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Charismatic Christians and Their Attitude to the Mind

By Max Aplin

A little over a century ago, God began to reawaken His church in a big way to the importance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Cor 12:8-10. Since then, the use of these gifts has expanded dramatically, and I am sure it would be right to say that at the present time a large majority of evangelical Christians worldwide either use the gifts or accept their use as valid. The signs are that the percentage of evangelicals who accept that the gifts are for today will continue to increase, which is a very welcome prospect.

For centuries the importance of the human spirit in the Christian life was neglected, and too much emphasis was placed on the mind. The charismatic movement has succeeded in elevating the importance of both the human spirit and the Holy Spirit in Christianity.

However, often in Christian things, correcting one under-emphasis leads directly to another, and that is something that seems clearly to have taken place in this area. All too frequently, those Christians and churches that use, or are open to using, the gifts of 1 Cor 12:8-10 can be found neglecting the importance of reason and the mind. Having reacted against a position that downplays the spirit, many take an equally unbalanced position that downplays the mind.

I think where such things as prophecy and speaking in tongues have been in operation, using your mind to think things through has been seen by many as cheap and unspiritual, not something that devout Christians should concern themselves with. Consequently, often when charismatic Christians are challenged on anything using reasoned argument, the arguments are casually dismissed because it is wrongly believed that experience of deep spiritual things supersedes any real need to reason with the mind. In fact, charismatic Christians have often shown a reluctance to undertake theological training to any high level, presumably for this reason, although I think there are signs that things are improving in this respect.

In reality, however, as so often in the Christian life, it is not a case here of either – or, but of both – and. God has given us spirits and minds, and He surely expects us to use both to the full in our service of Him. As the apostle Paul said in a comment on his prayer life, ‘I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also’ (1 Cor 14:15). Something similar should certainly be true in many areas of our lives.

To exalt either the spirit or the mind at the expense of the other makes no sense, when God has given us them both and the Bible is full of examples of God’s people using both in powerful ways. In the book of Acts, for instance, we find a stress on prophecy and being directed by the Holy Spirit, but we also frequently find Paul reasoning from the Scriptures.

If you are a Christian who uses the gifts of the Spirit, and who is rather sceptical about the value of reasoned argument, theological training etc., I would therefore encourage you to reconsider. God expects us to use our minds to their full potential. If, on the other hand, you are part of the shrinking segment of Christianity that denies that the gifts of the Spirit are for today, I would encourage you also to reconsider.

Let us allow our spirits and minds to work together, complementing each other, to achieve our best for God.

Please also see my related article: Charismatic Churches and Their Attitude to Hardship.

I have been a Christian for over 25 years. I have a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Edinburgh. I am a UK national and I currently live in the south of Scotland.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITER

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