Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Charismatic Effects

How does one assess or evaluate the Neo-Pentecostal, or, as it is more colloquially termed, the Charismatic Movement. There are two camps with many ardent supporters within each side espousing either the cessationist or restorationist viewpoints. To evaluate any movement purporting to be of God we should be discerning and according to Dr J I Packer there are two tests that can be used.

Credal Test:
Anyone claiming to be Spirit-inspired who fails to confess the incarnation is not of God so they must affirm that the sacrifical death of God's Son cannot be denied and also the Spirit of God leads no one to say cursed be Jesus but leads men rather to sincerely call him Lord. Naturally this sort of credal test applies to all who profess a faith not just charismatics and it is the degree of honour paid by confession, attitude and action to the Son whom God the Father has made Lord.

Moral Test:

Anyone who truly knows and loves God will show it my keeping his commandments, avoiding all sin and loving his brethren in Christ.

Following on from this are quite obvious positive features within the charismatic movement after a biblical assessment:
  1. Its stress on personal fellowship with, and devotion to, the living Christ.
  2. Its stress on the need to be filled with the Spirit, and to be living a life which one way or another displays the Spirit's power.
  3. Its recognition of, and provision for, the necessary emotional dimension - necessary because we are human beings - in apprehending and responding to the love of God in Christ.
  4. Its stress on the need to cultivate an open, ardent, constant, whole-hearted habit of prayer.
  5. Its stress on the need to cherish and express Christian joy in both speech and song.
  6. Its insistence that each Christian be thoroughly involved in the church's worship.
  7. Its concern that all Christians be actively involved in ministry; finding and using their gifts, whatever these prove to be, for others' welfare.
  8. Its missionary zeal and concern to share Christ.
  9. Its awareness of the potential of small groups for prayer, study and ministry.
  10. Its stress on the need for church structures to be flexible enough to allow all gifts within a congregation to be fully used.
  11. Its experiments in community living; in particular, the establishing of extended families composed of nuclear families who unit to fulfil ministries of shelter and support which no nuclear family on its own could manage.
  12. Its cultivation of childlike openness, spontaneity, warmth, and expectancy in relationships with both God and man.
Naturally, not all of these features are present, nor have to be, within all charismatic churches but are common within the movement as a whole.

There are many churches who purposefully do not recognise themselves as being part of the charismatic movement per se but yet display such admirable features.

Problems do arise where there are distortions of these basic characteristics, over-emphasis of certain areas at the compromise of others and more importantly corruption of the interpretation of Scripture, greed and self-promotion.
(See forthcoming post on Charismatic Defects)

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