Thanks for the healthy debate and interaction on the previous post. Obviously, those who believe that miraculous prophecy continues after the apostolic age should not be lumped together with radical movements like the New Apostolic Reformation. Nevertheless, it does provide an occasion to think carefully about the compatibility of Reformation theology with Charismatic emphases. This is especially the case when there have been renewed calls for a “Reformed Charismatic” synthesis in our own circles.
I’ve never been willing to die on the hill of cessationism: that is, the belief that the miraculous gifts such as prophecy, healing, and tongues have ceased. I’m still not. Nevertheless, I am convinced that this position is neither exegetically sound nor historically compatible with Reformed theology. Furthermore, the surprisingly widespread popularity of more radical views of ongoing sign-gifts, coupled with political ambition, pushes me into the unpleasant position of challenging the views even of far sounder brothers with whom I agree on so many important points.
As a Charismatic Calvinist, Wayne Grudem has been used by God to bring the doctrines of grace to many who would likely not have encountered these truths otherwise. I have immense respect for his clear defense of many cardinal doctrines of Christianity. At the same time, the Calvinism-Charismatic bridge goes in both directions and his view of continuing prophecy has contributed to a curious hybrid that in my view cannot survive in the long run. Reformed theology is a system—not one imposed on Scripture, but one that arises from the self-consistent Word of God.
Mark Driscoll, a student of Grudem’s, has recently claimed to have regular visions of the sinful—usually sexual—behavior of people he encounters. “I see things,” he says, although the gift he describes is nowhere exhibited even in the apostolic era. Also posted on his Mars Hill website is a critique of cessationism as “modernistic worldliness,” lumping this view with deism and atheism. “Functional cessationism is really about the mind, but functional charismatic theology is really about the heart.” He concludes with a plea: “…you Reformed guys, especially you who are more Presbyterian, you tend to ignore the Holy Spirit and attribute everything the Spirit does to the gospel.” Sovereign Grace Ministries, led until recently by C. J. Mahaney, has also followed Grudem’s path toward a synthesis of Calvinistic and Charismatic emphases.