Are you a Charismatic Christian?

I gave my life to the Lord in 1980 at a Pentecostal church. They were all so nice, and I enjoyed the church very much. As a matter of fact I didn’t even know I was in a Pentecostal church. I came from a Catholic background, so I just assumed (young and naive) all Christians churches were like this. As time went on I learned about the gifts of the spirit, and embraced the teaching.

During this time I also develop a deep personal love for God’s word. I began at a very early age to read theology books, commentaries, use Greek study tools, and wondered why some of my peers were not as interested. I began to make new Christian friends outside of my church that had the same passion for God’s word. We would study, talk, and discuss, until the subject of the Charismata came up.

All of a sudden I was the weird person with the odd view. They tried to convince me that the gifts ceased to exists, they tried very hard to force scripture to say something that I just could not see. They weren’t very nice either, they teased me, mocked my views, they were my friends (with friends like these who needs enemies), and still are so I suppose some it was done in fun. I then heard a message by John Macarthur (early 80’s), and he was adamantly opposed to the gifts, I quit listening to him for many years after that. But I held my ground, it forced me to study and lay a solid foundation for why I believed in the gifts of the Spirit, and continue to this day.

I did find some comfort in teachers like Walter Martin who was doing some soul searching, and gave a voice and some sound teaching on the Holy Spirit. Also there was the Calvary Chapel movement, but at the time they were not as prolific as they are today.

Today I find it is no longer an issue with my Evangelical friends, oh how the times have changed.

Recently the Baran Group published the following report: Is American Christianity Turning Charismatic?

Also worth reading is: What is a Reformed Charismatic?

I am not Reformed in the sense that I don’t fully embrace Calvinism.

Well, are you a Charismatic? Take some time and tell us why you are, or why you are not.

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40 Responses

  1. As a matter of fact I didn’t even know I was in a Pentecostal church. I came from a Catholic background, so I just assumed (young and naive) all Christians churches were like this. As time went on I learned about the gifts of the spirit, and embraced the teaching.

    I could have written that myself! 🙂

    Yes, I’m a Charismatic-Pentecostal. The ‘why’ is pretty simple — I had a very real and personal experience with God. I know that it’s somewhat of a faux pas to speak about experience now-a-days since experience is so subjective and we’re supposed to ground our faith on objective truths, but it was my experience with God that made me who/what I am today. Finding out that my experience was absolutely Biblical was icing on the cake!

    I’ve read books and heard arguments from cessationists and honestly, they don’t have an exegetical leg to stand on. You will not find a single period in Church history where there are no reports of the gifts of the Spirit being in operation. I remember making a similar comment on Parchment and Pen quite some time ago and citing references from the first few centuries to support it. C.M.P.’s response was that these men didn’t experience the gifts personally but only reported what they had heard — well, that was my point. There’s never been a time when we haven’t heard about God operating through his people by his Spirit.

    And I don’t think it can be scoffed at or easily disregarded that the vast majority of Christians in countries outside the U.S. (especially third world countries) are Charismatic. Real revival is charismatic in nature and we are seeing some of the greatest revivals ever in South America, Africa, and Asia, where people are being healed, delivered, speaking in tongues, prophesying, etc.

  2. Nick wrote:

    Real revival is charismatic in nature and we are seeing some of the greatest revivals ever in South America, Africa, and Asia, where people are being healed, delivered, speaking in tongues, prophesying, etc.

    Would you consider that to be “revival” or the firstfruits of the Spirit moving across the globe, hovering over the face of the deep? I’ve been considering revival lately in light of this quote:

    Revival is not a special period of extraordinary religious excitement. Rather, it is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit which restores the people of God to normal spiritual life after a period of coldness and decline.

    Revival then would be more about restoration and renewal than reaping the harvest. Are the activities in South America, Africa and Asia new growth or renewed growth of Christianity?

  3. El Shaddai,

    That’s a good question. I would consider it the continued fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. And my first thoughts on that quote is that it might not be necessary to pose it as an either/or question. It could be both/and. Also, when I think of revival I think of life from death, so in that sense I think it proper to call what is happening in those parts of the world revival.

  4. I am P/C Christian raised in the Baptist church. I first experienced the Baptism of the Holy Ghost Azusa-style in college. I’ve read many cessationists’ viewpoints. Many I found to be wanting exegetically and others very cruel. Now I learned that because I value spiritual encounters with God and dread encounters with the enemy, I understand that being charismatic should not make one’s knowledge of God solely or ever dependent on enthusiastic or emotional experiences but on the faith in the Word of God. Now studying the Scriptures to see those things are true, that’s an experience of a lifetime!!

  5. Hey all –

    I’ve been reading your site as well as Nick’s and all your random bloggin’ buddies. I’m a charismatic and a PhD candidate in final (thankfully light) revisions. I received Christ at age five and received the baptism in the Spirit at age eight. It was only years later that someone told me Paul had relegated all Spirit baptism to soteriological functions. Oh no! Then narrative theology allowed the Luke-Acts narrative to be taken seriously. Whew – I’m vindicated! 🙂

    I have a question for you and all your buddies. Please pass it around if your know any “experts” in the field.

    As a charismatic, I have struggled with placing my beliefs in a theological context that meets the requirements of “spirit-filled” living. At the risk of over simplifying, Neo-Orthodoxy carries on the tradition of shutting out inspiration beyond the scripture for the most part. I have come to understand the theological context of charismatic interpretation fits much better within (gasp!) the Protestant liberal tradition of Schleiermacher as well as with Pietist theologians and Reformation spiritualists like Valentin Weigel or Gottfried Arnold. They at least view experience (of some sort) as foundational to faith as opposed to epistemological foundations found in mainline theology.

    I am interested in finding a place for charismatic belief in postliberalism (which seems to be highly conducive to the “language” of charismatics). However, I have found that George Lindbeck in Nature of Doctrine seems to deny that possibility as well since he relegates all “feeling” to the “experiential-expressivism” model of liberal Protestantism – something he sees as outdated given the antifoundational state of the postmodern world. Yet, the charismatic movement has exploded exactly within that same postmodern environment. So though postliberalism allows room for it as a separate “language”, it also seems to reject the idea of experince as foundation as much as it rejects specific dogma as foundation.

    My question is: is Lindbeck correct? If so, what do we do about the 500 million global Pentecostals who choose to remain within the “experiential-expressivism” context of faith? And if they are valid, which I think they are (since I am one), doesn’ t that strongly contest the accuracy of postliberalism? To me, it looks as if “spirit-filled” believers state otherwise. They have choosen a faith with a foundation – one of spiritual experience. Help, please…

    On the revivals, it can be both – however, the “harvest” aspect of the revivals is its ultimate merit. The Argentine revival retains 90% of its converts in contrast to 10% in American revivals. Converts in Aregentina go through a three day deliverance, healing, and discipleship program to solidify their faith. Rationalistic western nations are stll debating about whether healing is for today… 🙂

    Sam
    http://samnunnally.wordpress.com

  6. Hello Sam,

    Thanks for stopping by and posting. Well I am not familiar with Lindbeck, so I would not be in a position to respond, maybe Nick can help out here.

    Also, I commend you in your PHD pursuit (Lord knows we need more learned Charismatics) but there is just one to many -ism’s for me. 😉

    Now you say
    “it looks as if “spirit-filled” believers state otherwise. They have chosen a faith with a foundation – one of spiritual experience”

    Trying to properly understand this statement. So my response could be a bit off here.

    My foundation is not based on spiritual experience, it is based on God’s Word. Now I am not speaking on behalf of all Charismatics, but if you study the history of the movement in the last 100 years you do find lots of instances where foundation was being based on experience, but as the movement progressed at least here in America they realized that they had to have a biblical foundation for what they were experiencing.

    Assemblies of God (AOS) and FourSquare (4SQ) have led the way in defining a theological context in which a “spirit-filled” life can have a solid biblical foundation, and one of spiritual experience.

    Also keep in mind that much of the AOS & 4SQ had based their theology from folks like Henry C. Thiessen. 4SQ published a Systematic Theology book titled “Foundations of Pentecostal Theology” (still available). You can clearly see Thiessen’s influence, with the exception of the chapter on the Holy Spirit, which is why they wrote their book.

  7. Jason,

    are you still in a Baptist church? How did they react to your spiritual encounter?

    My dad’s was not all happy with my conversion, let it alone it being a pentecostal church. He was one of the biggest mockers. But he let me and my younger brother go because in the end he felt that it would not hurt us, and maybe help us to be better persons. So long as we didn’t preach to him, but we did.

  8. Robert –

    Yeah, I understand your point. Although expereince may be the founding element of the Pentecostal movement, it was necessary that sound doctrine follow.

    I know that historical figures who valued experience didn’t mind starting there but progressed to something more. Like Jullian of Norwich – her Revelations of Divine Love included SIXTEEN spiritual encounters, but it took her twenty years to analyze them enough to draw a theology from them. Of course, it was a highly experiential theology! And I think that’s okay, but if the experience is lost in theologizing, then we’ve done a disservice to charismatic phenomena.

    I believe spirit-filled people, as Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it (I’m paraphrasing), should be the most sane, stable, exemplary Christians in the world.

  9. Sam,

    I agree. And I appreciate any deep or historical understanding that you have that will help further our comprehension. I am a layman, well read, but not a scholar. After all these years I am finally trying to finish my B.A in Biblical Studies, so keep me in your prayers. 😉

    I think there is concern among our non-charismatic brothers that somehow spirit-filled people will replace all theology with experience. That we will leap to the deep end, and lose all sense of doctrinal direction. There is a danger there no doubt.

    It’s hard to explain how I feel, and what I experience. For instance, I sense the Holy Spirit speaking to me, and guiding me (can’t really explain how this works, and how it works for me would be vastly different on how you sense the Holy Spirit speaking to you). At times I sense His presence very strong in my life. Should I ignore that? Should I convince myself that it is not God? There have been times when I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to go and speak to a stranger, and I didn’t want to, but I did because through the years I have learned to hear His voice. The outcome, that person was very opened, and began to pour out their problems, and I was able to minister and pray for that person. Lucky? Maybe. But not likely. I would say that every time I felt that and acted God ministered to someone.

    I think of the verse where Jesus said “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.” We need to hear his voice, and recognize it. Some will say it is the bible, hear that voice, and I am not saying that is wrong. But wasn’t the Holy Spirit sent to guide us, and bring direction to our lives?

    The experience, we were meant to live it out, to know God, not just through reading the bible, but to experience Him like we do other persons. We place so much stress in our theology that God is a person, but the minute we engage in our relationship with him in that manner it’s as if something is wrong with us. I feel, and God created us this way, so I respond sometimes emotionally to God, other times I respond logically. But in the end, it is in my very being that I know God, and if I was unable to articulate that in a sound way would that cancel my experience as valid?

    I like your quote “spirit-filled people should be the most sane, stable, exemplary Christians in the world” I hope we are.

  10. […] All Charismatics Robert of Weird Thinkers posted the other day about his experience as a Charismatic and then asked if anyone else was Charismatic, […]

  11. Robert –

    I think you express the sentiments and concerns that both charismatics and non-charismatics face. You’re illustration about speaking to a stranger under the “prompting” of the Holy Spirit makes a charismatic as nervous as it would make anyone else. The charismatic however, hopefully with positive past experiences under their belt, will be more prone to follow that leading. Like you said: “through the years I have learned to hear His voice.”

    In a lot of ways charismatics suffer from post-Reformation hangover. We assent to biblical authority (and rightly so). However, our own charismatic lineage allows a place of personal interpretation that others may find disturbing. Valentin Weigel cited exactly this against his Lutheran cohorts. He said that if biblical interpretation were an object (like a “rock” as he called it) then everyone would walk away with the same interpretation. He balked at such a suggestion and we all know (even if we don’t want to admit it) that this isn’t accurate in a practical sense. People walk away from the Bible with different ideas and all theology is speculative and informed by personal experience. Of course the councils and creeds provide guidance. But there’s a WHOLE lot of “wiggle room” in there.

    A theologian in the Netherlands named Jean-Jacques Suurmond helped me through this a little. In his book “Word and Spirit at Play” he says that “Word and Spirit” are to function in the Christian’s life in “tension.” Remaining in perfct symmetry, one is never to trump the other. Of course, a little historical reading shows us that “Word” was often adopted by ecclesiatical authorities at the expense of “Spirit.” That’s not an indictment, merely a observation on his behalf. Consequently, it may be better to see all over-reactions by crazy charismatics and fringe groups in history as an attempt to simply re-gain that original God-intended tension. But overbalance on one side causes over balance on the other.

    So, should non-charismatics be concerned about charismatics replacing experience with theology? Not unless they specifically thwart the individual desire of humans to connect with God on an expereintial level. In other words, as long as “Word” and Spirit” are allowed symmetrical tension, there’s nothing to worry about. Theology can be a priori and a posteriori at the same time. And even then, most charismatics now know not to over-react.

    Layman or not, you seem pretty smart to me. 🙂

  12. Sam,

    I would urge you to examine postliberalism’s most fundamental (philosophical and theological) commitments before you attempt to map out a Pentecostal/charismatic postliberalism. In my opinion, Pentecostal theology and postliberalism (including narrative theology) are not at all compatible.

    I happen to have an article about this appearing in the next issue of the *Journal of Pentecostal Theology*. If you want an advance copy of the manuscript, let me know.

  13. I currently worship at a non-denominational evangelical church which is based at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. My Mennonite pastor is charismatic though the majority of the college bunch come from non-charismatic backgrounds.

    As for my family, they know I’m Pentecostal/Charismatic. Some of my family speak in tongues but still attend Baptist churches.

    I do attend church with my mother at her Baptist church. Before he died I had a talk with my grandfather who was a ordained Baptist church. I was telling him that I would be seeking to attend a A/G church of a COGIC one. He preferred me attending a COGIC one. That conversation was last summer.

    Even though I have classical pentecostal beliefs I’m open to maintaining fellowship with Baptists or being a part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Black Baptist denominations don’t have official statements for or against the charismata, neither do AME except the article 15 of the Twenty Articles of Religion common to all Methodist denominations which I would consciously agree because it’s biblical.

  14. I don’t encourage people to leave their churches just because they embrace charismatic (pentecostal-ism) teachings. Hey if you love your church, and they welcome you why change?

    I was just wondering more how the baptist church felt about your embracing classical pentecostal beliefs. And what was their response.

  15. John –

    Thanks for responding – from my original question/comment, you can probably tell that I don’t see a lot of room for charismatics in the postliberal tradition. Like you say, the basic premises of the movement leave charismatics in a bind.

    I would love a copy of your article! I don’t subscribe to the JPT but I really enjoy the authors I read who publish in it. Thanks!

    Sam

  16. I never actually left the Baptist church per se. My mother never imbedded denominationalism within us. So I attended wherever the Word is preached and God is exalted.

    My Baptist family doesn’t have any problems with me worshipping in any of these contexts. My grandfather taught me to be a Christian above all and be biblically faithful in a local church whether Baptist, P/C, or AME.

  17. This is a vexed question for me.

    My Baptist church growing up believed so much in the charismata and we all tried to move them. Until I went to college, our church was never particularly successful, however. No healings, almost zero tongues, but a few people who tried to prophesy. I went to a Church of God college and thought that there I’d finally be able to really break loose from those Baptists.

    Then, in my freshman year, during Convocation, it finally happened. I went down to the altar and amidst the hullabaloo surrounding me, a few prayed for me to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. I was overjoyed! It didn’t feel at all like I thought it would, but I prayed in tongues in worship as often as I could for the next year.

    Flash forward 12 years (has it been that long?!). I am now a cessationist. What happened?

    A number of things. It is a complex issue. For one thing, I am convinced that I, as sincere as I was, I was fooling myself. I opened my mouth and just started producing syllables; indeed, I was instructed to do this at the altar after I noticed that I didn’t get an overpowering “unction”, and have heard others instruct this since. As I studied Acts and 1 Corinthians (at this Pentecostal college, no less) my doctrine began to change and I put it over and above my experiences. It was then that I began to see that “tongues” as espoused by modern Christians is an unfortunate misunderstanding of the first-century phenomenon.

    In Acts 2, we see the definition of tongues, and find no reason to believe that there is a redefinition elsewhere. The words used are glossa and dialektos, which never meant “tongues” as we understand it, but “languages” and “dialects” (roughly speaking). The text is quite clear that the apostles spoke in actual human languages. Why should we expect the glossolalia discussed throughout the rest of Acts to be different?

    Even 1 Corinthians 14 makes this plain, Paul is somewhat impatient with the Corinthians who were using glossolalia in worship services uninterpreted. Accusing them of “thinking like children,” he points out the true purpose of glossolalia as prophesied by Isaiah in chapter 28: speaking in “strange tongues” and with “the lips of foreigners” was meant as a confounding sign of judgment (cf. Babel) for unbelieving Israel. In fact, the Old Testament proclaims in multiple places that the language of foreigners spoken in Israel was be a sign of God’s displeasure with and judgment of Israel.

    I implore you to look at this webpage that I just found today, which lays it down pretty much as I believe it. Tongues were “a sign, then, not for believers, but for unbelievers” (1 Cor 14:22), and was used to warn Old Covenant Israel of the judgment that eventually came on them when God, through the Roman armies under Titus Vespasian, sieged and destroyed Jerusalem and her beloved temple in A.D. 66-70. That this judgment was accomplished is seen by the Diaspora and the resultant dysfunctional nature of Judaism sans a temple or genealogical records necessary to determine the priestly Levite line.

    I think the other charismata, as well, were signs of the times, and not something meant to carry over. In fact, the author of Hebrews (written sometime in the mid 60’s) implies that the age of signs and wonders as embodied in the ministry of the apostles had dwindled to the point that it could be spoken of in the past tense (2:3-4). But nevertheless, although the Old Covenant was passing away (8:13) it was being replaced by a “better covenant” (8:6). It is this we live in today.

    Now, does “cessationist” mean that I don’t think God speaks, moves, or heals today? No, certainly not. Miracles are still possible, but the offices and gifts meant to testify to and confirm the teaching of the Gospel to the Jews are no longer in effect. God can heal anyone, and we should pray for healing. But are there “healers”? No. Are there prophets? No, although this does not mean that God can’t speak through His believers if He so chooses. After the unique apostolic age, the gifts as commodities and integral aspects of the life of the Christian are no longer “standard issue”. On this point, I would like to quote C.S. Lewis.

    God does not shake miracles into nature at random as if from a pepper-caster. They come on great occasions: they are found at the great ganglions of history – not of political or social history, but of that spiritual history which cannot be fully known by men. If your own life does not happen to be near one of these great ganglions, how should you expect to see one?

  18. I am a charismatic Christian who is trying to blog as able but can get busy with pastoring a small church and raising a one year old girl!

  19. Sorry for all the typos! What’s wrong with me?

  20. Steve,

    What an interesting road you have been on. Now my intent was not to debate if the gifts have ceased or not. Obviously I hold a completely different point of view, and have a different view of Acts and 1 Corinthians as well. But I do welcome the interaction 😉
    I agree that tongues can be translated languages, no problem there.

    1Cor. 14 For the person who speaks in [another] language is not speaking to men but to God, since no one understands him; however, he speaks mysteries in the Spirit. – HCSB

    The clear teaching here is that the [other] language (tongues) being spoken by the Corinthians is not a language that was intended for men’s understanding, they were speaking mysteries in the Spirit. Most take what happened in Acts, and try to define exclusively what tongues are. Yes they spoke in tongues that were known languages, and understood by others. But that is not the same tongues Paul is now talking about in1 Corinthians, or at least a different variation of that gift. Paul clearly defines for us what variation of tongues he is talking about, and it’s not the one mentioned in the book of Acts. 1 Corinthians 12:10 “to another, different kinds of languages”

  21. Robert,

    Thanks for the response! I totally understand that you would not be particularly receptive to this view, but you asked! 🙂

    Even accepting for the sake of argument that tongues were of two types, my argument still stands that Paul’s intent in 1 Cor 14 is to correct the abuse of glossolalia in the church. The stinger that closes this subject is the passage I cited, in which he reminds them of the purpose of glossolalia, without making any distinction between what he was describing in verse 2 and the sort that was a sign for unbelievers in verse 22.

    However, I think there is no evidence for two types of glossolalia. Different kinds of languages? There definitely are, as any linguist can tell you! But different kinds of glossolalia? I am aware that charismatics talk about “prayer languages” as opposed to the “language of heaven” and use verses 2 and 14 as their prooftexts, but here again, you have his statements a few verses later, without any redirection or distinction made, that talk about it as a sign “not for believers”. If you put this passage in the larger context of the letter, you’ll see that when Paul said that “he who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” (v. 4), he was not putting this in a positive light, but was describing its abuse: some Corinthians were showing off the charismatic gift, “speaking into the air” (v. 9), even when no one was profiting by it. Glossolalia was ecstatic prophecy in actual languages of men, apparently uninterpretable even to the speaker without a special dispensation (v. 13). Putting that gift on display when no one was there to profit by it was simply “speaking mysteries” that only God could understand, to the speaker’s glorification alone.

    In fact, to use it in the presence of people who were already believers when no one present could understand the language was useless (“not for believers”); and if no one was there who actually understood or could verify it as an actual language, what good would it be as a sign? “Will they not say that you are out of your mind?” (v. 23) (In all humility, Robert, surely that unfortunate situation sounds like the norm today in charismatic/Pentecostal settings!)

    One more thing: the idea that “praying in a[nother] language” is referring to personal prayer time in one’s prayer closet is unlikely given the immediate context of worship services, as well as the cultural context in which prayers were most often (if not always) spoken aloud rather than silently (cf. 1 Samuel 1:13). This is why Jesus told people to go into their prayer closets for prayer so they wouldn’t be heard and thought to be showing off for passersby — He could have told them to just pray silently with their eyes open! I think, therefore, that this passage is probably referring to prayer offered in a corporate setting. Regardless, my other points stand.

    It’s unlikely that charismatics will deny their experiences, unless they’re committed to a Scriptural basis for their doctrine (as I’m sure you are!) and they have been convinced that Scripture contradicts their interpretation of the experiences. That’s what happened to me. Just thought I’d share 🙂

  22. Steve,

    I appreciate your thoughts. This subject as others have been debated for a very long time, and if it was a simple subject I am sure it would have been resolved as well.

    So here we are. Two men that love God, and his word, with a sincere desire to know him.

    I can easily point others to various counter teachings that will clarify my position as well, but at this point in my life I see no fruit in it in regards to this particular position. I am not writing to try and convince others of my particular position just expressing my understanding I see them.

    Continue on your journey in knowing him, as I also will.

  23. Thanks for the gracious response. God bless you and your desire to serve Him.

  24. I did forget to mention, by no means am I discouraging anyone else that would like to counter Steve. I do want to keep all post and comments an open forum and don’t mind if it digresses a bit.

  25. Steve-

    Steve, thanks for your willingness to share your viewpoint. You have valid concerns over the abuse and legitimacy of charismatic experience. Your concerns seem to revolve around tongues – that’s fairly common as well. As Robert stated in his gracious responses, this really isn’t a forum to debate the validity of gifts. It’s been done a thousand times over and very little progress has been made in convincing someone of its validity or “unconvincing” a charismatic who prays to God in a “prayer language” everyday of his life. Your viewpoint directly contradicts my relationship with the Lord. There’s plenty of scripture to support the beliefs of Pentecostals and there are strong counterpoints (as Robert said) to each of your biblical objections. Moreover, at global adherence of 500 million (the largest Protestant grouping in the world), it’s difficult to tell that many folks they’re deceived by something you believe is explicitly obvious to non-charismatics.

    I will offer one point of clarification that may help. Most cessationist views start from this point in their arguments: charismatic gifts “ceased” after they were no longer necessary to confirm the validity of the Christian faith. Charismatics view this differently. We don’t see spiritual gifts as confirming anything. We believe they are EXPRESSING to love of God in a somaticized fashion. If the gifts are an expression of God’s love to his people as a bridge to intimacy and a help for everyday living, then why would they cease? If they are a demonstration of love, they cease when God stops loving us. And I don’t think anyone would say that this is the case. Therfore, cessationism is not relevant to the relationally oriented theology of charismatics. The concept of the “scaffolding model” of cessationism assumes gifts confirm God’s authority, not express his love.

    In ready your experiences above, I commend your willingness to investigate other approaches to things. Your story is the opposite of most denominationals I have heard. God bless as you continue to seek truth in the name of our Lord.

  26. Hi Robert, thanks for sharing about your personal experience of pentecost . I too am a charismatic-pentecostal but also Lutheran as well. I know how it could open up a huge debate with people but I have entered some debates with cessationist s but eventually it tires me out. I’ve never shared so openly as you have on my blog for that reason but I do mention that I was saved in a pentecostal church. I don’t try to convince anyone of the validity of my personal experience anymore. If they believe it, then great. If not, then one day they’ll know the truth about it when we all meet in heaven. Thanks Robert.

  27. Sam, Always appreciate your well thought out statements.

    Kevin,

    thanks for stopping by. I am kind of at that same place in my life. I think if people are open and seeking then it’s a pleasure to share with them, and let them decided for themselves.

    I am reading through “He Who Gives Life – The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit” by Graham Cole. He gives a very good perspective from a non-pentecostal view regarding the gifts.

    Here are just a few quotes he has to say regarding the subject.

    First he acknowledges

    “One of the controversial questions facing churches today is whether all or only some of the gifts of the Spirit, adumbrated in the NT, are still the risen Christ’s gift to the church.”

    He defines spiritual gifts as

    “Spiritual gifts are God empowering His people through the Holy Spirit for kingdom life and service, enabling them in attitude and action to live and minister in a manner which glorifies Christ.”

    He is open and honest on the struggle to understand:

    “On Monday to Wednesday my own view is that the tongues at Pentecost and those at Corinth differ. The former were unknown languages (xenoglossa) and the latter were ecstatic (glossolalia). For the rest of the week I feel the force of the argument that in both places tongues were the same (xenoglossa).”

    I’ll post a few other quotes that I think are worth stating, I just can’t find it at the moment (searching through my PDF copy), I have to wait until I go home – I high lighted it in my book.

  28. I thought I had a couple of more, but after reviewing my notes, I only had one other quote that I wanted to post from his book.

    Moreover, broadly speaking, in a very real sense all Christians are charismatics because every genuine Christian has been incorporated into the body of Christ and gifted in some way by the Spirit.183 The cessationist arguments that canon closure is in view in 1 Corinthians 13:10 (“when the perfect comes”) and that the Pastorals (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) show the eclipse of the charismata by the absence of reference to them do not persuade me. – “He Who Gives Life – The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit” by Graham A. Cole

  29. I am not a Charismatic, but I am open-minded — or at least as open-minded as I can be for someone who aspires to be a Berean (test everything by the scriptures). I am never afraid of debate, never afraid to tell you where I think you’ve gone wrong, and never afraid to listen to you tell me where I think I’ve gone wrong.

    I live in the in-between world of seeking but still unconvinced. On the one hand, I think adamant cessationism is foolishness. How can anyone *know* that God never pours out the gifts of the Spirit? On the other hand, I see so much *abuse* within Charismatic experience that it makes me very uncomfortable. Prophecies that don’t come true and are then shrugged off with “oh well, I guess I heard God wrong”. Speaking in tongues that goes without interpretation, or is interpreted by the speaker himself. Pursuit of charismatic experience to the exclusion of grounding in Scripture — the only infallible measurement we have today that doesn’t change.

    So how do you convince me to give myself over to a belief system that raises so many red flags? (I am in a church-like environment where I’m exposed to charismatic expression daily, and experiential red flags monthly or even weekly.) I keep praying, “Lord, what do you want to teach me through all this?” Is my job here to be a student — shut up, listen, and learn something? Or to be the voice of reason — “hey guys, look at what Paul wrote here about that … are you *sure* you don’t need a bona fide interpreter?”

    Hope I’m not coming off as too hostile. I don’t have an agenda to promote or an “ism” to defend. I just want to purge any idea, belief, bias, etc. that does not conform to the Word — no matter who that ticks off. I realize that the Charismatic movement doesn’t have a monopoly on “concerns”. Look no further than any local church and you will find non-Biblical behavior that we all accept (probably) because we’re afraid to confront it. A classic example is women in leadership/teaching positions, flouting 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-35. Although, I have to say that I see even this happening more among my Charismatic contacts, where the uttering of prophecies during corporate is a much more predominantly female phenomenon. Has God changed his mind since the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write that we should not allow this?

  30. Bill,

    Thanks for stopping by. For the record I never said that I was afraid to debate, or to listen, or to tell you what I think. Trust me, telling people what I think has gotten me in trouble more than once 😉

    I am genuinely interested in seeing how many charismatic Christian bloggers are out there. But at the same time I realize that there are non-charismatic Christians that visit here as well. Most on my blogroll are not Charismatic, but I love their blogs, and their passion for God.

    Convince? I doubt that I can convince you of anything. Sounds you like you have researched the subject and have made up your mind. I would highly recommend reading “He Who Gives Life – The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit” by Graham A. Cole excellent treatment of the subject.

    Listen, you don’t have to worry about ticking me off just because you have a different point of view on this matter.

  31. Robert, those quotes by Graham Cole shows that evangelicals are not completely close-minded about the current existence of charismata, which is encouraging. I also ran into a respected Lutheran theologian named Michael Welker who, like Cole, has written much on the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t come out and say he is charismatic but he does think that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are a reality and in existence in the Christian church today. He has written “God the Spirit” (1992) amongst many others. I find it encouraging that more theologians today like G. Cole and M. Welker are writing and publishing works on Holy Spirit and pneumatology. It is an area of study that is still potentially researchable.

  32. You guys just keep writing don’t you? I can’t keep up! 🙂

    Kevin, Welker is a great resource and well-respected.

    Bill, Robert is right – there is little anyone can do to convince you that charismatic manifestations are a present reality. But I will tell you a story from yesterday. One of my best friends is a Southern Baptist minister. He wrestled with the baptism in the Holy Spirit for three years, asking questions, reading books, searching the scriptures. He showed up at my house yesterday and said, “I’m ready.” My last question to him was, “What happens if nothing happens?” He responded, “Well, I’ll get in my car and drive back to the church, but I realize I can’t receive the experience without taking the risk.”

    So, I lead him in a simple prayer and prayed for him. Within minutes he was speaking in some random language he had never spoken bofore. He described the experience like someone poured hot oil all over him (a fairly common description). The look on his face was one of relief. Of course, Baptist doctrine doesn’t really allow for that experience to occur. But it did. I’ve seen other people seek that experience for years and pray for it several times without seeing any change. I don’t know why that is – I wish I did, at least to make people feel better.

    So, I guess I’m saying after you’ve studied everything out, are you willing to take a risk on something that you don’t fully understand? There’s a lot in the Christian life that’s like that. Charismatic experience is no different. Blessings on your journey…

    Sam

  33. Interesting blog. I consider myself a “charismatic” and/or “continuationist” and can see the posts have gone into a discussion of the latter. If I may, I’d like to take a look at charismatics and/or the charismatic movement from a historical perspective, then give some general observations at the end.

    I’m 52 and became a Christian in the early 70s during the “charismatic movement” (as it was called then). Today, you don’t as often hear it referred to as such. Rather, “charismatics” have become something like a trans-denominational grouping of sorts; their existence is more or less taken for granted in the Body of Christ. The “movement” has changed into a “placement”. In other words, the charismatics are simply here–in non-Pentecostal churches–and it is understood.

    I was an A/G (Assemblies of God) Pentecostal back in the 70s and later left the denomination (for reasons I won’t go into here). During this time I saw a a repetition of what had happened in the initial “Pentecostal outpouring” of the early 1900s. Not just another outpouring of the Spirit, but the divisions that inevitably happened. But what do I mean by “inevitably”?

    I’m referring to those Christians who, after receiving the gift of speaking tongues and/or becoming continuationists, inevitably had to leave their former denominations due to it. Pentecostal history charts how this occurred. And I’m assuming you (posters here) know that history.

    What differed in the early 1900s and the 1970s outpourings was having a place to go: There were no Pentecostal denominations in the early 1900s. But with the 70s phenomena, many charismatics, when forced to leave their denominations, came into the A/G or other existing Pentecostal churches. The A/G experienced huge growth during this period due to this. By the 80s or thereabouts, “non-denominational” churches began sprouting up everywhere. These were “charismatic/pentecostal” in that, the membership was comprised of both Classical Pentecostals and charismatics who had left their denominations.

    What has happened since. From the outset of the 70s outpouring (which actually began in the 1960s), there were charismatics who stayed in their denominations. Many denominations recognized and assisted them with new “inclusivist” policies and organizations. However, from what I’ve been able to gather, these guidelines usually have something to say about the charismatics remaining within denominational constricts. Let me give an illustration on this.

    The UM (United Methodists), for example, have recognized charismatics within the denomination since the late 60s. But UM services and individual churches must remain UM. To bring this more down to earth—and it could be any denomination—if I were prompted to give a word of prophesy in such a church or denomination; do I have their permission? As you can see, were I to “go ahead and speak” during a service in a church such as this: What would happen? The other charismatics there might receive it well…but what about the non-charismatics? I could be ushered out or ushered in; being the agency for a church split…or a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in that local assembly of believers….

    I didn’t mention it but, I wasn’t “in church” from about 1983 till four years ago. In visiting different churches, I’m somewhat surprised at the number of charismatic Christians there are in non-charismatic/pentecostal churches: How many of them report, “I pray privately in tongues and believe in all of the gifts of the Spirit.” What I wonder about is why I don’t see the gifts in operation. Perhaps God has charismatics in a kind of “hush” period now for something better later; I certainly can’t say what the Sovereign Mind has in store!

    Lastly, I went to my old A/G church not long ago. While there, I saw two old friends from the 70s who were visiting the church also: a former Nazarene pastor and his wife who had been kicked out of the Nazarene Church for speaking in tongues (and after requesting permission to stay and being denied). What really took me off guard was, the pastor’s wife raised her hand to ask for permission from an Assemblies of God pastor if she could prophesy! Her allowed her but: Asking to exercise a gift of the Spirit in a Pentecostal church???

    Revive us again, O God!

  34. Correction: “He” allowed her to prophesy, sorry.

  35. Rick,

    nice overview. I attend Praise Chapel Christian Fellowship, and it started around this time. Our Pastor Mike Neville took over a small pentecostal church in 1976. 30 years later we have over 250 churches, and various churches in other nations.

    We were and are pentecostal. But our emphasis isn’t on the gifts, it’s on the Lord and the great commission, building disciples, and pioneering new churches in various cities.

    I would also say that it may be “hush” in various settings, but that is probably because the charismatic movement was adopting into their existing church service. Naturally it would be different in my opinion.

  36. I study the bible 3-5 hrs daily…I am a child of God…I am His totally and completely !
    The word I read has a common theme and time and time again….in all I read of Gods written word …we are to be like Christ Jesus ..PERIOD! He is our example and our only example PERIOD ! I will follow Jesus every minute of everyday of my life. In everything I do or say or act I strive for that one and only goal !
    Now think about how Jesus (who is all that matters) acted ,talked, loved , and worshiped Our Father …. It was always in a humble and quiet way.. it was for the communion between His Love for His Father and His Fathers love for Him .. it should never be about anything else …it doesnt matter how you worship its just that you do worship God
    I follow Jesus
    Amen

  37. Actually, I am what could be called a ‘missional-Reformed-Charismatic’ …which, for me, means that I’m a Christian, concerned first and foremost with making much of God, and upholding the centrality of the Gospel, but who is also convinced that God still works like he did in the book of Acts. Ever since trusting Christ I’ve always had what some would consider occasional ‘abnormal’ spiritual experiences, but after reading Wayne Grudem’s book on Prophecy, listening to a number of John Piper’s sermons on the Prophetic, and diving head-first into Sam Storms’ work, I quickly realized that those ‘abnormal’ experiences were quite normal: they were ‘God’ experiences!

  38. Hello all! I am not Charismatic, and the reason is because as a Christian by new birth and a Baptist by conviction, I have studied God’s Word enough that I know for a fact from the Bible that salvation is eternal and begins when a person is born again. Most Charismatics and Pentecostals believe that salvation can be lost when a person falls out of fellowship with God and backslides. But the Bible teaches in many (over 100 I have personally found) that salvation is eternal. John 5:24 states, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” When he believes, from that moment he has (possesses – present tense) everlasting life. I haven’t seen a Charismatic church or any Pentecostal church that teaches correctly on this important Bible doctrine. The Bible says we need to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” My husband and I were Pentecostal before we were Baptist, and he spoke in tongues and had the “gift of healing”. Amazing that after we got our doctrine straightened out by the Holy Spirit, on eternal security, that those other things just went away on their own. Not wanting to be argumentative, but I feel I needed to share the truth from God’s Word. That Southern Baptist pastor evidently needed to have a closer walk with His Lord, and wondered – without having fully studied the doctrine from God’s Holy Word – if speaking in tongues would help him in that quest.

  39. Hello Joy,

    I am unclear as to why you are not Charismatic???

    Your whole dialog pertained clearly to salvation, which it seems that you have embraced Calvinism. And it does not sound like you are at all interested in any sort of friendly dialog, since you came here to tell me that you “know for a fact”, and according to you, the “Holy Spirit – straightened out your doctrine”. Well you have facts and God himself has spoken to you to correct the rest of us. Where do we go from here?

    You should take some time and read the works of Jacobs Arminius. Also, just in case you didn’t know the Gifts have not ceased. I guess scriptures that fit your model you just ignore. Take Saint Paul’s advise:

    1 Thess. 5:19-22 TNIV
    Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject whatever is harmful.

    It sounds like you have put out the Spirit’s fire in your life, and that is why “those other things just went away”. You should reconsider why you have contempt towards the gifts of the Spirit.

  40. The main gift people Struggle with is that of speaking in tongues. If the gift of tongues is still in operation why then must a person go to language school in order to preach the gospel to another group of people? And so far as a personal prayer language, the pegans before Christ came would make utters in what they called communicating with the gods. Our Lord never copies the Devil it is always the Devil who conterfits. As a person who has experienced the supposed speaking in tongues( which can produce quite an ecstasy) I had to come to the conclusion I was being deceived, which is as a child of God is very concerning. With that said the following are gifts I’m sure most agree may still be in operation.
    The gift of wisdom corresponds to the virtue of charity.
    The gift of understanding corresponds to the virtue of faith.
    The gift of counsel (right judgment) corresponds to the virtue of prudence.
    The gift of courage corresponds to the virtue of fortitude.
    The gift of knowledge corresponds to the virtue of faith.
    The gift of piety corresponds to the virtue of justice.
    The gift of fear of the Lord corresponds to the virtue of hope.

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