At the beginning of December, we posted a piece by Matt Recker, responding to Kevin Bauder’s discussion of his earlier series on The Gospel Coalition (last post with index to all posts here). Dr. Bauder has since offered two final pieces concluding his interaction with Pastor Recker. We’d like to draw your attention to them with this post.
- Matt Recker and the Gospel Coalition, Part 8: Charismatic Theology
- Matt Recker and the Gospel Coalition, Part 9: Summary
We appreciate the discussion, both those posts that disagreed with some of ours and (of course) we especially appreciate those posts that express agreement with the concerns Pastor Recker raises. As a summary, we’d like to point out some key comments in the above linked posts by Dr. Bauder.
On Charismatic Theology
My judgment is that cessationists are correct in perceiving that charismatic theology is a fairly significant error, even in its more moderate forms.
Why? For several reasons. It involves a major misunderstanding of the present work of the Holy Spirit. Even the moderate (e.g., Grudem’s) versions of the error involve significant misconstruals of key biblical concepts like revelation and prophecy. Doctrinally, the first two waves misapplied the doctrine of the atonement and distorted Spirit baptism, while the Third Wave over-realizes the kingdom and overreaches the concept of “kingdom authority." It is not an isolated error, but often leads to some distorted appropriations of the biblical text (see Carson’s Showing the Spirit, passim—which surely contains some of the strangest things that Carson has ever written). Perhaps most importantly, charismatic theology leads to some truly vicious extremes, a tendency that produces two other problems. The first is that even the more moderate charismatics (who may personally repudiate those extremes) seem unable to apply any sort of theological brake to charismatic thought as a whole. The second is that charismatics tend to embrace extreme figures on the basis of their shared charismatic experience.
On The Whole Discussion
Dr. Bauder explains his disagreement with Pastor Recker on the danger to inerrancy among The Gospel Coalitionists, but concedes this point:
Still, Pastor Recker’s concern has a grain of legitimacy: some Coalitionaires hold to a version of progressive creationism or theistic evolution, the effect of which is to undermine the actual authority of Scripture. Their hermeneutic damages the usefulness of the very inerrancy that they profess to believe.
We’d like to highlight especially where Dr. Bauder agrees with Pastor Recker’s concerns:
In spite of these areas of disagreement, Pastor Recker and I shared several concerns over positions taken by figures in The Gospel Coalition. …
One mistake is Pastor Keller’s adherence to old-earth progressive creationism and his endorsement of the work of Biologos. Most evangelicals and some fundamentalists believe that this is a relatively minor difference of opinion. Pastor Recker and I, however, are on the same side here. We are convinced that any perspective that puts animal death in the created order prior to Adamic sin is going to have important consequences for the entire system of theology. This is one of our greatest concerns—we believe that this error does begin to touch on the gospel.
And finally, note this concluding comment:
Pastor Recker and I both agree and disagree. Our disagreements, however, revolve around relatively fine distinctions, while our agreements center upon important doctrinal concerns. If we do not quite see eye to eye, we certainly do not see each other as opponents.
There is more of interest in these last two posts by Dr. Bauder. Read the whole thing!
Don Johnson is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.