Building Bridges

Under a bridge of the Nymphenburg Channel in M...

As a Charismatic disgusted with the False Prophetic and seeking the truth, I struggled (and still struggle) so much with my prejudices about those in Reformed Circles:  I saw them talking  much about What Jesus Said, and did not see them as those who have come from sitting at His feet with words that He has just said to them. And a person who has been with Jesus  is filled with Spring, one wonders,  What is all this juice and all this joy? ”  and you want to be around someone like that.

The gulf between our two worlds kept me from such a person–I describe him here: I think it is the best thing I ever wrote. And not because of the writing, but because of the man.

It is such a grief to me that all the years  when I attended a church growing in idolatry, there was the loveliest little Baptist church down the street. We never thought of entering it, until we were out of every other option, because the water is so wide between our worlds. And we can convince very few friends  similarly disenchanted by Charismania to join us in worship there. It is such a shame, because the moment I entered First Baptist, I cried. The Spirit was so present there, and the worship was so clean and God exalting, and I had so missed that kind of worship,  the kind that is in Spirit and in Truth.

But I wonder, Reformed pastors: Is your church a place that makes a heartsick former Charismatic weep with joy during your worship? Phil was on the platform, leading the parade, giving his people permission to really exult. It was humbly done, and lovely to see, and I really miss that man.

Another question: Would those  with whom you vehemently disagree  theologically give an eulogy at your funeral? Many of the pastors who prayed regularly with Phil disagreed with him about lots of things.  But they interceded together  for this sin-saturated city at the prayer meetings Phil had initiated, and this meeting  included my former pastor.   He spoke movingly about him, recalling the day when Phil led his parishioners in another kind of parade, streaming down the sidewalks to the newly-opened charismatic church down the street, in a  funny sort of welcome wagon to the newcomers on the block.  I remember that day. They came in at the end of our service, and I thought they all looked a little nervous–I never guessed what Phil was risking.  But we weren’t that weird then.  My pastor wasn’t running with the crowd he runs with now, and we weren’t aligned with Bethel Redding.  Things were done decently.  Pretty orderly.

And would you call your opponents your friends? Phil did, when I told him about leaving that church, and why–because of Lakeland, and Bill Johnson.  His face became very grave. “He is my friend” Phil said. “We pray together for this city.” He wasn’t going to let me talk smack about his friend.  I said I hate the False Prophetic but I love the man. Phil reassured me that he knew of Lakeland, and its falseness, and was in dialogue with his friend.  Go figure what that means.  But I know Phil had a love of the truth.

Some would argue that he went too far in his spanning of  divides.  But the men he prayed with, and the men who joined his wife in that hospital room to pray for him in those last moments, that God would stay his hand, were men who loved the Lord and preached the Gospel.  They were like all of us in our various confusing stages of sanctification. Oh, how we all prayed for Phil.  But he died. As we grieved together at his funeral, I said to my former pastor and  his friend,  and my friend, “oh, my father, my father!  The chariots and horsemen of San Francisco.” He knew exactly what I meant.  He had torn his clothes, too.

Kevin DeYoung asks these questions best, and I finish this interrogation with him  because you will hear him better than me. I think it is the essence of my concern:

“Do we possess deep and pervasive piety? I know that pietism is a bad word in some circles. It conjures up notions of anti-intellectual sentimentality. But we got pietism because Protestant scholasticism had gotten dry (or at least many of the churches of the time had). If we want to be more than intellectual people who happen to be into theology, we need to cultivate deep affections and deeper sanctification. As Reformed Christians (assuming many of you are), let’s lead the way, not only in theolgocial integrity, but also in meditation, Scripture memory, intercession, and earnest worship. What our families, friends, and churches need most from us is our own personal holiness.” And I would only add that those outside the church, and those orphaned by the destructive cults that are your unpaid bills, need it too.

I desperately needed that winsome holiness Phil displayed.  But he was not a perfect man, he had but a breath in his nostrils, just like me.  Lest any think I am constructing a hagiography of a defenseless man, I am not.  I was fully ware of some theological weaknessess, and they were enough of a concern that my husband and I were preparing ourselves to talk to him.  But then he died, and so I have no idea how he would have responded, and so I will bury those concerns, and thank God I never had to deal with them at all. Only God does, now.  And I imagine that from Heaven Phil is chuckling and fully agreeing with me.

All I know is Phil finished well.  Would that our own hospital rooms become a sanctuary,  and we leave our people with the most important words that can be said, and we meet our Savior with the songs of praise that are the custom of our lips. And that we could prophetically speak a blessing from our deathbed, as Phil did.

He said that the sufferings in his body were for the healing of God’s Body.  And First Baptist suffered terribly, and almost died.  But look what God has done! A courageous young man from Arkansas, who understands fully the challenges ahead, and with humility and boldness in one necessary move, just took us through a week of prayer and fasting for revival at FBC, and for the city .  Such deep affection I have now, not just for him, but for all the saints in this church, and I have greater faith, that the people of God can at last be a bridge to this city that is a proverb for sin-sickness. In the abounding grace of God, He hears the cry of His people for help, and He will always provide for Himself a remnant.   He is so good.

Explore posts in the same categories: A Tussle With TeamPyro, Apologies and Retractions, Thank God for Southern Baptists

Tags: , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

6 Comments on “Building Bridges”

  1. Rhology Says:


    If you’re apologising for your totally out of line comments such as:

    You commend me for my honesty, and I wish I could do the same for you.

    You really have burned every bridge, haven’t you?

    You talk about Him with words like “What Jesus didn’t say”, but I seldom get the sense that someone has just sat down at His feet with words that He has just said to them

    Because of the prejudices Pyros does nothing to dispel

    then yes, you are right. They were very, very rude, quite uncharitable, and completely unjustified. They were not very funny, partly b/c funny is usually grounded in truth, and none of those are even close to true.

    I didn’t read any of these last 6 or so comments until this morning and I was very unpleasantly surprised by what I found.

    Thank you for your apology. I forgive you. Also, please be assured that anytime I might happen to be considering engaging or be in the middle of engaging in a conversation about the topic of the gifts and should happen to encounter you, I will be forthwith disengaging.
    Please allow me to give you some advice as someone who’s been there. In college, I was a very active spokesman for the continuationist side of things among my friends and roommates. Yes, sometimes we got a little rowdy but it was usually quite respectful and ended well and all that. One of my roommates, though, who was a very young believer but had grown up in church and is now actually a pastor, told me one day: “Alan, you and I can argue about this all day long, and that’s OK, but when we go out on the streets and preach the Gospel, we’ll do so shoulder to shoulder”. That made a big impact on me and was a means God used to give me a burden for unity among the true Body of Christ. I’d like to ask you to take that to heart today. Disagreement about tongues is not worth calling fellow believers liars and making totally unjustified quips about them. You know nothing about me; you know nothing about how I’ve taken pains and lumps from trying to maintain and learn how to maintain those relationships after becoming de-convinced of the usual charismatic conviction about the spectacular gifts. I’d love it if this interaction between us could end up with you growing greatly in your burden for majoring on the majors and loving the brethren at all times.

    Grace and peace,

    • Karen Butler Says:

      Dear Rhology,

      I wanted to respond as soon as I moderated your comment, but multiple digit regrouping and its accompanying frustrations from my students kept me from this task. I had to chide one with “God opposes the ____, but gives grace to the___” They always have to fill in the blanks. But “patient words promote instruction.” We are done with Math. And I appreciate your patient words here, Rhology. And thank you for helping me fill in the blanks. I have been such a dolt.

      “I’d love it if this interaction between us could end up with you growing greatly in your burden for majoring on the majors and loving the brethren at all times.”

      Yes, it has, Rhology. It really has. I was more and more growing under the conviction that I let my frustration and feeling I was so right grow into pride that spiraled out of control. I got my Irish up, and then the Italian part that waves its hands around when it talks too much stepped in, and added in was the spanking from God of too many sleepless nights…so then the ravings of a lunatic. No gentleness evident to anybody, and I was so darned cute about it too. What a fool I have been.

      But repentance and rest is my salvation, and that is what walking in the Spirit looks like. And that really is the content of the new Page! I can write with great authority about continuous failing from pride. Endless falling on your face before the Lord. Then giving out what unfailing love you have been given into the lives He commands you to love.

      I had already been convinced last night to delete that part of the post that refers to you and Pyros, I was just too mind-jumbled to do it then. And I feared my daughter’s wrath. She is worried for me. Rightly so. My family needs my attention. Her disapproval and the littlest one needing to cling to me all day long, are very bad indications. So you won’t be seeing me on threads about cessationism, because whenever I go on blogging jags, these dear ones greatly suffer.

      I thought I had given up arguing, I have been greatly mistaken in that delusion, and here now I have taken some serious lumps. I want to be like you, to learn how to maintain those relationships that are important. I value your insight, Rhology. I saw from your site (the Facebook Post That Went Right) before I even answered your first comment, the kind of person you are–you don’t fear men, and you don’t seek to please them. And you are very witty, so you seemed like someone I could trust with my very real questions, and I would even enjoy the discussion.

      So the thing that grieves me nearly as much as grieving God is this statement, “please be assured that anytime I might happen to be considering engaging or be in the middle of engaging in a conversation about the topic of the gifts and should happen to encounter you, I will be forthwith disengaging.” I hope that is not true. I hope I can demonstrate the fruits of repentance, and you will not be so severe.

      I understand from Blogger profile that you were a tentmaker in Japan, and I lived in Hawaii for some time, and know that in that culture gifts are an extremely important component in paying social calls or making amends, and when I read that you enjoy coffee, I thought I should give you a gift. If I was near you I would give you a gift of warm, freshly roasted coffee beans from your favorite terroir, but this will have to be the virtual substitute. We roast our beans at home, and the green beans are much cheaper and last for a year without losing quality. You only need an air popcorn popper, or a whisk in a wok. DIY coffee is an amazing cup.

      The great irony is that in this very post that you very likely have not read, because of those offensive comments, I am highlighting a man who was a tremendous bridger of divides. I wish you would read it. It might mollify your displeasure further, and you would see our desires are similar.

      In any case, my walk has been greatly strengthened by my interaction with you, and I don’t regret what has taken place– I rejoice in God’s hand of correction. I greatly respect the instrument He has chosen to use.

      Grace and Peace to you, my brother
      Karen Butler

  2. Rhology Says:

    In that case, praise be to God Who takes imperfect and flawed vessels such as us and makes good out of it.

  3. chiefofleast Says:

    To the chagrin of some I know, there is a growing population within Christendom of Reformed (soteriogically)/Charismatic/Continuationists. I happen to be one. I would hate for the un-winsomeness of a few to lead you away from the deep-feeling Holy Spirit-loving English Puritans of old. Or the generous and warm theology of the Spirit of the Grudem’s and Piper’s (which I’m sure you’re aware of).

    I say this as one who also has very close family members caught up deeply in the Bethel/IHOP movement. I’m praying they find a real anchor for their souls before they are battered by every wind of doctrine.

    But, just stopped by to say: Keep fightin’ the good fight!

    • Karen Butler Says:

      Thanks for the encouragement! It was well timed. Sorry to not moderate your comment right away, we did tubing in the snow at Tahoe on Saturday and combing for beach glass on Sunday. I live in Paradise! No wonder the rest of the country is jealously waiting for us to be pitched, bankrupt, into the Pacific.

      I love Grudem and Piper both, and owe them a deep debt of gratitude. To Grudem for schooling my mind, and Piper for training my emotions. The subtitle of his book, “How to Fight for Joy” was a paradigm-shifter in itself. I thought I was a bottom-feeder in the Kingdom of God because joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and I was sadly lacking it and living anxiously by the Slough of Despond most of my life. To begin to live a Gospel-centered life is such a liberation, and Piper demonstrates the use of all graces God has given, common ones as well, to be a master of the life of joy.

      I’m learning of the Puritans from Lloyd-Jones. How sad it is they have been so caricatured in our culture! I’m all about fighting caricatures, and fleshing out what it really means to live a Christ-centered life.

      I just joined you in your prayers for your kin. We had an I-HOP at our former church, too. How my heart breaks for those dreddy kids. full of zeal w/out knowledge! I ove your comment at Pyros, too. My sentiments exactly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: