Shepherds’ Conference III is a post with a set of notes which my buddy, Tim Challies, made of C.J. Mahaney’s gig as stand-in for John Piper. To play stand-in for someone like Piper has to have been slightly off-putting, even for a man like Mahaney! C.J. took the opportunity to talk about humility, and wisely began by talking about just what it means for a reformed charismatic like him to be welcomed back into the fold like that. To see Mahaney and the author of the book Charismatic Chaos sharing the same stage would have been interesting.
There is a part of me, however, that wonders if reformed charismatics becoming part of the evangelical “establishment” is entirely a great thing without any potential drawbacks. It does seem to represent something of a seismic shift and currently reflects an organic unity which I believe is the kind that Jesus prayed for. I am sure that the amazing convergence we are seeing in these days will have effects for a generataion. What I am wondering is — What will the Church look like in another thirty years across America, and for that matter over here?
- Will there still be recognisable groupings that are charismatic and cessationist?
- If those two groupings still exist, will there be greater understanding between them than there has been over the last few decades?
- Will it become as “rude” among Christians to talk about the charismatic issue as speaking about eschatology seems by many to be perceived today?
- Will the charismatics become gradually more respectable and eventually — having lost their cutting edge — totally vanish?
- Will instead the cessationists begin to recognise that Huss isn’t the only Christian to have prophecied since Paul, and eventually cede more and more ground to the point of becomming charismatics?
- Will instead some new compromise position become the norm that looks something like charismatic practice and something like more reformed practice?
- Or will we instead return to an official cessationism, but a practical relationship with God and experience of Him guiding us that the Puritans and their successors such as Lloyd-Jones and Spurgeon freely spoke of?
- Will we still see active worship, with hands raised and clapped, and participation of the congregation in sharing spontaneous “words”?
- Will the so-called “New Wineskins” age and then become identical to the “Old“?
- Or can the “Old Wineskins” somehow change sufficiently to hold the active presence of the Holy Spirit?
- In summary, does C.J.’s appearance on the stage at a MacArthur conference as a preacher mark the beginning of a new phase for the whole church or the beginning of the end of the charismatic era for some?
Continued at Shepherds’ Conference IV – Lig Duncan on the Book of Numbers