I Give You Authority Charles Kraft Perth 2007
The following comments are not meant in any way to impugn the character, motives or personal godliness of Charles Kraft as a person and Christian. There is no doubt about this brother’s warmth, sincerity and love for Christ.
The comments arise out of a conviction that dimensions of his methodology and teachings are sub – biblical and potentially damaging. To be fair, it needs to be noted that these observations are based on only the first three sessions of his conference.
However, when a man speaks about demons leaving Christians and being placed by angels in spiritual boxes (if they do not “defect”) and warned that if they do not obey they will have their “arms” or “legs” chopped off, and all this without appeal to the testimony of scripture, something must be said to protect the flock of God (Acts 20:28). I think we are already witnessing the influence of “deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Tim 4:1).
In Charles Kraft’s own words, what I believe is needed is a “paradigm shift”. This paradigm is not his earlier arid Evangelicalism, not his current Charismatic methodology; the only possible one for a Christian, the life of Christ.
What is the Locus of Authority?
In the words of another (Steve Clarke), many contemporary ministers are pragmatic phenomenologists. By this he meant that they base their ministry on “what works” as observed in the course of their personal experience. This is of course quite “post- modern” and culturally attractive.
From my present and past observations of Charles in conference (I saw him in Brisbane in 1987), this description fits his methodology. Instead of centering on the biblical testimony of the work of Christ, he narrates details of his own personal journey as foundational to his ministry. In this he follows the approach of his stated mentor, John Wimber. Wimber’s meetings inPerth were characterised by “revival phenomena” (laughing, shaking etc.) without revival, and in some instances led to psychological trauma. The objections raised against Wimber, both theological and psychological, apply to Chuck Kraft, even if less dramatically e.g. auto –suggestion, talking up mood states.
In other words, the locus or centre of authority has shifted from the testimony of Jesus (Rev 19:10) to the ministry practitioner.
What we have been observing is an exposition of private subjective truth. In my opinion, Kraft’s method is an expression of his own experience. For instance, his emphasis on self love e.g. self- forgiveness is grounded in his own personal transformation and not the Bible.
Orthodox Christianity, in all forms, has focused on an exposition of public truth, in this case the historical record of the life of Jesus (1 Cor 15:1- 3). Truth is found in the life of Christ (John1:17; 14:6; Eph4:21), truth is a person rather than a personal experience.
Inner Healing or Salvation History?
1. Healing the Memories
Framework: a personal experience involving Jesus
The “healing of the memories” method used by Charles Kraft has been practiced in prayer ministry circles for several decades. Its strengths include personal attention to a wounded individual and the opportunity to receive God’s detailed compassion through spiritual gifts.
The central fallacy of the method is that it attempts to bring/see/visualise Jesus as being present at the key traumatic events in the past life of the counselee. Current emotional affectivity, such as anger or grief, triggers recall of past painful and debilitating memories. The recognition of the presence of Jesus in past traumas provokes a healing realisation that one did not suffer alone, unwanted etc. The Spirit’s role is to take us back to see Jesus was there with us. In the DVD shown on 24.8.07 Kraft did not offer any biblical justification for this procedure.
The centre of attention is the experiencing subject (Christian), from their conception, gestation and ongoing development. The object of faith is feeling the truth (a constant refrain of the DVD, “how does that feel”) of Christ’s presence with us in the past or now.
2. Saving History
In biblical thought, what we remember is God’s remembering not to remember our sin (Jer 30:34). This invokes the reality of his covenant loyalty in abolishing guilt and shame. The Spirit and the Word provoke us to see ourselves through faith, not by picture or feeling, as being present in the great saving events.
The key example of this principle is the covenant renewal ceremony of the Lord’s Supper. The word “remembrance” (anamnesin 1 Cor 11:24f) echoes Exodus12:14 which institutes the Passover as a “memorial day”. “Remembrance” reactualises what is remembered. We are there, rather than the reverse. This is dramatically exemplified in the speeches of Moses in Deuteronomy, where the descendants of those who came out of Egypt and died in the wilderness are addressed as if they were historically present at the exodus (Deut 1:6,7, 8, 9 etc.).
In the New Testament, we are taken back to the life of Jesus, rather than him coming forward to us. When Paul says, “we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died” (2 Cor5:14), he sees us as objectively present in Christ and dying in him (Rom 6:6 ff. etc.). The dominant action is God to humanity, not humanity to God. This makes biblical memory objective rather than subjective in its basis. Acts of mental recall are involved but through them one enters into the sacred space – time of salvation history.
Emotional affectivity is a trigger used by the Spirit to take us back to Jesus work for us. Earlier events in our life, such as traumas have been taken already into the saving action of God.
Instead of being taken back to our personal conception etc, the New Testament takes us back to the conception, development and life history of Jesus in the Gospels, all of which cover, in a substitutionary sense, the corresponding periods of our lives. For instance, God was pleased to will our conception because we were included in his will that Jesus be conceived, and so on. To miss this understanding is to leave us to the vagaries of our own subjectivity. “Faith is the experience of being delivered from experience.” (Luther).
The centre of attention is still an experiencing human subject, but this subject is not me or you but what Jesus experienced in our place! We see by revelation of the Spirit through the applied Word (this may include prophecy, vision, dream etc.) the truth of Jesus’ identification and deliverance of us through the circumstances of his life journey. That includes his rejection, betrayal, suffering, abuse,death etc. The object of faith is the work of Christ for me (I am really included).
God is a God of order, not confusion (1 Cor14:33). I offer this very brief reflection in the hope of helping the people of God grow in the authority of Christ by being alert to the deceptions of the evil one, all of which are aimed at de – centering us from Jesus as the sole object of faith .