By Timothy Tow
(Edited from Vol. XXIII No. 12, 1st November 1987 of Life BPC Weekly)

The present day Charismatic Movement may be traced to the beginning of this century when American fundamentalist Protestant sects began to emphasise Spirit baptism as an experience different from conversion and evidenced by speaking in tongues. They also stress instantaneous sanctification, divine healing, and specially today, visions and revelations, “signs and wonders.”

When I was a boy, I attended an Assembly of God service led by an American missionary. There was orderly and solemn worship like ours, with emphasis on preaching and no public speaking of tongues. After my return from USA in 1950 to pastor Life Church, I interacted with some Finnish Pentecostal missionaries. They were zealous in evangelistic outreach, preaching in open-air meetings. They did not speak in tongues.

The pattern of worship in Pentecostal churches under a new generation of “charismatic leaders” today is totally different from my earlier experiences. I am afraid that people are being led further and further away from the truth by the head over heels emphasis of their leaders on tongues, visions, revelations and healings. One Singapore charismatic preacher called his “a miracle rally”, promising to heal the sick en masse. How does such a “miracle rally” stand in the light of Holy Scripture? Did Jesus or the Apostles organise miracle rallies? If there were signs and wonders performed by the Apostles, they were to authenticate the founding of the early Church. The “signs and wonders” stressed today were little seen in the closing days of the Apostles’ ministry. These fall into the category of “false Christs and false prophets” of the end times. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matt. 24:24)

Let me share with you my discovery of a false prophet in a charismatic meeting I had attended in Singapore some years back. The speaker from America, one Dr. Gray, announced he would tell the hearers what sickness they had without their telling him. Such knowledge was uncanny, I said to myself. But then the faith healer could not pin-point anyone. Under his index finger, he began to draw airy circles over the heads of the audience, widening his orbit to cover some 50 women sit-ting on one side. Then he said, “The Lord tells me that one of you la-dies has diabetes.” As he hypnotically worked over the heads of his female audience (why didn’t he tackle the men?), this verse in Deuteronomy 18:22 came to mind: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deut. 18:22)

Meanwhile, as he tried to get an acknowledgement from a female diabetic sufferer, he repeatedly uttered, “Abrakaba, Abrakaba.” As to this “tongue-speaking”, I observed this to be some stock phrase he had previously learnt. There was no naturalness about the whole thing. This reminds me of what a converted Chinese medium said about how painful it was for him to practise his priestcraft without the evil spirit working through him. Thus, when such a faith healer had not the “spirit” working through him, neither could he speak the “tongues” fluently nor point out the diabetic. The reason for my going to hear Dr. Gray at this charismatic healing service was to examine him at the request of my brother in Penang. This healer has already shown himself in Penang to be a charlatan, whose god was his belly.

What identifies the charismatic movement not to be of the Holy Spirit is the unholy union being fostered by Protestant leaders with the Roman Catholic Church through the medium of tongue-speaking. At the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit and World Evangelism and New Orleans, July 22-26, 1987, charismatic leaders like John Wimber, Oral Roberts’ son Richard and Reinhard Bonnke, joined hands with priests of the Roman Catholic Church, while Billy Graham sent greetings thanking God “for the vital role that your movement is having in bringing about a spiritual awakening in this country . . .” Tom Forrest, the speaker for the closing General Session representing Rome, asserted that Pope John Paul II was also behind the conference “wholeheartedly”.

Now, during this Charismatic Congress, there was an attendance of 35,000 to 40,000 of whom 50% were Roman Catholics. In the day session when Protestants held their meetings, the Roman priests were celebrating mass for their members. How can Protestants, who came out of the dark superstitions of Rome through Martin Luther in 1517, now worship God under the same roof and pray in tongues together? Charismatism is used of Satan rather to bring Protestants back to Rome so as to consummate the end-time super world Church as predicted in Revelation 17, the great whore that seats upon the scarlet coloured beast. Dear reader, if you are worshipping in a charismatic church, you are also linked up with Rome, whose end is predicted in Rev. 18. And if Paul declares in 1 Cor 13:8 that tongues shall cease, and have ceased with the age of the Apostles, to try to speak in tongues (foreign languages) by which they end up in gibberish is to fall into Satan’s grip.

In Sword and Trowel No. 2, 1987, Dr. Peter Masters shows from Church History that tongues had not occurred during the times of ministry of great men of God. In my research on the Asian Awakening, through five great personalities whom God had mightily used – John Sung (Lim Puay Hian), Dora Yu, Ting Li Mei, Jonathan Goforth and William Chalmers Burns – there was no record of tongues in the Holy Ghost Revivals they had led. In “John Sung My Teacher”, I have further evidence (corroborated by Leslie Lyall and William Schubert) that hose who babbled in tongues were rebuked by Dr. Sung. These were urged rather to repent from their sins and be born again. As for the charismatic leaders who are repudiated today by their own followers, e.g. Jim Bakker, let them seriously read and ponder over Matt. 7:21-33.

While we refute the present-day charismatic movement, we are confident God will raise up a genuine revival as we had experienced in the Singapore Pentecost of 1935 and as our parents had under Dora Yu and Ting Li Mei in their young days. As for B-Pers, let us stand faithful and true with the Lord. If it please the Lord, He will send the old-time power, the true Pentecostal power. Amen.

Dear Readers,

In view of the recent series on Contemporary Theology, we republish an edited version of Rev. Timothy Tow’s thoughts on the Charismatic Movement. This article was taken from Vol. 23 No. 12, 1st November 1987 of the Life Church Weekly. It was written just one year before the dissolution of the B-P Synod on 30 October 1988.

You will see clearly in this article the downward trend of Charismatic Movement from the first-wave Pentecostals to the third-wave “signs and wonders movement” which Satan will use to break down denominational lines and facilitate ecumenism.

May the Lord bless you with good understanding.

Lovingly in Christ,
Clement Chew