A Movement is Afoot image

A Movement is Afoot

"A movement is afoot," says Tim Challies in his (very encouraging) review of Spirit and Sacrament, which released on Tuesday. Until now, Tim explains, there have been a substantial number of professing charismatics in what he calls "New Calvinist" circles—John Piper, Don Carson, Wayne Grudem, and so on—but very few practising charismatics. "Though from the very beginning many, and perhaps even the majority, of its adherents have been open to the ongoing miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, very few have lived or worshipped in a way that is distinctly (or even vaguely) charismatic … This has led to a noticeable gap between theology and practice." Quite. I suspect many readers of this blog have also noticed that, and perhaps been puzzled by it.

If so, then you may well be encouraged by what Tim (who has been a leading blogger in these circles for over a decade, and is a convinced cessationist himself) writes next:

I suspect, though, that this is about to change. This is about to change because several noteworthy pastors and leaders who are both Calvinistic and charismatic are committed to calling their own churches and others’ to practice what they preach. Sam Storms recently released Practicing the Power (my review), a kind of guidebook for bringing a church into charismatic practice, and now Andrew Wilson has released Spirit and Sacrament, a book that attempts to set charismatic practice alongside better-known and more traditional Christian forms of worship. Notably, both books have forewords by Matt Chandler and all three of these men spoke at the recent Convergence Conference which exists “to instruct and encourage individual believers and local churches to eagerly embrace the functional authority of the written text of Scripture and to experience the full range of miraculous spiritual gifts, all to the glory of God in Christ.” A movement is afoot!

Unsurprisingly, I hope so. (Also unsurprisingly, he has more concerns about it than I do.) As you will see if you read his review, and/or the exchange of papers I had with Tom Schreiner in November (soon to be published in Themelios), the historical and biblical arguments for the continuation of the gifts are increasingly being recognised as credible, even compelling, even if they don’t persuade everybody. The objections being expressed now are less about whether you can defend the charismatic gifts from Scripture, and more about whether, as Tim neatly puts it, “these gifts are those gifts”: whether the gifts which charismatics are currently practising are on the same level, or of the same nature, as those practised in the New Testament. I think there is a strong defence to be made here, and I try to do so both in my book and my papers. But it is a very encouraging development, and in some versions—“Why aren’t you guys seeing more, and more demonstrably powerful, miracles than you are?”—it can serve as a provocation, or even an invitation, to pursue the gifts more rather than less.

Interesting times.

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