Corismatic Christianity (Corinthianism)
Robert Wurtz II
And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:18-21)
Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. (Acts 26:19–21 NKJV)
In Acts 26, Paul had gone before Agrippa to give an account of himself and his ministry. He left Ephesus in Acts 20, and now the prophesies of trouble are coming to pass. During this inquiry, Paul tells Agrippa “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” We must consider this statement in order to appreciate fully the rest of his answer. Paul, the man who was responsible for spreading the Gospel more than anyone else, was acting under direct orders from heaven. This is highly significant. Paul was simply doing what he had been told to do.
A lot has been preached and written about Paul and his missionary journeys; however, rarely is this passage in Acts 26 focused upon. In fact, almost everything under the sun has been talked about concerning Paul’s ministry, except this essential fact. He is offering us insight into exactly what he preached on his missionary journeys. He states plainly and in clear conscience, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” “Works befitting repentance” implies “evidence of repentance.” To use an old cliche, if we were charged in court for having repented of our sins, would there be enough evidence for a conviction?
What was the message Paul brought first as he traveled? It was a very simple, but highly unpopular message. In fact, it is one that historians would love to scratch out of the history books. Nevertheless, we have the biblical record. It has been almost 2000 years now. The message has not changed. However, turn on the Christian Television or the radio and try to find this simple message. After all, most claim they are “reaching the world for Jesus” or “taking the Gospel to the far flung corners of the globe.” What has been done with, “Repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance”?
According to our passage in Acts 20, What did Paul preach from the first day he came to Asia? What did he proclaim and teach publicly and from house to house? In his own words, “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” He reminded the Ephesians, who already knew what he had preached, because grievous wolves and politicians were coming to destroy the flock. Wolves and politicians are not humble, nor do they generally preach repentance. Nevertheless, Paul preached in humility and in tears the same basic repentance message as John the Baptist. Why? Because repentance and faith are the first steps in our journey with the Lord. They are what every person must do to prepare a straight path into themselves for the Lord to come in. If it was not necessary, God would not have anointed John the Baptist to preach it and commanded Paul on the road to Demascus to proclaim it. This is as clear as anything.
Prepared to Preach
No minister gets famous by preaching repentance and faith. It was true in Paul’s day, and it is true today. What did he say? For these reasons, the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Clearly, Paul meant to say that the Jews did not like the message of repentance and faith. Had he not meant it, he would have said something else. Herod beheaded John the Baptist, and the Jews tried on multiple occasions to kill Paul. This is the consequence of preaching Heaven’s Gospel. To go on ignoring this reality is to continue to be part of the problem rather than the solution.
Although early Pentecostalism was born in the fires of the Wesleyian Holiness Revivals, in modern times, we have a wholesale “Corinthian” phenomenon going on in Full Gospel realms. We have multitudes who have skipped over repentance and holiness, and moved directly to faith and the gifts of the Spirit. We ought to pause and give that some serious thought. There is a proud Corinthian self-centeredness that glorifies the individual and their “giftings” rather than focusing on the Body of Christ as a unit. I have come up with a word for this by combining Charismatic and Corinthian to get “Corismatic.” A Corismatic is a person who never truly repented of the sins, brought forth fruits worthy of repentance, but went straight for the gifts of the Spirit. This is why so much of the Corinthian money grubbing, proud politics, alcoholism, and sexual scandal has plagued many full gospel ministries in the last 60 years. We received direct orders from Heaven through Paul, but the message of repentance is MIA.
It is a hard saying, but I frequently wonder if God is going to wait for this entire generation to die off so He can raise up a generation that will preach the Gospel as in the beginning? He patiently did things like this under the Old Covenant. He waited out many decades of bad kings to set a good one on the throne. Nevertheless, I know it is a radical question, but we have a radical problem. I believe it is a question that all the devils in hell cringe to hear. Demons don’t care if we preach all of our pet doctrines and favorite subjects, as long as we preach a repentance-less and impotent Gospel that produces millions of nominal Christians. I believe the devil would anoint much of the evangelistic preaching that goes on today. Why? Because most of it does little more than ensure a person their place in heaven and does nothing to bring about repentance and true new birth.
I have to ask, where would we be today if our methods had been used in the book of Acts? Would there have ever been a Church at all? What if Paul had been disobedient to the Heavenly Vision? What if Peter used similar evangelistic methods as are used in modern times? Would thousands have ever been added to the church? What if Philip would have led the Ethopian Eunuch in a repeatable prayer or had him sign a pledge card? God help us. God open our eyes to this catastrophic blindness in which the blind are leading the blind by the millions into the ditch. Can a person who never repented preach repentance? Can a person who at no time brought forth evidence of repentance show someone else how to do it? How can a person who was never truly born again lead a person into a genuine born again experience?
The Message of Mar’s Hill
A lot has been said about Mar’s Hill. Ministries named after Mar’s Hill. What was Mar’s Hill really all about? Perhaps we can close this entry by simply allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to us. This is the message that we desperately need in this crisis hour. Once we get this right, we can move on to the next thing; but not until then. Again, what did God, through the mouth of Paul tell the people at Mar’s Hill?
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30–31 NKJV)