Letter from the Editor

Eric Landry
Saturday, February 28th 2015
Mar/Apr 2015

Southern Baptists speaking in tongues. Presbyterians attending healing crusades. The old divides between charismatics and cessationists seem to be breaking down. C. Peter Wagner, former professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and known among charismatics as a modern-day “apostle,” argues that this is the fruit of a New Apostolic Reformation that God has unleashed around the world.

What is God up to? Even if you doubt Wagner’s apostolic credentials, you have to admit that the face of Christianity’especially in the global south’has a decidedly Pentecostal hue. The face of American Christianity is also changing: more and more American Christians in both Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions claim to be charismatic or to belong to charismatic churches, up to nearly 40 percent according to recent Barna Group surveys. Are reformational Christians who believe that the way God acted in the early church is different from the way he acts today on the wrong side of history? Are we on the wrong side of the Holy Spirit? In this issue of Modern Reformation, we take up the important subject of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

First up is Presbyterian pastor James Lee who argues that Pentecost, like the incarnation, is a unique event in redemptive-history and not intended to be repeated throughout the church’s history in various waves of the Spirit’s work. New Testament scholar Richard Gaffin weighs in with his review of the relevant biblical passages, helping us understand how God intended the church to use the “charismatic” gifts of the Spirit to establish the church on the foundation of the word. We have also asked well-known author, blogger, and self-described “Reformed charismatic” Adrian Warnock to offer a friendly rejoinder to that point of view. Presbyterian pastor Nick Batzig then takes up the question of the ongoing relevance of the Spirit’s work in the early church for us today. Lutheran pastor Jeff Mallinson concludes our feature section by asking if perhaps we’ve misunderstood what Paul means when he describes spiritual people and spiritual churches in the New Testament. Throughout the feature section, you’ll also read brief sidebar articles from our editor-in-chief Michael Horton on the work of the Spirit in the church today.

We recognize that we have a number of readers on both sides of this issue. Our hope with this issue isn’t to further divide from our brothers and sisters in Christ who believe differently than we do. Instead, we hope that as you work your way through this issue, you are driven ever more deeply into Scripture to see that the same word and the same Spirit, who was at work in extraordinary ways in the early church, is at work in ordinary ways in our own times. In that respect, we’re all charismatics’benefitting from the work of the Spirit in the early church and receiving his ongoing ministry through word and sacrament today.

Photo of Eric Landry
Eric Landry
Eric Landry is the chief content officer of Sola Media and former executive editor of Modern Reformation. He also serves as the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.
Saturday, February 28th 2015

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

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