Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Fly in the Charismatic Ointment (Pun Cheerfully Intended)

John Chrysostom, Homily IV on Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians:

"Because if he meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely, but plainly, that even now the grace of of the Spirit, that is the gifts, withhold [the AntiChrist]. And otherwise he ought to have come, if he was about to come when the gifts ceased: for they have long since ceased."

This comment is a bit of a fly in the ointment of those who claim that the spiritual gifts have not ceased, but is also a bit of a fly in the ointment for those who think that Christians were unable to tell that prophecy had ceased, and that the only revelation they could work from was that had been committed to writing and providentially preserved by God. That is not to say that there may not be some Christians who had difficulty discerning imitations in the first few generations after the apostles.

It's also a bit of a fly in the ointment for those who assert that their church has continually had prophets since the days of the apostles, as some "Orthodox" have apparently asserted, pointing to the mystical experiences of ascetic monks on Mt. Athos and in other places.

I'm sure that modern "charismatics" have developed an explanation for the absence of positive historical evidence of the continuation of the gifts, possibly along the lines that those of the "Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints" (who also claim to have living prophets in their midst).

-Turretinfan

3 comments:

TheoJunkie said...

On Chrysostom:

Would you suggest (allegedly with Chrysostom) that the grace of the Spirit is exclusively manifested as "the [Spiritual] gifts" such as those described in 1 Cor 12? If so, what make you of common grace, or even regenerative grace and sanctifying grace?

On your comments:

1) Are there some who claim (per your second paragraph) that early Christians were unable to discern true from false? I was not aware that there are some who make this claim. It seems contrary to what a "charismatic" might argue, because "discernment" is one of the spriritual gifts. I note that if all gifts have ceased, then indeed discernment also no longer occurs.

2) Your third paragraph strongly suggests that you see no real difference between the charismatic churches (and perhaps also those who attend such churches) and the Mormons. Is this correct?

Carrie said...

Perfect timimng for me on this quote.

I just posted about Gerry Matatics at Beggars All and noted my confusion with the emphasis placed on extrabiblical prophecies (particularly from "Our Lady"). I wonder if there is anything like this found in the early writings?

Turretinfan said...

Dear TJ,

TJ: "Would you suggest (allegedly with Chrysostom) that the grace of the Spirit is exclusively manifested as "the [Spiritual] gifts" such as those described in 1 Cor 12?"

I respond:
No. I don't think that J.Chrys. was saying that, and I wasn't saying that either.

TJ: "1) Are there some who claim (per your second paragraph) that early Christians were unable to discern true from false?"

I respond:
Yes - not all early Christians, but some.

TJ: "It seems contrary to what a "charismatic" might argue, because "discernment" is one of the spriritual gifts. I note that if all gifts have ceased, then indeed discernment also no longer occurs."

I respond:
Clearly your latter sentence would seem to be correct. Discernment of spirits as an extraordinary gift would have ceased. The claim is that early Christians post-cessation were sometimes fooled by fakes.

TJ: "2) Your third paragraph strongly suggests that you see no real difference between the charismatic churches (and perhaps also those who attend such churches) and the Mormons. Is this correct?"

I respond:
No. That's not the point of the paragraph at all. The point of the paragraph is that presumably charismatics are not such fools as to have failed to come up with some kind of explanation - perhaps along the same lines as the Mormons who - as I recall - really had to deal with the matter first.
There must have been some attempt to extract the fly.

But the fly is really much more of a problem for those who venerate J.Chrys. and yet claim that they have a continual succession of prophets on Mt. Athos.

That was really the point of the post.

-Turretinfan