“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Call to Brotherhood

I have been reading with interest some of the recent posts regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I must admit that I have been through all phases of this argument, from briefly attending a heavily charistmatic church (VERY briefly), to attending a cessationist church, and everything in between. And quite frankly the people at our church run the gamut as well.

I read Daniel Phillips observations with interest. While I do not agree with him completely (I am not a complete cessationist), I do respect and track with a lot of his thinking. (BTW, I submitted a name to Dan - I thought Canon Fodder was pretty good) :-)

What I have an issue with is the tenor of most of these discussions:

It seems to me that one cannot disagree with ANY ASPECT of the Charismatic movement at all, or they are immediately branded a (LOUD GASP) CESSATIONIST and sent hate mail etc. Of course, the same is true on some of the more extreme cessation sites as well, albeit this is more of a rarity.

I am very disappointed that my brothers in the Lord cannot even discuss the validity of gifts without resorting to ad hominem attacks. Pyromaniac recently received several of these types of comments when he posted this article.

Now, if you read the post, Pyro CLEARLY provides several caveats. These were simply ignored... Sad state of affairs...

I have seen Charistmatic churches put incredible peer pressure on their congregants, forcing them into silence regarding the questioning of any form of Miraculous Gifts. The Toronto Blessing was well into its lunacy before the church actually said something, as were the KC Prophets and the Brownsville stuff. I have had friends in the Charismatic movement tell me that they are unable to judge Benny Hinn's antics, yet they defame John MacArthur and call him spiritually dead! Amazing to me!!

Anyone who thinks we are not to judge what goes on in the church needs to check out the Scriptures again: 1st Corinthians 5 says that we are not to judge what goes on in the world, rather we are to examine what goes on in the church. And that is but one place where this is listed.

Now, as many have guessed, I do not agree with John MacArthur on the gifts; however I think he is a very good teacher/preacher/pastor. As I have posted previously, when I saw him preach at a "Preach The Word" conference several years ago, he painted such an incredible picture of the Cross that I have never been the same. Do we disagree? Yes, however is he a brother in the Lord? Yes! Do I respect him? Yes, I do! Would I allow John MacArthur to preach at my church -- Are you kidding, of course I would!!!

Alistair Begg recently said 'The plain things [in the Bible] are the main things, and the main things are the plain things'. I find it sad that brothers in the Lord cannot have an intellectual, and Christian discussion over points in which they disagree without resorting to name-calling and straw-man tactics.

Many great men of God have stood on both sides of the miraculous gifts debate, and yet they were able to actually discuss this in a Christian manner. Why are we unable to do that today?

I weary of my Charismatic friends attacks whenever I dare question anything going on in the Charismatic movement (i.e. C. Peter Wagner's 'Apostolic Movement'). Now, remember, I am not a cessationist, yet when I question even the most extreme charismania, I have denied the fact that there can be miraculous gifting. I wonder whether my friends have actually ever read 1st Corinthians in toto, (they are forever quoting PARTS of it, such as 1st Corinthians 12). Paul was NOT accepting the gifts in all forms and modes, raher he was rebuking the church in Corinth for some of its activities.

I have learned from so many wonderful men of God -- on both sides of the gifts debate -- that I have a hard time with the vitriolic attack that is so often launched against anyone questioning any aspect of Charismatic gifting, and by the same token, I have a beef with cessationists who paint all Charismatics as clowns and idiots. If you want to discuss the gifts; do it in a Christian manner!

Why is it that we argue so often about the gifts and what gifts, and when, and we fail to actually exhibit the things that we are told we will ALL receive; that is, the fruits of the Spirit. Where is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in our discussions?

We are known by our fruits, NOT by our gifts, for even the reprobate will exhibit gifts -- Matthew 7:16-23: You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

I would love to see true, honest, and loving conversations regarding the gifts, without the typical rhetoric, anger, and name-calling...


Deutero Q said...

Well said. It is unfortunate that discussions about spiritual gifts often generate more heat than light.

BTW, I have addressed the cessationist issue over at my weblog: www.deuteroq.blogspot.com

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I know exactly what you mean. I used to go to a Charismatic Church with my parents. There was a lot of peer pressure to accept certain weird experiences.

This Church got into both the Toronto stuff and the 'Gold Teeth' thing.