The conference subject this year was the Charismatic Movement, and the speaker Chris Hand. Having been involved in the ‘Toronto Blessing’ when it first came to England, Chris was able to bring clear scriptural views to the subject.
In the afternoon he overviewed the movement’s history and highlighted its teachings. In the early 20th century the Charismatic phenomenon was largely confined to Pentecostal churches, but in the 1960s crossed into other denominations. Since that time it has experienced diversification.
The movement’s impact has been huge, even on non-Charismatic churches. It has led to a downgrading of the office of teaching elder; an elevation of ‘worship’ over gospel preaching; radical changes in church order and discipline; and incorrect views of the work of the Holy Spirit. Today, as in the 1960s, many Evangelicals seem either to endorse at least some Charismatic practices, or have a ‘wait and see’ attitude towards them.
Chris Hand’s second paper focused on a biblical response. There are sincere Charismatic believers, but churches need to apply the teaching of Scripture to the movement’s tenets.
We must depend solely on Scripture for revelation now that the Bible is complete. The miraculous gifts in the early church, such as prophecy and tongues, were given to authenticate apostles and New Testament prophets; and those gifts ceased after the apostles and prophets. As there are no messengers of revelation today, there is no longer need for miraculous sign gifts.
The challenge for those churches that have avoided Charismatic errors is to maintain, through the Holy Spirit, a warm spirituality, with zeal and love for Christ.
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