I recently went out with my wife and a group of new friends. We saw “The Good Negro,” a play about the civil rights movement and the struggle of the leaders to be effective, to be perfect, to be respected as human.
After the play, we all gathered at a local restaurant for food and discussion and it happened again. You see, (and if you frequent my blog you already know), I have been on a journey for more than a year now. After many years in ministries and 5 years on a church staff as the youth minister, I walked away. I walked away knowing one thing for sure. The faith that I shared with so many and for so long was not a faith I could live with. I’ll tell you why in a moment, but back to the dinner for now.
Without intention, maybe even with resistance from me, the conversation merged into a discussion on truth, religion, God, and spirituality. This kind of unplanned conversation has been happening to me frequently for more than a year. I have concluded that people all over the world are searching for a faith they can live with. I almost want to draw parallels between the civil rights movement and the unorganized spiritual movement that seems afoot. I shall resist.
Why I could not live with “charismatic faith”
I can give you many, many anecdotal stories about why I was not content with the faith of my childhood. Instead I’ll just say this. I grew up in the charismatic church, and while it took me a long time to get to a place of frustration, I did get there. The charismatic experience is too much of just that for me — experience. Often times the experience is not questioned. Often truth is presented that is not reasonable and has little biblical truth as its basis. The foundation of truth, the way truth is determined in that group of denominations, is based on (as I have experienced it): general revelation (the Bible), special revelation (things that God says now), experience, and emotion. Reason is often frowned upon and consideration of the global and historic church’s position on issues is unheard of for most within.
This approach worked for me until I started asking a series of ‘why’ questions. Like i said before, if you are a frequent reader, you know all this. If not, search “rethinking church” on the blog and you’ll let the gist of it.
Finally, I have come to conclusions about the basis of my faith. In other words, this is where I stand now. I have come to a place of peace and rest.
I have as my foundation now the five Solas. I will compare and contrast each of these as I go further, but let me start with an overview. Believe me when I tell you that the differences between charismatic theology and what is called reformed theology are night and day.
A faith I can live with.
Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria: With scripture alone as our primary theological authority, we conclude that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and in this, God alone receives the glory.
As I read that I think to myself, I don’t know any charismatic Christians who would disagree with any of this verbally. However, as I will point out over the next few posts, what is said and what is done in charismatic circles are two astoundingly different things.
Let me end here by saying, I am also decidedly irenic in my theological discussions. I’m not here to bash those who are from the traditions of my past. The fact remains that I have learned of God and have come to faith in Him in very charismatic environments. Without the things that I have learned and without the relationship that I developed with God in these environments, I would have had nothing to sustain me. It must be understood from the start that I love my brothers and sisters who remain.
Yet my faith seeks understanding. “fides quaerens intellectum”