GodMar 22, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall
To many in the cessationist circles of the Christian faith, the term "charismatic" brings to mind the stereotypes of Appalachians dancing with snakes in church services, millionaire prosperity preachers, and a man on stage whacking people with his jacket. According to Dr. Michael Brown, a messianic Jewish scholar, charismatic theologian and host of the Line of Fire radio program, "the charismatic movement has done a poor job of policing itself," allowing its critics to have a "field day". He argues, however, that true biblical continuationism should be understood and respected, not cast aside.
Dr. Brown is a prolific author, and his upcoming Playing with Holy Fire: A Wake-Up Call to the Pentecostal-Charismatic Church is an eagerly-anticipated addition to his works. As a foreword, Dr. Brown notes that "[the charismatic] movement has grown to bring more people to Jesus than any other movement in history. While secularism continues to be on the rise in today's society, many areas of the world still experience church growth, thanks to Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians."
However, as a staunch charismatic Christian himself, Brown seeks to edify Pentecostal and charismatic churches through correcting them for their "sexual immorality, financial corruption, doctrinal error, personal flakiness, spiritual gullibility, prophetic abuse", all while pointing them to a solid, biblical understanding of the fact that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today.
"If you look through Church history in the centuries before that there was still prophecy, there were still healings, there were people being delivered from demons. So this whole idea that it all stopped at a certain point, be it the death of the Apostles or the completion of the canon [of Scripture], is a complete historical fiction," Brown said, referring to Asbury scholar Craig Keener's two-volume work, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. In Miracles, Keener notes that "rationalist" philosophy influenced subsequent generations of Christians regarding the supernatural and the spiritual gifts.
Brown also pointed to Augustine, an incredibly influential early Church father who once believed that the death of the last Apostle meant the end of miracles but eventually rejected that view:
"It is true that with Augustine that the gifts of the Spirit were normative in New Testament times and then in less than a two-year period they recorded more than 70 miraculous healings and he said there were miracles just like they saw in the New Testament. So in City of God, his definitive work, he absolutely reiterates those things."
"As God continues to do what He has always done but in greater intensity and in measure in these days then we're recognizing that, OK, the Spirit continues to do these things based on Scripture," Brown continued. "And to me, that's always the test: 1. look at the Word, 2. go from the Word to the experience and then look at history, but always first and foremost look at the Word."
With the suffiency of Scripture in regards to what constitutes "words from God" in mind, Brown also stressed that followers of Jesus must believe in "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, not Father, Son, and Holy Bible."
"And when we speak of the sufficiency of Scripture we don't mean that we have a relationship with the Bible. We mean that God's Word is His one and only Word — that there is only one Bible and that nothing else can be called Scripture or claim to be the Word of God for all people."
However sufficient canonical Scripture is as the infallible Word of God, it does not tell us every experience we will or will not have, or how you meet with God in personal prayer, Brown explained. So, when you has a spiritual experience, Brown insists that you ask, "Is it God or not? Is it contrary to Scripture? Is it in harmony with the larger testimony of Scripture? What kind of fruit does it bear?"
"So we use the creedal test and the moral test — what does it teach and what kind of fruit does it produce — and based on that we come to our respective conclusions," he added.
To learn more and pre-order Playing With Holy Fire, click here. To learn more about Dr. Brown's work defending the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit, watch the incredibly informative video below:
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