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CHARISMATIC GIFTS DEBATE 1

CHARISMATIC GIFTS DEBATE

Robert Johnson THEO 350 – D06 201530 summer 2015 08/1/15

Charismatic Gifts Debate 2

The Charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit have been in debate among the Christian Community since the emergence of the Charismatic movement: An expression used to refer to a movement within historic churches that began in the 1950’s. In more recent years it has frequently been referred to as the “charismatic renewal movement”. Therefore members are known as “charismatics”. The background of the charismatic movement is “Pentecostalism” dating from the early twentieth century with its emphasis on baptism with (or in) the Holy Spirit as an endowment of power subsequent to conversion, speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of this baptism, and the initial evidence of this baptism, and the continuing validity of the spiritual gifts (charismata) of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (W. Elwell 2001).

“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.” (King James Easy- Reading Study Bible).

The debate is: Are sign gifts for today or have they ceased? What is the purpose of the sign gifts, and if they are being practiced today, are they being practiced in a biblical manner. The central question in the Charismatic debate is this: Were these gifts intended by God to be used throughout the entire church age until the lord returns? There is a group of believers called Continuationists who say yes: The charismatic gifts were intended to continue throughout history. Therefore, contemporary believers should be open to them and, one should aggressively seek them. Cessationists answer no: The charismatic gifts were intended to cease after the New Testament (Boyd & Eddy 2009). The Bible mentions many gifts that are available to believers to use in ministry until the Lord returns. Some argue that one class of these gifts- the charismatic gifts- were intended only for the building of the early church and thus ceased in the first century. According to this view, people today should not, and in fact do not speak in tongues, prophesy, get words of knowledge, and so on. Believers who think they exercise these gifts are either deceiving themselves or are being deceived by demons (Boyd & Eddy 2009). I personally refute the cessationist view and will use sources that argue in support of my position (the continuationist view), also the opposing position (the cessationist view). First, here is the biblical argument in support of the Continuationist View- There are five passages of Scripture that list gifts given to the church by God. First Corinthians 12:8-10 has nine charismatic gifts which I listed earlier. In Romans 12: 6-8 Paul offers a significantly different list consisting of prophecy, service, teaching, ministry, exhortation, giving, leadership, and showing mercy. Another list is in Ephesians 4:11, which consists of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors-teachers. Peters short list in 1Peter 4:10-11 consists of speaking and serving (Boyd & Eddy 2009). Here is the question we must ask: Where is it stated that God did not intend for these gifts to continue after the New Testament. It is inconsistent to allow for exhortation, giving, and showing mercy while excluding Spirit-inspired words of wisdom, prophecy, speaking in tongues and healing? Not only is disallowing an entire category of gifts inconsistent, but it is also unbiblical. In First Corinthians, the same epistle in which he lists the charismatic gifts- Paul writes:

“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in everything you are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul confirms that Christians should not lack any spiritual gift as long as they “wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He uses the same word (charisma) in this Scripture to refer to spiritual gifts as he uses in 1 Corinthians 12:1 when discussing the charismatic gifts. The indication is that Paul believed the charismatic gifts would still be in operation until the Lord returned (Boy & Eddy 2009). In addition, Ephesians 4:11-13 is another passage that strongly suggests that all the spiritual gifts were intended to continue throughout the church age. Paul writes:

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (King James Easy-Reading Study Bible).

Until the body of Christ is fully built up into “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”- until the Lord returns- the gifts are to remain in operation. Paul clearly mentions the charismatic gift of prophecy. This reveals the bias and unbiblical nature of the cessationist claim that prophecy along with the other charismatic gifts ceased in the first century. Peter also suggests that the gifts are to operate until the Lord returns. After reminding his audience that the “end of all things is near” he instructs them to “serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” (1Pet. 4:7, 10). Also included in this view is, John who instructs his readers that “the anointing” they received “abides” in them and shall do so until the Lord returns. Therefore, they “may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming” (1John 2:27-28). The assumption is that nothing substantially changes with the “anointing” the church receives until the Lord returns. Indeed, the New Testament generally depicts the work of the Spirit in believed lives as unchanging throughout the church age (ex. Eph. 1: 13-14; 4:30: Jude 20-21). Other aspects of the New Testament confirm the view that all the gifts are intended for today. For example, Paul explicitly commands believers to “strive for the spiritual gifts” (speaking specifically of the Charismatic gifts listed in 1 Cor. 12). Believers are especially to “strive for” and be “eager” for the gift of prophecy (1Cor.14:1, 39). Paul also commands believers not to “quench the Spirit,” “despise the words of prophets,” or “forbid speaking in tongues” (1Thess. 5:19-22; 1 Cor.14:39) - the very thing cessationists do! Cessationists insist that these verses apply only to believers who lived before the New Testament was completed, but where is that doctrine taught in the New Testament? Paul gives instruction in these passages without any worldly, cultural, or theological qualification. (Boyd & Eddy 2009). Now for the Cessationists view, according to Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy- across the Spectrum- Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology.
The charismatic gifts spoken of in the New Testament were given to the church for three reasons: 1) They provided supernatural evidence to the apostolic authority of the early church; 2) they helped lay the foundation for the church; and 3) they provided divine guidance to early believers at a time when the New Testament, the final revelation of God, was not yet complete. The authority of the early church has now been attested; the New Testament is now complete; therefore, Christians do not need supernatural gifts to guide them in their faith walk. Hence, the charismatic gifts are no longer in operation today (Boyd & Eddy 2009). Now it is an indisputable historical fact that the exercise of charismatic gifts significantly decreased shortly after the first century and eventually ceased altogether in the early church but that does not prove that the gifts have ceased. We should not read too much into this. Cessationists are critical in thinking that charismatic gifts have ceased by using certain Scriptures to support their position. For example Ephesians 2:20-22. Paul says that “the household of God is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.” Cessationists use this passage to argue that the sole purpose of the charismatic gifts was to lay the foundation of the church. Once the foundation was laid, the gifts were to cease. However, Paul does not mention the charismatic gifts in this passage. The church is built on the foundation of the twelve apostles and the prophets he used to communicate his inspired Word. But this does not mean that no others will have the gift of being an apostle (meaning “sent one”) or the gift of prophecy. And it certainly does not entail that other charismatic gifts such as speaking in tongues or receiving a word of knowledge ceased (Boyd &Eddy 2009). In my opinion, as I was doing research on this issue, I continue to be in favor of the continuationist view because for one reason I don’t believe that God would bestow gifts to his people and just stop or cease manifesting signs and wonders. However I believe that these gifts need to be exercised in decency and order, due to many counterfeits who have mishandled and abused their authority. Another passage of Scripture that gives evidence that spiritual gifts still exist is Acts 2:14-21 Luke is the Author,” But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said to them, You men of Judea, and all you that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known to you, and listen to my words: For these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams: And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Now this passage speaks of the future experience of the church. In conclusion on instructing Christians on the exercise of these gifts. Paul is concerned to stress their practical nature. The Spirit bestows his charismata for the edification of the church, the formation of Christian character, and the service of the community. The reception of a spiritual gift, therefore, bought serious responsibility, since it was essentially an opportunity for self-giving in sacrificial service for others. The more spectacular gifts (tongues, healings, and miracles) necessitated some degree of order that would prevent their indiscriminate use (1Cor.14:40). The spirits of the prophets must be subjected to the prophets (v.32). Paul clearly insists that spectacular gifts were inferior to those that instructed believers in faith and morals and evangelized non- Christians. Tongue speaking was not forbidden (v.39), but intelligent exposition of the Word, instruction in faith and morals, and preaching the gospel were infinitely superior. The criteria used to judge the relative values of spiritual gifts were doctrinal (1Cor.12:3), moral (1Cor.13), and practical (1Cor.14). The problem was where to strike the balance. The greatest peril lays in overemphasizing the gifts, which tended to exalt the offices that grew out of them. That led inevitably to institutional ecclesiasticism and the inevitable corresponding loss of the church’s awareness of the spirit’s presence and experience of the spirit’s power. J.G.S.S. Thompson & W. A. Elwell 2009). In researching both sides of this debate, I read the passage of scriptures that both sides used to support their position. The cessationists use 1 Cor.13:8 where it says “Charity never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away”. Now when first reading this verse it would seem that these gifts are done away with. However, the reader must continue to search the Scriptures to determine the correct interpretation. As I continued to read on, I found the continuationist view that proved these gifts are still to be exercised. 1Cor. 14:39-40 “Wherefore brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues”. Let all things be done decently and in order.” Does this sound like Paul was meaning that spiritual gifts are done away? The answer is no. I believe it is very important to “Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim.2:15). There seem to be almost as many interpretations of the Bible as there are religious groups or even individuals. Out of this morass comes the legitimate question of the honest seeker after truth – Is it possible to know the right meaning of a given passage of Scripture? Indeed, one’s heart cries with the Preacher of Ecclesiastes 8:1, “Who is as the wise man? And who knows the interpretation of a thing?” (Paul Danielson 2002). The best advice I can give is to let the Bible interpret itself. I believe that if something as important as spiritual gifts were no longer in operation today, there would be concise evidence to support that position. It seems to me that the continuationist view holds the stronger more accurate position. Hebrews 13:8-9 says” Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.” The same anointing that was on the people of God back then is still on his people today. Jesus is alive and well and so is his resurrection power of spiritual gifts meant for today.

Bibliography

King James Easy- Reading Study Bible 2002 G.E.M. Publishing King James Easy- Reading Study Bible 2002 G.E.M. Publishing – How to Interpret the Bible – Paul Danielson.

Elwell, W.A. “Spiritual Gifts” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p.1138 Grand Rapids: Baker 2001
Elwell, W.A. “Charismatic Movement” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology p.220 Grand Rapids: Baker 2001
Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy “The Charismatic Gifts Debate” Grand Rapids: Baker 2009 236-245.

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...Article Review East Africa’s Great Rift Valley System Traci Lee PHSC 210 Dr. Ladner February 15, 2014 East Africa’s Great Rift Valley: Overview: The article starts out by telling us that the East Africa Rift is one of the geologic wonders of the world. There are old plates splitting apart and creating new plates in the earth’s surface. Geologists have already named these new plates to be the “Nubian Plate” which the article says makes up most of Africa and the “Somalian Plate”. The article tells us that these two plates are moving away from the Arabian plate. These three plates come together in Ethiopia and this is called a “triple-junction”. Although the article does give some description of the rifts and attempts to explain them, it does note that there is still an ongoing debate among geologists. Article Strengths: This article does go into some detail explaining what the rifts are or what the authors theorize the rifts are, meaning how they think the rifts were formed. The article also states the names of the rifts and explains that where the three meet that is known as “triple junction” and explains to the readers where the rifts are located. As a whole the author’s explanations of things are clear. Article Weakness: Although the article does go into some detail about what the East African Rift Valley is and it does give some mention as to what causes the rifts, the article could have given a better in......

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