The New Charismatics?


I’d like to introduce you to John Crowder. I’m tempted to describe this guy as an “Emergent” pentecostal*, a “new charismatic,”** if you will. But to label John Crowder as “Emergent” would be to perpetuate a shallow stereotype of “Emergent” meaning a young-ish guy with a (ginormous) goatee who does ministry in jeans and an untucked shirt. No, that stereotype needs to die a quick, painful death.

What John Crowder does represent is a stream of Christianity that I, frankly, have very little experience or contact with: the charismatic, speaking in tongues, no-holds-barred, barking like a dog (or shall I say, howling at the moon?) “in the Spirit” stream.

Before I get into the wacky stuff that initially prompted this post, I have to acknowledge that the Crowders (John, his wife Lily, and kids) are involved in the fight against global sex trafficking by building an orphanage in India. That’s a noble cause that I respect and that finds resonance among emerging churches that have a local/global passion for holistic social justice. The Crowders’ tagline, “a postmodern prophetic ministry,” is another emergent connection that I find intriguing (although I’m not exactly sure what is “postmodern” about the Crowders’ ministry).

Discovering the Crowders (no relation to David Crowder, that I know of anyway) reminded me of the good stuff Tony Jones wrote in his book The New Christians about the importance of the Holy Spirit and how the Spirit has often been left out, or dramatically downplayed, in our trinitarian theology. But, having brought that into the conversation of John Crowder, I don’t think this is what Tony was talking about … (UPDATE 5/13/2008: The “Tokin’ the Ghost” video has been taken down, so I’m replacing it with this one, which is along the same lines:)

Did you catch that? “Tokin’ the Ghost,” as in, the Holy Ghost. “Jehovah-juana,” get it? Jehovah-marijuana? I honestly thought this was a joke, until I saw this next video, which was presumably recorded at one of John Crowder’s many speaking engagements:

John Crowder literally acts “high on Jesus,” laughing awkwardly and squinting as if his eyes have become dilated, etc. At one point, he says he’s “possessed by joy.” One has to wonder if he isn’t “possessed” indeed …

As an emergent Christian, the last thing I want to do is put God in a box and say, “God can’t operate this way.” So instead, I’m simply asking some questions (as good emergents do): “Does God really operate this way?” Or rather, “Why would God operate this way?”

Now I’m sure my “new charismatic” friends would argue that the Jews who received God’s Spirit on the day of Pentecost were accused of being “drunk” (Acts 2:13-15), and Ephesians 5:18 kind of makes the case for the Holy Spirit as a good substitute for spirits (so there must be some connection). Heck, even Jesus was accused of being a “drunkard” by the Pharisees (Luke 7:34). That’s not bad company to be in, right?

Here’s my problem (or rather, problems): I just don’t see God, as revealed in all 66 books of the Protestant Bible, operating like this. A few prooftexts (like the ones above) do not make a complete picture of God or the work of the Holy Spirit. And why is it that it only seems like God’s Spirit is “moving” like this inside the walls of these particular kinds of churches? Or when this style of preacher gets up to speak at an open-air “revival”? I mean, this is 2008 (i.e., a long time after God sent the Spirit to be our counselor), and I honestly wonder: Does the Spirit of God really make people “sloshed”*** or “whacked up” like back in the day (i.e., the Day of Pentecost)?

I gues what I’m really asking is: Does God really want us to spend time and energy pursuing ecstatic spiritual experiences like “tokin’ the Ghost”? Is that part of the missio dei? Is this what the message of “the kingdom of God” is really about? Or is it even part of the “inbreaking” of God’s kingdom? I have to say: No, no, no, and, uhh, I don’t know, but I don’t think so. It’s just so far outside my understanding of God based on Scripture and personal faith experience.

I could be wrong, of course. I have to reaffirm my epistemic humility here. But, again, I just don’t see this as being part of the deal, based on the discernment given by God’s Spirit to me.

I hope my charismatic friends will help me out here, because my crap detector hermeneutic of suspicion is twitching has got me all buzzed over this. Maybe God will clear things up by dropping some of that “heavy, drunken glory” on my noggin. And maybe, in true emergent fashion, John Crowder and I will become friends. Maybe even … drinkin’ buddies? God can be funny like that. Heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh heh heh. Oi yoi yoi yoi yoi …

Need another fix? Get more John Crowder on YouTube:
“We’ve been smokin’ baby Jesus”
“The walls of the church dripped with colostrum”
“John Crowder & Ben Dunn Get Arrested”

Wondering if you should stop watching John Crowder videos?
Available Light Online helps you be discerning


*John O’Hara might disagree.

**Mr. Crowder’s already claimed the title “new mystic,” based on the vision statement, which “is simple: practice the presence of God.” Which begs the question: What would Brother Lawrence do?

***It’s interesting (to me, anyway) that this “SloshFest” event is being promoted on a website called, as in “the emerging church” in Wales, UK? The emergent connections are, well, intoxicating …

UPDATE 5/13/2008: Cynthia Clack doesn’t link to my post (thanks a lot, Cyndi! wink, wink), but she does address this whole topic head on with a lot of great personal reflection and pointing to other good articles/resources.



Posted on 05-11-2008


  1. John O'Hara says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 12:54 am

    * John O’Hara is tempted to disagree with the label, but recognizes the futility of such devices. John Crowder seems to me the bathwater that we must throw out while being mindful of the baby within. I believe a topical thread about dynamic pnuematology, including (but certainly not limited to) charismatic gifts like “speaking in tongues” is vital to a robust emergent conversation.

  2. Devin says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Yo! Diggin the post man. The site I’m involved focuses a lot on the new charismatics.. with the same old.. well, you’ll see. We’ve been averaging about 1000 hits a day this past week due to our reports on the lakeland revival. Please drop in and check it out.

    much love in the one who first loved us,
    Devin Murphy

  3. Is AGMergent Toking the Jesus Bong? « Emerging Pentecostal says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 1:50 am

    […] In a recent post, Steve Knight introduces his readers to John Crowder, a clearly pentecostal/charismatic preacher who is apparently tagging himself as “postmodern,” if not wholesale emergent. Steve is tempted to label him an “emergent pentecostal,” but hesitates to do so and points out in a footnote that I may disagree with such an alignment. Well, I do indeed; which provides a very interesting platform for me to paint a more nuanced picture of what I believe the budding relationship between the charismatic movement and the emergent conversation might actually be. […]

  4. Bill Kinnon says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 6:53 am

    As a Toronto-living, post-charismatic, I’m afraid my BS-meter has the needle pinned with this stuff. Referencing the second video, I’ve heard virtually identical “healing stories” told by other charismatic leaders of supposed events that have happening in their meetings – although the fake eyeball was glass in the version I heard. It seems, however, that none of these events are documented – and it’s a lack of faith to ask for that documentation.

    I believe the Holy Spirit can do whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases. I’m just not convinced that the song of the Spirit is One Toke Over the Line.

  5. Chris E says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Reminds me of the various videos circulating from the Toronto Blessing, as an example:

  6. Zack Hensley says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Steve great post. I would have to agree with you as one who has grown up in, and is currently a leader in a ministry associated with the Charismatic movement, that this sort of thing is outside the realm of Scripture.

    I believe that for the sake of those genuinely coming to these type of meetings hungry, God does move on some people for their sake though the man up front is wacky. But I find most ministries of this genre to be irreverent toward the things of Christ, and outside the bounds of scripture.

    The main thing that concerns me in these type of ministries is the over emphasis on things outside of Christ. Once I heard him say there was to much emphasis on Jesus in the video above, the red flag went up.

    It’s only through Christ and His blood that we have entrance in to the Holy of Holys. They veil was torn by his passion, and His spirit within us manifests himself to testify of Christ. Nothing else.

    I implore you to join me in praying for men like John Crowder. I think they have a real capacity to preach Christ and have real God given anointing, They simply need help from heaven, and fellow believers to look outside themselves.

    blessings sir, and great post

  7. Stephanie Renner says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 9:39 am

    He reminds me of someone I have seen before named Chris Harvey from Australia. He is known for being “high” on Jesus.
    As a voice who has been raised in the Charismatic arena, I want to say that you do have to take the good out of it. I have seen some crazy things (never howling or barking), and I have also seen the difference in people after some supernatural experiences. The joy that goes deep within, that can’t be explained. Years of despair gone in a second. Can the manifestations go too far? Yes, just like anything. Is someone less of a christian because they don’t want to pretend to smoke a “Jesus joint”. No. AND should never be made to feel like that.
    Our relationship with Jesus should be a personal one and when we worship together corporately it needs to be a place that we feel comfortable and safe. And people laughing hysterically on the floor can make some people feel uncomfortable.
    I personally don’t have a problem with it….but I realize I am used to that expression. I think the question should be, is there fruit? Has their testimony grown because of an experience. And to be honest only God knows that. O.k be easy I am no theologian or debater…if you have a problem with me, beat up my husband…;o)

  8. Chris E says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Stephanie – It would be dangerous to label something ‘of the spirit’ purely because it was physiologically peculiar at first glance. There are plenty of other non-supernational explanations for extreme emotions, including ‘joy’.

  9. Stephanie Renner says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 10:29 am

    You are right. I label it “Jesus”. Joy is a fruit of the spirit. Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes we have to encourage ourselves in the Lord. That is taking up our cross daily….even if I don’t always feel the Lord I know He is there…and I seek Him.

  10. Oi-Oi-Oi-Oi-Oi. And Harrrumph. : Subversive Influence says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 11:47 am

    […] The buzz of the day is around the old hyper-charismatic mess. Steve Knight opines on John Crowder who’s big on “Tokin’ the Ghost.” Yes, sadly, you read that right. I don’t know if it’s Todd Bentley-ish or what. Uh-huh. Here’s a few words to the wise should you get to watching the YouTube videos at the ends of those links. (1) When someone claims to have been through a “dark night of the soul” that ends with “spiritual power”, there’s a 99% likelihood they’ve never read St. John of the Cross. (2) When anyone starts using the phrase “whole new dimension” or “whole new level”, run away. (3) When you’re being told to ignore all that you know and believe only in the transrational “greater reality”, it’s time to exercise some sharp discernment… and use your brain. Seriously, claims of “bi-location” where one person appears in two places at the same time? What’s up with that? Did a simpler explanation never occur to anyone, or is it supposed to be a sign of faith to run to the most outlandish explanation? So I guess they’ve got this “revival” thing going on in Lakeland, FL. My email is abuzz this morning, and I’m thinking of Robbymac’s Post-Charismatic? book (link to […]

  11. Nigel says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Hey Steve,
    I love your new beard 😉

  12. Steve K. says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Yes, well, Nigel, methinks you have a case of mistaken identity!

    “John Crowder” is not my pseudonym. It is in fact a real guy separate from myself.

    Oi yoi yoi yoi yoi.

  13. J. R. Miller says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I attended Oral Roberts University and saw first hand guys like Rodney Howard Brown who was the self-proclaimed “Holy Ghost Bartender.”

    New packaging.. same old manipulation that leads to spiritual devastation. I have seen it far too many times.

  14. Cathryn says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    HA! Steve !!! LOL… you got tagged by TSK! oy! But you KNOW i do have an opinion on this one! I love Crowder’s stuff… and loved the book he wrote called “the new mystics”- which…. prophetically that name has been over my head more times than i’d like to recount! But honestly… i know there are some things that i agree with… and some things i don’t …. mostly if it’s NOT a Cross issue… i’m more about pursuing relationship than doctrinal issues….. but hence, that is some of it… and why i think i got that (often annoying) Holy Spirit Elbow … to become more active in the Emergent Convo! When i pressed Holy Spirit about it… the vibe was this….. “Cathryn i created you to be a body integrator – to connect the head and heart on matters…” so i know that … that is the bottom line… and some of my walk with God …. weaves in some interesting streams. Like being raised Catholic- until i had a huge revelation as a KID…. that forever changed my heart…
    But then i was in the Baptist stream for awhile…. and both.. i was thinking… there has to be more….. Like what about seeing the dead raised!- and why the heck NOT if we are to do greater exploits… of sorts… or give HIM permission to pull the table cloth out from our often nicely set dishes of thought and speculation. I guess – well if you ask Andrew… ummm Tripp… Zach… ect… i would be considered prophetic/mystic emergent stream. Perhaps…. it’s just God’s way of shaking our cage and hinting at the JOY part of Him…. God is emotional and passionate… I’m sure Jesus pulled out the “good stuff” to celebrate… and i’ve been both pissed/drunk in the spirit and STONED! (both usages there)…. what i mean by that …. is i’ve been so toasted in Him before that it felt like some of that… (much more redemptive version!) – but – it was gazing into the 3rd heaven.. and seeing parts of the Glory … that will toast ya every time! It does get me out of my “head” at times… because i think we need that…. we were never created just to behold Him with our Minds….
    I soooo get your caution …. and hesitation…. even on a head space… it takes me having 3 good left brained reasons to do 1 right brain thing on occasion. For me it’s like …. ok so HOW many flavours does God have on the heavenly ice cream truck! My biggest trouble at times is my critical thought process and knee jerk reactions to things. I like Crowder’s usage of words… because they get people thinking & feeling. LOL- then again you know me….. and THANK YOU … for “getting me” and giving me permission to have the floor … on occasion that we are actually in the same room! I’m pretty curious as to see how the Emergent embraces things on this level….it’s been a bit of my Jewish Angst on things for a while now. More so from the american perspective that the pond jump version.- Which i think is a whole OTHER convo! It has seemed that the American Emergent is much more …. holding a raised eyebrow on some of these matters than my friends in the UK….. and perhaps some anointing oil is due…. or perhaps we need to pray over the Crisco- cuz it sticks on things better!
    Love ya dude… would love to chat with ya on the matter.. but you know my numbers… and my email.
    Blessings and thick Shalom !!!!
    xo cat

  15. Cathryn says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    ok!!! so i just played the video’s…. and honest.. hand over heart… was not expecting him to speak of the Glory realm… and that is exactly what i posted before….
    LOL! and yeah…. i don’t get offended by that stuff… only because …. my BS radar is tuned pretty high…. actually it had me smiling pretty wide. cuz it’s NOT always about what people think of you… and i like that place where he’s a bit more on the “whatever” side of things. So he’s not PC from a doctrinal space in verb usage….
    dunno… perhaps, it’s not “getting a grip”- but loosing our “grip”……. on some things… just to find out… God’s got us in HIS Grip!

  16. Dennis Teall-Fleming says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Let’s just relax, Steve, you’re not the arbiter of That Which is From the Spirit. Remember, I’ve told you this many times: the scriptures are clear, God IS the ultimate high, the most phenomenal buzz, the greatest orgasm anyone can experience….



  17. Cathryn says:

    May 12th, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    dennis… gotta say a whole hearty amen…. and then…….
    “come Lord Jesus” on that one.!!!! God is intimate and incarnate! That is the bottom line….
    God With US!
    kudos… and well put!
    xo cat

  18. Chad Crawford says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 7:35 am

    I’m getting second hand holy spirit high watching this.

  19. Homebrewed Christianity 10: “Pagitt and Conder on A Christianity Worth Believing” | Homebrewed Christianity says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 10:57 am

    […] – Steve Knight’s blog and the New Mystics […]

  20. *be a forerunner* » Blog Archive » “Heavy, weighty, drunken glory… Oi yoi yoi yoi yoi…” says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 11:33 am

    […] Andrew Jones commented on it. Steve Knight commented on it. Now I’m commenting on it. If you like what you see, check out more on John Crowder. If you don’t like what you see, uh, don’t check it out? No matter what… wow. That was hilarious. […]

  21. Steve K. says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Stephanie – thanks for commenting and for putting yourself out there like that. I love you guys, and I’m glad God has connected us.

    Cathryn – thanks for weighing on this! I was thinking of you partly when I wrote this and hoping you’d help me sort this stuff out. We’ll talk more, I’m sure …

    Dennis – you jerk! 😉 seriously, LOL.

    Chad and Tripp – thanks for the shout out on the podcast! luv it.

    also, thanks to Cyndi for writing a very personal post today on her own “post-charismatic” journey, which I just linked up above. Go read it and give her a word of encouragement also!

  22. Monday Morning Mentations « A Life Profound says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    […] Edited to add:  Steve totally called me out!!! LOLOL!!  Actually his post about The New Charismatics is referenced in Brother Maynard’s post I link to above.  I read it and all I can it that what he brings attention to requires another whole level of reasoning!  Steve makes a great point here: […]

  23. Cynthia (Cyndi) says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I’ve totally corrected my faux pas! Sorry to have left you out of my link laden post! LOL!

    So, living in Charlotte, have you heard about the breakout of the Holy Spirit right there in your neck of the woods? or is that area as clueless as some of Lakeland is? You would think that those healings would be making headline news!

  24. Eric Blauer says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    We work with refugees from Burma and put together this video on the subject of these “revival signs” stuff and mission to the poor, you can view it here:

    In light of the recent cyclone, this stuff seems so….pointless, sacrilegious and goatish.

  25. Jonathan says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    I’ve grown up around the Toronto, Brownsville stuff. And as a shout out to anyone else from this background, because everyone else won’t know what I’m talking about: I’ve been to Shekinah, TN and got dunked with an invisible buckett of invisible water, and grew up sitting around the table with Fuchia Pickett and Judson Cornwall. In the words of Bono, I’ve spoke with the tongues of angels and held the hand of the devil. I’ve been “slain in the spirit,” been prophesied over more time than I can count, and seen every flavor-of-the-month-spirit-manifestation from laughing and shaking to feathers and gold dust. I’ve seen a lot of hucksters that can lengthen your leg and find out which demon is chief among you, and I’ve experienced unexplainable physical sensations that I wouldn’t dare submit for debate among seminary professors…those are between me and the Friend.

    From my experiences, especially with the hours spent falling asleep in shoney’s booths, listening to Dr. Pickett talk about her and her “Teacher,” as she called Him, I never discount someone’s personal experiences with God. The Prophets of the OT experienced some crazy stuff, and all of them were unique: precedence is not always the best discerner, I mean, how many people in the Bible had the same experiences as Elijah, Amos, Jeremiah, or John? There are some people, I don’t know how or why, who I believe truly walk with God. And those people are understandably nutso. Where I draw the line personally (which means nothing in an ecclesiastical, “thou art excomunicated” sense) is when it appears that these “prophets” are using their experiences (legitimate or no) to make money, or otherwise manipulate people.

    My first thought with this guy was of John Scotland of Toronto fame, (Chris E mentions him above) who was constantly being spiritually inebriated. His stuff is all over youtube and is worth a watch. My thought was always that he was just another snake-oil salesman, and my reaction to Crowder is basically the same. the whole “tokin the baby Jesus” thing is just a little hard for me to swallow personally. But more and more my feeling on this is let God judge. And embrace any good fruit. I’ve seen some real rats pray for people to be healed and it happen…It wouldn’t do any good for me to go to that healed person and say, “what do you mean you can walk? that guy is a fraud, a jerk, and he cheats on his wife.”

    My only thought is, and this is the pastor inside me, what about order, the spiritual health of the church, and Paul’s general instructions to the corinthians? But I think that criticism is better pointed at the institution than at hucksters or pushovers (no pun intended, but zing anyway). So what if our house of cards gets blown over, we should have though of that before we invited in the Wind (Pneuma).

    But all that said, I wouldn’t invite this guy in for a youth retreat!

  26. Steve K. says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    hey Cyndi, thanks for correcting your error! 😉 I have heard about the revival going on right here in our neck o’ the woods. A friend sent me that link after I posted about this here. I’m definitely curious about this stuff and am just wondering what to make of it all.

    Jonathan – thanks for sharing your personal experiences, man! I appreciate your insight. I hope you’re feeling better ’cause I don’t think my prayers can heal ya …

  27. J. R. Miller says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Jonathan, I appreciate your history in all this. Pastor to Pastor, I would offer a couple things for consideration.

    1. RE “I don’t judge anyone’s experience” — Really, what about Joseph Smith’s experience with God. Would you judge that or just take the good fruit that comes from Mormonism?

    2. RE 1 Cor. — A couple thoughts. First, if you are thinking this guy is a member of the Church, then 1 Cor. would apply. But other passages (such as Galatians) do warn us not to fall into deception.. even deception that is given by an “angel”

    3. RE “Let us not judge him” It depends what you mean by “judge” Should we say the guy is going to hell? No, that is for the Lord to judge. BUT, should we discern weather his teachings are in accordance with the Gospel. Yes, that is part of our job as Pastors / Elders. To not make right discernment and allow people to be tossed about by every wind (or in this case toke) of doctrine is a failure to fulfill our calling as Pastors.

    I think, based on your post, you are trying to figure out how to do all this on your own terms. So I pray God’s wisdom for you brother!

  28. Mike says:

    May 14th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    I think this video is what makes non-Christian’s cringe at the Christian sub-culture. I think we can judge this behaviour as going a step too far. When someone encountered Jesus I don’t think they saw a man acting like a nut 24/7. They saw a guy that didn’t need to act cool by imitating wacked out hippe dudes. This stuff makes me want to run to Jesus it doesn’t point me to him in any way.

  29. Cathryn says:

    May 14th, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Hey Steve! Kinda had the feeling in your post that you were being gracious cuz you know me! LOL! Thanks for that. Seems things are heating up on this thread- but in a gentle way… which is good.
    Had a thought though on some of the speculation as to a persons character based upon pulpit or audience perceptions. Granted, the tok’in baby Jesus video (to me is a hoot)- i can see where it’s just fuel for the skeptical/heretical fire or stones to be thrown. Just makes me wonder though… if someone had a deeper look at our lives.. what we are actually thinking…. how we respond…. to things…. that our walk with God wouldn’t be speculated upon as well. Granted things in the limelight are an easier target! My litmus test, if you will … is more along the lines of “look at the fruit” and follow the “money” and “look where the Glory goes in it”.

    Anyone can be “Balaam’s Ass” at any given point… hence God can use anything He wants…. but to me that story is funny- Balaam didn’t seem to question that an animal actually Spoke! Sometimes we need an Ass to save our lives!

    Love ya dude!

  30. Jonathan says:

    May 14th, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Re: J. R.

    first of all, let me clarify that I’m not a senior pastor, I work on staff, and there are very few times where I have to make decisions about who is spiritually/doctrinally/scripturally in or out of line. So breathe easy, I know I do! 😉

    Furthermore, if you want my personal opinion, I think that this guy (crowder) is over the line. If he was ministering in a service where I had the “spiritual authority” and was responsible for what was allowed and what was disallowed, I would shut him down in the first few seconds, “peace be with you, but take it somewhere else!” for all the reasons you (J.R. and others) listed above.

    But on the other hand, I’ve spent some time a few years ago (before I was a pastor, ironically enough) sitting in the seat of the scornful, being the doctrine police, the truth warrior, smoking out heresy wherever I could find it. And what it left me with was the knowledge that I had become a jerk, that I was full of pride, and that I was farther away from God than I had ever been.

    BUT, I firmly believe that people have some whacked out experiences with God that I will never understand. And I also believe that we have to give those people a little latitude to share their experiences without putting pressure on them to be Bible scholars and to make sure that everything they express “lines up” with our interpretation of the scriptures. What I think I mean is, testimony may not be the same thing as teaching. There are folks in my church that say stuff sometimes that makes me cringe, but knowing them, and knowing how they live the gospel, I know that even though I may not agree (or more accurately: understand) what they are saying, I know that they are talking about a legitimate experience. Now I could sit around and contemplate all the biochemistry of how a hot room full of 200 people singing and sweating for 4 hours can give someone some pretty intense visions…but I could also contemplate the mysterious “incense” that was burning in the temple of Jerusalem and Zechariah’s visitation by the angel: frankly, I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole. but I digress.

    But let me revisit something that I started to talk about above. Just go with me for a second here. I went to crowders site ( and did a little poking around. Turns out, he was miraculously delivered from drug addiction, and that’s what started his ministry. Now think about what he is testifying to: he used to be a slave to drugs, now he is a slave to God, and the Holy Spirit is giving him what he loved about the drugs, without the bondage to substance and the wicked lifestyle that goes with it. Now, I’m not saying I buy it, in fact, I don’t. But the point is, and the bible college version of me would probably beat me up for this, but I don’t know if it matters whether I buy it or not. I think the bigger problem is with the institutional church. There is no safe place in the institutional church where someone can give a testimony like that, so the handful of people who are open to that go build there own institution and the other institution calls them heretics. For Pastors, especially in pentecostal churches, this huge thing has been made out of who you “allow” to get up and talk. When someone speaks in tongues, it becomes this huge thing about, “is anyone going to interpret? was it real or fake? oh, she gets up every week and her message in tongues sounds exactly the same every time, syllable for syllable, so it must be fake!” Sometimes I think we just need to relax a little. But I don’t know if that is possible with the way things are set up. Because number 1, you have a load of people in the service who have no idea what’s going on, number 2, you have to keep order because you are on a schedule (and that’s not a jab, it’s just the reality of the situation) and number 3, there’s the issue of motivation (kudos cathryn on the “follow the money” line!), because in an operation that involves that much money and people, there’s always someone looking for influence or a pay-out. I think in a situation where there is not one person who is the spiritual say-so of the church, where the whole body could kind of guard their own hearts, you wouldn’t have so much pressure to have witch trials. And this may sound like fantasy, but it actually does work. There are some individual in my church who people know when they start doing their thing (whatever it is) that that’s just the way they respond to the spirit and not a sunday school lesson or seminary syllabus on the way to correctly manifest the spirit. But that kind of atmosphere come from mutual respect, a spirit of acceptance, love, and a comittment to each other that grows out of years of being the church together. That kind of special brew can’t be cooked with a church of hundreds of people who are just weekend event goers. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s a size issue (though the larger it is, the harder to have intimacy among community members) I think it’s about commitment and a spiritual and cognitive understanding of what community is.

    So to sum it up, this is a major problem. The way things are, you can’t just let everything go wild…I’m smart enough to know that. But if we keep telling people that their experience is not legitimate, and that they need to get in line with our interpretation of reality (and it is just our interpretation) I think we miss out on a lot. Truth be known, I wish I had of met John Crowder and not seen this video. Then I think I would be in a better place spiritually to honestly have an opinion…because then it would be an opinion based on a relationship rather than inside baseball.

  31. Cathryn says:

    May 14th, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    loved your post dude!- and hear ya loud and clear..

    “there are some individual in my church who people know when they start doing their thing (whatever it is) that that’s just the way they respond to the spirit and not a sunday school lesson or seminary syllabus on the way to correctly manifest the spirit. But that kind of atmosphere come from mutual respect, a spirit of acceptance, love, and a comittment to each other that grows out of years of being the church together. That kind of special brew can’t be cooked with a church of hundreds of people who are just weekend event goers. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s a size issue (though the larger it is, the harder to have intimacy among community members) I think it’s about commitment and a spiritual and cognitive understanding of what community is.”

    yeah that takes relationship..and the knowing a person isn’t always enough… given that situation as well….. it takes intimacy …. to walk in their shoes and love in the hard spots as well.

    thinking on the drunk vs. stoned aspect… (and it’s because – there was a season that “jesus and i were in therapy and i wasn’t holding up my end of the deal”
    – that i did experience …. and endeavored in things that “weren’t so holy”- that i can speak on some of the difference. My joke in those music scene days… was that i would prefer some one Stoned than Drunk… cuz most of the drunks were angry…. where as those that were partaking of “other stuff” … we’re a whole lot more mellow!— and yes i digress. —–
    but the thing i hated most were the “dry drunks”.. and if anyone knows that phrase… it was those who came out of that lifestyle… yet…. their behaviors still represented all the “bad of a binge”…. without the excuse of the drink.

    I do wonder ….. about those that have been burned by Church versions/ man made stuff…. that the bottom line issues that caused some to experiment with God- hasn’t set them up to be “dry drunks”. That being said…. i know that “personal testimony” to an encounter with God is not the same as teaching….. but wonder also…. as per Crowder’s encounter with Jesus………. that the place in the Word.. that says …”we overcome by the Blood of the Lamb &&&& and the word of our testimony” may have some credence in this convo. Since Jesus changed hearts on a one on one level… the encounter with Him can be life changing.. but our testimony of how He did it…. with all it’s nuances ….. can speak into other lives as well.

  32. Ways of Resistance | Revival and the “New Charismatics” says:

    May 15th, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    […] A friend of mine, Patrick, is by far one of the most open people I know. He will talk with just about anyone–homeless, lesbian, republican, Mormon, Buddhist, Baptist, hippy, holy, unholy, USAmerican, European, Asian, Christian–I mean, anyone. And, usually, he’ll be having a good time to boot! He will literally talk with anyone. Now for someone like me, who sometimes gets kicked out of conversations, that feels pretty good. And when I told him about the latest online discussion I have been reading about and thinking through (There’s a Post Charismatic Movement? and The New Charismatics?), he was, naturally, quite willing to talk. […]

  33. Weekend Roundup | Reformergent says:

    May 17th, 2008 at 8:57 am

    […] The New Charismatics [Steve Knight] […]

  34. dave says:

    May 20th, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Here’s a thing that’s been needling me about his video: Sure, there are all sorts of crazy things that happen in the Bible, and I would not say that God can’t do those or other crazy things today. But to actively spend energy on begging God to bi-locate you? I’m sorry, but it strikes me as odd.

    And also, photo or it didn’t happen. 😉

    Oi yoi yoi.

  35. Anonymous says:

    May 22nd, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Maybe if you weren’t too busy criticizing everybody else, you would be high too. Get other people out from under your magnifying glass and put Jesus in there, smart guy!

  36. Anonymous says:

    May 22nd, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    By saying that Jesus can’t get you high, you are discrediting Him. Jesus can do anything He wants to do. It’s a sign that makes you wonder, and apparently, you’re too baffled to get it.

  37. Mark Weaver says:

    May 22nd, 2008 at 4:18 pm


    here, yet again, is another discussion about the “edge” of how the Holy Spirit operates today in our lives. These disucssions, to me, are tiresome and distracting……and the “tongue in cheek” sarcasm, almost always directed at the abuses of Spirit manifistations, that is associated with them does more damage than good in the discussion.

    what happens is that our hearts, instead of being invited into that GOD actually has to say about all this, get repelled by all the excesses and we completely set it all on the shelf…..moving back into our comfort levels of only what we have seen or know ourselves and becoming suspicious of anyone else’s story or experience.

    while I have seen some of the excesses you describe, I haven’t let it “put me in the ditch” about things of the Spirit. The excesses are the exception, not the rule. Can’t tell you how many times a prophetic word or prayer or healing or song has set a person(s) free from so much that the Enemy would love to have us wallow in.

    I’d encourage you to seek after things of the Spirit…..and trust your good Father to give you just that and good friends to help guide you in it… journey in it all.



  38. Steve K. says:

    May 22nd, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Anonymous – I don’t respond too well to people who want to correct me, but who aren’t willing to put their name or valid email address on their words of correction. Come out from behind your shroud of anonymity and let’s talk.

    Mark – Thanks for your gracious challenge to me. Despite my tongue-in-cheek-edness, I am someone who is trying to remain open to the things of the Spirit — as well as to be discerning and not to sidetracked by things that are, well, distractions from the real things of God. Can I really know what is of God and what is not of God? I hope I can be discerning, by God’s Spirit, of course.

    My journey has probably been overly cerebral and intellectual, so that is why I know I need to remain open to God’s Spirit. His Spirit just seems to operate a bit differently in my life and in my Christian traditions than what I see him doing in the Lakeland revival or this “new mysticism” of John Crowder, etc. — and I’m wondering, why is that?

  39. Mark Weaver says:

    May 22nd, 2008 at 6:30 pm


    that’s a great question stay with and take to the Father…..

    my journey, as well, has been mostly liturgical and intellectual, until God broke through much of that to introduce Himself to me in other ways (I’m sure my wife is responsible for much with her prayers for me). Rocked my tidy little world. I was vehemently against things of the Spirit and felt most that were for that sort of thing were sadly deluded.

    But then, God……

    would love to continue this discussion with you….

    Oh, and to be sure, it’s all about Love……the Father’s Love…….things of the Spirit are just another way He brings it to the deep places of our heart…..and it will always bring life and freedom…..

    Amazing Love…..


  40. Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction? « zoecarnate says:

    May 27th, 2008 at 10:42 am

    […] Whaddaya think? Steve Knight, in his post The New Charismatics? sums up what I think is a typical (and for him as a non-charismatic, quite generous) take on all this: […]

  41. Mike Morrell says:

    May 27th, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Thanks a lot, Steve. Thanks to your post, I’ve been ruminating on this stuff for weeks. At last, here is my response.

  42. Guest Blog - John Crowder Speaks! « zoecarnate says:

    May 30th, 2008 at 12:27 am

    […] [Aww, Steve’s not so bad. Next time you’re in C-Town hanging out with Ricky J and Company, look him up. He’ll have a drink with you – though spirits or Holy Spirit on tap, that y’all will have to work out!] […]

  43. Caron says:

    May 30th, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Please see “A Call for Discernment” by going to Justin is an evangelist and in addition to expository preaching, also holds seminars on the “Word of Faith” movement. He has cerebral palsy and concurs with the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

    To God be the glory!

    Los Angeles

  44. J. R. Miller says:

    July 29th, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    You might like to see this video… I am not certain, but I think it is from a recent worship set from the “tokin the baby Jesus” tour.

  45. Monday Morning Mentations « A Life Profound says:

    August 11th, 2008 at 12:34 am

    […] to add: Steve totally called me out!!! LOLOL!! Actually his post about The New Charismatics is referenced in Brother Maynard’s post I link to above. I read it and all I can say is that […]

  46. Peter Zimmerman says:

    January 22nd, 2009 at 3:44 am

    As a post-charsmatic, I don’t believe that this sort of estatic worship and literalization of metaphor did not happen in the early church. I am pretty sure that the modern charismatic would have loved corinth in many ways.

    my problem with estatic WORSHIP is that a worship service should be inclusive.

    take a cue from Catholics. They have the mass, and the charismatics have their tuesday night glossalalia fest together. I have been to one, it was really fun, but I would not go very often.

    these sort of estatic experiences are not as uniqeuly christian as most charismatics would want to think. this sort of epereince is found in many religions inlcluding some muslim and aborigineal religions.

    there are actually hasidic sects that when they hang out with holy ghost pentecostals have basically the same view of shekinah (holy spirit) manifesting.

    it takes all kinds.

    personally, I prefer my estatic experiences to be spontaneous with no coaching.

    when I first spoke in tongues I had a) never heard it before b) was not in a service where it was going on c) had never known anything aobut it except “it ain’t around no more” d) was merely praying a simply prayer of commitment to God in the middle of a christian rock concert.

    I have spent hours dancing in charismatic churches. it was joyous, and more spriitual than me playing fallout 3 for hours. it was communal, it created relationships, it crossed cultural boundaries. but it easily becomes entertainment and the focus of a church and even the evidence that the spirit is around.

    miracles and signs and wonders and estatic experiences are not the kingdom come. they are signs that the kingdom has come. look at the side of the road. lots of road, lots of curb, only a few signs.

    the kingdom come means that I am meek, humble, kind, generous, forgiving, hope-filled and daily working and living a kingdom ethic that transforms me, those around me, and society at large.

  47. Spirit Week: Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction? | Mike Morrell says:

    November 21st, 2011 at 9:26 am

    […] think? Steve Knight, in his post The New Charismatics? sums up what I think is a typical (and for him as a non-charismatic, quite generous) take on all […]

  48. Spirit Week Guest Blog: John Crowder Speaks! | Mike Morrell says:

    November 21st, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    […] Steve's not so bad. Next time you're in C-Town hanging out with Ricky J and Company, look him up. He'll […]

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