that other Christians do not possess. By grace, my eyes were opened to the heresy of this movement.
THE PERFECT STORM
Mainstream Western society has known its share of laziness long before “Netflix & chill” was a thing; and similarly, followers of mainstream faith movements are not immune from this same tendency to do as little work as possible. It is easier to sit back, close the eyes and attempt to experience Christianity by osmosis: “Lord, speak to my heart.” Instead of opening scripture and doing the deep work of exegeting a text to discover the 1) context, 2) audience, 3) purpose and meaning of a given passage, chapter or book, 4) cultural/historical markers, among other factors. The foolish learn “Christianity” by flipping open their Bible to any place the spine naturally flexes and hovering their finger randomly over fresh direction for their day.
Furthermore, systematic theology is a term lost on many because their shepherd is not properly wielding this essential practicum for teaching and growth in discipleship.
True north does not exist in the church that is afraid to own historical Christian beliefs, as reflected in the councils of Chalcedon, Nicaea and Trent, among others. Heresy happened a long time ago and was addressed a long time ago. Topics handled back then can and do resurface today: the humanity of the Son and his actual physical form, the essence of deity held in common by the Son, Father and Holy Spirit, and so much more.
By advancing emotionalism and pragmatism, leaders of this movement redefine deism – and related implications for their ministry- as it suits their own interests and payday. The need to be increasingly relevant at the expense of the Great Commission is not biblical and the Holy Spirit takes no part in this. John MacArthur observes in his book Strange Fire, “preaching about human depravity, God’s holiness, and eternal punishment is not popular, especially in a postmodern society that celebrates tolerance. But it is the only ministry empowered by the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:12)” (p. 186, 2013).
PEELING BACK THE LAYERS OF LIES
With increasing momentum, people flock to this movement with emotional/fanatical ardor for the things of God. But the quest culminates in misplaced loyalty. Some who have been swept up are true Christians, lost sheep. The actions of the rest, however, sound a lot like the goats and wolves described in scripture (Matthew 7:15, 25:32).
This brand of spirituality might claim Christ but instead elevate self in a classic bait-and-switch move. Examples of such sermons are too many to count (yes, those are four individual sermons linked as examples). The Godhead is disrespected in the name of self-interest. The indoctrination is subtle and it is wicked.
“We are you.” That’s the bait.
“Let the rules of religion be damned.” The hook is set.
“Don’t think, just feel the love of Jesus.” And someone’s life is at stake.
More like, half a billion lives; that’s the total number of people presumed to be caught up in this movement around the world (Bartos, 2015; Yong, 2005). But let’s back up.
The anointing of abuse
A special distinction or “anointing” is either ascribed to or assumed by these heretical preachers and worship leaders, who imbibe their followers to revere them with other-worldly honor and blanket license to direct and advise them because, “God told me this and that about you…”. How does one decline such a presumptive messenger and still feel right with God?
Pneumatology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, is mishandled possibly more than any other doctrine within this movement. For example, if a person believes s/he or another person can hear directly from God the Father through the Holy Spirit (charismatic teaching 101), they are susceptible to entertaining other spirits that can tap the radio wires, so to speak. The Bible describes how Satan can “masquerade as an angel of light;” when his evil spirits pretend to be God, they might succeed in convincing a Christian of all manner of things, including the lie that their salvation is always mutable (2 Corinthians 11:14; Ephesians 6:12). And in one fell swoop, soteriology – the doctrine of salvation – is ripped apart for a true believer. The implications of this heresy are enormous.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit
If a person has experienced salvific regeneration in Christ and they are then advised of a subsequent need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to have true intimacy with God, and to know secret things of the faith, the following warning is most applicable.
“For if someone comes and proclaims a Jesus other than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the One you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it way too easily.” 2 Corinthians 11:4, Berean Study Bible
Claims of supernatural signs and wonders, by way of spiritual gifts available to those baptized into the Holy Spirit, wreaks of heresy. The idea of doctrine is deemed too dignified for charismatic Christians, those who would willingly lose license over their bodies and think they are living out Paul’s command to be “a fool for Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:10). All the while, “doctrines of demons” are embraced (1 Timothy 4:1).
Negative confessions/Word of faith
There is nothing sensical about having to police one’s own words so as to not bring into reality the undesirable. This errant teaching is based in part on a faulty interpretation and misapplication of Proverbs 18:21, Romans 4:17, and the creation account of Genesis wherein God spoke existence into being with His words. The twisted logic is that since man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), that man has all the qualities and abilities of God when they are walking in faith. This is not true to sound doctrine, for “God’s ways are not our ways” (Isaiah 55:8).
This is a type of Christian Science- and New Age-thinking that wallpaper the house of charismatic theology. Mental depression and fatigue abound wherever there is suppression of one’s voice.
Examples of this lunacy might present as such: “Do not say you are so sick you might die. Do not say you are so sad you’ll never love again. For if you say these things, you will bring to life these very fears.” So some people then do not vent or say what they need to say when their heart feels heavy or their body suffers pain.
Professing positive words and striving to speak things into being to propagate personal privilege is a farce. Simply clinging to the name of Jesus and nothing else (no understanding of sin, no repentance or regeneration of heart) does not denote Christianity at its core.
This word-of-faith theology is just one problem of this movement. Other equally distorted theologies perpetuated by charismatics: seed faith, prosperity and niche pockets of contemporary/non-denominational backdrops, among others. And the church member most likely bewitched is the one who feels good about their faith.
The leaders behind it all
Pastors, teachers and worship leaders of the Charismatic Movement/Pentecostal Church often acknowledge that the Bible is important, yet they prove by their sermons and actions that their handling of scripture is far from authentic Christianity and sound doctrine.
“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15:7
Pastors, teachers and influencers are in error if they promote the prosperity gospel, word-of-faith/seed-faith teachings and/or a need for a Holy Spirit baptism. Examples of individuals whose platform includes one or more of these heresies include but are not limited to: Joel Osteen, Steven Furtick, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, Robert Morris, Judah Smith, Beth Moore, Todd White, Kenneth Copeland, Paula White, Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson, Andrew Wommack, Kris Vallotton, Kanye West, Justin Bieber.
The list keeps growing.
Worship groups and individuals whose platforms are reckless for the cause of Christ in promoting seeker-friendly environments that aim to stimulate sensory appeal and bypass the rational mind: Bethel Music, Hillsong Worship, Elevation Worship, Jesus Culture, Upper Room, Mosaic MSC, Kari Jobe, Lauren Daigle, Cody Carnes, Ray Boltz.
This list also keeps growing.
When worship music is extended in length and repetitious in refrains (e.g., 7/11 music), the congregation can be induced into a state of altered consciousness or awareness. People who engage themselves in this environment can experience a trance-like effect but this is most assuredly not the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:33). In these settings, emotions are stirred as a counterfeit for the God of the Bible.
For charismatic leaders and their congregations, the Bible is a Trojan horse for the enemy of God. However, the bones of the gospel and the meat of context are ripped out in place of prosperity, pride and power. God is not honored in this house of worship. Anything laid down at such an altar is a sacrifice is in vein, for the altar is altruistic: self-serving, always, even though veiled in spiritual language full of pleas and prayers and prophecies (Matthew 6:7).
Spiritual warfare as a full-time job
Moreover, these same teachers often over emphasize the spirit realm and teach of spiritual warfare with language and imperatives that can stir reckless anxiety concerning the unseen world—forsaking the greater truth that God is the Christian’s protection and He holds him or her in in His hand perpetually (1 Chronicles 28:20; Proverbs 30:4). Unbalanced teaching in this area regularly kept me up at night as a teenager. I was full of fear that I was always vulnerable “to attack.”
While it is true that the children of God should practice awareness of danger and threats, the biblical impetus is for wisdom (Matthew 10:16). This latter message is not amplified in a charismatic’s panic to remove curses from their lives, especially the generational ones alluded to in the Old Testament, for which Christ already handled (Galatians 3:13).
The final fall-out
There are consequences to not worshipping God correctly. Many never get to know the true Christ. People who perceive charismatic “Christianity” as truly representative of the faith may abandon their pursuit of God altogether, in tragic stories. Marginalized peoples are easy prey for this group, too, playing on social injustices to engender new loyalties.
The problem, ultimately, would not flourish as it does if more people conducted regular ego checks and considered the possibility that they may be missing something very important in understanding God. I was wrong, all those years, when I expected God to whisper in my ear words of direction (as opposed to looking at the Bible as the sole source of divine revelation.) Simultaneously, I thought it was a sin to have doubts and questions over charismatic teaching (the only thing I knew.) A common saying regularly abused in this movement: “If it makes sense to you, then it doesn’t require faith.” Logic is routinely disavowed for charismatics.
Nothing is more unbiblical or damaging to Christianity than when someone professes to know truth, yet reads and interprets the Bible always in isolation. Equally troubling? Small group sessions organized around a central question, “What does this passage of scripture mean to you?” No Christian has all of the information and ability they need in order to reach sound biblical conclusions every time, on their own, and exclude the relevance of church doctrine and related histories that otherwise help frame understandings for both the complicated and simpler readings of scripture.
If enduring COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that those who seek truth need each other now more than ever. And more than that, we need ancient reminders of what heresy looks like. The Bible cannot be divorced from the 2000+ years of church history that precede our current era because the problems of today were problems long ago, too. And there are answers in the canon of time.
FREE, FREE INDEED
I thought I was being taught solid biblical truth every time I listened to many of the “respected” preachers and teachers of our day. Yet all of my good intentions and soul discipline to position myself appropriately in “truth” were not enough; time cannot turn back upon itself to make what is evil good (Proverbs 3:5, 14:12, 21:2; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 7:13, 21-23; Isaiah 5:20, 55:8). But grace.
As alluded to previously, there are true sons and daughters of Christ caught up in this movement. Legitimate followers of Christ will not receive this critique as divisive but will welcome the opportunity to examine their beliefs through the lens of the Bible (Acts 17:11).
Reader, if you consider yourself saved but have never been taught to confront the reality of sin in your life, please seek sound counsel from a non-charismatic minister of the Christian faith who rightly understands how to present the message of salvation; and pursue this until you have full certainty and peace. Be encouraged to read the book Strange Fire by Dr. John McArthur. If you are a leader of this movement and desire a better way, the same book recommendation is applicable.
Additional commentary/literary resources include R.C. Sproul, Jonathon Edwards, J.I. Packer, C.S. Lewis, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, A.W. Tozer, among numerous others.
The honey of charismatic life spoils before it ever reaches the tongue. The sting of the bee would be a greater kindness to the Christian: the end of the honey trail to heresy.
For me, I had to go to seminary to find truth. There are many great institutions around the world for this type of education. At Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, I graduated with a master’s of theological studies. I found what I was looking for and a reminder that nothing was ever truly lost because God was always holding on to me.
Source: Kidron Tirey, https://www.kidrontirey.com/home/2020/5/9/undignified-charismatic-christianity-excuses-church-doctrine-for-childs-play-hysteria Published May 16, 2020. (Accessed May 18, 2020.)
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“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Galatians 4:16