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 Childree says:

    Hi wigrd,

    I have been over my head with projects, so I have been out of the loop for awhile. My garden is coming in (bumper crop it appears) now, so I will be out of the loop again.

    I just wanted to say that I believe you did answer your own question rather well. Assuming that all of these men started out as sincere people, which may not be a valid assumption, of course, where do you think they went wrong? I don’t know who all of them are, but I agree with your assessment on the ones I recognize.

    What guiding philosophy or principles would you have recommended to them as young men that you believe would have helped them not fall into the behaviors (different for each man, I am sure) that led them to where they are today and to your assessment of them?

    Lest I forget this, the scripture says something like “There is none that does right. They are altogether gone astray.” I think that is O.T., but I think I hear frustration in God’s voice as He says that. Do you know any remedy for the problem?

    Finally, wigrd, can you actually define the problem? You know a lot about a lot, and of course you will be held acountable for how you applied all that knowledge, according to N.T. words. You are good with words, so how about a deep, concise, introspective definition of the problem you have brought up.


  2. Glad to have you back Bob.

    You seem to place rather a lot on sincerity. I wonder how far it takes us?

    How do you think sincere Christians, sincere Hindus, sincere Moslems or sincere Jews be different, morally or otherwise, from agnostics (in some degree, of course, that means all of us!) atheists or indeed deists?

    The question remains. “Why should Sunni Moslems be right and you be wrong?”

    Did you look up the Pew Poll? Can we put those findings down to “going astray”? I sometimes wonder which New Testament some evangelicals read! I actually don’t think the results would be anything like the same if the UK had been polled. This begs a whole new question. How much is evangelical Christianity and how much is cultural difference?

    I am not for a moment suggesting we in the UK should take any moral high ground, just that on this issue and perhaps foreign policy in general there are some differences. Though I suspect the Neocon influence in the States is on the wane. I certainly hope so!

    You make Jim Baaker et al, seem somehow well-meaning but easily led, and just a bit off the rails. Well call me cynical but I think there is a touch more to it! Again we tend not to suffer the same excesses here.

    Nicky Gumbel and Alpha, although patronisingly trite,(and come to think of it, Nicky has got big hair and a set of Burt Lancasterish choppers – gleaming, flashing and white!) seem, by comparison, nearly normal and certainly fairly harmless.

    By the way, the list I gave was far from exhaustive. Check out the whole crowd!

    Try reading David Hume. “An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding” (1748). I think the questions you pose, and many more besides, will be answered more thoroughly and eloquently than ever I could.

    Hume is an excellent counterweight to the rabid excesses of any sort of religious pomposity and slavish fundamentalism, Christian or otherwise. There does seem an awful lot of it about these days! Whatever its form, Muslim, Christian or other, it is distasteful and indefensible.

    As a Christian of the sort you say you neither understand nor wish to,(in spite of having read Tillich!), I find Hume clear, sharp and refreshing. I think he is still regarded by many as the greatest English-speaking philosopher.

    Incidentally, all who knew Hume thought him sensitive, kind and civilised. Not at all like the crew I listed and you agreed were quite disgusting.

    Although “One Nation Under God” thinks differently, it was Enlightenment thinkers like, and including, David Hume and Adam Smith who laid the foundations for the Declaration of Independence and the formation of the USA. And of course the great man himself, Jefferson, and Ben Franklin were unitarians! No religious fanatics these! In fact there was insistence upon the separation of church and state. The best known sentence in the English language “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” makes no mention of God and is rather more akin to its contemporary; “Liberty, Egalite, Fraternite” and the deification of “Reason” in France.

    As well as “which New Testament do some people read”?, “which history books do they read”? might be a question worth asking. Rhetorically of course. I don’t think I really want to know!

    I await your comments but I shall understand completely if like Voltaire, you prefer to tend your garden.

  3. Arleigh Crisman says:

    Personally, I am wondering what you do know of those other religions compared with christianity.
    Muslims believe in alah whom is discribed as deceitful in their own writing. They also practice that it is acceptable to lie.
    The Hindu have several spirits they worship and they know they are not God, but demons. This information came from people in those religions.
    Now Jesus is who He said He is, or He is a liar ,which is it?
    There is truth and there is lie, there is no middle ground.
    Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me. John14;6.
    There are many other places He makes this distinction and establishes Himself as final judge. Matthew 7;21, “not every one that says to me Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but he that does the will of my Father in heaven, 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 workers of iniquity.”
    God is not bound to what we think, but to what He thinks.
    Either a man wants fellowship with God or he does not.
    Searching men for the answer, leaving what God has so costly provided out of the loop, is an insult to His investment .
    I believe Jesus for many reasons, chief of which is this; above the scriptures and history, above men’s speculation and vain self, inflated philosophy, though they appeal to the flesh are not eternal, but based on the flesh.
    The salvation Jesus has provided us, give access on a personal level with God, via His Holy Spirit. By seeking after and yielding to Jesus Lordship in my life, the guidance He personally provides, exceeds any (advanced) knowledge men might boast of. The truths He gives, are found in others whom are taught of the same Spirit, not in the same church, nor same anything else, except the same Spirit. So in my opinion, either one is in compliance with God on a personal level, taught of Him and obey Him personally, or they are at odds with God on every level.

  4. I really don’t know what to say Arleigh.

    I know something about Christianity and almost nothing at all about other religions, but I wouldn’t make the horrible, and I suspect wholly inaccurate judgements, you have made about Islam and Hinduism.

    As a footnote, isn’t it sometimes right to tell a lie? If it is, how do we know when to do so?

  5. Dr. Bob Childree says:

    Insights from the Holy Spirit. God has no trouble whatsoever communicating His truth to man. Man, on the other hand, has tremendous hutzpa in rejecting God’s clear truth. Romans 1,2,and 3 is so clear that it takes a seminary degree to misinterpret it. It shows clearly that Gentiles fall short of God’s requirements. It shows clearly that the Heathen fall short of God’s requirements. It shows clearly that Jews fall short of God’s requirements. The rest of Romans gives the only remedy for the situation. The one and only remedy. No other religeon but Christianity can meet God’s requirements, and it can do so only by grace through faith. In absolutely no way can anyone meet God’s requirements except through grace and faith.

    Here are the lyrics to a song from the seventies.

    Old Buhdda lyrics from album The Best of the Imperials

    Well, old Buddha was a man
    And I’m sure that he did well,
    But I pray for his disciples
    Lest they end up in hell,
    And I’m sure that old Mohammed
    Was sure he knew the way,
    But it won’t be Hari Krishna
    We stand before on judgment day.

    Oh, it won’t be old Buddha
    That’s sitting on the throne,
    And it won’t be old Mohammed
    That’s calling me home,
    And it won’t be Hari Krishna
    That plays that trumpet tune,
    And we’re going to see the Son,
    Not Reverend Moon!

    Well, I don’t hate anybody,
    So please don’t take me wrong,
    But there really is a message
    In this simple song,
    See, there’s only one way–Jesus,
    If eternal life is your goal,
    And meditation of the mind, it won’t save your soul.


    Well, you can call yourself a Baptist
    And not be born again,
    A Presbyterian or a Methodist
    And still die in your sin,
    You can even be Charismatic,
    Shout and dance and jump a pew,
    But if you hate your brother,
    You won’t be of the chosen few!

    New Chorus:
    ‘Cause it won’t be a Baptist
    That’s sitting on the throne,
    A Presbyterian or a Methodist
    That’s calling me home,
    And it won’t be a Charismatic
    That plays that trumpet tune,
    So let’s all just live for Jesus,
    ‘Cause He’s coming back real soon!


  6. Well Bob,

    All that is clear.

    It is unmitigated and very smelly rubbish, objectionable and puerile; but perfectly clear. It might be better if it wasn’t!

    If such empty-headed, infantile doggerel, comes even close to your theological position or indicates the level of your literary appreciation, you should be thoroughly ashamed of the former and embarrassed by the latter.

    I know you are neither ashamed nor embarrassed and that is why I say ‘should’. I think your neck is hardened.

    Selfish and self-centred hardly comes close.

    Cruel, nasty, pitiless and brutal are nearer the mark.

    Why do you think your mean and rather nonsensical interpretation of the Gospel is the only valid one? It certainly doesn’t help the children of Darfur or the thousands who died from starvation and disease during the time it took you to type it. To celebrate their imagined fate with such heartless tripe, is not just cold-hearted and hard-headed, it is in essence wickedness.

    It is a fair and hard question to ask what Gospel could possibly help in the situations I have mentioned, but sitting comfortably in Middle America, playing sheep and goats whilst spouting this nauseating cant as Gospel truth, is as stupid as it is callous.

    It is certainly unloving, uncaring, un-Christian and sickeningly malicious.

  7. Arleigh Crisman says:

    Mr .Wigrd,
    Arleigh here,
    I hope you review your words and remember them well.
    you have entered a conversation pretending to be educated and you are clearly not. by your own admission, it is clear that your intentions are purely disruptive,and not honest,otherwise you would have not stepped on your own tongue.You do not pay attention clearly to the things that are said to you.
    A man who is a compulsive liar thinks that every one else is ,so by that standard it is self approved . God does not approve of lies at any level . I am sure that both Bob and I are taking our words very seriously and accountable before God , Jesus said we are accountable ,even for idle conversation . The issues here are far more grave.
    Our faith is not a hobby, our lives are fully invested,even moment by moment.
    And by the way Christianity is responsible for most of the rescue to the world around .There is no other culture that has put forth the effort to help the world like christians do every single day. For all your education, you appear have had your head in the sand concening the truth of a matter.
    We are toght to investagate a matter for the truth,the spirit of God will not let us go, what men teach,is not taken for granted at any level . A man primed to hate will never see this,but a man devoted to knowing and loving God will.
    If you ever sincirely come to the pont of being honest with God ,it is important to remember that He repsonds on His terms not yours.IF you repent (that is completely reverse your attitude and lifestyle, particularly unbelief)ask for forgiveness, and recieve the forgiveness Jesus Had provided for you,Having given His life on the cross for the sin of the world. If He sees that you are honest ( He knows you from the inside out, even your ulterrior motives). He may grant the rebirth the Holy Spirit alone, imparts.
    You can find the things Jesus taught in the gospels of the new testament . I prefir the King James version simply because it has not been tampered with as much. But if you really get into it, Greek would be the thing to learn,the original texts are written in .But there is no sweeter time spent than on your knees before the Lord in the morning and through the day.And if you open up to the tutelage of the Holy Spirit ,you know God’s will, real time.
    OR you can ignore all this and go stumbling through life on your own,hoping that I am wrong,but having never investagated honestly to disprove.

  8. I’m sorry you have such a low opinion of me Arleigh.

    I may be wrong. I may on occasion be unfair. I frequently express myself badly. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that because I disagree with you, I am either a fool, a liar, (an ugly word and a dreadful charge) or frivolous.

    My concern is that people who write the sort of twaddle I have read recently ARE serious. I wish they weren’t.

    Someone I knew recently asked her mum if she was going to die. Catherine was 17 years old. She was very ill and very brave, and had been both for some 12 years.

    The truthful answer was ‘yes’ (Catherine died within the week), Mum told her she wasn’t going to die, that in fact, she was going to get well. Was Anne, the mum, right to lie? (In your terms was Anne a ‘liar’?)

    What would your answer have been Arleigh?

    Catherine also rejected your brand of Christianity. Do you think she is now in Hell?

    According to his silly verse we know what Dr Bob thinks and by quoting the whole daft poem, he seems to exhibit a perverse sort of pleasure.

    And YOU accuse ME of a lack of seriousness!

    Arleigh, come on!

  9. Arleigh Crisman says:

    First My athourity is the words of Jesus ,and he said, “Satan is a liar and the fatrher of it.”
    whom one subscribes to,in actions and deeds, is their lord, and will shair the same conciquences ,it is all very simple.
    If a peson calls them self Christian but5 Jesus Lordship is not present in their life they arfe both self decieved and attempting to decieve others ;a lie. God is not bound ot lies .In Revelations it says along with other issues, “all liars” are included in those going to hell, especially religious ones. The scriptures refir to as false teachers and false prophets . These are those whom choose to teach with out the giudance and directive of the Holy Spirit and or attempt to act in place of the Holy Spirit,ordering people’s lives. Even James wrote ,” be not many masterfs knowing that we are under the greater condemnation.”
    As for the condition of any person,If one is disobedient To God ,having refused His provision(Jesus Christ)their eternity remains unchanged. John 3; 16,17,18, Matthew 7;21,22,
    Do you know the story of Noah’s ark ? God choose 8 people to live ,out of a whole planet full of people. the evidence of the ark is still with us today on mount Arrat in Russia. Even other old cultures have stories that tell the event.
    God is not desprate,my friend
    Jesus gave this parable,
    the kingdom of heaven is like a man that had cast his net into the sea,and when he drug it ashore he seperated out of it what he wanted . You see , He also has the power of choice.
    He is not bouind to what you or I might emagine ,ther is no voteing ,no majority rule, no political correctness,or human government. God is sole ruler in heaven and the universe and all that exists,seen and unseen.
    What He allows, or prevents is at the perview of His judgment . He has saved me often, and so much so ,that should I die tonite His fellowship with me will contimnue to be non stop.
    And what of your god ,your self or another? Does he share with you, heal you,and those you vouge for, provide for you, give you a peace no matter how the conditions around you appear bleak? When you pass into eternity what

  10. OK Arleigh.
    You win.