Why Charismatics are not New Testament Christians

I had intended to do a round-up of recent debate in blogosphere, but I need to get something off my chest. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that only non-Charismatics have really taken the New Covenant Age of the Spirit seriously. Charismatics are still stuck in the Old Testament age. They’re not New Testament believers – they’re Old Testament believers.

Let me explain what I mean.

The Gift of Prophecy

Take the gift of prophecy for example. Many cessationists are happy to acknowledge that the gift of prophecy is a New Covenant gift for all believers. The cessationist Richard Gaffin, writes this:

…according to the New Testament all believers are prophets; the whole church is a congregation of prophets. Analogous to the Reformation insistence on the universal priesthood of believers, we may speak of the ‘prophethood’ of all within the new covenant community…1

The charismatic on the other hand believes that there are only some New Testament believes who are gifted as prophets. The majority of us don’t have that office. And so, just like the Old Testament priests and prophets, there is a spiritual hierarchy, and those who are not prophets must go to those who are to find out what God’s will is for them.

This principle is entirely opposite to Scripture’s own description of the New Covenant age. Listen to what the Bible says about the New Covenant and the age of the Spirit:

I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:27)

My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and for ever,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 59:21).

“This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:33)

The Bible is clear. One of the key distinctions between the Old Covenant and the New is that when the Spirit is in/on us, God’s words will not depart from us. Indeed, no longer will anyone need to tell us “Know the Lord”, because we will all know him.

The non-charismatic knows this. The non-charismatic knows that there are not some people who have God’s word (prophets) and some people who don’t. The reformation fought for the principles of the priesthood of all believers, and that the Word of God was for all, and now Charismatics are giving all that up.

The charismatics are right to argue that under the New Covenant every believer has a greater understanding of God’s will. The Old Testament alone makes that clear. But our greater understanding of God’s will is precisely because God reveals himself personally to each one, in contrast to revealing himself through the prophets as He did in the Old Covenant. The charismatic notion that the New Testament gift of prophecy reveals God’s will mediated through a gifted individual stands in direct opposition to the democratisation of the Spirit which characterises New Testament Christianity. It is a notion that is thoroughly Old Testament in character. It deserves no place in a New Testament church.

So, the gift of prophecy, as understood by Charismatics, both reverses the reformation, and reverses Pentecost.

It is not just the gift of prophecy that can be viewed in this way. My next post will focus on the gift of tongues. In the meantime, I’d be delighted to have your feedback.


  1. Richard B. Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), pg 59.
  2. Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology (Leicester: Intervarsity, 1994), pg 1070.

Comments

  1. I shall pray for you Arleigh.

    I’m absolutely sure God loves you just as you are.

    Keep on blogging!

  2. Arleigh Crisman says:

    Bob Have you read or seen any of the information on the Myan calander ending 2012? Just punch up 2012 on ” you tube “. Tell me what you think . arleigh

  3. Dr. Bob Childree says:

    Arleigh-

    I am familiar with the Mayan calendar ending a CYCLE in 2012. But ending a cycle just means the beginning of another- no big thing! I did look at 2012 listings on YouTube and am amazed at the fantasies people will construct just for kicks. It reminds me of the Dan Brown fantasies. I would encourage everyone to ignore the wierd stuff altogether, as it has even less to support it than the various predictions of the date of Christ’s return, which are groundless altogether!

    I would suggest that anyone truly interested in the Mayan cycle ending in 2012 would do well to wait until 2013 to begin any serious study of it. That would be much more time efficient. Personally. I am far more interested in the question Jesus asks in Matthew, where he says, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?” I vote “no,” or perhaps “very little.” It is a rhetorical question that seems to demand the “no” answer, sadly.

    Bob

  4. Andy Moyle says:

    I’m not sure that you have understood the gift of prophecy as understood by (certainly reformed) charismatics at all.

    To start with, I have very high view of Scripture and I believe that prophecy in the New Testament age must be weighed in accordance with Scripture and in no way replaces it. Because I have a high view of Scripture, I do believe in the gift of prophecy in operation today!

    Acts 2 is the beginning of the fulfilment of the OT promises that all will be able to hear from God personally. v17-18 show that the giving of the Spirit is for young and old, male and female and irrespective of employment status. Verse 18 “They shall prophecy” – so prophetic revelation has been opened for all believers.

    Charismatics would see that some are especially gifted in prophecy – Romans 12 lists a number of gifts and includes prophecy – “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them, if prophecy in proportion to our faith…” Verse 38 would show us that the promise of the Spirit is “for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord calls to Himself” – that would include believers today!

    Then there are those who themselves become a gift to the church – Ephesians 4:11 “And He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”

    Clearly those until conditions haven’t been met, so the ascended Christ is still giving those ministry gifts to build up the Church.
    (I’ll be in hot water for apostles now! Three things on apostles. i)Apostle doesn’t mean Scripture writer as most didn’t and Mark wasn’t one of the 12.
    ii)The 12 are “apostles of the resurrection” to be authoritative witnesses of the resurrection Acts 1:21.
    iii) The Eph 4 ascension apostles are those in the basic meaning of the word apostle “one sent with authority” sent by Jesus to plant churches and to ensure good foundations, just like Paul did. Note the ascension gifts are still needed because we haven’t met all the “untils”.
    Back to topic of prophets….)

    I agree with you that if Christians are chasing after prophets for a word on how to live life they are missing the point. The main job description for a “New Testament Prophet” is to equip people to hear from God themselves. But that doesn’t mean that Charismatics are OT believers (but maybe some of the charismaniacs are acting that way!)

    We all have the ability to hear from God for ourselves in a revelatory way – that was promised in the OT and became widely available at Pentecost. Some have much grace for prophecying (Rom 12:6) and should do so to encourage, edify, strengthen, comfort the Church and be agents of conviction 1 Cor 141:26. Others are gifted to equip others and should do so Eph 4:11-16.

    I believe the gift Prophecy is still around today and not ceased when Scripture came. I would see “the perfect comes” (1 Cor 13) as Jesus’ return rather than canon of Scripture. It would be hard to put an exact date of the canon – the councils ratified what the Churches were holding as authoritative.

    There are plenty of reformed charismatics around who honour, love and obey the Bible and what the Spirit is doing and want to see Jesus glorified in all that we do. And we do certainly believe in the priesthood of all believers!

    God bless you and thank you so much for the Sermon Browser plugin – it is being used mightily!

  5. Jesus admonitions were not in knowing scriptures but in obedience to the Father.
    Except you become as litte children.
    Not DR. of divinity.
    Just think of the usefulness of a persons life here, compared to that of eternity,and the only value worth culturing is obedience to the Father, not scriptural independent intellect .
    Considder Adam’s failure.
    The tree of knowledge continues to do damage especially in the church . It is the greatest asset to the enemy, and is why it was important that Adam fell that way to Satan.
    Isreal fell repidly doing what was right in their own eyes.
    Like a lawyer looking for loup holes, christians search the scriptures for the limits of distance one can still maintain man approved religion.
    The law is tangable ,easily manipulated.
    The Holy Spirit on the other hand, is not .
    One would do well, to confign their studdies to those things Jesus taught alone, and pray desprately, for the tutelage of the Holy Spirit ,to reveal what is necessary.
    Answers to many issues men teach us to fear or not to fear, are best answered by God, not men.
    I do not worship the Bible; I worship God ,in Spirit and in truth .
    Paul’s teachings are not God’s word, he is self proclamed,inconsistant and disagrees with Jesus.
    Primarily, Jesus did not teach grace , and was very consistant with his charictor in the old testament; performance /conciquences.

    Conserning the Myan calander and current world events, man made and apparently natural, It is most important to know , what God want’s you to do today right now , and obey His instruction.
    if like Joseph you are instructed to prepare for a fammon, then do it with God’s instruction as to what or how or when to store.
    If He has not instructed you to store , doing so any way would be disobedience on your behalf.
    Matthew 7;21,22,23,
    It is not the miricals you perform independently ,but personal obedience due to desperate dependence on Him.

  6. Charismatics are not Christians because they deny that you have to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be a Christian, they promote works-based salvation, and accept demonic manifestations such as ‘speaking in tongues’ and ‘slaying in the Spirit’.

  7. arleigh says:

    To be perfectly blunt ,I believe that Jesus ,not Paul , is the final athourity concerning the believer.
    Having known the Lord over 50 years and know His tutelage as He had promise the disciples via the Holy spirit, Jesus is the suprme teacher over any man period then now and forever. Paul will have to give acount for his teachings, Jesus did not endoerse . And sadly those that have prefirred Paul ,to Jesus will be rewarded as he is.
    I would not be one of them.
    I can honestly call Jesus Lord.
    God expects obedience and in no way is He going to compromise with sin.
    Grace ,by Paul’s definition is a compromise with sin.
    Jesus did not teach this, nor does the Holy Spirit, for that matter.
    And sin for what it IS , is disobedience on a personal level ,
    If one does not know His voice he cannot obey , so he remains in sin no matter what he does .
    The point of providing the Holy Spirit is exactly for this reason, and not the scriptures.
    Jesus did not befriend the Pharesees for a reason .
    This should have been understood from the begining.
    Out side the Holy Spirit, one is teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.

  8. I think charismatics would agree on the prophethood of all believers and in fact Corinthians states that we can all prophesy (1 Cor 14:31) so the gift of prophet mentioned in Ephesians (Eph 4:11) must mean something more. Rather than a hierarchy I think it just recognises a gift much like that of teacher or evangelist. We can all evangelise but there is still the gift of the evangelist according to Ephesians. So in the same manner all can prophesy but there is still the gift of a prophet whose aim is to build others up in that gift which is given to all.

    More to the point Corinthians state that the church at Corinth exercised the gifts whilst waiting for the second coming of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 1:7) so it envisages the spiritual gifts continuing until the second coming of Jesus.

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