Why Aren’t all Christians Charismatics?

Lucy Peppiatt, at the link you can read the rest of her post (pros and cons):

I’ve never really understood why all Christians aren’t charismatics, at least in theory. It simply means that we believe that God shapes his church by the power of the Spirit, moves supernaturally among us, and gives gifts to the church to give away.

I do understand why the practices put people off. Praying for healing is fraught with pastoral difficulties. How do people dare to prophesy, imagining they hear the voice of God? In addition to that the actual prophecies can be empty, nutty, or worse, manipulative and dangerous. Our style of worship can be repetitive and boring, our teaching anecdotal and shallow, our emphasis on signs and wonders over everything else, childish, the infatuation with Christian ‘magic’ silly, and speaking in tongues sounds weird. There’s no doubt, aligning yourself with the charismatic church can be acutely frustrating and embarrassing sometimes.

So I get that the charismatic church is messy, and can be off putting. That’s why I love 1 Corinthians. Just when you think Paul should have just shut the crazy Corinthian charismaniacs down, he tells them to ‘Eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy’! He was brave. I take heart from that.

But in addition to this early example of Paul releasing a church into spiritual gifts, as long as the practices are drenched with loving Christ-like behaviour, there isn’t a good theological reason not to be a charismatic. Even having studied theology for years and years and having gained a doctorate in systematic theology, I haven’t come across anything that would dissuade me from the reality of life in the Spirit. In fact, I’ve found more and more to convince me that a strong pneumatology (theology of the Spirit) is the key to understanding the nature of God and how he works in the world. So I began by being experientially committed to a practically charismatic life and church. I am now theologically committed to the same. I don’t find it particularly complicated.

I also see wonderful things alongside the embarrassing and the frustrating. In amongst the mess, I see people working tirelessly for justice, giving sacrificially, being real, and loving people, and offering hope. The sung worship at times can be amazing, the talks at times profound, the prophesies at times life-changing, and people really are sometimes healed. These are good.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.