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6.15.2013

Sam Storms and Louis Berkhof on the same page (church Calvinists as empiricists, naturalists, dare I say materialists? interesting)

I came across a book by Sam Storms (who is known as both a Calvinist and a person who sees the Holy Spirit at work much more than the average Calvinist does):

http://www.amazon.com/Convergence-Spiritual-Journeys-Charismatic-Calvinist/dp/0977173909/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1371302489&sr=8-5&keywords=sam+storms

Then I read this Amazon review which puts it into interesting context (it's long, but it's a foundational subject to anyone who can see on-the-mark biblical doctrine as-well-as see Work teaching:

* * *

This review is from: Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist (Paperback) I wrote a commentary about two years ago, posted below, when I believed I was the only Christian in the world thinking along the lines of Charismatic Calvinism. This past summer I learned that not only am I not the only Charismatic Calvinist, but that the movement started over twenty years ago. I have been on my own journey toward the same conclusions explored in Convergence. This journey has often been one of discouragment, and loneliness.

Convergence was very encouraging to me in this journey. It has clarified issues that I had already begun to understand, and given answers I didn't have yet. I strongly encourage you to buy this book. So many Christians need to read it, especially pastors. Hopefully my commentary here will help you understand the importance of Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist.

The Charismatic movement and the Calvinist movement are two distinct halves of Christianity. Both are true in their own respects, but both are dead wrong in their rejection of each others' beliefs. The two need to come together to form a whole and complete Christianity. Only then will we have true New Testament Christianity.

The real crux of this whole issue is twofold: 1) Cessationists acknowledge that the church is built on the foundation laid down by the ministry of apostles and prophets as spelled out in the New Testament. However, they insist that this foundation was laid at a singular point in history (during the NT period) and is in no way continual or constant. Charismatics insist that it is continual through the church age.

2) Charismatics acknowledge that God laid the foundation of the church further through the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. However, the Reformation is little more than a historical fact to them. Charismatics have no more desire for the Reformation to be a living reality in their lives than cessationists desire for the gifts of the Spirit in their lives. Calvinists insist that the proclamation of the gospel, and Christianity proper, requires the continual laying down of the same foundation stones laid by Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, et al, until Christ returns. So, how do you convince a Calvinist that the foundation laid down by apostles and prophets must be laid continually in every generation and in every local church? And how do you convince a Charismatic that the work of the Reformation must continue in the same way? It is clear that the Holy Spirit is leading His church through this convergence. Charismatics must become Calvinists, and Calvinists must become Charismatics. Generations from now, students of church history will read about the current rift in history books.

As much as I hate cessationism, I think that, overall, Charismaticism is beset with many more problems than Calvinism. Yes, Calvinists need more of the power of the Holy Spirit, and more affection towards the Lord. But the errors of trichotomy and the separation of the 'heart' and 'mind', are integral to Charismatic anti-intellectualism. Historically, Calvinists have always understood that heart, mind, spirit, and soul are all synonyms. The anti-intellectualism inherent in trichotomy and the heart/mind separation is the root of the Charismatic movement's worst errors. From this root grows religious empiricism and pragmatism, and a general distaste for knowledge, education, books, analysis, logic, and critical thinking skills, not to mention a sweet tooth for mystical nonsense. Philosopher and theologian Gordon H. Clark is a most fitting antedote for this poison. Read Convergence; and then start reading Gordon Clark's works. Start with God's Hammer: The Bible and its Critics, and What is Saving Faith?.

Now for what I wrote two years ago:

It takes a Christian like me a long time to find the right books and other materials that will support his faith and convictions. I have found answers in the past 8 years that I was searching for when I was a teenager. I'm 38 now. I have had a Charismatic belief background since my childhood, but I found these answers in Calvinism.

Last night I was reading the essay "The Very Pernicious and Detestable Doctrine of Inclusivism," and I was overwhelmed by the clarity and power of the gospel as taught by Dr. Robert Reymond. What grieved me was that these very Calvinists who know and teach the gospel so well do not know the power of what they hold in their hands.

The gospel was birthed, and first began to spread, in the power of God. Read the book of Acts. It is so clear. Having been birthed in God's power, how could the gospel continue through history without that power? Yet, the Calvinists teach that miracles and the Charismata ended sometime around the closing of the canon. The arguments for this have historically been empirical, not biblical. Calvinism is famous for its insistence on dogmatism as a basis for doctrine. Cessationism is contrary to this honorable tradition. Both premises of the cessationist syllogism must be found in Scripture. No empirical premise is acceptable.

Jesus said He was going to leave us (his disciples). He said He had to so that the Comfortor would come. If He did not leave us the Comfortor would not come. He did leave, and then the Holy Spirit came upon His followers with great power, with the sign of unknown tongues. If the Calvinists are right, Jesus should have come back when the canon closed. He did not come back because when He sent the Spirit to us, it was for ALL the church, to the end of time. Would God have left us without Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

So, my judgement is this: Charismatics don't think logically and can't judge biblically (relating to experience and what is of God and what is not), and Calvinists deny the power of God for today (cessationism). Each side knows God and His Word very well in their own ways, but each side is also grossly deficient in their own ways. Each side is so unwilling to consider the beliefs and ideas of the other side. This rift is unacceptable. I believe that God is going to visit each side according to their need in the not-too-distant future. (Update: He had already been doing so when I wrote this, but I hadn't heard of it.)

As for myself, I would have to be as blind as one of them to choose one over the other. Just as God is overall and sees both sides objectively, so I also am removed from them and judge them biblically. Accuse me of pride if you wish, but I know what God has shown me! I will neither accept the irrationalism of the Charismatics (or other Arminians), nor the naturalism (cessationism) of the Calvinists. I affirm the primacy of the intellect in all matters of faith and godliness, and the reality of the power of God through the Holy Spirit with supernatural manifestations for today. "Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me, Amen."


* * *

Then I recalled an early essay by Louis Berkhof that I found on the 'net somewhere which I summarized on my blog. It deals with the same subject in a rather direct way (saying Calvinist churches are dead, no Spirit,  and that needs to be confronted, and so on:

http://electofgod.blogspot.com/2011/05/third-kingdom-by-louis-berkhof.html

If you guys [this was originally an email] never read that post on Plain Path Puritan, read it now. I have summarized Berkhof's long article paragraph by paragraph, but the link is there too if you want to read it full. He talks in the language of cosmoses.




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