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. Dr Bob is back and laying down the law again Arleigh!

    Over to you.

    I’m busy reading the Biggles books.

    Mark wisely remains silent.

    Just one question Bob. Have we or have we not had the final episode of ‘higher criticism’?

  2. Bob Childree says

    Hi wigrd,

    I believe all the criticism has come from you, although I could not say I would call it “higher” criticism. You will have to answer that question yourself.

    Why do you not get in on the spiritual discussions? Or can you only enlighten us on socialism and Marxism, capitalism and communism, existentialism and modernism? Those things will all pass, wigrd, but God’s word is eternal. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. You have a spirit. Use it, if it is redeemed. And if it is not redeemed, get it redeemed. Eternity is awaiting your entrance. Which eternity will it be, that of the redeemed or that of the lost?

    Choose you this day whom you will serve. I for one would like to hear your declaration of just whom you have chosen. And I pray that you will choose Jesus the Christ, who loved you and gave himself for you on a cross on a hilltop almost 2000 years ago.

    Your perception that I am laying down law is upside down. In fact I am laying down grace. I have to confess that, according to one version of Isaiah 6:1, “from birth the whole head is sick.” So you might be perceiving things through your own lens right now, and a single lens tends to reverse things and even to invert them at times, so your strange perceptions may seem right to you while they seem totally wrong to me. The proper lens to look through is the lens of the Holy Spirit- it is perfect, without distortion.

    I would like to see some positive discussion of spiritual truths in this blog. It seems that your assignment is to discourage that. From whence comes that assignment?


  3. I rest my case! You’ve done it again!

    However you are right in one sense, no one else does seem to bother! Even Arleigh has, for the moment at least, given up. Your so called theology is worse than your literary appreciation. After your previous effort, I was going to recommend Borat’s ‘Throw the Jew down the well’. Do you know it?

    As for your last paragraph, it is simply not true. Try going back and reading what I have written. I think what you really mean is that your spiritual truths are the only ones and you want everyone to agree!

    You claim to have read Augustine!

    You claim to have read Tillich!

    You can then write this nonsense.


  4. Arleigh Crisman says

    Bob I agree,
    thus the reason I am concerned that believers first learn to be taught of the Spirit .
    Trying to get people to agree is well like it is here. too many teachers.
    The Holy Spirit knows the individual,their comitment and capacity . I have met a number of people taught of the spirit and it is both a blessing and an affermation. because though we are states apart ,the Spiirit ignites us with the same truths. And it is not like the vague generalities some horiscope might speculate with(i’ve listened to other people ead them )
    The blessing is listening to the morning message in a church you don’t normally attend, and the speaker is sharing right from my own prayer and notes from the nite before,chapter and verse.and we have never met.
    At best, a man can only teach others how to appear christian, however the Holy Spirit makes the born again expirence come to life. So whether it is learning the things Jesus taught, or the finer points of the gifts, to direction in every day life as in how to pray and for whom. or which way to drive to work,and so on.
    I know how it is for those whom have rested so much on the chronicles of others but I am not called to be Paul, or Billy Graham, or Bob, I am called to be arleigh and to be obedient to the Sirit of God . So if I can encourage others to be taught of God ,He takes care of the rest, and unity in the Spirit will be accomplished of the Spirit. I believe how Jesus had intended it.

  5. Well Bob, You have got your ‘positive discussion of spiritual truths’. Hope Arleigh’s contribution fits the bill. I still think you would do far better with Biggles!

    On another matter, I note Mark, you have now listed a couple of Ed Mc Bain’s ’87th Precinct’ novels. I find the early ones (late ’50s and very early 60s) are real classics of the genre; the later ones less so. What do you think? He has a remarkable grasp of what it means to be human don’t you think?

    You may or may not know that he also wrote under his adopted name Evan Hunter. (I think his original name was Italian.) ‘The Blackboard Jungle’ is well known but ‘Buddwing’ and ‘A Horses Head’ are worth checking out.

  6. Arleigh Crisman says

    I was really blessed the other day ,
    On my way to work (I leave early )I stop and have lunch and studdy on the way . I was impressed to stop at one particular of several different restraants I frequent.
    Afer having finished my meal, another customer, an older woman with two young children invited me to sit with them and share with them what I had been studdying .Now the morning earlier I had discussed my diet with my son and felt impressed to move to a more vegiterian like diet ,just to adjust to the more seditary lifestyle my job requires . You know human nature ,and the reluctance to give up certain foods. Well in my discussion with this lady over my studdies she mmoved the conversation to her lifestyle and diet . She is a spirit filled christian whom has actually sold every thing and tavels on foot sharing the gospel,She is another whom the Spirit teaches. She lives on a vegiterian lifestyle.Now I could ignore that providential meeting and continue the way I am going (over weight ) but clearly ,God saw to it that I get the message. Choosing to listen, and not just listen,but obey. I was not seeking the scriptures nor men’s wisdom ,but having an open heart to the Lord . I have played the literary argument both ways ,one can argue scripture to either end but the bottom line is the Spirit has confirmed and taught me what I should be doing, now, reguardless of the arguments.
    In my opinion human nature creates road blocks appling faith to the things men teach. wresteling with the things the Spirit might teach. the short cut is not always God’s way. Waiting on the Lord is important in every sense. The world will never get it ,nor will carnal “believers”, unless they are made aware of their accountability and the truth about whom our teacher should be.

  7. Arleigh Crisman says

    Bob ,
    Haven’t seen any new posts lately. Has the site been abandoned ?
    I’d like to discuss a teaching I am hearing more often lately.
    the phrase is “God’s unconditinal love” thee are no scriptures to support it and terre is actually the greater evidence against it . Our relationship with God Is completely conditional,bothe old and new testament scriptures bear this out in all God’s promisews and warnings to isreal and all Jesus teaching as well. Where do men get the idea God’s love is unconditional ?
    It seems to me the abuse of the word does more dammage than good ,countradictory to the meaning of salvation and the gospel , at least to me it seems .
    What are your thoughts ?

  8. I agree with you. The scriptures I read always seem to have conditions associated with them. There are scriptures that could be misused as prooftexts for unconditional love though, such as the story of the prodigal son. Another would be the one, ” I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Another misused one would be “no man can pluck them out of the father’s hand.” Still another would be that “he died for the sins of the whole world.” Taken out of context there are about 42 scriptures with which one could weave a case for unconditional love and eternal security. But any serious study of scripture would have to include at least (surprisingly) 42 New Testament scriptures that warn of loss of eternal life, falling from grace, making shipwreck of one’s faith, and so forth. As for unconditional love, that is the error that leads to the doctrine of ultimate reconciliation, that in the end even Satan will be restored to his original relationship with God. Even serious Bible students may get off on rabbit trails that ignore the full counsel of scripture, but honest ones will get back on track when they start trying to include the 42 or so scriptures that contradict their rabbit trail theology. I have done that myself. Doctrine which does not include the full counsel of scripture is just error. If your circle includes “security of the believer” but does not include the 42 scriptures (at least) which warn against losing one’s salvation, then the circle needs to be drawn larger. Good theology must include both sets of scripture.

    So, yes, I agree with you fully.If God did not spare the angels who sinned, why should he spare a profligate “believer.” And why should He spare a “doubter” who is not even a believer in Jesus Christ, His only begotten son?

  9. Arleigh Crisman says

    today i made a stupid mistake, I was factng a particular direction on my property, and from with in, i was warnred not to go there, but in my haste to go, i ignored the warning. now i have 3 bee stings to remind me to behave.

  10. Arleigh Crisman says

    It occured to me , that though much of what is shaired can be viewed as idealistic, and well it is . I remember Jesus saying , no man putting his hand to the plough and looking back is worthy of the kingdom.
    This is a tough row to hoe, for me . looking back at sucesses does have some encouraging to it, a false sense of accomplishment, if thinking this success be my own ,dare I forget God’s interaction through out my live. Paul said press toward the mark, and I think to my self , how ? How more than walking in the tutelage of the Spirit , can one be better defigned ? I confess that I have not sold all, and walk the streets homeless. I wonder if as Christians in this culture haven’t altogether rewritten Jesus words to fit them self, rather than conforming to His word . I have met people that actually do live on the street witnessing to the world wearing white.
    I don’t know the effectiveness of their work , yet if in deed they are obedient ,one can do no better than that. There is something to be said for having very little,(been there ,done that). And I have to admit this curent situation I am in with all the stuff i am trying to sell and get rid of, is frustrating.
    Pray for me will you .