Saturday 26 December 2009

Ecumenism- a better definition, and Spiritual Gifts

I added a comment to The Interfaith Amigos, ecumenism, and Christmas blessings post.
Interestingly I was coming from the angle of belief in spiritual gifts. So I was very interested to read Dan's comment today too in the light of his first pastor's current opinions. (Staggeringly, this was the same pastor that used to drive Ern Baxter all over the country.)So I reproduce my comment then Dan's post.

"I think interfaith means being willing to penetrate the seemingly impenetrable walls that surround each of our traditions, to locate three things: the universals that transcend those boundaries, the things we really have in common... second, the particulars in each of our traditions that support those core teachings; and third, the particulars that don't."
Let alone "other faiths", Christians have a hard time talking with each other. And this was why the ecumenical movement began. But most of our agegroup who, like me were brought up in denominational churches, who experienced a real conversion in some revival or other, have found it so hard to achieve the above in ecumenical settings. For example, why would I discuss healing with a liberal theologian Anglican who does not believe that a miracle ever occurred...that in fact they were just exaggerated distortions that grew like Chinese whispers...why would I want to spend the time of day with such a to try and describe how people have been instantly healed either when I have prayed for them or countless others have? What about one of those amazing Jewish war stories where an old man lifts a truck off the top of someone who is trapped underneath? I have seen and known this sort of weirdness...but in an ecumenical setting...what can you say without offending people...especially the English, where you run the risk of shattering their whole little world view, having been raised on Darwin,Bertrand Russell,and now Dawkins. The sooner we "add" to our Enlightenment world view over here the possibility of a God invading our time and space, the better. As I have been writing on my blog....Thank God for the weirdness of modern physics which shatters most of our beliefs of the last 2 centuries.
Well that's a private rant "inhouse". As regards the Jewish faith,anything Christians come up with HAS TO in some way be underlined by Old Testament writings. If we believe God is the same God...then we have to believe the way that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob broke through in their experience as humans, with this God, is somehow reflected in the Christianity we now live.I write about this here....oh and Dire Straits too....
Disobeying Commands?
Something occured to me yesterday. Traditionally in the charismatic/cessationist debate, we charismatics are always accused of being "frothy" and "experience-obsessed" while cessationists pride themselves on honouring and being committed to "the Word". And in the debate is often based around; "I experienced this" and the response; "It doesn't matter - your experience is irrelevant - they've ceased".However there ARE a number of Scriptures that cessationists have never answered. If these Scriptures are to be read as they appear then many so-called "men and women of the Book" are being disobedient to the very Word of God that they claim to honour and revere. Here's two that spring to my mind;1. 1 Thessalonians 5:20; "Do not despise prophetic utterances".So does not Stanley Jebb's statement; "Calling silly remarks prophecy" come dangerously close to despising what actually may be prophetic utterances? That does not mean of course that "silly remarks" never happen - of course they do. But I would not like to put myself in the position of being guilty of despising this gift of the Holy Spirit and thus quenching Him.2. 1 Timothy 1:18; "This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight".Again to cite Stanley Jebb (only because he is the cessationist I probably most know and most read) - he writes; "So, since the final word has been spoken, such signs are neither necessary nor possible". Necessary? Possible? So how does this take into account this clear instruction from Paul the apostle (and writer of most of the New Testament) that there is a degree to which the gift of prophecy is ESSENTIAL for fighting a good Christian fight? Is this not a clear reason as to why the Word of God tells us not to despise prophecy?And finally - a verse that a former friend of mine and former blogger - Jesse Phillips - used to base a lot of his writing on;3. 1 Corinthians 14:1: "Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy".Of course love is our primary calling (lest cessationists accuse me of ignoring the context of 1 Corinthians 13) but what of this command - clear command - of Scripture to "desire earnestly" spirituals but ESPECIALLY that we may prophecy? When did you or I last hear from the pulpit a sermon exhorting us to eagerly desire the bestowing of spiritual gifts but especially prophecy?Just a few Christmas thoughts of mine. For me personally I want to ensure that 2010 is a year of heeding these commands of Scripture - that I honour prophecy and use them as a God-given grace gift to fight a good fight and thereby eagerly desiring especially prophecy.

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