Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Reformed-Charismatic response to so-called "Prophetic" and "Power Evangelism" techniques

This is of course something we all pray for before we go out to evangelise: that God will direct us to the right people, the he will give us wisdom regarding what to say and do and that that person will be open to the gospel message. Sometimes, God answers our prayers by giving us promptings towards certain individuals along with prophetic words regarding that person life in addition to them being humble and willing to listen.

   What could possibly be wrong with this?

   Of course, there is the obvious need for discernment: do the 
prophetic words intended for a non-believer line up with Scripture, uphold the holiness of God and the deity of Christ? Is the appointment truly random by human standards, or is it reflective of the evangelist own racial, social and cultural biases?
   Now, I'm certain that of these appointments and manifestations of prophetic evangelism there are legitimate cases. However, the idea of God revealing in advance who can be saved at that point in time poses some very challenging questions for those that would like to use this gifting, yet still follow the Arminian view of universal atonement.

   For example: You're walking through the Queen St mall during lunchtime. At any given moment, you could be in a crowd of fifty people trying to get from A to B. Suddenly you feel a prompting from the Holy Spirit to speak to someone in the crowd. You corner this person, find theye open to spiritual things, you give a full gospel presentation - law, sin, judgment, grace, repentance, lordship - after which they make a decision for Christ with full honesty and conviction. You exchange contact details; theye coming to Care Group and Church. Voila! You went fishing for men and you caught a true convert hook, line and sinker. Hallelujah!

   For a Reformed Evangelist who believes in the continuation of the spiritual gifts, praise God! Unlike your cessationist buddies who seriously love the word but are otherwise not as open when it comes to asking God for spiritual anointing in the spiritual gifts, you don't have to wait until the wheat and the tares mature as God can just give you the anointing to zone in on a member of the elect who are at the point of regeneration where it is the perfect time to give a Gospel Call.

   For the Arminian who chooses to believe in Universal Atonement however, it begs the moral question of what exactly made that person more special than the other forty-nine in a crowd of fifty. Don't the other people need to hear the gospel just as much because God wishes that all of them be saved which Christ died for? They could die and end up in hell because you thought the person you supposedly had a divine appointment with was special from everyone else and more deserving of the words that would spare them from the wrath to come. With this in mind, it would probably be better to stand on a soap-box and do an open-air presentation in public.

   Both situations may seem extreme, but it raises the question as to what exactly qualifies someone to be the recipient of a divine appointment if it is indeed genuine. For such a thing to happen and in turn for prophetic evangelism to be a legitimate gifting, we would, like or not, have to suppose that at any point in time, God chooses some people to be more receptive than others. In the broader scheme of things, this can be nothing short of election on the part of a Sovereign God.

20Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 
21In the Law it is written, y people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.?span style="font-style: italic;"> 22Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 
23If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 
24But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 
25the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
1 Corinthians 14:20-25