Church characteristics

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Matt Black, Dec 2, 2004.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    The Renovare church conferences, the brainchild of, inter alia, Dallas Willard, identify six distinct traditions that Christians, and I suppose by extension, churches should adopt and incorporate in thier lives to produce what Renovare calls a 'well-rounded spirituality'. The six are:contemplative , charismatic, evangelical, social justice, holiness, and sacramental. Some questions:-

    1. What do we understand by those terms? (Unless we can specify our understanding there, our replies to the nest questions will be unclear!)

    2. Which qualities or traditions should Baptists seek to incorporate (a) personally and (b) in church life, and why?

    3. Which should they similarly avoid, and why?

    My preliminary answers:-

    #1. Contemplative - proper, good quality, quiet time; meditating on Scripture and God's attributes; repeating phrases from Scripture and about God until they 'sink in'; NOT transcendental meditation or anything Buddhist or New Age.

    Charismatic - non-cessationist, believing and exercising as the Spirit directs the various spiritual gifts contained within the Pauline corpus of the NT and elsewhere in Scripture; exuberance in worship; enjoying God presence in your life; NOT adding to the revelation/ canon of Scripture; NOT Word of Faith.

    Evangelical - having the Gospel and salvation by faith alone at the heart of our witness both individually and corporately; a view of Scripture as inspired by God and supremely trustworthy and authoritative on all doctrinal and practical matters;NOT necessarily fundamentalist or insisting on inerrancy or YECism; NOT KJVOist.

    Social justice - having in mind and heart the various injunctions of the OT prophets in particular and also Matt 25 and James with concern for the poor and needy, the sick and vulnerable; concern for human rights; NOT social Gospel at the price of the Gospel of salvation.

    Holiness - a desire to be made more like Jesus through the Holy Spirit; a desire to co-operate with Him in that process of sanctification; an abhorrence of sin in our lives; a recognition of the awesome power of God and consequent fear and trembling in our worhip of Him

    Sacramental - linked closely to holiness, an awareness of the sacred presence of God, particularly in our corporate life; DIFFERENT from the 'higher church' definitions involving sacramental soteriology eg: Real Presence, Baptismal Regeneration

    #2. All as defined above. As Baptists, I suspect we are very good at 'evangelical' and probably 'holiness' too, divided on' charismatic' and I think that UK Baptists are better at social action than those in the US (largely because of a suspicion that this smacks too much of a 'Gladdenite' social Gospel). Care needs to be taken about 'sacramental' but I do think we need a greater awareness of the 'sacredness' of things pertaining to God, particularly our corporate worship. Contemplative - there seems to be a shying away from this in evangelical circles, partly because of a mistrustful association of this with Catholicism and more latterly Eastern Religions, which is a shame, because our Puritan forebears were very into it - read some John Owen for example.

    #3. Obviously the more Catholic definition of 'sacramental', appertaining to soteriology, should be rejected by us. Charismatic - adding to revelation, anything not in line with Scripture, WoF, or any other off the wall manifestation should be a 'no-no'. Contemplative - TM and 'Eastern'-religion-style stuff is out. Social justice - care should be taken that this should not become the 'be all and end all' of what we do. Evangelical - avoid overly-dogmatic approaches that result in the One True Church (TM) being reduced to a minority of three and a half plus a dog.

    That's my $0.02 - what's yours?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  2. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    I should perhaps add to give credit where credit due that the inspiration for the OP comes from the Renovare Spiritual Formation Groups and it's not just Dallas Willard but also Richard Foster, James Bryan Smith et al who are associated with Renovare

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  3. Ben W

    Ben W
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2002
    Messages:
    8,868
    Likes Received:
    0
    Holiness,

    At Bible College this year we actually had a look at the "Holiness Movement" within churches over history.

    The Salvation Army, Christian Missionary Alliance and Methodist movements were all known as Holiness Churches.

    I think that we could do with a few more sermons on Holiness in the church today, maybe we need another "Holiness Movement"!
     
  4. rjprince

    rjprince
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    1,321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Personally think that it is quite difficult to use the term, or the concept of “Charismatic" to attempt to describe what is put forth as “historic Christianity”. To suggest that this is a foundational element to “well rounded spirituality” makes the prima facie assertion that such has been a consistent part of “historic Christianity”. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. While there have been fringe groups at various points in church history that have held to a “non-cessationist” view, this view has by no means been accepted as foundational to “well rounded spirituality.”

    The Charismatic “revival” of the early 20th century and the more recent “third wave” reintroduce elements that have been absent from church history, by and large, for over 1900 years! IMHO it is impossible to maintain that such elements can in any way be an essential element of “well rounded” faith. Other basis elements to our faith may have been much less prevalent during the “dark ages” or RCC domination, but can clearly be traced as foundational in many groups. Don’t worry, I am not going “landmark” with this.

    That being said, let me focus on the specific wording of the “Charismatic” statement in OP.

    “non-cessationist, believing and exercising as the Spirit directs the various spiritual gifts contained within the Pauline corpus of the NT and elsewhere in Scripture; exuberance in worship; enjoying God presence in your life; NOT adding to the revelation/ canon of Scripture; NOT Word of Faith.”

    Generally, IMHO, the cessationist position does not reject the belief or exercise of most of the various spiritual gifts contained within the Pauline corpus of the NT or elsewhere in Scripture. The cessationist position does indeed deny that ALL of the spiritual gifts are active today.

    Specifically, the revelatory sign gifts of “prophecy” (giving new extra-Biblical truth by direct revelation from God), “tongues”, and “knowledge” (parallel to Word of Faith) CEASED with the completion (not collection) of the NT Canon. Biblically and historically, this was what happened.

    Specifically the term “cessationist”, as I understand it, also denies the continuance of the demonstrative sign gifts intended to validate and authenticate the revelation that was being given by the Lord Jesus and His apostles. The “powers, signs, and wonders” (dunamis, semeion, tera) likewise ceased with the completion of the NT Canon, or perhaps earlier (2Cor 12:7-10; 1Tim 5:23; 2Tim 4:20; Philp 2:25-27).

    It has been the consistent position and practice for 1900 years of historic faith that both the revelatory and demonstrative sign gifts did indeed cease. One hundred years of “modern charismatic experience” is by no means sufficient to reintroduce these elements as suddenly once again foundational to “well rounded Christianity”!

    Neither is the slightly longer history or CMA, Methodist, or other so-called “holiness” movements to be understood as supportive of what happened at Azuza (sp?) street or in the more recent third wave. To the best of my knowledge and recollection, none of these movements held to any kind of a consistent position that the revelatory and demonstrative sign gifts were once again in full operation for the church. Their “holiness” movement is not equal to, nor is the modern “holiness” movement a direct outgrowth of CMA, Methodism, etc. To use these as an attempt to loan validity to what has happened and is happening in the last 100 years is historic wishful thinking. But, on the other hand, secular humanists are historical revisionists when it fits their agenda, why shouldn’t Christians do their own rewriting?

    Many if not all, cessationists would fully agree with the full exercise of the non-revelatory and non-demonstrative gifts of the Spirit. Many would have no problem with “exuberance in worship” and “enjoying God’s presence in your life” so long as it did not become experience driven or dominated and so long as it did not promote confusion in the assembly (1Cor 14:33).

    The BIGGEST PROBLEM that I have with “non-cessationists”, meaning second or third wave charismatics, is that they IGNORE the clear prohibitions Paul gives regarding the exercise of tongues in the assembly.

    1Cor 14:
    27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
    28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
    33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
    34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak;
    (To list the ones that are pretty clear and not as open to dispute)

    I do not know much about the “Renovare” movement. But I STRONGLY dispute the validity of the charismatic influence in today’s church. Their position on this one issue based on the use of the words “charismatic” and “non-cessationist”, as presented in the OP, would be sufficient for me to issue a strong warning against participation in or support of these conferences.
     
  5. Matt Black

    Matt Black
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Messages:
    9,141
    Likes Received:
    0
    RJPrince, they were more my definitions than Renovare's, although I believe that they are very similar to Renovare's.

    I would take issue with your assertion that the charismata ceased at the end of the first century and were only 'revived' from c1900; both Irenaeus and Eusebius, inter alia, attest to their existence well into the 2nd and even the 3rd century (they only began to be frowned upon when they became associated with the excesses of Montanism), the Celtic Church exercised them until it was suppressed by Rome, the Franciscans too report what we would call charismatic experiences, the Wycliffites spoke in tongues *hence the name 'Lollards') and the early Baptists and Anabaptists exercised various charismata (see Dean198's posts on the Charismatic thread in the Fundamentalist Forum). Furthermore, even if your assertion were historically correct, your argument is advanced on the same basis as one might argue against Luther's sola fides: "The Church has been teaching salvation other than by faith alone for centuries and this is a new innovation which should be accordingly rejected", so goodbye Reformation? No, let's be consistent: if you hold that the Reformation represented the rediscovery of Biblical truth which ahd lain dormant for centuries, then you must afford the same charity to the charismata...

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  6. Ben W

    Ben W
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2002
    Messages:
    8,868
    Likes Received:
    0
    Get out the Anglican Prayer Book and you will find a number of prayers for healing!
     

Share This Page

Loading...