Saturday, July 11, 2009

What is a reformed charismatic?

Terry Virgo gave three sessions at our leaders conference last week that captured the essence of newfrontiers. We are a people of the word and the Spirit (reformed and charismatic), a people who love the church, and a people gathered within apostolic spheres of influence (more on that sometime soon).

I was very struck during the church history track on Calvin by the explicit doctrinal foundations of the movement. Andy Johnston, Greg 'Banner of Truth' Haslam and Lex Loizides were all very strong on our emphasis on the authority of Scripture. We are Bible people who love the sovereign rule of God, especially in saving his people.

When we speak of ourselves as reformed we speak of the God of the Scriptures to whom salvation belongs. There is a lot more that could be said about being reformed which flows from this foundation regarding sin, grace, and indeed a deep valuing of all of life. David Stroud's session on the need and value of Christians in the workplace and all of life is a clear illustration of this. A Calvinist mindset is a big-God mindset which is a richness of life mindset. A coffee-appreciating and culture-enjoying, tasty and thinky, colourful and communal, lyrical and lifey mindset.We are a reformed people.

When we speak of being charismatic we say we are people who want to experience the presence of God, knowing God actually is among us, who want our affections effected by him and who eagerly desire the gifts that Christ and the Holy Spirit give to the church for her upbuilding. We are a charismatic people.

Lex illustrated our position from Acts 18:9-11 on John Calvin's birthday:

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

1. The sovereignty of God who has many in this city - an elect people.
2. This election is motivation for mission not for fear and passivity, though reformed theology is often perceived as the quencher of joy and mission, contra the examples of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, William Carey and Charles Spurgeon amongst others!
3. This doctrine comes to Paul in a charismatic experience, a vision. Somewhere along the line the church decided to make every charismatic experience in the book of Acts an exception, but how many exceptions do you have to list before it starts to look normal?

Together On a Mission Conference, Brighton Highlights from Newfrontiers on Vimeo.
TOAM '09 Highlight video

Download main sessions from the Together on a Mission 2009 conference - I particularly recommend the three by Terry Virgo on newfrontiers, past, present and future, and Joel Virgo's session which is on being part of a team. Stef Liston was also excellent on humility. 

My one plea for the future, given there are 1189 chapters in the Bible, it'd be great to be spared the fourth versions of 1 Samuel 14 and Daniel 1. In 9 main sessions we could actually preach a full series through several possible books, as demonstrated by The Gospel Coalition on 2 Timothy etc.