Reformed Baptist Fellowship

This is why charismatics are simply not Reformed

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on February 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Charismatics

One way to summarize the doctrine of divine sovereignty is this: It is God who acts, not man.  How will the lost be saved?  God must act.  How will sinful Christians overcome the “old man”?  God must act.  How will the church grow in both holiness and influence?  Again, God must act.  He is the sovereign; He is the great Actor in every aspect of our spiritual life.

This reflection lies at the heart of the Reformed emphasis on the common means of grace.  If nothing good happens without God acting, we rightly ask the question, “Then how will He act?”   In the same way that those who are thirsty go daily to the well, so those who understand our absolute dependence on divine grace go regularly to those places where God has promised to make Himself known.

It is for this reason that Reformed Christianity has always put a great emphasis on the preaching of the Word of God.  God manifests His presence in the sacraments and in prayer, but He especially makes Himself known in the preached Word.  That is why Paul wrote so forcefully about the necessity of preaching in Romans 10:14-15.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Paul saw gospel preaching as an indispensable part of God’s plan for the redemption of sinners.  Where there is no preaching, there is no knowledge, no faith, no prayer, and no forgiveness.  This has nothing to do with the power of preachers and everything to do with God’s sovereign will.  He makes His grace known in the manner of His choosing, and the manner He has chosen is preaching.

Reformed Christians have therefore consistently affirmed the importance of the preached Word.  As our own Confession puts it, following Westminster,

The Grace of Faith, whereby the Elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the Ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, Prayer and other Means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened.  (Second London Confession, xiv:1)

This conviction is a necessary consequence of any consistent adherence to the principle of sovereignty.  If God is truly sovereign over all gracious work in the soul, then He must control the means by which that work progresses, and further, those means will be the ones identified in His Word.

In contrast to the Reformed consensus on the means of grace, charismaticism has always and inevitably engaged in the belittlement of the ministry of the Word.  What has been observed in charismatic churches for decades continues to hold true; no matter what is said of the importance of preaching, the real moment of communion with God comes when there is a prophetic utterance – no matter how banal.  Wherever the church adopts charismatic doctrine, emotions must increase and thoughts decrease.

This is no accident of history; an un-serious approach to Scripture is a necessary pre-condition for charismaticism.  Consider what would happen if the charismatic were to take the Bible seriously.

First, he would discover the nature of biblical miracles, and he would have to acknowledge that nothing like them has happened anywhere in the church in over nineteen hundred years.  So long as he doesn’t look at the Bible too closely he can pretend that modern babblings are “tongues,” or that psychological palliatives are “healings.”  Any serious study of New Testament miracle puts an end to such nonsense.

Second, he would discover the power of the Holy Spirit and realize that no church is capable of suppressing Him.  The new believers in Acts were not searching for power from on high; no one but Simon Magus did that.  Rather, they were carried away by the unstoppable power of the Spirit.  Modern charismaticism depends on the notion that most churches somehow prevent the Holy Spirit from exercising His power, but that cannot be true of the Almighty Spirit found in Scripture.

Third, he would find that the Bible expressly speaks of the end of charismatic gifts, and at that point he would have a template within which to understand the last nineteen hundred years.  He would realize why it is that the miracles of the Apostolic Age no longer occur, and he would understand that it has nothing to do with proud churches somehow getting the better of the Holy Spirit.

Charismatic doctrine cannot survive sound expository preaching; that is why it inserts a new means of grace.  Instead of preaching – by which mind, heart and will are engaged by the Word of God – the charismatic emphasizes “power” – a quintessentially emotional experience divorced from the actual content of the Word.  This is why charismatics are simply not Reformed.  No matter how much a charismatic might speak about the sovereignty of God, he can never affirm the corresponding and necessary doctrine of the means of grace, and thus his understanding of sovereignty can only be truncated and transient.

Which brings us to Tope Koleoso and his already infamous sermon at Desiring God 2013.  Entitled “Sovereign Grace, Spiritual Gifts, and the Pastor; How Should a Reformed Pastor Be Charismatic?, Pastor Koleoso’s message is a rather standard example of charismatic boilerplate.  It is hard to recognize anything of sovereign grace outside the title, and it was distinctly anti-Reformed in the end.

Some of Pastor Koleoso’s lapses in logic were obvious.  He equated the power of the Holy Spirit with the charismata, as though the Spirit does not demonstrate power in any other way.  He assumed that those who reject the charismata can only do so from fear, from pragmatism, or from pride, as though he never heard of the extensive exegetical arguments for the cessation of gifts.  He absolutized Christ’s words “the things that I do” in John 12:14, but in an arbitrary manner – we must preach, teach, heal, and deliver; thankfully we are not called upon to redeem, propitiate, create, etc.

What I find more instructive, though, are the more subtle tendencies of his message.   As his sermon progressed, Pastor Koleoso seemed increasingly antagonistic toward the ministry of the Word, and at the same time he drove his listeners toward an emotion-centered view of worship.  In his eyes preachers without the charismata are arrogant and self-centered, longing for the dignity of preaching and unwilling to surrender to the movement of the Spirit.  He panned preaching in general as an unhelpful display of pride from men who are not willing to share their platform with God.  Meanwhile, it is important – critical, even! – that men raise their hands in worship and make a great display of their “openness” to the Spirit.

If this sermon is evaluated from an actually Reformed perspective one must conclude that Pastor Koleoso has replaced preaching as the primary means of grace with something ill-defined – a somewhat existential experience of spiritual fire which might just be doused by a man proclaiming the words of the Bible.  And indeed he is right: the words of the Bible reveal such rank emotionalism to be sub-Christian, a remnant of paganism.

Many are sad this week that such a message came out of Desiring God, but the confessional and Reformed Christian ought not be surprised.  Two lessons should be drawn from this mess.

First, no matter how many “New Calvinists” try to prove otherwise, charismaticism is incompatible with Reformed doctrine.  Desiring God has tried to hold the door open to charismatics without jettisoning divine sovereignty, but this cannot work.  Hold that door open, and sooner or later the charismatic disparagement of the means of grace will charge through, and without the doctrine of means, sovereign grace is rendered unintelligible.

Secondly, Desiring God suffers from the non-confessionalism of the entire “New Calvinist” movement.  Where there is no established doctrinal standard beyond a one-page recitation of orthodoxy, there can be no consistency from one generation to the next.  Today’s leaders may espouse a mild charismaticism joined with Reformed literature and ethos, but today’s leaders must retire from the scene, and when they do, who can say what is coming?  This is precisely why Reformed churches have always been confessional.  When pastors are bound by confessional oath to uphold such statements as “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience…” (Second London Confession, i:1) each generation has a solid defense against the encroaching fads of its day.

That “Reformed Charismaticism” should eventually go down this path – dragging the rest of the “New Calvinism” with it – was predictable.  Such a doctrine has no solid confession.  It pays scant attention to the means of grace.  It is not actually Reformed in any meaningful sense.

Tom Chantry, Pastor
Christ Reformed Baptist Church
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  1. Well said! Reformed OR Charismatic — they are not compatible.

  2. The author paints his case with a really broad brush, with plenty of presupposition, and lacks understanding about many elements of the reformed charismatic movement. It is simply nonsensical to say that “charismaticism has always been engaged in the belittlement of the Word.” Always is a very strong word….always would encompass the Acts churches, and Paul’s life. No matter if you are continuationist or not, one sees the gifts in action in the Word itself. When presented biblically, the Reformed and Charismatic movements live together quite happily, presenting a balanced view of scripture that encompasses the entire Word without forgetting elements of it, or being afraid of elements of it, or cherry picking what works best for a particular time in history.

  3. Tom, would you say that confessional Reformed theology is not actually Charismatic in any meaningful sense of the word?

  4. Rich, in any meaningful way, yes. In any useful way? Perhaps.

    Obviously confessional Reformed theology teaches that the Spirit gifts His ministers, and that they in turn are gifts to the church. His presence in preaching and His illumination of Christ are likewise supernatural gifts.

    Normally, I would not say it is useful to call this “charismatic,” but perhaps in response to Pastor Koleoso’s suggestion that we are afraid of the supernatural it would be useful.

  5. Tom, well said.

    Having come from a background where charismatic theology was present, I have seen how the special “Word of Knowledge” or the speaking in tongues trumps preaching every time. There seems to be an assumption that if someone has a word from God, that word is less corrupted by the speaker than the preacher giving an exposition of God’s Word. The first is more God-centered, the latter is too man centered.

    Also, the Reformed view of Word and Sacrment is not only full of the work of the Spirit, but is miraculous. That a flawed sinful man can open God’s Word and His power to save and sanctify is present and experienced is truly miraculous, or, to be baptized and united to Christ and to participate in the body and blood of Christ by faith at the table. These are powerful, supernatural, and miraculous. Sadly, people seek for signs and wonders which are in reality neither, while ignoring God’s ordinary signs and wonders of Word and sacrament, and law and gospel.

  6. Lily,

    You are not using the word “Reformed” as we understand it here – namely as a reference to a thorough, confessional summary of doctrine. That doctrine includes a view of the sufficiency of Scripture and of common means of grace, both of which cannot co-exist with charismaticism.

  7. We need to be clear about three things:

    1) Many call anyone who believes in regeneration prior to faith, charismatic. To be fair, if regeneration isn’t a miracle, then nothing is.

    2) Many call anyone who believes in angels, demons, and the life to be charismatic. If they are right, James White and I are charismatics.

    3) Being charismatic isn’t binary, but, rather, based on a continuum. There are many levels of being charismatic as there are people (well, more given wishy washy people are).

  8. [...] In contrast to the Reformed consensus on the means of grace, charismaticism has always and inevitably engaged in the belittlement of the ministry of the Word.  What has been observed in charismatic churches for decades continues to hold true; no matter what is said of the importance of preaching, the real moment of communion with God comes when there is a prophetic utterance – no matter how banal.  Wherever the church adopts charismatic doctrine, emotions must increase and thoughts decrease. [...]

  9. [...] My thoughts can be found here. [...]

  10. This is embarrassingly bad. I’d encourage you to retract it.

    First, the defining assumption simply isn’t true: “charismaticism has always and inevitably engaged in the belittlement of the ministry of the Word”. If your illustration is meant to define who you regard as “charismatic” and you place John Piper in that group, then he refutes this claim. It’s frankly a false characterization, no better than the oft repeated Arminian accusation that all Calvinists don’t care about evangelism.

    As for your claim that the supernatural gifts ceased after the Apostles, I’m told Augustine believed similarly but then studied the matter and changed his mind. I’d suggest you do the same.

    You say, “he would find that the Bible expressly speaks of the end of charismatic gifts”. Are you referring to 1 Cor. 13 which has the only suggestion of that that I am aware of? (By the way, when you claim that the Bible “expressly speaks” of something, cite the text so as to prove it.) But there the imperfect gifts pass away when the Perfect One we can see “face to face” (i.e. Christ) appears.

    Finally, being “Reformed” is holding to (besides Nicene Christianity) the Reformation Solas, one of which is “Sola Scriptura.” And yet you provide no scripture to make your point that “charismaticism is incompatible with Reformed doctrine”. Instead, you cite traditions, thus making your statement un-Reformed.

  11. You need to properly define your terms. “Reformed” refers to those who believe in the Reformation Solas. Charismatic refers to those who believe in the continuation of the supernatural spiritual gifts, experiencing them today. You need to show how the two are contradictory.

    The Puritans are great examples of the Reformed. Keep in mind that the Puritans were not cessationists and would likely be considered “charismatics” by some today. Besides the infamous Salem witchcraft trials (which relied on “spectral evidence”, thus assuming that visions still happen), when the Puritans were given claims of supernatural visions, they did not claim that such had ceased to happen. Rather, they evaluated them according to scripture.

  12. I’m going to state right up front that I’m a Reformed Charismatic (although I don’t speak in tongues or prophesy), and have also studied this topic in depth, and I cannot find any concrete evidence in the Bible that the Charismatic gifts have already ceased. I do realize a lot of cessationists quote the 1 Corinthians 13 passage that says that tongues will cease and prophecy will be done away when “the perfect” comes, but based upon immediate context, “the perfect” seems to imply when Christ returns. This is because a few verses later, it says that when “the perfect” comes, we will see Christ face-to-face.

    It seems like this article is making a blanket statement that all Charismatic churches are abusing the Charismatic gifts and giving them more authority than Scripture. While there are many churches like this, it is entirely untrue that all Charismatic church do this. In fact, preachers like John Piper, Mark Driscoll, C. J. Mahaney, etc., state that we are to test everything by the Word of God, which is the highest authority. Prophecy that does not line up with Scripture or does not come to pass is invalid. Also, in 1 Corinthians, Paul places a lot of boundaries when it comes to speaking in tongues (such as there must be an interpreter when people publicly speak in tongues, and that there can only be two or three people speaking in tongues one at a time).

    “Wherever the church adopts charismatic doctrine, emotions must increase and thoughts decrease.” I can see how a lot of Charismatic churches emphasize emotions so that they are way out of proportion of thoughts, but the opposite also happens in many cessationist churches. In John 4, Jesus commands believers to worship in SPIRIT and in TRUTH. Both are equally important, and ultimately, thoughts should not decrease, but in many churches, emotions should increase, but not to the point in which truth is de-emphasized.

  13. I thought this was a great entry. If God is still operating in the same fashion as in the book of Acts, were are the gifts that charismatics claim to be still around? Tom said, “Third, he would find that the Bible expressly speaks of the end of charismatic gifts, and at that point he would have a template within which to understand the last nineteen hundred years.” Well said. I listened to a sermon a little while back by Tom Chantry were he broke down 1 Cor 13 and I must say that it was the best explanation of the passage even though he barley spent 5 mins on the text. I used to hold to Grudems understanding of the passage but it simply incorrect and doesn’t explain the “last nineteen hundred years” as Tom has already said.

  14. John Carpenter,

    I left John Piper out of it, and didn’t call him a charismatic, but you want to bring him in. The fact is that Desiring God held the door open for someone like Tole Koleoso to come along and do what he did in this message, which is exactly what I said in this post. Everyone open to charismatic distinctives may not disparage praching, but charismaticism always does. Give it time.

    As for speaking of “the Puritans,” I always find it historically unhelpful to generalize about a movement which lasted centuries and spanned an ocean. I must say, though, that you are the first I have ever heard to reference the Salem Witch Trials in order to say, “See, the Puritans thought like I do”! Does this commend the practice of looking for extra-biblical revelation? If your account of the trials is true, then it demonstrates a departure from the confessional Reformed standard, with predictable results.

    It is why here we define Reformed a bit more tightly than five points – no matter which five points you choose. See my definition of “Reformed” in the comments above.

  15. [...] This is why charismatics are simply not Reformed « Reformed Baptist Fellowship [...]

  16. Reformed Charismatic,

    Did you listen to the referenced sermon? Were you pleased with it? Does it surprise you that it was preached at Desiring God?

  17. For you “Reformed Charismatics” (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) who claim there is no “proof” that the revelatory gifts have ceased: here is the proof:

    1. That prophecy has ceased:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=27102323260

    2. That tongues have ceased:

    http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=22110234737

    There is much more that could be said about the cessation of the revelatory gifts of prophecy and tongues – but you can start here.

  18. Thanks, Tom!

    Had not heard of Pastor Tope, but here he speaks (in promo video) on worship: http://jubileechurchlondon.org/ios/

    Isn’t continuationism by definition necessarily a denial of sola scriptura?

    Finally thank you, for we tire of Dr Piper & Co and the bondage they engender:
    http://www.newcalvinist.com/john-piper-2/piper-hears-the-voice-of-god/

  19. Pastor Tope’s comments are from 1:20-2:10.

  20. If continuationism is true, then sola scriptura is a false, man-made tradition.

    We cannot have both a closed canon and an open ended one. Something’s gotta give.

    Choose this day what will be your standard:

    [1] The Bible alone, or

    [2] visions/ words/ impressions that either you or Piper or Storms or Chandler or Mahaney or Koleoso or Driscoll or Grudem or somebody else claim are “from God.”

  21. Tom,
    If “Charismatic doctrine cannot survive sound expository preaching,”
    then is John Piper (or any ostensibly Reformed continuationist)
    (1) losing his charismaticism?
    or,
    (2) not a sound expositor?

  22. Pastor Chantry,

    Thank you! Fifteen or twenty years ago, most, if not all, of our confessional churches would have agreed. Today, in contrast, many of our ministers attended Desiring God 2013. This is both confusing and tragic.

    I pray this post has a very broad hearing!

    Mercy, LORD!

    Mike Waters
    Heritage Reformed Baptist Church

  23. Interestingly, the Reformed theologian John Calvin argues that the offices of apostle, prophet, and evangelist have ceased in his commentary on Ephesians 4:11. But in this Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin affirms that the Lord “now and again revives them as the need of the times demand” (IV, 3.4).

  24. It also seems to be the case that some of Puritans who helped write the Westminster Confession affirmed that God may still speak through special providences, dreams, or even the ministry of angels. Yet they distinguished these as “mediate” forms of revelation in contrast with Scripture which they viewed as “immediate.”

  25. Thank you, Tom. As a former charismatic I heartily affirm the accuracy of your description of charismatics in practice. You’re right on the money.

  26. HI Pastor Max Doner,

    If you have a SCRIPTURE that says that any spiritual gifts have ceased, then cite it, not someone’s sermon. Of course, you don’t and so resort to traditionalism. That’s not being “Reformed”. Sola Scriptura is the sina quo non of being Reformed. Since there is no scripture teaching that any of the gifts will pass away prior to Christ’s return — and the 1 Cor. 13 passage could be legitimately interpreted to mean that “when the perfect comes”, then and not before then, will the gifts cease — since there is no scripture teaching cessationism, it’s a theological opinion that should only be held lightly and suggested meekly. It is not a traditionally Reformed doctrine, as I’ve shown, because it was not held by the Puritans (and I doubt the kind of functionally Deist cessationism was held by any Reformed theologian prior to the 19th century.

  27. HI Tom Chantry,

    I believe I tried to encourage you to retract your article. Let’s survey some of the more striking errors:

    1. Sweeping generalizations. Again, after being repeatedly challenged on the sweeping generalization — and ironically you claim not to like generalizations — you repeat the unsubstantiated accusation, that belief in the charismatic gift leads to a denigration of the ministry of the Word. It’s false and you cannot prove it.

    2. Attack on John Piper while disingenuously denying it.. You claim to be trying to leave John Piper out of this but we all know that he is the head of Desiring God and he is displayed in the illustration at the top of your essay You’ve associated your article with that illustration and you must take responsibility for what you’ve decided to associate with. And admit you’ve attacked John Piper.

    3. Your article purports to take one message by a man I’ve never heard of (Tole Koleoso), who you assume to be representative of charismaticism (without any evidence) and without citing even one objectionable statement by him. Yes, you imply and insinuate a lot. You make accusations. But you do not have even one direct quote (that I saw) that is questionable. You admit that your accusations are based on “subtle tendencies” but you don’t subtly question whether he maybe straying from the fold. You boldly denounce and condemn him and do so without producing a shred of evidence.

    4. Ignorance of Church History. For someone who purports to be defending the Reformed faith, your lack of knowledge about it’s history is striking. First, I don’t know any church historian who believes Puritanism lasted for “centuries” (meaning two or more). Puritanism is defined as the Anglican reform movement that began with discontent of Elizabeth I’s “via media” in the late 16th century. It’s end date is debatable but usually put at about the re-establishment of the monarch (1662) in England. I hold to an unusually long life-span for Puritanism, preferring to date its demise in New England no later than the firing of Jonathan Edwards (175), for which I was questioned at my dissertation defense. But even my late date puts Puritanism at less than 200 years.

    You missed my point altogether about Puritanism, and I suspect on purpose. The Salem witch-craft trials are simply the most widely known and example of the Puritans dealing with claims of the supernatural. Obviously, if they had held to cessationism, they would not have accepted the “spectral evidence”. But that line of reasoning never seems to have entered their thinking. There are other examples of them encountering claims to supernatural visions. For example, Cotton Mather, in Magnalia Christi Americana, recounts how, after the great Puritan missionary John Eliot died, an Indian chief (“sachem”) purported he appeared to him in a dream, telling him to do three things: (1) keep the Sabbath, (2) stop getting drunk, (3) stop “pow-wowing”. The Puritan pastors concluded that the dream could not be from God because — not that such things had passed away — but that Eliot would never just give the law without the gospel! That is, their critique granted that it was possible, in their opinion, for John Eliot to have appeared to the sachem, only that this claim was not authentic because the gospel was not correctly presented in it. Although I’ve not specialized in Puritan ideas on such subjects, in my reading, cessationist ideas never appear in Puritan writings.

    Also, you wrote, “Reformed churches have always been confessional.” Frankly, that is absurd. Puritanism had been in full swing for over half a century before they produced their first major confession — Westminster in 1647-48. It was not embraced universally by Puritans. The congregationalists developed their own Savoy Declaration. And New England Puritans, who generally liked Savoy, were usually fiercely opposed to the imposition of any confession on their churches. I’ve read a great deal of New England Puritanism and do not even remember once them quoting John Calvin, Westminster, Savoy or any other confession. The Puritans were Biblicists, not traditionalists.

    5. Finally, you write of concerns that people can suppress the blessings of the Holy Spirit as if you’e never heard the command, “Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thess. 5:19). Or the positive command, “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18b). Here the Word of God tells us that it is possible, in some circumstances, for us to either “quench” or be filled with the Spirit. If you have a theology that tells you otherwise, I suggest you reform it according to the Word of God.

  28. Umm…John Carpenter – Those are MY sermons that I preached – and they are nothing but the exposition of scripture. No traditionalism in them. Why don’t you listen to them?

  29. I am currently reading Sam Waldron’s, To Be Continued?: Are the Miraculous Gifts for Today?, and I am nearly finished with it. I have found it to be an excellent argument for the cessation of the miraculous gifts, providing excellent critiques of the continuationist perspective. In this book, Waldron presents a cascading argument: No Apostles > No Prophets > No Tongues-Speakers > No Miracle-Workers. Further, Waldron gives a very good explanation to 1 Cor. 13 (one I had not heard before, but made absolute sense with what is actually there in the text). He agrees that “the perfect” does not refer to the completed canon, but to the return of Christ. I won’t give away his explanation of the text here. I’d rather you buy it (for the whole book is important):

  30. John,

    Again, I say, I didn’t write this to be about John Piper, you want it to be so, so I’ll put it in the words you are after. John Piper has for years been the man who has tried to merge openness to charismaticism with Reformed literature and ethos, but he has now retired from the scene, and one must wonder what will come next. His organization lacks confession and has long flirted with charismaticism. The arrival of Pastor Koleoso, whose sermon none of the charismatics here wish to deal with, was – I say – inevitable. If anyone holds the door open for charismatic teaching, this sort of thing will happen. The preaching of the word will be disparaged and rank emotionalism will be put in its place.

    Sir, your reading of church history is an absurdity driven by just that sort of emotionalism. Pressed for examples of Puritan charismatics you’ve come up with the judges at the Salem Witch Trials and with a pagan sachem. Really?

    Perhaps you would be better off to start with the first of three things that I say would happen if any charismatic ever took the Bible seriously. Has it occurred to you that the gifts manifest in the New Testament haven’t occurred in over nineteen hundred years? Does it bother you?

  31. I, for one, was very glad to see this article. I was shocked that the first question asked at the Pastor’s conference at Bethlehem was by a pastor asking how he could introduce the miracle gifts into his church, and I never even heard the sermon, or heard of the pastor. So at that point I went to his website for the church (Jubilee) in London. I listened to all of the testimonies that were on the page. After all, this should be some indication of the depth of the ministry, correct? http://jubileechurchlondon.org/testimonies-page/ Mark’s testimony for example, there was no conviction of sin. He immediately felt an inner peace. There was, to a person, no awareness of innate depravity, certainly nothing of inability. The same language is used as an any modern evangelical. Bowing the head, asking Jesus into the heart. Of the worship? Of course, rock music and a drum set in the back ground. The substance of the sermons? One could judge for themselves. But I wondered, what would David Martyn Lloyd-Jones think of this great new “light” in the London metropolitan area? I have been narrating puritan and reformed works for over 27 years. I recently narrated a couple of sermon from a book called, Sermons and Essays of the Tennents and Their Successors – Archibald Alexander, 1855, and I must say there is an error somewhere. It isn’t close to what we get from many pulpits today. The sermon “The Means of Grace” by John Blair would be seen as preparationism in our day, so easy is it to come to Christ without conviction of sin. Unless revival comes and the Holy Spirit shows us our mistake, I don’t see this getting any better. The old preachers are marginalized, the old hymns are no longer welcome, and we have to write post after post to defend what we used to believe that is now being jettisoned. Thank you Mr. Chantry. I feel like I must get to know you and your church now and pray for you that God will use you. Thomas – Grand Rapids MI

  32. Mr Carpenter: It is interesting to find someone familiar with the Puritans and their works. Very few people even are familiar with Mather’s work The Works of Christ in America, far less would use it to defend your position. Since I have read this work at some length, even narrated portions of it, I find your post entertaining. Have you ever come across this statement by Jonathan Edwards, Thoughts on the Present Revival of Religion, Adoption of Wrong Principles? “One erroneous principle, that which scare any has proved more
    mischievous to the present glorious work of God, is a notion that it is
    God’s manner in these days, to guide his saints, at least some that are more
    eminent, by inspiration, or immediate revelation. They suppose he makes
    known to them what shall come to pass hereafter, or what it is his will that
    they should do, by impressions made upon their minds, either with or
    without texts of Scripture; whereby something is made know to them, that
    is not taught in the Scripture. By such a notion the devil has a great door
    opened for him; and if once this opinion should come to be fully yielded to,
    and established in the church of God, Satan would have opportunity
    thereby to set up himself as the guide and oracle of God’s people, and to
    have his word regarded as their infallible rule, and so to lead them where
    he would, and to introduce what he pleased, and soon to bring the Bible
    into neglect and contempt. — Late experience, in some instances, has
    shown that the tendency of this notion is to cause persons to esteem the
    Bible as in a great measure useless.
    This error will defend and support errors. As long as a person has a notion
    that he is guided by immediate direction from heaven, it makes him
    incorrigible and impregnable in all his misconduct. For what signifies it, for
    poor blind worms of the dust, to go to argue with a man, and endeavour to
    convince him and correct him, that is guided by the immediate counsels and
    commands of the great JEHOVAH? This great work of God has been
    exceedingly hindered by this error; and, till we have quite taken this handle
    out of the devil’s hands, the work of God will never go on without great
    clogs and hindrances. — Satan will always have a vast advantage in his
    hands against it, and as he has improved it hitherto, so he will do still. And
    it is evident, that the devil knows the vast advantage he has by it; that
    makes him exceeding loath to let go his hold” _J E
    I don’t have time to go into certain historical biographical details such as John Flavel being impressed by the Spirit during prayer with urgency to visit his neighbor who was in the act of committing suicide. I have for years thought through these things. But I believe that what Thomas Goodwin talks about in his work, The Return of Prayers, of a gracious pre-instinct to pray much about a thing would not by the puritans be thought of as a work of knowledge or revelation. But that would make this post too long to discuss these things.

  33. [...] Esta es la Razón por la que los Carismáticos Simplemente no son Reformados [...]

  34. I’m still on the fence regarding this topic. I would like to know your opinions on expression in worship (raising hands) and would you guys even throw that in with being charasmatic?

  35. Hi tjchantry,

    You’ve been corrected with the truth of the Word of God and the facts of church history and you remain obstinate in your falsehoods. I charitably assumed with your original article that you were simply ignorant. But that you continue to assert your nonsense in the face of facts and scripture, suggests very serious spiritual problems you need to deal with.

    1. you know very well that “Desiring God” is John Piper’s ministry and that you have his picture at the top of this article. Your denial that your article is an attack on him is dishonest. By the way, Piper has resigned as pastor of BBC, not from the ministry speaking and writing. If you don’t know that, I suggest you are so badly informed that you don’t need to be writing anything.

    2. You don’t seem to understand that when you accuse someone of something, hysterically claiming that he is opposed to the ministry of the Word, you actually have to prove it. Again, you assume Tole Koleoso, to be representative of charismaticism (without any evidence); despite your inflammatory accusations, you fail to cite even one objectionable statement by him. You do not have even one direct quote (that I saw) that is questionable.

    3. Your statement: “Pressed for examples of Puritan charismatics you’ve come up with the judges at the Salem Witch Trials and with a pagan sachem” shows either you didn’t really read my statement or that you are lying. Please review what I wrote and apologize for your mischaracterization of it. After reading it, you should note that I clearly cited Cotton Mather’s “Magnalia Christi Americana”, and his account of how the Puritan pastors dealt with purported claims of dreams and visions, not by claiming they couldn’t occur but by evaluating their contents according to the gospel. That being the case, why did you intentionally misrepresent what I recounted to you?

    4. Then you claim: “your reading of church history is an absurdity”. This kind of unproven, inflammatory, unChristian rhetoric is what is so objectionable about your original article and here is particularly egregious because it is simply false. Please explain how my simple notation of the fact that the Puritans did not devise a confession until 1647-48 is “an absurdity”. Explain how a movement you claim has always been confessional didn’t develop it’s first confession until nearly three-quarters of a century after it began? Explain how you are so completely ignorant of New England Puritanism that you don’t know about their opposition to confessionalism?

    5. Since you have taught what is opposed to explicit passages of scripture, namely “Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thess. 5:19) and “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18b), we have no evidence that you have begun to take the Bible seriously. I’ve read a great deal of the Puritans and I’ve yet to see them quote Westminster, Calvin or any other human source as their authority. They deal with the Bible. You, on the other hand, make claims about what the Bible says without citations or exegesis and instead cite tradition.

    6. Finally, you wrote: “the gifts manifest in the New Testament haven’t occurred in over nineteen hundred years”. I dealt with this in my first response, which apparently you didn’t take seriously either. Augustine made a similar claim but then did some research. You obviously haven’t done much research. Has it occurred to you that you apparently know very little about church history? Does that bother you?

  36. Max Donner,

    I’m not interested in your opinion. I’m interested in the Word of God. If you have a scripture to prove cessationism, you would cite it. You didn’t because you can’t. There is not one verse that says any such thing.

  37. John:

    A Scripture passage which proves continuationism, please.

  38. Hi Thomas Sullivan,

    Yes, I’ve seen that quote by Edwards before although, obviously not in the writings of Cotton Mather, who died c. 1728, about the time Edwards was beginning his ministry at Southampton. Thanks for the information about Flavel. I find that typical of the spirituality of the Puritans. The fact is that the Puritans did not discount the possibility of dreams and visions, etc., as “Magnalia Christi Americana” illustrates.

    As for Edwards, I find his opinion on this to out of the mainstream of Puritanism and keep in mind that he defended physical manifestations of the Spirit (e.g. shaking, etc), not simply dismissing them as emotionalism (though not blindly accepting them either.) Likely the Puritans would not at all be comfortable with the traditionalism and bare intellectualism of those today who claim to be their standard-bearers. And likely those today who claim that to be “Reformed” is to be “confessional”, would regard Puritans much as this article regards those illustrated at the top.

  39. Hi Jules,

    First, since it is cessationists who are claiming that God’s works differently now than He did in Biblical times, the burden of proof is on them to show that. That is, they must present positive Biblical statements which show that God is going to do things differently than He did in the early church, or even earlier in the OT. There is no such statement.

    Second, 1 Corinthians 13:10, “when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” The Bible actually tells us when the supernatural spiritual gifts will pass away: when Christ returns. No where does it say before then.

    Third, cessationism is self-contradictory: it purports to defend the sufficiency of scripture but does so by using an argument never found in scripture. That is, if one believes in the suffiency of scripture, one will never teach cessationsim.

  40. John or Max (or whomever),

    Yesterday @ 8pm you’ll please note that I wrote: “If continuationism is true, then sola scriptura is a false, man-made tradition. We cannot have both a closed canon and an open ended one. Something’s gotta give.”

    Either words of knowledge are coming in today (1 Cor. 12:8b) or they are not (1 Cor. 13:8d) Can we have conflicting standards? Rome, the East, and Charismatics say, “Yes!” with the result being that new “revelation” ends up trumping the word of God written.

    It’s either the Bible alone, or visions/ words/ impressions that folks claim are “from God.”

    P.S. To John Carpenter: You wrote eloquently and at length, above:

    I believe I tried to encourage you to retract your article. Let’s survey some of the more striking errors:
    1. Sweeping generalizations…
    2. Attack on John Piper while disingenuously denying it…
    3. Your article purports to take one message by a man I’ve never heard of (Tole Koleoso)…
    [is it not "Tope"?]
    4. Ignorance of Church History…You missed my point altogether about Puritanism…
    Also, you wrote, “Reformed churches have always been confessional.” Frankly, that is absurd…

    Before you actually get to citing some Scripture:
    5. Finally, you write of concerns that people can suppress the blessings of the Holy Spirit as if you’e never heard the command, “Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thess. 5:19). Or the positive command, “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18b). Here the Word of God tells us that it is possible, in some circumstances, for us to either “quench” or be filled with the Spirit. If you have a theology that tells you otherwise, I suggest you reform it according to the Word of God.

    These hardly prove either your points above, or continuationism. Apart from showing us that some Puritans believed in such, and that you definitely do not like Chantry’s article, what is your point, biblically? Are you arguing that the canon is not closed, sir?

  41. For all your verbosity, Mr. Carpenter, you have yet to make a cogent, Biblical argument.

  42. As for the Puritans, pardon my yawning, but they had feet of clay as you or I or the vaunted “church fathers” beloved by Roman and Eastern clerics.

    No one has all truth, except as he is holding fast to the Head, which is Christ.

    We generally (& rightly) hold the Puritans in high esteem as they more often than not well exegeted Holy Writ, but merely citing them as authortities -sans quotes- is useless and vain.

    It appears no better than the early church idolatry of our Romish and Ortho’x pals. Funny how you, John & Max, who blast Reformed confessional cessationists as blind traditionalists cannot see the log in your eyes with regard to the opinions of some continuationistic PURITANS.

  43. PASTOR MAX DONER –
    My sincere apologies for misreading your position above! Please forgive me & excuse the comments lumping you in with Mr Carpenter. Thank you.
    Yours in Christ,
    L’Hughuenot
    hughmc5 – hotmail – com

  44. [...] Chantry, a Particular Baptist friend, has replied to this specific video. This topic was covered on the HB in 2008 in response to an essay by Calvin [...]

  45. Hi Hughuenot,

    Your assumption that “If continuationism is true, then sola scriptura is a false” is false. It’s faulty reasoning and not Biblical.

    You are assuming that “words of knowledge,” prophesying (if different from preaching), etc, is meant to add new revelation to the canon. That assumption is false. No where in the NT, when such things were widespread (especially in Corinth), are the sayings added to scripture. There is not one letter, or substantial teaching added to the canon through these means. I’d suggest you read Wayne Grudem on the subject.

    Further, the Bible itself models for us the use of such gifts with scripture still being pre-eminent. 1 Cor. 12-14 show that such gifts were in use, they were not adding to scripture, and yet still Paul could teach and assume the sufficiency of scripture (e.g. 2 Tim. 3:16ff).

    Finally, cessationism is self-contradictory: it purports to defend the sufficiency of scripture but does so by using an argument never found in scripture. How can someone claim to believe in Sola Scriptura and then teach a doctrine not taught there? So the truth is the opposite of what you assume: it’s either the Bible alone (and we never teach cessationism) or Scripture plus our traditionalism/confessionalism/intellectualism.

  46. Thanks, John.

    But how can the canon be both closed and open? Or does “scripture still being pre-eminent,” mean that it is not technically closed?

    If people are getting words from God, how can these not be canonical (or at least “canonizable”)? Or are we to believe Grudem that God kind of speaks sort of infallibly sometimes today?

    If you and he believe that fresh revelations from the Spirit are merely Him speaking to individuals (and hence these words are not meant to be included in the Bible), how do you know this?

    Would a word from above ever be meant for more than the recipient? Pastors Piper and Koleoso believe so. Don’t all charismatic pastors/ teachers believe so? If not, then these fresh revelations would be rather incidental and unimportant to the chruch at large – only pertinent to and for the one receiving them.

    Could it be that when Paul wrote 2 Timothy (or when Peter penned, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” 2:1:3), he (they) understood that the canon was about to be closed for all time, and the era of I Cor. 13:8 ushered in?

    You avoided my point about continuationism and the close of the canon. I’ll answer your question as soon as you answer mine. I leave one more:

    If the Scriptures are not only sufficient for all Christians, but also the ONLY INFALLIBLE AUTHORITY to the church, then who cares what God says to Grudem or Piper or you?

  47. Interestingly, Wayne Grudem introduces his systematic theology with the following presupposition: “that the Bible is true and that it is, in fact, our only absolute standard of truth.”

  48. John,

    …the Puritans… are obviously Reformed and they do not hold to the opinions of cessationism that the author of this article has assume.

    Therefore, they prove that the bald assertion of this article that one cannot be both “Reformed” and “charismatic” is unfounded, as is the author’s absurd assertion that Reformed churches have always been confessional.

    OK, then if the continuationism of the Puritans referenced is orthodox & reformed,

    [1] was their triumphalistic eschatology orthodox?

    [2] was their inclusion of infants in the covenant orthodox?

    [3] was their often theonomic leanings orthodox?

    And, [4] are cessationists NOT “reformed”?

  49. R. DeG.,

    Given your quote of him, does Dr Grudem also say that prophecies or words of knowledge today CANNOT be true and CANNOT BE our only absolute standard of truth?

    We maintain -contra Grudem, et al.- that the Bible ALONE is true and that it is, in fact, our only absolute standard of truth.

    Thank you.

  50. Hey Hugh,

    I believe Grudem would say that prophecies or words of knowledge today MIGHT be true but SHOULD NOT be our only absolute standard of truth–since only Scripture can occupy the place of “absolute standard of truth.” Better, let me cite him:

    “The sufficiency of Scripture shows us that *no modern revelations from God may be placed on a level equal to Scripture in authority*” (emphasis his; ST, 132).

    Hope this helps.

  51. Not to make the world safe for non-cessationism at all, but there is a bit of irony in one casting those as un-Reformed who has himself married up the term with what the Reformed confess as a sacramentology that is a “detestable error.” Glass houses, pot and kettles and all that.

  52. Thanks for that helpful clarification, R.DeG.

    We say that the sufficiency of Scripture shows us that no “modern revelations” may be admitted. The Bible ALONE is true, and in fact, God’s word to us today.

    Again, as I said above to John C.: If the Scriptures are not only sufficient for all Christians, but also the ONLY INFALLIBLE AUTHORITY to the church, then who cares what God says to Grudem or Piper or you?

    Or better, Who CARES what Grudem or Piper or you SAY God says to Grudem or Piper or you?!

  53. I’m done talking. Let’s hear God, shall we?

    And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

    ~ Isaiah 8:19f ~

  54. Hugh,

    Following your reasoning above, what would you say about preaching? Don’t Reformed theologians assert that the preaching of God’s Word is God’s Word (praedicatio verbi divini est verbum divinum)? If the “Bible ALONE is true,” does it follow that all preaching is false?

    On a more practical level, would it be appropriate for me to say to my pastor, “The Scriptures are not only sufficient for [me] but also the ONLY INFALLIBLE AUTHORITY to the church,” therefore I don’t care what you have to say to me?

    I thought the traditional Reformed view of sola Scriptura or the supremacy of Scripture is that the Bible is the ULTIMATE authority but not necessarily the ONLY authority (e.g.s., parental authority, ecclesiastical authority, civil authority).

    Respectfully

  55. Maybe next you should write a post on how Reformed Baptist is an oxymoron. Ohhhh the irony…

  56. Hugh,

    I think Zrim’s point is that classic Reformed theology has been paedobaptist. Hence, he finds it ironic that a non-paedobaptist like Mr. Chantry would complain about charismatics “highjacking” the term when in fact it appears to him that “Reformed Baptists” have done the same.

  57. D.,

    Yes, the Bible is the ultimate and sufficient as well as the only infallible authority to the church & Christian family. These are subordinate authorities.

    Now, who cares what you or Grudem or Piper say that God says to you or Grudem or Piper, if that revelation is by Grudem’s admission necessarily fallible?!

    And, if your pastor doesn’t rightly exegete the Word, then Isaiah 8:19f applies. Such as, if he give you his heart’s dreams, his head’s visions, etc.*

    Thank you.

    * From God again, per Jer. 23:25ff ~ “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart, who try to make My people forget My name by their dreams which everyone tells his neighbor, as their fathers forgot My name for Baal.

    “The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?” says the Lord. “Is not My word like a fire?” says the Lord, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

    “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the Lord, “who steal My words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets,” says the Lord, “who use their tongues and say, ‘He says.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” says the Lord, “and tell them, and cause My people to err by their lies and by their recklessness. Yet I did not send them or command them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all,” says the Lord. {NKJV}

  58. Thanks, rb & R.DeG. Zrim is too clever!

    Of course, if “Reformed” means paedobaptist, then Baptists CAN’T be “Reformed.”*

    And if “The Puritan Hope” is a sine qua non of “Reformed,” then Amills and Premills are not “Reformed.”

    And if (as many argue), Theonomy is consistent reformed theology, then non-theoomists are not “Reformed.”

    To the Solemn League and Covenant, onward! SWRB rules! ;(

    * That’s not to say they cannot be reformed, it just means they are not in the “Reformed” camp if the latter by definition means babies in the cov’t.

    BTW: Some Calvinistic Baptists cannot call themselves “Reformed,” since they -like Presbyterians, Reformed, etc.- equate the term with paedobaptism.

  59. Then again, I suppose the case could be made that “Reformed Baptist” is not an oxymoron or contradiction in terms, but actually, a redundancy, since they hold that baby baptizers didn’t really reform!

    Guess it boils down not only to definitions, but who’s defining what!

  60. A few thoughts and clarifications, and I shall be done. Mr. Carpenter, I’ve obviously touched a nerve with you, and you are not going to be satisfied, but Pastor Koleoso’s sermon happened, it happened at Desiring God, and it was atrocious. Somehow you have to deal with that.

    For the record, I hold Pastor Piper among those who do take the Word of God seriously and try to preach it seriously. But he is one who has attempted to hold two systems – that of divine sovereignty and that of continuing charismata – simultaneously. That those systems are mutually exclusive was the point of my post, and this discussion has, I think, demonstrated that fact. Pastor Piper held the door open, and Pastor Koleoso was, I argue, inevitable. That is why a dose of Reformed and a dose of charismatic do not add up to Reformed at all, but to something altogether different.

    Thus Pastor Piper’s connection to this. I do not hold him responsible for all the evils of the charismatic movement. For the record, I do not control the graphics on this site. But the inclusion of his picture was warranted, because he is one of the main voices arguing that Reformed theology and charismatic expression can coexist. Has he or has anyone in Desiring God repudiated Pastor Koleoso’s remarks? You see, this sort of inevitable occurrence merely demonstrates why the two systems cannot long co-exist.

    Mr. Carpenter, I leave the floor to you as long as the moderators of this site see fit to let you post. I think you have demonstrated my fundamental point more powerfully than I ever could have done.

  61. John Carpenter, you said:

    “I’m not interested in your opinion. I’m interested in the Word of God. If you have a scripture to prove cessationism, you would cite it. You didn’t because you can’t. There is not one verse that says any such thing.”

    You really lack integrity here. What you are asking for is a proof text. Proof texting is the sign of someone who is clueless about how systematic theology is formulated. For example, there is no proof text for the doctrine of the Trinity – and yet, by good and necessary inference from the collation of what a number of passages say, the doctrine is arrived at and established.

    The Christian church throughout history has always used this method to arrive at the truth of what the Bible teaches. For you to reject it and demand a proof text that explicitly says the words : “revelatory spiritual gifts will cease at the end of the 1st century” or something similar is theologically childish.

    Do I have such a scripture that proves cessationism? No. Neither do I have one that teaches Trinitarianism. Both are built on the exegesis and exposition of scripture. And if you reject that as a method to arrive at biblical theology, then nobody is going to take you seriously.

    My messages are an exposition of your pet passage in 1Cor 13:10 in its context, and the relevant passages and supporting and related passages to the whole issue of cessationism in the rest of the Bible. That is “the word of God” that you demand for proof of cessationism – not my opinion of it.

    It is not by proof texting, but by the accurate exposition of the scriptures, that theological truth is arrived at. If my exposition of scripture is inaccurate, address that. But if it is not, then what you have in it is the teaching of the “Word of God”, which you demand for proof from of those who reject your position. The proof of the “Word of God” has been provided. Deal with it.

    And to Huguenot – Apology accepted. No problem. It was an understandable mistake. I make them too. Carry on!

  62. Pastor Chantry,

    First I want to say that I agree with your analysis of the charismatic Calvinist movement. Well said. I have one question for you though. Because Presbyterians and other paedobaptist churches can say the same about us Baptist not being Reformed, were do we draw the line in what it is that’s most important to us? In other words is our aim to be Biblical or Reformed? I know some people will say “well to be Reformed is to be Biblical.” But some have the understanding (and rightly so) that to be Reformed is to also be paedobaptist. I call myself a Reformed Baptist, and I believe the 1689 is the most faithful summary of what the Bible teaches, but at the end of the day I just want to be Biblical. Your thoughts?

  63. John wrote: As for Edwards, I find his opinion on this to out of the mainstream of Puritanism
    (could you site your sources? It certainly isn’t any standard work on Pneumatology that I have seen.) You will look in vain to defend such a statement from John Owen, 3,4 or volumes 16. It isn’t in Thomas Goodwin’s work on the Holy Spirit Volume 6. Since it was almost completely the work of Presbyterian Puritans that wrote the Westminster Confession, it is unfortunate that they chose language like this, if they were non-cessationists… The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

    You said of Edwards’ ”
    and keep in mind that he defended physical manifestations of the Spirit (e.g. shaking, etc), not simply dismissing them as emotionalism ” He didn’t defend them, he said that such manifestations neither prove nor disprove that a work is of the Spirit of God. He said that when someone is under a great fear of hell, it may manifest itself in violence to the animal spirits, and such things are not to be wondered at. It is interesting, and I have studied works on Revivals for years, that the difference is that the Holy Spirit coming on a congregation leaves people horribly afraid, this is unlike so called movements of the Spirit in our day. I also know that Edwards’ views matured considerably between 1732 and 1746 when he penned his treatise on the Religious Affections. To prove this point, just peruse through Charles Hodge’s “Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church” the 100 pages on “The Great Revival.” I don’t know any work that analyzes the maturity or
    of Edwards’ thought like Hodge’s work. RE:Likely the Puritans would not at all be comfortable with the traditionalism and bare intellectualism of those today who claim to be their standard-bearers.
    Bare intellectualism? How are you defining this term? Do you have puritan quotes that prove your point that the Puritans depended on a word of knowledge?

    I have also perused the standard systematic theologies on this subject, and I don’t know any of them that defend non-cessationism. It isn’t in Dabney, Hodge, Thornwell, A. H. Strong, or William Shedd. It isn’t in John Murray’s writings. It isn’t in any reformed works on the gifts of the Spirit that I have seen. It isn’t in C.R. Vaughn, I can’t find such and idea in B.B. Warfield. I see a chapter on dreams in Archilbald Alexander’s Thoughts on Religious Experience, but I have narrated that work three times, read it at least 20 and can’t see an argument for non-cessationism. It isn’t in any standard work on Revival. Not William Sprague, not John Gillies, not other works that I have narrated in the last 27 years. I just can’t find what you say so many of these men affirmed. I have narrated some of these puritans. Flavel,Manton,Charnock,Baxter,Hooker,Shepard,Owen,Goodwin,Sibbes, and many others. I can’t find them teaching such a doctrine. What am I missing?

  64. Those debating what the Puritans believed vis-a-vis the revelatory gifts may be interested in Garnet H. Milne’s monograph The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Cessation of Special Revelation: The Majority Puritan Viewpoint on Whether Extra-Biblical Prophecy is Still Possible (Wipf & Stock, 2007). He summarizes his findings as follows:

    “The Westminster divines intended the cessationist clause to affirm that there was to be no more extra-biblical, ‘immediate’ revelation for any purpose now that the church possessed the completed Scriptures…. At the same time the divines did not intend to deny that God could still speak through special providences that might involve dreams or the ministry of angels, for example, but such revelation was always to be considered ‘mediate.’ The primary means was held to be the written Scriptures, illuminated by the Holy Spirit. The unity of the Word and Spirit was maintained, and God’s freedom to address individual circumstances remained intact” (xvi-xvii).

    See also Dean R. Smith, “The Scottish Presbyterians and Covenanters: A Continuationist Experience in a Cessationist Theology,” Westminster Theological Journal 63 (Spring 2001), 39-63.

  65. Thank you Mr. DeGibraltar. Excellent comment. I wrote this last week on Sermon Audio not knowing we would have this discussion, “There is a phrase that Owen uses that may give us some concern if not understood correctly. (Mortification of Sin Chapter 13)He speaks of not speaking peace to ourselves until God speaks peace to us. This would argue that the saint was walking very close to God indeed. But how to deal with this idea without supposing you are getting some special revelation or word of knowledge. I have read this in puritan writings for years and there is a parallel statement that sheds light on it in Thomas Goodwin’s book, the Return of Prayers, page 31 if you are looking at the edition at books.google.com. “There is an enlargement of the affections, and a lingering and longing and restlessness of spirit to be alone and to power out the soul to God… And this is speaking to the heart, and observe such times when God does thus, and neglect them not, then to strike while the iron is hot etc.” More can be said, but my note must be short.
    There is a phrase about Boston’s receiving his texts that he was to preach on by such an impulse, but I don’t think he, nor Spurgeon – who relied on the same, called it a word of knowledge.

  66. Mr Sullivan,

    Wow! Thank you for this tidbit. In reading your post and DeGibraltar’s directly beneath it, I am prompted to wonder aloud whether any of the Puritans whom the continuationists want to reference ever HAD ecstatic, fresh revelatory experiences.

    Many cessationists are tentative; no one wants to deny the sovereign Lord of the universe his rights to do as he pleases in heaven and on earth, but to say God COULD do such-and-such is a step removed (different in degree, not in kind, I understand) from the position that God most SURELY does still speak fresh words/ prophecies today.

    Which is a step removed from saying “I’ve had charismatic experiences” (revelation, particularly).

    Or am I off the mark here?

  67. “As his sermon progressed, Pastor Koleoso seemed increasingly antagonistic toward the ministry of the Word, and at the same time he drove his listeners toward an emotion-centered view of worship.”

    I have to admit, this was one of the most shocking elements in Pastor Koleoso’s talk. As you mentioned, this indeed is in the regular practice of charismatics (I grew up in a Pentecostal denom), although rarely voiced and perhaps never written. But here, I couldn’t believe the outright, unapologetic disdain for the centrality of preaching of the Word. This was so evident in phrases he used such as ‘your jolly sermon’, spoken in a sarcastic manner that cut deep.

    Thank you for your thoughtful response, your points on confessionalism are something for me to ponder.

  68. So, some are arguing for a “word of knowledge” that might be true or might be a lie. Yet it is uttered in the church as a Word from God. The only way we can know if this “word of knowledge” is true — is from the Word of God (something the Corinthians did not have full access to, btw) — yet still in our day this supposed “word of knowledge” can not be found in the Scripture and has no Scriptural basis. And if it can be found in the Scripture, it is not a “word of knowledge” at all, but simply a restatement of what God’s Word already says.

    For my part, I’ll be content with God’s Word. It seems like there is more than enough there to learn and study for a thousand lifetimes. I am not going to worry too much about whether the dude who sees the 900 foot Jesus is speaking the truth, is trying to enrich himself, or simply ate some bad pizza. This extraordinarily large Jesus has been seen by a few — even by a little boy who “died” and went to heaven and came back so his dad could write a best selling book about it!

    BTW — many of the Corinthians problems were caused by those “Super-Apostles” who knew just a little bit more of the inside scoop than the Apostle Paul — see 2 Corinthians chapters 9-12.

  69. Thank you, Steve Marquedant, for closing the case.

  70. [...] Chantry, a Particular Baptist friend, has replied to this specific video. This topic was covered on the HB in 2008 in response to an essay by [...]

  71. After listening to the sermon, completely agree with the post. Why can’t ‘charismatics’ see that their emphasis is on experience? Tope made a lot of generalizations and seems to mock expository preaching. It’s like he is saying, what I am doing is the right way and everything else is wrong. He gives us a dilemma, either have an experience of the Spirit according to a charismatic perspective or it’s wrong.

  72. [...] This is Why Charismatics Are Simply Not Reformed By Tom Chantry [...]

  73. Sir, I think you need to examine your heart with Ephesians 4:32. “I am a cessationist, therefore I am a better Christian” is pretty much all I got from this article. You are being dogmatic about an open-handed issue and this is really nothing but a bashing toward anyone who believes differently. I’m a continuationalist and I believe I have good scriptural reasons for it, just as you believe you have good scriptural reasons for being a cessationist. But Scripture is not 100% clear on this issue and to say otherwise is arrogant.

    What if a Presbyterian author wrote an article arguing that only padeobaptists are reformed? Well guess what, that’s what they believe. We won’t all agree on these open-handed issues, that’s why they’re open-handed. But being legalistic about your viewpoint does nobody any good. I know from experience. So let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding, Rom. 14:19.

  74. Wow! 75 comments, including this one! Tom, it takes a lot to take a stand on this kind of thing. I commend you for your biblical convictions. I decided not to comment until the traffic died down, and it is not my intention at all to start it up again. I cannot, however, sit still and write nothing. Throughout scripture, unity is magnified among the brethren. I have seen nothing but disunity, division, and an argumentative spirit produced when people insist that the spectacular gifts are still legitimate in the Church today. There is also an air of (false) superiority as well, along with arrogance. This is by no means whatsoever edifying to the body of Christ! It does not build up; it tears down. ” Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:10-11, NKJV). Anyone reading this who wants to argue with what I am posting is notified that I will not spend my time answering you. There are too many constructive things to do for God’s glory.

  75. Good word, Tom.

    I don’t know you, but your words also should remind us cessationists to be humble receivers of God’s complete revelation (Heb. 1:2, etc.) as well as gracious, winsome disseminators of his glorious truths! This was convicting:

    I have seen nothing but disunity, division, and an argumentative spirit produced when people insist that the spectacular gifts are still legitimate in the Church today. There is also an air of (false) superiority as well, along with arrogance.

  76. Thank you, Hughenot. You are right. There are cessationists, as well, who should take heed that they not become puffed up with pride. By the way, we don’t know each other yet, but we will when our pilgrimage ends, if not before then. God bless you!

  77. Amen, Tom. Thanks.

    This from Spurgeon (elsewhere at this blog) was great:

    There is enough in the Bible for thee to live upon for ever!!!

    We sovereign grace cessationists should be of all men most joyous and grace-full.

  78. Nate,

    I’m sorry you didn’t read my article, and even more sorry that you decided to comment on it after not reading it, since “all you got out of it” was something I did not say.

    My point was that there is an organic connection between the doctrine of divine sovereignty and that of cessationism. Any thoughts on that?

    Alternatively, did you listen to Tope Koleoso’s sermon? Did you approve? Because if anyone in this debate has been guilty of “being legalistic about his viewpoint,” I think you’ll find it at about the midpoint of that sermon.

  79. I’m sorry you didn’t read my article, and even more sorry that you decided to comment on it after not reading it, since “all you got out of it” was something I did not say.

    Hilarious! Thanks, Tom, for a Friday smile after a long week of work! :)

  80. Nate, Hope you didn’t go away. Some things I appreciated were

    I’m a continuationalist and I believe I have good scriptural reasons for it, just as you believe you have good scriptural reasons for being a cessationist. But Scripture is not 100% clear on this issue and to say otherwise is arrogant.

    Well, if you’re not saying your “good scriptural reasons for being a cessationist” lead you to 100% clarity, fine. But maybe Tom’s right. Just because you’re unsure about both positions doesn’t mean Tom is wrong.

    And his points about watching the video and reading his article are good!

    What if a Presbyterian author wrote an article arguing that only padeobaptists are reformed? Well guess what, that’s what they believe.

    Yes, they do… too frequently. They have a different hermeneutic. So?

    We won’t all agree on these open-handed issues, that’s why they’re open-handed.

    So, can we state our position emphatically and charitably without equivocation? MAY we?

    But being legalistic about your viewpoint does nobody any good. I know from experience.

    I think you might mean dogmatic, not legalistic? But thanks for the confession. I hope you’re not a legalist now!

    So let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding, Rom. 14:19.

    EVER! That’s my point in my posts about Lassiter44’s post. Iron sharpens iron, produce your reasons, and all that. Can’t we argue as brothers?

  81. I’m having a hard time understanding why a commitment to God’s sovereignty necessarily restricts the means of grace to the preached word and sacraments. Don’t all Reformed theologians affirm that God spoke through oral prophecy during the OT and NT era alongside Scripture? Isn’t God just as sovereign before the canon is closed as after the canon is closed?

    My point isn’t to argue for continuationism. Just trying to understand the “organic connection” between divine sovereignty and cessationism.

  82. Dear R.,

    Is that Tom’s contention? Maybe it’s sorta chiastic:

    A God is sovereign;
    B he has ordained means of grace for salvation,
    C a most pertinent one being the hearing the word of God.
    C` Tope* denigrates preaching the Bible,
    B` that means of grace which God uses to regenerate & save;
    A` this thus implies a low view of the sovereignty of God.

    * Indicative of Charismatics in general?
    ————————————————

    Tom said:

    “…Paul saw gospel preaching as an indispensable part of God’s plan for the redemption of sinners. Where there is no preaching, there is no knowledge, no faith, no prayer, and no forgiveness. This has nothing to do with the power of preachers and everything to do with God’s sovereign will.

    “Reformed Christians have therefore consistently affirmed the importance of the preached Word. As our own Confession puts it, following Westminster,

    The Grace of Faith, whereby the Elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the Ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, Prayer and other Means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. (Second London Confession, xiv:1)

    “This conviction is a necessary consequence of any consistent adherence to the principle of sovereignty. If God is truly sovereign over all gracious work in the soul, then He must control the means by which that work progresses, and further, those means will be the ones identified in His Word.

    “In contrast to the Reformed consensus on the means of grace, charismaticism has always and inevitably engaged in the belittlement of the ministry of the Word. What has been observed in charismatic churches for decades continues to hold true; no matter what is said of the importance of preaching, the real moment of communion with God comes when there is a prophetic utterance – no matter how banal. Wherever the church adopts charismatic doctrine, emotions must increase and thoughts decrease.”

    And, given the inclusion of charismatics @ Desiring God, “sooner or later the charismatic disparagement of the means of grace will charge through, and without the doctrine of means, sovereign grace is rendered unintelligible.”

  83. RDG,

    Hughenot did indeed get to the crux of the matter. If God is sovereign, then the means of grace are what He says they are, and He says that preaching is the primary means.

    I think, though, that the other critical piece to understand is that a lack of seriousness about the Bible is a precondition for charismatic convictions. Again consider the three things which would happen if the charismatic took the Bible seriously.

    So there are two forces at work. One is that an understanding of sovereignty drives one to a seriousness about preaching; the other is that a determination to believe in current charismatic gifts drives one toward the disparagement of preaching. Obviously the second of these would not have held true when actual, biblical charismatic gifts were being exercised.

  84. Regarding Paedobaptists and the definition of “Reformed” I would say two things. First, not all Paedobaptists define Baptists out of being Reformed, only some. Secondly, those who define us out of being Reformed fall into two categories: those who know us and those who don’t. Those who know us (and by “us” I mean Particular Baptists of consistent 1689 convictions) know that we aren’t much like evangelicals, and they don’t really know what to do with us. The others are often caught in the net of their own ignorance.

    But this much is true: they have an actual reason why they think that the doctrine of divine sovereignty necessitates paedobaptism. Reformed Baptists understand that reason and engage it often, countering that the doctrine of divine sovereignty actually points in another direction. In other words, we agree that theology is a comprehensive whole, and are able to discuss what the fuller implications of Reformed thought really are. That is an intelligent way to carry on a discussion.

    When, however, we argue that divine sovereignty precludes charismaticism, the charismatics respond that we are mean and their feelings are hurt. Few engage the reasoning, and when a charismatic tries to argue that divine sovereignty is consistent with his charismaticism, we get banal sermons at Desiring God.

    Truly, the two conversations are not all that analogous.

  85. Hughuenot, the chiasm is clever but not convincing.

    First, it fails to establish an “organic connection” between God’s sovereignty and the doctrine of cessationism. Cessationism, if true, is a historical-redemptive state of affairs that has not been true in every epoch. God’s sovereignty, however, is not limited to a historical-redemptive state of affairs. It’s a transcendent truth that applies at all times, in all places, and in all circumstances.

    Second, I don’t agree with you that every continuationist “denigrates the preaching of the Bible”–especially men like John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and C J Mahaney (who are pictured in this article). Quite the opposite it true. Indeed, all the NT texts that support the primacy of preaching were written during a time in which NT prophecy and tongues had not yet ceased. So it would have been possible in Paul’s day to affirm the primacy of preaching the Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-4:2) while simultaneously allowing for occasional NT prophecy and tongues (1 Cor 14). For this reason, Grudem goes to great lengths to argue that NT prophecy today must be subordinate to (1) the Scriptures and (2) ecclesiastical authority (i.e., the elders). One may not agree with Grudem’s position, but one should represent it fairly.

    Third, men like Piper, Grudem, and Mahaney affirm unqualifiedly God’s absolute sovereignty. I have several of the books from which I could cite, and I have heard them preach. To insinuate that their view of the gifts of necessity denies or undermines a belief in God’s sovereignty is a non sequitur and, therefore, a misrepresentation.

    Fourth, what they don’t affirm is that God through the Bible has indicated that the revelatory gifts (i.e., NT prophecy and tongues) have ceased. Cessationists, on the other hand, believe the biblical data supports the notion that the NT revelatory gifts have ceased. This is the real point of debate. According to Mr Chantry, the continuationist “would find that the Bible expressly speaks of the end of charismatic gifts” if he took the Bible seriously. But according to the continuationists like Piper, Grudem, and Mahaney, we would discover–if we took our Bible seriously–that Scriptures do not expressly speak of the end of charismatic gifts.”

    Fifth, arguing against a position by choosing a weak or poor representative of that position is generally not accepted as good scholarship. I wouldn’t view Tope Koleoso’s sermon at the Desiring God conference as the most carefully nuanced and articulated representation of the Reformed continuationist position. His reasoning was faulty at several points. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that all Reformed continuationists would affirm everything Tope said anymore than it follows all Reformed Baptists would affirm every belief and practice of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas (i.e., Godhatesfags.com) simply because we share the same Confession of Faith.

    Sixth, the meaning of words or terms is determined by usage and may change over time. Today, the term “Reformed” is more inclusive than it was in the 16th or 17th century. This is evidenced in the fact that Baptists now call themselves “Reformed” even through they reject aspects of classical Reformed theology and practice. Arguing that continuationists who affirm the solas of the Reformation and who are Calvinistic in their soteriology cannot describe themselves as “Reformed” (even through they usually add the qualifier “continuationist” or “charismatic”) is a bit disingenuous when the ones who are making the argument insist that they may use the term even though their usage doesn’t conform to the more classical 16th and 17th century usage (which was predominately paedobaptist).

    In summary, then, the real debate between Reformed continuationists and Reformed cessationists does not hinge on a view of God’s sovereignty or the primacy of preaching. Whether the Bible “expressly,” i.e., explicitly, teaches the cessationist position is another question which Mr. Chantry only asserted but did not prove. At best, then, Mr Chantry’s article alerts us to possible abuses of a doctrine or potential weaknesses of a position. As such, it functions as a kind of “slippery slope” argument. But such arguments are technically fallacious. They still may be useful as caution signs. But they should not be classified as a cogent argument against a doctrine or position.

  86. R.,

    You’re tearin’ this up! Well done.

    Busy and stupid, it’ll take me time to process your points. But honestly think about your post and attempt to respond, I will.

    Hopefully, the wiser among us here (that’d be everybody) may try to give you an answer before I can.

    Great points, BTW.

  87. Hughuenot,

    You may call me Ricardo.

    I appreciate your willingness to consider my points. Let me quickly add that I’m not affirming the continuationist position. But I have respect for men like Piper, Grudem, and Mahaney–even if I don’t always agree with them. Moreover, I have some personal friends and brothers in Christ who hold to a continuationist or open-but-cautious position with respect to NT prophecy and tongues.

    My concern is that we treat these brothers and their position as we would want them to treat us and our position. A cessationist argument that’s not only cogent but also that’s fair, humble, and charitable toward the opposing position is the most persuasive.

  88. On paedos questioning the term “Reformed Baptist,” see the rankled Presbyterian:
    http://thechristiancurmudgeonmo.blogspot.com/2012/06/contradiction-in-terms-anthony-bradley.html

    Rich Barcellos & Tom Chantry reply there (but Tom has to eject, given the curmudgeon’s curmudgeonliness).

    Tom’s first post begins, “This is a thoroughly unsatisfactory summary of the issues between Reformed Baptists and their Reformed brethren…”) I have yet to read the whole blog, or to get to Rich B.’s post, but I look forward to the whole enchilada!

    { FWIW: I think I get you, Tom, but laden with my recovering-Presby baggage, I prefer being a “Calvinistic Baptist,” or some such. }

  89. Reading all this with great interest. A friend of ours was almost hood winked into an online relationship with a young man on a sovereign grace singles website who read all the same Reformed books and liked all the same Reformed ministers, but who later in the relationship revealed he was a Reformed Charismatic. He gave her quotes from John Piper and D.M. Lloyd-Jones (of all people) to prove his point that these Reformed ministers believed in charismaticism. It is alarming to me that this error is apparently spreading. May the Lord give His minister’s grace and courage to earnestly contend for the true faith and not let these things slip (Jude 3; Hebrews 2:1).

  90. [...] Read the entire article right here. [...]

  91. That was an excellent analysis from Pastor Chantry. Thank you.

    I’d like to add a few comments, having just listened to Koleoso’s talk for myself.

    To be frank, it was the worst bit of preaching I have heard in living memory. In fact, it was not worthy of being called preaching as it was exegetically nonsense in the few places where the Bible actually got a mention.

    I am also extremely grateful to God that I have never (in 30 years of faith) had a ranter like Koleoso as my pastor. New Frontiers, the pseudo-denomination that he belongs to, has a reputation for authoritarian leaders, and this was apparent in his forceful, arrogant, even intimidatory, style. I got the impression that there is no scope for debate in his church, you tow the party line or you’re out.

    Koleoso, at the start, asked why any pastor would be resistant to the Holy Spirit. This, quite frankly, was a straw man argument and I felt it was highly manipulative. None of us want to resist the Holy Spirit. What we resist are the specific claims of charismatics like Koleoso that their beliefs and practices concerning the Holy Spirit are correct and Biblical. I do not believe that they are, so I will not only resist them, but I will also reject them.

    I do believe that Koleoso has a genuine heart and passion for the things of God and to reach the lost. Sadly, I also believe that he is also misguided, even deluded, in his beliefs about the Holy Spirit. The problem is this: it is impossible to separate the good and bad parts of the charismatic and Pentecostal worlds. They all have a common origin and heritage.

    As an example, Koleoso rightly spoke out against the craziness that is prevalent throughout these movements. That was commendable. But, almost 20 years ago, New Frontiers, including their flagship church in Brighton led by Terry Virgo (whom Koleoso praised), was at the forefront of promoting the shambles that was the “Toronto Blessing”. Five years ago, Virgo was incapable of discerning that the “Lakeland Revival” was nothing more than a media circus with a corrupt preacher as its ringmaster.

    Amongst other things, the Holy Spirit comes to lead us into truth and to grant us understanding of the Bible. How come those churches which apply the label “Spirit Filled” to themselves are always being deceived? How come those churches are full of false teaching and bad theology? I’m sorry, but these signs of the Holy Spirit are notable by their absence in Pentecostalism and its child the charismatic movement. There’s more than enough history to confirm this.

    It took an hour from my life (which I’ll never get back) to listen to Koleoso. Was it worth it? Not really. I’d have done better to read the Bible or pray. The one thing it achieved was to help me realise that my concerns about the charismatic movement are definitely well-founded.

    Please spare a moment to pray for Koleoso and all the other Pentecostals and charismatics in the world. They are our brothers in the Lord, but they have been deceived by a false religious system.

  92. I am someone who both affirms the sovereignty of God in salvation and the continuation of all spiritual gifts for today. Both, in my opinion, are clearly taught in scripture. I appreciate the reformed statements of faith (LBC 1689, WCF), however, in certain areas they do not line up with scriptural teachings (Sabbath, Cessationism). If rejecting those views means that I am not “reformed”, I am comfortable with that. What does make me uncomfortable at times is an air-tight confessionalism that is unwilling to re-examine the text in these areas. I know that most of the “confessionalists” do deeply love Christ and his word. I just worry that our own self-made systems get in the way of dealing with the text fairly. I appreciate you men and pray that the Lord blesses your ministries.

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