Friendly Discourse on Charismatic Gifts

Posted: September 1, 2009 by Rick Hogaboam in Pentecostal/Charismatic Interests

I have been in discourse on Facebook of all places with some folks that I esteem, one of which is an Orthodox Presbyterian pastor that I have the highest esteem for. Anyhow, thought you might be interested in the correspondence:

OPC Pastor: Rutherford’s qualification is important: “1. These worthy reformers did tye no man to beleeve their prophecies as scriptures, we are to give faith, to the predictions of Prophets and Apostles, foretelling facts to come, as to the very word of God, they never gave themselves out as organs immediately inspred by the Holy Ghost, as the Prophets doe, Read Moreand as Paul did Rom. 11. prophecying of the calling of the Jewes, and Ioh. Revel. 1.10 and through the whole booke; yea they never denounced Iudgement against those that beleeve not their predictions, of these particular events and facts as they are such particular events & facts, as the Prophets and Apostles did.”

“God in his ordinary providence makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above and against them, at His pleasure.” (WCF V:3) Although there are no extraordinary works of God to confirm additions to His Word, a Sovereign God may use special providential means to guide, deliver or protect His people, especially in times of persecution, hardship, or advancement of the Kingdom, never as a contradiction, an addition to, or with the infallible certainty of canonical Revelation, but “as gracious intimations of the will of God, granted to them in answer to prayer, for their own encouragement or direction” (McCrie, Story of the Scottish Church). Scripture does not forbid one to pray for God’s special providential intervention to deliver beyond His ordinary workings through man and nature. The Spirit may give or withhold liberty and faith for such prayers or restrain such.

One should not base his relationship with God on the anticipation of extraordinary experiences of His grace. The Spirit of God enables us to have an assurance of grace and salvation without extraordinary extra-biblical revelation, by the use of ordinary means (WCF XVIII:3): reading and meditating on scripture, prayer, singing with grace in the heart, hearing the Word preached, receiving the Sacraments and subjection to biblical authority.

Me: I like “as gracious intimations of the will of God, granted to them in answer to prayer, for their own encouragement or direction” . The WCF is great in that I think it is “softly” cessationist and is willing to acknowledge that God can, at His will, work in “supra” natural ways. They should be viewed as His extra-ordinary means of grace…meaning that they aren’t ordinary and shouldn’t serve as the primary means of grace in the mind of the believer, however they can be sought and prayed for. The WCF is softly-cessationist or softly-charismatic, which are one and the same in my book. I appreciate your honesty on this matter.

I would only add that Paul did anticipate the “charismata” potentially in every corporate gathering and actually urges all believers to zealously desire such gifts. Though they are extra-ordinary in nature, they should be more commonplace within the “body of Christ”. The only way for “regulativists” to eschew Paul’s imperative “zealously … desire” is to theologize in a fashion that would say that Paul never intended for the catholic (universal) Church to actually seek such things. It isn’t good enough for me. I think those who advocate the “regulative principle” have some better explaining to do on why they don’t seek what was clearly and specifically commanded in the context of corporate worship (1 Cor 14:1). Honest Biblical Exegesis/Theology would side with Paul over Dispy-Covenantal Cessationists.

That is why I am a convinced “charismatic” even though I wanted to be a cessationist at one time in my life. My conscious would not permit me to iso-gete Paul to the countless millions around the globe and conclude that they are either demon-possessed or out of their mind. Those are the only two options for the cessationist in response to modern … Pentecostal/Charismatics. In the name of “charity”, most modern cessationists don’t declare Pentecostals to be demon-possessed or deluded, however their theology says so. Unless you adopt an “open but cautious” position, I think the cessationist is obligated as a matter of pastoral care to call it as their theology dictates. Stop accepting Pentecostals as fellow believers when you are bound to think us demon-possessed, gullible, etc. If we are demon-possessed or faking it and perpetuating a lie, then we are either damned to hell or guilty of lying to the Spirit and perpetuating heresy. You mislead us by considering us fellow believers, unless we are being assessed by many other standards which would place us well within orthodoxy. However, if we are truly demon-possessed or perpetuating a lie or are just faking it as a result of faulty theology, then we are to be corrected and pitied. I would that cessationists go on the offensive like they did years ago…I think that their theology would be found wanting before the modern jurors who think the cessationist position untenable.

You said, “a Sovereign God may use special providential means to guide, deliver or protect His people, especially in times of persecution, hardship, or advancement of the Kingdom”. I would respond, “Isn’t the Church promised persecution, hardship, and advancement during her entire duration here on earth?”. If so, then we should see a continuing witness of “special providential means” throughout the history of the Church.

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