Dan Juster

Tikkun International & Restoration From Zion
"I hope that in the future we will see a partnership of charismatic scholars and revelatory, revivalist, prophetic teachers."

Revival Leaders Sometimes Write Theology

When God moves in powerful supernatural ways and when people experience revival, revival leaders often write theology - sometimes they write good theology and sometimes they write bad theology. If they write wrongly and the matter is minor, it may be of little consequence. But sometimes, if they write on a significant subject, bad theology can lead to damaging and harmful consequences.

When I moved to Beth Messiah Congregation in 1978, I was increasingly exposed to the "wild and woolly" charismatic world. I mainly refer here to a world that was not part of the classic Pentecostal world which had by that time developed very clear theological parameters (some of which, by the way, I do accept and some I do not. For example, most held the view that the rapture of the Church takes place before the tribulation).

I found myself regularly offended by what I knew to be wrong interpretations of the Bible. One time, a man I was discipling, Asher Intrater, raised a difficult question. He asked whether I had noticed that many who were concerned about an accurate scholarly interpretation of the text demonstrated little in the power of God, while those who demonstrated that power did not concern themselves with such accuracy. I later concluded that the explanation for this was not our concern to handle the texts of the Bible carefully, but the Greek influence and mind set of those who are academics.

How Interested is God in Accurate Theology?

My ongoing concern about bad theology and demonic influence did not abate and is reflected in my book The Dynamics of Spiritual Deception. For seven years, Dr. Mike Brown was part of our ministry. He is a very trustworthy scholar. We discussed the relationship between good theology and the power of the Spirit at length. We both concluded that God is most interested in hearts that are passionate towards Him and moves in power for such people, even though they may make many theological errors. We decided that we would not let our desire for theological accuracy steal the blessing of God's miraculous moves of the Holy Spirit. Of course, we did not include those who were in heresy by historical definition as a place to recognize the blessing of the move of the Spirit.

The Dangers of Bad Theology

However, I also found that over time serious theological errors would lead to very negative consequences. Bad theology does have bad effects over the long haul and can later lead to heresy and destruction. For example, I have seen books declaring that the Old Testament is irrelevant to believers, that the Old Testament can no longer be a basis for understanding God and much more. People have used the Bible to teach that if a person is not healed, it is always their fault. Bad theology can easily lead to bad leadership, bad practice and bad relationships. These in turn can result in abuse, oppression, heresy and even cultic behavior.

Using Good Scholars to Vet Prophetic Teachers

Recently I read Craig Keener's book Spirit Hermeneutics. Dr. Keener is passionately committed to revival, to the moves of the Holy Spirit and to his gifts and power. He is also one of today's top biblical scholars. He proposes that those who write books containing theological elements should have them evaluated by those with scholarly ability who are open to the Spirit but can correct error. This is not to adjust every little point, but to be sure that nothing of great significance is out of balance. This is an important step, since there is much writing today writing that contains serious errors and cries out for correction.

I can use Asher Intrater to show how this works. Asher earned degrees from Harvard, our Bible school in Maryland and Baltimore Hebrew College. Yet Asher is not given to reading scholarly books. He pursues the Word and seeks the Spirit for revelatory understanding. He is given great and piercing understanding. Then Asher looks to Ariel Blumenthal and I to evaluate and offer corrections to his books before publication. Both of us have had more theological education on a graduate level than Asher. Usually there is little to correct, but sometimes we are able to provide helpful input.

If this vetting process was the norm, the Body of Believers would be saved from the negative consequences that come from uncritically published work. I hope that in the future we will see a partnership of charismatic scholars and revelatory, revivalist, prophetic teachers.

By Daniel Juster
Dan Juster is on the board of Tikkun International and oversees the Tikkun America network of congregations. Donate to Restoration from Zion.
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06:49 30Jul17 Elhanan -
Agreed. But one problem I find among "charismatics" is that few understand the difference between the God-given imagination (with which I work in my artistic profession) and the visons etc., given by God - often assuming every thought or image in their mind is "supernatural" from God. Also, many confuse loud repetitious music for the spirit of God, which can lead to great deceptions. We are given a sound mind as a gift, and are expected to use it. These are very deceptive times, and discernment is of utmost importance, IMHO.

14:02 30Jul17 Raymond E Wiggins Sr. -
A great word of exhortation and an excellent example of mutual "synergy," as Asher would say, being shared among the stewards of God (1 Corinthians 4:1-5)! This kind of "vetting process," it seems to me, should be the "norm" throughout the Body of Christ! Setting the "protocol" of each of our gift manifestations, by the commandment of the Lord, Paul once wrote "let the other judge," not only our writings,as you suggest, but also our spoken utterances in the assemblies (1 Corinthians 14:29,37)! We all need "checks and balances" in ministering our gifts the one to the other! Judging my own writings, I have discovered both "haha moments" of my own vain imaginations, thinking that I heard from God and true revelatory "aha moments" of the "Day Star" (2 Peter 1:19)! I am always refreshed by this ministry confirming and/or correcting my own!

  -- Dr Juster replies: This is a good point. Why do we think that prophecy should be judged and there be no vetting for theological error in writing books? As you say, it would apply equally to both.

16:00 30Jul17 Edrey David Brito Aguilera -
I think it is very important. The supernatural moves in Messianic Jewish Kehilot. Rab Shaul spoke about that. I am looking for the power of Adonai too.

18:00 30Jul17 Rosaleen -
Thank you so much for this extremely helpful message. This correction in bad theological thought has been long needed. I have found that the book, "Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek" by Thorleif Boman to be very enlightening in some of my early studies. It is good that TIKKUN is doing this since you are trusted by so many of us. Our calling now is to pray for the truth to be a beacon of light for all that are seeking the truth. The timing of this message is perfect.

18:24 30Jul17 John Castle -
I'm not sure why Elhanan mentioned music in his note. I can't hear a note of music in these articles. However, I'll take the time to say that Biblical ministries of all stripes, be they Messianic or Evangelicals, have forgotten some fundamentals of music. The notes carry the words. The music is supposed to portray the words so the words can minister to the need. Like a fine portrait, the frame directs my eyes to the art, not vice versa. In oh so many congregations I can't hear the words. The words can't minister to me because the words are drowned out by the frame.

  -- Dr Juster replies: So true, so true!

05:35 31Jul17 Philip Latham -
In the end, when we face God's judgement, He will not be concerned whether our theology has been sound or not; He will look at our hearts. Did we wholeheartedly love the Lord Jesus Christ and do our utmost to walk in His way?

12:09 31Jul17 Fr. Nicholas A. Marziani, D.Min. -
Very good points here. I would only add that sometimes theology is also written in a fictional vein, especially historical or prophetic fiction. They, too, must be evaluated by capable scholars. One author I regard highly is Catholic Canadian novelist, Michael O'Brien, whose latest title, "Elijah in Jerusalem" is a gem (as was its prequel, "Father Elijah"). P.S. The historic Church's process of granting - or withholding - the Imprimatur is a good example of theological vetting for non-fiction works in the larger church.

15:50 04Aug17 Rev Elijah Peters -
If this vetting process was the norm, the Body of Believers from the negative consequences that come from uncritically published work. I hope that in the future we will see partnershp of charistmatic scholars and revelatory, revivalist, prophetic teachers.

21:41 14Aug17 Jeff Stath -
I agree that all scripture must be filtered with the lense of the Holy Spirit. The spirit will always reveal truth. The problem I see is that some of those that have much invested in theological education and specific beliefs, if confronted with truth, will reject it because they will have to admit that they were in error. With higher credentials sometimes comes pride ...

  -- Dr Juster replies: This is true. Keener is the best on these issues.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Asher Intrater: Trouble Ahead
David Shishkoff: Glory, Mercy and the Womb
Yevgeni Stanukevich: Nesher - Eagle Project 2017
Eitan Shishkoff: Fanning the Flame ... or Just Getting By?
Tiferet Yeshua Congregation: Supernatural Healings on the Streets of Tel Aviv
Cody Archer: "Apostle" in Original Context