What Do We Mean by "Charismatic"?

Discussion in 'Pneumatology' started by turmeric, Dec 26, 2004.

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  1. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    I wanted to respond to the comments in the thread about John Piper, Sovereign Grace, et al but didn't want to hijack the thread.

    There seem to me to be two issues (at least) with things Charismatic. 1) the Cessationist/Non-Cessationist debate, and 2) the "baptism in the Holy Spirit". which involves a Holiness-movement perfectionist idea that one can become a "spiritual" or "victorious" Christian if one is "filled" with the Spirit in a second conversion-type experience.

    For the record, Piper, in his sermons on Romans 7, makes very clear that he does NOT believe the kind of malarkey in Point 2!

    The Cessationist thing, I'm not too sure about where he's at, and we can't expect to agree w/everyone, nor is everyone right. If he's not a cessationist, I disagree with him on that issue. But he's not a perfectionist either.
  2. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    Good points Meg. I still enjoy's Piper's mesages.
  3. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    #2 is normally what is associated with the term "Pentecostal." Usually when people use the term "charismatic," it simply means non-cessationist. Regarding Piper, it couldn't be more clear that he is not a cessationist from the quotation Fred provided, since he plainly said he believes all the gifts in 1 Cor. 12 are in operation today. Furthermore, as much as I like some of Piper's works, they do not excuse his charismatism in the least, which is a far more major and serious issue than merely being "perfectionistic" about things.
  4. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor


    Can you summerize some of the "dangers" in being a non-cessationist? Any examples of Piper making mistakes or poor doctrines, etc. because of being a non-cessationist?

    [Edited on 26-12-2004 by houseparent]
  5. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    The term comes from "charasmata", which is tied to gifts of the HS. Miraculous healings like the apostles have ceased. God still heals today, but not in the way He operated in the day of Christ and the apostles. The danger is when individuals place these gifts, ie. tongues in line with soteriology as evidence of regeneration.
  6. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    Oh definately! And I have definatley lean heavily toward cessation. But does being a cessationist mean that you must conclude that God does not gift His people at all?
  7. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I think one of the most dangerous things about non-cessationism is the inevitable implications it has for the sufficiency of Scripture. Mind you, I am not saying it challenges the inerrancy of Scripture, only the sufficiency. In other words, if God still purposefully speaks new revelation to us today, then the Scriptures are in themselves sufficient to instruct us in all matters of living - and doctrine, for that matter.

    So if one believes in such revelation today, it logically seems that it would only be a matter of time before their daily dependence on Scripture for everyday living and choices begins to be de-centralized, partially replaced by the tendency to wait for "a word from the Lord" on a decision. For instance, in determining which seminary or church to join, or where to give some extra donation money, a charismatic may not give as much careful thought to, and emphasis on, weighing the factors involved to compare which one would be more biblically wise so as to make a biblical, rational choice. For even though they would still engage in such thought, biblical wisdom and rational decision-making may often take a back-seat to what one "feels God is telling me to do," even if that change occurs subconsciously and subtly.

    Furthermore, it creates a complicated situation regarding how to weigh and interpret different words of "prophecy." Prophecy is for the instruction and building up of the Church body - so if one receives different messages from different people ("I feel God is saying you should do this"), how are they to discern between them? That is due to the more subjective nature of modern "prophecy" that replaces the absolute, objective prophecy in the Bible. For in New Testament times, various prophecies were organized and put in their proper place by the role of the prophet that was to "discriminate" (the literal meaning of "diakrinos" in 1 Cor. 14:29, which refers to discriminating between which prophet is to speak, rather than the misinterpretation it is usually given in English translations that suggests a subjective nature of the prophecy itself) - but if that role was suggested as a way to sort out and distinguish between the various prophecies today, it would have the same subjective nature as those prophecies themselves, and would not solve any of the complication.

    So the main pragmatic problems I see with non-cessationism today are its implications for the sufficiency of Scripture, the subjective judgment and lesser dependence on biblical wisdom and rational decision-making on life decisions and everyday issues that results from that mindset, and the complication and confusion it creates of the process of interpreting and applying prophecy and tongues in a Church service, which results from the subjective, second-tier nature that modern non-cessationists must attribute to revelation.

    Definitely not! The only gifts cessationists hold have ceased today are the revelatory gifts, or any gifts that involve God directly speaking anything new to man, regarding general principles or specific situations. Furthermore, in addition to Scripture, He still guides us in what we are to do through providence as well (like, if I'm trying to decide between two similar jobs and one company suddenly makes a public stand against Christianity, I would take that as a providencial sign of what to do in light of principles of biblical wisdom), but that "speaking" through providence is very different from the existence of revelation, which is Him speaking direct instructions or information to us. It involves the whole difference between "general revelation" (how He still writes His law on the hearts of all men, speaks of Himself in creation and providence, etc.) and "special revelation" (the words given through such gifts as prophecy and tongues, which includes claims that He is directly speaking to you, telling you to do something), and it is only the latter of the two that cessationists claim has ceased, being completed for the present age (until the Second Coming) in the Scriptures.
  8. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, said Chris. I think perhaps a better way to understand it is to know the difference between special revelation and illumination. Illumination is the work of the Spirit which enlightens our understanding regarding what God has already revealed (i.e. conviction of sin through the law etc.). It's the application of the Word to the heart. I think much of what charasmatics mean when they say "I have a word for you" is just that, illumination. They see a lack of conformity to the Word and address it with the truth they understand, though they haven't been taught that difference, hence the confusion. Special revelatiobn has ceased. That's what Hebrews 1 and 2 are about. Christ is the final revelation of God, the Prophet. The apostles were appointed to write all that down and explain it to the Church under the supervision of the Spirit. Once their work was done, the need for special revelation ceased along with the gifts for that purpose.
  9. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    Thanks guys! I am up to speed on this thought now and definately agree!

    Good explination. Chris, would you agree with that or no? It sounds good to me.
  10. Charismatic Calvinist

    Charismatic Calvinist Puritan Board Freshman

    The word "charismatic" was not widely heard before the mid-1960s, at least not in the context of identifying a certain type of Christian or religious movement. The term "charismatic" was used to identify ministers and individual Christians in both the historic and evangelical denominational churches who had received the "gift" (or in-filling) of the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of "speaking in other tongues." Denominational Christians who received this "gift" preferred not to be identified as/with Pentecostals, and therefore the Greek word "charismata" was used to identify what they had received/experienced. "Glossolalia" was chosen to describe what happened when they received the "charismata." Glossolalia is a combination of the two Greek words meaning "tongue-speaking." Those Charismatics did not describe themselves as "Pentecostals" who were "baptized with the Holy Ghost and spoke in other tongues," but rather as those who had "received the 'charismata' of the Holy Spirit accompanied with 'glossolalia.'" It was the same experiential truth received and manifested, but different terminology was used to explain the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Now if you want to take it one step further, you can classify Charismatics into two basic categories:

    1. Denominational Basic Charismatics
    2. Non-denominational Present-truth Charismatics

    Basic Charismatics are the Christians who have received the glossolalia of the Holy Ghost into their lives but have never progressed into all the blessings of that dimension. For both the Catholic & Protestant Basic Charismatic, remaining a member of his particular denomination is as important to him as his glossolalia experiences. They are usually "secret disciples" of the Holy Spirit who justify their quietness by believing it is a private experience, not for public knowledge. They may maintain their spiritual life through the occasional attendance of a Present-truth Holy Ghost meeting, usually outside their denomination. Technically these believers are "Charismatic," yet they are not the ones who made the Charismatic truths known around the world.

    Present-truth Charismatics of the 60s, 70s, and 80s are those Christians who have not only received the Holy Ghost with glossolalia but have also walked in all the truth that the Holy Spirit has restored to the Church up to the present time. Present-truth Charismatics base their doctrine upon the infallible Scriptures, their creed is Christ, & their tents of faith, the whole Word of God. They are the Christians from every segment of known Christendom who "went outside the camp bearing the reproach" in order to walk in the fullness of restored truth, practicing the four doctrines of Christ which have been restored to the Church during the last 450 years:
    1. Repentance from dead works, Grace of God, Eph. 2:8-9
    2. Faith toward God/Divine Faith Healing, James 5:14-15
    3. Doctrine of Baptisms/Gifts: 1 Cor. 12:7-11, message in tongues & interpretation of tongues
    4. The Laying on of Hands: Healing, deliverance, Holy Ghost revealing place in Body of Christ, impartation of gifts by the Holy Spirit, Gifts (prophecy, healing, faith, word of knowledge, word of wisdom)

    In a nutshell, that is what is meant by "charismatic."
  11. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    I've been Non-Cessationist from the very beginning of my Christian life. That is what was taught in the little Baptist church I grew up in. At that church (and it's true yet today), if you start talking about speaking in tongues you'd better find the door and make your way to the Pentecostal church!

    Speaking of perfectionism in a different light, if I were to demand that everyone I knew be perfectly aligned with what I believe...well, they wouldn't be perfect for sure then!

    BTW, good contribution, Patrick.
  12. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

  13. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    What is this second experience we need in order to walk in the fullness of the Spirit, and how can one reconcile this with Calvinism? In your post there seem to be at least 2 kinds of Christians. Is one type more capable than the other to walk with the Lord in holiness? What are the "basic" charismatics missing out on? I'm having trouble finding 2, let alone 3, kinds of Christians in Scripture. It seems to be saying that we have all received the Holy Spirit. Help me out here...

    [Edited on 27-12-2004 by turmeric]
  14. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    Oops! Yes, indeed. That's for the correction!
  15. Charismatic Calvinist

    Charismatic Calvinist Puritan Board Freshman

    Perhaps you have misunderstood the nature of my post. Rather than an invitation to lock horns with cessationist brethren, the intent of my contribution was an endeavor to provide information that would answer the question posed in thread subject, "œWhat do we mean by charismatic?"

    Regarding your question concerning two kinds of Christians, I was simply delineating a fundamental difference that exists amidst Charismatic Christendom for the reader that may be unfamiliar with this particular expression of Christianity.

    As for your inquiry regarding whether a Christian who has received the "œcharismata" of the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of "œglossolalia" may be more capable to walk with the Lord in holiness than a believer who has not is really beyond me. I believe the answer to that question lies within the hidden counsel of God Himself. Be weary of the man who is quick answer that question without consenting his denominational/theological/experiential pride or prejudice.

    Basic-Charismatics will eventually become full-fledged fruitful Present-truth Charismatics or they will wither on the vine. Eventually they will have to make a decision between denominational/doctrinal loyalty & the anointed Body of Christ. Before Christ's return, every Christian will have to make a decision between their identity with the humanistic denominational structured church system or the spiritual Present-truth restored Church.

    Regarding my personal walk with God, I continually encounter both the weakness of my flesh & frailty of what little religious self-determination (if any) I can muster up. For me to uphold any supernatural commandment (i.e., to walk in holiness, the Great Commission, etc.) is going to require divine enabling, and what better place to start than to ask for the fullest measure of His indwelling presence! Amen?
  16. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    And thus you see the result of non-cessationism:

    authority rests not with God's appointed means, the Church and the Scriptures, but with an individual's ipse dixit (because he said so) and extra Biblical means.

    No thanks.
  17. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    It's illogical, isn't it. We have God's inerrant Word, the ministry of God-called people, and the Church and they seek something more. Doesn't make sense, does it. The same is true in counseling, which is and should always be the ministry of the Church, but we have so-called Christian counselors who are using the theories of Freud. Depraved man will always want something more than what God has given.
  18. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Absolutely. :up:
  19. Larry Hughes

    Larry Hughes Puritan Board Sophomore


    Hello, I'm new to the boards but just had to say what a great post you had about cessationist vs non-cessationist.

    A great point, very distinct between the sufficiency of scripture vs. inerrancy of scripture. Great point! It's one of those "simple and obvious" points AFTER someone tells you about it.

    I have family and some Christian friends that think that God speaks to them in "other ways" - they "hear a word from the Lord" - and that think that I put "God in box" when I've told them He only speaks through the word and sacrament (though I have to use the word ordinance lest they think me a Roman Catholic). I always got hung up because they would affirm the inerrancy of Scripture. I would think, "what is the disconnect then." Sufficiency, that is it!

    By the way, I cannot tell you the harm that this type of charimatic thinking can have on a Christian. Early on when I was just shortly converted and just coming alive to reformed theology, I ran into those who "heard from the Lord". BUT I never heard from him. I just couldn't get past, "How do you know its God and not your own mind?" The devastating and dispairing danger is - that back then knowing very little of the faith I thought for several years, "I must not be a Christian at all because I don't receive this." I cannot tell you how dark those times were for me because of this line of thinking from some Christian quarters.

    Great post,

  20. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Okay, my apologies, I don't mean to lock horns, just concerned, and also interested; how did you get into reformed theology, how does it mesh with your charismatic beliefs?
  21. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thanks, Larry. I can relate all-too-well to both with the familial debates and the personal struggles. Being raised in the Assemblies of God myself, I used to wonder why God was seemingly gifting everyone else in my youth group but me, when I kept earnestly seeking it and asking God what I was doing wrong. One common answer from one of the pastors was just to "let go and let God," implying that I was thinking about it too hard.
  22. Charismatic Calvinist

    Charismatic Calvinist Puritan Board Freshman

    The information provided was by no means authoritative, simply an observation by one who has been/currently is living & fellowshipping among that particular community of believers. The gifts of the Holy Spirit & non-cessationism neither undermine the authority nor disrupt the harmony of the Scriptures. They were not designed to function as an extra Biblical authority. They are supernatural tools provided (by God) for the fulfillment of supernatural commandments given to the Church (by God). Believers are called to prove all things with the Word. What, then, are we to do with the doctrinal teachings & denominational creeds of men that attempt to reconcile the absence of fundamental New Testament experiences in the walk of a regenerate man by claiming they no longer exist?
  23. Irishcat922

    Irishcat922 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Quote "They were not designed to function as an extra Biblical authority. They are supernatural tools provided (by God) for the fulfillment of supernatural commandments given to the Church (by God). "

    Isn't this a self defeating argument? If this was the pupose of the gifts in the early Church, and scripture is complete, why are the revelatory gifts necessary for today? Do we still need Revelation or are the Scriptures sufficient?
  24. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    Been there, tried that, and the Dispensational version of that, which is the incessant "re-dedication" thing, wherein one wonders why God isn't accepting one's "total surrender" and fixing one so one doesn't keep doing x. So what is the explanation why everybody "got it" but us? Okay, we weren't supposed to, but then why did God let these poor other brothers & sister be so deceived? Boy, that one kept me going awhile too. How could so many good Christians be wrong...?:detective:

    BTW, this whole dialog has convinced me tha y'all are dying on the right hill - sufficiency.

    [Edited on 27-12-2004 by turmeric]
  25. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I've wrestled with that one before, too. The explanation that comes to mind is, "The same way so many people were still truly saved Christians between the time of Augustine and Luther, even though Roman Catholic doctrine was all they were taught."
  26. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

  27. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    And this STILL goes on!

    Most Christians today know the difference between Rome and Protestant beliefs. Many even know what most cults believe (like JW's and Mormons). But many evangelical believers have never even heard of reformed doctrine! Many have never been taught anything but dispensationalism (I wasn't).

    I know children brought up in Charismatic churches that are taught that there way is the only way and to avoid any one who claims to be a "christian" and does not believe in the "signs".

    It's a shame, but many believers grow up sheltered by those around them from any other christian doctrine outside their's! Yet these are the same people who say we "put God in a box".:um:
  28. Charismatic Calvinist

    Charismatic Calvinist Puritan Board Freshman

    Self-defeating argument? No. Perhaps it is the use of the word "revelatory" or "revelation" that has your hackles raised.

    The Scripture is without a doubt complete and THE final authority for all New Covenant folk. The "revelatory" or "prophetic" gifts are not for the purpose of drafting new Scriture, i.e., "the Gospel of Bob" or "Jethro's Letter to the Church at Dallas."

    So, yes, the Scriptures are themselves sufficient. It is our understanding of God's Word that is not. No matter how long we may study or meditate thereupon, our "knowledge" is at best "in part." (1 Cor. 13:9) We won't exhaust the full depth of meaning of ANY Scripture on this side of heaven. The revelatory (prophetic) gifts do, however, provide supernatural insight into the Word of God and new revelational understanding (infomration not obtained by natural means) of His heart and emotional chemistry. They are the means by which the "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" is often manifest unto the believer or a group of believers, that "the eyes of our understanding being enlightened; that we may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe..." (Eph. 1:17-19) The revelatory gifts are for the purpose of helping others, or for their encouragement, comfort, and edification (1 Cor. 14:3) and NEVER under the New Covenant were intended to be authoritative in and of themselves.
  29. Irishcat922

    Irishcat922 Puritan Board Sophomore

    So what you are saying is that the gifts are revelatory but only in the prophetic like preaching sense. So is expository preaching in your mind the same as the gift of prophecy. So if it is then why do we need the supernatural gift of prophecy if The Lord has gifted men with the ability to interpret scripture, albeit sometimes fallibly. Do we need both?
    My hackles aren't up, I have been around charismatics for many years, and never thought the arguments about extra-biblical revelation ever really held up logically. By the way I was a Charismatic for probably around ten years of my Christian life. So I apologize if I came across in any way rude or angry.
  30. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Revelation is revelation. It is not illumination. All Christians have the Holy Spirit to illumine the Scriptures for them. The revelatory prophetic gifts were indeed revelatory and for a time. You need to do some study on the difference between revelation and illumination. You are confusing the two.
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