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What Does it Mean to Be Charismatic?

Many within evangelical circles seem to have failed to recognize how influential and growing the charismatic movement is these days among the most theologically astute. By “theologically astute,” I mean that this new breed of charismatics is thoroughly evangelical, orthodox, and Christ-centered. They hold Scripture as the final authority and do not allow the controversial gifts such as tongues, healings, and prophecy to steal their focus. When these gifts are practiced, they are done so with order and intentionality – or not at all.  I call this the “fourth wave” of charismatics and not only are these charismatics biblically and theologically driven, a large portion of them are Reformed Calvinists. Agree with them or not, all one has to do is look at the Acts 29 Network – a transdenominational, church-planting network – and see what an impact they are having.

Though I am not charismatic, I am excited about the popularity of this “fourth wave.” Why? Because they have brought so much balance. They have caused many of us (who formerly wrote off all charismatics as Christianity’s “nut jobs”) to seriously consider, for the first time, the continuationist theology and biblical exegesis that provide the backbone to the movement. Credit pastors like John Piper, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, and Sam Storms, along with scholars such as J.P. Moreland, Craig Keener, Wayne Grudem, and D.A. Carson for so much of this. And, like it or not, most of these men are far more well-known and popular than the fading “cessationists” (non-charismatics) who went before them (Chuck Swindoll, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Hank Hanegraaff, etc.), especially among the younger generation of evangelicals. It is hard to ignore such a growing movement within evangelicalism. It seems now that just about every scholar I talk to is either a continuationist or a wannabe continuationist. Hardly ever do I connect with those who find the old-line cessationists’ arguments persuasive anymore (just in the last few months I have talked to Gary Habermas, Craig Blomberg, Mike Licona, and Paul Copan, who all shared the same thoughts). And Dan Wallace, while not a continuationist, has not been silent about his beliefs that cessationists’ arguments can and have led to bad places. Things have indeed changed.

Nevertheless, it is still difficult to know who is and who is not a charismatic due to the fact that most of us don’t know what the term means. We use words like cessationism, continuationism, and charismatic. When I associate the term “charismatic” with Christians, six primary things come to mind. Any or all of these could be present in my thinking:

1. Unusual attention given to the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer

2. The tendency to seek and expect miraculous healings

3. The tendency to seek and expect direct prophetic communication from God (dreams, visions, experiences, personal encounters, etc.)

4. Unusual attention given to the presence of demonic activity in the world

5. Very  expressive worship

6. Belief in the continuation of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit

I am going to briefly explain each of these. Please pay special attention to the graphs (yes, my mind works in graphs!) since I am going to attempt to show how, with all of these, the designation “charismatic” works on a sliding scale. Here is the model:

charismatic1

Please notice that the scale is not black and white (well, it is not red and white, but you know what I mean!). There is a gradation shown here, indicating that one can be more or less charismatic, depending on the issue in question. Better, I consider myself more or less charismatic, depending on the issue. The line in the middle represents that subjective place beyond which the designation “charismatic” is likely to be made. I don’t always know where it is, but I think it is safe to say that the line is there somewhere.

Below, I am going to briefly explain each of these options by speaking to the extremes. Please humor me. I think I know where I am going.

1. Unusual attention given to the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer

There are certain Christians who give unusual attention to the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. Conversely, there are Christians who rarely, if ever, recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit. For those on the far non-charismatic side of the scale, the Holy Trinity could best be described as the Father, Son, and Holy Bible! For those on the extreme other end, the centrality of Christ’s person and work is replaced with the centrality of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. In this case, the Holy Spirit no longer points to Christ, but to himself.

2. The tendency to seek and expect miraculous healings

Many Christians believe that God’s benevolent healing power is available for all (though faith may be a requirement). They would be on the far right. Other Christians, on the far left, never hope for God’s miraculous intervention in any way. One side believes that gifts of healing were given as a gift of benevolence to encourage the Body of Christ. The other side believes that the only purpose of this gift was to authenticate the message or messenger. Since the Bible has already been written, there is no longer any need for authentication. Therefore, this gift died out after the completion of the canon. Further to the left, some would go so far as to say that today, God never intervenes in any miraculous way at all.

3. The tendency to seek and expect direct prophetic communication from God (dreams, visions, experiences, personal encounters, etc.)

Some people believe God communicates with them directly. They have little use for the Bible, since from their perspective God’s answers are available immediately upon request through direct means. Every dream, vision, or unexplained sound is God trying to tell them something. On the other hand, some believers do not seek God’s guidance in any way other than through the Bible. These often misunderstand the idea of sola Scriptura to mean that the Bible is our only authority and source for guidance, not (as it should be understood) as our final and only infallible authority. Again, the two extremes are all I am speaking about here.

4. Unusual attention given to the presence of demonic activity in the world

There are those who believe that demons are the cause of every problem we face (far to the right). If someone is depressed, it is never due to a chemical imbalance, but demonic oppression. If someone is sick, medicine is not the answer, exorcism is. They have “deliverance ministries” in which all problems (including being overweight!) are solved by finding and breaking the demonic stronghold. On the other side of the fence (to the far left) are those who, while maybe giving lip service to spiritual warfare, don’t engage in battle against the forces of darkness in any way. In fact, they are quite embarrassed to acknowledge the reality of Satan and his demons at all.

5. Expressive worship

And, yes, there are the “expressive worship” people. You know, the ones who not only raise their hands during worship, but weep, scream, dance, and (way far to the right) go into convulsions during their time of worship. And then there are the others who lip-sync the songs,  and have their hands in their pockets while singing. They are the ones who “accidentally” show up twenty-five minutes late to the service every week, just in time to catch the sermon and (oops!) miss worship time.

6. Belief in the continuation of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit

In the New Testament, we are told that God has gifted the church and individuals with gifts (charisma) and offices that are for the mutual edification of the church. On the far charismatic end of the scale, there are those who not only believe that all gifts are still in operation, but whose life and ministry are centered around the practice of the more extravagant gifts. For them, the gift of tongues is a sign of maturity and the presence of the Spirit in their lives. The further one gets to the right, the more every church service is chaotic, as people are uncontrollably “led by the Spirit” to prophesy, speak in tongues, and/or pronounce a word of wisdom or knowledge. On the extreme non-charismatic end of the scale, we have some who don’t believe in the gifts at all. They believe that all gifts of the Spirit ceased in the first century.  I know of a very large network of churches which believes the gifts of teaching, giving, evangelism, tongues, healing, prophecy, and every other gift mentioned in the New Testament ceased in the first century.

It should go without saying that both extremes are not only unhealthy, but potentially destructive to the body of Christ due to their imbalance. There is a healthy middle which represents an orthodox position in all of these areas. Take a look at this modified version of my chart.

charismatic3

Unfortunately for all sides, the majority of professing Christians hold to extreme views, to the left or the right. Balance is a hard thing to find in any area. But when the charismatic is unbalanced, this creates some interesting and embarrassing entertainment that cameras love. This only enhances potential misconceptions, both inside the church and out.

In these types of discussions it is easy to create a caricature of one side (always the opposite of the side we’re on, of course!) by immediately associating them with the extremes of their positions. This is called a “straw man” argument; it is an unfair assertion which honors neither the issue nor the people involved, much less the Lord. Though I am not a charismatic, this does not mean that I am on the far left. At least, I try not to be. Similarly, I suspect most charismatics don’t want their perspectives to be portrayed as the same as those on the far right (which, unfortunately, is always being done).

Concerning these six options, I propose that a true charismatic in a theological sense is not necessarily one who holds their hands high during worship. Neither is it accurately characterized as someone who believes very strongly in the presence of demonic forces. In fact, I believe that a real charismatic is primarily associated with the sixth option, believing that all (or at least most) of the gifts of the Spirit are still in normal operation today and is personally seeking them.

With all six issues, I would say that I am to the left of the charismatic line. On some, I am pretty far to the left. On others, I hug the midline. For example, as I alluded to just a moment ago, I am not expressive in my worship (although I can usually be found tapping my right foot – it is a bit charismatic). Yet regarding the reality of the presence and activity of Satan and his demons, I find myself moving further and further to the right all the time. Because of this, and because the line between being charismatic and non-charismatic is somewhat subjective, I imagine in many people’s eyes I would be labeled charismatic with regard to the issue of demonic activity. While I recognize that these issues are somewhat connected, I am nevertheless persuaded that none of them, with the exception of number six, is the final determinant of whether or not one is truly a charismatic.

Gifts of the Spirit across the Spectrum

Having laid some basic groundwork, here are the four positions (generally speaking) that one can take with regard to the charismatic issue (number 6):

1. Hard Cessationist: The term “cessationist” is taken from the word “cease.” The hard cessationist believes that particular gifts, such as tongues, prophecy, miracles, healings, and the like, necessarily ceased in the first century due to an exhaustion of purpose. The hard cessationist would distinguish between what are called “sign gifts” and all other gifts. “Sign gifts” are the gifts that are evidently miraculous, and therefore provide a sign to the witnesses that the message of the one who performed these gifts was truly from God. According to the hard cessationist, once the New Testament was completed, there was no longer a need for these gifts to be given to the church, since the Gospel message had been firmly established. They would be considered “hard” cessationists, since they believe that both the Bible and biblical theology necessitates their cessation.

2. Soft Cessationist: The soft cessationist would agree with most of the arguments of the hard cessationist, except they would be open to God’s use of the sign gifts in areas that are unevangelized. Therefore, the “ceasing” of the gifts has less to do with the completion of the Bible and more to do with God’s missional purpose. For the soft cessationist, it may very well be that God continues to use these gifts to establish the Gospel message in areas of the world that have yet to be penetrated with the Gospel. Once the Gospel is established, the gifts would cease. As well, Soft Cessationists are open to a new movement of the Spirit. In short, Soft Cessationists are open to legitimate expressions of these gifts, even if they have never seen them expressed in any normative way.

3. Continuationist: The term “continuationist” is taken from the word “continue.” Continuationists, simply put, believe that all the gifts of the Spirit have continued throughout the church age. For the continuationist, while many of these gifts would have indeed served as signs to the outside world, their primary function is not to evangelize the lost, but to ensure the health of the church. In other words, God gives them out of his benevolence. The continuationist sees no biblical evidence that these gifts would ever cease; on the contrary, the continuationist believes the Bible teaches that these gifts are normative for the church age.

4. Charismatic: Every charismatic is a continuationist, but not every continuationist is a charismatic. I think this is an important distinction to make. The charismatic would agree with all of the continuationist’s positions; the primary difference is in their pursuit of all the gifts for the church. I would like to propose this as a formal working definition of a charismatic for our purposes:

A charismatic is one who believes that all of the gifts of the Spirit 1) have continued, 2) are normative, and 3) should be sought out by individual believers and the Church.

The last characteristic of the gifts, that they “should be sought out,” is the key difference between a continuationist and a charismatic. In other words, the theology of the charismatic is not simply a passive academic argument, but one that should be practiced and affect the life of the church. If you believe that all of the gifts have continued, but neither practice them yourself nor belong to a church which seeks them, then you are not really charismatic.

Here is what my chart would look like now:

charismatic4

For the record, I think I would be best placed somewhere between a soft cessationist and a continuationist, most days leaning my back against the door of the soft cessationist. I don’t like the word “ceased” with regard to the gifts (too definite) but I don’t like the word “normative” either.

I hope this helps a bit to clarify what the word “charismatic” means in theological context. I think with such a definition, it would be easier to tell who the real charismatics are and who are just more charismatic-leaning than others. As well (and most importantly for now), it will help us to keep from labeling the entirety of a movement by its less orthodox extremes. Many continuationists unfairly characterize cessationists as deists. This is a straw man and damaging to the body of Christ. As well, many cessationists unfairly argue against the orthodox charismatic movement by setting up Benny Hinn and other TBN extremists as representatives of what it means to be charismatic. This slanders and alienates so many whose involvement in the charismatic movement they should be celebrating.

89 Responses to “What Does it Mean to Be Charismatic?”

  1. CMP –

    Thanks for sharing your heart and putting forth a more balanced perspective on the acceptance of continuationists within the fold of Christianity. I’ve only recently really come across such strong comments that most of us are not Christian. And I know this has come through the caring and solid relationships you’ve formed with folks like Sam Storms and JP Moreland. But thank you as a non-charismatic (does that also mean non-continuationst for the time being?).

    A few years ago, over at our continuationist blog, I also put together a chart on Modern-Day Continuationists. I haven’t added in the “fourth wave” you refer to, but I somehow see this fourth wave much more relatable and connected to the “third wave” (also known as neo-charismatics), since in the 1980’s and 1990’s, many stronger evangelical theologians began moving towards a continuationist view due to the work of the Spirit outside the usual Pentecostal and charismatic churches.

    Blessings

  2. Great article and I truly found myself saying Amen to Dan Wallace’s article in many places. My only critique is that Charismatics don’t put their faith in the faith healer to heal them – rather they put their trust in God to bring healing through the faith healer…

    I will admit though that there are some who maybe putting their trust in the healer and not in our Lord.

    One of the more famous African evangelists Bonnke, who see’s healings happen on a regular basis is always saying.. don’t look to me.. look to Jesus.

  3. Jon Mark Ruthven recently (2011) published a book called What’s Wrong with Protestant Theology?, which gets at this issue in a very intellectual way. He argues that God has always wanted a personal relationship with his people, where he would speak and they would hear and obey. The Israelites showed failure of this in Deut 5 (compare this to the end of Heb 12). Furthermore, there arose a Not in Heaven doctrine, partially based off of Deut 30:12, which said that God would no longer speak, but instead he gave his law, which was to be forever interpreted by humans with no more divine guidance. Paul soundly criticizes this attitude in Rom 9:30-10:13.

    Ruthven argues that a powerful way to look at scripture is to ask what God is trying to say, and whether people are listening. Hence the 3x refrain in Hebrews, “Today, if you hear his voice, / do not harden your hearts [as in the rebellion].” Don’t repeat the mistake of those who went before you!

    There are two questions I look forward to asking cessationists:

    1. Is God able to have a personal relationship with his sons and daughters, talking to them like a father talks to his children, and not just through Bible verses or vague feelings?
    2. If so, are you saying that God doesn’t want this kind of relationship? His love isn’t like that?

  4. Craig,

    Yes, you are right, I am a non continuationist. However I do desire for prophecy to be in my life and I would not forbid speaking in tongues. (Unless the context said that this is not the time). 1 Cor 14 bookends with a command to pursue prophecy. I am convicted that I should whether or not I believe that this gift ceased due to an axhaistion of purpose.

  5. This is an outstanding article and I will share it far and wide. There is one term I rarely see in any discussion of Pentecostals/Charismatics and that is “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit” (BHS). This is a separate gift of God in the life of a believer as identified in the Book of Acts. Some denominations will say if you do not speak in tongues you do not have the BHS, according to Acts 2:4. Others are more open to any gift of the Spirit as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12 as evidence of the BHS. The idea of this distinctive blessing is further confirmed in those churches that celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation (ie Catholics) or Chrismation (ie Orthodox traditions). In the Catholic believer’s initiation, this occurs at the same age as a Jewish Bar/Bat Mitvah, 13, as a rite of passage. In the Orthodox Church and some Catholic churches, the infilling of the Spirit is symbolized the in the oil applied at baptism. The Holy Spirit’s role in salvation is regeneration, conviction and repentance – all essential before any other gifts can be bestowed. At the point of salvation, the Holy Spirit does reside in (indwell) the believer (ie “Jesus in my heart.” As water baptism, the BHS is an internal spiritual immersion where the Holy Spirit then infills, empowers and anoints or “charisms” (yes, I made it a verb) the believer for greater service in the church and for more effective evangelization of those outside the church. It is tragic that some equate this with “tokin’ the Ghost” or some of the other blatant sacrilege that is out there today. If I didn’t have such a real and dynamic (dunamis) encounter with the Blessed Comforter, I too would probably be a Cessationist today. However, the Holy Ghost inspired and infallible Word of God clearly delineates a separate encounter with the Paraclete in Acts 19:2, in a question I leave with you now: “…’Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ ..they [believers] said, ‘No, we have not even heard

  6. This article was just posted by Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk today. It shows how some of those theologians of sound doctrine really appreciated a second, subjective experience of the Holy Spirit.

  7. @Jim, I had a fascinating visceral response to my wife’s recollection of charismatics who treat people as second-class citizens if they don’t speak in tongues. I immediately thought: what the Holy Spirit most wants is Christlike unity, and anything which contributes to that unity is to be praised as an act of glorifying God. Who is to say that there aren’t any spiritual gifts which are undetectable except that they contribute to unity of the church? In contrast to this, those who would make Christians second-class citizens are in danger of scattering, in the Mt 12:30 sense.

  8. Elizabeth Johnston October 21, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Mike,

    This is a greatly needed clarification, especially in light of the recent Strange Fire conference. Thank you. It is so nice to see that in your graph I am actually bracketed within “healthy/orthodox” parameters even though I am Charismatic. It’s nice to know that I am not really going to hell. (Humor is always helpful for me when coping with stress.)

    There is only point I want to comment on specifically, #3. And this is just a word of caution to my fellow Charismatics. I don’t think anyone should directly seek supernatural events as a means confirmation or communication. We should go to the Word prayerfully, seek advice (maybe) from godly brothers or sisters, etc. God, of course, can lead us through supernatural means. But, that is the exception not the rule. It is much too easy to let our wishful thinking and a case of indigestion become our guide if we expect God to answer us in a dream or vision. And, off hand, I can’t think of anywhere in the NT that they sought that type of revelation. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)
    Thank you again for a balanced assessment.

  9. I just discovered your blog and I’ve enjoyed it much. I didn’t know Hank Hanegraaf to be a cessastionist. Yes, he wrote Christianity in Crisis which I believe was very needful to call out false teaching but having listened to his broadcast over the years I’ve never heard him take a hard position on the gifts. I stand to be corrected. Thanks again

  10. Hi! Thanks for this article, even if I don’t agree with its conclusion, being a charismatic Vineyarder.

    I would like you to ponder these questions:

    1. Would this reasoning be applicable to love? That is, too little love is bad, too much love is bad, “so and so love” is good. I think there are serious problems. God wants passionate love, and passionate hunger for revival.

    2. Paul says that we should eagerly desire the gifts (1 Cor 14:1) and even excel in them (v. 12). If one believes that miracles still exist, I think one is cherry-picking if one just ignore that command (I think cessationist cherry-pick as well).

    3. If you lived in first century Israel and were using this framework, would you really like the ministry of Jesus. When I read about His life, ministry and theology He seems like a hard core charismatic, who loved to do miracles and exhorted His disciples to heal the sick, raise the dead and do greater things than He did. Later on, the apostles and other early Christians did a lot of miracles. These weren’t exactly moderate charismatics.

    Finally, here are some counterargumentsagainst cessationism that I’ve written: http://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/a-response-to-tom-penningtons-seven-cessationist-arguments/

    Blessings!
    Micael

  11. I spent my last 15 years “growing up” in a dry, “Father, Son, Holy Bible” church. I became very well grounded in Scripture. However, my spiritual life was devoid of any real, heartfelt fullness of the Spirit. I became an elder and teacher and passed on this Bible-centric Christian life. However, when some serious, heart-crushing events happened in my family, I had no comfort or peace to draw from — not because it wasn’t there, but because I didn’t know how to appropriate it.

    No more. I left this church and I am now a fledgling charismatic. I have no idea what each day holds but this — I’m grounded in Scripture, longing for a Spirit-filled life, and focused on a Saviour who I put my complete trust in.

    Brian Hendrix

  12. This was really helpful. I appreciate the distinction between being a continuationist and a Charismatic. Items #1-4 are especially useful in this regard, although I realize these aren’t black-and-white classifications, and I don’t know if any Charismatics would characterize their focus on such issues as “unusual.” But this shows why many continuationists, such as myself, do not consider ourselves to be Charismatic.

  13. Michael, thank you for your thoughtful explanation of Charismatic. Having been a part of the movement I find it respectful and intellectually honest. Personally I am a continuist and in the past found myself not fully embraced by Charismatics because although I did not oppose the Gifts of the Spirit, I did not actively seek the more showy ones I.e. tongues, healing and prophesy. I did seek the gifts (not sure where this pits me in your scale) but because I did not speak in tongues back then I could not be called a Charismatic by other Charismatics. I was pejoratively called one by other evangelicals and fundamentalists. For them the dividing line was cessation. For the Charismatic it was tongues. I don’t think the Charismatic feelings on this topic has changed much over the past few years. But the mainstream evangelical feelings about it have definitely evolved. It is no longer an evil label. So actually, being A Charismatic is quite different from being charismatic or open to charismatic thot. In a similar manner a committed Calvinist would not look favorably on someone who called themselves a three or two point Calvinist. They would say its all five points or none at all. You can’t be sort of pregnant (I heard this analogy at Bible school); and you can’t be sort of Calvinist. I believe staunch Charismatics would feel the same way. In my humble opinion this whole debate (Strange Fire included) is less about the doctrinal validity of the Charismatics and much more about which evangelical leaders wear the Papal theological hats. The debate underscores that even as evangelical Christianity drifts back toward a more Calvinistic view under popular leaders such as John Piper, many leaders, including Piper, are also adopting, or at the very least not opposing Charismatic thought and theology. Those, like John McArthur, are loosing influence and popularity. Charismatics are more mainstream today, their theological roots more distant and less imperative. Having…

  14. When I was Lutheran I well well trained in our method of interpreting Scripture. I believed I knew it all and was as Christian as anyone out there. BUT then in 1999 I was born again experience (John 3). I changed despite my religious knowledge. This created a lot of discomfort in my family but changed my life dramatically. I became more obedient…I understood them that the Bible is true, trustworthy, and the God is alive and living.

    Similarily with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The traditions of men block many from the the simple truth. (Heb 6:1- baptisms – plural)

    (Luke 3:16) John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

    God is spirit, we must worship Him in spirit and in truth. His Kingdom is spiritual.

    I encourage and urge you to not read what men say about the Bible but to simply ask the Lord to open up his Word to you. It is all right there. “You have no need that any man should teach you…you have an anointing from the Holy one.”

    God bless.

  15. True strange fire

    I think like all deception, lies mixed with a small amount of error are the most dangerous.

    Many of the public displays of what is called the Holy Spirit does not pass the Biblical test and can be called strange fire.

    Jesus and Paul told us to beware spiritual deception. We are taught to “test the spirits.”
    This is why we need the Holy Spirit to show us what is of Him and what is false. Meaning demonic.

    Yes, there are false holy spirits out there- a whole army of them.

    Kundalini warning by Andrew Strom
    Protection from Deception by Derek Prince.
    Jesse Penn Lewis- War on the Saints.

    I would agree and warn that the Bethel thing, gold dust and all, is from “another spirit” that actually preaches or gives weight to “another gospel.” There ARE many lying signs and wonders these days…

    But the existence of the lying ones, does not negate the truth of God’s word and Him giving us true signs to give evidence to truth.

    Lying signs confirm- a lie. They are meant to make you believe a pastor, preacher, that is not sent from God, or demonized himself.

    But God will always confirm His Word and give glory to His son.
    Lying signs give glory to the messenger….The true Holy Spirit gives glory to Jesus Christ and CONFIRMS the Word.

    Lying signs attempt to twist, distort or throw out the Word.

    There is an all out assault on the ministry, existence, and baptism of the true Holy Spirit of God these days from all sides. We need to know this, inside and out.

    How can we be led by the Holy Spirit if we don’t recognize His voice? A thought in your mind…can come from different sources. A pastor, preacher, or book can be from a spiritually pure place, a mixture, or a deception intended by the enemy to lead you astray.

    I know this because I was led astray in the same manner for many years. It brought a lot of suffering to me and my family.

    Value the Word more highly than your doctrine or the “great” teachers.

  16. Nothing wrong with those who speak in tongues or worship with a lot of emotion. God can use those things, as well, I guess.

    The trouble comes when those types expect that ALL should be worshipping that way in order to be “real Christians”.

  17. Show many any writing, video or recording that says all Christians are expected to speak in tongues.

    Or anyone who says one has to to be saved. Please.

    Often cited but NEVER heard or documented.

    It leads me to conclude that people openly lie about it.

    Please show me some evidence and put this to rest.

  18. Thanks for your work.
    Do believe it could be wrong for someone to believe in gifts but not seek them? I am thinking specifically about Paul teaching that the believers in Corinth should seek certain gifts (1 Cor 12:31)
    If so, would the Soft-Cessationist be wrong and the charismatic be right?

  19. What you are continually missing CMP is accepting the fact that many theologians have concluded that anything beyond completionism or what you call hard cessationism is error. Further you cannot accept these Bible teachers and theologians may speak and teach with such a conviction.You seem to believe the only virtue a completionist may have is when he holds to his or her view but then minimizes it by some intellectual concession to charismatics and what you wish to define as a continuationist non-charismatic.

    If it is error it should be treated that way. Maybe you aren’t that convinced of your position but treating others as if they may not be or that they cannot have fully and fairly treated the whole matter or else they would respond as you prescribe his the height of blind crusading.

  20. Missy,

    Not all errors are created equal. Someone who has an erroneous Eschatology is (in most cases) not on the same level of error as someone who has an erroneous Christology. The simple law of non-contradiction means that Charismatics and Hard Cessationists can’t both be right. The question is whether or not this is something that we should be resorting to public friendly fire over or, instead, friendly discussion.

    It is interesting how MacArthur chooses to pick his battles. On one hand he chooses to fight tooth and nail against Charismatics while at the same time inviting the paedo-baptist Sproul to share his pulpit and have friendly debates around the subject with him (which are posted on MacArthur’s site btw). This despite the fact that infant baptism is arguably a much more central issue for Baptists. Why not the same provision for Charismatics?? It’s not like there are not numerous Bible-believing, God-fearing pastors and scholars who would be willing to discuss the matter in an open and friendly way with MacArthur. Instead, he resorts to public ridicule and basically saying they are of the devil. Really??? Piper, Carson, Storms, Grudem, Keener, Moreland, Licona, Copan, etc. etc. etc. Really?? But not a believer in infant baptism when you are a Baptist??

  21. Stop being reasonable. How will you ever get a big conference without attacking anyone?

  22. MCP

    I really appreciate your struggle and caution with Gods truth. I have learned caution and patience from you in this respect.
    Thank you

    What I think is the more common issue. At least for me. How one understands the workings of the gifts.

    Where does a person fall who:

    #1 Does not believe the gift of prophecy can be wrong? A point you make very convincingly in your podcast series, “Why I Am-Am Not A Charismatic.” And has never experienced it or witnessed it. IMO

    #2 Believes the gift of tongues is not a private prayer language, but the ability to speak God’s truth in an earthly language they do not know. And has never experienced it or witnessed it. IMO

    #3 The interpretation of tongues is interpreting language people on this planet speak bu not known to the person interpreting? And has never experienced it or witnessed it. IMO

    #4 That healing is something God does through the prayers of His people not through an individual person. Based on the fact that I have never seen a person really heal anyone. An full hospitals.

    #5 That the abuses are so bad, the heresy’s are so severe its difficult to just leave this issue in the non-essential camp.

    I am not looking for anyone to convince me my understanding, application or interpretation of Scripture is wrong. Please.

    What camp do I fall in?

    Ralph

  23. Michael T

    I believe the explications of charismaticism are self evident though they have been denoted by many theologians. Its error, practically, results in pseudo spirituality. Charismaticism light or what CMP calls continuationist but noncharismatic also has explications and implications as well which are far more reaching and damaging than its defenders represent. BTW, I don’t agree with how JM and company has practiced duplicity on the matter in transfers of trust etc., with thevery people he points to teaching doctrine originating w demons.Further, these men like Piper may be sincere and believe their errant hermeneutic correct and never consulted demons but is that his you think doctrines of demons come about? They are hidden behind orthodoxy. A review of Peter on false teachers would reveal this for you.

  24. Stephen Paynter October 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Difficult to fit into your graphics is the issue of “baptism with the Holy Spirit” … as some Charismatics and hard-cessationists are in agreement, and there is not a neat sliding scale. This is my taxonomy of positions:

    1. Baptism in the Holy Spirit = Regeneration (occurs when one becomes a Christian)

    1a. And there are no special subsequent “fillings” with
    the Holy Spirit (Not even all Hard Cessationists
    hold this)

    1b. And there may be many repeated “fillings” with the
    Holy Spirit (This position comes in both Cessationist
    and Charismatic varieties).

    2. Baptism in the Holy Spirit = A one-off special experience
    subsequent to conversion

    2a. Necessarily involves with Speaking in tongues
    (This has a claim to be the classic Pentecostal
    position.)
    2b. Doesn’t necessarily involve with Speaking in tongues

    3. Baptism in the Holy Spirit = “a filling with the Holy
    Spirit, which may be repeated many times”

    4. Baptism in the Holy Spirit = Regeneration … and
    necessarily involves speaking in tongues

    Option 4 is (IMO) highly unorthodox / heretical, but I have encountered a “church” that teaches this.

  25. @Missy M, do you ever worry that attributing supernatural events to Satan (CMP mentioned formerly doing this himself in a previous post) is dangerously similar to the Pharisees saying that Jesus casts out demons by Beelzebul (Mt 12:22-32)? Basically, you’re calling every Charismatic who claims to have healed someone a liar, or worse, an agent of Satan. It seems awfully dangerous to take a strong stance (cessationism) when this is a “good and necessary consequence”.

    It’s awfully odd for Jesus do be an all-gifts Charismatic himself, only to take said gifts back away after the canon was closed/apostles died. He came to “give life and life abundantly”, but the miraculous healing was only temporary? God doesn’t want miraculous healing to happen now? It seems extremely difficult to justify why.

    Remember that cessationism was ‘discovered’ as a political weapon against the Roman Catholics during the Reformation; they were claiming that miracles authenticated their doctrines and the Protestants decided to relegate miracles to the extremely rare, thus denying the Catholics a potent tool for convincing. It should always be suspicious when a new theological doctrine has immediate political uses!

    Maybe, just maybe, not all (any) of the charismatic gifts are now sign-gifts, used to authenticate divine revelation. I’ve never seen a cogent argument for all of the charismatic gifts being sign gifts; 1 Cor 14 even has prophecy failing some of the time—otherwise why would there be a need for it to be tested?

  26. Truth Unites... and Divides October 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Michael T., et al,

    Here’s a pastor’s rebuttal to some accusations that have been levied towards the Strange Fire Conference:

    Excerpts: “When a pastoral conference is presented to expose the excesses, contagion, idiocy, and deadliness of Charismatic aberrations, it is odd that some feel the need to call it divisive and destructive.

    Nobody is burning a straw man, they are just showing us the treacherous bottom of the slippery slope.

    Who better to present a conference on the abuses of Charismatic theology and practice than Cessationists? If you don’t want a Cessationist to rebuke your movement, then who’s going to do it, you?

    I’m surprised by moderate/conservative/Reformed Charismatics who have been offended by the Strange Fire conference. I would think they’d be grateful for credible, equipped rescue workers showing up to do what they can’t. A Charismatic who doesn’t espouse “barking in the Spirit” simply isn’t able to rebuke one who does. How would that conversation go?—“Yes we both believe that you can’t put God in a box, and what I’m doing with prophecy and tongues is acceptable, but what you’re doing is unacceptable.” All a Charismatic believer can do is hug the victims and watch the strange fire burn until the Cessationists show up with their theological hose pipes and their lectures about how dangerous this stuff is.

    All true believers are on the same team, and we’re all against the abuses and excesses of masquerading unbelievers. Conservative Continuationists need to start their own version of the conference to police the excesses as best they can, or they should muster a cheer while the Cessationists do it. But chiding them for using the big hose is silly. No one is lambasting the Pipers, Grudems, and Carsons of the world.”

    Here: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Strange Fire.

  27. Now, before you go running for your Bible, let me save you the trouble. There are only 28 chapters in the book of acts, much of which is dedicated to the establishment of early Christian churches. The idea behind the name is that this is the “next chapter” in the life of the church.
    On the surface, Acts 29 sounds much like the emergent church movement, in that it claims to be a network rather than a denomination, and their website claims that their values are not meant to supersede those of any particular church’s doctrine. They state that their purpose is to create relationship and to share resources, much like the emergent networks tend to do, which makes a lot of sense to me.
    But there’s plenty that’s bothersome about it at the same time.
    First of all, a glance over the Leadership roster makes one thing clear: middle aged white guys are in charge here. Of the 25 people shown on the team, 22 of them are white males. All positions of top Board and administrative leadership are white guys, and of the executive staff, there is only on African-American.
    Yes, there is one woman in the mix; she’s the secretary. And they do have an Asian on staff handling communications.
    Then there’s the value statement, most of which is consistent with a typical evangelical church vision. However, this one point stands out, in which Acts 29 commits itself to “…get behind the men (emphasis added) who are planting churches by…networking with men in different denominations and networks for the kingdom good of the city.”
    Translated: no penis, no dice.

  28. @Truth Unites, are you unaware of the self-policing of prophecy described in 1 Cor 14? Is it difficult to conceive that there might be other self-policing mechanisms? Your argument seems tantamount to: “Sometimes driving results in accidents, so we should never drive, just to be safe.”

  29. TUAD,

    Did you actually see the videos? Please point out the nuances that makes it clear that Grudem, Piper, et at. are not being addressed? I’m glad that whoever it is you are quoting wants to read this into them, but I’m sorry if you say “Charismatics” by definition you are including them in your attack. That is everyone’s primary complaint – MarArthur doesn’t use enough to nuance to make it clear who he is attacking.

    Furthermore, everything is a slippery slope in Christianity. You focus too much on the oneness of the Trinity and you end up in Arianism, too much on the diversity you end up with Tri-theism. You focus too much on God’s control and you end up with a God who is the author of evil, too much on man’s free will you end up with Pelagianism. Everything is a balancing act and heresies often abound on both sides. One must explain why a given belief necessitates the slippery slope. Especially when it is bounded by other beliefs (such as the supremacy of Scripture)

    Finally it is a myth that Conservative Continuationists don’t challenge the radicals. They quite frequently call out the excesses. Why do they need to band together and have a conference?? Is it there duty to confront every last heresy they see?? Should they have a conference one weekend against Catholocism, and the next against Lutheranism, the next against Pentacostalism, the next against Eastern Orthodoxy?? Maybe they should have conferences on weekdays too for non-Christian religions. Maybe this Wednesday we can have a conference on why it is wrong to believe in Greek Gods….

    Really after a while it gets absurd. At some point you have to make clear what you are for and often this makes it clear what you are against. That being said if there is a issue that is effecting your flock in particular (i.e. open theism in Piper’s case) then by all means address it. Just be clear who your attacks are aimed at.

  30. Missy,

    I would be very careful about the fire you are playing with. Attributing the work of God to Satan is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than attributing the work of Satan to God (at the very least we know Satan can’t even exist, much less act, without God allowing it).

    Also I would like to know what basis it is upon which you claim that ALL continuationists are following a doctrine that is from Satan. You do realize that not all mistaken beliefs are of Satan?? We are more than fallen enough to accomplish this without any involvement from the evil one whatsoever.

  31. Truth Unites... and Divides October 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Michael T.: “Please point out the nuances that makes it clear that Grudem, Piper, et at. are not being addressed? I’m glad that whoever it is you are quoting wants to read this into them, but I’m sorry if you say “Charismatics” by definition you are including them in your attack.”

    Okay, per your definition Grudem and Piper are Charismatics.

    “Is it there [sic] duty to confront every last heresy they see??

    So is it your claim or argument that “careful” Charismatics don’t have a duty or responsibility to correct and confront the excesses and abuses of fellow Charismatics?

    Recall Pastor Clint Archer: “A Charismatic who doesn’t espouse “barking in the Spirit” simply isn’t able to rebuke one who does. How would that conversation go?—“Yes we both believe that you can’t put God in a box, and what I’m doing with prophecy and tongues is acceptable, but what you’re doing is unacceptable.” All a Charismatic believer can do is hug the victims and watch the strange fire burn until the Cessationists show up with their theological hose pipes and their lectures about how dangerous this stuff is.”

    With regards to your primary complaint about a lack of nuance and/or insufficient qualifications, pastor Phil Johnson addressed this accusation quite well in:

    Strange Fire – Is There a Baby in the Bathwater?

    Excerpts: “Here are the very best theologians in the charismatic movement, and after all the spiritual disaster that has stemmed from this teaching, they continue to justify the practice of encouraging people to proclaim “prophecies” that are unverified and unverifiable—and which frequently prove to be dead wrong. That fosters sinful gullibility, and therefore it undermines true faith.

    And confusion about whether God has really spoken or not is the most dangerous threat to faith I can imagine.”

    Read it all, Michael T.

  32. Truth Unites... and Divides October 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Michael T.: “Is it there [sic] duty to confront every last heresy they see??” (Their duty being Piper, Grudem, Storm, et al’s duty).

    Michael T., do you agree with Pastor C. Michael Patton who wrote this earlier today:

    “An important distinction that [careful] charismatics need to make, make loudly and make often, is essentially the same one as #2 above but from their unique position and perspective. These are two sides of the same coin, in other words, but I want to be clear that [careful] charismatic churches, preachers and writers are under an obligation today, given the proliferation of the aforementioned excrement of false teachers, to distinguish themselves and join the open rebuke against them.

  33. TUAD,

    “So is it your claim or argument that “careful” Charismatics don’t have a duty or responsibility to correct and confront the excesses and abuses of fellow Charismatics?”

    That is not what I said. I asked a rhetorical question as to whether or not there is a duty on a pastor to confront EVERY heresy there is out there. I then qualified that by saying that they do have a duty to confront the heresies that their flocks are confronted with. In some cases that may be the excesses of other charismatics. In other instances there may be more pressing threats that need to be addressed. In any case they need to be clear who they are addressing in their rebuke and not use bombs when a scalpel is a better tool.

    Barking in the Spirit…..False Prophecies, etc.

    Have there not always been false prophets?? Have there not always been false manifestations of the Spirit?? These certainly existed in the times of the Apostles. Does the fact that there are false prophecies and false manifestations mean that there are no genuine prophecies, or genuine manifestations?

  34. @Truth Unites:

    Recall Pastor Clint Archer: “A Charismatic who doesn’t espouse “barking in the Spirit” simply isn’t able to rebuke one who does.

    I simply reject the premise. Clint Archer is using scare tactics. Obedient Christians submit to one another (Eph 5:21). Obedient Christians judge actions by the fruit they bring. I don’t think Jesus is a fan of quenching one form of extremism with another. I’m pretty sure he expressly does not work that way.

  35. Truth Unites... and Divides October 21, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Agreement between pastors:

    Pastor Clint Archer: “A Charismatic who doesn’t espouse “barking in the Spirit” simply isn’t able to rebuke one who does. How would that conversation go?—“Yes we both believe that you can’t put God in a box, and what I’m doing with prophecy and tongues is acceptable, but what you’re doing is unacceptable.”

    Pastor C. Michael Patton: “Sam Storms, our local theologically erudite while decidedly non-cessationist pastor of the Reformed persuasion, has said more than once that being fully open to the supernatural gifts, on the one hand, while warding off mere subjective whims & wide-upon spiritual freelancing, on the other, is not the easy road. Charismatic churches, however, can’t afford to take the easy road these days.”

  36. @Truth Unites: “is not the easy road” ≠ “isn’t able to”

  37. #4

    Would it be considered the ‘unhealthy/unorthodox extreme’ to conclude the enemy may be having a field day with the way this topic has gone thus far this week among the Lord’s people?

  38. I just read ALL of that, & it was a long post. One of the best blog posts I’ve read in YEARS. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it!

  39. Truth Unites... and Divides October 21, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Ooops! Made an error earlier today. (Thanks to Brendt W. Waters for pointing it out). I attributed comments to CMP when they should have been to Pastor Clint Roberts. It should be:

    Michael T.: “Is it there [sic] duty to confront every last heresy they see??” (Their duty being Piper, Grudem, Storm, et al’s duty).

    Michael T., do you agree with Pastor Clint Roberts who wrote this earlier today?

    “An important distinction that [careful] charismatics need to make, make loudly and make often, is essentially the same one as #2 above but from their unique position and perspective. These are two sides of the same coin, in other words, but I want to be clear that [careful] charismatic churches, preachers and writers are under an obligation today, given the proliferation of the aforementioned excrement of false teachers, to distinguish themselves and join the open rebuke against them.

    ———–

    Agreement between pastors:

    Pastor Clint Roberts: “Sam Storms, our local theologically erudite while decidedly non-cessationist pastor of the Reformed persuasion, has said more than once that being fully open to the supernatural gifts, on the one hand, while warding off mere subjective whims & wide-upon spiritual freelancing, on the other, is not the easy road. Charismatic churches, however, can’t afford to take the easy road these days.

    Pastor Clint Archer: “A Charismatic who doesn’t espouse “barking in the Spirit” simply isn’t able to rebuke one who does. How would that conversation go?—“Yes we both believe that you can’t put God in a box, and what I’m doing with prophecy and tongues is acceptable, but what you’re doing is unacceptable.”

  40. I would be curious to know who you have in mind regarding those who espouse a far left view on this spectrum. I think we could name quite a few prominent spokesman for the far right view, but what prominent spokesman in Evangelicalism hold to the far left view?

    For example, with regard to #1 “who rarely, if ever, recognize[s] the presence of the Holy Spirit”? With regard to #2 who believes “God never intervenes in a miraculous way today at all”? With regard to #4 who is “embarrassed to acknowledge the reality of Satan and his demons at all”? With regard to #6 I can think of one writer who espouses the idea that all the gifts have ceased (Pettegrew) but he is a virtual unknown. I think it might be helpful for your readers to be able to identify some of the prominent far left promoters within Evangelical leadership. Thanks!

  41. Well, I still believe in being ‘baptised with Holy Spirit’. I have never been happy with this being a second blessing, as it was clearly part of becoming a Christian in the NT. However, it is also experimental in Acts, and many who claim a second blessing have imo received the first, initiating blessing late. Part of the reason for this may be that evangelicals hardy teach about the Holy Spirit – they don’t know ‘the Holy Spirit has been given’. And, having been justified by faith, you can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit and have God’s love shed abroad in your heart and not know it!

    Secondly, gifts are given to bless others. So if I pray for and receive a prophecy, it is not that I can claim to have the gift as something permanently residing in me, rather I may on occasion ‘speak in the Spirit’ to bring particular comfort or encouragement to someone else through what is said. Few Christians suffer from having too much encouragement these days. The gift comes through one Christian to another, who is blessed. The gifts are a way of loving your Christian neighbour. Similarly with healing – it’s not that I “have the gift”, but that healing may come to others through me, and only ever if God wills it.
    To give an example, I once prayed for – and received a word of knowledge – that lead to someone repenting of and leaving an ‘inner healer’. Iin the middle of a sermon on judging and discernment I described so exactly her circumstances that she angrily accused the man who invited me to preach of telling me all about her! I’ve known of prophesy containing information the person giving it could not have known leading to repentence, the secrets of hearts being disclosed 1 Cor 14:24-5 style. The person exercising the gift may or may not be consciously aware of the import of what they are saying. I wasn’t in my sermon, but I have known occasions when I have been more aware.

  42. Michael

    “I” didn’t say all continuationists are following a doctrine from Satan. MacArthur did. I was pointing out its possibility and the flaws of your argument. Speaking of which you did not answer. Paul writes about doctrines of demons and Peter identifies that this heresy enters the body via orthodoxy as a facade to overshadow and disguise the error. So now, what are your criteria for categorizing something as a doctrine of demons, have you ever labeled something as such and if not, why not seeing its strong warning by the Apostles in guarding against it by identifying and condemning such.

    As to playing with fire, if one cannot be sure (cautious but open) or does not know (more full charismaticism) I suggest they indeed leave the matter alone. But for those who do know fire from water, we take one to confidently deal with the other.

  43. TUAD,

    I don’t agree with Clint Archer for the reasons stated above. Namely many of these pastors are far removed from the more extreme expressions of Charismaticism and also may have bigger fish to fry as it pertains to their own flock.

  44. ” Peter identifies that this heresy enters the body via orthodoxy as a facade to overshadow and disguise the error.”

    Not how you are getting this from the passage in question. Please feel free to explicate.

  45. Missy M – I’ve been following your posts with interest. Regarding JM thinking all continuationalists following demons, the blasphemy of the Spirit was specifically attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan; the wacko charismaniacs (from both my and your point of view – I agree they are false) are attributing the work of demons to God, which is the other way round. Isn’t this sloppy use of scripture by JM on this occasion?

    Why the emphasis on demons? I know doctrines of demons can be discerned by knowledge of scripture, usually in the form of false views about Christ, and sin and authority. I’ve read Jude. Another way to know is the gift of distinguishing of spirits, though I assume you think this has been withdrawn. Have you ever encountered anyone who was demonised? It’s not necessarily that easy to ascertain, and Paul need such a gift in Acts 16. What happens if you meet this today?

    What about where gifts lead to repentance and a better walk with God? A kingdom divided will fall. You don’t believe that is all demonic, do you? (cf my post above.) Is that the only supernatural you will ever encounter?

    I’m sure some of the opposition to the gifts of the Spirit is simply the flesh waring against the Spirit – a fear of letting go of our orderly church services where we are in control, to orderly church services where ‘let all things be done’ means than just a hymn sandwich. This is where the real division is, flesh v. Spirit, not the various labels we put on people.

    May I ask – have you ever considered you might have got it wrong? I certainly have, but I fear God too much to start saying some of what I have experienced that had a biblical basis amongst genuine Christians was not of God. I can’t be certain of everything, but then I doubt if you are woodenly certain when claiming prayer has been answered, especially if it was not quite the way you were expecting.

  46. Mr. Patton,

    Where would the NT Church fall on your graph?

    John

  47. Truth Unites... and Divides October 22, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Michael T.: “TUAD,

    I don’t agree with Clint Archer for the reasons stated above. Namely many of these pastors are far removed from the more extreme expressions of Charismaticism and also may have bigger fish to fry as it pertains to their own flock.”

    You mean you don’t agree with Pastor Clint Roberts, not Pastor Clint Archer, right? Pastor Roberts is the one who wrote: ““An important distinction that [careful] charismatics need to make, make loudly and make often, is essentially the same one as #2 above but from their unique position and perspective. These are two sides of the same coin, in other words, but I want to be clear that [careful] charismatic churches, preachers and writers are under an obligation today, given the proliferation of the aforementioned excrement of false teachers, to distinguish themselves and join the open rebuke against them.“

    So Michael T., so you deny that “careful” charismatic churches and leaders have a duty or responsibility or obligation to rebuke and correct the abuses and excesses of the “reckless” charismatic churches and leaders because “they may have deeper fish to fry as it pertains to their own flock” in your own words.

    Since you deny the responsibility, then let’s appreciate the Strange Fire Conference for doing what you claim is not an obligation by the “careful” Charismatics.

    (Pastor Clint Archer) “Who better to present a conference on the abuses of Charismatic theology and practice than Cessationists? If you don’t want a Cessationist to rebuke your movement, then who’s going to do it, you?

    I’m surprised by moderate/conservative/Reformed Charismatics who have been offended by the Strange Fire conference. I would think they’d be grateful for credible, equipped rescue workers showing up to do what they can’t [or won’t].”

  48. @Missy M: Doesn’t one know a “doctrine of demons” by its fruit? Remember the parable of the wheat and the tares: you deal with them when they’re full-grown, not when they’re seeds or little shoots. Have you ever wondered why Jesus gave this instruction? Perhaps because there would be too much danger of pulling up wheat shoots?

    @TUAD: It is never acceptable to extinguish falsehood with falsehood. If cessationism is false, no Christian should want it to go around imposing itself upon Christians.

  49. Truth Unites... and Divides October 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

    ” It is never acceptable to extinguish falsehood with falsehood. If cessationism is false, no Christian should want it to go around imposing itself upon Christians.”

    Luke, take a look at Pastor C. Michael Patton’s second chart/graph.

    In it, you’ll see that both “hard cessationist” and “soft cessationist” is included as “Healthy/Orthodox.”

    :-)

  50. @TUAD: That doesn’t change my point. If continualism is true, extinguishing illicit uses of the charismatic gifts with cessationism is fighting falsehood with falsehood. If cessationism is true, then any and all expression of the charismatic gifts is of Satan, and we should call it that. There is a huge danger though, and that is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, as described in Mt 12:22-32. Are you willing to run that danger without examining the fruit of the so-called illicit uses of the charismatic gifts? I suggest we follow the parable of the wheat and tares.

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