3) Confining spiritual gifts to conversion: By the time of the Reformation, Christian mysticism had developed into several different strands. The mystical treatises previous to Luther’s time always emphasized the availability of God’s presence in a post-conversion state, similar to the doctrines of sanctification and the baptism in the Holy Spirit of the Holiness and Pentecostal traditions. But Luther consciously rejected these mystics and chose to draw from the work of John Tauler and the anonymous Theologia Germanica instead. Both of these works (and subsequently Luther) taught that all the gifts you need you receive at conversion alone. There is no post-conversion experience and the gifts these works cite are the Isaiah list passed down through Scholasticism. This is really the first place that the idea of “one baptism, many fillings” shows up in Christian history. Any experience a believer can have originates strictly at the salvation moment. There is no baptism in the Holy Spirit other than what the Holy Spirit does to enforce the saving work of Christ.
Because of all of this, Luther’s commentaries pass over most passages that describe Jesus’ healings in the gospels. Miracles have passed away and “no new and special revelation or miracle is necessary” since an “immeasurably greater and more glorious work and miracle” is found in salvation. Tongues is no longer given since the church speaks all languages and only “fanatical spirits and sectarians” would seek such a gift. Luther, like Gregory before him, attaches merit to not seeking spiritual gifts since “nobody should presume to exercise it if it is not necessary or required.” The inference here is that since God determines all detailed events in life by his sovereignty, the need for signs and wonders should never arise. A miracle would contradict the natural order and ultimately contradict God’s predetermined will.
Calvin towed the line, stating that healing “had its beginning from the Apostles, which afterwards, however, was turned into superstition, as the world almost always degenerates into corruptions.” His cessation sentiments are similar to those before him: “[The possibility of spiritual gifts] either does not exist today or is less commonly seen.” Counterfeit miracles are determined by their association with wrong doctrine rather than their supernatural nature. For Calvin, the more charismatic gifts of 1 Corinthians have mutated into more permanent gifts of the intellect – tongues is seen as the ability to preach in a foreign language and the gift of discernment is the ability to rationally determine false doctrine. That sounds alot like the Reformed tendencies of today to me.
4) Modern expressions of these issues: Charismatics maintained a distinct post-conversion experience until the rise of the the Third Wave movement in Pentecostalism. Beginning in the 1980s with its influence continuing well into the 1990s, the basic premise of Third Wave groups is to embrace the move of the Holy Spirit, particularly the aspects of healing, deliverance, intimacy of worship, and spiritual warfare without disrupting the general church structures or denominations of which they are apart. The phrase was coined by C. Peter Wagner, who spearheaded the doctrinal emphasis of the movement. On a practical level, however, John Wimber and the Vineyard Movement were the driving force behind the Third Wave phenomenon. Wimber, once an associate of Chuck Smith, would eventually separate from Calvary Chapel due to his emphasis on spiritual gifts while choosing to retain a Reformed approach to doctrinal issues. Similarly, Wagner cites a Reformed-based approach to spiritual gifts in describing Third Wave doctrine. This is particularly evident in the Third Wave belief that the baptism in the Holy Spirit only occurs at conversion with multiple fillings that may resemble what Pentecostals would normally consider a second experience. Once again, “one baptism, many fillings” is directly imported from the Reformed tradition. Also, common the Third Wavers is the absence of the gift of tongues. Though the Third Wave movement made some charismatic manifestations acceptable in mainline denominations, it aggressively minimized the distinctive phenomena that had characterized the Pentecostal movement since its inception. Following its Reformed roots, the Third Wave essentially made Pentecostalism non-Pentecostal.
Many theologians, although accepting limited roles of experience, reject a secondary post conversion event. James Dunn, Max Turner, and Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen restrict forms of Spirit baptism to the conversion experience. Unfortunately, even some Pentecostal theologians have gone along with the crowd. Assemblies of God theologian Gordon Fee followed the Reformed tendency to see sanctification as merely a “metaphor for conversion.” So even though charismatic manifestations are now acceptable, all historical attempts to integrate spiritual gifts into Reformed theology have consistently resulted in the diluting of spiritual gifts. Reformed attempts to integrate spiritual gifts have generally left charismatic Christianity a mile wide and an inch deep. History proves this to be true. And though it’s not the popular opinion, I just can’t accept that. I can’t help but feel that Christian spirituality is meant to be deep and event-laden. To minimize the charismata is remove one of the main points of intimacy between us and God. Though others see the gifts as expendable, I’ll take them every time. Can spiritual gifts and Reformed theology co-exist? If historical precedent is any indication, the answer is no.