Monday, June 04, 2007

Charismatic? Or Continuationist?

I've updated the "Charismatic Resurgence Resource" post to include this MUST-READ from Jesse P on "Prophetically Speaking". He has entitled it "Charismatic or Continuationist" and begins the post by defining some key terms that are being used frequently in the Church across the nations and in the blogging world. Familiar terms such as "cessationist" and "charismatic" are defined, but so are newer terms such as "functional cessationist". It's worth noting;

"In other words, someone who is theologically open to the continuation of gifts may still be functionally cessationist by not pursuing or practicing them".

Jesse then goes on to ask which is the more accurate and appropriate term - charismatic or continuationist? I am so glad he shares my concern with the term "Continuationist" as I noted here - "The Case for being a Charismatic". He notes that firstly;

"Continuationism is not a biblical term ... Paul did not merely encourage his churches to be 'continuationist' in theology, or to believe that the gifts are theoretically possible. He encouraged them to earnestly desire them, to be charismatic in practice".

It's a fair point and one I passionately agree with. Is it enough to simply concede that the gifts of the Spirit "continue" for today? Or does 1 Corinthians 14:1 contain some strong language suggesting that they must be sort and used for the edifying and building up of the Church? His second point is excellent and one that I really believe Calvinists are particularly in danger of;

"Continuationism is not an application-driven term ... By exchanging 'charismatic' which directly implies the exercise of gifts for a term with strictly theological overtones, we run the risk of moving the discussion out of the realm of practice and into the realm of mere theology. This will always create functional cessationism, regardless of which side we take".

Head knowledge is never enough. But finally Jesse's last point is fantastically argued;

"Continuationism is a reactionary term: not being found in scripture, this is a counter term to cessationism ... I do not believe that we should let cessationism choose the terms of the debate. We should use the biblical term (charismatic) regardless of how it may be abused, and strive to overcome theological cessationism and functional cessationism".

Go read it! You, like me, will love this guy! Unless his arguments bother you. In that case we need to ask why and interact with what he is saying and ask "Are these things so?".

Update: I have just found and added a prophecy that Julian Adams gave to the Newfrontiers church plant - the Gateway church. I added a note of rationale as to why I am looking for and publishing prophecies. There are a lot of bad examples of charismatic excess around but my feeling is that there is also a lot of GOOD examples around and we need to find and read these for our edification and encouragement!

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