Monday, January 05, 2015

The Reformed Charismatics

January 3, 2015

The Reformed Charismatic: Open or Cautious?

The openness of the Reformed Charismatic has led to recent compromise with adversaries of Christ; not merely sinners in need of salvation, but false teachers who blaspheme his name. Simply, this does not refer to Jesus, as  friend of sinners, dining to win the rebellious to Him. Instead, this is providing a platform for error and confusion. Continuationism is therefore a distinctive common feature of fellowship, and not simply ‘a secondary matter’ to the Reformed Charismatic in his desire to merge the reformed faith to Charismaticism. The sufficiency of Scripture is assaulted when the Reformed Charismatic proposes obscurity whereby matters in Scripture are clear. The question is then, “Are Reformed Charismatics ‘open’ or are they ‘cautious’?

This assessment must deal with the how one practices his belief (orthopraxy) as it flows from what one believes (orthodoxy). Paul warned Timothy to watch his ‘life and sound doctrine’ (2 Tim. 4:16). Paul did not separate the one from the other. He also warned that false teachers, as ministers of Satan, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Therefore, they can appear to be orthodox, but their end is according to their deeds (2 Cor. 15:11). This is not declaring that every Reformed Charismatic is a false teacher. Nor is it adequate to say that all Reformed Charismatics are willful in their aberrations. However, the continuationist position is not one of caution. The cessationist position exercises the greatest caution, because it does not seek after signs and wonders beyond the revealed text. Jesus proclaimed that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after signs (Matt. 16:24). Equally, the coming of the lawless one will take place along with authenticating signs and wonders. What then would Jesus say pertaining to those who redefine the gifts and share a common bond with those who do not ascribe to the ‘essentials’?

The Reformed position is irreconcilable with the Charismatic position on all levels. There are fundamental differences in the worship and identification of the biblical Christ. Disagreements on the person and work of the Holy Spirit exist between Reformed thinking and Reformed-Charismaticism. How the church must evangelize the lost is impacted, and the sufficiency of Scripture is at stake with any notion that revelation has continued beyond the text, as purveyed by the Charismatic. There is no greater evidence for such openness than the recent surge of conference compromise in the name of ‘Gospel-centeredness’. The Reformed Charismatic must not delight in his ‘confusion’, because all confusion that is dogmatically affirmed is not merely confusion. It is a firm stance. It is dogma. The ability to still hold to Gospel profession does not indicate that one has persevered in the faith. Holding to Gospel profession and failing to live the truth of the Gospel is evidence of slipping away from the truth. The fruit of ministry does not supersede the profession of faith. Fruit proves the profession of faith in Christ. All men are known not merely by their professions, but by their fruits (Matt. 7:16). Christ gave this protective hedge for His sheep, so that the Christian would use discernment to measure if the profession and life agree.

The true cessationist is cautious because he believes the Scripture is sufficient. The only great move of the Spirit that must be sought is through the diligent study of Scripture, and His workings through Scripture concerning the truth in Christ. Verbal assent to these matters does not place the Reformed Charismatic in the family of Christ. Living  this reality demonstrates that one is in the family of Christ. The Christian is not marked off by mere influence he is able to stir with the truth; rather he must live the truth and stand firmly rooted in the reality of the truth. The Reformed Charismatic is not positioned in the seat of the confused Corinthians. Rather, if her most responsible proponents profess to be teachers, then a higher standard of James 3:1 must be in order.

The argument is not whether Reformed Charismatics have contributed to the faith, appear relevant, or if they have graced the stage with reformed men. This does not make any man a follower of Christ. Nor does personal impact upon the lives of other believers cause one to be a brother or sister in the faith. We may all remember fondly those who have inspired us, who are now in eternal damnation. The question must be asked of every man, Charismatic or Reformed, who do they say Christ is? And, how does their lives align with their profession.

The continuationist position does not enable a better understanding of the cults. It legitimizes the cults, whether by intention or carelessness. The propensity for Reformed-Charismatics to join hands with the orthodox and false teachers has caused a schism and confusion among sound believers. This is not a commendable virtue, nor is it a secondary concern. This is not to say that one can never err, however, when one errs, what is his disposition when he is called to account? Will he explain his errors as secondary matters while holding to the ‘essentials’ of the faith? Or will he, in the face of truth, as a submissive Christian, repent? Can the apologist for charismatic error be labeled as truthful? What separates a man who affirms Benny Hinn, from Benny Hinn himself? What separates a man who affirms Rick Warren from Rick Warren? Gospel essentials are not merely verbal, but demonstrative. The life must demonstrate the verbal conviction.

Redefining spiritual gifts is one case in which the Christian must be weary of novelty. However men are esteemed, however insightful their Christian contribution, any novelty must be rejected, along with those who bring them, until such men repent. Stephen did not call the ideas of the Jewish leaders ‘stiff-necked’. He called them stiff-necked. Jesus did not assault the ‘idea’ of Peter as from fleshly confusion and satanic deception. He called Peter ‘Satan’. The tone of truth must never replace the necessity of truth. The tone of truth must never be a prerequisite for obedience. How one feels about the proclaimer of truth, must never hold sway against what the Scripture commands believers to do in light of truth.

The postmodern nature of Reformed Charismaticism has enabled the redefinition of terms, the subjective assessment of truth, the overemphasis on ‘tolerance’, and the de-emphasis of righteousness. Our gentleness is necessary, but it does not shape the truth. Nor is our gentleness to be a captive assessment of those who are in sin. Our gracious disposition must first begin with our heart attitude toward God. Let men call our ministry what they will, but God’s evaluation is the only one that matters. His estimation often goes beyond the esteem of men (Luke 16:13-18). Biblical Christians, however, flourish under chastening and persecution.

The Scriptures never tell us to remain ‘open’ to new moves of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a revealer of new realities, but rather a testifier of the timeless and eternal Christ, and the once-and-for-all delivered faith. God’s truth does not change. The body of Christ suffers when the ‘harshness’ of truth is ignored because men feel it is too harsh. She suffers when she laments that the way is too narrow, because of evangelical sophistication. If men are presenting error, whether in life or doctrine, they are presenting lies. In that moment, they do not speak for Christ. In that moment, if they are our brothers, they are rebellious against the sealed and revealed truth of God in Scripture alone. It is not virtuous to flatter those who err, because we would lose the esteem of men. Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Prov. 27:6). We must admonish Christians who raise up ideas contrary to the faith. Whether our tone is harsh, as perceived by them, or pleasant, the Reformed Charismatic must come to the truth with a desire to be changed by it.

Touch my anointed is a proof-text used in the Charismatic movement to silence all who would dare demonstrate discernment. Leaders are able to extort members, dishonor Christ, blaspheme the Spirit, and mock the truth with ‘anointed’ impunity. This has also crept into the thinking of Reformed-Charismatic sympathizers. Every man must be measured, and his teaching must align to truth. If it fails to align with the truth, he must be rejected, irrespective of our fondness for him or his resume of past accomplishments. The standard is the text, not credibility. Credibility is only maintained as the text is followed with precision, by the preacher. When Christians fail to do this, the slope downward into the path of academic novelties is followed.

The Christian must forsake his error and flee to the truth. We must pray that God surrounds us always, not with those who remain open to the shifting winds of false propositions and erroneous teachings. But rather we must pray that He would send us men who will admonish us when we err and that we would kill pride when our errors are exposed; thus we may respond with humble submission, repentance, and feed the flock of God among us with painstaking conviction.

~Doron Gladden, " Reformed Charismatics", Biblical Christ Research Institute

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