There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.
Okay. So this blog will probably be me preaching to myself as much as relaying information to my readers. As most of you all know by now I am a Calvinist. I am a confessionally reformed member of a local Presbyterian congregation. We place high emphasis on liturgy. The Regulative Principle. God- centered theology. The scriptures. Sacraments. All of these things are a part of weekly worship and many private devotions to God in our personal walk. Also, historically, reformed churches are what we call “cessationists” in respect to the miraculous sign gifts listed in the New Testament (This week’s podcast will cover this more in detail). There are essentially two views when we speak of how the gifts of the spirit operate. The cessationist view, takes the position from passages like Hebrews 1:1-3, that the sign gifts no longer operate in full function as they did in the Apostolic era of church growth, due to Christ Himself being the final speaking and working of special signs, prophecies, and wonders . Peter worked physical healings in Acts 5:14-16 by the power of the Holy Spirit. For the cessationist, these miracles validated the work of the Church, and showed them to worship the true Son of God, Jesus Christ. These workings had a specific function, and were for a particular purpose that they served, and they became no longer necessary. Calvin, John Owen, Dr, James White, and all of the confessional reformation held, and do hold to this view.
Now, on the flip, is what theologians call the “continuationist” view of gifts. These groups believe that there is no scriptural or historic evidence that ANY of these gifts and workings ever stopped and are still being worked today. This would include tongues, prophetic gifts, and other gifts. Men like John Piper, Dr. Michael Brown, and Charismatic believers hold to this view.
Now. I say and relay all of that to say this:
In many ways, this is an in-house debate. There is much animosity from both camps, and I think it can be problematic. For many reasons. One: it’s an in-house debate in many aspects.
While, I would disagree with my continuationist friends on signs and workings outside of the scriptural writings themselves for the most part, (I am a quite leaky cessationist, as the saying goes) we must do so with honor and discipline because many of them are my brother and sisters. As Colossians 4:6 proclaims, our conversation should be “always full of grace,” and “seasoned with salt.”
Now, there are some WHACKY Charismatics, and very much heresy in many of the modern Charismatic camps. That doesn’t mean that all of our continuations friends are this way. For instance: my best friend, Eric, IS a continuationist, but he loves the scriptures and he lives a Godly and peaceable life in Christ. He always attempts to test what he believes to be true with the scriptures. A “Berean” if you will. I cannot sever companionship with him simply because he isn’t a Calvinist, or doesn’t affirm my position, even if I trust it is the proper one. This should be the proper way Christians respond to our brothers. With guardrails on Biblical truths we affirm, but with open minds in our pursuit of its principles and commands.
Another reason cagey and insensible Christians on our side of the debate cannot be unbecoming at times to our continuationist friends is because we lose a chance to minister the gospel many times. If I get on Twitter and attack someone for simply Tweeting “I pray in tongues,” I lose that chance to minister the life of Christ to them. I’m being practical here not theological. As I said, I understand that when heretical doctrine is preached we must snuff it out, but sometimes just listening and having a conversation on these issues makes all the difference. Regardless whether we hold to a view or not.
Now…. please? Cagey Calvinist? Ridiculous heresy hunter bloggers? Please get back in the cage, stand on what you believe, pick the right battles, and be willing and able to do this with grace, mercy, healthy discernment, and honor to others. If Dr. James White and Michael Brown can, any of us should be able to do so….