This post comes at the end of a lot of struggle in both the cognitive and experimental parts of my faith, I do not feel that I am where I would like to be with having read the books I would like to read on this subject (William Tabernee’s “Imaginative History” Prophets and Gravestones would be a chief one) I find however a desire to fly my colours in a sense. I am both a Renewed and Reformed Baptist.
What do I mean? Both Renewed and Reformed should rightly not be thought of as end-goals in and of themselves but rather as with ecclesia semper reformanda est so too ecclesia semper renovar est. That is as we say that the Church should always be reforming, so too should it be in a continual state of renewal. The fount of our life as the Church should be God himself, as Paul quotes the pagan on Mars Hill; “In Him we live, move and have our being.” This is the especial ministry of the Holy Spirit, communicating to us the benefits of Christ’s death.
So why do I want to claim both Renewed and Reformed as modifiers of Baptist? Simply because that is where I find myself, I cannot agree with most of my Reformed counterparts that the Spirit has dramatically changed the way he acts following the close of the canon of Scripture. On the other hand I completely agree with them that, yes the canon is indeed closed. Some questions arise from these two beliefs, the first being “What of prophecy?” This would again fall into the category of “I haven’t read as much as I would like.” Yet I am quite willing to put forth a tentative answer on this by pointing to the unlettered prophets such as Micaiah son of Imlah, (1 Kings 22:7-8) he had a reputation for speaking the words of God, yet we only have a portion of his prophecies recorded for us and those as a part of historical narrative, the reason for this is clear the Holy Spirit deemed them not profitable for “doctrine, reproof, etc.” (2 Tim 3:16) Enscripturation/Inspiration must be separated from Prophecy if we are to have a sound understanding of Prophecy in Scripture.
I don’t believe a consistent hermeneutic applied diligently to Scripture will result in cessationism, it comes from the importation of a life that does not expect God in tangible ways and an attempt to make such a life the expected norm for the Christian life. Yet we live as more than conquerors, enlivened and empowered by the Spirit’s indwelling presence, yet we need not and should not go to the Corinthian excess we see in so many churches that are a part of the Renewal (Charismatic) movement. This is written against explicitly in 1 Corinthians 14, and 2 Corinthians 10-13. Simply put, if we elevate flashy shows of God’s power over His working in our lives for the Glory of the Kingdom we will depart from the true faith for a form of triumphalism which neglects the pain of the Cross, that pain which we are to become identified with, even as the pain which we bore Christ too identified with us on the Cross. We die to self in humility in imitation of Christ in order that as we are also unified with Him in His death we might also be united with Him in His resurrection life.
The Christian life is more than immortality, so often Christians live as if their best life is still to come and that they need just potter through this one, while our “best life” as it were is still in eschatological hope, we can experience it breaking through in the here and now, that is fundamentally what the Cross and Pentecost are about! The outpoured Spirit dwelling within us gives us assurance of Salvation, but He is also working in us to empower, embolden, conform us to Christ and He does this in part through what I used to call Temple Experiences, what the Renewal tradition called/calls Baptism in/by the Spirit, and what is probably more Biblically termed Filling with the Spirit, and would agree with such as Wayne Grudem and R.T. Kendall that as a part of Sanctification it can happen continuously throughout the life of the believer.