Christian spiritual experience is a very broad and rich biblical theme. We have been invited into a personal relationship with Christ--a relationship that can be experienced. We have been given the gift of the New Covenant--the Holy Spirit who personally communicates the life of Jesus Christ to us and through us to the world. For these and other biblical reasons, we are fully justified in both wanting and cultivating a rich experiential dimension in our relationships with Christ.
But there are dangers on this path which we must be careful to discern and avoid. Because spiritual experience is by its very nature subjective, it is imperative that our expectations in this area be formed by scripture. If we set our expectations unbiblically low, we may experience and demonstrate a Christianity that is lifeless and dishonoring to the Lord. But if our expectations exceed what is taught in scripture, we may needlessly disappoint ourselves and also bring the Lord into disrepute because of our weirdness. Let us consider each of these dangers in turn.
"Crisis" and "Process"
"Crisis" is used in this paper to describe the unusual manifestations of God's presence and activity, including instant or rapid physical and emotional healing, visions, and being "slain in the Spirit." Such events are "crises" in the sense that God does something which is both dramatic and unusual. "Process" refers to the more subtle work of God in sanctification and ministry. It is a "process" precisely because it is accomplished gradually and through our consistent cooperation with God through the normal means of growth.
We can contrast different approaches to spirituality by comparing how much they emphasize "crisis" and "process." Charismatic and "third wave"1 advocates regard "crisis" experiences as a normative feature of the Spirit-filled life. In other words, every Christian who is really walking with God will have dramatic spiritual experiences on some fairly regular basis. Pentecostal and charismatic theology typically affirm this by insisting that the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" is manifested by speaking in tongues, or by insisting that physical healing will always occur if we have enough faith. While "third wave" theology is more mainstream in these areas,2 they nevertheless insist that signs and wonders are normative for the church age.3
Non-charismatic advocates, on the other hand, emphasize "process." Some argue that God has withdrawn all sign gifts from the church after the New Testament was completed. Others acknowledge that God still intervenes via "crises," but less often than he did during the time of Jesus and the apostles. Still others hold that God intervenes through "crises" as much as he ever did, but that charismatics exaggerate the frequency of such experiences in the book of Acts.
We should not take the position that God does not work today through "crisis" experiences. The Bible, church history, and contemporary Christian experience all affirm that God can and sometimes does intervene in dramatic ways. But when Christians emphasize "crisis" as much as or more than "process," they tend to make some serious mistakes. We should be aware of these mistakes ourselves, and we should help those under our leadership steer clear of them.
The Hermeneutical Problem
Both charismatic and "third wave" advocates usually draw heavily from the New Testament narrative and example as they develop their conclusions about normative Christian spirituality. But this is improper, because there may be unique features in such accounts that should not be factored into our general conclusions about spirituality.4 Instead, we should look primarily to the didactic portions of the New Testament which refer to all Christians. John Stott's reminder is timely:
What is described in Scripture as having happened to others is not necessarily intended for us, whereas what is promised to us we should appropriate, and what is commanded us we are to obey . . . What is descriptive is valuable (in determining what God intends for all Christians) only in so far as it is interpreted by what is didactic . . . We must derive our standards of belief and behavior from the teaching of the New Testament . . . rather than from the practices and experiences which it portrays.5
This material would include those portions of Jesus' teaching which concern the church, the apostles' teaching in Acts, and most of the pastoral epistles. But the main body of material would be the epistles written to whole churches or groups of churches.
When we study this body of material, it is clear that they simply do not emphasize "crisis" experiences as a normative feature in Christian spirituality. Rather, we find that Christian spirituality is defined primarily as learning to view all things from the perspective of God's revealed truth, cooperating with God in the transformation of our moral characters, and practicing sacrificial love toward Christians and non-Christians.6 These passages also encourage us to pursue this spirituality primarily through the "process" of consistent participation in the "means of growth"--scripture, prayer, God's discipline, fellowship, and ministry. Of course, we should do this with an attitude of dependence on God's Spirit to enlighten and motivate and empower us, because spirituality is not attainable by human will-power. As J. I. Packer says,
. . . the Spirit works through means--through the . . . means of grace . . . The Spirit shows his power in us, not by constantly interrupting our use of these means with visions, impressions, or prophecies, which serve up to us ready-made insights on a plate, so to speak (such communications come only rarely, and to some believers not at all), but rather by making these regular means effective to change us for the better and for the wiser as we go along . . . Holiness by habit forming (through these means) is not self-sanctification through self-effort, but is simply a matter of understanding the Spirit's method and then keeping in step with him.7
Evaluating Other Christians' Spirituality By "Crisis" Experiences
Christian workers must make judgments about the spirituality of other Christians. How can we help someone to mature spiritually if we don't have a picture of what maturity looks like and judge that he doesn't fit this picture? How can we do our job of shepherding people if we don't critically evaluate the message of other spiritual teachers and leaders who seek to influence them? The truth is that we all have a standard of what constitutes spiritual maturity, and we all constantly evaluate ourselves and others in light of this standard. What is important is not that we make such judgments, but that we have the correct standard (Jn. 7:24), and that we judge with a loving and redemptive attitude.
If we assume that dramatic spiritual experiences should be normative in the Christian life, we must conclude that those who are not having "crisis" experiences are in fact sub-standard spiritually. Different charismatic groups express this judgment in different ways. Some say such people are "missing God's best;" others say they are not experiencing the "Spirit-filled life." Third-wave advocates often say this deficiency is the result of a defective world-view which is excessively naturalistic. There are, of course, exceptions to this judgment among those sympathetic to charismatic theology, but they are rare.8
But "crisis" experiences should never be regarded as a requirement for or evidence of spiritual vitality or maturity. There is simply no scriptural correlation between "crisis" experiences and true spirituality. Scripture is replete with examples of people who experienced God's power in dramatic ways, but who were also spiritually carnal. Samson, Saul, and Balaam are Old Testament examples; the Corinthian church is a New Testament example. As mentioned above, the New Testament consistently describes spiritual maturity in ways that do not necessitate dramatic spiritual experiences. God can and does work through "crisis" experiences, and we should thankfully receive all authentic working of God through this means. But we should avoid the inviting but erroneous conclusion that they prove the spirituality of the recipient. Consider what J. I. Packer says in this regard.
That, in God's mercy, momentous post-conversion experiences come to some Christians, bringing assurance, liberty of heart, new spiritual joy and energy, with new power for life and witness, is beyond doubt. These, however, seem to be the particular discretionary dealings of a gracious heavenly Father with his individual children. They are not universal requirements, not prescribed patterns of experience for all, not hoops through which every Christian must try to jump. Those who have had no momentous `second experience,' therefore, should not see themselves as necessarily inferior to those who have been thus blessed. History confirms that some of God's finest servants have been enriched this way, while others, equally fine, have not.9
Because charismatic and "third wave" groups include "crisis" experiences in their picture of spiritual maturity, they inevitably have a divisive effect. I say "inevitably" not because all charismatics and "third wave" Christians are nasty and mean-spirited. Some no doubt are; many are not at all. But the fact remains that they have included in their picture of spirituality something which should not be there, and they must (if they are to be consistent) conclude that those who lack such experiences must be seriously lacking in their Christian lives. No matter how nastily or kindly this conclusion is communicated, it is still divisive because it puts Christians in the "unspiritual" category who do not belong there.10
Seeking "Crisis" Experiences
If we view "crisis" experiences as a means to or evidence of spirituality, we will tend to seek them--just as we will tend to seek biblical knowledge or character development or sacrificial love for the same reason. But there are several dangers in seeking dramatic spiritual experiences.
It is not necessarily wrong to ask God to grant us a dramatic experience. Moses evidently asked God for this in Ex. 33:18, when he cried "Show me your glory!" And God answered his request--although in a diminished way so that Moses wouldn't be killed! But, as Packer said above, God sovereignly decides when to intervene in a "crisis" manner. He has not promised in his Word to do this at our bidding. We are free to ask God to intervene in this way. It is also important that we truly believe that he can intervene in this way. We should beware of drifting into a mentality which expects God to do only that which is humanly explainable. We should also freely rejoice and thank God when he does genuinely intervene in this way in our own lives, or in others' lives. Something is wrong if we cannot do this. But it is never healthy to insist, or even to expect, that God must work this way in a given situation. Instead, we should humbly submit our requests to God and then trust his sovereign wisdom, realizing that he may well decline such requests for his own good reasons.
Sometimes God denies such requests because he wants our faith to mature, and such maturity requires that our faith be tested by adversity (1 Pet. 1:6,7; Jas. 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3,4). Especially in a culture like ours which expects a "quick fix" for all of our problems, it is tempting to expect God to answer our requests for something dramatic. This is why the New Testament letters emphasize the development of perseverance and endurance11, while they say little or nothing about seeking "crisis" experiences from God. Packer is surely right when he says,
The immaturity and childish egoism that infect our culture claim their victims among Christians too. Symptoms of these defects appear in the all-too-common tendency of modern Christians to undervalue the natural and the ordinary. There are just too many people who want every problem to be solved by an immediate miracle, a display of the supernatural, a wonderful providence that will change everything. I think that is a sign not of great faith, but of great immaturity.12
Our part is to patiently and consistently pursue his priorities for our lives, trusting that as we do so God will gradually transform us more and more into Christ's likeness. And this is the most important thing--not whether or not we have been given dramatic experiences along the way.
Seeking "crisis" experiences often leads to a reliance on subjective impressions for guidance rather than relying primarily on rational application of scripture. While we should realize that God sometimes guides us through intuition and other subjective means, we can never be certain that this guidance is from God unless it conforms to scripture. Therefore, all claims of such guidance should be tentative, and we should never rely on subjective impressions (no matter how dramatic) as our primary means of guidance. Richard Lovelace cautions us against this excess:
The common denominator of all of these aberrations is reliance on subjective experience divorced from the objective control of reason and the written Word of God . . . Christians who block out their minds in the process of attuning themselves to the Spirit are trying to replace an essential human attribute by the gift of the Spirit which is meant to transform that faculty, not replace it. To relinquish the guiding and superintending function of the intellect in our experience seems pious at first, but in the end this course dehumanizes us by turning us into either dependent robots waiting to be programmed by the Spirit's guidance or whimsical enthusiasts blown about by our hunches and emotions. God has provided us with the ability to gather information and to make rational decisions in light of this information in conformity with his revealed will in Scripture. Any method of guidance which habitually detours around reason is crippling and dehumanizing.13
Again, Packer cautions:
Charismatic preoccupation with experience observably inhibits the long, hard theological and ethical reflection for which the New Testament letters call . . . Looking for a prophecy (supposedly a direct word from God) when difficult issues arise, rather than embracing the hard grind of prayerful study and analysis, is a tendency that sometimes obtrudes . . . 14
Seeking "crisis" experiences may also make us more vulnerable to spiritual deception. The very appetite for dramatic spiritual experiences usually militates against a the watchful and objective discernment that is so crucial for evaluating experiences and those who claim to be able to give them. Yet the Bible insists that we cultivate just such a mentality if we are to avoid deception--because counterfeits abound. Commenting on John's command to "test the spirits" in 1 John 4:1-3, Francis Schaeffer gives us this warning:
. . . When a prophet or a spirit comes to you, the test of whether he should be accepted or rejected is not the experience that the spirit or prophet gives you. Nor is it the strength of the emotion which the spirit or prophet gives you. Nor is it any special outward manifestations that the spirit or the prophet may give to you. The basis of accepting the spirit or prophet--and the basis of Christian fellowship--is Christian doctrine. There is no other final test. Satan can counterfeit and he will. I am not speaking against emotion in itself. Of course there should be emotion. I am saying that you cannot trust your emotions or the strength of your emotions or the boost your emotions give you when you stand in the presence of the spirit or the prophet. This does not prove for one moment whether he is from God, or the Devil, or whether the emotions are simply from within yourself.15
We should especially beware when people criticize us for our insistence on objective testing by telling us we are intellectually prideful, or that we may be quenching or blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
Seeking "crisis" experiences sometimes leads to faking such experiences in order to be viewed as spiritual. This is especially likely when the group has made "crisis" experiences an expectation. I personally know several Christians who claimed to have had overwhelming experiences from God (healings, tongues, visions, prophecies, exorcisms, etc.) who later acknowledged they did not. They made this claim because they were "going along with the crowd." It had become the "in" thing to have an experience and they didn't want to be left out. This is often not intentional in the sense that the person deliberately tried to deceive others.16 It is understandable to get caught up in the emotions of the group and to seek the acceptance of one's peers--but this is clearly not a healthy situation.17 Christians who pursue spiritual maturity through "process" usually avoid this. While they may experience God working in a dramatic way and rejoice in it, they know that a stable and consistent walk is a more reliable indicator of maturity.
Lastly, seeking "crisis" experiences can lead to deep disappointment when we don't receive the experiences we were seeking. Many Christians who have a "crisis" orientation walk away from Christ altogether when God stops working in this way in their lives. This is the tragic result of setting expectations which were unrealistically (unbiblically) high. If we focus primarily on following the Lord as a "process," we will have a rich experiential life with him (see below). There may even be occasional dramatic experiences--but we should see these as a bonus in our walks with God, not as a requisite for them.
Affirming Healthy Spiritual Experience
There is a real danger, when confronting any doctrinal imbalance, to overreact and become imbalanced in the opposite direction. Church history contains ample illustrations of this "pendulum swing" strategy by which Satan wins a double victory. For example, much of the American Protestant church was lured into theological apostasy in the early part of this century. Their "social gospel" rejected many essential doctrines, and orthodox Christians were correct in condemning this. But they also reacted against virtually all social ministry because of its "guilt by association" with theological liberalism. The result has been a disastrous separation of evangelism from social ministries which has marred the witness of the evangelical church.
The same overreaction is common in the area of spiritual experience. When we see an unbiblical emphasis on "crisis" experiences, we should criticize this distortion and do what we can to correct it. But at the same time, we should be keenly aware of our vulnerability to overreact against all spiritual experience. The result will be a lifeless, sterile activistic orthodoxy that is every bit as ugly as the distortion we reacted against. Francis Schaeffer's warning on this danger should be heeded by all of us:
. . . in meeting the challenges of the new super-spirituality we must not overreact. I'm desperately afraid of overreaction, . . . (of) treating Christianity as if it were only a system. God is there, and we must be in a living relationship to Him. Consequently, as we see the new super-spirituality, the danger is that we will overreact and underemphasize the work of the Holy Spirit . . . When a group begins to overemphasize the work of the Holy Spirit at the expense of the full content of Scripture or to underemphasize the status of the intellect . . . , the danger is to talk less and less about the Holy Spirit for fear someone will confuse us with this other group. Instead, a Christian must have the courage to . . . stress (this area) in (its) proper relationship to the whole of Scripture . . . In the present instance, we must properly stress spirituality . . . a balance not just of abstract doctrine, but a balance to be lived, by God's grace, by the individual and by the group . . . Christianity is not only intellectual, nor is it only your cultural responsibility . . . Christianity is the reality of communion with God in the present life; it is the understanding that there is the indwelling Holy Spirit; it is the understanding that there is the moment-by-moment empowering of the Holy Spirit . . . It is the understanding that the fruit of the Spirit is meant to be something real to all Christians. It is the understanding that prayer is real and not just a devotional exercise. Indeed we must not overreact to . . . super-spirituality, but we must stress that Christ . . . means us to affirm life and not negate life. Such is the ideal. May God show us the living balance and help us to live, by His grace, in that balance.18
What can we expect to experience of God's presence if we focus on "process" rather than "crisis?" We can expect the abundant life which Jesus promised, and which the apostles describe to us in their letters. We can expect the normal work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which is a rich life indeed. As we pursue developing a transformed mind, the Spirit will illuminate our minds (sometimes quite strikingly) with insight about the significance and application of biblical truth to our lives (1 Cor. 2:12; Eph. 1:17,18). He will also recall to our memory truths we have studied in situations where we need those truths. These moments of illumination are precious to us. As we pursue a transformed character, the Spirit will touch different areas of our lives at different times, convicting us of our sins and urging us to turn to God for help and change (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18). This care is a wonderful and deeply personal aspect of our relationships with God. As we pursue a life of sacrificial love, the Spirit motivates us to serve others, at times providing us with guidance about people he wants us to serve and ways he wants us to serve them. He also empowers us to serve, especially in the areas of our spiritual gifting, so that we experience a sense of awe that God is working through us and deeply affecting other lives. We can experience the fulfillment of Jesus' promise that it is deeply fulfilling to give our lives away to others for his sake (Acts 20:35; Jn. 13:17; Jn. 12:25). As we step out in faith to share Christ, we can experience the empowering of the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised his disciples in Acts 1:8. And we can join in with God and the angels in rejoicing when one of our non-Christian friends or family members comes to Christ (Lk. 15:7,10). As we persevere in private and corporate prayer, we will experience (sometimes intensely) personal intimacy with the Lord as the Spirit bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom. 8:15,16; Gal. 4:6; Jn. 14:21,23).
As we continue to trust God and walk by the Spirit, we can experience the joy and peace and hope of God in increasing measure and consistency (Gal. 5:22; Phil. 4:6,7; Rom. 14:17; 15:4,13). However, this does not mean we will "break the spiritual sound barrier" after which we remain in a state of bliss. This view of spirituality is more Buddhist than Christian. There will be "dark nights of the soul" when God seems to have hidden his face from us--but if we press on we will emerge with deeper confidence in his faithfulness and goodness. There will be times of deep pain as the battle against Satan presses in upon us--but if we stand firm we will see the Lord win victories over him. There will be periods of deep disappointment and dismay as God reveals new depths of our sinfulness to us--but if we cling to his grace we will also experience his power to transform us. There will suffering--including additional sufferings because we have chosen to follow Christ--but if we endure we will also experience God's comfort and strengthening in surprising and deeply personal ways (2 Cor. 1:6). This combination of negative and positive experiences is part and parcel of the normal Christian life. Knowing Christ involves experiencing both the fellowship of his sufferings and the power of his resurrection (Phil. 3:10,11; 2 Cor. 4:8-11; 6:4-10). We should affirm this expectation in our own lives, and we should model and communicate it to those Christians within our spheres of influence.
God urges us to view this life as a preparation for the next life, rather than expecting this life to fulfill all our hopes. Our culture has taught us to expect complete happiness in this life, and much Christian "triumphalism" reflects the infection of this unbiblical expectation.19 In this life we receive the "first fruits" of the Spirit, the "down-payment" of all that he will give us in the life to come (Rom. 8:23-25; Eph. 1:14). Indeed, some of these works of the Spirit are intense and wonderful, but they are given by God to remind us that the best is yet to come, so that we will press on in the battle with hope in our hearts. We should run the race with endurance just as Jesus did "who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame" (Heb. 12:2). We have the brief opportunity in this life to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). The time is coming when faith will not be needed ever again because we will be in God's presence. We have the opportunity in this life to demonstrate our commitment to Christ by suffering for him (Phil. 1:29). The time is coming when God will wipe away every tear and more than make up for anything we have suffered for his sake (2 Cor. 4:17). Let us seize this opportunity and serve the Lord with our whole hearts!
1. "Third wave" theology refers to the theological position held by John Wimber in his books Power Evangelism (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986) and Power Healing (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), Wimber's "Vineyard" church movement, and others like C. Peter Wagner in The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit (Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 1988). The basic view is that God has poured out his Holy Spirit in three "waves" during the twentieth century: during the Pentecostal movement at the beginning of the century, during the Charismatic movement in the middle of the century, and now at the end of the century through movements like Vineyard.
2. Although there are problems here with Wimber's theology. " . . . when Wimber argues that if forgiveness is preached and not all receive it because of unbelief, we nevertheless go on preaching it, and we do likewise with healing, he is in fact arguing that healing and forgiveness are parallel and dependent on the same condition. This point was picked up in an Australian interview: `When asked if he (Wimber) would be open about the small probability of healing, he declined. He wants to encourage people to put their faith in God and call upon him for healing. He wants people to know that God can heal and wants to heal and therefore to ask expectantly. He paralleled this to salvation/forgiveness. He said that we do not say to people that they only have a chance of being saved. We say that God can save and wants to save and so we encourage people to put their faith in God and call for forgiveness. Such a confusion of categories is appalling.' It seems beyond doubt that Wimber is guilty of contradiction." Thomas A. Smail and Nigel Wright, The Love of Power or the Power of Love (Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1994), p. 45. The quote is from the transcript of Jensen and Payne's interview, John Wimber: Friend or Foe? p. 9.
3. " . . . we will especially expect to see God's reign through signs and wonders triumphing over the kingdom of the evil one, like the Christians of the first and second centuries did." Don Williams, Signs, Wonders, and the Kingdom of God (Ann Arbor: Vine Books, 1989), p. 136. " . . . the New Testament authors assume that the churches are sufficiently concerned with miracles and that miracles were a regular occurrence . . . it is appropriate for us to ask whether there is some reason why we are unlike the New Testament church in this regard." Wayne Grudem, Power and Truth (no publication information given), p. 27.
4. For example, the manifestation of tongues in Acts 2,8,10,19 seem primarily to signal the transition from the Old Covenant to the New (Acts 2,19), and to signal that believing Gentiles are equal members of the church along with believing Jews (Acts 8,10; 11:16,17). There is evidence that the exceptional frequency of Jesus' miracles were to fulfill prophecy concerning his Messiahship (Matt. 11:3-5), and that the apostles were enabled to perform miracles with unique frequency in order to validate their message as authoritative (Heb. 2:4; 2 Cor. 12:12). One need not conclude from this that God never works in this way through the church today, but one would conclude that such working is probably not as frequent as it was during Jesus' and the apostles' ministries.
5. John R. W. Stott, Baptism and Fullness (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1975), pp. 15-17.
6. See, for example, John's emphasis in 1 John on doctrinal fidelity (2:24; 4:1-3;14,15), moral obedience (1:5-2:6) and loving others (2:7-11; 4:7-21). John purposefully defines spirituality in these terms in order to combat a Gnostic emphasis on subjective experience. Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus likewise urge them to emphasize doctrinal understanding (1 Tim. 1:3,4; 3:2,9; 4:6,13,15; 6:3,20; 2 Tim. 1:13,14; 2:8,15,24; 3:14-4:4; Titus 1:9,13,14; 2:1,2,7), moral character (1 Tim. 2:2; 3:2-12; 4:12; 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:3-6,19-22; 3:16; Titus 1:6-8; 2:2-10; 3:1,2), and love manifested practically through good deeds (1 Tim. 1:5; 2:10,15; 3:4,12; 4:12; 5:10; 6:11,18; 2 Tim. 1:7; 2:22,24,25; 3:10; Titus 2:2,4,14; 3:8,14). Jesus' primary concerns for the seven churches in Rev. 2,3 reveals the same three foci: pure doctrine (2:2,6,13-15,20,24; 3:8), moral purity (2:14,20-22), and love (2:4,5,19). The references to these three emphases from the other epistles are too numerous to mention.
7. J. I. Packer, Keep In Step With The Spirit (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1984), pp. 109,110. One of Packer's main criticisms of charismatic theology is what he calls super-supernaturalism: " . . . that way of affirming the supernatural which exaggerates its discontinuity with the natural. Reacting against . . . versions of Christianity which play down the supernatural and so do not expect to see God at work, the super-supernaturalist constantly expects miracles of all sorts--striking demonstrations of God's presence and power--and is happiest when he sees God acting contrary to the nature of things . . . For God to proceed slowly and by natural means is to him a disappointment, almost a betrayal. But his undervaluing of the natural, regular, and ordinary shows him to be romantically immature . . . Charismatic thinking tends to treat glossalalia, in which mind and tongue are deliberately and systematically disassociated, as the paradigm case of spiritual activity and to expect all God's work in and around his children to involve similar discontinuity with the ordinary regularities of the created world." (pp. 193,194)
8. For example, John White argues that such manifestations are common only during periods of revival, and that even during revivals not all spiritually-minded Christians will experience dramatic manifestations. "My aim is not to promote manifestations so much as to encourage us all to be open to what God is doing and to what I believe he wants to do in sending revival . . . the experience itself is neither here nor there, except as being an evidence that God is moving in revival. Those Christians whose spiritual progress has been quiet and steady may never, even where the power of the Holy Spirit is present, be subject to any manifestation." John White, When The Spirit Comes With Power (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988), pp. 101,102,104.
9. J. I. Packer, Rediscovering Holiness (Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 1992), p. 112.
10. "(Charismatics') . . . elitist tendencies get reinforced by the restorationist theology that sees charismatic experience as the New Testament norm for all time and is inevitably judgmental toward non-charismatic Christianity." J. I. Packer, Keep In Step With The Spirit, p. 191.
11. These two terms (hupomone and makrothumia) are used over 70 times in the New Testament, because it is such an important character quality for the Christian life.
12. J. I. Packer, Rediscovering Holiness, p. 214. " . . . Christians may . . . become preoccupied with the emotional side effects of Christian experience and lapse into spiritual gluttony, lusting after joy and ignoring its giver and the responsibility of an obedient walk of faith." Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of the Spiritual Life (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1980), p. 245.
13. Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of the Spiritual Life, p. 265.
14. J. I. Packer, Keep In Step With The Spirit, 192.
15. Francis A. Schaeffer, 2 Contents, 2 Realities, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1982), Vol. 3, p. 415.
16. " . . . the flesh (can) simulate the effects and results of the Holy Spirit without consciously intending to do so. This may occur simply as imitative herd behavior . . . Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of the Spiritual Life, p. 251.
17. "Group pressure is tyrannical at the best of times and never more so than when the group in question believes itself to be superspiritual and finds the evidence of its members' spirituality in their power to perform along approved lines. Inevitably, peer pressure to perform (hands raised, hands outstretched, glossalalia, prophecy) is strong in charismatic circles; inevitably, too, the moment one starts living to the group and its expectations rather than to the Lord, one is enmeshed in a new legalistic bondage, whereby from yet another angle Christian maturity is threatened." J. I. Packer, Keep In Step With The Spirit, p. 196.
18. Francis A. Schaeffer, The New Superspirituality, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1982), Vol. 3, pp. 399-401.
19. "Triumphalism" refers to the expectation of participating in Christ's victory to the extent that we forget that we are still part of a deeply fallen world, and that our role is to model Jesus' first coming as a suffering servant. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for this attitude in 1 Cor. 4:8-13, using the image of a Roman general's "triumphal procession." The Corinthian Christians expected the Christian life to be like that of the Roman general--to receive public praise and honor and experience the good life. But Paul says his (and our) role is to be like that of the conquered prisoners who are condemned to die in the coliseum! Charismatic and "third wave" theology has often been critiqued for its triumphalism in the area of spiritual experience.