Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Case for being a Charismatic!!

Just found this excellent post on Sam Storm's blog and it's worth a read. It shows what happens when theology and academics are used in the right way to defend what we believe in with regards to life in the Spirit! I must apologise ... he called it "Case for Continuationism" but as I mentioned before, I don't really like that word. I think it's one step away from "functional cessationism". So Dr Storms begins with 12 bad reasons for being a cessationist. Most of them are good but for obvious reasons I took umbridge with this one;

"... a fourth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the belief that to embrace the validity of all spiritual gifts today requires that one embrace classical Pentecostalism and its belief in Spirit-baptism as separate from and subsequent to conversion, as well as their doctrine that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of having experienced this Spirit-baptism".

There's nothing wrong with classical Pentecostalism and it's belief in Spirit-baptism as seperate from and subsequent to conversion! Just had to state that for the record. This comment kind of reiterates my concern that the Third Wave position is a sort of mediating go-between in an attempt to make the gifts of the Spirit more acceptable to cessationists.

This next point was excellent;

"A sixth bad reason for being a Cessationist is the fear that to acknowledge the validity today of revelatory gifts such as prophecy and word of knowledge would necessarily undermine the finality and sufficiency of Holy Scripture".

I am so grateful to men like Wayne Grudem, Storms himself and Terry Virgo who have devoted a lot of time to proving why a belief in the revelatory gifts DOES NOT undermine the finality and sufficiency of Scripture. And just because we believe in the revelatory gifts as stated in Scripture and accept that as the Scripture says, God can and will speak to His people outside of, but never in contradiction to His Word, that we are moving areas outside of the canon of Scripture. We seek the gifts of the Spirit because 1 Corinthians 14:1 commands us to. Not because we just fancy it.

This next point is key:

"Eleventh, it is a bad reason to be a Cessationist because of the absence of good experiences with spiritual gifts and the often fanatical excess of certain TV evangelists and some of those involved in the Word of Faith or Prosperity Gospel movements (as well as the anti-intellectualism often found in those movements)".

It is my suspicion and fear that many cessationists and ex-charismatics believe the gifts of the Spirit have ceased with the closing of the canon for this reason alone. I've read cessationist book after cessationist blog and without fail you will find after a few paragraphs, "Well I heard Benny Hinn did this ... you won't believe what I heard Kenneth Copeland said ... did you know about the Tortilla Lady that John MacArthur heard about?". I encourage everyone to listen to this podcast of Jesse's. He deals very well with this issue and suggests that using this reason to be a cessationist is to be guilty of the same experientialism as charismatics who say "I did it because it felt good".

Then the 12 good reasons for being a continuationist. The first one is excellent;

"The first good reason for being a Continuationist is the 12 bad reasons for being a Cessationist".

Need more be said? The second reason is worthy of note as well;

"A second good reason for being a Continuationist is the consistent, indeed pervasive, and altogether positive presence throughout the NT of all spiritual gifts".

Another reason that Storms didn't actually cite as a bad one for being a cessationist but one I have heard regularly and even recently is; "Well you only find the gifts of the Spirit in Acts and 1 Corinthians 12-14 - it isn't anywhere else much in the New Testament". Not true! As Dr Storms states, there is an altogether positive presence THROUGHOUT the New Testament of all spiritual gifts. My favourite example of this is:

"This command I entrust to you ... in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that BY THEM you fight the good fight" - 1 Timothy 1:18 (NASB).

By what? By the prophecies made concerning you. The suggestion being if you don't have prophecies made concerning you, or you don't believe such prophecies exist, your fight of faith could be compromised.

Reason 10 is very challenging to me;

"A tenth good reason for being a Continuationist is because the Holy Spirit in Christ is the Holy Spirit in Christians. We are indwelt, anointed, filled, and empowered by the same Spirit as was Jesus. His ministry is (with certain obvious limitations) the model for our ministry (cf. Acts 10:38)".

We mustn't forget that while Jesus was 100% God, He was and is still 100% man (as Luke pointed out so well). His ministry is to be something of a model for ours. "Greater things shall you do". And finally of course;

"The twelfth and final good reason for being a Continuationist is the testimony throughout most of church history concerning the operation of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit".

Amen! So let's continue to earnestly seek them and pursue them (especially prophecy) for the building up of our churches. Scott was speaking to me recently about our hopes for going to Brighton and he said he would really love to be given a spiritual gift and asked me what one to pray for and ask for. I said that if he asked for the gift of prophecy he would be on good Scriptural grounds!

1 comment:

Tim said...

Thanks for pointing to this, Dan!