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an online resource for Reformed Charismatics, Pentecostal Calvinists, & Empowered Evangelicals

What is a “Reformed Charismatic”?

This question has been popping up more regularly as of late – as I regularly search the web for the words “Reformed Charismatic”, a couple of years ago I would find only 5 or 6 mentions, where-in now I find pages and pages. It’s a regular subject of bloggers, and even several books. So far, I’ve even found a number of denominations/associations of churches/church planting organizations that try – to one degree or another – to combine the best of both the Reformed/Calvinist/Evangelical (old-school definition of the term: not it’s modern use) traditions and the Charismatic/Third Wave (C. Peter Wagner’s term for ‘charismatics’ that reject a 2nd Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the necessity of tongues-speaking, among other things) movement: Sovereign Grace Ministries; New Frontiers International; Grace Churches International; Grace Network, Association of Charismatic Reformed Churches; Word & Spirit Churches International; and individual churches within both the Vineyard Church movement and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

The best way to explain what it is to be ‘Reformed Charismatic’ is this: a Christian with the desire to fully and Biblically live out the phrase ‘worship in Spirit and Truth’, and to chase what both of those mean to their Biblical ends in all areas. That means teaching the Biblical truths that may be unsettling or unpopular to modern ears, especially in some charismatic circles, & practicing gifts in a way that lines up with Biblical guidelines – being ‘charismatic’ Christians in a way that is fully God-centered.

For example, Reformed Charismatics, on the whole, reject the ‘prospterity/health & wealth’ gospel (er – I mean ‘false gospel’), reject the word-faith movement, reject the therapeutic-faith gospel, and most any fad or so-called ‘revival’ that results in silliness and tend to diminish the authority and holiness of God, which are the very things that lead most solid evangelicals to be skeptical of the Charismatic movement in the first place. Most Reformed Charismatic churches – but not all – are wary of the excesses of so-called ‘revivals’ like what took place in Toronto and Brownsville, and see true revival not as an event that results in wild shows of spiritual gifts – or laughter and such – but as a move of God, where-in the lost come to Christ, and the Church shows much deeper signs of God’s Holy Spirit: His FRUIT.

Reformed Charismatics, though convinced believers in the modern practice of all of the gifts of the Spirit, attempt to keep the primary focus on the cross of Christ, and the gospel (see Stackhouse’s “the Gospel Driven Church” or Mahaney’s “Living the Cross-Centered Life”) instead of on the gifts of the Spirit, and when practicing the gifts often try to do so in a manner that does not draw attention to the gifts themselves, but to God – the gift-giver.

As many charismatic churches find their ‘heart’ in the revivalistic messages of Finney and the early holiness movement, Reformed Charismatics find their ‘historical theology’ more grounded in the lives and writings of the Puritians, like Jonathan Edwards & John Owen, and the later writings of C.H. Spurgeon. This means that the normal methodist/holiness/charismatic emphasis of the ‘victorious Christian life’ is well-balanced with the Biblical truth of ‘indwelling sin’ and the fact that there is a radical ‘now’ and a ‘not yet’ aspect to our salvation. Yes, we are ‘Saints’ and no longer ‘Sinners’ by nature, however, we are ‘Saints’ who still sin and struggle against the remnant of that sin-nature.

Most, but not all, of the Reformed Charismatic organizations have started as purely Charismatic/Pentacostal movements that saw a need to reform their practices to line up more thoroughly with God’s revelation, which led some of those ‘reforming’ movements to come into line on some of their major doctrines with historic ‘Reformed/Calvinistic/Augustinian’ Christianity – but of course, I also believe that this was a result of true renewal, and the Spirit revealing God to them. Some of the organizations (only the Assoc. of Charismatic Reformed Churches and Grace Network, as far as I know), however, do come from Charismatic renewal coming upon already ‘Reformed’ churches.

Some of the main ‘players’ in the ‘Reformed Charismatic’ movement are: C.J. Mahaney, Joshua Harris, Terry Virgo, Adrian Warnock, Michael Fletcher, Steve Holt, Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms, J. Rodman Williams, Matt Chandler, Ian Stackhouse, Brent Detweiler, Michael Youssef, the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Zeb Bradford Long, Bob Kauflin, Mark Driscoll, R.T. Kendall, Greg Haslam, Mark Altrogge, Rich Nathan, Kendrick Vinar, William P. Farley, and even John Piper and D.A. Carson. The basic thrust is this: strong Biblical teaching with a focus on the Gospel and God’s sovereignty, accompanied by passionate God-centered worship and the functioning of the spiritual gifts strictly according to the Biblical guidelines.

In the end, we Reformed Charismatics are just trying to live as ‘Biblical’, Spirit-led Christians as best as we know how.

If you’d like to chase this dog further, please check out my HEAT & LIGHT BOOKSTORE on Amazon.com

That’s all for now.

Seek God.

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Filed under: Books, Calvinism, Charismatic, Holy Spirit, Pentecostalism, Reformed, Theology

19 Responses

  1. Hedonese says:

    Reformed charismatic? I like the sound of that hehehe though some may misunderstood the term to mean a repentant charismatic-turned-cessationist :)

    Just wish there are more Asian Reformed charismatics around :) Keep blogging for his glory!

    http://opensourcemission.com

  2. so…what happened at Toronto and Brownsville is “silliness” to a Reformed Charismatic?

    “laughing in the Spirit” is excess to a Reformed Charismatic?

    sounds to me like Reformed Charismatics are just Christians that are too cool for the Holy Spirit.

    or have they simply forgotten that if we ask for the Holy Spirit, the Father will not give us a snake or a scorpion?

  3. heatlight says:

    Thanks for your note on the Heat & Light blog.
    I would like to point out, though, that I wrote that MOST Reformed Charismatics would reject those as genuine revivals – not all. Those who would reject them would not do so because they were ‘too cool’ for the Holy Spirit, but loved God enough – and his Word to them – to recognize and devote themselves wholeheartedly to knowing Him and recognizing His move…a good number of Reformed Charismatics would reject the ‘holy laughter’ movement simply because ‘holy laughter’ is not anywhere in Scripture (which is God’s most authoritative and reliable, direct means of communications – note: I prophesy with some regularity, but I’m not always 100% dead on – the Bible is) – that is much of what it means to be “Reformed”, actually – and when observing much of it’s fruit, a great deal of the fruit of the movement (raising the importance of the ‘showey” so-called ‘miraculous manifestations’ up over and above the Work of Christ on the Cross to save sinners, to name just one – there are many more) not being the Biblical fruit of a steady, committed, self-sacrificial walk with God, displaying the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, and a good number of other reasons. The real heart of a ‘Reformed’ Charismatic, as opposed to any other ‘Charismatic’ is a commitment to be obedient to the Scriptures first and foremost, and to the cross of Christ be central, yet unlike most ‘Reformed Christians’ like Lutherans and Presbyterians – who no longer believe in the miraculous, Reformed Charismatics – in obedience to the Scripture – still pray for and expect to see miracles, have the operations of the gifts of tongues, and even modern day prophecy and the like.
    I hope that clarifies. Again, a number of reformed charismatics were actively INVOLVED with the ‘holy laughter movement’ – after a time there, they saw the fruit and rejected it. A very small number saw the same problems, but just in case it WAS God, remained, yet it has eventually moved on from their congregations.
    I hope you’ll take the time to explore some of my other posts, and the links involved. Your site looks quite interesting too, and I’m sure I’ll be back to read more there.

    p.s. – because of our email conversation on this topic, and your many challenging points, I’m considering doing posting a blog soon on this very topic, not as so much a critique, but an opportunity for dialogue on this polarizing subject. Again – thanks for your note!

  4. Louis Woodley says:

    Thankyou for your comments from one reformed charismatic to another. being reformed and Charismatic is just trying to follow the whole counsel of God. I would not write off the whole holy laughter movement but would certainly be cautious of many of the excesses.I know some of those mentioned above have been involved and influenced by key figures in the Holy laughter movement knowing some of thwem personally but thakyou for simulating thought and getting us to think and reflect on the issues so we can move to a truly Biblical faith.

  5. I am ex charismatic, just Reformed…
    I am praying for you…

  6. heatlight says:

    I always appreciate prayer. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. [...] Secondly, my basic overview of what it means to be a ‘Reformed Charismatic’ simply titled ‘What is a Reformed Charismatic?’  [...]

  8. [...] This discussion originally arose very shortly after starting this blog when I posted “What is a Reformed Charismatic?”, which sparked not only a number of responses, but also a friendly email dialogue which I have [...]

  9. james says:

    I am Reformed. I believe all the gifts are still available today. I do not speak in tongues. I side with Wayne Grudem on the issue of Baptism the Holy Spirit (see Systematic Theology, ch.39). I hope, by God’s grace, I use my gifts in a way that shows the supremacy of Christ, not the gifts.

    Most people would say that this would earn me the label of a “Reformed Charismatic.” However, the word “Charismatic” has such negative connotations in today’s Evangelical lingo that I just don’t want to apply that to myself.

    Any thoughts on that?

  10. heatlight says:

    Honestly, I can totally understand. Since I find myself often in charismatic circles, it leaves some doors open to me to help me reforme that community, so I continue to use it, however.

  11. Max Staples says:

    Have you considered adding Jack S. Deere to your list? Or is he already there, and I just missed it?

    I recently stumbled (was led) to his books and teaching, and believe that he may also qualify as Reformed Charismatic.

  12. heatlight says:

    As much as I like Jack Deere, he’s not really what I would consider ‘reformed’… I could be wrong, however. I like his books.

  13. Tyler says:

    I am a recently convinced “calvinist” or reformed believer. By the Holy Spirit’s leading I left the Hyper-charismatic/Word of Faith movement (In Feb 2004) and found it hard not to be cynical and bitter about all the excesses that I saw and participated in. When the light was turned on the next sin I had to deal with was, pride. I still have to remind myself that somethings are essential and others are not, but where do you draw the line?

    Anyway, I appreciated the information and basically consider myself a reformed “charismatic”, probably more reformed but still “charismatic” nonetheless.

  14. heatlight says:

    i can totally understand, Tyler… glad to have you… comment often!

  15. Derek Ashton says:

    You’ve done a great job of explaining this topic. I find some who are of the cessationist mindset, particularly dispensationalists, can’t jive with the idea of gifts of the Spirit continuing today. They’re a bit suspicious about Reformed Charismatics, perhaps. However, folks like CJ Mahaney have done a superb job of building bridges in a way that exemplifies our unity in the Gospel. Together For the Gospel is a great example of this (visit t4g.org to learn more). Heat & Light is perfect terminology to describe the HEAT of spiritual passion combined with the LIGHT of great theology.

    The following bit of exegesis is attributed to CJ Mahaney (I hope I can represent this correctly, but if there are any mistakes, they’re mine not his):

    Paul says, “All things should be done decently and in order.” Some churches emphasize “All things should be done,” while other churches emphasize “decently and in order.” A reformed Charismatic body strives to put the entire phrase into practice: “All things should be done (in context, this refers to the REAL spiritual gifts), but they should be done decently and in order (which doesn’t necessarily mean QUIETLY).” That’s the best concise explanation of the concept I have ever found.

    Thanks for the great post, I’m encouraged by it!

  16. I am so glad I found this site! I have just recently come out of the charismatic church due to our church going heavily into the lakeland revival. I have a blog support for ex charismatics.. but I am still finding my way through scripture. What charismatic reformed churches are around?

  17. Jun Ang says:

    This is a nicely written a blog or whatever you call it. I’m a pastor here in southern california (long beach area) of a “reformed charismatic” or as one reformed pastor by the name of Dr Jim Newheiser calls us, “careful charismatics”. He kind of describes us as churches leaning toward reformed theology who does evangelism. :-)
    By the way, there are a lot of asian churches here that I know who are “into” this, we’re one of those actually. Some of them just label themselves differently.
    Blessings to you.

  18. Ismael says:

    Thank you so much for your article on “What is a Reformed Charismatic”. I am a Charismatic that developed a great interest in Reformed theology and attended a Presbyterian Church for many years. However, I came back to the Charismatic church because the church I attended at the time was a bit dry when it came to praise and worship and lacked that sense of ‘worship in Spirit and Truth’ I sought. Very learned reformed theology but lacking that joy of knowing the living God.

    I thought I was the only one that wanted both worlds (sound theology and expentancy of God’s spirit as well as living a very God centered life) your post really helped me see that they are others that feel the same way. Still have lots to learn!! God Bless!!

  19. [...] can read the article at Heat and Light: http://heatlight.wordpress.com/2007/07/24/what-is-a-reformed-charismatic/.  I’ve also added a link to the Heat and Light website to my blogroll.  Its an excellent [...]

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