Scott and Marv over at To Be Continued have just finished the last of the 8-part series “Response to Patton’s ‘Why I’m Not Charismatic’” (a 22-page PDF file). They’ve done a good job in critiquing Patton’s paper and causing us, in every position, to consider our own arguments more carefully. [ Added: …and here’s their response all on a 43-page PDF file ]
Patton, President of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, calls himself a de facto (soft) cessationist. However, he is open to the spiritual gifts. I personally have friends who were raised as cessationist but became continuationist due to evidence that the charismata (gifts) are still in existence today. Personally, I don’t think the cessationist view has strong biblical footing. Its claims tend to be weak and seem to be based on narrow interpretations and man-centered theology that isn’t scripturally-based. The continuationist view, on the other hand, has a very strong position based on scripture and theology and is backed by the history of many early church fathers. But enough about my personal view…Read Patton’s post linked above.
A new blog on continuationism that I’ve just come across is continuationism.com (“To Be Continued…”) whose authors are Scott Lencke, a Reformed charismatic, and Marvin Cotten who has been a bible translator with Wycliffe [edited]. Check it out.
The Holy Spirit is on the move today. World missions once flowed out from western nations, but today, world missions is flowing out from southern nations into other southern nations. Our image of Christianity as a western thing is changing. The old image of missions and evangelism is also dead. Our idea of the western world being the place where Christianity goes out from into the rest of the world is now long gone no longer true. An average Christian is no longer a rich Caucasian person from Europe or North America. The normal average Christian today can be described as a poor woman or man living in, e.g., West Africa, China or Brazil.
In 2004, there were more Roman Catholic baptisms in the Philippines than in Frances, Spain, Italy and Poland combined. This is the latest thing that the Vatican obsessed with. South Korea is already the number one missionary nation in the world. Korean evangelical-pentecostal missionaries are going forth into all the world preaching and teaching the gospel and are willing to be martyrs for Christ. Western Christianity is dying but global southern Christianity is growing at an astounding rate. It is like an unstoppable freight train that is roaring through the global southern hemisphere of the world.
Today, the Great Commission is happening in the South where healings and miracles are an integral part of the gospel. The teachings of Christ cannot be separated from the miraculous acts of Christ. For global south Christians, to minimize the gospel to mere philosophical teaching would be a dishonest and unsound. “Global south Christianity is a healing movement….global south churches are a healing movement,” says Philip Jenkins.*
Demonic possession in liberal Christianity is minimized to a level of merely psychosomatic illness—but not so for global south Christians. The Luke 8:26-39 is read as a real historical story because these exorcisms and healings are happening every day in global south churches. This is not only a normal thing happening in pentecostal churches, but this is also a normal in traditional mainline churches, including Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. Countless healings also happening in Roman Catholic masses during the Blessed Sacrament.
Decades ago in the west, no one would have thought that Charismatic type of Christianity would become so dominant. Today, Charismatic-pentecostal Christianity, which recognizes the move of the Holy Spirit’s gifting as a present-day reality, is the 20th century’s number one religious phenomenon. This is definitely not a passing fad; it is a long-lasting movement that will make an indelible mark on the universal Christian church forever. The Holy Spirit is on the move today.
* I was inspired to write this post after listening to Dr. Philip Jenkins, professor of history and religion at Pennsylvania State University, and author of the book Next Christendom (2002). He spoke at 2005 National Vineyard Conference (where there are also sessions by Dr. Gordon Fee of Regent College) (Hat Tip: Justin K).