Since my readers asked no questions (for the second week in a row), I am re-posting an earlier question that originally appeared here on May 15, 2009:
This week I had not one, but three different CLCers asking about the same general subject: how does CLC differ (doctrinally) from other evangelical churches?
First, I’d much prefer to focus on what we have in common….because there’s already WAY too much division in the body of Christ. At CLC, we honor every church that is preaching Jesus Christ as the world’s only means of salvation! We stand in unity with them regarding all of the major doctrines of Scripture: the Virgin Birth, the infallibility of Scripture, His atoning death at Calvary, the priesthood of the believer, etc., etc., etc.
But since you’ve asked (and some were quite specific about the gifts of the Spirit, etc.), the primary area in which we differ with some is in regards to the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the church today, and probably more specifically, the role of speaking in tongues. In that regard, at CLC we are unashamedly and unabashedly charismatic, which means we embrace all the “charisma” (Greek word for ‘gifts’ in 1Cor. 12 and elsewhere in the New Testament)
I’ll try to address that as briefly as I can:
First (because some asked in regards to ‘defending’ our position with those who don’t agree) – if you’re trying to convince someone who’s mind is made up by their previous teaching against speaking in tongues, etc., then my personal opinion is that you’re probably wasting your breath. Most of us who have been around church long have accepted our interpretation of Scriptures and aren’t very open to other views (at least in my experience).
But if you’re trying to help someone who sincerely wants to understand these issues, here are a few principles:
1. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever. (Heb. 13:8) There is NO Biblical reason to think that what happened in Acts no longer happens today.
2. The only passage ever cited by those who think the ‘gifts’ ended with the Apostles is 1Cor. 13:8-12, and the ‘argument’ is that we only ‘needed’ tongues and the other gifts of the Spirit to authenticate the teachings of the Apostles before there was a written Bible. Once the New Testament was written (and we have ‘perfect understanding’), tongues and the other gifts would cease to exist. Very few scholars today would try to use this logic, and almost everyone agrees that passage refers to the fact that we won’t need the gifts when we get to heaven, for we will have perfect understanding then. But for now, while we still have only partial understanding, we still need and utilize ALL of the Holy Spirit’s giftings.
3. At CLC, we don’t insist on what is commonly called “the evidence doctrine”; i.e., that speaking in tongues is a necessary or initial evidence that someone has been baptized in the Holy Spirit. While I think you can build a strong case for that understanding using the verses in Acts cited above, my experience has been that argument primarily just produces arguments!
Instead, I much prefer to focus on the many wonderful benefits of speaking in tongues as a devotional aid, which we usually refer to as a “prayer language”. Those benefits are numerous, but you can read a few of them for yourself here: 1 Cor. 14:2, 4; 1 Cor 14:15, 18; Rom. 8:26-27; Jude 20; 1Cor.. 14:5, 18, 11:1
Beyond that, I’d highly recommend a few books: They Speak with Other Tongues by John Sherrill (the classic in this regard!), The Beauty of Spiritual Language by Dr. Jack Hayford, and, for the whole issue of the gifts of the Spirit in operation today (not specifically about tongues), the best I’ve ever read is Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere.
I’ve also addressed these topics at CLC several times, and you might want to order the CD’s of my teachings on “Charismatic Conclusions” (08/09/04); “Do What Again?” (05/20/06); “Holy Spirit Fulness” (05/20/07); and “Using Your Gift of Spiritual Language” (07/27/08).
That’s a lot longer than I intended, but I hope it’s helpful.
Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?