Apparently I am foolhardy enough to write about charismatic Christianity. Not only that, but I purpose to write a series of posts on charismaticism, or rather on reckoning with its distinctives. While I myself am not a charismatic, I think there are both things to learn and things to be cautious about, and so I wish to address some of these matters from the perspective of the older tradition of the faith.
I am not the first, of course, to write about the issues I intend to consider. Even if I feigned ignorance of recent kerfuffles about ‘strange fire’, I should still have from the Holy Ghost himself a record of something quite closely related. The church in Corinth was plagued by disorder and dissension and a spirit of pride, especially in connexion with certain spiritual gifts and the appearance of super-spirituality. So great was their pretension that they committed sacrilege against the holy sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In dealing with these issues, the Apostle Paul urged this church above all to remember the bond of love, and it is in this context that he wrote 1 Corinthians 13, the famous chapter on love. So, before I write any more, this is where I ought to direct the reader’s attention, where God himself would have us dwell, having his Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts.
For I am convinced that God’s diagnosis is correct, that what we lack the most, in the controversies on charismaticism, is love. The want of this fundamental thing is what keeps us from working irenically as one Body to discern the truth that our Lord has revealed to all of us. Instead we have, at turns, carnaptious speech when people wish to be puffed up, and evasive speech when people wish to avoid being put down from their mighty seat. But how I hope to write, and how we ought to worship God, the Apostle has already described: How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. One Lord has spoken, and we must hear him.