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. Arleigh Crisman says

    To win,
    would mean that you would begin to honestly seek after Jesus Christ in your life. Do that and you will win

  2. 1) The following are the proves that angels could perform miracles healing and there are falling angels in the Scripture to be against God too:

    John 5:3-4, “In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”

    2) The following are the proves that Angels could perform marvellous wonders:

    Luke 1:7, “And they had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren and they both were now well stricken in years.” Luke 1:13, “but the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for their prayer is heard; and they wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John”. Luke 1:18, “And Zacharias said unto the angel, ‘Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my life well stricken in years.” Luke 1:19, “And THE ANGEL ANSWERING UNTO HIM, I AM GRABRIEL…” Luke 1:20, “AND BEHOLD, THOU SHALL BE DUMB, AND NOT ABLE TO SPEAK, UNTIL THE DAY THAT THESE THINGS SHALL BE PERFORMED, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.” Luke 1:22, “And when he came out, HE COULD NOT SPEAK UNTO THEM”.

    Matthews 28:1-2, “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Many Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And, behold, THERE WAS A GREAT EARTHQUAKE, FOR AN ANGEL OF THE LORD DESCENDED FROM HEAVEN, AND ROLLED BACK THE STONE OF THE DOOR, and sat it.”

    Acts 12:23, “Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.”

    3) Angels could appear in somebody’s dream:

    Matthews 2:19, “…an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph…”; Matthew 1:20, “…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…”

    As angels could perform wonders, are there any strongest proves to show that those wonders in contemporary Charismatic Churches are from God? If someone in contemporary Charismatic Church could prove it, we have to accept it. However, if nobody could prove whether the existence of wonder in contemporary Charismatic Churches is from God or the Holy Spirit or Angels, there is a danger that one would comment that certain wonders are from God or from the Holy Spirit or from Jesus Christ and, in case if they are not and it would turn up that we have forced God or Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit to bear the name of doer and indirectly we have abused the name of Jesus Christ or God or the Holy Spirit and this causes us to speak against Jesus Christ or God or the Holy Spirit indirectly.

    Could contemporary Charismatic Church claim that the miracles and wonder they perform in the name of Jesus Christ, is accompanied by correct teaching (in accordance with God’s Word) and righteous living?

    A good Christian performs a wonder through the name of Jesus Christ in the Church. Many audiences would claim that this be the work of God/Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit. As fallen angels could perform wonders, i.e. Buddhists could perform wonders as it is listed in the Internet too. What if the wonders in contemporary Charismatic churches are not from God/Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit, the surrounding audience that claims to be the work of the Holy Spirit/God/Jesus Christ, would have indirectly abused the name of each of them even though they might not be the one to do it and it indirectly causes the defamation of the name of God/Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit and they might have grieved as a result of the whole church speaking against them since they might not do it. The abusing of the name of Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit/God would cause the audience to commit continual sins as when and they address these be the work of God.

    Can a Christian or a Catholics claim that he has followed the correct teaching and righteous living when day by day and month by month and year by year seeing people keep on claiming the wonders in contemporary Charismatic Churches to be the work of God/Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit without telling them the danger that they would have sinned against God/Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit what if the so-called, wonders, might not be their work then?

    For holy bark, you could see people running around the churches crazily to bark here and there.

    For Holy laughter, you could see people laugh without stopping.

    For manifestation of the Spirit, you see people roll from one place to another without knowing what he/she has done after performing.

    All these are not mentioned in the book of Acts.

    A number of people in the church mention that they receive revelation from God through words of knowledge, prophecy, tongues speaking, words of wisdom. Many prophets arose previously claimed that year 2000 and 1987 were the end of the world. However, the year before year 2000 and 1987, none of these people that claim to receive so-called, special gifts of the Holy Spirit, say that these years 2000 and 1987 are not the end of the world. If it is the work of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit should have informed all these people to correct their mistakes.

    LUKE 9:49-50 ABOUT THOSE THAT DO NOT FOLLOW JESUS BUT COULD PERFORM WONDERS IN JESUS’ NAME

    Luke 9:49, 50 (TCNT), “Hereupon John said: “Sir, we saw a man driving out demons by using your name, and we tried to prevent him, because he does not follow you with us.” “None of you must prevent him,” Jesus said to John; “he who is not against you is for you.”

    Were these people that were mentioned in Luke 9:49-50 to be the disciples of Jesus since it is mentioned that they did not follow Jesus?

    The following are the verses to prove that God’s people would surely follow Jesus:

    John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

    John 10:3, “To him the porter openeth, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by nam, and leadeth them out”.

    From the above verses, it is obvious that the sheep will surely follow the shepherd, Jesus.

    As the phrase, he is not against you is for you, is mentioned in Luke 9:49 instead of the phrase, he is not against you is for me Jesus, it does not show that all these people that could use Jesus to perform miracles were for Jesus but for us, disciples, especially Jesus had mentioned clearly in John 10:27 and 10:3 that Christians would surely follow Jesus. The possible interpetation for Luk 9:49 for him to mention that they were for us that it might be that they could assist us in bringing outsiders to the attention of Jesus Christ for our evangelism. However, they are not for Jesus since they do not follow Jesus since they would definitely follow Jesus if they are for Jesus.
    Indeed the people as mentioned in Luke 9:49-50 that could perform wonders in Jesus’s name were not God’s people or else Jesus should have included these people ont top of the twelve disciples. Or in other words, if these people that could perform wonders in Jesus’ name were God’s people, there would be more that twelve disciples instead of remaining to be twelve all the time during Jesus’ mission and it proves the fact that Jesus’ name could be abused to perform miracles. Or in other words, despite these people as mentioned in Luke 9:49-50 were not following Jesus and were not the disciples of Jesus, they could use Jesus’ name to perform wonders.

    CASTING OUT DEMONS MIGHT NOT NECESSARILY CAUSE ONE TO HAVE DISTURBED BY DEMONS AS MENTIONED IN ACTS 19:13-16:

    Matthew 17:15-16, “Lord have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.” Matthew 17:18-19, “And Jesus rebuked the devil and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, ‘Why could not we cast him out?’ ” Matthew 17:21, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” From these verses, it is obvious that the failure in casting out demons might not necessarily cause one to be disturbed by demons as that is mentioned in Luke 9:49-50.

    PROOF THAT ANGELS COULD PERFORM MIRACULOUS HEALING AND THERE ARE FALLEN ANGELS TOO:

    John 5:3-4, “In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.””

    From John 5:3-4, it shows that angels could heal various kinds of illnesses whether they are blinded, halt and withered. As angels could perform miraculous healings and there are so-called, fallen angels, it is irrational to jump into conclusion that certain illnesses be healed to be the work of God/Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit since some wonders might be the work of angels and/or fallen angels.

    One might have quoted Luke 9:49-50 well that nobody should stop those people that perform miracles in Jesus’ name. However, he should meditate Matthew 7:22-23 carefully again that the so-called people to use Jesus’ name to perform wonders might be rejected by the Lord. For instance, if these people that are mentioned in Matthew 7:22-23 to use Jesus’ name to perform wonders are the work of God/Jesus Christ/the Holy Spirit, there should not be any strong ground for Jesus to reject them. However, Jesus will reject them despite they do perform wonders in Jesus’ name and there is a query the so-called wonders that they perform are from God. The following are the extracts:
    Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practise lawlessness!’

  3. You did say you would be delighted to have feedback Mark!
    Perhaps Arleigh can clarify the obscure bits.

  4. Arleigh Crisman says

    Please do not look at me as an athourity, I merely shair what I am instructed.
    Matthew 7;21,22. Jesus was very clear as well as John 15;
    Often times men tend to stuff God in between the pages of sripture,and seek them out to make the word fit their own philosiphy. worshipping the word ( or the education there of ) more than it’s author.
    Old testament or new ,all men did not have the written word nor has it ever been the chief source of information concerning the will of God. Adam had fellowship with God till what ? till he choose second hand information, against his already direct source.
    What are you doing ???? Jesus provided us the capacity to have direct source with God via the Holy Spirit, the only authorized teacher according to JESUS. Matthew23;1,-12,
    Jesus said ,unless you become as a child, not an intellect, a child. the only thing a child understands is OBEDIENCE,on a personal level. that is what is expected of us . Walk in that, and what is important to know ,He will teach you.
    There is no way to cercumvent this, Jesus demanded it Jn15;
    As for what others have done or said Jesus said we will give account for every word that comes out of our mouth, even idle conversation,( even this communication)
    James even cautioned be not many masters, for the greater condemnation . What he should have said, is what Jesus said.Mt.23;
    One last thing, Jesus said , you’ll see it often in Revelations . Those faithful to the end,would be saved .
    Jesus listed some prerequosits through out His teaching.
    Taking them lightly and prefiring some compromise to jesus teaching, is in my opinion standing very closely to the failure Adam performed.Keep your eyes on Christ, not men, even including all the letters written in scripture. He is the one you will be giving account to ,the one I give account to .
    It isn’t that Jesus approved of the abuses, .If one is not actually real time governed by Him , they are in fact self serving.
    If a man walks onto a job site completely unknown and begins working with every one else,getting training, just as though he is an employee, on top of that doing things that are not on the scheduel and on top of that getts hurt. Is the employer bound to cover this man? NO
    Evidence might actually prove that the man was sabotogeing the project.Matthew 7;21,22,His actions proved his intensions.
    People give training whom are not authorized to do so, often to people are not ready to recieve it. Though some of the training might be accurate. a. it takes God out of the loupe.
    b.The Holy Spirit knows who needs to know what,when where and how.
    C. by teaching something under one’s own athourity puts one at odds with God.

  5. Arleigh Crisman says

    I would like to add further,concerning those doing unususl things in church .
    The churches that culture this are in stark contrast to the sleeping forms of godliness but deny the power there of.
    Jesus did many things that were unorthodoxed,
    making a whip and driving out the money changers from the temple,among others comes to mind. He also spent a great effort to show a contrast in those showing off their position and education contrasting his own life; obedient to the Father. Matthew 7;21,22, is the crux of this issue, obedience on a personal level. not knowledge.
    By knowledge men built great things,
    like the atom bomb.
    like nuculer energy.
    Like all the things we flood our lives with.
    But one must decide what and whom is it they need. People with out God trust the world and it’s knowledge, for life and health and security.
    If you read the things Jesus taught ,all the worldly securities are put aside, one does not hold to this life so tightly, but understands the eternal life ahead. the only reason to remain here is to be of service to God, as Jesus had demonstrated to us.I am well enough along in this relationship to know that the Lord knows the road ahead. If I am paying attention, and he gives me caution,no matter the hurry I am in,changing direction, or simply waiting for His go signal, has spaired my life, saved me time ,tought me to obey, put me in touch with some one in need, the list goes on. One of the functions of speeking in tongues is to teach one to obey on the simmplest level.
    Why is it people have so little regard for their words, yet have so much trouble speaking a language they do not understand ? I am learning new languages all the time, stumbling at them does not stop me I keep trying. If one is too arogant to learn something from God ,it is obvious He is not their master.
    As for those that do things in church that are odd, Are you obedient to the Spirit in your life among the world, does your relationship show fruit? John15 or is it just a show in church ?
    Is Jesus your Religion? or hobby? Or are you so in love with God , passage into eternity would be a welcome event? (not an escape) God sees the truth of your life, the contrast of what you speak and what is true. Invite Him to search you and expose those things you have been hiding from your self and ((falsely )Him . Regularly grant Him license to help you and heal your perspectives,Repent of thise things he shows you that needs alteration, and look at them as He does, distructive and not of eternal value. Let Him teach you. develop a hunger for His tutelage alone,set your own theories aside no matter how or where they have come from, or how much you have invested in them. One can only honestly call Jesus Lord, if, His Lordship is actually excersized in their life real time.

  6. Over to you Mark.

    After all the effort, Arleigh at least deserves a response.

    You started it all with your highly technical sheep and goats argument. It has no meaning for me and I have tried to explain at some length why it hasn’t, and indeed why it shouldn’t matter to anyone else either.

    I think you really ought to reply to Arleigh (and Jon for that matter) as a matter of courtesy.

    There is a real argument to be had. It concerns the relationship between a rationality tied to language and the realm of feeling. Arleigh continually hints at this!

    Now I introduced this before and you were quite adamant that the former was our best guide to reality and that feelings ‘rested’ on thought. In short, change the way we think and we will change the way we feel. This is to devalue and misunderstand the nature of feelings.

    For what it is worth I do not think life’s experiences can always be caught in language. Language is simply not omnicompetent and I think our feelings actually show us its limits.

    As a good evangelical I know you do not agree. You can not agree! You have said so! am I surprised? Of course I am not.

    Strangely, Dawkins and Hitchens would agree with you! As Eagleton points out, fundamentalism is merely the flip side of nihilism. Strange bedfellows indeed! Dawkins strongly objects to being called an ‘evangelical atheist’.

    So, leave the charismatics alone. At worst it is harmless fun. At best a trusting of feelings. Do a Gamaliel.

    Feelings however can be just as misleading as rationality. It is what makes life painful and difficult.

  7. Dr. Bob Childree says

    Jon- Welcome. I like everything Arleigh has said in reply to your post. Arleigh is like a winning rugby coach- he always keeps the main thing the main thing. And he nails it.
    You made a lot of interesting observations in your post. Too many to reply to, actually, so I will only get into a couple of them a bit. You dealt first with angels. You might enjoy Billy Graham’s book, “Angels,” available in paperback. Did you know that angels wish they could understand our great salvation? The Word says so.
    Some of the sages of long ago had serious discussions about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Their theology was off, because there is no mention of angels dancing in scripture. But they themselves were dancing around another issue- the nature of the universe itself. A famous rabbi, Nachmanides, who lived in the twelfth century, inferred from his studies in Genesis that the universe existed in ten dimensions.
    In 2000 AD Brian Greene published his book, “The Elegant Universe,” which is a very interesting book on String Theory, a physics theory about the derivation of the particles in particle physics. I thought the theory broke down a few chapters before the end of the book, but it was amazing all in all. The point is that String Theory only works if the universe exists in ten dimensions, which is explained in the book.
    So it looks like Nachmanides and Genesis beat modern physics to the punch by some 750 years or so in postulating a ten dimensional universe. God (and angels) do not exist normally just “in” that universe, by the way. The Creator obviously exists in more dimensions than His creation. So does that open the door for a large number of angels to exist on a pinhead? Perhaps, if they can move freely into the curl of a few of those dimensions, but that is physics way over my head.
    Angels are indeed interesting, but not nearly so interesting as Jesus Christ, whom they serve. It is probably best not to study angelology (new word!) until you have exhausted the unsearchable riches of Christ, Christ in every book of the Bible, and Christ in almost every type in scripture. Then study the Holy Spirit in detail from Genesis to Revelation, then study Jehovah from Genesis to Revelation. Then study angels if you will.
    You did seem confused in that you seemed to attribute manifestations of the Holy Spirit to angels. No Charismatic that I know would ever attribute a healing, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, tongue or prophecy to an angel. And you mentioned some of the more peculiar manifestations of the Holy Spirit which were present at the Great Awakening of Jonathan Edwards’ day, the 1730-1740’s, such as barking, whirling under the control of the Holy Spirit, being “slain in the Spirit” and essentially unconscious for a day or more, and of course, the “holy laughter” phenomenon. These phenomena returned in about 1995 and their epicenter was the Toronto Airport Vineyard church. I attended some of these meetings out of curiosity, with a very skeptical but open mind. I was quite surprised to find absolutely nothing to fuel my skepticism. The things I observed, strange as they seemed to me, met the test of being done decently and in order. My heightened spirit of discernment kept telling me that this was of God- let it be. None of the strange things happened to me, but my spirit was quite edified by the conference I attended. I still enjoy taking out the videotapes and watching at times. Why did God choose to do these strange things? Ask Him, I don’t have a clue. But since spiritual things are spiritually discerned, I can assure you that, just as in Jonathan Edwards’ day, these things were from God. Never, never, never attribute something that just might be from God to Satan’s kingdom. You can walk away if unsure. That’s fine. But unless you pray and ask God to reveal what spirit a phenomenon is from and He absolutely, positively, with no room for error tells you that it is from a false spirit, don’t attribute it to Satan. Again, listen to Arleigh’s advice.

    Dr. Bob

  8. Hi Mark,

    You can now see what I mean about ‘harmless fun’. At least I hope you can. If you can’t things are much worse than I imagined!

    Dr Bob’s piece is REALLY AWESOME and REALLY AMAZING. FANTASTIC and BRILLIANT.

    It passeth all understanding!

    However you can relax, I do not expect you to reply to it. I don’t think you will and I don’t think you should. In fact I’m not even sure you, or anyone else for that matter, would know where to start; Satan perhaps or maybe string theory, what about ‘angelology’?

    A reply anyway, will only encourage further ramblings or even worse, another ‘theological’ ditty! (This time about multidimensional space and the strong smell of sulphur! The mind boggles.)

    I think we haven’t yet had the final pages of Dr Bob’s ‘eagerly awaited’ treatise. Or perhaps we have, it is so very hard to tell.

    Both Arleigh and Jon will no doubt continue the ‘debate’, in their individual, comprehensive and inimitable ways. It is though, far too much for me.

    Actually I’m beginning to think it is all a ‘wind-up’!

    Nobody can be this bad surely!

  9. Arleigh Crisman says

    I am given a proverb, fallow me if you will.
    There was an aeronautical scientist examineing a bumble bee in his garden.
    Speaking out loud to him self and asking the question ,”how is it that you can fly with such tiny wings,that’s imposable.
    To the supprize to the man the bee says,” how is it you can walk on just two leggs ,reduce me to just two leggs and I cannot walk or hold onto anything,what you are doing is imposable.” To which the man says, “well if you were dead, your wings could not support flight.” And the bee says, and if you were dead you could not walk. ”
    Each think the other is doing something quite imposable,given their seperate perspectives.
    Perspective is the key.
    Human perspective likes the control of capturing and overcomming.
    But to put ones self on the microscope slide of God’s examination and control is quite the different thing, isn’t it?
    Not all Christians are willing to do this, they have to be coaxed and prodded,almost blackmailed in to this surender. Some people wait till the point of death before yielding.how sad.
    Grasp as you will, at straws of men’s understanding and all one will get is ,yes, straw. quite combustable in the end.
    Jesus Christ made it posable for a man to actually have personal fellowship with God, and people avoid that because of what?
    I suspect, that it is the fact, that once one is faced with real time answers, the excuses they hoped would allow them to continue in sin (unbelief)the light would remove the illusion for bliss of ignorance. Real accountability would become a reality. This is the real threat to the intellectual.
    Going back to the tree in the garden, when Adam embraced second hand information, caling God the liar.
    Which are you? one wanting the truth, or one looking for excuses?

  10. Arleigh Crisman says

    I had been responding to the spirit of this site, Ephesians4;14
    I beg you to read both chapters4; and 5;to verse 21, Read carefully and think about all the conversation above.
    arleigh