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Enjoying God Blog


By Sam Storms (

I didn’t ask that question. Justin Peters, well-known cessationist and critic of all things charismatic, did. He actually has a series of programs citing examples of strange and often unbiblical things that certain Pentecostals or charismatics do or say.

Make no mistake. I don’t for one minute endorse the things he cites. The examples he provides are indeed quite weird and bizarre. But the way in which Peters presents his case is itself quite weird, and to put it mildly, profoundly unfair and un-Christian.

There are approximately 645 million people in the world today who identify as either Pentecostal or charismatic. Among them there are certain leaders and popular voices who believe “weird” things and have amassed a considerable following among those who are gullible and undiscerning. But for every one misguided teacher or internet personality there are thousands of faithful and biblically rooted, gospel-centered pastors and professors in the charismatic community. And for every one of those who naively falls for the “weird” things said and done there are, again, thousands who do not.

I don’t know how many programs or examples Peters has cited who do “weird” things, but I doubt if it amounts to more than two dozen. Even if there are several more, the point I want to make still stands.

I’m not a mathematical genius, but two or even three dozen, or even several hundred, out of 645 million is a fraction of a fraction of one percent. But the way Peters present his case, and what he wants you to think, is that charismatic Christians are all given to these weird and unbiblical practices. The fact is, an infinitesimally small fraction of those who identify as Pentecostal-Charismatic are guilty of these strange antics. But Peters clearly wants you to believe that most of us are.

If that is not his intent, why doesn’t he title his programs, “Why is this one charismatic weird”? I’ll concede that some charismatics are weird, and I pray that they will put an end to their bizarre beliefs and behavior. But the way Peters portrays them is typical of the breed of hyper-critical, cynical, judgmental cessationists who have nothing better to do than point out to you the incredibly tiny fraction of our community who are misguided.

I wonder what Peters would say if I launched a series of programs titled, “Why are Cessationists so Mean, Cynical, and Judgmental?” I suspect he would push back and remind me that the examples I might cite (and trust me, I could cite several of them, including Peters himself), are but a tiny fraction of those who embrace cessationism as a theological conviction. Why would I lump them all together and send a message to the Christian community that “Cessationists are Weird”? It’s a good question. I would never do that. Most cessationists are kind, humble, and God-fearing brothers and sisters in Christ.

But it evidently is ok for Peters and those of his camp to try to persuade you that most, if not all, charismatics are weird and believe and practice strange things and should, for that reason, be denounced and avoided. Some undoubtedly do strange things. And they should be called out in love and humility and instructed in the truth of Scripture. But they are such a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the worldwide charismatic community that they hardly represent the much larger whole.

Why, may I ask, doesn’t Peters launch a series of programs titled, “Why are the Vast Majority of Charismatics godly, Bible-believing, Christ-exalting brothers and sisters of the faith?” And then proceed to cite their biblical convictions and devotion to the glory of God. I can tell you why. No one would read his articles or watch his You Tube channel. No one would invite him to speak in their churches or at their conferences. He traffics in singling out the strange folk in our family because they are the ones that draw a crowd. I’ll come straight to the point. There isn’t much financial gain in pointing out the good, godly and Bible-believing charismatics. But there is considerable profit in focusing on the odd outlier.

I should point out that those who are regarded as “weird” believe in the foundational truths of the Christian faith. They affirm the Trinity, the virgin conception and incarnation of God the Son, the sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, and personal return of Jesus Christ to consummate his kingdom. They believe that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. To put it simply, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, with whom we will spend a glorious eternity worshiping our Lord and Savior.

Do such folk sometimes say odd things? Yes. Do they on occasion engage in practices that lack biblical support? Without question. Can their ministry style be manipulative and presumptuous? Undoubtedly so. But none of that means they are not Christians. I could just as easily ask: Do some cessationists quench the Spirit? Yes. Do they on occasion fall into legalism and display a religious spirit? Without question. Are they prone to prideful judgmentalism? Undoubtedly so. But again, none of that means they are not Christians.

What, then, might be the best, most fruitful, and constructive way forward? I don’t believe it is by snide ridicule and condescending denunciation. Rather, let’s begin by praying for one another. Now there’s a novel thought! Let’s begin by embracing one another as fellow members of the body of Christ. The next step might even be to sit down face to face with those we regard as “weird” and, with humility, carefully evaluate what we (and they) believe and how we (and they) behave in the light of God’s Word.

Ought not our default position be to look for the good in others rather than obsess with the bad? Have we not all at one time or another embraced beliefs that, by God’s grace, we later came to recognize as error? I’m not saying we shouldn’t identify false teaching when we see it. But it can be addressed with loving correction instead of caustic, self-righteous vitriol.

I seem to recall something Jesus said concerning the way in which the world will know that we are his disciples, and as best I can tell it is not by our harsh, arrogant criticism of one another, but by our love (John 13:35).


I agree. Profit is probably a great motivation for Peters. I also suspect that desire for prestige, praise from his Cessationist peers, obsession with propriety, hatred of anything emotional, (except his own anger), and fear (phobia?) of mystery are also motivations.
I have never heard Justin Peters criticize all charismatics. When I've watched him, he is just bringing attention to the very worst false teachers and how they pervert God's word, especially the prosperity preachers. I'm glad he is doing this, as I have family members and friends caught up in that foolishness. Among these teachings is that people don't receive healing because of their lack of faith, if you plant a seed offering to their ministry you'll reap a rich harvest, and much more. This is what I've seen him focus on, not the entire charismatic movement.
Hello Sam,

I appreciate the heart behind this message.

For those of us that have seen devastation from what you call weird practices from an extremely small percentage, do you have better places to learn about scripture guidance to develop the discernment you referenced?

I must be in a part of the country that experiences a different ratio than you are referencing in this article. Thanks in advance.
Then there are the poor Reformed Charismatics who no one on either side knows quite what to do with.
I must confess, I struggle to regard J-Mac, Phil Johnson, Justin Peters, and Todd Friel with even a modicum of charity. :-/
I was raised in a charismatic church and family, and while I like respect a lot of cessationist Christians, there is a tendency of theirs that I find off putting. It is like they find the most obscure video to discredit any Charismatic. The vast majority of Charismatic pastors are not on tv, and the average service at the local charismatic church does not look all that different from a cessationist congregation, but they take every weird thing on Christian tv and criticize everyone in the charismatic movement. NAR has now become another term that seems to be used for all charismatics, which no one really defines well, and just uses to again blanket attack charismatic Christians. Charismatics do fall short and unsound, unbiblical doctrine can sometimes creep in, but that is not unique to charismatics. Meanwhile, if you wanted to there is a lot to pick apart about cessationists, but they don't ever seem to come in for as much criticism. They can come across as very cynical, and their cult- like worship of John MacArthur should earn them just as much criticism as they dole out to everyone in my opinion. Charismatics don't have one particular pastor that they gravitate to, and there is a lot of diverse opinions about the tv preacher crowd. Don't get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for JMac and think he is a true man of God, but I don't think he would say that about anyone with my background just because I believe both cessationist and charismatics will be in heaven if they have accepted Jesus, the Trinity, the Word of God and all of the basic tenants of the faith
Amen and amen.
IMO the disparaging remarks of a religious group who, for decades, have denounced all things "charismatic" are of little consequence. After 1901, cessationist groups largely began to build walls of mockery and cynicism between them and those who identified as being Spirit-filled.
They could have left a meaningful impact on the movement had they responded with a more Christ like attitude. But I feel like the answer to why they didn't is because, you can't give grace that you don't actually have yourself. Their reaction to what appeared to be soulish was almost purely cerebral. This causes me to wonder why they would continue this strange barrage of attacks. They had the opportunity early on to help lead and influence the young charismatic movement as they navigated the troubled waters of early development. Indeed, many of the early failures and sins could've possibly been avoided had there been a different reaction.
But it is what it is. I proudly endure the mocking and laughter because I know there was also mocking and laughter on the day of Pentecost directed towards the apostles themselves. So, thank you for helping me to more closely identify with them.

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