Tough questions for charismatics and other evangelicals.
Growing up in west texas in a Southern Baptist church, I cut my spiritual teeth on strong evangelical preaching. I was told that I “must be born again,” and I was as a seven-year-old boy. I was taught (and still believe) that the Bible is authoritative, God-breathed, and true in all its parts, from Genesis to Revelation. I was challenged to be a witness for Christ every day. My hero of faith was (and is) Billy Graham.
During my late teenage years I became actively involved in charismatic renewal. I began to perceive in a new way, both in the Scriptures and through firsthand experience, just how “supernatural” Christianity really is. I discovered the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, mighty miracles, the gifts of the Spirit, the joy of praise, the necessity of prayer, and a new boldness and effectiveness in personal evangelism. I added a new name to my list of heroes of faith—Oral Roberts. I attended and graduated from his school.
Then for seven-and-one-half years I attended a Southern Baptist seminary, earning the M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees. It was during those years of intensive training and spiritual growth that I found myself changing in surprising ways. I was painfully aware of the tensions between the two movements (evangelical and charismatic) that had nourished my Christian walk. The more I studied, the more convinced I became that the evangelicals’ biblical critique of the charismatics’ view of Spirit baptism and emphasis on tongues speaking was valid. At the same time, I knew that there was much authenticity to charismatic renewal. I came to regard myself as an “evangelical in theology” and a “charismatic in experience”—an impossible hybrid that caused friends ...1
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