Friday, November 11, 2005

Sam Storms' book, Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist

I just finished the book Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist by Sam Storms today.

I've read through most of the comments on Tim Challies blog and the tilt therein seems to be toward the cessationist viewpoint. I am amazed at how brothers and sisters who claim to so adamently cling to the Scriptures so easily disregard what it says on the subject of spiritual gifts and just formulate some rules based on anectdotal evidence. If you despise and reject spiritual gifts based on your observation of their misuse, are you not formulating doctrine from your experience and not from Scripture? Like J. Edwards' argument that Sam picked apart in the book (Edwards is usually really awesome), almost all of the scoffing at the spiritual gifts I hear is based on some observations of abuse, not on Scripture. It seems that somehow some have come to think the appropriate response to abuse is disuse, when in fact the appropriate response is to follow God's command in the Scripture:
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy...But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. (I Cor. 14:1,3)

Just think; many non-Christians take an analagous approach in their decision to reject Christ. Since there has been so much abuse in the name of Jesus Christ (i.e. the Crusades, etc.), they choose to set it aside altogether. What a tragedy! They will by no means be cleared of their obligation to obey the Scriptures simply because others abused and mishandled the Word of God. "Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar." (Romans 3:4) That so many have abused them is a pitiful excuse indeed for rejecting the spiritual gifts.

Even if someone chooses to not heed the clear teaching of I Cor. 14 that commands us to desire to prophesy (as well as the example of the church and the apostles in Acts), he has got to be in denial to think that the gifts aren't operating. They are! The proof is in the pudding! People are getting healed, accurate prophetic words are being given. Two places I know of where you can view this stuff in action for yourselves is the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (where there has been nonstop 24-7 prayer going on for over 6 years now) and Clover Creek/Newsong Church in Tacoma, Washington. I've experienced this stuff personally.

Most of what purports to be a biblical argument against the gifts consists of the explaining away of the texts that seem to clearly indicate their existence as well as a baffling twisting of I Cor. 13 that can at best be called prooftexting.

A lot of the cessationist arguments seem to be based on extrabiblical logic. Here's a good metric for any of the logical processes you may go through to figure out if the gifts are still in place: imagine an unbeliever using analagous logic to figure out whether or not he should become a Christian.

Here are some of the other Scriptures Sam used in the part of the book that argues against cessationism:

I John 4:1-3 (John seemed confident that the saints of his day could avoid being led astray by the evil one as they listened for God's voice; why can't we?)

I Thess. 5:19-21 (Storms says, "non-canonical revelation [to a non-apostle] was not inconsistent with the authority of Scripture then, so why should it be now?" p.178)

Brothers and sisters, take to heart what Sam covered in the book as well as in the Epilogue about fear being the biggest motivating factor in the rejection of the gifts. If you think something is too wierd to be from God, show that Scriptures concur with you. In fact, stories of the saints of old encountering the supernatural in the Bible tend to be slightly bizarre, so biblical precedent is decidedly on the side of the wierd. I think that subconsciously, a lot of cessationists think, "Well, I certainly can get by just fine without the spiritual gifts, and to try to pursue them would only open the possibility to make mistakes, so I'd better just play it safe. There's just nothing to be gained by messing around with this stuff. The risks far outweigh the rewards." Again, this is human reasoning which happens to be contrary to Scripture. Just obey! It's very simple. You will probably make mistakes along the way, but obedience is worth the price. As always, God has something great in store for you as you obey the Scriptures in faith.