Could there be a Charismatized Westminster Confession?

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Particular Baptist

Puritan Board Freshman
One thing that has been on my mind is whether there could be a Charismatic Westminster Confession that subscribes to continuationism and a baptistic view of baptism, yet retains the majority of the text of the Westminster Confession, would such a confession be considered Reformed?
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Seeing how some won't accept credobaptism as Reformed, I highly doubt many would consider anything continuationism as Reformed.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
One thing that has been on my mind is whether there could be a Charismatic Westminster Confession that subscribes to continuationism and a baptistic view of baptism, yet retains the majority of the text of the Westminster Confession, would such a confession be considered Reformed?

With regard to "Charismatisized,"

There's no way of answering such a broad question without a lot more information-
and a clear defining of terms.

Charismatic/pentecostal communions are probably best described as "broadly evangelical", e.g.
Arminian influenced + Dispensational + No confession

contrary to reformed theology systematically on all these points, which is:
Doctrines of grace + Covenant Theology + Confession

Added to that, they almost always have a "low" view of the church, and the sacraments.

and all that before getting into major error of charismatic/pentecostal communions:

1) seeking extra-biblical revelation as an ordinary means of grace, and as focus of corporate worship (even though Scripture is complete, sola scriptura)
2) "second work of grace" by the Holy Spirit, separate from salvation, evidenced by I Cor. 12 spiritual gifts

These are all major wrongs, biblically.

If one gets past all of that, and one is only asking if I. Cor. 12 gifts might continue, the question becomes,
1) on what basis,
2) whether they are ordinary to be sought,
3) or extraordinary occurrences.

But even to get that last point, one would need some significant re-considerations of substantial systematic theology of the Confession (e.g. sola scriptura, regulative principle of worship, etc.).

To go beyond that narrow question, one quickly is into largely different theology.

Those casually acquainted with "continuationism" don't understand what they are getting into, because its proponents don't teach its implications systematically.

And, ask this question- where is a faithful, enduring witness of this to hold to as a standard, where in church history?
 

Particular Baptist

Puritan Board Freshman
I would actually quite disagree with you that continuationists are making major errors.

First of all, I don't think ANY Reformed Continuationist states that extra biblical revelation is an "ordinary means of grace". Signs and wonders cease to be signs and wonders when they become ordinary and no longer exceptional. They also don't make extra biblical revelation the focus of corporate worship, although most Penecostals do. This is simply a straw man that both Reformed Cessationist and Reformed Continuationists would see as in major error.

Secondly, we take the commandment of 1 Cor. 14.1 to mean that we are commanded to seek and pursue spiritual gifts, and that commandment is no where removed. I've grown up in one of the most anti-continuationist backgrounds one could have, but the scriptures speak louder than any argument that men have made

Thirdly, Reformed Continuationists do not reject the regulative principle or sola scriptura, in fact, we embrace them in all their fullness. Cessationists place standards that the New Testament church couldn't even follow if we want to say that the regulative principle would restrict signs and wonders. Also, Paul and Peter saw God use signs and wonders in their midst, and I'm sure that they would fully subscribe to sola scriptura. Again, this is a straw man who isn't the real Reformed Continuationist.

Fourthly, if it is true that continuationists are in major error, then so must have been Dr. Martynn Lloyd-Jones.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
An acquaintance of mine (Des Standfill ) referred me to this earlier today. It is relevant to the question asked in the OP in my opinion.


Five Concerns about the Merging of Charismatic and Calvinistic Doctrine « Reformed Baptist Fellowship



Five Concerns about the Merging of Charismatic and Calvinistic Doctrine

There has been an attempt in recent days by some to merge Calvinism and the charismatic movement. Several factors have influenced this trend. Here are three:


First, movements and ministries like “Together for the Gospel” and “the Gospel Coalition” have commended charismatic ministers, churches, and their practices to young Calvinistic ministers and their churches.

Second, the merging of charismatic and Calvinistic theology has been promoted among young ministers by the widespread use and influence of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology in various evangelical schools and seminaries. Although there is much to commend in the devotional quality of Grudem’s work and in his generally Calvinistic Baptist perspective, reformed readers will not be able to affirm his advocacy of charismatic practices in the church.

Third, and perhaps most significantly, charismatic influenced “third wave” contemporary Christian music has largely replaced “traditional” worship liturgies in most evangelical and conservative Protestant churches, and now many of the lyrics for the newest songs are being influenced by the doctrinal resurgence of Calvinism.

Why should one be wary of this merging of charismatic and Calvinistic theology? Here are five specific concerns:

1. One cannot hold to the validity of charismatic “sign-gifts” in the church today and be consistently Biblical and reformed in his theological outlook.

At the outset we must understand that holding to Calvinistic soteriology is not enough to make a minister or church reformed. Reformation theology—including especially the Regulative Principle of worship—must also be applied to every other aspect of doctrine and practice in the church.

Based on sound Biblical exposition and demonstrated proofs, the classical Reformed creeds and confessions routinely rejected the continuation of charismatic gifts and experiences. The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), for example, deals with this issue in its statement on Scripture:

Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary,those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased(emphasis added).

One cannot claim consistently to hold to reformation doctrine while also affirming non-cessationism.

2. The emphasis on modern day occurrences of the extraordinary and the miraculous undermines the Biblical emphasis on the “ordinary means” of grace.

When Naaman was told by Elisha to dip seven times in the Jordan, the leprous commander was offended that he was given such an ordinary task (2 Kings 5). He wanted an extraordinary experience!

In the New Testament, the clear emphasis for spiritual edification and growth is on the “ordinary means.” Believers are to pray (1 Thess 5:17); sing songs of praise (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16); preach (1 Tim 4:2); assemble together (Heb 10:24-25); read aloud the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), give offerings and alms (1 Cor 16:1-2). On the other hand, believers are not actively encouraged to practice or seek miraculous experiences or gifts.

3. Those who deny the cessation of extra-ordinary charismatic gifts and experiences in the church today ignore the Biblical parallel to the cessation of some Biblical offices.

After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, some gifts existed for a limited time to validate the ministry and authority of the apostles (cf. Mark 16:17-18; Acts 2:43; 5:12, 15; 14:3; 15:12; 19:11; 2 Cor 12:12). With the completion of the canon of Scripture these miraculous gifts ceased. A clear parallel exists in the New Testament relating to offices that existed in the post-apostolic era. The offices of apostle, prophet, and evangelist were “extraordinary” ones that did not extend beyond the age of the apostles, while, the “ordinary” offices of ministers, elders, and deacons have continued throughout this gospel age (cf. 1 Cor 12:28-31; Eph 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 3:1-12; Titus 1;5-9). For a convincing discussion of this point, see Walter J. Chantry, Signs of the Apostles: Observations on Pentecostalism Old and New (Banner of Truth, 1973) and Samuel Waldron, To Be Continued: Are The Miraculous Gifts For Today? (Calvary Press, 2005).

4. The promotion of non-cessationist doctrine fuels an overriding desire for extraordinary spiritual experiences that can lead to confusing theological beliefs and practices.

Theologian R. Scott Clark calls the evangelical desire for extraordinary experiences QIRE or “The Quest for Illegitimate Religious Experience” (see his book Recovering the Reformed Confession: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice [P&R, 2008]). He also notes how the claim of many evangelicals to be “open” to charismatic gifts and other phenomena leads some falsely to understand “ordinary” events as “extraordinary.” Here is an example. A child is sick and the church prays for her recovery. The child is treated by a doctor for the ailment and gradually recovers. The church then claims authoritatively that God healed the child because of their prayers. Certainly God is sovereign over the child’s health, and he may have been pleased to use the prayers of the church to bring about the child’s recovery. Scriptures gives clear instruction on the exercise of the ordinary means of prayer for the sick (cf. James 5:13-15). God can work miracles, including healing, according to his good pleasure. By definition of his own sovereign Godhood, God may choose to do as he pleases (cf. Dan 4:34-35). There is, however, absolutely no objective way to measure or evaluate if the church’s claim that its prayers resulted in the child’s miraculous recovery is true. Of necessity this conclusion would be a matter of faith. At any rate, if the child recovered after the church’s prayer, then this would have been the result of ordinary rather than extraordinary means. Again, the instrument of prayer is simply an ordinary means. God would have been no less sovereign, however, had the child not recovered (cf. Job’s response to suffering in Job 1:21). We might also ask how we would look at the circumstances if the child had been part of a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness church. If she recovered after they prayed for her in those false churches would we say that God miraculously answered their prayers as a means of affirming their doctrine and practice? What if the child had been part of an atheistic family, and they offered no prayer for her and yet she still recovered. Would we say God did a miracle in response to their unbelief? Seeking extraordinary experiences typically leads to subjective declarations and doctrinal confusion. Again, R. Scott Clark notes that those who embrace charismatic doctrine tend merely to interpret ordinary events as extraordinary ones. Clark pointedly asks why we do not see those who promote non-cessationism doing things that are truly miraculous as the early apostles and their associates did? Why do they not claim to be able to raise the dead as Peter and Paul did (cf. Peter’s raising of Tabitha in Acts 9:36-41 and Paul’s raising of Eutychus in Acts 20:9-12)? Why do they not claim to be able to be miraculously transported by the Spirit from one place to another as happened to Philip (cf. Acts 8:39)? The “miracles” that are claimed today are hardly comparable to the authenticating signs that accompanied the apostles. In truth, they are most often ordinary events give extraordinary spin.

5. The emphasis on extraordinary experience undermines the sufficiency and authority of Scripture.

This is most clearly stated in Christ’s account of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. The narrative concludes with the Rich Man begging Father Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to warn his five brothers lest they too come to the place of torment (vv. 27-28). Abraham responds, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (v. 29). In other words, Abraham tells him that they have the Scriptures, and this should be enough to warn them of the reality of hell. The Rich Man protests, “No, Father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent” (v. 30). The Rich Man is essentially a non-cessationist. He believes that God should use an extra-ordinary event to change the hearts of his brothers. Surely, a spirit who comes back from the dead will make a difference! Abraham replies, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” (v. 31). Indeed, from our present perspective we see how the greatest miracle in the world has already taken place. Christ has been raised from the dead! Yet, many remain unmoved, cold, and indifferent to the gospel. Jesus reminds us here that his preferred means of speaking to men is not through fantastic experiences but through the ordinary means of Scripture. Zeal for experience undermines, in truth, the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.

Jeffrey T. Riddle, Pastor, Christ Reformed Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

stylos
 

Particular Baptist

Puritan Board Freshman
I actually had read this a time before, and believe me, I do understand the pastor's concerns. There are many people in the Continuationist movement who do seek to make such signs and wonders into ordinary means of grace, but this is not what Reformed Continuationists believe. If signs and wonders become the norm, become ordinary, then they are no longer signs and wonders. The biggest question here is whether 1 Cor. 14.1 is still in force or whether it has been abrogated.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
You are going to have to clarify more. 1 Corinthians 12-14 contain much more than the supernatural gifts. I am not sure you can say abrogated as much as you can declare cessation.
 

Particular Baptist

Puritan Board Freshman
1 Corinthians 14.1 states "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy."

If these spiritual gifts have ceased, then I would say that it is wrong of us to desire the spiritual gifts. However, if this command still has force, then I would say that the spiritual gifts continue. Also, the arguments for cessationism don't have scriptural backing.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I would actually quite disagree with you that continuationists are making major errors.

First of all, I don't think ANY Reformed Continuationist states that extra biblical revelation is an "ordinary means of grace".
Then what are they?

Remember, charismatic/pentecostal communions center corporate worship around unknown tongues, and interpretation, as an ordinary focus and event. "To hear a Word from the Lord." Yet the Word is already there in front of them in a known tongue.

I'm not sure they are understanding what an "ordinary means of grace" is.


Signs and wonders cease to be signs and wonders when they become ordinary and no longer exceptional.
It's not exceptional if it is commonly sought at corporate worship, nor as the experience of every believer.

They also don't make extra biblical revelation the focus of corporate worship, although most Penecostals do.
Who is "they?"

This is simply a straw man that both Reformed Cessationist and Reformed Continuationists would see as in major error.
I'm not sure there is such as thing as "Reformed Cessationist," it's what Reformed is, implicitly, at least, because of sola scriptura, and other doctrines.

"Reformed cessationist" is almost like saying "Reformed Calvinist," because of what is meant by "cessationist" (that is that extrabiblical revelation as an ordinary means is fulfilled in the Holy Spirit, speaking through Scripture).

Reformed believes in miracles, but I don't think we would even term someone who believes I Cor. 12 gifts might continue extraordinarily or with different purpose, in light of the completion of Scripture, as "Reformed continuationist." That's too controlling of the term, it seems.



Secondly, we take the commandment of 1 Cor. 14.1 to mean that we are commanded to seek and pursue spiritual gifts, and that commandment is no where removed.
The problem is, now you are saying it is an ordinary means of grace.
I've grown up in one of the most anti-continuationist backgrounds one could have, but the scriptures speak louder than any argument that men have made
It's more accurate to say [pro] sola scriptura, understanding God can always work miracles more than "anti-continuationist." These are made up terms.

Thirdly, Reformed Continuationists do not reject the regulative principle or sola scriptura, in fact, we embrace them in all their fullness. Cessationists place standards that the New Testament church couldn't even follow if we want to say that the regulative principle would restrict signs and wonders. Also, Paul and Peter saw God use signs and wonders in their midst, and I'm sure that they would fully subscribe to sola scriptura.
Yes, Paul and Peter were Apostles, uniquely filling a position of laying the foundation of our faith, written down as Scripture. This is not true of anyone today. (Not saying there cannot be miracles, but only that using the Apostles as normative is not correct in light of the completion of Scripture)

Again, this is a straw man who isn't the real Reformed Continuationist.

Fourthly, if it is true that continuationists are in major error, then so must have been Dr. Martynn Lloyd-Jones.
Anyone can be wrong, even the greatest theologian of all time, the second greatest, and men like you mention, who were right about many, many things biblically.
:)
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Would have sounded good to Rutherford, Mather, Flavel, the Covenanters, and lots of Reformed forebears......

Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts

Historical accounts of extraordinary events

The conclusions to which we have come are not really so novel, when we compare them with the history of the church. The Holy Spirit has used both discursive and nondiscursive processes through the course of church history. Christians have often been able to acknowledge both kinds of processes in a balanced way—though they also had to struggle with aberrations.

Reformed tradition may serve as a suitable example. This tradition is typically associated with cessationist theology. Reformed writers repeatedly stress the completeness and sufficiency of Scripture. They show an appreciation for discursive processes for deriving conclusions from Scripture. Yet we also find testimony to extraordinary works of the Spirit of a nondiscursive kind. The following may serve as examples.

First, the words of Samuel Rutherford are of special interest, because he was one of the people involved in drawing up the Westminster Standards.

Samuel Rutherford says:




There is a 3 revelation [a third kind of revelation, in addition to canonical revelation and to the internal testimony of the Spirit giving assurance] of some particular men, who have forefold [sic; foretold] things to come even since the ceasing of the Canon of the word, as Iohn Husse, Wickeliefe, Luther, have foretold things to come, and they certainely fell out, and in our nation of Scotland, M. George Wishart foretold that Cardinall Beaton should not come out alive at the Gates of the Castle of St. Andrewes, but that he should dye a shamefull death, and he was hanged over the window that he did look out at, when he saw the man of God burnt, M. Knox prophecied of the hanging of the Lord of Grange, M. Ioh, Davidson uttered prophecies, knowne to many of the kingdome, diverse Holy and mortified preachers in England have done the like: no Familists, or Antinomians, no David George, nor H. Nicholas, no man ever of that Gang, Randel or Wheelwright, or Den, or any other, that ever I heard of, being once ingaged in the Familisticall way, ever did utter any but the fourth sort [satanic prophecies] of lying and false inspirations: Mrs Hutchison, said she should be delivered from the Court of Boston miraculously as Daniel from the Lyons, which proved false, Becold prophecied of the deliverance of the Towne of Munster which was delivered to their enemies, and he and his Prophet were tortured and hanged, David George prophecied of the raising [p. 43] of himselfe from the dead, which was never fulfilled, now the differences between the third and fourth [satanic] revelations, I place in these. 1 These worthy reformers did tye no man to beleeve their prophecies as scriptures, we are to give faith, to the predictions of Prophets and Apostles, foretelling facts to come, as to the very word of God, they never gave themselves out as organs immediately inspired by the Holy Ghost, as the Prophets doe, and as Paul did Rom. 11. prophecying of the calling of the Jewes, and Ioh. Revel. 1.10. and through the whole booke; yea they never denounced Iudgement against those that beleeve not their predictions, of these particular events and facts as they are such particular events & facts, as the Prophets and Apostles did. But Mrs. Hutchison said Rise, Reigne, pag. 61 art. 27. That her particular revelations about future events, Were as infallible as any scripture, and that shee is bound as much to beleeve them as the Scripture, for the same Holy Ghost is author of both, ….

[p. 44] 2 The events revealed to Godly and sound witnesses of Christ are not contrary to the word: But Becold, Iohn Mathie, and Ioh. Schykerus (who kild his brother for no fault) and other Enthysiasts of that murthering Spirit Sathan who killed innocent men, expresly against the fixt command. Thou shalt not Kill, and taught the Boures of Germany to rise and kill all lawfull Magistrates, because they were no Magistrates; upon the pretence of the Impulsions and Inspirations of the Holy Ghost, were acted by inspirations against the word of God; All that the Godly reformers foretold of the tragicall ends of the proclaimed enemies of the Gospell, they were not actors themselves in murthering these enemies of God, nor would M Wishart command or approve that Norman and Ioh. Leslyes should kill the Cardinall Beaton, as they did.

2 [sic; should be 3] They had a generall rule going along that Evill shall hunt the wicked man: onely a secret harmelesse, but an extraordinary strong impulsion, of a Scripture-spirit leading them, carried them to apply a generall rule of divine justice, in their predictions, to particular Godlesse men, they themselves onely being foretellers not copartners of the act.24




1. In the life of John Flavel appears the following account:




The night before he [Flavel] embarked … , he had the following premonition by a dream; he thought he was on board the ship, and that a storm arose which exceedingly terrified the passengers, during their consternation there sat writing at the table a person of admirable sagacity and gravity, who had a child in a cradle by him that was very froward; he thought he saw the father take up a little whip, and give the child a lash, saying, Child, be quiet, I will discipline, but not hurt thee. Upon this Mr. Flavel awaked, and musing on his dream, he concluded, that he should meet with some trouble in his passage: his friends being at dinner with him, assured him of a pleasant passage, because the wind and weather were very fair; Mr. Flavel replied, That he was not of their mind, but expected much trouble because of his dream, adding, that when he had such representations made to him in his sleep, they seldom or never failed.

Accordingly, when they were advanced within five leagues of Portland in their voyage, they were overtaken by a dreadful tempest, ….25




John Howie cites a number of instances from the Covenanters in Scotland, John Welch and Robert Bruce:




After writing several times to him, to suppress the profanation of the Lord’s day at his house, which he slighted, not loving to be called a puritan, Welch came one day to his gate, and, calling him out, told him that he had a message from God to show him; because he had slighted the advice given him from the Lord, and would not restrain the profanation of the Lord’s day committed in his bounds, therefore the Lord would cast him out of his house, and none of his posterity should enjoy it. This accordingly came to pass; for although he was in a good external situation at this time, yet henceforth all things went against him, until he was obliged to sell his estate; and when giving the purchaser possession thereof, he told his wife and children that he had found Welch a true prophet.26




[Welch] told her [his wife] that he had been wrestling with the Lord for Scotland, and found there was a sad time at hand, but that the Lord would be gracious to a remnant. This was about the time when bishops first overspread the land, and corrupted the Church.27




One day two travelling merchants, each with a pack of cloth upon a horse, came to the town desiring entrance, that they might sell their goods, producing a pass from the magistrates of the town from whence they came, which was at that time sound and free [from plague]. Notwithstanding all this, the sentinels stopped them till the magistrates were called, and when they came they would do nothing without their minister’s advice; so John Welch was called, and his opinion asked. He demurred, and putting off his hat, with his eyes towards heaven for a pretty space, though he uttered no audible words, yet he continued in a praying posture, and after a little space told the magistrates that they would do well to discharge these travellers their town, affirming, with great asseveration, that the plague was in these packs. So the magistrates commanded them to be gone, and they went to Cumnock, a town about twenty miles distant, and there sold their goods, which kindled such an infection in that place, that the living were hardly able to bury their dead. This made the people begin to think of Mr Welch as an oracle.28




He [Welch] told them [two citizens of Edinburgh] that they had in their town two great ministers, who were no great friends to Christ’s cause presently in controversy, but, it should be seen, the world should never hear of their repentance. The two men were Mr Patrick Galloway and Mr John Hall, and, accordingly, it came to pass; for Patrick Galloway died suddenly, and John Hall, being at that time in Leith, and his servant woman having left him alone in his house while she went to market, he was found dead at her return.29




One night sitting at supper with Lord Ochiltree, he [Welch] entertained the company with godly and edifying discourse, as his manner was, which was well received by them all, except a debauched Popish young gentleman, who sometimes laughed, and sometimes mocked and made wry faces. Thereupon Mr Welch brake out into a sad abrupt charge upon all the company to be silent, and observe the work of the Lord upon that mocker, which they should presently behold; upon which the profane wretch sunk down and died beneath the table, to the great astonishment of all the company.30




The first time that Welch saw his [Lord Ochiltree’s] face after his return from Court, he asked him what he had done with his petition. His Lordship said that he had presented it to the King, but that the King was in so great a rage against the ministers at that time, he believed it had been forgotten, for he had got no answer. “Nay,” said Welch to him, “my Lord, you should not lie to God, and to me; for I know you never delivered it, though I warned you to take heed not to undertake it except you would perform it; but because you have dealt so unfaithfully, remember God shall take from you both estate and honours, and give them to your neighbour in your own time.” This accordingly came to pass, for both his estate and honours were in his own time translated to James Stuart, son of Captain James, who was indeed a cadet, but not the lineal heir of the family.31




[Welch told his wife to go a different way to his house near Ayr, for] “before you come thither, you shall find the plague broken out in Ayr,” which accordingly came to pass.32




Mr Bruce, preaching upon the 51st Psalm, said, “The removal of your ministers is at hand; our lives shall be bitterly sought after; but ye shall see with your eyes, that God shall guard us, and be our buckler and defence.” The day following, this was in part accomplished; …33




Catherine Marshall writes this account concerning her husband Peter Marshall:




Walking back from a nearby village to Bamburgh one dark, starless night, Peter struck out across the moors, thinking he would take a short cut. He knew that there was a deep deserted limestone quarry close by the Glororum Road, but he thought he could avoid that danger spot. The night was inky black, eerie. There was only the sound of the wind through the heather-stained moorland, the noisy clamor of wild muir fowl as his footsteps disturbed them, the occasional far-off bleating of a sheep.

Suddenly he heard someone call, “Peter! …” There was great urgency in the voice.

He stopped. “Yes, who is it?” What do you want?”

For a second he listened, but there was no response, only the sound of the wind. The moor seemed completely deserted.

Thinking he must have been mistaken, he walked on a few paces. Then he heard it again, even more urgently:

“Peter! …”

He stopped dead still, trying to peer into that impenetrable darkness, but suddenly stumbled and fell to his knees. Putting out his hand to catch himself, he found nothing there. As he cautiously investigated, feeling around in a semicircle, he found himself to be on the very brink of an abandoned stone quarry. Just one step more would have send him plummeting into space to certain death.34




Cotton Mather includes the following reflections:




But then [in addition to the general faith of believers], there is a Particular Faith, which is not so much the Duty, as the Comfort of them that have it; and which is Granted, but here and there, but now and then, unto those whom a Sovereign GOD shall Please to Favour with it. The Devout Believer cannot cause himself to Believe What and When he will; but under the Energy of some Superiour Cause … there is a Strong Impression made upon his mind, which Dissolves him in a Flood of Tears, and Assures him, Thou shalt have the Petition which thou Desirest of thy GOD. The Impression is born in upon his mind, with as clear a Light, and as full a Force, as if it were from Heaven Angelically, and even Articulately declared unto him; The Lord has given thee, thy Petition which thou hast asked of Him…. But you may have some Illustration of it in what our Martyrology has related concerning that Blessed Martyr, Mr. Holland. “After Sentence was Read against him, he said,—And now I tell you, that GOD hath heard the Prayer of His Servants, which hath been Poured forth with Tears, for His Afflicted Saints, which you daily Persecute. This I dare be bold in GOD to Speak; and I am by His Spirit moved to say it: That GOD will shorten your Hand of Cruelty: For after this Day in this place, there shall be no more put unto the Trial of Fire and ******.” Which accordingly came to pass; He was the last that was Burnt in Smithfield. You may see it a little further Illustrated in the Strange Afflations, which have Enabled and Impelled many Confessors of Christ in the Renoumed [renowned] Church of Scotland, sometimes to break forth into Passages that might be Expected from none but such as have Illapses of the Prophetic Spirit upon them.35




… about the Time, when the Impression [an instance of particular faith in Increase Mather] was in its Liveliest Operation (October 1694) there was among some in his Neighbourhood, a strange Descent of Shining Spirits, that had upon them great marks of their being such Angels as they Declared themselves to be. (What they were, GOD knows!) And from these there was that Message (and, no more!) directed unto him; He is much Exercised in his Mind about his going for England; but he need not and should not be so; For GOD will bring to pass That which will be most for His Glory and Service; And the Angels of GOD will attend him, wheresoever His Providence may dispose of him.36




In the Year, 1676, he had a strange Impressision [sic] on his mind, that caused him, on Nov. 19, to Preach a Sermon on those Words, Zeph. III. 7 … and Conclude the Sermon, with a Strange Praediction, That a Fire was a coming, which would make a Deplorable Desolation…. On the next Lords-Day, he Preached … that when the Lord Jesus is about to bring any heavy Judgment upon His People, He is wont to stir up the Heart of some Servant of His, to give Warning of it; which Warning should be Remembred, that so People may be ready to entertain what must come upon them…. The very Night following, a Desolating Fire broke forth in his Neighbourhood.37




He [Increase Mather] did no less than three Times as the Year, 1678, was coming on, very Publickly Declare, That he was verily Perswaded, a very Mortal Disease would shortly break in upon the place; and the Slain of the Lord would be many. Some of his Friends were troubled at him, for it. But when the Year 1678. was come on, we saw the Mortal Disease. The Small-Pox broke in, …. The famous Dr. Henry More, who is not Ordinarily numbred among Fanaticks, has a Passage that may a little Solve some of these Appearances. “Though the Spirit of Prophecy in some sense be ceased, yet GOD hath not hereby Precluded His own Power, nor yet that of His Ministring Spirits from Visiting and Assisting of His Servants as He Pleaseth. And there are some Pious Persons to whom it must not be Denied, that very Unusual Things of one sort or another, have sometimes happened.”38




On the SIXTH Day of FEBRUARY … “… I [Increase Mather] was very much Moved and Melted before the Lord, so that for some time, I was not able to speak a Word. But then, I could not but say, GOD will deliver New-England! GOD will deliver New-England! … So I rose from my knees, with much Comfort and Assurance, that GOD had heard me. These things, I hope, were from the Spirit of GOD….” … And on the Fourteenth of April following, there arrived Tidings [from England], that on THAT VERY DAY [viz. Feb. 6], there fell out [in England] THAT, which happily diverted and entirely defeated, the coming of Kirk with his Commission for the Government of New-England, …39




Mr. Mather went on with his Preparations for his Voyage; and had his Mind more and more Irradiated with a Strong Perswasion, That GOD would give him to find Things in England, in such a State, as that he should have an Opportunity to do Special Service for His People here. Yea, he went so far in it, as to Write these Marvellous Words upon it;—I know, it will be so; For Thou, O Lord GOD, hast told me, that it will be so!. And the Truth is, If he had not had some such Faith as this, to have Inspired him with an uncommon Courage, a Person of his Prudence would never have Exposed himself, as he did on a Thousand Accounts in his present Undertaking.40




One may also cite the “prophetical” phenomena among the Camisards.41 But the happenings among the Camisards included disorders and false prophecies. The severe persecutions and the paucity of trained leaders left the people without the will or skill to exercise critical discernment. At a later point, beginning in 1715, the problems were addressed:




Antoine Court, in spite of his youth, was the guide and soul of these assemblies [church synods], and the adhesion of the preachers proves that they were at heart free from unbelief and pride, and had erred involuntarily, or from lack of instruction. They only wanted to be better counselled and directed.

… The Scriptures were to be held as the only rule of faith, and special revelations were to be rejected, as anti-Biblical and dangerous, (synod of 1715.)42




The mixed character of the phenomena among the Camisards confirms the cautions that Mather, Rutherford, and others have enjoined. It is compatible with the distinctions that I make between the infallibility of the apostles and the fallibility of later nondiscursive processes.

Modern readers may still entertain doubts whether, in every case, the above reports accurately describe what happened. Have they been “embellished” through a process of transmission? But at the very least the reports indicate what the reporters thought God could do. With few exceptions, the reporters stand in the same Reformed theological tradition in which the events supposedly occurred. Hence the reports reveal something of the flexibility of Reformed thinking concerning extraordinary providential actions of God.

All of these extraordinary phenomena can be subsumed under the description given in the Westminster Confession of Faith, 5.3: “God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.” God’s work, so described, surely encompasses all nondiscursive processes. Many of these nondiscursive processes doubtless “make use of means.” But because of its strong commitment to the sovereignty of God and the mystery of his plan, the Confession acknowledges explicitly that there may also be operations that are not attached to means in any ordinary way. The ultimate determining factor in every case is “his pleasure.”
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
1 Corinthians 14.1 states "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy."

If these spiritual gifts have ceased, then I would say that it is wrong of us to desire the spiritual gifts. However, if this command still has force, then I would say that the spiritual gifts continue. Also, the arguments for cessationism don't have scriptural backing.

By the way, I think we understand "prophesy" as being used here to mean "forth telling" the Word of God, as opposed to extra biblical revelation that was coming through speaking in an unknown tongue, and interpretation of an unknown tongue in the Corinthian Church. This was occurring at a time before the Scripture had been completed, and the Apostle here was especially emphasizing the need to preach and teach the Word (rather than unknown tongues).
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
1 Corinthians 14.1 states "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy."

If these spiritual gifts have ceased, then I would say that it is wrong of us to desire the spiritual gifts. However, if this command still has force, then I would say that the spiritual gifts continue. Also, the arguments for cessationism don't have scriptural backing.

You have strayed from your opening post. There you were asking if the Westminster Confession can be converted into a charismatic document. Now you are advocating charismatic views contrary to the confessional commitment of the board. Please return to your original focus or this thread will be closed and you will be infracted.
 

CIT

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
If I may ask. WCF 1.1 shows that special revelation has ceased, but WCF 5.3 states God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure.

This still allows for the supernatural as long as it is not special revelation. Thus how is what is being said contraconfessional?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
The short answer to your question is "No". Reformed Churches are historically Confessional and Confessional implies a connection and "dialog" with the Church as it has sought to historically reform itself according to the faith once for all delivered to the Saints.

I think it would be helpful if those that desired to maintain historic orthodoxy would:

1. Be more specific about what continuationism means. Most groups have a very fuzzy view of what it means that the gifts have continued as the most orthodox variants admit the continued gifts are not apostolic and function in different ways than those described during Apostolic times.

2. Attempt to place their movement within the stream of Church history. Though not the final norm, the fact that a movement has a recent pedigree should always set alarm bells off in the heads of those who soberly evaluate the ebb and flow of theology handed down through the ages. None of the Reformers thought themselves to be Revolutionaries but Reforming the Church to the best of the past and establishing a connection with the faith once for all delivered to the Saints. Obviously the Scriptures are the final norm but, as DTK has shown, you can always find nascent views and streams of theological thought throughout Church history. Read Calvin as one who goes back to find the wheat in the past and separates out the chaff.

3. Be a little more suspect about the fact that the prevalence of neo-Gnostic views are less than 100 years old and only mainstream within the last 20-30 years.

4. Acknowledge the inherent deceitfulness of the human heart more and see the Scripture's constant warning about our natural pull toward idolatry.

5. Consider how robust the theology of the Holy Spirit is within Reformed orthodoxy. In fact, I believe it is most honoring to the unity of the Trinity as it is revealed to function by the Word itself in the redemption of man and the operation of the Church.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If I may ask. WCF 1.1 shows that special revelation has ceased, but WCF 5.3 states God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure.

This still allows for the supernatural. Thus how is what is being said contraconfessional?

WCF 1.1 is not restricted to word-revelation. It makes a substantive statement about God revealing Himself at sundry times and in divers manners (act-revelation). This is regarded as a past event. It then affirms that God's revelation is wholly committed to writing (word-revelation). So what is written (word-revelation) contains the whole of God's disclosure which He was pleased to make at sundry times and in divers manners (act-revelation). It concludes by asserting that the former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people have now ceased. This undoubtedly refers back to the act revelation which was considered as a past event together with the finalising process of word-revelation which inscripturated it. This section closes all possibility of suggesting that God acts today in ways which are continuous with the ways He acted in and about Scripture.

WCF 5.3 makes a general statement about God's freedom to act without, above, and against means. It gives no suggestion that God acts today in ways which are continuous with the ways He acted in and about Scripture. Indeed, without "act-revelation" there is no way of knowing that anything extraordinary (not supernatural, for all providence is supernatural, 5.1) has taken place. And without "word-revelation" we have no way of knowing God's will in acting in such an extraordinary way. This is not to deny that God is still free to act extraordinarily; it simply reinforces the fact that God's people are closed up to the ordinary means of grace and have no warrant from Scripture to seek after or lay claim to anything more.
 
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jayce475

Puritan Board Freshman
One thing that has been on my mind is whether there could be a Charismatic Westminster Confession that subscribes to continuationism and a baptistic view of baptism, yet retains the majority of the text of the Westminster Confession, would such a confession be considered Reformed?

Spencer, your other posts are quite different from your OP. Is your question about whether modified Westminster standards can be considered Reformed (to which the answer is no In my humble opinion), or is it whether charismatics who subscribe to the doctrines of grace can, whom you identify yourself with, can be considered Reformed? If your question is actually the latter, then perhaps it should have been made known more clearly. And as everyone has said, no, both a modified confession and charismatics who believe in the doctrines of grace are unconfessional and therefore can't be labelled Reformed.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
"charismatics who believe in the doctrines of grace are unconfessional and therefore can't be labelled Reformed."

Please read my post above, from Vern Poythress' essay ( he is OPC confessional cessationist).

Are you saying Rutherford was not Reformed? He helped write the WCF.
Samuel Rutherford says:

There is a 3 revelation [a third kind of revelation, in addition to canonical revelation and to the internal testimony of the Spirit giving assurance] of some particular men, who have forefold [sic; foretold] things to come even since the ceasing of the Canon of the word,
as Iohn Husse, Wickeliefe, Luther, have foretold things to come, and they certainely fell out,


A modern day continuist/Grudemite is generally into prophecy that is "scripture for the immediate situation" oriented and not predictive prophecy. These men were actually far more charismatic than the average continuist in their view of predictive revelation. Even I as a continuist would struggle with caution bordering on scepticism if I heard these sorts of predictive propecies today from a pastor.

There is in my opinion a certain failure to take an honest look at Reformed history, perhaps from ignorance. But you need to face up to what Poythress points out here. Another guy is John Paton, the great Scottish Presbyterian missionary to the New Hebrides ( cannibal islands). He had a few experiences that can only be termed charismatic.

Modern charismatics err in expecting this sort of thing all the time, the way they call it "my gift", and often in elevating the subjective over objective scripture, and in thinking character does not matter if the man is "anointed in the gifts". Much is wrong. But it is just as wrong to deny our Reformed history and say it didn't happen. It did.
 

jayce475

Puritan Board Freshman
"charismatics who believe in the doctrines of grace are unconfessional and therefore can't be labelled Reformed."

Please read my post above, from Vern Poythress' essay ( he is OPC confessional cessationist).

Are you saying Rutherford was not Reformed? He helped write the WCF.
Samuel Rutherford says:

There is a 3 revelation [a third kind of revelation, in addition to canonical revelation and to the internal testimony of the Spirit giving assurance] of some particular men, who have forefold [sic; foretold] things to come even since the ceasing of the Canon of the word,
as Iohn Husse, Wickeliefe, Luther, have foretold things to come, and they certainely fell out,


A modern day continuist/Grudemite is generally into prophecy that is "scripture for the immediate situation" oriented and not predictive prophecy. These men were actually far more charismatic than the average continuist in their view of predictive revelation. Even I as a continuist would struggle with caution bordering on scepticism if I heard these sorts of predictive propecies today from a pastor.

There is in my opinion a certain failure to take an honest look at Reformed history, perhaps from ignorance. But you need to face up to what Poythress points out here. Another guy is John Paton, the great Scottish Presbyterian missionary to the New Hebrides ( cannibal islands). He had a few experiences that can only be termed charismatic.

Modern charismatics err in expecting this sort of thing all the time, the way they call it "my gift", and often in elevating the subjective over objective scripture, and in thinking character does not matter if the man is "anointed in the gifts". Much is wrong. But it is just as wrong to deny our Reformed history and say it didn't happen. It did.

Lynnie,

You've just rehashed your arguments from a previous thread. For a start, the Grudemite differs from the Reformed because he has an erroneous view of 1 Cor 13. It is getting a bit tiring how people keep insisting over and over again that scriptures do not back up the Reformed cessationist position. It's right there, just that many deny it. As for these great men of our Reformed faith, no one has posited that they are not Reformed or that their experiences were false. There are nuances to this issue and I believe that a few of the ministers on our board have articulated them very well both in this thread and in the past ones. The modern charismatic does not subscribe to Reformed standards and is so by definition not Reformed. The differences do not lie merely on the issue of sign gifts, but also in church governance, baptism, RPW and covenantalism. Grudemites are no exception, though they might be closer. TULIP alone does not mean that one is truly Reformed. What's the point in coveting the label of Reformed anyway? It is a label describing a position that we, the Reformed, take and it is meaningless for one who does not share the same position to want the label. Charismatics who do believe in the doctrines of grace may call themselves Grudemites, New Calvinists, Piperites, etc if they really want.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
It might be helpful, in answering the original post, to carefully define the terms being used:

1) charismatic
2) continuationism

Let's particularize the terms:

3) Is the former is being taken narrowly, in effect to mean only "continuationism?"
4) In defining "continuationism" what exactly is being defined to "continue?"
A)E.g. Is it being meant that unknown tongues and interpretation of unknown tongues continue, ordinarily, in all contexts, as they were being used (and misused) in the Corinthian Church, recorded I Cor. 12-14, in the same way?
B) If so, what is understood to be their purpose then, in Corinth?

If we clarify these terms, it will help to focus on what the real issues are in relation to reformed theology, and the Confessions.

These are especially difficult issues, because often we do not have the same things in mind when these terms are being used, or they are terms we do not commonly use at all.:)
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
As for these great men of our Reformed faith, no one has posited that they are not Reformed or that their experiences were false.

Thank you for clarifying. I had the impression that you and others were specifically saying that belief in these things was not compatible with being Reformed. The thread after all started out about gifts. And far from being "a bit tiring", I would say the effort to suppress history and what happened and was accepted by our great Reformed fathers is what gets tiring. ( not saying here, I have been given great liberty to bring this up at PB). But until I see more than a very few folks like Poythress try to deal with this head on, I will consider the subject under discussed in the Reformed community, not over discussed. It is a pity that we have lost people to whacky charismatic churches who might have stayed, had this history been more fully embraced. From my Grudemite position even I have hard time with this history and what sometimes appears to be almost curses of judgment leading to death, and a lot of predictive prophecy. Would I be comfortable with this today going on at a big Piper conference for example? Hard to picture. So even continuists need to think it through.

Was the Reformation a very special time in church history, almost like the book of Acts, or the time of Elijah-Elisha? Does even what happened then with these prophetic predictions, during the greatest revival since Acts, happen much now? Should it? If we had another great revival, would it be like that? Is even the Reformation history I posted somewhat unique? I don't know. I do believe we should earnestly desire and pray for gifts. Did they pray and desire in a way we do not?

The differences do not lie merely on the issue of sign gifts, but also in church governance, baptism, RPW and covenantalism.

So now being Baptist means you are not Reformed? Church government, like the local elders at the top Baptists here? Sorry but this has been discussed for a long time and not just here, and whether you are right or wrong ( some folks want to go back to the term "particular Baptist") you lost the terminology battle on this one. RPW? I won't call the Frame people not Reformed either, another endless battle for the Reformed camp. Covenantal? Well, I am amil and Piper is historic pre mil as is Grudem If I recall correctly, and I think a lot of continuists reject dispensationalism. But find a MacArthur lover and try to say he is not Reformed, and you get an earful.

Scott- well put. So much has to do with terminology. I don't even like the word charismatic anymore because of the "Christians" I know who follow end time prophets and apostles bringing new revelation on par with canon. ( some of the prophets even go up to the third heaven and join in the councils of the Godhead...and then there are the one who are visited by the patriarchs, prophets and even Jesus in their homes...barf). Open theology is another in some charismatics. I am not even sure I can call them Christian.

I tend to think "Reformed" is so broad as to be almost useless. Maybe you could say traditional confessional, and Calvinist covenantal continuist? TC and CCC?
 
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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
And, Lynnie brings up a good point, about terms such as "charismatic."

If we are speaking of "continuationism" as a synonym for "charismatic" the former is not a commonly used term, and it would seem a very recent one.

What was the alternative, what was it distinguished from historically? Reformed theology holds a systematic view of the (very high) place of Scripture, its role as the revealed will of God and any substantive alternative to that cannot, in any way be "reformed."

When we ask about making a "charismatic" confession, one also has to ask a difficult question. Where is there one example, historically, or even in our present generation of a church that is clearly, confessionally, at least-

Doctrines of grace ("Calvinism") + Covenant Theology + Confession.

I know this is difficult, but even the modern denominations that identify themselves as charismatic/pentecostal and as Calvinist do not have a thorough covenant theology, nor a binding confession of their (systematic) theology.

What we often have is communions who are coming to understand the doctrines of grace, and those are so powerful(!) yet there has not been time to systematically work out the theology of all of Scripture.

God can certainly do miracles. Many of us have seen things we cannot explain, including manifestations that seem to have been used by God.

But one of the real issues, in line with Original Post here, is
Even knowing that God can and does miracles, we cannot re-define the time tested systematic biblical theology of the Confessions to accommodate personal experiences, and the subjectivity that comes with that, because we know God has established His Word, the foundation of our faith (Eph 2:20), once delivered (Titus 1:3) to us as the basis for faith and practice of His people.

We also know that our minds are "idol factories" as Mr. Calvin said, and will produce all sorts of things upon which to base our worship.

The Word is that important.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Scott......

nor a binding confession of their (systematic) theology.

I would say that from my limited experience and exposure that Grudem's ST is becoming the confession of sorts for Calvinist continuists. However the most visible group that apparently claims to hold the title to being "Reformed and charismatic" is SGM ( Mahaney, Harvey) and they have a strange almost RCC polity, and their pastors have to go to their 9 month school, the many fine seminaries out there are not an option, so maybe Grudem is not as influential as I think.

My PCA experience left me a bit cynical about even the PCA being called confessional...so many exceptions to so many things that you start to wonder what is even the point of calling yourself confessional. The fact that FV is even infecting the PCA is mindboggling to me. Justification by faith is more central than RPW, covenantal theology, cessationism vs charismatic, etc.

I would suspect that in the future we may find that there is a denominational separating of the strict confessionalists from the ones with exceptions.....and I would not be surprised if the continuists consider themselves closer to the first group because of male leadership in church and home...but who knows......
 

Particular Baptist

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello all!

Sorry about this truent response. Yes, I did get quite off target, and I apologize about that. The reason I did so, however, is that our brother, Scott, began to create a straw man instead of just answering the question. My intent was not to create such controversy. However, the conversation quickly took a turn and my defensive nature kicked in. I apologize to all who were offended.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Hello all!

Sorry about this truent response. Yes, I did get quite off target, and I apologize about that. The reason I did so, however, is that our brother, Scott, began to create a straw man instead of just answering the question. My intent was not to create such controversy. However, the conversation quickly took a turn and my defensive nature kicked in. I apologize to all who were offended.

What's needed is, you must now clearly define what you mean by:

1) continuationism
2) charismatic

The Confession being changed to accommodate these views, must be clearly and carefully defined, what you mean by that, to answer your original post question.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Spencer,
When Jesus promised the apostles that ;
26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

They were promised to be taught all things. Later they were told they would be taught things to come.

What do we need to know that was not given to the apostles? What do we need that is not contained in scripture?
If something more needed to be revealed to us,what do you think would be helpful? What are you holding out for?
 
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