Full Text for An Essay for Lutheran Pastors on the Charismatic Movement (Text)

Essay for Lutheran Pastors the Charislllatic Movement The Caring God (a review article) EUGENE F. KLUG &he F Historical-Cri tical Interpretation of the Baptism of Jesus from the kPerspective of Traditional Lutheran ~xe~esis DEAN 0, WENTHE On Believing, Teaching, and : Confessing: A Fresh Look at the ,.* : Confessions JOHN F. JOHNSON Paul's Concept of Justification, and Some Recent Interpretations of Romans 3 : 2 1-3 1 WALTER A. MAIER Book Reviews Index to Volume XXXVII An Essay for Lutheran Pastors on the Charismatic Movement T HE RISE OF 'THE CHARISMATIC MOVEblENT in the main- liilc denoininations in the last decade in the United States found most churches in a state of unpreparedness for a movemcnt of this size. Pentecostalism dates back to 1920's and formation of the Assemblies of God. For roughly two hundred years the church has been involved in a struggle concerning the interpretatioil of the Bible. 'This struggle deals primarily with methods of the Biblical interpreta- tion that offered exl~lanations to various sections of the Bible that scemed at variance, often direct variance, with which the text actually seemed to say. Thus Luke 1 and 2 do not necessarily tell us that Jesus was born of a virgin, but rather it is a legend or story that glorifies the life of a great man. hlany examples could be given, as this method in one or anothcr form has been with thc IVcstern churches since the time of Reimarus and Lessing in the 18th century. It might be said that it fornlecl the ccnter of theological discussion. The famous Modernist-Funclanlentalist debate in the 1920's was actually only the American manifestation of the movement. In recent years the con- troversy has been waged in the Lutheran denonlinations in America and has now bccome a prominent topic of concern in The Lutheran Church-Rlissouri Synod. . While the Missouri Synod has becn directing its theological ener5ies in the last decades to problems of Biblical interpretation, the Charismatic illoveincnt sprang up in an allnost entirely different direction. The problems of Biblical interpretation were planted and harvested chiefly at the theological training schools and the entire issue still has to be laid completely out before the congregations and their pastors. Recent surveys still show a grass roots orthodoxy ainong the people. Because of the complexity of thc problems of Biblical in- terpretations many, if not most, of the congregations have not become involved in it. E17en the so-called theological experts are not omni- competent in the field of Biblical interprctations, but for the ~nost part concentrate on one or two "schools of thought." In this maze of con- fusion concerning Biblical interpretation, it is no wonder that pastors have, perhaps very wisely, not ventured far into the field. Some have used "the assured results" of the n~cthod(s) but few are really vcrscd in the skills-if that's ~vhat they really are-of Biblical interpretation. As the theological training schools have been concentrating their efforts on the problems of Biblical interpretation and some of ~roblcnls produced by the various methods, many Lutheran pastors have had to face outbreaks of the Charismatic movenlent within their own congregations. At one time, hardly ten years ago, the manifesta- tions of thc charismatic illovenlent were isolated phenomena, in the Lutheran churches. This is hardly the case any more. The presence of charismatics in Luthcran congregations is no longer a rare phenome- Essrry orz the Charis7natic Movcnzcnt 211 ~ .- - - non. The pastor who does not have to deal with thc movement in his coilgregation will probably confront it in the pastoral conference (as many pastors are involved) or in circuit youth groups. In addition there are now synodwide and inter-synodical Charismatic organiza- tions. Unlike the problcms of the higher critical methods which have a lengthy history in mainline Protestantism, the Charismatic move- ment clocs not have the same roots. It is emotional in nature, putting the heavy stress on the experience of the believer. The problems of the critical study of the Bible, on the other hand, stressed objcctive goals and methods that could be used, supposedly, on secular and sacred literature. The question of its objectivity is still a problem. One of its main shibboleths was that thc Bible could be read and understood just like other forms of human literature. The humanity of the Bible is one of its rallying cries. Its appeal was to the intellect and was thus intellcctual in its orientation. It callecl itself the "sci- entific method" giving the inlpression that by using certain methods one necessarily had to come to certain conclusions. Methods and con- clusions were allcgcdly uniform, though this hardly ever proved to be the case. Thc Charismatic movemcnt centered more in congregations than in seminaries, though recently senlinaries with enrollment prob- lems have been catering to the movement's adherents. Such an in- tellectuali~ation of thc Charismatic movement would eventually be self-destructive since its appeal is more to the heart than to the head. The speaking in tongues, the most prominent aspect of the move- ment, is a type of non-intellectual exercise. It is more emotive than rational. The practioner of this "gift" has the confidence that he is saying something directly to God, though he is unaware of the content of his own phonetic sounds. The experience is self-satisfying and does not necessarily need interpretation for completeness, though intcr- pretation of the unknown tongues is not discouraged. The purpose in writing this essay is not to analyze at great length the Charismatic movement. Rather my purpose is to provide a few impressions that hopefully can be of immediate value to the pastor. Such an approach might promise too much, but it intends to speak to the present need. For a more extensive study and analysis, the reader is directed to The Charismatic Movement and Lutheran Theology, a report of the Commission of Theology and Church Re- lations of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod January 1972. Appended to that report is a bibliography that should suffice and does not need to be produced here. Just for the sake of clarity, I \\rill pose questions which might be typical in handling the Charismatic movement: 1. Does the Lutheran Church have any offical position on the Charismatic movement as such? The official position of the Lutheran Church is the Lutheran Confessions. As they were written in the 16th century, they do not of course speak directly to the current movement. Still the confes- sional principles can be applied almost directly to the current situ- ation. Recognition of mere historical validity of the Confessions is a non- Confessional stance. It might be difficult to trace the Charismatic movement directly back to the 16th ccntury and iinl>ossible to make a one for one equation between it and the Anabaptists which Luther knew, nevertheless the 16th ventury Anabaptists and the Charis- matics have many things in common. Sections of the Confessions dealing with non-Anabaptist problems contain priilciples applicable to thc 20th ccntury Charismatic nloverncnt. Shortly after Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation in Germany, a lllovement known as the Anabaptist nlovement sprang up on the same soil. One of Luther's colleagues on the Wittenberg fac- ulty, Anclreas Carlstadt, was associatcd with the movement. One of Luther's major essays, Agaivtst the Heavenly Prophets, spoke not only against the excessive practices of the movement, but also against its basic prcinise that God worked directly without external means. The major obvious difference between the Anabaptists and the Charis- matics is that the Anabaptists insisted on a second baptism of water, while the Charismatics hold that a second water baptism is not neces- sary for those already baptized. Those who have the water baptism are to supple~nent it with an experience called the "baptism of the Holy Spirit," involving no water. The Anabaptists were avowedly anti- Trinitarian. This hardly seems thc case with Charismatics, though with their en~yhasis on the Holy Spirit they may seem to become, to some, dcfacto anti-Trinitarians. With their strong commitment to Jesus, this could be a debatable point. The Anabaptist and Charismatic movements are parallel in that both claim somc sort of direct "pipe line" to God-a favorite phrase among them-alongside the Bible. Visions and dreams were prom- inent ways in which the Anabaptists claimed direct communi- cation froin God. Speaking in tongues is a prominent way in which the devotees of the Charismatic inovement speak directly to God. This speaking in tongues is nlotivated directly by the Holy Spirit without means, as understood in a Lutheran sense. This dircct im- illediatc "revelation" apart from Scripture or a word bascd on Scrip- turc is a feature common in both groups. Luther called those claim- ing direct con~munications with God "fanatics," "enthusiasts," in German, "Schwaermer." This is not to say that either group has no use for the Bible. In fact, in comparison w'ith other Christian groups, they seem to makc more use of the Bible in their devotions, private and public. Meetings advertised as "Bible Study Groups'' are in fact Charismatic meetings. A factor with both groups is that special revel- ation is directly available to the believer apart from the apostolic and prophetic Word. Some strictures of thc Augsburg Confession (CA) against the Anabaptists can be applied without too much adjustment. Such ad- justmcilt is always necessary for the change in circumstances. As already indicated in part, some strictures do not apply. Thus Charis- matics do not generally hold that those who are justified cannot lose the Holy Spirit (CA XII); that Christians cannot participate in civil government (CA XVI); and that there will be an end to hell for unbelievers (CA XVII). In fact the very opposite could be said about the Charismatics. Essay on the Charismatic Mo17crnent ~ -. 213 The strictures that do apply are found in CA V, "The Office of the Ministry," and CA IX "Baptism," CAXIV, "Ordcr in the Christian Church." Unlikc the Anabaptists, the Charismatics do not hold that infant baptism is wrong in every instance, though some Charismatic pastors have been known to refuse to bapti~e infants. If "Spirit bap- tism" preccdes water baptisnl in importance, the necessity of n7atcr baptism must be of a secondary nature, so far as salvation is con- cerned. Charismatics do in fact exist in all major paedobaptist denom- inations without raising violent objections to the practice of the baptism of infants. Some practice infant baptisnl without in any way letting up on their denland for a later "baptism of the Moly Spirit." Charismatics resemble the Anabaptists in their assertion that in- fant baptism is not enough. It must be supplenlented by the "baptism of the Holy Spirit." The article of CA on baptism, directed against the Roman Catholic teaching that baptism covers only original sin and any actual sins committed beforc baptism, but not the slns coin- mitted after, pertains to Charismatic phenomena, strange as that might seem. Penance, in Roinan Catholic theology., was one of the common sacramental means of receiving actual forgivcncss for actual sins conlmittecl after baptism. The Lutheran teaching (CA XII, "Repentance") is that baptism, at whatever age it is received, is com- plete and covers totally any sin of the penitent Christian. Baptism has daily and continued significance as Luthcr pointed out in both the Small and Large Catechisms (IV). Charismatics do not hold to any supplenlentary efficacy of pcnancc, but they like the Roman Catho- lics hold that the baptism by water must or should be supplemented, in this case with the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" for a more nearly complete or fuller Christian life. CA V, "The Office of the Ministry," applies most pointedly to the Charismatics. The final sentence in this article might equally apply to the charismatics, "Condemned are the Anabaptists and others who teach that the Holy Spirit comes to us through our own preparations, thoughts and works without the external word of the Gospel. " The Lutherans at Augsburg in 1530 did in no way want to be associated with the Anabaptists who taught that anyone who "had the Spirit" could be a leader in the church. Lutherans contended mightly for the office of the ministry consisting of persons publicly chosen. Not that Luther and his associates adopted Roman sacerdo- talism but rather the leaders of the cl~urch should be well versed in the Holy Scriptures, something which could happen only through careful study of the Bible and not instantly through visions or the like. It was the Gospel as contained in the Bible which brought justi- fication and therefore the clergy must be trained in Bible study. Those without such formal and extensive training could serve in an emergency, but never on a regular basis, Thc ability to perform the office of the pastor rested ultimately in the word that the pastor learn- ed from the Bible and not from any visions or other type of direct revelations. As the Reformation progressed, Luther saw the ultimate dangers in the "fanatics" with their visions and not in the highly structured administration of the Church of Rome. In the end Luther condemned the pope as a fanatic becausc his direct visions from God took precedence over the written \\lord of thc Scriptures. The pope, like Anabaptists, was subsumcd under the category of the fanatic^.^' Closely connected in principle wit11 CA V is CA XIV, "Order in the Church," "It is taught among us that ilohody should publicly teach or preach or administer the sacraments in the church without a regular call." Among thc Anabaptists, the office of the ministry could be exercised by anyone claiming to "have the Spirit." Under such situation, a regular office of the ministry could bcconle super- fluous and sonletimes did. A similar procedure is afoot among the Charismatics. Charismatics do exist in churches u~hich highly prize a rcgularly called clergy; ho~vcver, they place equal or superior value on lxivatc worship services which are conducted on a illore or lcss reg- ular basis. Thesc services do not necessarily havc the benefit of a pro- fessionally trained clergy. Indeed professional training for the Charis- matics can be a detrii~lent in a fullcr reception of thc Holy Spirit. While they inay not deny the right of the regular clergy to administer the water baptism, the "baptisnl of the Holy Spirit" can best be con- veyed by one who has already received it, whethcr or not he be a clergyinan at all. The "worth" of the religious lcader in the Charis- nlatic community is determined not by his forillal call or training, but by the intensity of his own personal experience. Thc same criterion is applied in judging the value of the worship service itself. This is not unlike the Donatist hercsy condemi~ed by CA VIII. The Donatists claimed that unregenerate clergy could not efcctively and validly perform priestly functions. In both cases, faith, its level or lack, is decisive in determining priestly validity. Schleierillacher in the last century leaned in the same direction. The Lutheran Church treasures a called or professional clergy not because it values a highly "cultured" or "educated" clergy-as what is culture and education might differ according to the situation. The value of the called and professional clergy rests in the assurance that they have studied the Scripture sufficiently to know Jesus Christ in ordcr to proclaim thc Gospel to bring about justification in thc individual (CA V). On thc other hand, Charismatics concentrate on the emotional level of the cxperience ignited by the meeting, though the experience call be transfcrred to the personal devotion. 2. Are the signs associated with the Charisrnatic movement signs of the church? Are they com~nanded by Christ and do they ha~~e His promise? These two questions are rcally one since Christ's church can be recognized by doing what her Lord has commanded. Until Christ returns, His church is under orders to do certain things. Matthew 2 8 obligates the church to baptize and to teach all things whatsoever Jesus taught the disciples. Anything morc or less is forbidden. The sacrament of Christ's body and blood is to bc celebrated until He returns. Thcse are commands of Christ to His church, and in turn the church may be recognized as the church of Christ whenever it fulfills this command. Wherever preaching, baptism and holy com- inunion are taking place, there the church of Jesus is present. Are the phenomena colnmonly associated with the Charismatic n~o\~e~ncnt a necessary or CVCII bc~ieficial sign in the samc or related sense? The Charismatic inoven~ent docs not reinolrc baptism, holy comnlunion and preaching as signs of the church, but the? place along side of these as "sacramental" sisns other phenomena, chicfly speaking in tongues, prophesy ancl hcallng. Still thc Gospcls contain no command of Jcsus to His church to do them. rllso important, they lack Christ's promise. Mark 16 : 9- 19 ~vhich mentions speaking in tongues, healing, casting out demons, etc. is missing in the best n~anuscripts ancl should not be given any serious consicleration. Mattheiv 3: 11, as well as Luke 3 : 16, in which John the Baptist proinises that Jcsus will bap- tize with the Holy Spirit and with fire has nothing to do with the Charismatic phenomena, though this passagc is very prominently used in the movement. Charismatics connect the Baptist's prediction of the baptism of the Spirit in Rilatthcni 3 : 1 1 (Lukc 3 : 16) with the baptism of thc Holy Spirit pron~ised the disciples in Acts 1 : 5. Lukc 24 : 49 and Acts 1 : 4f. are the bascs for Pcntccost. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and with firc in Matthew cloes not seein to havc its focus on the day of Pentecost, which is the subject of Acts. Matthew's reference to the fire does not deal with the appearance of the tongues of firc, but rather with the fire of God's wrath and hell as these con- fronted John's hearers, especially the Pharisees. Jesus col~fro~lts people in such a way that a negative response lvill bring hell ". . . but the chaff He will burn with an unquenchable fire" (Rlatthew 3 : 12). Luke 3.17 parallels Rlatthew in seeing that firc is not senlething desirable. This type of baptism of the Holy Spirit and firc should be avoided, not prayctl for! Luke 10: 17 has been given an iilteryreiation favorable to the Charismatic movcnlent. The scventy return from the mission assigned by Jesus enthusiastically reporting their success with the demon pos- sessed. Exorcism, or the casting out of devils, can be conlmonly as- sociated with the Charismatics. However, Jesus directs their enthusi- asm away from their accomplishn~ents to the fact that their names are written in heaven. Also there is no conlnland of Jesus to continue such activitics. There is only the promise that the disciples through thcir work will defeat Satan (v. 19). This includcs much more than exorcism. Outside of the Gospels, the Charismatics treasure highly Acts 2 where the followers of Jesus are empowered to speak in various languages. As noted above, finding in Acts 2 a direct fulfillment for Allatthew 3 and Luke 3 is not without substantial problems. The application of this pericope to the current Charismatic phenomena of speaking in tongues seems to be without sufficient warrant. The overwhelming majority of contenlporary tongue speakers do not speak any known or intelligible language, though occasionally there have been some alleged exceptions. At best it is some type of non-com- municative and non-intelligible phonetic operation. In Acts 2 the disciples of Jesus actuallv spoke known languages which were im- mediately recognizable bi various segments of thcir audience. ". . . we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God (v. 1 I)." There is no indication anywhere in the NT that this miraculous gift that the disciples had on Pentecost continued in any way. The gift of language was not primarily for the hearers and not necessary for them. Presumably most, if not all, knew the liturgical Hebrew, necessary for the pious Jew to take part in the services of the Jerusalem temple and/or Greek the language of travel, govern- ineilt and commerce. The gift's primary significance was to show first the disciples and, secondly, all who were there that God's mission which mostly concentrated on one people, the Jews, would eventually attain its ultimate goal in the universal proclamation of the Gospel to all nations. The promise to Abraham (Genesis 15 : 3) was reaching its ultimate dimension. The Book of Acts cloes indeed show how this was partially accon~plished in the ministries of Peter and Paul. The Gospel, preached by Jesus in Jerusalem, was now preached by Paul in Rome. There is no promise to any there on Pentecost that this miraculous speaking in tongues should or would continue. There is no command for the converts to speak in tongues. The "water" bap- tism of the apostles was itself a baptism of the Holy Spirit. Peter and Paul, the centers of attention in the Book of Acts, carried out their ministry in places where Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek were commonly accepted languages. They are not mentioned as tongue speakers in their subsequent ministry. They never preach another type of bap- tism. There are three other possible cases of tongue speaking recorded in Acts, Cornelius and some people in Samaria and at Ephesus. The baptism of the Samaritans did cause the same theological problems connected with Gentiles who had no Jewish connection. Philip's ministry is endorsed by an apostolic visit of Peter and John who by the laying on of hands confirm Philip's ministry. Tongue speaking is not explicitly mentioned, but may be safely assumed because Simon, the magician, noticed a change. The audible gift of the Holy Spirit was "proof" that Christ's command and promise about Samaria (Acts 1 : 8) was being fulfilled. The case of Cornelius, Acts 10, is theo- logically paralled to the Pentecost. Peter is confronted with the problem of whether the Jewish food regulations are still applicable. This is more than a dietary matter. Peter did not fully realize (v. 14) that the old Israel had served its purpose as being the cradle for the Christ and that with the coming of Christ its regulations had been made antiquated and thus non-enforceable, maybe even undesirable. God's new Israel would receive new members without subjecting them to the regulations of the old Israel. The coming of the Holy Spirit accompanied with miraculous signs on the household of the Gentile Cornelius (vv. 44-46) showed to Peter and his associates, who still labored under the regulations of the old Israel, that a Gen- tile, e.g., Cornelius, could be totally acceptable to God without ever subjecting himself to the older regulations. Peter's comment in v. 47 sums up this position. "Can anyone forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" (Em- phasis added.) The Gentiles were being received on an equal level with the Jewish Christians into God's kingdom. The speaking in tongues was an immediately recognizable sign to Peter and his col- Essuy on the Charisnzatic Movement 2 17 ~. ~ ~ leagues that the Gentiles were acceptable. Thcrc is no indication that this procedure of speaking in tongucs was carried out in the regular worship services or that it continued in any way, even by Cornelius. The case of those at Ephesus (Acts 19: 1-5) is slightly different. They had received the baptism instituted by John and had believed in Jesus through the preaching of Apollos. Their religious compre- hension was accurate, but incomplctc. They knew Jesus as the Mes- siah but did not fully know the Holy Spirit, either His person or work (vv. 2f). The gifts of tongue speaking and prophesying (v. 6) were a sign to then1 that John's baptism had been suyersedcd by Jesus' baptism. John's baptism was one of promise. Jesus' baptism was based on an accomplished fact. In all cases, Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch and Ephcsus, there is no indication that tongue speaking was carried out in the regular church services. Nor is there any apostolic com- mand to speak in tongucs. Three cascs recorded in Acts show the geographical fulfillment of Jesus' promise in Acts 1 : 8, Jerusalem in Acts 2, Samaria in Acts 8, Antioch in Acts 10. Thesc pericopes in- dicate the three geographical concentric circles in Jesus' promise. Acts 19 shows those baptized by John can be welcomed as full mem- bers of the community. The baptism of John needed fulfillment now that Christ had comc. In all four cascs, the n~iraculous appearance of the Spirit is spontaneous and momentary. None of those who spoke in tongues would be Charismatics, as it is understood today. Of the remainder of the New Testament writings from Roinans to Revelation, only one letter, I Corinthians, mentions tongue speak- ing, and not very favorably at that. In this letter is no command to exercise this gift or even to pray for it! Of all thc churches of the first century, the Corinthians are generally remembered as having the worst reputation. The church today follows Paul's admonitions to them, and ~zot the Corinthinlzs as exnr~zplcu. They arc examples only in a negative sense. Tongue speaking is nlentioned only in light of being a negative example. In chapter 12 it is mentioned as last in a list of gifts (v. 30). In chapter 1 3, the great chapter on love, it is listed as the first of the abuses that stand in the way of love. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I ail1 noisy gong or a clanging cymbol." None of Paul's words concerning this gift are really positive. Rather than praying for this gift or any other, the Christian is to pray for the "higher gifts" ( 1 2 : 3 1 ), which are available to all. Paul directs them away from their "gifts" to "a still inore excellent way" ( 12 : 3 1). The "excellent way" outlined in chapter 13 denlands faith, hope and love," the latter being the highest. These gifts are essential for the Christian life and are not functions as the Corinthian "gifts" were. After I'aul outlines various theological principles for the use of the various "gifts" (chapter 12 and 14), he lays down some prin- ciples for the use of the "gifts," especially the speaking in tongues phenomenon. These principles are outlined here for the sake of convenience. 1. prophesying is sllperior to tongue speaking a. desire the ability to prophesy, no mention of doing the same for tongucs is included, though Paul 11ad the op- portunity, 1'. 1 b. propllesying benefits the assembled congregatioi~, tongues benefit only thc one performing it and thus is egocentric, hardly in kecping with the mission of the church of helping others, vv. 3f. c. sl~eaking in tongues benefits the congregatioil when an- other g~ft is present, interpreting; basically it is a gift that is ne\7er con~plete in itself, but demands a coinple- inc~ltary gift, v. 5. 2. tongucs can be a useless gift a. Pal11 does not usc it in tl~c Cl~risiii~~ coi~gregation, Y. 6 11. it is coml>ared to lifclcss instruments playing unrecog- nizablc nlusic, I-lr. 7f. c. it is unintelligible, I,. 8 d. languagcs unknown to thc hearers are not beneficial, vv. l0f. 3. tongues can even bc. a harmful gift a. with tongucs the congregation loses ail!. sense of partici- pation, which can be destructive of its ~vorship life, v. 16 11. the mind is not used and thus docs not engage in wor- ship, v. 14; true worship involves thc whole being, v. 15 c. non-n~embers could conclude that the congregation is mad; and thus all unncccssary obstacle is placed in the path of thc onc ivho has not conlc to Christ, v. 23 Paul docs not sccm totallv negati\~c in the inattcr of tongucs, but when his words are ?xamined inore carefully they can hardly be con- sidered a command to exercise the gift. \Vhat sccms superfically posi- tivc may be basically negative. 1. Tongues arc a sign to unbelievers. 'This however is a sign of condemnation and not salvation! Paul quotcs Isaiah 28: 11-12 to show that even iniraculous signs will not convert the unbeliever. "By Inen of strange tongues and by lips of foreigners \\rill I speak to this people, and even then they ulill not li.stetz to nze, says the Lord." (Emphasis added) The church's function is to be an instrument of salvation to thc world and not condemnation. Thc latter is the church's opzts alienzinz, not its prime function. 2. Paul's claim to the gift is hedged in by the condition that fivc intelligible \vords are more .c.aluablc than ten thousand unknown words. T11e apostle could also be referring to his acquired languag ability that could havc inclilcled Greek (koine and classical), Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, and the native lringuages of his native Asia Minor. He never paraded this acquired talent to the congregation as he shied away from personal glorification. Paul is frequently facetious espe- cially with the Corinthians, cf. I1 Corinthians. Could his claim be just a caustic remark? (v. 19) 3. Where the gift is still used in the church-there is no com- mand to do so however,-it must be limited to two or three Essay on thc Charisnqatic Movement 219 -. -- - - - - -______-I-_-. ~ tongue spcakers anti it must be accompanied by intcrpreta- tions, vv. 271:. 4. Paul's conlllland, "do not forbid speaking in tongues" is not a positive adillonition to carry on the practice! It is prefaced 44 by the adnlonition to earnestly desire to prophesy." Paul's colnmand to prophcsy and his lack of command to do the same for speaking in tongues is significant. IVhen all the evidence in I Corinthians 12-14 is examined, there can be found no comnland to speak in tongues. In fact the evidence all points in the other direction. We can only speculate on why Paul did not include a firmer prohibition of its use. \\That other issue takes as much space in his .c~lritings? I11 itsclf it docs not seem to be a moral evil, like stealing or drunkeness, but the evil attached to those claiming personal hollncss or l3erfection. Likc other "gifts," its effects in public worship are Illore rletrilnental than beneficial. Indeed Paul lists not one benefit for tongue speaking wlicn used by itself in the worship scrvicc! Paul might haw thought that an explicit prohibition against its use might llal-e exactly the opposite effect. Since a11 who possessed the "gift" apparently lilted to use it in every worship service, the limitation to two or threc tongue speakers might have had the effect of coinplctely killing its use altogether. Rather than choosing two or three, they might have agreed that if all could not use it, then none could use it. By isolat~ng and limiting the phenomenon, Paul in effect was cradicating it. Apparently it is a gift that needs an audience to flourish. It li1.e~ off thc emotional climate of an excited audience. Noteivorthy also is that Paul does not en- courage or even command tl~e private exercise of the gift. Charismatics as a rule do not mention Paul's restrictions on the use of thc gift. How many Charisnlatics meetings have only two tongue spealters? On the contrary they tun1 the prohibitions into conmands to exercise the gift. 3luch tiiile is spent praying for it. Charisinatics can not demonstrate any apostolic conillland for such prayers. The first lettcr to Corinth did not mean the end of pastoral admonition for this congregation; but if thc absence of all!? inention of tongue speaking in the second letter means anything, it nleans that it was at least under control by the time Paul \\rote his second letter to them. 3. Is syeaki~zg in tongues n zd~ziqzdely Christian experie?zce? Speaking in tongues, like the nlany other expressiolls of Chris- tian piety, is not exclusi.i.ely a possession of thc Christian congrega- tions. I Corinthians 12 : 2 8 lists valid expressions of Christian servicc: apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle nrorkcrs, healers, helpers, ad- ministrators, speakers in \7arious tongues. These offices and functions performeci by these offices have their counterparts in other religions. The uniqueness of the Christian religion is not the presence of these gifts or functions, but the message entrusted to it that God has re- deemed the world in Jesus Christ, i.e., the Gospel. All functions are gifts to serve only this purpose. \\'here they do not, it mould he better if they fell into disuse. Here we get back to thc topic of the marks of the church. The chief mark of the church, c.g., nrhere the church is to be found, is the proclamatioil of the content of the Gospel in order to create faith. Certain gifts, c.g., speaking in tongues, heal- ing, etc. or types of offices, bishop, elder, etc. are not illarks guar- anteeing the presence of the church. There are false prophets, aps- tles and teachers. Many things which Christians do to express their faith can be found in other religions. Thus enpging in religious services, giving money, missionary activity, speaking in tongues and even praying can be found in other religions. Some gifts are more directly related to the essence of the spiritual life than others. Faith, hope and love are the higher gifts, (I Corinthians 12 : 3 1 and I Corinthians 13) without which the Christian is not a Christian. Christianity without these gifts is dead. None of the gifts listed in I Corinthians 12 : 28 arc essential as personal possessions for the faith life of the individual Christian. The greatness of faith is not measured or determined by the functions performed. Even where the great gifts are present, there is no assurance that faith is present. Those who cast out demons, prophesiecl and did mighty works in Jesus' name are consigned to hell because they did not clo the will of the Father (R'latthew 7 : 2 1-2 3). The preach- ing of the Gospel, which is the real will of the Father is an unfailing sign that the church is present. The same cannot be said for the unique works done by Charismatics, no matter how great they appear. Even Satan can be the instigator of great signs (Matthew 24: 24). This is hardly a passing a judgment of Satanic on the Charismatic movement, but it is to alert the reader that fantastic signs in and of themselves are not conclusive evidence in determining their origin. The preaching of the Gospel is always the sure sign that Christ's church is present. Such a lofty statement can nevcr be madc of the characteristic Charismatic gifts. 4. Is there any one major theological fallacy in the thinking of most charismatics that can be pinpointed? As alrcady indicated, the Charismatic nlovement presents many different theological problems. The doctrine of Word and revelation, baptism, and the call are all involved. The pastor confronting the problem might like St. Paul treat it by isolatin~ the phenomenon and cutting it off from its source of nurture, publlc attention. '1;IJhen the abuses of the movement cannot be stopped in its early stages, the church is under obligation to explain theologically the errors of the movement. Paul's threat of excomnlunication does apply to the "tongue speakers" (I Cor 14: 3 7-40). These errors are more than of just a practical nature, they are theological. Among the errors already mentioned, one seems to stand out over the rest. The basic error is that the Charismatic movement tends to equate the level of sanctification in a believer with the presence of one or more of the gifts or offices. This rudiment of Gnostic theology is a recognized factor in the Corinthian congregation. To put it more succintly, for the Charismatics the possession of the gift indicates a higher level of spiritual maturity or advancement. This is not unlike Roman Catholic theology wherc the priest possesses the character indelibizis by virtue of his ordination. He has a sacramental "grace" Essay on tlzc Charismatic hlove~nent ~ 22 1 not available to the laity. The "Spirit movement" in Corinth were so "Spiritually" advanced, that an eschatolog): without a resurrectioil became unneccssary for the members. Charisnlatics urge the believer to pray for one or more of their gifts. They acknowledge that God will not answer this request in every case, still it is benefical to ask foi it and to continue to ask for it. When the gift is received by the petitioner, it is ackno~vledged with great joy by the Charismatic community, something like the angelic joy over repentant sinners. Is it right to pray for God's gifts? On the surface, only a positive answer seems possible to this question. Aftcr all in the Lord's Prayer, the Christian prays for gifts, spiritual and temporal, and these gifts are to be received with thanksgiving. However, the gifts listed by Paul in I Corinthians 12: 28 are different types of gifts, as even thc Charismatics would openly acknowledge. In examining the New Testanlent evidence there is no command all Christians must pray for these "gifts." There is no promise that God will affirmatively answer these requcsts in every or any casc. To aspire to the office of pastor or bishop (I Timothy 3: 1) is to desire a noble task. But therc are prohibitions concerning the office ~i~hich automatically eliminates some aspirants (vv. 2-7). James (3: 1) seems to discourage somc aspirants for the office. The refusal of God to grant the "gift" or the office is for the sake of the congregation first and the man second. Divine refusal in no way reflects on the personal life of faith! Not only are some Christians discouraged from asking for cer- tain gifts, but in some cascs it might even be wrong to make a con- stant practice of asking for thesc gifts. Thus if one can pray for the gift of tongues today fervently and continually, would it also be pos- sible for someone to pray to attain to the office of the apostle? After all, they arc both found in the list of gifts to the church. IVhere thc qualifications for the office arc not present in the person, or where thc need in the church is not present, it is wrong for that pcrson to pray for the office or the gift, especially when this lack of qualifications and these necds have becn brought to his attention. Brief spontaneous prayers must be distinguished from continued and systematic re- quests. Thus no 20th-ccntury man can pray to be an apostle, as hc cannot possibly fulfill the requireinents outlined in Acts 1. The same can also be said of women aspiring to the office of pastor. Some in Paul's day aspired to the office of apostle without Gd's call to that office. They are called. false apostles (I1 Corinthians 11: 13). Just as there could be, were and call be false apostles, so therc can be false tongue speakers, healers and miracle workers. The pope who claims that his word is of equal interpretative authority with that of the apostles of Christ is a classical cxanlple of a false apostle. Hc from his office speaks authoritativcly in the church cven though Christ has not given him this function. The same could be said of the apostles of Mormonism and other religions who assign the title of apostle or their office to living persons. These rcnlarks arc not to label as false any or all who possess such gifts in thc Cl~arismatic movement, still thc church of Jesus is under obligation from Him and His apostles to take a critical stance against all religious l)henomena, especially those without a specific conl~nand like tonguc speakers. A - The Charismatic confuses the level of sanctification with the presence of the "qifts," e.g., speaking in tongues, when the aiving of the gift is identihed with the "baptism of the Holy spirit?' There is no guarantee in the Scriptures thai a person with a if^" is any more or less favored by the Holy Spirit in regard to salvat~on. If any- thing, those with the "gifts" in Corinth have fallcn out of divine favor because of these gifts. Faith is the only quality that God finds favorable in His sight. A gift, pastor, apostle, tongue speaker, is to benefit the Christian community, it does not benefit God. Ncither does its personal posession by the believer benefit the believer qua bclicver. The worth of a gift is n~easured solely by its benefit to the Christian conlmunitv. Speaking in tongues is the least of the gifts because it docs no; benefit the com~nunity but thc individual. Even to suggest other~zrisc is to fall back into the work righteousness against which the Reformation protested and to deny the sola fide. Insofar as the Charismatics exalt ccrtain works as being illarks of God's favor on certain individuals in regard to their level of faith or sanctification, it falls under the same condemnation that applies to work-righteousness. I It is the terrible confusion of justi'fication and sanctification, to r~sc the morc traditional dogmatic ternlinology. Tlle possessor of the gift is no 1norc or less justified than the non-possessor. The same enjoyment of salvation is equally available to both possessor and non- possessor. The allcged Charismatic "cift of the Holy Spirit" replaces faith as the only \\lay jn which a inan is found acceptable and pleasing to God. Thus certain features of the Charismatic movement arc an attack on the very heart of the Gospel. A gift or office can be dcstruc- tive of faith whcn the Christian begins to treasure these n-iore than he docs Jcsus Christ, who is the object of his faith. No one questions that God can and does g!ve gifts to His church. No one questions that the Christian can pray for certain acceptable gifts and aspire to their usc. 13111 it is very cjucstionable to pursue these gifts as if the pos- session of gifts i~ldicatcs a person who is nlore pleasing to God. The Scriptures point out many people who possessed gifts but whose faith was weak or went out 'on occasion. Moses, David, the other kings of the Jews, the disciples were given officcs by God ant1 \lTere endoncd by certain gifts, but all fell from God, some permanently. blatthcnl 10 lists Judas as a true apostle. Those of great faith were a centurion and a Caailanjtc woman who had 110 other know11 gifts beside their faith. The church preaches to build up faith not to give inorc gifts. In closing, the lack of balance in the Charismatic mo\lement can be noted. Like thc Corinthian congregation, thev prized thc gift of thc speaking of tongucs in direct opposite to which the\; should have. Faith, hope and love should have received their attention. These gifts all Christian5should and must have. They endure. Anlong the gifts benefiting the congregation, apostles, prophets and teacl~crs are thc most iml~ortant services in the church because their task was to proclait~i Christ. The speaking in tongucs was the most useless Essay OIL the Chtrl-isinatic Movernclzt -- -- - - - -- - --- -- - - - - - - - -. - -. 223 - - simply because of its unintelligibility to others and because it served the speakcr and not tllc congregation. Charisnlatics take what is the least important and make it the most important, elevating this gift to a position that because of its very nature it does not dcserve. Among those listed, the one gift which the church could do best without is the speaking in tongues. The church can never do without preachins. For this reason Paul urges subn~ission to His Word, i.e., the ayostollc word, and prophesying. Teaching is important since it is the explana- tion, didache, of the Gospel. Therc are Illany that hold that the Charismatic pllenomenon as it has broken out in the church will disapycar as suddenly as it appeared. Giving it too nluch theological attention might bc pro- viding for it that very abusive situation ~vl~ich it so rcadily thrives on and enjoys. Still there might be some l~astors who can bcnefit from these observations.