Should We Embrace "Softer Charismatic Expressions"?

Several months ago, John Chandler, a columnist for Baptist News Global and leader of the Spence Network, wrote that churches aiming to thrive in today’s post-Christian culture are “more and more going to have a cozier relationship with the charismatic stream of Christianity” (Baptist News Global, “Looking for Clues to Thriving Faith Communities in a Post-Christendom Church,” 1-12-18). While noting the fact that “malformed charismatic expressions” still exist which claim special revelation from God not available to anyone else, Chandler said that an “emerging softer charismatic expression [is] energizing some churches and binding some translocal cooperation that is solidly biblical and completely refreshing.” He added, “I am already seeing this soft charismatic tying of spirituality and pragmatism in local churches. I believe we will increasingly see such a posture becoming a binding factor for how churches and even denominations cooperate in the future. Churches from denominations which haven’t historically worked together will begin—are already beginning—to do so based on a soft charismatic posture that provides the basis for trust and cooperation.” In a follow up article, he noted that this new openness particularly between Baptists and charismatics is coming to pass through “emerging networks of cooperation based not primarily on doctrine … but on the shared ethos of openness to the work of the Holy Spirit as the basis for sharing in ministry” (Baptist News Global, “The New Soft Charismatic Cooperation,” 4-16-18). He added, “As churches become more marginalized in the culture, I believe we will see more of these alliances…. The luxury of writing off large swaths of Christian churches or denominations based on minor doctrinal disagreements disappeared once we entered post-Christendom full on. Now, as a minority voice in culture, we are looking for friends wherever we can find them.” Chandler’s observations are certainly true, but his answer is not biblical. Our basis of shared fellowship lies not in our marginalization by the culture but in our faithful adherance to the “faith … once delivered” (Jude 3) and our love for God’s revelation to us and His holiness. The Spirit-inspired authors of the New Testament did not pen their letters to the church without reason—they penned such letters to define biblical doctrine, to warn the saints of false doctrine, and to exhort believers to “mark and avoid” those who embrace doctrinal error. The charismatic movement is not a friend to biblical orthodoxy; we should avoid it and not embrace it simply because the world does not like our message.