Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Those Damn Charismatics

My Presbyterian buddy and I used to trade the joke about the difference between Baptists and Presbyterians is that Presbyterians will say hi to each other in the liquor store. I enjoy this kind of denominational humor, especially when its self-deprecating. But most of the jokes I like aren't printable. Differences can make us laugh if we let them, but one difference has not allowed my soul to deeply be humored. It has to do with those damn Charismatics. The Baptists I grew up around were always afraid of Charismatics. I could be (am) grossly over-generalizing, but I think its because they were a happy lot. We were afraid, it seems, of happy. It felt too shallow, too easy, not biblical. (I'm not kidding; massage the text long enough and you get the Gateway to Suffering). Happy people were viewed as not in touch with reality. The world is too cruel, too harsh to be so up beat. Jesus, after all, was a man of sorrows. Show me the antonymic verse to "Jesus wept." There is no "Jesus laughed," or "Jesus saith, Pull my finger." "You have no right to be happy." In my season of darkness, a voice would whisper subtle justifications like this one. I tried to believe that it was normal, that I could not be happy and really serious about my faith. I didn't want to be shallow like those Charismatics. Again, where do ideas like this form? It seems to me that happiness is to be baseline. It is the desired frame of reference. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, it is to be expected. It should be normal. Suffering and grief are inevitable, but we don't seek them or long for them like we do joy and happiness. I feel embarassed that I've missed something so obvious. O God, it feels good to be happy again.


Strider said...

Very good post. As a Southern Baptist it grieves me that none of our denominational leadership have anything like a sense of humor. Although I refrain from saying, 'pull my finger' very often many people who know me consider me humorous. They also say I am not a typical SB. It's sad how sad we are. I think that the Toronto Blessing is a bunch of psycho manipulation but one of the most memorable ecstatic experiences I have ever had was one day at the end of three months of depression God showed up as I finished my shower and I laughed uncontrolably for twenty minutes. It was a very healing time.
Anyway, don't know if that added anything to this discussion but I guess you got me thinking. Thanks.

Bryan Riley said...

I keep wondering what the "charismatic problem" is that everyone talks about but doesn't define.