Why I am not Charismatic

Noted theo-blogger C. Michael Patton has written a book titled Why I am not Charismatic and has made it available for free PDF download.

HT: C. Michael Patton

Mr. Patton tells of his earlier indifference toward charismatic writers:

I used to walk through Christian book stores and choose my books based on whether or not the author was a charismatic. I would pick up a commentary and turn immediately to 1 Cor. 12 (the section on spiritual gifts). If the author believed that the spiritual gifts were for today, I would put it back on the shelf in disbelief that the store would carry such misleading material. If they did not believe that the gifts were for today—if the author was a “cessationist”—I would consider purchasing the book.

Such was the time when I believed that all those who believed that all charismatics were practicing a different Christianity, at best, or demon possessed, at worst.

Though Mr. Patton has remained a-charismatic over the years, he doesn’t feel the same about Charismatics as he once did:

Such was the time when I believed that all those who believed that all charismatics were practicing a different Christianity, at best, or demon possessed, at worst.

Mr. Patton is a cessationist:

A cessationist (taken from “cease”), one the other hand, is one who believes that the extra-ordinary gifts ceased in the first century, either at the completion of the New Testament or at the death of the last Apostle. Cessationists believe that the supernatural gifts such as tongues, prophecy, and healings were “sign gifts” that were given for the establishment of the church and then passed away due to a fulfillment of their purpose. They served as a supernatural “sign” from God that the Gospel message being proclaimed was unique and authoritative. Since the Gospel message has been proclaimed and established in the New Testament, cessationists believe that these type of gifts ceased due to an exhaustion of purpose. Therefore, with regards to the “gifts of the Spirit,” there are “permanent gifts” and there are “temporary gifts.”  (read more…)

In his refutation of “all of the gifts for the church today,” Mr. Patton has constructed that classic either/or : either the canon of Scripture is not complete or an original apostle is still alive—for us to claim “all gifts of the Spirit” in the church TODAY.

So as a convinced cessationist, C. Michael Patton has summed up the matter on a chart:

At any rate, I’m glad that Mr. Patton has toned down his a-charismatic stance.

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This entry was posted in Charismatic, Gifts of the Spirit, Prophecy, Speaking in Tongues, Spiritual Gifts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Why I am not Charismatic

  1. I thought dinosaurs were extinct. 🙂

  2. T.C. R says:

    Dan,

    I only see them in movies and books. 😉

  3. Brian LePort says:

    I think I will put together a chart choosing the gifts that make me uncomfortable as having ceased and the gifts that I like as continuing today as well. We all should!

  4. Conversion continues to be the most radical manifestation of the Holy Spirit I’ve seen. Next to that healings, speaking in tongues, words of knowledge, prophesy, etc. is small time. How can someone decide what the Holy Spirit can or can’t do? That has always befuddled me.

  5. George says:

    To his credit, he did state that it was a de facto position, and not based on strenuous biblical exegesis…and not one to be argued in the face of reasonable evidence.

  6. George says:

    Point taken. I’m just thankful that his approach was not one that was closed to discussion, or dogmatic that cessation was the clear winner in Scripture 🙂

  7. Peter Kirk says:

    My reply to Patton: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commandments of God [e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:1] in order to observe your own traditions!” (Jesus’ words in Mark 7:9) By his argument, as soon as the canon was complete and the last apostle died it was open to people like him to set aside the bits of the Bible they didn’t like, without even bothering first to do “strenuous biblical exegesis” to justify their disobedience. Although I have only skimmed the long post, I didn’t see an answer there to this point.

    Indeed it seems that Patton is appealing to experience (or lack of it) against Scripture, precisely the kind of argument people like him so often use against charismatics:

    I have also said that one of the primary reasons why I am not charismatic is because I have never experienced such gifts in a way that would compel me to believe that these gifts, as they are expressed today, are legitimate. … I don’t think that one can make a solid case for the ceasing of the gifts from Scripture.

    As for his “exhaustion of purpose” argument, can he really argue that the church has exhausted its purpose of establishing itself and proclaiming the gospel? If the charismatic gifts were needed in the first century, they are needed today.

  8. George says:

    Peter,

    Just to be clear, “strenuous biblical exegesis” was my own comment. I did read his entire post – and he tried – from his own standpoint – to offer the best arguments for both sides in scripture. it isn’t that he left scripture out of his analysis, he just came to the end of that analysis with the opinion neither side had an overly compelling case. And in the face of that, he chooses experience to decide day to day expectation, the “norm (and not necessarily limit what God is able to do).

    I’m not at all defending his conclusions, but at least his approach left room to discuss with him and offer compelling evidence to the contrary.

  9. Ferg says:

    Last week we (myself and my wife) prayed for a girl who was deaf in her left ear. It completey opened up and she nearly went crazy, it was amazing and of course our awesome God was given all the glory. My point I sharing this is to ask how would that guy or any cessassionist respond to such a moment? Am I possessed? Is that the work of the devil? Did we make the whole thing up??
    Funny how so much awesome works were/are attributed to the devil…seems like the devil is more active and relating to humans that God is for some people!
    I genuinely believe the church has educated itself out of miracles.

    • T.C. R says:

      Ferg,

      Now this is experience contra Patton’s appeal to experience.

      I genuinely believe the church has educated itself out of miracles.

      Yep!

      • Tim Worley says:

        Although to be fair, Patton is clear in his post that he doesn’t consider miracles like healing to have ceased, only a “gift of healing” and what he considers “sign gifts.” So I don’t know that miraculous healing would be out of line with Patton’s position.

    • nor is cessationism a natural reading of the text – one has to be taught to be cessationist.

  10. Interesting. Not a single one of the seven categories and sub-categories that he uses can be found in Scripture.

    According to 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, ALL the gifts are temporary. They only last until Jesus comes back!

    • T.C. R says:

      Barry,

      According to cessationists, as reflected in the chart by Patton, those gifts have already ceased with either the completion of the canon or the death of the last apostle.

      Now look at the gifts that Patton says are permanent.

  11. Peter Kirk says:

    Thanks, George. I don’t remember seeing in the post any even moderately convincing scriptural arguments for the cessationist position, and Patton more or less concedes that. So, even if we leave out scriptural arguments against it, we are down to Patton’s experience, and perhaps that of some (but in fact by no means all) 2nd to 19th century church history, against the experiences of many like Ferg today as well as in the first century church. On that basis I think he can reasonably say that “charismatic gifts are not something I personally want to exercise” (but in that case what does he do with 1 Corinthians 14:1?), but he certainly has no basis for suggesting that anything others experience is wrong or of the devil.

  12. Ferg Breen says:

    Peter,
    I really believe that if that man has decided the ‘gifts are not something I personally want to exercise”; he is denying a “possible” move of God and that’s something that we need to be very very careful about doing.
    If we deny a move of God we deny the very face of God.

    • Peter Kirk says:

      Ferg, I agree with you in principle, and that is why I added my parenthesis. But when it comes down to it this is a matter between him and God. If he prefers to walk away from God’s best way, that is his choice. If he teaches others that they should also walk away, which in fact he just about avoids doing, then he puts himself in a much more dangerous position.

  13. Kohlberg says:

    I’m still trying to fathom why Patton would think it necessary to share/publish this at all. ???

  14. I like Michael a lot and think his does a great job at what he does. I don’t agree with him on various points but he is a great guy. I’m not sure why he wrote this as well, he did post this series sometime back and if I remember right at the time he had not read Gordon Fee’s “God’s Empowering Presences”, which in my opinion if you are going to write such a paper at least read what a respect charismatic theologian (not sure if Dr. Fee like the charismatic title, sorry sir if you dont) has to say on the matter. Maybe he has read it now not sure I’ll ask him.

    I’ll read when when I get a chance and maybe comment on it on my blog, but don’t hold your breath really busy now a days.

  15. George says:

    He was very emphatic that he does not deny God the ability to heal, or move in whatever way he deems necessary – through individuals, especially in prayer. His argument is that it is just not “normative” for individual believers to carry a gift like prophecy or healing. He certainly wasn’t trying to argue that healing was somehow demonically motivated. And he still left open that God could give a spiritual gift any time he wanted, just that it wasn’t the usual case.

  16. Peter Kirk says:

    Understood, George. But what does he have to say to 1 Corinthians 14:1, which appears to make charismatic experience normative, not just an option for those who like such things?

  17. George says:

    I don’t believe he mentions 1 Corinthians 14:1 – and that certainly affects the viability of his position (a position I am certainly not trying to defend!). You might take that particular verse up with him directly and see what he says. I can’t speak to his thoughts on it.

  18. T.C. R says:

    Peter Kirk :

    In that case perhaps Patton’s appeal to experience will cause many to become charismatic. ;-)

    Peter,

    I think so too.

  19. Pingback: Discussing the Charismata « Near Emmaus: Christ and Text

  20. ScottL says:

    If interested, a colleague and I started up a new blog a few months back entitled, To Be Continued. We hope it can be a biblical-theological-historical resource for the positive case for continuationism. Feel free to check it out at http://continuationism.com.

    We would like to also interact with CMP’s articles as well. I have great respect for CMP. I would also note that I don’t think he would call this a ‘book’, but maybe a ‘booklet’, since it is only 22-pages in the PDF format. 🙂

  21. Pingback: Michael Patton on Why He Is Not a Charismatic « The Prodigal Thought

  22. ScottL says:

    I’ll put up a link to your blog on the blogroll at To Be Continued, since you are continuationist.

  23. Duane says:

    I think I’ll post a chart on the fruits of the spirit. Long suffering and self control were temporary fruits and surely can’t exist today. 🙂

  24. Pingback: on charismata: cessationism vs continuationism « New Epistles

  25. George says:

    Duane,

    More to the point in Patton’s logic, it’s not that those fruits can’t exist today, more that we just don’t experience them today. God can give those fruits whenever, he just chooses not to do so in his church today. It’s a de facto cessation of those particular fruits… 🙂

  26. T.C. R says:

    Tim Worley :

    Although to be fair, Patton is clear in his post that he doesn’t consider miracles like healing to have ceased, only a “gift of healing” and what he considers “sign gifts.” So I don’t know that miraculous healing would be out of line with Patton’s position.

    Tim,

    That’s a position that all cessationists take. 😉

  27. ScottL says:

    We have a series going on over at To Be Continued in which we are interacting with CMP’s Why I am Not Charistmatic series. So far, 3 of 8 posts have been put up.

    1) Post 1
    2) Post 2
    3) Post 3

  28. Pingback: Patton: not yet a Charismatic - Gentle Wisdom

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