Don’t Shoot!: Being Charismatic and Reformed 

*This post was originally posted at http://www.pastordylanjustus.wordpress.com on August 9th, 2015*

My generation of Christians are a unique breed. With the influence of pastors like Piper, Driscoll, Mahaney and Grudem (among others), we have taken two seemingly contradictory theological camps and mashed them together to make a new camp. In his book A Call To Resurgence Mark Driscoll calls this camp the New Reformed. In essence, the New Reformed crowd holds to the basic tenets of the Reformed faith, namely the Five Solas, monergistic soteriology (doctrine of salvation), we are Creedal in that we hold to the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds (among others), TULIP is not a flower to us but a systematic acrostic of what we believe about the Gospel, we hold to Covenantal Theology and we hold to the Regulative Principle. But we also hold to a Continuational understanding of the “charismatic gifts” (usually tongues, prophesy and healing).
As you can imagine, this raises a lot of eye brows and causes a lot of tension between some other camps. Typically the words “Reformed” and “Charismatic” aren’t used in the same sentence without a few choice words between the two. But the two aren’t nearly as opposed to each other as many believe them to be. I have just a few reasons why I believe that being Reformed and Charismatic are more compatible than people think.
Let me clarify what I am advocating and what I am not. I am advocating an expression of the Spirit that is in-line with Scripture, that honors God and that genuinely shows the power of God. I am NOT advocating a false spirit-led outworking of false gifts. One where its chaotic and full of confusion, but rather, orderly and Christ-centered worship.
Continuationism Fits Right In With Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria
Continuationism fits right in with Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria. This is usually where my Reformed friends faint that I would say such a thing, but hear me out. If you’re not familiar with some terms I have used, let me catch you up! Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria, they are Latin phrases used by the Protestant Reformers to say “Scripture Alone (is our authority)” and “To God alone be the glory”. Continuationsim is the belief and understanding that Spiritual Gifts spoken of in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, 28 and Ephesians 4:11 all continue to this very day. The opposite view of this is known as Cessationism and it holds to the belief and understanding that in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, Paul is saying that the gifts of prophesy, tongues, and knowledge will all pass cease soon (usually at the close of the Cannon of Scripture).
Back to my original assumption that Continuationism is compatible with Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria. Assuming that these gifts do in fact continue today, they would, by Scriptural necessity, function under the authority of Scripture. Scripture gives a clear command to desire the gifts (1 Cor. 14:1). Would Paul tell us to desire something that is going to cease before many of us are able to understand the Gospel and then desire the gifts? Paul also tells us that the gifts are given for the building up of the church. So if the gifts are used and the church is edified wouldn’t God be glorified? After all, it is what Scripture tells us to do.
Most of the issues arises with the gift of prophesy. Often times prophesy is misrepresented as a new revelation from God. Something new from God that isn’t included in Scripture. This is by no means what is actually meant Scriptural New Testament prophesy. The definition that Wayne Grudem gives is prophesy is something that God “spontaneously brought to mind”. It’s a direct word from God, and neither is it authoritative. Prophesy can be used to glorify God. Perhaps in a church business meeting, the members are stuck at a crossroads about whether to add another service or find a new location or go multisite, the Holy Spirit presses upon someone’s heart to stand up and tell them to go multisite. They are obedient and do so, the church decides to do multisite and the church grows. God would be glorified. Nothing went against Scripture, everything was within the realms of Orthodoxy.
Hopefully with the first point I cast the reel and you bit the worm, now it’s time to reel you in! Typically when someone starts talking about the Gifts of the Spirit people get anxious. Their first thought is some crazy guy running around mumbling, somebody hits him in the head and he gets up and starts handling a snake. It may be slightly embellished, but it’s true. A lot of my Reformed friends see an issue with the gifts functioning in an orderly way in worship. Hopefully my next point will clarify that.
Continuationsim Functions Best Under The Regulative Principle
Among the Reformed crowd, there is known what is called the Regulative Principle. The Regulative Principle, in simplest terms states: worship is to be done according to Scripture, and only what is prescribed in Scripture is to be used. That’s a very watered down version that probably doesn’t do it justice for what some believe concerning worship.[1] It’s counterpart is the Normative Principle, which states: whatever is not prohibited in Scripture is permitted in worship, so long as it is agreeable to the peace and unity of the Church.”[2]
So, coming from a stance holding to the Regulative Principle how would the gifts function under something typically so orderly? Well Paul, I believe, would be in favor of the Regulative Principle insofar as it doesn’t become authoritative or legalistic, and he would permit the gifts to function in an orderly fashion. Look at 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, especially verse 40. Notice what the Apostle says about how the gifts are to function in a church service, decently and in order. These two words are significant to understanding this. Decently, in the original language means “honest”. So one shouldn’t function in their gift in a dishonest or deceitful way. Orderly means “in time, fixed succession”. There is a time during the worship service for the edification of the Saints by the use of the gifts. It’s not happy hour at the local pub and everybody gets to speak at once. It is orderly. Scripture teaches (Sola Scriptura) that the gifts function in an orderly manner (Regulative Principle). In order to ensure order is kept I would suggest that prophesy and the like be filtered through an elder first. Doing this, if it is something that doesn’t need to be said publically it can redirected to be told to the appropriate people privately. I simply believe this to be a wise use of the Godly men who shepherd the flock.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I believe that Scripture teaches that the gifts do in fact continue today, and that they should only function under the authority of Scripture which I believe also teaches an orderly worship service. Therefore, I believe that being both Reformed and a Continuationist is compatible and not a contradiction of beliefs.
[1] For a couple of good resources concerning the Regulative Principle, R.C. Sproul has a good article ( http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/regulative-principle-worship ), as well, Mark Dever has two chapters in his book The Deliberate Church (Crossway, 2005) dedicated to understanding and applying this principle. The Westminster Confession of Faith is also a go-to resource.
[2] Regulative Principle. n.d. http://theopedia.com/regulative-principle Accessed (August 9, 2015)

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Author: PastorDylanJustus

Elder/Lead Pastor of Teaching and Vision at Foundation Community Church in Columbus, NC

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