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A Response #38083
Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:40 AM
Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:40 AM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 983
Florida
R
Robin Offline OP
The Boy Wonder
Robin  Offline OP
The Boy Wonder
R
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 983
Florida
Today I received an e-mail from one of the members of the old ExCharisma e-mail loop at YahooGroups. In it she described an apparently horrific outcome of my decision to bring the group here to the Highway and discontinue the old one. She wrote that she has "had to field emails from former exCharisma people who are drifting so badly that they no longer consider themselves Christians."

In my weblog I have described my departure from a PCA church and that, too, has resulted, according to her letter, in causing former ExCharisma members to leave their own churches and to feel that I gave them bad advice in leading them to Reformed churches. The damage I apparently did is enormous, according to her:

Quote
The exCharisma forum that we leaned on for support was jerked out from under us almost overnight, without even consulting us. You always did say it was your forum. I guess you proved that in the end, because it certainly was not ours, and you seem completely unconcerned about what happened to us or how we felt about it.


If there is any truth at all in what this sister has sincerely written, then I will publish my response here for all the former members of the old group to see. And if anyone here is aware of any former members who have fallen away from the faith because of me, please forward this message to them:

Quote
Hello,

It's good to hear from you, even if what you have to say is hurtful. I miss the old ExCharisma too. ExCharisma has not almost entirely dissolved, though. It has been multiplied into the Highway's Open forum, Theology forum, Prayer forum, Church Locator forum, and one forum specific to Charismatic issues. When an ExC member has a question about theology that isn't directly related to Charismatic issues, he or she posts it in the Theology forum. So the little "ExCharisma" folder that is now specific to one thing is not nearly as busy because the others are sharing the burden. That is what I hoped to achieve by moving the Yahoo group to the Highway.

Another reason I did so was that I was overwhelmed with moderating the group, especially after my co-moderator left. Then there was my personal life, going back to school, starting a new career, and dealing with some heavy issues here at home. I was in "survival mode" when I made the admittedly hasty decision to move ExCharisma to the Highway. It wasn't long after that when my former church stepped up it's own b.s. when they should have found grace to help instead of boldness to find fault. I have come to believe that one of the biggest reasons why Presbyterian denominations last only about 40 years before they stray from the faith is because of the clergy/laity distinction that encourages the "ruling" elders to accept whatever the Trained, Professionally Qualified "teaching" elder dishes out. In spite of her confessional Standards, the PCA still wrestles with what ought to be obvious as heresy.

The CMA is also Presbyterian in its system of government, but not bound to a confession as specific as the Westminster Confession. And its ministers are co-elders in pretty much the same sense as the PCA is (on paper at least). They have been around alot longer than the PCA and have not strayed nearly as far from where they started. I dunno what to make of that. But the real reason I have ended up at a CMA church for now is that I have lots of friends there from the community (and only a handful from my former church). I really haven't got any idea if that's where we may put down roots. I'm quite gun shy having been burnt by what I considered to be an ideal church.

I am unaware of any from the old e-mail group who have, as you put it, "completely fallen away from the faith." No one has written me to say so, to blame me, or to rebuke me for leading them to bad choices or down a wrong path that I supposedly no longer follow. Had I known of any who strayed, I would have left the ninety nine to pursue the one and coax them back with me to where I hope to end up still - back to orthodox Christianity under Biblical government.

I am the same guy I always was, but my sojourn through this wilderness has given me a renewed heart for those who have "tried the church thing" and found it so wanting that they don't know who to trust anymore. I've come almost full circle to where I was when I first started ExCharisma (which at the time was as much for my own benefit as anyone else') - longing for only the genuine, permanent back-to-basics faith of my childhood. I'd like to think that our time laboring in the Word was not wasted. But the burden I bore by the time I moved the group to the Highway was beyond the time I had to devote to it. I had become a sort of "cyber pastor," which was never my intention or desire. My hope all along was to point people to good Reformed churches, and that purpose remains unchanged.

Please pass this message along to the former ExCharisma members who you have fielded e-mails from who are, as you say, "drifting so badly that they no longer consider themselves Christians." I'd really like to hear from them, to apologize for hurting them, and to share my own sojourn and my desire to see us all in good Reformed churches that remain faithful to the infallible word of God. Ask them to write me, to chew me out if they need to. I can take it, and I want to repair whatever damage I may have done if I can. But I stand by my decision to relocate the group to the far greener pastures of the Highway. If I hadn't done that, the only other alternative at the time would have been to hand the group over to a new listowner and unsubscribe. And I'm sure that doing that would have been more damaging than the course I chose.

Love in Christ,
Robin

Last edited by Robin; Thu Feb 14, 2008 2:21 PM.
Re: A Response [Re: Robin] #38084
Thu Oct 25, 2007 11:56 PM
Thu Oct 25, 2007 11:56 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 20
Belvidere, IL, USA
Dave U. Offline
Plebeian
Dave U.  Offline
Plebeian
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 20
Belvidere, IL, USA
Robin,

Nowadays, I'm an Internet lurker, but what you've written is sufficient to stir me to momentary online action.

As a long-time ExCharisma subscriber (going back to when it was named X-Charisma), I am glad to read that you are not willing to hold yourself responsible for the falling away of those unnamed former ExCharisma subscribers. You are unequivocally 100% right to count yourself innocent of any such charge. Scripture is plain: it is absolutely impossible for any man, angel, or demon to cause one of God's Elect to fall away. Nay, every true adopted son or daughter of God is so held and sustained by the gracious power of God that (s)he cannot possibly be snatched away from His Hand. Although a true child of God can indeed backslide temporarily and even look and act very much (for a season) like a child of Satan, he will inevitably be restored to repentance. Therefore, if anyone claims that they left the faith because of you, me, or any other professing Christian, they are flat wrong. If they really, truly left the faith, they were never in the faith to begin with! Moreover, anyone whose "faith" was so tenuous as to teeter on the brink of apostasy, or even fall into it, because of this or that incident in the history of an Internet support group has revealed that their faith was in no way directed in a proper way. If I put my faith in a man or a creation of man--whether a handmade image, Internet support group, or religious organization--I will sooner or later find myself spiritually shipwrecked. If my faith is in this or that church, ExCharisma, Robin, Tom, Dick, or Harry, instead of in Christ, I will sooner or later show myself to be no child of God.

As I've followed ExCharisma over the years, I think Robin's purpose has been exceedingly plain: to steer folks who have become disillusioned by the often idolatrous faith of charismaticism to a solid Reformed, Scripture-based faith. What some missed, I fear, was that it's not good enough to learn how to cross and dot all your Reformed "t's" and "i's". Any "faith" in Reformed theology that fails to grasp that the very center of that theology is Christ is just as much idol worship as the Charismatic's common misplaced emphasis on the Holy Spirit above Christ. You've just traded your faith in a false Holy Spirit for a faith in a Christless Calvinism, and a Christless Calvinism is no Calvinism at all!

So just what does the would-be ex-charismatic need to do? In a nutshell, put away his idols and cleave to Christ alone. In doing so, he'll need to cultivate a right knowledge of Christ. He'll do so by becoming acquainted with solid Scriptural theology. As ex-Charismatics like Robin and me have learned, the brand of theology that's truest to Scripture and most honoring to Christ is Reformed theology. Reformed theology is indeed intellectually satisfying, but if this great system of theology fails to draw you to Christ you've missed the whole point: you'll be a "good Calvinist" but a terrible Christian.

Besides a solid theological foundation, the ex-Charismatic needs to place himself under the ministry of a reasonably solid Gospel-preaching church. ExCharisma, the Highway, etc., are no substitutes for the local church. To rely upon Internet or non-Internet parachurch ministries in place of the local church is a grave error. Local churches are, of course, made up of sinners. Robin's experience with his PCA church is a sad reminder of this fact. The local church will sometimes drive us to despair, but yet God's plan is clearly to gather His Elect into local churches. Robin is doing the right thing by seeking out another local church to replace the one he'd been forced to leave. Although it will take time for some victims of grievous spiritual error to work up the courage to give the local church another chance, to find and join another church is a duty that cannot be postponed indefinitely.

Although I am saddened to hear of the former ExCharisma members who have turned away from Christ, I cannot grant that they can in any way blame Robin or ExCharisma for their apostasy, and neither will God. In the final judgment, God will hold each individual personally responsible if they refused to repent and trust Christ alone. Thus, if anyone left the faith "because of ExCharisma" and never returns to Christ, he will have proven that he had in fact never truly trusted Christ to begin with.

Dave U.

Re: A Response [Re: Dave U.] #38085
Fri Oct 26, 2007 4:06 AM
Fri Oct 26, 2007 4:06 AM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 983
Florida
R
Robin Offline OP
The Boy Wonder
Robin  Offline OP
The Boy Wonder
R
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 983
Florida
A little bit of further correspondence with the woman who originally wrote further suggests what I had suspected: That there are no such people who have e-mailed her for counsel (without even having tried to reach me or visit the new forum first). This, apparently, is only about her and her own disappointment in a friend who has not lived up to her expectations.

Well get used to it, lady. People will always disappoint you. Only God cannot fail and will never disappoint.

I blogged about all this here.

Even though "all those people" who supposedly have fallen away from the faith and gone running to "Marla" for help may in fact be fabricated, my offer nevertheless remains: If anyone else from the old Yahoo group wishes to have words with me, I'm open to that and willing to listen and to seek forgiveness if anything I did has caused even one of His little ones to stumble.

-Robin


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