The Gift of the Charismatic Calvinist

ConvergenceIt was my birthday this last week and one of my sisters, Holly (may her name be blessed forever for buying me books for my birthday 😉 ), purchased a book for me which was on my Amazon wishlist (apparently she didn’t want to buy the other nearly 200 volumes on said list…). She called to tell me as much, but did not mention just which book it was. I was elated this afternoon to open the mail and discover she had purchased Sam Storms Convergence: Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist (Kansas City, MO: Enjoying God Ministries, 2005).
Now some of you are already thinking, “You can’t be BOTH a Charismatic and a Calvinist…aren’t those an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp, found missing, or pretty ugly?” Sam Storms recognizes this tension (even proposed contradiction) and addresses it in his forward. He writes about those in each “camp” who cannot fathom their being any mixing of the two:

“Many of my friends and colleagues over the years have questioned my wisdom, if not my sanity, in seeking to live and minister in both worlds. Some of those from “Orlando” [representing Calvinists] have insisted, often zealously, that people who speak in tongues rarely engage in serious theological reflection. They’ve tried to convince me that people who pray expectantly for miraculous healings are inclined to minimize the importance of Greek exegesis. Quite a few have suggested that my being a Calvinist is inconsistent with belief in the spiritual gift of prophecy.
Those from “Anaheim” [representing the Charismatics] have also voiced their concerns. Some fear that my unflinching affirmation of the sovereignty of God will either kill my evangelistic zeal or undermine any sense of urgency in prayer, or perhaps both. They are often suspicious of my emphasis on the mind and the critical importance of history and tradition. Although few have said it openly, I can sense their uneasiness with my persistent and meticulous habit of subjecting all claims of supernatural phenomena to the test of Scripture. Beneath it is the worry that excessive devotion to biblical precision will either breed dogmatic arrogance or quench the Spirit or, again, both.
I didn’t buy into such false dichotomies then, and I don’t buy into them now. (pp.7-8)

While I am neither a self-confessed “Charismatic” or “Calvinist,”* I do find great strength in the contributions of these (professedly) divergent streams of the Faith. I’ve been looking forward to reading this volume for some time now and I personally believe it can only strengthen the church to be more “catholic” (with a little ‘c’) in its self-understanding and embrace of the wider potential for enriching ourselves and our communities of faith.
What are your thoughts? If you are Calvinistic, is their room for being Charismatic? If you are Charismatic, is there room for being Calvinistic?
* While I do not profess to being a “Charismatic Calvinist” I do profess to being “Reformed and Pentecostal” (the distinctions are not unimportant to my thinking).

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7 Responses to The Gift of the Charismatic Calvinist

  1. TC says:

    Yes, there is room in Calvinism to also be charismatic, believing in all the gifts. No tension there. I confess both, because the Bible demands both – ok, tongue-n-cheek. 😀

  2. stephencswan says:

    I haven’t read this book but everything I’ve ever heard from Storms I have liked. I would consider myself both Charismatic and Calvinist.
    The first time I ever read about the Reformed view of salvation I thought: “yeah, of course that’s how it works!” This was right after conversion so I guess I’ve always been Calvinist.
    I was born again into a church with Charismatic pedigree (I’m a pastor there now!) so I guess I’m charismatic too.
    I don’t think there is contradiction but I can sympathize with the idea of sitting the fence. I get deeply discouraged by Charismatic kookiness but some Calvinists can be too cerebral sometimes. Oh well, maybe in glory we’ll get the balance right!

    • I think you would quite enjoy this volume. I’m reading it for my nightly extra (devotional-esque) reading. Its been wonderfully refreshing to read. Thus, this book made the list for nightly readings for spiritual enrichment. 🙂

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