Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.

Jimmy Swaggart

Much has been written, many news broadcasts have been presented on that charismatic, Jimmy Swaggart. After being caught in immoral activity, he made his emotional confession of sin before the whole world. The Christian News, Feb. 29, 1988, takes this event as opportunity to warn against the false views of the charismatics.

Some good may come out of all the publicity being given to Jimmy Swaggart if tongues speaking charismatics finally wake up and recognize that the modern charismatic movement is contrary to Holy Scripture. Many of them contend that if a person has the “gift of tongues” and “healing” and if God speaks to him directly, then surely he must be proclaiming the truth. 

Of course, even some clergymen who claim to be orthodox, have been involved in grievous sin. However, charismatics and Pentecostalists have long had more than their share of preachers who’ve been caught in such sins as Bakker’s and Swaggarts. 

Now is the time for charismatics to reevaluate their movement. The Christian News Encyclopedia has plenty of articles by a good number of theologians in its section on the charismatic movement which show that the modern charismatic movement is anti-scriptural. 

More should have listened to the American Council of Christian Churches when it declared last year in a convention resolution that “The public needs to be warned that Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland and other television evangelists, who have claimed to speak in Bible tongues, are false religious leaders who need to be Scripturally exposed by God’s people. ” . . . 

Swaggart is one of the many charismatics who claim that God speaks to them directly. Swaggart says God told him: “I have appointed this Ministry, as I have appointed no other Ministry, to help gather the harvest. You must do it by television. This is the only way that millions can be reached in a short period of time; and they must be reached. . . . This Ministry is the only one I have anointed to reach the whole world—and television is the only way to get it done” (Christian News, March 2, 1987, p. 18). 

. . . The unscriptural theology of these charismatic TV evangelists is more dangerous than the lifestyle of such charismatics as Swaggart, Bakker, Gorman, “Miss” Kathryn Kuhlmann, Aimie Sempel McPherson, etc. . . .

The daily papers have reported that the local Assemblies of God body decreed that Swaggart be forbidden the pulpit for a period of three months. After being instructed by the national body controlling the Assemblies of God churches to reconsider this apparently mild sentence, they responded that this decision was dictated by the Spirit to them. However, subsequently the national body has determined that Swaggart must be barred from the pulpit for a year. Swaggart intends to ignore the ruling of the national body. The whole affair threatens to divide the Assemblies of God churches. The Christian Newsrightly points out that the charismatic views themselves are called into question in these sad affairs. When one relies on the “revelation of the Spirit” directly to chosen individuals, then each determines for himself what is the truth. The church, however, is called to know the infallible Scriptures and learn the revelations of the Spirit through those alone. 

The Grand Rapids Press, April 8, 1988, reported:

“We believe that to stay out of the public For a year would totally destroy the television ministry and greatly adversely impact the college,” Swaggart said. 

“Because of the nature of this situation, we are forced to take a position that does not answer all of the questions nor solve all of the problems. But we Feel we have no alternative or choice,” he said. 

“Therefore, I must regretfully withdraw from the Assemblies of God, understanding that they will have no choice except to dismiss me from the fellowship, since I am presently not in good standing with the fellowship.”

This raises another serious problem. There is here evidently a personality cult. When the ministry of the Word stands or falls with a man, one can question whether this is proper and true ministry of the Word. Jimmy Swaggart appears to believe that he is indispensable to that ministry—and perhaps he is. But then, is not this ministry one which is of man, and not of God?

Who Must Educate Our Children?

A reader recently submitted an article from Today’s Banner which points to the continuing debate concerning the instruction of the children. The article begins:

The decision of Judge Brevard Hand in the “‘Alabama Textbook Case” resulted in a great deal of public attention on religion and education . . . . 

Informed observers who have followed the church/state/education controversy for the last 50 years must concede that we are at a crossroads. For instance, the theory of the Jaffree case asserted that if the Court was going to keep religion out of the schools, then it had a duty to keep all religions out of the school. By forcing the issue of secular humanism as a religion, it was thought that the courts would recognize the absurdity of barring religion from the public schools. 

It was hoped that the courts would permit public schools to teach at least the role of religion in this country’s history and balance a Judeo-Christian world view with that of a humanistic world view in other non-historical textbooks. 

The idea was to change the system itself by giving Christians equal time in the textbooks. It was not an individualistic approach. 

Mozert, on the other hand, in the Tennessee textbook case, voiced the opposite strategy. It attempted to find a right by which an individual parent could object to a given textbook and suggest a substitute reader. The school system would not be required to change its entire curriculum, nor to discard all of its textbooks, but merely make an accommodation to an individual parent who happened to object. 

The basis for both of these strategies lay in the First Amendment and both of these cases were filed in federal courts. Jaffree was an established-clause case, while Mozert was a free-exercise case. 

Like a moth is drawn to the candle flame, so the courts are drawn in these cases to assist their first and Foremost controlling proposition. That controlling proposition, without fail, is that the state has the responsibility to direct the education of children . . . .

The article presents the author’s own opinion to which, for the most part, we could subscribe:

A new strategy to rise above this confusion and judicial bickering is required. A strategy which challenges the fundamental assertion that the state has authority to direct the education of children, and that it has authority over their minds and the manner in which they are to think.

The wholesale rejection of the original authority of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children must be protested and challenged. 

It is parents, not the state, who are endowed by their Creator with the unalienable right to direct the education and upbringing of their children free from state interference, regulation or control. This is among the most fundamental of our liberties.

Be aware that the state, whether this is our nation or individual state itself, is seeking increasing control over the instruction of all children—including our own. One sees little prospect of this changing. We will face growing problems, too, in this regard. All this represents one more sign of the nearness of the end of time.