Thinking Out Loud

January 26, 2013

Defining Charismatic

Yesterday afternoon, I ran a post at Christianity 201 where the author gave seven reasons why he believes that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have not ceased to operate.

But Michael Patton, ever analytical, had blogged just the day before at Parchment and Pen about six characteristics he believes identifies Charismatic Christians. (He used a lower case ‘c’ but I have chosen to capitalize this where it refers to an admittedly diverse denomination, in the same way some are now arguing that Evangelical needs to be capitalized.)

1. Unusual attention given to the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer

2. The tendency to seek and expect miraculous healings

3. The tendency to seek and expect God’s direct communication (dreams, visions, experiences, personal encounters, etc.)

4. Unusual attention given to the presence of demonic activity in the world

5. Very  expressive worship

6. Belief in the continuation of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit

He spells out each of these, and then describes the entire spectrum of belief as to the gifts of the Spirit, ending up with this chart.  (I do appreciate his calling both extremes as unorthodox; you can tell me that the tongues and interpretation aren’t for today, but don’t try to tell me they never happened!)

Belief Spectrum - Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Read the entire article here.

I think his analysis is good, though his terminology is a bit intense.  Perhaps the charismatics I know are more conservative, or possibly he is envisioning charismatic believers in Africa or South America. I would rephrase his six points this way:

1. A distinct emphasis on the limitless power and work of the Holy Spirit in the world today

2. Expectant, faith-consumed prayer even in the face of great odds and obstacles

3. A belief that God speaks into the hearts and minds of his people through dreams, visions, circumstances and a ‘still small voice’

4. An acknowledgement that the Christian is always embroiled in spiritual warfare

5. Passionate worship

6. Belief in the continuation of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit

The problem with any doctrinal emphasis is that it always takes place at the expense of something else. So if you speak of an “unusual emphasis” on the Holy Spirit, or on demonic activity, are you doing so at the cost of not emphasizing the work of redemption on the cross, or the call to love our neighbors, or the priority of world missions? (Points 1 and 4)  The Charismatics — albeit with a few exceptions — that I know haven’t thrown the baby out with the bath water.

And if you believe that God is still in the business of impressing things on his people (Point 3) that doesn’t mean it is at the expense of not prioritizing the role of scripture. Most of the Charismatics I know have a good working knowledge of scripture.

I did leave one (Point 6) intact.  Good comments on the blog, too; one more time here’s the link.


June 10, 2010

Christianity Add-Ons

Filed under: Church, Faith, guest writer — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:32 am

This originally appeared here in June, 2008 under the title “Extra=Biblical Christianity.”   Jeff McQuilkin of Tulsa, Oklahoma  blogs at Losing My Religion.   Here, literally ripped from his own website, is today’s post.


Have you ever stopped to think about how much we say/do in Christianity that is not found anywhere in the Bible?

Not saying all of it is bad–I have mentioned in previous posts that I feel the Bible purposefully gives us a lot of latitude in how to “do church”. So just because something isn’t in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s wrong. But what is kind of interesting–and a bit funny, even–is when we treat our extra-Biblical stuff as sacred, as if it were in the Bible. Things we’re so attached to that we wouldn’t feel like it was “church” or “Christian” if it weren’t there.

Far from being a comprehensive list–below are just a few examples of what I’m talking about. And again–I’m not saying these are right or wrong. Extra-biblical doesn’t mean anti-biblical. So if it works–keep it. :) Just thought it might be fun to take a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the stuff we might take for granted. So…here we go…

  • The term “personal relationship with Christ”. Are you surprised that this is not in the Bible? (Not messing with good theology here–not saying there is no such thing, or that you shouldn’t have a personal relationship with Christ–just saying this isn’t how the early believers would have referred to it.)
  • “Going to church”. In the Bible, the people are the church. (How do you go to yourself? You’d have to be schizophrenic or something…) The church “assembled together”, but people didn’t think of it as “going to church.”
  • Revival. (Also related phrases like “move of God”.) These days, many Christians live from revival to revival, chasing after the next “wave” or the next “move of God.” There are many examples of “outpourings” of God’s Spirit in the Bible (Pentecost being probably the most well-known), but “revival” isn’t a word any early believer would have used. In their minds, the supernatural was normative, and the focus was on following Christ, not manifestations. (The word “revive” means to bring back to life; so if you have to have a revival, it suggests something was wrong to begin with.)
  • Meeting in a designated building. This didn’t happen until the church was several hundred years old–before that, most meetings were held in people’s homes. Yet there are many people today who don’t feel like they’ve “been to church” if the meeting is held in someone’s home.
  • “The Sinner’s Prayer.” This term didn’t come around until the 19th century. There is a strong principle of genuine conversion in Scripture, but the idea of leading someone to Christ by leading them in prayer is a very new concept.

Then, of course, there is the Christian-ese lingo we use, where lots of those terms are found in the Bible, but we’ve lost the depths of meaning by making them into catch-phrases…things like “anointed”, “blessed”, “hallelujah”, “glory”…things like that. In this case, we’re talking according to the Bible, but our usage of the words lessens the value.

So what else do we Christians say or do that’s not in the Bible?

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