Charismatics Seem To Lay Hands On Anyone Who Comes Up To Them
How many of you have seen a charismatic preacher, speaker, or been to some charismatic event where everyone is laying their hands on everyone. That means putting your hands on the person’s body. It could be anywhere like their head, shoulder, back, arm. Sometimes there is a chain, or train of hands connected to bodies in a large group which is often funny to see. They seem to hold no discretion on who they lay hands on. In my experience charismatics do this in order to transfer power from the Holy Spirit into, or onto another person. This could be for a variety of reasons such as miraculous healing, spirit empowerment, giving someone an ecstatic experience such as “slain in the spirit,” giving people miraculous tongues, or reading their minds, or actually transferring the Holy Spirit into someone for conversion. Charismatics do not all hold to every idea here but this is just a list of random reasons that do occur from people professing to be charismatics and from what have personally observed in real life.
In the bible, the laying on of hands was not some mystical power transfer, but simply a sign of confirmation. When the term “laying on of hands” is used it is directly related to a confirmation by one church member of authority giving his blessing or God’s choice for someone to act in the role of an important position, or travel on some mission. It is nothing more than a symbol. An example is Acts 13:3, “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” Another is Acts 6:6, “These they set before the Apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.” The Apostles hands did not give powers to someone, and the physical act of hands did not give special authority or blessings either. It was actually God Himself who gave any power or confirmation on someone, yet it was the hands that symbolized this working of God in people. It is much like baptism. Baptism does not actually cause your sins to be washed away for that would be works, but it is a symbol of going into the grave and dying to self and being raised up to life in Christ clean and new (Colossians 2:12). It is a confession as well to the church that you hold to the faith and are repentant and regenerated by God. The laying on of hands is a symbol and ritual that God uses for identification purposes on church members.
The books of 1 and 2 Timothy teach about the ways of running a church properly and certain expectations a pastor must have. Paul mentions the laying on of hands in 2 Timothy 2:6 which says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands.” Paul was reminding Timothy that he gave him pastoral authority and blessings by God symbolized through the laying on of his hands. 1 Timothy 4:14 is another convincing example of this, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.” So apparently, the early church would have its elders lay hands on someone to symbolize to the church their acceptance and authority to lead. The gift Paul was speaking about was the ability to teach, preach, and lead as a pastor. Nothing else is mentioned as a gift in these contexts. So one cannot use such verses to promote the idea that ecstatic experiences, babbling tongues, the Holy Spirit transferred, or special “knowledge” is given through the hands.
In other circumstances when people were healed there were times when physical touch was involved. An example is Acts 2:28 where Paul put his hands on someone and healed him. Yes, Christ touched people’s body and healed their injuries and sicknesses. Yes, Apostles also did, but that does not mean the “laying on of the hands” does this. There is a difference between miraculous healing actions in the bible and the laying on of hands.
The examples in Acts previously stated above about sending people off also confirm this, yet there is one passage that says “The Holy Spirit was given by the laying on of hands” in Acts chapter 8. The story is about Peter and John finding out a group of people did not receive the Holy Spirit. The people were Samaritans who had just recently accepted the message of Jesus Christ from Philip. Before this time the Holy Spirit only came down on the Jews in Acts 2. Now it was the Samaritans turn, and this sign of the Holy Spirit was given as confirmation that even Samaritans can be saved and come to salvation in God. So Peter and John laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. This occurrence of the baptism in the Spirit was a sign to the Jews that even Samaritans, half-breed Jews previously viewed as impure, were also part of the kingdom of God. During this event there was a sorcerer named Simon who saw that “the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of hands” (Acts 8:18). He assumed it was a power he could buy. But Peter harshly rebuked him and told him he hopes his silver will be destroyed with him for assuming the gift of God (salvation, or Apostolic authority) could be obtained by money. These events were rare occurrences and not the norm of how people were saved, and after the stories in Acts no mention of such activity is made in the Bible. These were specific events just like what happened at Pentecostal which never happened again in history.
To prove the point that the Holy Spirit is not supernaturally transferred (for salvific, or non-salvific power purposes) by physically laying hands on people one should look at Acts 10:44-45,
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded, because the Gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.“
The Holy Spirit came down while Peter was speaking and was not laying his hands on them. So in Acts 8 the laying on of hands occurred, obviously as a symbol to recognize Samaritans, and in this case in chapter 10 the hands were not necessary as the Spirit chose to go into Gentiles who believed. This was another instance of recognition that not only Jews could be saved, but others as well (Samaritans in chapter 8, and now Gentiles in chapter 10.) They laying on of hands was not necessary.
The point this article is making is that the laying on of hands is not a magic power, or some super ability of miraculous nature that causes healing, signs, words of knowledge-fortune telling style, or transferring the Holy Spirit for ecstatic experiences or giving salvation to someone. It is purely a symbol God commands to be used for church leadership. That being said the charismatics are guilty of misusing this symbol of blessing and authority by laying their hands on anyone all the time. How often have you seen charismatics putting their hands on everyone’s head who walks up to them at some “worship meeting” or on the streets to people who most likely are not even saved? And there is no way to evaluate their salvation.
Paul commands Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:22, “Don’t be too quick to lay hands on anyone, and don’t share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” Charismatics constantly violate this command and lay their hands on random people all the time as if it’s some powerful miracle ritual to cause the Holy Spirit to do something. An example of this violation is Mattie Montgomery from the evangelical, metalcore band For Today, preaching in the rain and laying his hands on anyone he sees who happens to be standing there (in the video below), saying things such as “I declare that your sins are forgiven in the name of Jesus!” while he pats people’s heads. He also says, “Holy Spirit take possession of every body here!” and “Receive the Holy Spirit! Receive the Holy Spirit!” patting each kid on the head. He believes he is giving people a “fresh touch from God.” This is clearly violating the command that one should not be “too quick to lay hands on anyone.” How can he know someone is saved who is standing there? Does he have some super power of knowledge from God that typical Christians do not have? Where was the open repentance by anyone in the crowd?
The symbol of church leadership confirmation and blessings are being abused. There is no doubt men like Montgomery are being sincere in their behavior and genuinely care about these people, but they are still wrong and contradicting the correct biblical teaching of how sins are forgiven and people receive the Holy Spirit as well as abusing the sign of authority that is the laying on of hands“. People will see that some kid had some charismatic preacher lay his hands on his head, and will thus assume this kid had a religious experience and is now somehow a Christian with the Holy Spirit. Yet, that kid could still be just as unregenerate and sinful and unrepentant as he was before he met that charismatic preacher. This totally mocks the laying on of hands that the bible teaches and profanes the Holy Spirit and such behavior should not occur in bible believing, Christ-centered churches or by individual Christians on the streets. The charismatic who would disagree with this article has yet to properly interpret the bible and explain why he is using his hands in such a way when Timothy was strictly warned by Paul not to do the very thing he is doing.