Wednesday, 24 September 2008


…of the Pentecostal-Charismatic variety…

“The Lord has given me a picture of three flowerbeds, with different colours of flowers. And I took one of each and planted them in the same pot. We’re all here today from different churches, but God is saying to us that we should make the effort to mix and have good fellowship: we’re all His flowers, whatever the colour of our petals.”

To those schooled in broadly cessationist theology and praxis, these pictures can sound a bit weird or even a threat to a high view of Scripture. And maybe on occasion they are. Whatever. I am more interested right now in being the nth observer to note that the cessationist and the charismatic may both be able to accommodate the same phenomena with a step or two towards each other.

So long as all are agreed on the priority of Christ and Scripture as God’s communication to his people, in terms of ‘ontological’ ranking and in terms of authority and purchase upon us, then let me offer a cessationist reading of the phenomena (with help from AMGD).

The ‘picture’ could be read simply as an illustration of a teaching point. But that could be to read it the wrong way round, as a typical (charitable) cessationist might do. Instead, the ‘point’, as it were, only emerges from the ‘picture’, which is normally a moving picture of some sort. The form – a short narrative – is important, and is an imaginative way of sharing truth. Not that we have to imagine that the ‘truth’ bit was thought up first, and then the ‘picture’ arrived. Why not see it as a teaching (mini-)gift that enables the speaker to do more than point+illustration. Jesus’ parables are more than point+illustration, after all, and our conservative homiletics (usually weak on relevant and punchy ‘application’) could learn a lot about the power of story.

Just a picture I had, anyway