I have to give a disclaimer before I pen another word - to associate with someone, DOESN'T MEAN that you agree with or endorse everything that person/tribe teaches or believes. Unity in the Body of Christ doesn't depend upon theological homogeneity. I know people who believe almost exactly alike in terms of their doctrine and yet who are deeply divided. I know others whose doctrines are vastly different and who demonstrate a unity that can only be explained supernaturally. I can say personally that I find this to be very much the case in my own life and experience.
Now, rewind a few years. I was very critical of the brand of Pentecostalism that was seen on our television screens. Funny thing was, I never watched these men (and women). I had never read their books. I had never gone to their conferences. Of course not - they were from a 'despised' tribe - we had lots of negative descriptions for these people. "Health and Wealth", "Name it and claim it", etc. I was sure that these people were all heretics. On MANY OCCASIONS, I actual told people that these people were 'heretics'.
One day the Lord asked me a question. Now I've never to this day heard the 'audible voice of God'. This question came to me as a crystal clear impression. The Lord asked me, "How would you like it if someone was calling you a heretic who 1) had never met you 2) had never read any of your books (if in fact I had written one) and 3) or had never watched you minister"?
This is when the whole "do unto others" Scripture always pops into our minds (God speaking again). Of course, I told the Lord that I wouldn't like it. But here I was doing just that. I was a theological racist. I was unrighteously judging a whole group of people that I knew nothing about. And as is ALWAYS the case, people end up judging the 'worst examples' in a tribe (or focusing in on a mistake/or mistakes they have made).
So what did I do? First of all, I read a couple of books by the man at the time that I had pegged/characterized as "Public Heretic #1" - Benny Hinn. I read Good Morning Holy Spirit and The Anointing. I didn't find any heresy! What a surprise! In fact, I was deeply challenged by the depth of this man's relationship with God. Secondly, I went to try and meet him personally. This is easier said than done, but in the end I was able to spend a number of hours watching him tape his television show. I didn't hear anything heretical there either.
To this day, I don't really identify with the "tribe" that Benny Hinn would be a part of. I don't follow his ministry. I've never gone to any of his events/conferences. The exercise the Lord had me do was not about changing my tribe - it was about dealing with major heart issues that I had (and still have all-too-often) towards people from another Kingdom tribe.
Why am I even writing about this today? It is because, Oral Roberts was promoted to glory today. He was another one of those who I had misrepresented and even slandered - again knowing NOTHING about his life and ministry. When I began to learn about his amazing life - especially the ministry the Lord gave him in the 1950's, I was absolutely astonished! Why hadn't ANY of my theological mentors told me about what the Lord did IN AMERICA in the 10-year period from about 1947-1957? Some of you reading this might be wondering yourselves what I am even referring to? Basically, God was visiting our nation with notable (New Testament quality) signs, wonders and miracles through the lives and ministries of men like Oral Roberts - and I had never heard a thing. Why? Didn't happen in my tribe! (or maybe more importantly, THROUGH my tribe). That is another major indication of theological racism - if you struggle to acknowledge God using other tribes (other than your own).
It was about 5 years ago now, but I had the honor to meet Oral Roberts one Saturday morning personally - we had breakfast with he and his wife Evelyn in their home. I went to honor someone who came from a tribe that my tribe persecuted (when we slander and misrepresent people's theology it is persecution). That morning, the Lord gave me a gift. At one point, after I prayed for Oral, who had had a bad night (his health wasn't that good), he looked at me. Strength entered his frail 86 year-old body. He said, "Young man, give me your hands". I knew at that point, that I was about to receive something. All I can say is that power (the greek word for this power is 'dunamis') came into my hands. Paul wrote to Timothy instructing him NOT TO NEGLECT the gift(s) that were given through the laying on of hands (1 Tim. 4:14 / 2 Tim. 1:6). My goal has always been not to neglect what God imparted to me that morning - a gift I received through a member of another tribe.