Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Non-devisive Doctrine

A common argument heard from cessationists is that continualism, in it's many shades, is a divisive doctrine that splits churches and separates brothers. I remember, however, hearing one of my former pastors and one the the best preachers I've ever heard, preach from the Book of Acts concerning the unifying nature of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the concomitant manifestation of tongues (click this link for a sample of Rex Bornman). He noted that people of all classes, cultures, and languages were brought together, not by common doctrine, but common experience. What would have taken only God knows how long (if ever), through discussion, committees and findings, occurred almost immediately through experience, and no one got the glory but God!

As an Arminian, I have had enough encounters with Calvinists, who assume they have found the be all and the end all of truth in the so called doctrines of grace, for me to suspect that Calvinism was something that would keep its proponents and myself from ever getting along or pursuing ministry together in harmony. Then, I encountered a phenomenon that I had not before-- Charismatic Calvinists. Whereas we don't share some fundamental doctrinal distinctives, we do share experience of God the Spirit. That, in and of itself, allows us to truly acknowledge each other as brothers and to cooperate with each other in the advance of gospel ministry and the search for practical truth.

Furthermore, I have found this true not only for other doctrinal differences, but also for cultural and linguistic ones as well. When people share the same experience of the Holy Spirit, walls of division and hostility break down. Black, white, American, Asian, African, rich, poor... regardless,
being baptized in the Holy Spirit and then experiencing signs and wonders brings folks together. By my reckoning, it is not acceptance of continualism that breeds division among brothers, but the insistence of cessationism. I would wager that I have more in common with a charismatic Calvinist than I do with a cessationist Arminian. So, Cessationism causes fellowship to break with the one who comes into the biblical experience of charismata; whereas Continualism, on the other hand, is truly the non-divisive doctrine!