Thursday, February 23, 2006

The "charismatic" side

I believe in the "charismatic" side of spirituality. Because I find it in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 12-14 to be precise. Though also in Acts, Romans 12:6; Galatians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11-16; 5:18-20; Colossians 3:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11; 1 John 2:20,27; 4:1-3; Jude 20-23. There are perhaps other passages I could have included and some here that maybe should not be included. But I especially rest my case for the "charismatic" side today from 1 Corinthians 12-14. All Christians are said to have the charismata of the Spirit. Meaning grace bestowals, or what is translated "gifts".

While I believe that the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 (also Romans 12) are for Christ's body, the Church, today, I don't believe that those who are not sure or even deny such giftings for today, are therefore "outsiders". They may be outside as far as benefiting from such gifts, but they're certainly not outsiders as far as having charismata from the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:6). I see all believers in Jesus Christ as "charismatic". That is, we all have the Spirit and giftings from the Spirit. Of course as the term is used today, some are "charismatic" (or "Pentecostal") and others are not.

This becomes tricky. I believe gifts such as prophesying, tongues, etc., are helpful for believers, especially in opening us up to the dynamic work of God in our midst and in our individual lives. But I have problems with calling churches or believers who receive of these gifts, or receive a "baptism of the Spirit", usually (or, often) accompanied with tongues- as "Spirit-filled" in contrast to the rest of churches and believers. They may very well be Spirit-filled, but so may other churches and believers who know nothing of these gifts in their midst and experience.

I understand that most evangelicals now are open to these gifts for today. But I think it is more of an exegetical openness, and of little practical relevance to them. I think on the one hand that is a shame. But on the other hand it is understandable, given the prominence of the health and wealth "gospel" more or less among many on the Pentecostal side. And word of faith teachings. Along with what seems often to be a hyper-emotionalism among so many of them. Little wonder even young believers, such as emergents, do not seem to have much interest in these gifts.

I plan to post some more on this in coming days. It is a subject I shy away from because it is so easily divisive. And it can appear to divide Christians into the "haves" and the "have-nots". Something that I don't believe is at all of the Spirit.

Are there any things any of you would like to share about this? As is always true on these posts, and maybe by nature especially on such a one as this one, the door is wide open. What do you think about this?

5 comments:

Susan said...

You have opened up this topic from a great angle: how to close the gap between "open, exegetically" and "practice"!

There is no such thing as a non-charismatic Christian, so learning how to live like one is pretty important stuff! Jesus told a powerful story about (Matt. 25:14-30)the significance of our choices about what to do with the resources we're given for the operation and advancement of His Kingdom.

The fact that some groups have systematized, categorized, discounted or exalted the "bags of gold" (as the TNIV calls them) we have been given does not diminish our call to use God's gifts God's way. We get too hung up, I think, on identifying what's "in the bag" ~ and even argue about it ~ and meanwhile the church suffers.

Spiritual gifting is such a natural part of life-in-Christ that it should not have to be so scientific, and so problematic.

Ted Gossard said...

Susan,

Very good points. I couldn't agree more. Perhaps there's a better way to discuss it than what I'm doing (I'd be surprised if there aren't several better ways- ha).

The natural part of life that spiritual gifting is that you point out- should provide a good bridge for practice.

Just my breath for the moment. Thanks for your good input.

Raul said...

Ted,

This looks like an interesting study, and I am glad you are getting to it.

I think that classical Pentecostals would dislike being lumped wholesale with the word of faith movement, but would at the same time be eager to argue their theology about initial evidence and the separability/subsequence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I have been encountering a large number of Pentecostal/charismatics over the last few years that are less likely to argue so strongly for this tenet of tongues as initial evidence, but they would still likely differ with you about separability/subsequence. In other words, they remain unconvinced that all Christians are "charismatic" but agree that all should be. They see the problem of the haves/havenots argument even if they do not know a good way of expressing their view on it. Although Robert Graves definitely fits the strong classical Pentecostal flavor (with heavy emphasis on initial evidence), he did write something years ago that is the best "answer" I've seen for the haves/havenots argument from a classical Pentecostal perspective. You can find his article, titled “Better Than I Was, Not Better Than You Are” here: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/articles/rwgraves006.pdf

I am looking forward to you continuing this study. Keep me posted.

Ted Gossard said...

Raul, Thanks much. I look forward to reading that article.

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