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.


  1. Arleigh Crisman says

    Though I don’t agree with all Paul taught ,He was unaware of the things Jesus tought the disciples and the Gospels aparently.Jesus spicifically said ,do not be called teacher or master or father. Matthew 23;7,8,9,10, Paul made a misstatement and men ran with it.
    Men set aside the things Jesus said spicifically and choose to ignore them, Men conforming the scriptures to fit them selves rather than puting one’s self humbly at the Lord’s feet for restructuring . men love the words of other men ,but there is no excuse in the end for misinformation, standing before the throne and Jesus is examining your self motivated teaching out side His instruction.Having fun with discussions that are vain Eph5;6, do not enhance ones obedience level before God .
    If one is so shallow as to think foolish discussions are acceptable, they emain in unbelief (Sin) . Jesus said every word that one speaks is going to be given account of on that day including IDLE conversation.
    God is very real and present in my life ,and I treat Him with the respect of His never ending presents ,here at my chair on the road or at work, every conversation, and while I am asleep. I don’t need to go to church to hear from God, but I do enjoy the message when the speaker is sharing the same things I’ve beeen discussing with the Lord that morning or even the day, before church.
    What does it profit a man to have the favor of men and not that of God ?

    John6;45 all taught of God.

    I know that many are saying I am too serious a fanatic a nut
    Jesus said the road is narrow I believe Him
    Jesus said,few there be that find the kingdom of God,I believe Him.
    If being submitted to the Lordship of Christ makes God happy, just as God had asked the prophets of old, to do odd things ,who am I to resist God?

  2. Greetings

    Paul is a great study in the grace of God. He also totally trashes Mark’s argument above. I am surprised that Mark is more of an Old Testament Christian than he says I am, judging from his remarks. Sometimes a little maturity in the Lord changes all that, sometimes it doesn’t. I have no clue where he keeps getting ideas so contrary to the New Testament teachings.

    The 12 closest disciples of Jesus, including Judas, were privileged to spend three years with the Master as He taught them both by precept and by deed. Paul, however, was even more privileged in that he spent three years with Jesus in the desert, alone. He had the Master’s undivided attention for three years. Not only that, he was both filled with and baptized in the Holy Spirit. He had the Holy Spirit within himself to help him as he mused over the lessons of each day in the desert school of Christ.

    I’m sure wigrd doesn’t believe any of what I have just said, but if not he might try reading the book of Acts for himself. That wouldn’t hurt anyone who doesn’t believe what I just said.

    The greatest trilogy ever written was written on “the just shall live by faith,” by Paul. The trilogy are Romans, Galatians and Hebrews- all dealing with facets of just how that is to be accomplished. Paul was a highly educated man before he met Christ on the way to Damascus, but can you imagine the education he received when he spent three years ALONE with the very Creator of the Universe??? Even so, he was still a man. I believe some of his remarks (especially about women in the church) were motivated by his strong cultural heritage, not by Christ. He often gives us a clue when he does this, saying, “Now this is from me, not the Lord.”

    I have met many people, especially liberals who call themselves Christians for some reason that I cannot discern from their lives, who despise Paul and his writings. That is possibly because Paul’s teachings would deny them their “respectable sins.” Paul does rather “go down the list,” as it were! But I have heard murmurings against Paul from more than just these folks. A lot of people wish he had never brought up the subject of spiritual gifts, for instance. And then there are some people who twist Pauls words trying to “prove” that the spiritual gifts were only for the lifespans of the original apostles. Of course, Peter says people wrest Paul’s words “to their own destruction.” But then, people who would do that do not tend to even believe in a literal Hell, do they wigrd?

    Paul was definitely not acquainted with Jesus during the Master’s earthly life, so he could not have known what Jesus had taught the disciples unless Jesus revealed it to him in the desert. I believe that Paul’s schooling for some reason went way beyond that of the disciples, perhaps taking him into heaven itself more than a few times- possibly because Paul, brilliant as he was, simply could not have comprehended what the Master was trying to teach him until he existed temporarily in other dimensions and perhaps had his mind unlocked to fully comprehend. Scripture teaches that in Heaven “we will know even as we are known,” which is perfectly.

    Some have mistakenly taken some words from the gospels and done wierd things with them. I am thinking of the snake handling churches of Appalacia here in America. But I also see some wierd things in all the liturgical churches- like boys wearing dresses, open acceptance of sodomites in church offices, spiritual hierarchies, dependance on sacraments for salvation, denial of marriage which was ordained by God. Personally, I would rather handle the snakes.

    Dr. Bob

  3. Hello Bob,

    You do sound very angry.

    I thought you had retired disgracefully!

    What tosh you write! I think I prefer the atrocious verse to the abysmal ‘theology’. On second thoughts ‘prefer’ is the wrong word.

    Apart from liberal sprinklings of poor English (eg. ‘trilogy’ is singular), you must be the only one left who thinks Paul wrote Hebrews!

    You really must try harder. I think any of Mark’s ‘Biggles’ books would be a good start.

  4. Arleigh Crisman says

    I guess I am disapointed with Paul on the bassis of emphisizing love over obedience (Cor 13)
    Knowing that He had been taught of he Spirit, and had learned at one point to obey the Spirit, he seemsd to set it aside, for an office, that in my opiniion, conflicts with the thing Jesus said, about not being called; teacher, master, or father.Encouraging others to teach things other than the gospel Jesus laid out, in my opinion, cercumvent’s God’s design.
    All be it, well meaning, teaching people how to appear christian with out the Spirit’s necessary personal influence takes God out of the loupe. He hints at it like Romans8; But I think His greek culture got him side tracted with mercy and love and grace. Which the carnal man loves to hear but the accountability Jesus taught is left in the dust. As Jesus said men love darkness rather than light.
    Let me give you a parable about light I deal with every day. I work on the stent, yes the ones that go in the body. After the stent is cut with the laser, debris are removed and it is expanded to required size, heat treated then with others I bead blast the carbon and excess metal off. We use microscopes to examine the serfaces to see that it is perfect in every aspect. After all, i’m sure you wouldn’t like a half hearted job on something going in your body, right ? this means the brightest light is used to make every examination,which are many. The slightest anything that is not right the setnt is scrapped cut up and tossed. Now lets look at the light men use to examine them selves ,,,each other or worse, them self . that’s real good , a man with the accumulated years of less than a hundred trying to reason an eternal God .
    God was Adam’s first teacher untill he choose to listen to some one call God a liar.
    Jesus made it posable for us to be taught of God, as He had promised in the old testament.
    Jesus word holds more athourity to me than any man, and it will be Jesus, not Paul on the great white thrown.
    I do not discount Paul altogether ,because he was a man prone to compromise for the sake of peace and title. Modern speakers are subject to the same temptations and ego does the talking .
    He actually did reiterate a number of things Jesus said ,I give him that. But we are called to teach the Godpel Jesus gave us, not Paul’s gospel. Letts keep it strait.
    Jesus Gospel has all the information necessary. the Holy Spirit is more than capable to tutor the believer.And God is watching to see if we are going to obey Him, or cercumvent Him again.
    I have had the Lord’s influence in my life for over fifty years.
    My dad taught me it was posable , I HAVE FOUND IT ESSENTIAL.
    I know that I sound like a broken record over this issue, but the fact of the matter is, Other than Jesus gospel ,emphisizing to believers the accountablity to Jesus in being taught of the Holy Spirit ,covers every thing one should know who want’s to please God.
    Just how many copies of the Bible as we know it, were availavble in Paul’s time ? Do we assume our selves better than those because of our education ?

  5. Arleigh Crisman says

    to wigrd,
    In my opinion, a culture that is dismal,is one devoid of God’s personal influence. Supported by the best of it’s rebellion to God, trying to reason God.
    Numbers 22;22-35 Balaam the prophet, is repromanded by God through an Ass. At least Balaam was smart enough to listen and not make further excuses to his failure, examining the source for it’s source. The word of the Lord comes to me in many differnt ways, almost never by those aware that I am around. A man prone to listen to God, is not looking for excuses. A man full of himself has no room for God .
    Man’s intellect gives the illusion of control. Of course it is has been found that it is the intellectuals more prone to suicide as you know . Control has it’s draw backs doesn’t it .
    It is so wonderful to have peace with God ,in good times and through life’s storms that help us grow more dependent on Him .
    I love God and how he cares for me and teaches me day by day and gives me guidance through out the diferent aspects of my life.
    Laying hands on the sick ,bringing comfort to the hurt and broken, offering ligh to the blind. I would not find them but the Spirit lead me to cross paths with them, and what acton to take.
    Though I have the capability through the power of Jesus name to do things ,I choose to wait for authorization and spicific direction. I find that God has little use for a man who operates on his own agenda. People insistant on rebellion according to scripture, God will give them up to a srtong delusion that they should believe a lie. 2Thessalonians 2;9,-12,Genisis 3;
    WIGRD, I see you as the woman at the well John 4; Just a little thick, stuck on a human agenda. She finally did come around , I hope you do too.

  6. Perhaps Dr Bob will expand on this Medieval disputation Arleigh.

    I’m sure you mean well but I’m flummoxed.

    I’ve already conceded that you are right! I have neither the energy nor the will to keep repeating it.

    What more can I say?

    What more do you want?

    I give in!

  7. Arleigh Crisman says

    If you are truely giving in,then how about asking Jesus Christ into your heart ?
    God is a rewarder of those that dilligently seek, HIM.
    The gospel of Jesus ,is not a bunch of ideals, but the person.
    Jesus taught a lot of things,prerequosits to entering the Kingdom of God. The one most important is repentance,from dead works and unbelief(sin). When a person extends them self out of their unbelief,and endevor to believe and to pray and agree with God your condition of sin and your inability to please Him on your own,and the justified judgment that stands over you ,needing His only begotten Son’s sacrifice applied to your Life/soul for this forgivness. If the heart is desprate, honest and genuine ( God knows the truth) He may consign the Holy Spirit to initiate the Holy Spiri to quicken your soul John 3;3,4,5,6, being born again. This is completely up to the Spirit of God and what He observes, one does not manipulate God . There is no form or ritual ,that makes a person saved, it is a relationship. A relationship of constantly wanting His influence,and discovering the joy and peace and provision and providence this relationship brings ,far beyonod religion or theology. If you become serious in this relationship, you will see that obedience to the Spirit of God, eventually makes great faith, seem like child’s play. After all it does not take great faith to operate a light switch,one hardly gives it a thought , the only question is, Lord is it time to turn it on ? When you discover that you license God to renew your mind and heal your perspective, the whole world becomes a very different place. As long as one holds on to human reasoning ,the conflict of the mind will conflict with God .
    Know the things Jesus taught, and for the time being leave every one else out of it. Determine to open your heart to The Holy Spirit to be taught of Him, concening things you think you know and things beyond your understanding.
    John 3; 16,17,18,
    One cannot have Spiritual understanding with a carnal mind.
    Jesus said, God Is Spirit ,He seeks those that will worship Him in Spirit and in tuth.

  8. Well Arleigh, you seem to have stumped everyone!

    I can’t think it is that all are in agreement. That never happens with evangelicals! Perhaps that is why there are so many hundreds of different varieties, each with its own church of course!

    It is certainly why one could spend many thousands of pounds on Bible commentaries! The one certain thing all these ‘evo’s’ have in common is, rather like all fudamentalists, religious and political, they are not satisfied until people think exactly as they do! Different views are always ‘in error’.

    Do you recognise this?

    If you think this is overstating the problem just try re-reading this blog. Dr Bob and Mark typify the disagreements I have in mind. Some of Dr Bob’s stuff is (perhaps unintentionally) vile.

    Many of the differences are really quite silly. Those that are not, are reduced to a slogan-slinging rhetoric, characterised by insult and often ending in anger. The most-injured party frequently ‘retires’, but not before a final last-word diatribe.

    Robert’s response to Stan is all too typical and there are plenty of others you can check out.

    Again I am reminded of Martin Buber. ‘How can I hear what you SAY when what you ARE is ringing in my ears?’.

  9. Arleigh Crisman says

    The verse in this bilog refirs to not being children tossed around by every wind of doctrine,yes.
    In my 58 years it is my understanding that the teaching men cultivate for the most part, is some tangent away from those things Jesus had so planely said. in some cases even twisting those things, but in most cases ignoring completely the uncomfortable things . Jesus, as a matter of fact, gave strong words against the teachers of the day, “Teaching for doctrine the commandments of men”.Last I read, every single person in scripture or history except Jesus (God)is included .
    Jesus used the parable of a rock foundation. He is that rock.
    The whims of man’s vast intellect (guess work at best) is that of sand. Now you may think me narrow minded, but you see it comes from my master whom is adaimently narrow minded.
    Do you work for a living ,and get a pay check ? Would you boss approve you, on his time, doing work for his competitor, or maybe just doing your own thing,in stead of doing the work you were hired for ? Or how about this , in stead of finding out what the boss wants done ,going to every other person in the company second guessing what your agenda should be for the day?
    The born again Spirit filled Christian has the capacity to be taught of God on a prsonal real time level. Not all are taught this ,teachers Love their exclusive attention, God will hold them accountable for. Jesus said “My sheep know my voice.John 10;
    and will not listen to a stranger’s voice.
    I believe that the Spirit of this site is for those that do take God seriously , in reference to the spiritual development of the believer.
    If I have all knowledge so that I can with stand the deepest intellect the world has to offer, and not obey God ,His judgment would justifiably rest on my rebelion.

  10. Bob Childree says

    In 1 Corinthians 12:1 Paul states that he does not want believers to be ignorant (Greek) of spiritual gifts. The Latin equivalent would read, “I do not want you believers to be agnostic about spiritual gifts.” Are Mark’s believers agnostics? The key post above indicates that they might be.

    Paul declares that to EACH believer the manifestation of the Spirit is given FOR THE COMMON GOOD. The common good cannot be achieved if each believer does not recognize and use his/her spiritual gift(s.)

    Then Paul enumerates the very gifts that Mark seems to wish did not exist in the New Testament church: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues.

    Many “agnostic” “Christians” today do not believe in these gifts of the Spirit. However, Paul declares that, “ALL of these are the work of one and the same Spirit,” and that he gives them to EACH ONE, just as he determines.

    Toward the end of 1 Corinthians 12 Paul says that IN THE CHURCH God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, those having gifts of healing, helps, administration and tongues speaking. IN THE CHURCH does not refer to TV evangelists or extra-church ministries, whether it’s “feed the poor” or “clothe the naked” or “help the lepers” or whatever extra-church ministries might exist. IN THE CHURCH means “in Mark’s church,” “in my church,” or “in your church.” To the degree we are agnostic about the spiritual gifts, and fully to that degree, the church we worship in is crippled, halting and blind.

    There are other passages that deal with spiritual gifts, such as Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. The church of today is a sleeping giant that needs to be awakened to all that God has for and expects of it. Of course the greatest gift is Christ himself, the subject of 1 Corinthians 13- God IS love, Christ IS love, the Holy Spirit IS love. But how is that love administered in the body? Through the gifts of the Spirit, and no other way.