Sunday, November 27, 2005

What is a Reformed Charismatic?

Once again Adrian Warnock poses the question, what is a reformed charismatic? - - its a fascinating concept and one that I have thought about for many years now.

My first somewhat tongue-in-cheek reply would be that a reformed charismatic is a "frustrated Christian". Why do I say that? Because Ern Baxter was the first man I have heard to speak of the "tension" that exists between the two. I haven't heard many modern speakers, writers or pastors use that term often. But he used a very vivid analogy there in that sermon that demonstrated how so easily it is to slip into either "excess" - either bibliology or pneumatic excess. And I have seen that again and again in my own life. I see 'charismaniacs' charging around claiming this that and the other, so I drop the whole thing and hide in my Spurgeon's, Owen's, Goodwin's and MacArthur's (yes I do have a few of his books!). Then I read something harsh and judgemental against charismatics and it irks me and so off I trot to my Rick Joyners, and Cindy Jacobs. Yet its not just in personal testimony that I see the frustration. Take R T Kendall . I don't think I've ever seen someone strive to hold the tension of Word and Spirit harder, yet he admitted in his autobiography that he left Westminster Chapel, a frustrated man, because the revival he longed for never came. Oh the frustration!! What is a reformed charismatic Adrian? He's a frustrated person!!

I think my second thought is that a reformed charismatic sees the "irreconcilable" as "destined for each other". What do I mean by that? Well I think Terry Virgo hit the nail exactly on the head in one of the interviews he gave on God TV.
On being asked about being a "reformed charismatic" - a term by the way, he was very happy to claim, he said that he felt that the reformed doctrines of the faith and charismatic experience "belonged together". So when we read the Puritans or the Great Reformers, we don't find a problem with believing in the power and wonder and glory of the manifestation of the Spirit. Or as Adrian Warnock put it much better:

"The charismatics believe in a God who is alive and acts today. We believe in a God who wants a personal relationship with his followers. Who hears prayers. Who reveals himself. Who pours out his love into our hearts. Who never changes and is the same God of the bible today. We believe that receiving the Holy Spirit is a conscious real experience. We believe that this experience of the Spirit is one of the major ways that God gives us assurance that we are saved.". It isn't in Spurgeon or Owen or Goodwin or Lloyd-Jones that I start squirming. A reformed charismatic reads the words of the apostle Paul; "Not in Word only ...".

I guess above all the ultimate end for the reformed charismatic is that they believe in what Grudem calls the "active Presence of God". Or in other words a God who is present in this world - here and now - by His Holy Spirit. It is interesting reading the "Four Views" book on Signs, Wonders and Miracles that Grudem edited: - Grudem brought a cessationist, an open-but-cautious, a Third Waver and a Pentecostal together for massive talks on all of these matters and they disagreed on many things - but Grudem concluded that the one thing we are all united on is that; we long for the Presence of God. What are we without it?!

It's encouraging that Dr Warnock writes that he is 'stumbling towards a theology' - that gives me hope if the greatest minds still haven't quite got it sussed yet!! Maybe that's why Ern Baxter called it a "tension".

So ... what part of the tension is winning in me at the moment??!! Well ... put it this way, the latest book that I have just finished reading is Rick Joyner's; "The Torch and the Sword". It's kind of interesting. I'm going to review it later on tonight if the shift stays as quiet as it is at the moment. Hee hee.

1 comment:

Ariana Helvie said...

I can relate so much to this tension!! As much off the wall stuff as happens in many charismatic communities, I can't turn my back on the Holy Spirit--because He's GOD! I also can't read the Scriptures in good conscience and believe that the gifts have ceased. I can't. The Holy Spirit hasn't just stopped being the Holy Spirit. But your description of running back and forth between reformed and charismatic teachers---how I can relate! I love sound doctrine--but we must love the God around which our doctrine revolves INFINITELY more! Thank you so much for expressing this!