Tuesday, April 06, 2010


I recently started reading Sam Storms' account of his journey in Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist. I was merely interested in hearing about his journey, only to find myself highly compelled to read and enter into the story. For many years, I have sought a head/heart and Word/Spirit unity that I found lacking in myself and in community, and Storms' journey has at its heart this pursuit.

I feel the Spirit stirring many things in me, reminders of my Charismatic/Pentecostal background, making me seriously wonder if some of the deficiencies in my experience (lack of power, hope, etc.) are not in some part (or large part) due to a quenching of the Spirit. One of the things I wanted to share here were some of the reasons I pulled away from the tradition (the Spirit?) back in the early 1990's:

1. I was experiencing a deep depression and the theology of suffering I encountered in my circles of Pentecostalism left a lot to be desired. I was rebuked and challenged to "have more faith" and "just pray." I found much solace in a reformed view of God and the world during this time. Unfortunately, my journey into the Reformed faith could not be reconciled to the life of the Spirit, and so I pulled away from any expression of it. I threw myself more determinedly into a study of the Scriptures.

2. I was ashamed of the extremists and afraid I might be lumped in with them. The possibility (and reality) of abuses seemed too much trouble to sort through to find and experience the real thing. I threw out the baby with the bath water, maybe?

3. For years, I have felt secure in holding an "open but cautious" view of the gifts of the Spirit (see the 4 views book edited by Wayne Grudem), but have come to wonder if this isn't just being continuationist in theology but cessationist in practice. This has appeared to me (since starting to read Storms) as lacking integrity and very likely being disobedient. If I believe that they are for today, but won't practice or encourage others to practice them, what does that say about me and my state of surrender before the Lord? If they are not for today, then I should fully confess that. I don't think I can stay on the fence any more.
UPDATE: I want to openly admit that there may be a third legitimate position between full continuationism and full cessationism. I am still convinced that the issues are not as black and white as either side believes, hence the middle "open but cautious" position. Maybe there is integrity in that position, as long as I was not "quenching the Spirit," which I am still pretty sure I have done. I have hidden behind the "open but cautious" view and actually been "closed, agnostic and skeptical."

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