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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Charismatic Atheist

Listening to a debate between Todd Friel and Dan Barker on Way of the Master Radio. Barker, a former pastor, makes the following statement:

"I spoke in tongues. I could still speak in tongues today. I could still do it here and feel...I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit as I spoke in tongues to you today. I can recreate those feelings. They're mystical feelings. It's pretty silly because there is no God and there is no Spirit. But I could do that."

As a cessationist (one who believes the "sign gifts" have ceased) I wondered if his quote sheds any light at all. To be a cessationist does not mean I believe engaging in tongues is a demonic practice (as some accuse) but is it possible that it can be generated out of self? This man was a minister in front of others. He basically confesses that he created the gift within himself because he also believes he could recreate it. Is there any gauge to know whether that is what is happening or not? Is this even a fair line of reasoning for me to pursue?

So what happened to Barker? Did he lose his salvation? I offer two reasons why I believe he did not lose his salvation, but rather, was never saved:

1. Ephesians 1:13-14. This passage states that the Holy Spirit is given as a pledge (earnest payment) for the fact that God is claiming me for eternity. If God decides to forfeit His claim on me (losing my salvation) then God must also forfeit the Holy Spirit, for that was given as my pledge. Barker's spiritual gifts had to have been projected from self, for if they were from the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit becomes severed from God when Barker confesses not to trust Christ.

2. His own confession. As Friel debated Barker, Friel suggested that Barker has never truly grasped the gospel. Barker became very enraged at this suggestion (at least it sounded like he was upset on the radio). Barker told him he had no right to question whether he was a convert. He suggested that of course he was a convert, for he saw healings, and preached the gospel and knows of countless people who credit him with playing a role in their conversions. He argues that "by your fruit you will recognize them, and that he exhibited the fruits of the Spirit. However, this confession only bolster's Friel's argument that Barker never understood the gospel. Consider Matthew 7:22-23:
"Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

Barker confesses he was a believer, not because of God's gracious work in His life, but rather, because he did a lot of stuff. He claims to trust Christ, all while arguing that he has been righteous because he did good stuff.

It should break our hearts. As a pastor it puts holy fear in my heart about the people sitting in the chairs every Sunday. As a believer, it puts holy praise in my heart as I acknowledge that I would go astray if He had not put His seal on my life and kept me!


  • At 2:44 PM, Blogger jason said…

    good post... the whole tongues thing often sounds to me like the Jews in Matt. 12 and 16 demanding signs from Jesus. It would seem that part of our sin nature is always seeking for faith to be validated by externals.

    Thus, we find the same attitude in the legalist and the charismatic-seeking an outward validation of what should really be something inward (ie faith).

  • At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    sad to say, I have a cousin who thinks if you don't speak in tounges, you are not really saved.lg

  • At 6:17 AM, Blogger Randy S Furco said…

    Speaking in tongues is a wonderful gift of the infilling Holy Spirit.

    Debating it is like debating whether salvation is for today.

    One can't read ACTS or the Epistles without coming to the conclusion that first came salvation, then baptism, then the gift of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

    Almost everytime salvation is mentioned the baptism of the holy spirit follows with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Why debate such a wonderful gift from god.

    However it is 100% incorrect to say one can't be saved without it.

    God Bless


  • At 12:58 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    i appreciate your statement that salvation can come apart from this gift. i almost tripped up with the double negative nature of your last statement, but i think i caught it.

    you are saying you disagree with "lg's" cousin. i'm glad to hear that.

    however, there are a couple of issues to consider:

    1.) we must understand that matthew-acts are historical accounts of a transition period for the church. romans-jude seem to be the books that explain to us the doctrines behind what we saw. just as we don't expect the transfiguation to occur again, just because we did see it before, is the same reasoning that keeps us from gauranteeing that sign gifts still exist today.

    2.) that said, nearly all statements about the sign gifts in romans-jude are written down playing their significance, not exalting them. paul's entire heart in 1Corinthians 12-14 is that the church would pursue other gifts over tongues.

    3.) we see the gifts diminish in the book of Acts. by the very end of the book, we see nearly no sign gifts taking place. could this be because their purpose was to validate that the messenger was from God (as stated about Jesus in Acts 2:22), and once the Word of God was being established, it became the greater source of validation?

    4.) your statement "almost every time" makes my case. we see miraculous gifts at the converstion of the first gentiles, first samaritans, first Jews (pentacost) and disciples of John the Baptist when they finally understood the work of Christ. other than that, we see the ethiopian eunich (acts 8), the apostle paul (acts 9), lydia (acts 16), the philippian jailor (acts 16), the bereans (acts 17), and the athenian converts (acts 17) without being accompanied by the gift of tongues.

    and along the point of the post...does the fact that people can fully generate this gift in such a way that others could be fooled by it, and in such a way that even after discovering they do not trust Christ they could still reproduce it...should that give us any pause for thought?

  • At 1:34 PM, Blogger Randy S Furco said…


    Your points are very good. And indeed we need to give pause, before excepting every supernatural manifestation as being from Jesus.

    In the last days there will be many lying signs and wonders, so along those lines, you are correct.

    However, I speak in tongues, I am developing my spiritual gifts and have been greatly edified by others operating in their gifts.

    The love of Christ is the key thing, if His name is exalted, and His love is the motivation for the operation, then they are wonderful tools for operating in the kingdom of heaven.

    You see, a person telling me that tongues or healing or prohesy or signs and wonders are not for today, is like somebody telling me I have a third eye on my forhead.

    But praise be to Jesus there is only one truth that leads to salvation, belief in the Lord Jesus Christand His finished work.
    On that we all can agree, no matter what denomination or background we come from.


  • At 1:43 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    amen randy!


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