Some have begun to think and write about a post-charismatic theology. I wanted to enter the fray and add my two cents as things pop up in my head. So I’m starting a series of posts on some thoughts relating to the expression of spiritual gifts and charismatic phenomena within an emerging/missional church context.
One thing that charismatic theology is big on is the expression of spiritual gifts, especially the "supernatural" ones, like healings, miracles, prophecy, etc. (I actually think the nature/supernature dichotomy is a false one, but that’s another post). Charismatics have been impressed with the "sizzle" of spiritual gifts, things that make you go "Wow!" as opposed to things that make you go "Hmmm". An emphasis on and expression of spiritual gifts is not a bad thing at all, but I think past and current charismatic culture is way too focused on and impressed with the "big names." We’re star-struck, and we think it’s okay. We have our celebrities, our rock stars, and we love it.
If we’re going to progress to a place of health and proper expression of spiritual gifts, we’ll need to get over being impressed with the guy who can prophesy in the wavering voice night after night, and start being impressed when prophecy becomes a very natural and easy part of a normal Christian’s life. "You can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged," Paul told the fledgling church in Corinth. But how many of our meetings really look like that? Usually it’s the Prophet-with-a-capital-P bringing the Word-of-the-Lord-with-a-capital-W. Where’s the part of the service where we all get to prophesy? Where are the true prophets who are teaching and training others to prophesy?
This is really just applying the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers to the area of spiritual gifts. Now, I know there are bright spots (I think our church is one of them, actually). There are places and people who really have a heart to "equip the saints for the work of ministry," and they are doing it to great effect and fruitfulness. This is really one of the main values that was instilled into our church by John Wimber. He had a huge heart to release ministry, to see everybody get in on "doing the stuff." So in the formulation of any post-charismatic theology, I think that there will need to be a radical focus on the priesthood of all believers, on leaders releasing and blessing others to minister, instead of using their giftedness to make them into charismatic rock stars, traveling from place to place impressing people with their miracles and healings show.