Oops! I Lost the Prophetic! image

Oops! I Lost the Prophetic!

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When I was at University (1979 – 1985) my conservative evangelical “friends” in the Christian Union would avoid me at mealtimes. They made it quite clear that I wasn’t quite part of the club. They would even sometimes try and persuade people I had recently led to the Lord that, in joining my church, they were in fact joining a cult. They would have me in their football team (because I scored lots of goals) but they treated me, at times, like something on the bottom of their shoe! This was all because I was a card-carrying, tongues speaking, prophesying, I-believe-in-apostles-today charismatic. I realize that all this sounds like I am nursing lots of inner hurt. I’m honestly not, but I thought I would say it as it was just so people in their 20s and 30s realize the cost of being charismatic back in the 1980s. Reflecting on John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference, I am tempted to conclude that very little has changed in the last 30 years.

In reality, of course, much water has flowed under the evangelical bridge since the 1980s.  Some of my best friends are now non-charismatic evangelicals. When the whole Steve Chalke penal substitution debate kicked off a few years ago my conservative evangelical non-charismatic friends suddenly realized that we had more in common than they had previously thought. We are united in our defence of the Gospel and our missional commitment to make Jesus known in both our post-Christian culture and amongst the unreached peoples of the world.  However, in our determination to be missional we can, if we are not proactive in the charismatic, become practitionally cessationist. I grew up in a Church that was birthed in the supernatural. My granny was born again at one of the Liverpool tent crusade meetings led by the healing evangelist Edward Jefferys in 1934. Growing up in the church in the 1970s I was conscious of two things. First, the church was practitionally (if not theologically) cessationist and, second, there was an older generation in the church who were part of the original church plant that longed for a contemporary experience of the supernatural like they had known back in the 1930s. Within 40 years, without a deliberate proactive policy of promoting and making room for the charismatic and the supernatural the church had slipped into a non-supernatural default position.

Bearing all this in mind, I think Andy Robinson has a point in his recent blog.

As far as John MacArthur is concerned, I am grateful for Andrew’s Biblical, reasoned and thorough response. My retort is rather briefer than Andrew’s. I’m with King David and Matt Redman in responding, “I’ll become even more undignified than this” (2 Samuel 6:22). We should be looking to demonstrate that as charismatics we are not simply the unbiblical lunatics we are being caricatured as but we should, at the same time, be looking to dial up the charismatic not dial it down. If we don’t then history tells us that we ourselves will be cessationist in another 20 years! Any thoughts?

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