As I mentioned in What can we learn from our Reformed brothers? (part 1)), I was brought up in a Charismatic / Renewal church where my dad was a pastor. Having been exposed to both the Reformed and Charismatic flows, I strongly believe that we can learn from one another. Both of our streams have strengths which we can draw from, as well as weaknesses which God can use to show His glory.
We also have our blind spots, and the moment one stream says, “I don’t have a blind spot; I see everything clearly,” then maybe pride is my blind spot. With no further ado, here is what I believe my Reformed brothers (and sisteren) can learn from us Charismatics.
- We endeavour to express our love for God with our whole being
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…” Luke 10:27a (NIV)
Loving God is not just a private matter, or a ‘mind’ matter. No, it is much more than that! When I am in love with the LOVE of my life, then I am not ashamed to show the world who that person is, and how I feel about her. The Bible paints many pictures for us where God wants us to be head-over-heals in love with Him (e.g. Song of Songs; Hosea; Ephesians 5:24-27; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelations 19:7-9; 21:1, 2).
The Psalms are also filled with every expression of human emotion through the whole body – laughing, crying, clapping, singing, dancing, praising, praying, shouting, kneeling, etc. So the question we must ask ourselves is, “Why is it OK to find these expressions in the pages of Scripture, but not in the pews of a congregation?”
- We believe God can speak to us in any way He chooses
I know this is a scary one for many Reformed friends, due to your strong emphasis on Sola Scriptura. Firstly, I want to thank the Reformed flow for putting such a massive emphasis on the Authority of Scripture. It is primarily through Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-4) and the Holy Writ (2 Tim. 3:16) that God has chosen to speak to us. And today more than ever, the Church (as a whole) needs to submit afresh to the infallible, and inspired Word of God.
Secondly, although God speaks primarily through His Son and Holy Word, there are also secondary ways He communicates to us. Here are some Biblical examples:
- Through creation (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:19, 20)
- Through dreams & visions (Daniel 7, 8, 10; Acts 10; 16:6-10; Revelation)
- Through prayer (Psalms; Romans 8:26, 27)
- Through an audible voice (1 Samuel 3; Matthew 3:13-17)
- Through an inner voice / conscience (1 Kings 19; Acts 13:1-4)
- Through another person (Judges 6:1-10; Acts 11:27-30)
- Through an angel (Judges 6:11-40; Acts 10)
To look at these Biblical examples, and say God only spoke like that in Bible times, is a bit presumptuous. God is still at work in His world, and one of the primary ways is by leading his children through speaking to them. And here, as Charismatics, we need to heed the warning from our Reformed brothers. We cannot continuously claim that God is speaking to us, but we are not hearing Him speak through the pages of Scripture. If we are not immersed in the Bible, how dare we make claims that God has spoken. The Bible is what God has SAID throughout history, and we need to engage it daily in order to hear what the Holy Spirit is speaking to our hearts. There are too many ‘I heard from God and you can’t tell me anything otherwise’ Christians running around and causing more harm than good.
On the other side is also a danger. If we say that God only speaks through the Bible, we restrict God to times when we are hearing, reading, studying, meditating on, praying and singing Scripture. So my question is, “When you are not thinking specifically about the Word of God, but you are thinking how you must fix the bathroom tap, can God speak to you in that moment? If He speaks, will He quote only from the Bible?”
I believe we can limit God by saying He must just speak in one way. Let’s say you are driving a car, how will God warn you of possible danger around the corner? Will He remind you of a Scripture verse? Will He leave an impression on your heart to slow down? How will He protect His beloved child?
My prayer is that we will continue to learn from one another. For instance, I am currently struggling through Loraine Boettner’s The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. In my 34 years in the Charismatic flow, I’ve never heard an in-depth discussion on the topic of predestination and election. Without even knowing it, it seems to me our default position in the Renewal movement is Arminianism. Why are glossing over these difficult texts in Scripture, and not engaging them? We can surely learn from our Reformed brothers in this regard.
Let us pray:
Father God, I come to You in the name of Jesus
Unify Your body for Your glory
Press down on our pride, so that our knees would buckle
Under the weight of Your fear and glory
And when we rise, may it be on Spirit’s wings
As we fly formation from various streams!