In January 2008, the following post was identified as the 7th all-time most popular post with readers of this blog. The 8th most-read post was my interview with C. J. Mahaney, who heads up Sovereign Grace Ministries.
In this post I endeavor to explain that curious phenomenon—a charismatic Calvinist or “reformed charismatic.” There was a time when we were considered an oddity and people doubted our existence. Now, at least in England, people are more aware of reformed charismatics, and many Christians are intrigued by us.
Another recent post which expresses this desire of mine to have it both ways is I Don’t Want Balance, I Want it All.
With the resurgence of interest in things reformed and charismatic, I thought I’d post a bit on what I feel is a “reformed charismatic.” Simply put, reformed charismatics are those people who are trying to foster a convergence by taking the best that is available from both charismatics and reformed people. If, like me, you are convinced of the following points, you might be a reformed charismatic:
- Mark Dever and Rick Warren both have useful things to say to the Church.
- C. J. Mahaney is an acceptable person to preach from a pulpit normally filled by John MacArthur.
- You like reading blogs by Tim Challies and Phil Johnson, but also by thepneuma bloggers.
- You like the Alpha Course, and enjoy reading Spurgeon and Piper.
- You just don’t see why there is such anger between certain charismatics and some of their reformed brothers. At the same time you still believe that there really is a truth to discover.
- You are in a reformed church, but secretly long for more of an experience of God. You are in a charismatic church, but secretly enjoy listening to preaching and reading books that teach substantial theology.
In a sense reformed charismatics are occupying the center ground. Like “new Labor,” they advocate a third way. It is really possible, they say, to pursue a solid biblical knowledge and sound doctrine while experiencing the presence and the power of God in a real way today. The Word and the Spirit are not in conflict, but rather work together to cause us to know God.
The charismatics believe in a God who is alive and acts today. We believe in a God who wants a personal relationship with his followers, who hears prayers, who reveals himself, who pours out his love into our hearts, and who never changes and is the same God of the Bible today. We believe that receiving the Holy Spirit is a conscious real experience. We believe that this experience of the Spirit is one of the major ways that God gives us assurance that we are saved.
The reformed believe in the solas of the reformation, and in the classical evangelical position on the gospel. We believe that man is so dead in his sin and facing the wrath of God that he requires a work that entirely originates in God to deal with it.
Reformed folk tend to believe in at least the majority of the TULIP acronym, although there can be some disagreements about the finer details of what some of these points mean.
We believe that Jesus took the punishment for our sin, that God the Father chose us before the world began, and that the Holy Spirit causes a new birth which enables us to believe.
Without the charismatic element, however, sometimes the reformed can almost believe that after the miracle of salvation there is little that God does in our Christian walk. The charismatic believes that we should be experientially conscious of the work of that same Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians.
Most reformed charismatics have a high view of preaching, and as much as we love reading, we believe that there is an anointing or “unction” that accompanies the preached Word. As such, I would encourage you to listen to the following of my sermons (anyone who has links to others that would be helpful, please let me have them). Between them, you will get a clear view of what I, at least, believe it means to be both reformed and charismatic.
- Galatians Series — this focuses on the gospel of God’s grace and how God’s Spirit helps us to live as we ought.
- David and Nehemiah — includes the five points and the baptism of the Holy Spirit
In the links that I have outlined here (and the links on some of the pages I have linked to) a fairly clear picture should emerge of my own theological beliefs. If you are new to the blogosphere, I would love you to dig into some of these posts and interact with them, even if they are old ones. One of the best ways of blogging is to find a post that interests or disgusts you, that you agree with or disagree with, and take an idea from that post and either elaborate on it or repudiate it in your own post. Send me a link, and I will try to respond as best I can—you can see why blogging never stops!
I pray that the ideas represented in this blog will increasingly be seen as steps towards a theology that many of us can agree on. The ideas are not mine, and have been gathered from many sources. What excites me is that I see that many far greater men of God than I seem to be on the same journey towards a position that could finally bring unity to the body of Christ.
There are many individuals and whole groups like Newfrontiers who are working towards the same aim—to see grace-filled churches where the doctrines of grace shape our experience as much as our thinking, and where the sweetness of an encounter with God is a weekly occurrence. Such a church is a joy to attend, and causes us to delight in God and the truth he has revealed in his Word.
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