The Corinthian Catastrophe, by George E. Gardiner
When people leave their religious traditions, there can be some bitterness in the process of trying to justify their change and negatively paint what they may perceive as wasted years following the wrong beliefs . This particular book is written by someone who left the Charismatic movement, famed for its speaking of tongues, and one can tell that the author is still bitter about the experience. One wonders if it was wise to give the author a platform to vent his spleen out on his former coreligionists under the guise of writing yet another book about 1 Corinthians . To be sure, this book is not quite as edifying as it should be, and indeed is not filled with the sort of patient if frustrated love that Paul had when writing his own troubled congregation in Corinth. As a writer who frequently vents frustrations in my writing, I can understand how the author wanted to cope with his anger by writing, and that having changed his beliefs he wished to warn others about the beliefs he had held for so long, but this book does not make for a pleasant read. When people vent their spleen, it does not make for the most enjoyable material to read and examine, after all.
The contents of this book are organized somewhat haphazardly, based on, it would appear, the author’s own emotional state rather than a systematic review of the book and its materials. This short book of just over 50 pages has a few chapters, starting with a personal introduction of the author and his background, a discussion of Corinth and its church, of the correction of the Spirit, of what happens when love controls (something the author appears to know little about, as the spirit of love and charity is nowhere to be found in this volume), of various matters of what Paul said and the sign of the tongues, and then a discussion of what is going on in Corinth. The author shows pessimism that the Church in Corinth endured at all, although we know at least a generation after Paul that there was a church that served as the audience of a letter from someone named Clement. Overall the author has plenty of axes to grind, but his most consistent point is that the speaking of tongues was of comprehensible languages (which I agree with upon a fair reading of Acts) and that the sign was for unbelievers as Paul says, rather than a way to draw attention to the supposed spiritual state of the individual believer.
Besides our own shared problems with possible demon possession as well as doctrinal error related to spiritual enthusiasm among the Charismatics, there is little else that I have agreement with from this author. The fact that the author still believes in the importance of unbiblical doctrines as a dividing line between those the author considers to be Christians and those he does not shows that the author has not gained as much understanding about God’s ways as he may have thought. He certainly does not appear to regard the Holy Days with the proper degree of respect. Nor does the author appear to show love to his former brethren, and one cannot imagine him writing as Paul did in his letter to the Romans that he could wish himself accursed so that his former brethren could enter into salvation. No hint of that love finds itself here, only a self-righteous condemnation of those who the author used to fellowship with for beliefs that they once shared. Now that is a Corinthian catastrophe indeed. It is to be deeply doubted whether it was wise for a publisher to let this author demonstrate his lack of love for his former brethren in the way that they did. This book shows no close resemblance to anything Christian, even if it warns against something that is deeply troubled. One can hate evil without hating fallen sinners and people under various delusions and self-deceptions, like the author himself.
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