Charismata for the Cosmos

Amos Yong (Renewing Christian Theology) insists that the charismatic gifts exist not to puff up the charismatic Christian but to edify the church and evangelize the world:

“The spiritual gifts are bestowed by God upon and exercised by the body of Christ and its members for the common good of both the church and the world. The charismatic manifestations of the Spirit are never for the self-aggrandizement of those so equipped but are rather intended to accomplish God’s mission of renewing, restoring, and redeeming the world amid its brokenness. . . . the gift of the Spirit himself and the Spirit’s gifts in each instance are intended to enhance faith in the living Christ. The overarching goal is practical and teleological: to announce, initiate, and inaugurate the reign of God in Christ, which is what heals, transforms, and saves the world. That which builds up the many members of Christ’s body also in turn serves the wider common good—the world, in which the church exists, albeit of which it is not. Thus even as the world may already participate in the Spirit’s gifts in some respect, there is no minimizing of the church’s charismatic mission and evangelical witness to illuminate the mystery of Christ that fulfills the world’s longings. In all of this, Spirit-filled believers act not on their own initiative but under the guidance and enablement of the divine breath.”

Ultimately, the charismata exist as expressions of the Spirit’s work to renew the cosmos: “the degree to which the charisms are Spirit-initiated irruptions from within the present order of things reflects the continuities between the world understood as divinely created and the renewed cosmos of God. There is therefore assurance both that the works of the Spirit of order will check, even judge, the chaos of the present fallen world and that the surprises of the Spirit will rightly reorder the world in anticipation of the coming rule of God.”

A good reminder to charismatics, and to non-charismatics.

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