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Defending Charismatic Theology to Non-Charismatic Believers

Tip #3. Employ an argument from irony. Use the irony argument if you think that the critic is spiritually mature enough to question his own bias. I love this tactic because of its shock value. But you have to be very careful with it as some Christians may be very insulted by it. I discovered this argument when I noticed how frequently non and anti-charismatics claim that God had spoken to them. I was surprised by people, who, on the one hand, denied God’s continued verbal direction to His church (cf. Acts 11:28; 16:9f), but on the other, believed that God gave them personal guidance about job choices, financial decisions etc.

Be prepared to let non-charismatics know that Pentecostal/charismatics do differentiate between Scriptural revelation, which has ended, and God’s continuing and providential guidance for specific circumstances.

The argument proceeds as follows. I wait until they mention how God is leading them in a particular way. I then remark how charismatic they sound, namely that God is talking to them today. You can modify it by saying, “I didn’t know you were a charismatic.” If they seem bewildered by your comments, inform them that charismatics believe that God did not go silent in 100 AD but that He still directs His sheep and His church (cf. Rev 2-4). Be prepared to let them know that charismatics differentiate between Scriptural revelation, which has ended, and God’s continuing and providential guidance for specific circumstances noted in the scriptures above.

The beauty of this tactic rests in the way it mentally disrupts critics of charismatics. The argument shows that their opposition to charismatics is not due to theology, because they actually practice it in their own lives, but due to their cultural bias against it. How the non-charismatic responds to this point will tell you a great deal about their spiritual maturity and willingness to be open to correction.

Tip #4. Counter hasty generalization arguments.6 A hasty generalization occurs when one moves from an individual or small sample and then proceeds to understand all members of the group on the basis of that insufficient sample size. Here is how the argument unfolds. The anti-charismatic provides a litany of problems with the theology held by a small group of highly visible charismatics. He then proceeds to argue that all charismatics suffer from the same theological errors.

You will never be able to provide enough acceptable examples of miraculous healing to convince the non-charismatic that God still heals today.

The easiest way to address this fallacious argument is to point to various scholars such as Gordon Fee and Wayne Grudem to highlight that the charismatic movement does have orthodox and highly qualified theologians defending its views. Tell your opponent to argue with the arguments proffered by these people rather than the antics of those who may be more publicly visible.

Tip #5. Maintain an exemplary Christ-like life. The best argument to help convince non-charismatics is presenting them a life full of the fruit of the Spirit. The fact is the “Charismaniacs” have done great damage to the faith. Hucksters, the flamboyant, and even the down right heretical have alienated many faithful Christians who would have been otherwise open to the Spirit’s work. Anti-charismatics have been rightly offended by so-called Spirit-led people who act in ways which directly violate Scriptural mandates. A truly Spirit-led life must exemplify Christ-like wisdom in all aspects of our behavior. Seek wisdom and you will find that God will help us lead our fellow believers see the full work and ministry of the Spirit too (Jms 1:5).

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Winter 2010

About the Author: Stephen M. Vantassel, Ph.D. theology (Trinity Theological Seminary), M.A.T.S. Old Testament (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), B.S. Biblical Studies (Gordon College), is a Tutor of Theology at King’s Evangelical Divinity School in Broadstairs, U.K. and Assistant Editor for the Evangelical Review of Theology and Politics. His dissertation was published in expanded form in Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009), explains how biblical teaching on the use of animals provides a rubric for how God wants humanity to use the earth. He lives in Montana with his wife Donna. He regularly posts articles at

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