Editor laments ‘epidemic of moral failure’
    May 12 2010 by Steve Rabey, Religion News Service

    After Ted Haggard confessed to a gay sex and drug scandal, he lost his Colorado Spring pulpit, his job as head of the National Association of Evangelicals and underwent a lengthy period of counseling and discipline.

    For the most part, he hasn’t been seen much since.

    Other fallen charismatic/Pentecostal superstars, however, have rapidly reemerged into the spotlight with a new wife, a new church, new TV ministry or a new message from God that seems to dismiss the gravity of their sins.

    Lee Grady has seen it all, and he’s had enough.

    Grady, a longtime editor of the widely read Charisma magazine, says the miraculous and transforming power of the Holy Spirit he and other charismatic/Pentecostal have experienced is under assault by the “epidemic of moral failure among our leaders.”

    “We can have the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation without this circus sideshow going on,” Grady said in an interview. “I’m waving my hands in the air because this is a huge problem, and we are going to experience even more serious problems in our churches if we don’t know how to apply godly discipline to our wayward leaders.”

    It’s a message he’s preaching in his new book, The Holy Spirit is Not for Sale, and one that’s roiling the waters in one of the fastest-growing segments of evangelical Christianity. Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians — who embrace speaking in tongues, healing and other signs and wonders — have been raising eyebrows ever since the Holy Spirit first descended on Pentecost. At the time, skeptical observers figured they were drunk.

    Things haven’t changed much since; Aimee Semple McPherson, a pioneer of the Pentecostal movement that grew out of Los Angeles in the early 20th century, was known for her fervor, her pioneering use of radio, and her mysterious 1926 disappearance. The 1980s were rocked by the sexual and financial shenanigans of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and others.

    Grady was a member of a Southern Baptist church when, in 1976, he was filled with the Holy Spirit — “when I became a really radical Christian,” he says now. From 1992 until earlier this year, he was editor at Charisma, and he still writes a column for the magazine called “Fire in My Bones.”

    Grady says the movement remains as controversial on the dawn of its second century as it was in its first. Yet the movement’s embrace of technology — especially television — carries added risks.

    His book explores the fall of leaders like Bishop Earl Paulk of Atlanta’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, who confessed to decades of sexual misconduct before his death last year; divorced evangelists Randy and Paula White, whose lavish lifestyle at Tampa’s Without Walls International Church piqued the interest of congressional investigators; abuse charges leveled against Bishop Thomas Wesley Weeks III and his ex-wife Juanita Bynum, and the affair that toppled evangelist Todd Bentley’s Lakeland Revival in Florida.

    As if to prove his point, soon after the book was published, the wife of famed faith healer Benny Hinn filed for divorce. Hinn defended his sexual purity and said the divorce filing caught him off guard.

    Grady said there’s nothing unusual about leaders falling — they’re sinners just like anyone else, and charismatic/Pentecostal leaders are no guiltier than others. It’s just that their failures are more publicized.

    “Our movement has a lot of television personalities,” he said.

    What does concern him, however, is fallen leaders who try to emerge from scandal without publicly acknowledging their sin, repenting, submitting to discipline or undergoing counseling. In other words, it’s not the fall, but the response, that matters.

    “Instead of giving into our celebrity culture and allowing fallen leaders to reappear in a new pulpit the next week, we need to preserve a sense of purity with standards of righteousness and systems of accountability,” he said.

    Historian Vinson Synan, who has spent decades researching the charismatic and Pentecostal movements, shares many of Grady’s concerns.

    “Lee’s book is accurate and fair,” said Synan, dean emeritus at Regent University, the Virginia school founded by charismatic broadcaster Pat Robertson. “And I share many of the same concerns Lee has about the lack of discipline and order in our movements.”

    Grady said he will continue his vigilant crusade to do whatever he can to keep modern-day Elmer Gantry’s from “hijacking our whole movement.”

    “I’m unapologetically part of this movement. That’s who I am and there’s no changing that,” he said. “But just as the Apostle Paul was outspoken about false prophets, bad doctrine and bad methodology, I’m going to continue offering words of correction and brotherly rebuke.”
    5/12/2010 4:09:00 PM by Steve Rabey, Religion News Service | with 2 comments




Comments
yachika verma
just want to thank you a great deal for this intriguing write up. I have already bookmarked your website, when time permits I will have to have to do some thorough browsing of your blog.
5/29/2010 9:28:34 AM

Dr. James Willingham
When I was a child growing up in Arkansas, there was a church of the charismatic and pentecostal persuasion nearby that had a woman pastor who was dramatic and compelling in her ministry. My grandfather who was a member of the local Southern Baptist church would attend that church at times as well as others in the community. Sometimes I would go with him. That woman preacher packed out the building. It was a typical scene for that day and time, people talking in tongues, rolling in the aisles, running up and down the pews, fainting, etc. Yes, it was somewhat scary, but it drew the largest crowds. Then came the great let down. That woman preacher ran off with one of her deacons who had four sons, leaving them fatherless, a thing that did not set well with my young mind. It would take years for me to realize that the problem was in the persons involved and not in the fact that they were not fulfilling certain positions designated for them by God. More intensive study in the many years since my conversion (in my last year of high school) does convince me that there is something wanting in such understandings of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

Misplaced emphases can lead to outre or bizarre results in conduct and behavior. Six years of research in Baptist and Church History combined with extensive and intensive reading in theology and, most of all, the word of God led to the realization that there was much more to the biblically orthodox approach than most imagine. By the time I had finished my M.Div., I had some understanding of how ideas, especially a polarized perception of them, affected behavior. I sat down with the chairman of the Dept of Psychology in one of our nearby schools and told him what my research indicated. He said, "I am doing research in that area right now. Come and do your M.A. and Ph.D. here." Having two masters at that time, I declined, and my wife said, "You will be sorry." She was right, because later I had to get a degree in counseling due to encountering five cases of incest in three months time. I would have been better situated to deal with such problems, perhaps, if I had pursued the M.A., Ph.D. One lives and learns.

In any case, the desire for Divine intervention in our sore situations in this world often pushes individuals to extremes. Still, there is a supernatural intervention in our lives. Only it often occurs in a more orderly fashion than we would ordinarily think or imagine. While there are those times when the interventions are oustanding and remarkable, we must always remember that the rational, logical, orderly ways of God are not to be despised. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is in the humdrum just as much, if not more so, than He is in the extraordinary and outstanding and marvelous.We welcome the unusual when it is of God, but we also embrace the day to day monotony as His will and His doings. Fixing the meals, washing the dishes, cleaning the house, earning the wages that put the food on the table to feed the family in the long stretches of life are just as much the work of God as preaching, exciting moments of God's blessings in healing in times of sickness (when He is pleased to do such things), and the deprivations of sufferings along with those moments of sheer joy that come to the people of God. While we are often cast down by the failures of others as well as ourselves, we must remember that Jesus came to save sinners, by analogy, sick people. Setbacks in the healing and delivery somtimes occur. But one of these days, we will finish our journey by the grace of God, the very favor with which we began our spiritual pilgrimage in this world.
5/13/2010 3:58:55 PM

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