A friendly but curious subscriber asks, “In view of your book’s title (The Sound of His Voice: Discovering the Secrets of God’s Guidance) and some recent gracEmails, I wonder whether you have become one of those charismatics.”
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If one defines a “charismatic” Christian as a person who thinks we hold the controls to manipulate God according to our own will, or that every Christian must possess some particular spiritual gift, or that believers who exercise certain grace-gifts are spiritually superior to believers who receive different gifts, then I wholeheartedly reject the label, and declare that such attitudes and conduct are clearly unbiblical. In those actions I am joined, by the way, by all sober-minded and mature charismatics of my acquaintance through the years.
If, however, we define a “charismatic” as a believer who is convinced that the church can live and minister, either collectively or individually, only out of the empowerment of the risen Christ through his Spirit; one who is quite sure that God lives today and is present and active in our world; one who holds that God still bestows all spiritual gifts as it pleases him; and one who believes that we can neither predict, control, anticipate nor prevent the operations or the gifts of the Sovereign God of heaven and earth, then I confess to such convictions readily and without embarrassment.
What our churches need today, I propose, is less labeling and more loving, less disputing and more praying, less ranting and more repenting, less criticizing each other and more seeking after God. As we move closer to the heart of the Father, we will also find ourselves nearer to all his other faithful children. The more we learn to trust him, the more eager we will be to surrender our preconceived notions about how he works and to entrust ouselves to whatever path and power his infinite wisdom and love might happen to choose — for each one of us, and for the faith communities with which we share regular fellowship and life.