The Discontinuity of the Calvinistic Continuationist

The Discontinuity of the Calvinistic Continuationist


As I said in my previous post, I have great respect and admiration for many Calvinistic Continuationists. My posts do not call into question the benefit some of these individuals are to the church, nor do I call into question their personal piety and godly example. My aim is to respond to the claim the Calvinists ought to be charismatic. I disagree with such a claim.

What is a continuationist? The continuationist believes that the miraculous gifts are still in operation in the church today. I must say, that I agree with Phil Johnson as he has observed that “it’s pretty hard to find a real continuationist.”[1] What he means by this is that an evangelical continuationist is a cessationist at some level. With the exception of extreme continuationists, they don’t think there are apostles around today who write Scripture. It is taught that this gift is no longer in operation. In this sense, there are not many true continuationists around. Continuationists believe some of the gifts have ceased or carry a different function from apostolic age.

In my view, the Charismatic Calvinist has gone beyond the sufficiency of Scripture by claiming there are ongoing revelations today that undermine the Calvinistic high view of Scripture and the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. It is not within the scope of this post to discuss why I believe the gifts of apostleship, prophecy, tongues, healing and miracles are no longer operative today. However, by way of a brief comment I would say that the actual aforementioned spiritual gifts were real and beneficial, but they were foundational and confirmatory of the apostolic age.

I recognize that the continuationist and the cessationist use different definitions of some of the specific gifts. Take for example prophecy. One could ask, is the New Testament gift of prophecy authoritative revelation from God or not? Those that teach there are prophets today or that prophecy is a gift will vary in their definition of the word. For example, Wayne Grudem (whose Systematic Theology and contribution to the complimentarianism is unmatched) speaks of apostolic prophecy (which he says was infallible and has ceased) and congregational prophecy (which he says is fallible and is in operation today).[2] I believe prophecy in the New Testament did not contain error, was to be equated with Old Testament prophecy and served as a foundational gift that is not in operation today (cf. Eph. 2:20). However, to suggest that someone can claim to speak in God’s name but be fallible is demeaning and dangerous.

If someone by means of their gift of “prophecy” is able to speak on behalf of God – though this is fallible – it can lead someone away from depending on the objective and sufficient Scriptures. I know that not all continuationists believe that their prophecies are to be equated with authoritative revelation (which in my view reveals their wrong understanding of prophecy), but the logical danger is an undermining of the Scripture’s sufficiency.

In conclusion, why should a Calvinist have to be Charismatic? The Calvinist’s view of Scripture is that it is the complete verbal revelation of God that is sufficient for all spiritual matters. Therefore, the suggestion of extra-biblical experiences or revelations is of no value. Furthermore, the Calvinist believes in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and is dependent upon Him for salvation and sanctification by means of the word of God (Eph. 5:18 and Col. 3:16). In answer to the question, the Calvinist does not have to be Charismatic.

The Charismatic Calvinist discontinues from the Calvinistic convictions just mentioned. For this reason, I believe there is a discontinuity with the Charismatic Calvinist. I don’t think less of them, speak ill of them or desire to ignore them. I just think they are inconsistent.

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Photo Credit: From Gustave Dore Bible Illustration; Project Gutenberg-tm


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