I would like to think that I am a Reformed Charismatic but I wonder what that means. So, here’s one attempt to clarify the convictions of a Christ-follower who believes that the Holy Spirit is alive and well and that John Calvin had a pretty good understanding of the apostle Paul.
What is a Reformed Charismatic? First and foremost, a Reformed Charismatic is that person who seeks to harmonize the dominant convictions of the Reformed faith, as articulated by people like John Calvin, with those of Pentecostals like the outstanding New Testament scholar Gordon Fee. In particular, the Reformed Charismatic affirms the conviction of the Pentecostal tradition that the Holy Spirit may choose and often does work today as the Spirit worked in the first century. He or she also affirms several convictions of the Calvinist tradition, including the belief that regeneration precedes faith, that when a person receives the Spirit he or she receives all of the Spirit (there is no second baptism of the Holy Spirit), and that, while Christians have been born again, they remain sinners.
With that in mind, here’s one attempt to describe a Reformed Charismatic.
- As a Reformed Christian, I affirm the sovereignty of God the Spirit and believe that the Holy Spirit may work as the Spirit desire and may do so in ways well beyond my comprehension. Hence, I can’t limit the Spirit by putting the Spirit in a box, nor can I develop a full-proof scheme to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
- As Reformed Charismatic, I acknowledge that I am a sinning saint who, as a sinner, loves to control the way God works. For that reasons I tend to limit the work of the Holy Spirit to ways that fit within my scheme. Hence, I admit that the Holy Spirit I worship is often an idol that I have shaped with my own hands, heart, and mind.
- As a Reformed Charismatic, I believe that regeneration precedes faith and that when we receive the Holy Spirit we receive all of the Spirit. Still, I acknowledge that there is an ebb and flow to the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. At times I hinder the Spirit; at times I long to be filled with the Spirit; at times I experience that filling.
- As a Reformed Charismatic, I believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life represents God’s grace and, hence, I relish the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, I am helpless in my attempts to follow the Lord. Without the Spirit, I can’t even hold on to my faith. For those reasons and more, I long to experience the fullness of the Spirit in both my life and in that of my congregation.
- And here is perhaps the most distinctive conviction I hold as a Reformed Charismatic: I am a sinning saint who still wrestles with sin. Hence, I don’t trust the voice within me. o here’s my dilemma. I hear many Christians say things like “Last night, while I was out for a walk, the Lord spoke to me and told me I should ....” My response to that is “How do you know it was the Lord speaking to you?” How can you be so convinced that it was NOT your pride speaking to you? How do you know that you are not simply telling yourself what you want to hear?
Now, I believe the Holy Spirit can work however the Spirit desires and can speak to individual Christ-followers in ways beyond my comprehension. Having said that, I prefer that the Spirit speak to me from outside of me. I am more confident that I have received a “Word from the Lord” when that word comes through, first and foremost, the Scriptures, and then, as long as the following are consistent with the Scriptures, through a sermon, through the word of a mentor, through the word of the prophet, through an elder, through any other means except the voice within me.
Perhaps there are others like me who would like the best of both Calvinism and Pentecostalism. Does this make sense? What am I missing here?