Oh yes, Tom!

Been there, done that, got the teeshirt.

And here's a little of what I learned along the way, both as a former Charismatic and from the early days of ExCharisma, which began as a little e-mail loop on YahooGroups for people who were like me at the time: Charismatic but questioning, deeply in need of a solid, unchanging, back-to-basics Christian experience that stayed strong in spite of all the shifting trends, "revelations" that didn't pan out, and failed doctrines that just didn't work.

Like alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, or any other kind of addict, a Charismatic has to become desperate enough to ask for help before he or she can even discuss or debate the truth of the doctrines that keep failing them. Many Charismatics are taught that if a teaching fails to "work," it's because their own faith is too weak, or their own sin is too great, or their own heart is impure. In other words, it's your fault if things don't pan out the way you were taught they would - like money being returned sevenfold, tongues interpreted to provide the answers and guidance you need from God, demons fleeing and oppression lifted when you pray "in the Spirit," all that stuff.

Yeah I got the "high" from speaking in tongues and felt better for a little while, but the oppression remained, the money ran out, the sin habits I was so ashamed of still held on and got worse, my heart remained divided and fearful, my mind remained confused, and my life was just like that of a drug addict: Always seeking deeper, richer, more intimate "encounters with God in the Spirit" and finding that such encounters did not change me.

Only when I became desperate enough to ask for help was I able to listen to anyone but my teachers, nor be open to anything but "my bible and the Spirit to guide me." And the same was generally true for almost all of the hundreds of people who participated in the ExCharisma group over the next few years before I moved it here to the Highway. Dealing with Charismatics is very much like dealing with addicts. And the "failure rate" seems very high, since many just can't let go of that wonderful high we got from "singing and dancing in the Spirit." But a Charismatic who has heard the truth and MUST believe it because it is BIBLICAL cannot enjoy the "drug" anymore since he knows it isn't real. The despair and loneliness is palpable! And it drives such a one either back to the bible - or out of the visible church altogether.

That's why it takes a great investment of time, patience, prayer, study, and compassion to deal with Charismatics.