Of Tone, Discernment, and the Charismatic Question

Phil Johnson has a second post answering my two-paragraph criticism of him. My schedule does not permit me to make a full reply as I am traveling on business. (All the posts you will see for the next few days were written before I left.) All I will say in reply, therefore, is this:

  1. Thank you, Phil, for sounding a much more conciliatory tone and for the acknowledgement that these issues are less important than the core of the Gospel, in which we both continue to delight in being united. You remain my dear friend despite these recent online skirmishes, and I hope we can have coffee again some day!
  2. I think that there is almost nothing in your post which would not evaporate if we did not all learn to follow Paul’s command:

    “. . . test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

If charismatics as a movement remembered the need to follow that Scripture when it came to gifts, I suspect that there would be fewer cessationists who felt the need to exercise their discernment in our direction! I believe that it is the absence of discernment rather than the doctrine itself that causes the problems we all see only too clearly. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

That Scripture is surely our authoritative word on the discernment issue—we must remember to both hold onto what we see that is good in other Christians and avoid what is evil.

As a charismatic, I cannot resist the temptation to be a good biblical scholar and put those words into their context. Paul says immediately before them, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies . . .” For me, the fact that there are phony prophecies around is not enough to make me feel I can simply ignore that text or claim it does not apply to me today. I know Phil will, of course, see that differently, but I am proud to still be able to call him my friend and brother.

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