Adrian Warnock is working on a spectrum for determining just how charismatic one is in belief and practice. His initial test seemed to make people more charismatic than they actually are, or perhaps than they consider themselves to be.
I took the test, and came out strongly charismatic in belief and mildly charismatic in practice. Some of my negatives include “I have prophesied” and “I have asked God to give me the gift of prophecy.” These two questions are legitimate measures of charismatic belief, but while I believe that the gift of prophecy continues in theory, I am very hesitant to point to any particular person I would regard as a prophet. In other words, God could call someone to be a prophet, but I have not identified one.
Another interesting one was regarding speaking in tongues. Under beliefs I indicated I believed this gift was available in modern times, and under practice that I have spoken in tongues, by which I refer to what is commonly called “praying in the Spirit,” though I don’t prefer that title. As closely I can describe the experience, it’s a bit like meditating. But that is for another article. But under practice, I had to note that I had never prayed to receive the gift of tongues, and in fact never desired it. It just happened. That is a valid distinction. If I believed that receiving the gift of tongues, or more specifically a prayer language, was a required, singular evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that the baptism is an event always or most commonly separate from conversion, then I’d presumably be answering ‘yes’ to all of these.
On the positive side I checked off praying for or receiving healing, raising and clapping my hands during worship, and getting emotional during worship, amongst others.
After presenting some results, he followed up with some questions that needed to be reworded. Amongst these he changed the question on healing to include the word “supernaturally.” On dancing, raising, and clapping hands, the questions indicated a biblical requirement rather than simply whether it is acceptable.
I really have little problem with the spectrum in general, but I would note the difficulty I have in answering these questions. In fact, I thought of some of these issues when responding to the questionnaire the first time. How closely do my definitions of these terms match the ones Adrian is using in asking the questions. When he added the word “supernaturally” to the healing question, the definition question came back to me.
I’m willing to answer supernatural healing positively, if that means that through prayer healing occurs that would not have occurred in the natural order of things. But there are two issues. First is the definition of “supernatural.” I don’t make as clear a distinction between supernatural and natural as some do. Yes, there are natural laws, but I see God in everything, so I consider all healing (and all truth) to come from God. I think also that most of what God does in the world is subtle and generally mediated through His people. This isn’t because God cannot act. I do not deny miracles. It is because God likes the way he designed the universe, and for the most part it works by natural law.
Then there’s the issue of a biblical mandate for particular acts of worship, whether singing, clapping hands, raising hands, or dancing. There would be two levels of distinction here. The first is whether such things are permitted. Many churches would reject the idea that people should dance in the church service, or even raise their hands or clap. Then there are those that consider this a valid part of worship, but wouldn’t require everything to do it. Then there are
others who think that if you don’t dance, you aren’t truly worshiping.
Neither set of questions truly distinguish all this, so I’m not sure how well the spectrum works. It’s especially difficult for someone who is a moderate or liberal charismatic. In that case, one would probably be open to many different approaches to worship, and might define various gifts (prophecy and healing, for example), in different ways, and still believe that the same gifts are available to the church today as ever were.
Finally, while I consider this spectrum interesting, since I hold only a very small set of beliefs as essential (saying the Apostles’ Creed without crossing one’s fingers!), I see such a spectrum as more for interest and entertainment than to be taken seriously. Any spectrum examining just one belief set is likely to obscure some differences and overemphasize others.