Blogging is a format that permits the formation of community that crosses the boundaries we feel in the real world.
The so-called on coming storm of the cessationist vs charismatic debate in some ways proves it. For, whilst I think Rob somewhat overstates his point, he is I hope and pray correct in his prediction. There is a real sense of community and trust among many theobloggers. Such trust leads me to be convinced that seriously and respectfully disagreeing with each other about something so vital and controversial as the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is possible without that sense of community evaporating. Here’s what Rob had to say:
….the beauty of this storm, however, and the spectacle it will bring will not be that of damage and death. No, this is a Christian battle, where most of those forming the ‘battle lines’ are Warnie Award Winners! That means we desperately love each other and are committed to each other to the death, and not primarily to our theological positions. In other words, I’d die for Phil Johnson or David Wayne before I’d die for my charismatic convictions. I love them more than I love my theology, though to be sure, it is entirely my theology that drives me to think and live this way……
Unlike forum arguments who’s anonymous nature sometimes seem to breed a hit and run mentality , blogging, at least in the successful God bloggers a gradual moderation in tone over time. I know it has happened with me.
Even the pyromaniac sounded soft today as he promised to fight clean and lined up a couple of supporters on the cessationist front:
Despite all the militant language flying around the blogosphere suggesting you’re about to witness a bloody cage match over the issue of cessationism, I personally don’t expect anything rancorous……….
While I’m at it, let me say that if all charismatics were of the Mahaney/Piper/Grudem variety, I probably wouldn’t pick a fight over our differences on the charismata. That’s not to say I approve of any kind of charismatic mysticism, but if no one ever went any further than, say, the typical guy from Sovereign Grace Ministries, I don’t think I would spend much energy arguing against them.
I grew up in Tulsa, however, and the true roots of the charismatic movement are there, not in Geneva. Despite what they want you to think, “Reformed” charismatics are a fairly new kind of hybrid, and they do not represent the mainstream of either the Reformed or charismatic movements. I like their zeal. I appreciate (and share) their desire for passionate (rather than cold and dry) orthodoxy. There’s a lot about them I esteem highly, and I am certainly not merely looking for another group of people to make angry.…..I’m willing to argue the point. But not in an acrimonious way, and not until I’ve finished what I was going to say. So if you’re looking for me to verbally bust some charismatic heads this week, you may be bitterly disappointed
Incidently, a commentator on his post asked “What is a cessationist” and other commentators were too mean to answer (although to be fair one seemed keen to get the guy using google or wikkipedia). Just for one more reason why you should read my blog as well as Phil’s here’s an answer for that questionner:
A cessationist is someone who believes that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the new testament (eg tongues, prophecy, healing, etc) no longer occur today. Charismatics and pentecostals both believe the Gifts continue.
A Reformed Charismatic is not like a “reformed alcoholic” ie someone who used to be a charismatic then gave it up, rather it is someone who holds to both reformed theology and a charismatic position on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Incidently, if any enterprising blogger wants to put a post together listing resources and/or blogs cited in the comments sections of the various posts on this subject that would be great- thanks everyone for some great suggestions. I guarentee a link from here to any such post. What would be great would be to tabulate a list of books and blogs to read from both sides of the fence.
If I was feeling particularly cheeky, I would encourage someone else to tabulate bible verses used by both camps to support their position. Trouble is, I suspect that finding many bible verses that the cessationists cite might prove difficult…..