“I can still remember the day it all hit me like a ton of bricks. These elders were saying they had access to insight that I could not have or had not been given. They had a special lens for seeing and I did not. And that I knew was an evil error. Unaccountable knowledge based on special intuition placed my leaders above the Scriptures not under them. They denied it in theory, but it was clearly what they practiced.”
Posted over at R. Scott Clark’s The Heidelblog:
A few weeks ago you posted a warning against the desire for ongoing prophecy. [See also this—Ed.] In it you told a story of what happens when people look to words from God beyond Scripture. I wanted to stand as a witness to the dangers you highlighted.
I am not doing this to call out any group in particular. The idea that we can be Reformed and charismatic is too pervasive to attach it to any one association. So I will speak of the ideas behind it. My particular experience is representative of what it is like to be in that world of doctrine and practice.
Background I came to faith in college. My earliest years as a Christian were in a vibrant and intense campus ministry. Fellowship on the campus was a 24/7 thing. We ate meals, walked to classes, prayed, and roomed together. I cannot begin to count the hours of spiritual conversation we had. Spiritual hunger marked my life.
There was a mix of Christians on campus. CRU was there. Some pretty wild Pentecostals were there. God brought dispensational Calvinists into my life. I got hooked on prophetic charts, Spurgeon, and later on John Piper. I also drank often from the more Reformed well. The authors that drew me had a sense of a great God, the evil of sin, the complete work of Christ, and the call to holiness. I could not get enough of their theology.
Outside of my reading, my Christian life was not remarkable. After the first wave of conversion change, I settled into the routine of battling the flesh. My particular sins were those of a young adult – self-indulgence, laziness, being opinionated, not honoring my parents, and sexual sin. My sins grieved me. I looked for help for this inner war. I wanted to be free from sin. Once again, it was the Reformed tradition that gave me hope and sanity.
My experience of church was a different cat. It seemed limp and without energy. The contrast between the church and my experience of fellowship on campus left me perplexed and critical. I began to read about revivals and to pray with others for the same. All I knew is that church was not what it was supposed to be.