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and Faith Movements
Remarks and Introduction to the Gifts
Background and Objectivity
Comparing Modern Tongues to Biblical
Basic Introduction to the Charismatic
Opening Remarks and Introduction
to the Gifts
Survey 1 - Continuity of the
Gifts in the First Few Centuries
Survey 2 - Decline of Orthodox
Gifts and Rise of Counterfeit Gifts
Survey 3 - A Change in Tune Regarding
Survey 4 - From the Renaissance
to the Modern Era
An Introduction to the Gifts
in Modern Times
The Origins of the Modern Charismatic
Section 1 | Section
2 | Section 3 | Section
| Section 5
Having covered in our previous sections our own personal history
in the Charismatic Movement and some general descriptions
of modern Charismatic Christianity, we will now turn our attention
to the history of the gifts from the early Church until now.
What we will find is twofold.
First, the chain linking the practice of modern gifts to the
gifts in the early Church of the first few centuries AD is
a broken chain indeed. We will present information showing
that history does, in fact, record the decline and eventual
disappearance of the spiritual gifts. (As a footnote, the
fact that history records the absence of the gifts does not
on it's own indicate why the gifts disappeared, but merely
that they did do so.) This means that the gifts were not continually
practiced and handed down from one generation to the next
by the laying on of hands or otherwise. As such, all modern
occurrences of the supernatural gifts would have to be the
result of a revival or restoration of the gifts. And since
the legitimacy of modern gifts cannot be established on the
basis of direct continuity from the first few centuries, it
must be examined whether or not modern occurrences actually
resulted from authentic restoration from God or from some
other means. Or in short, no one can claim legitimacy for
their practice of the gifts by tracing back to the laying
on of the apostles' hands.
Second, the legitimacy of modern gifts must be established
in part by comparing them qualitatively to the miraculous
gifts found in the first few centuries AD and particularly
in the New Testament. Since modern gifts by their very nature
claim to be those very same spiritual gifts found in the New
Testament, their quality and kind should be of the very same
as those of scripture. Where modern gifts differ from those
found in scripture to the extent that they are poorer in quality,
impossible to verify, or of a different variety or consistency,
we have reason to suspect that they are not the legitimate
heirs of the Biblical phenomenon at all, but pretenders to
the throne. In fact, to this end we will present information
regarding the emergence of gifts among heretical sects in
the early centuries of Christianity. And, in such cases where
the modern gifts resemble the quality and variety of gifts
practiced by heretical sects and differ from the quality and
variety of gifts practiced by the early Church, we should
assume that these modern "revivals" are mere revivals of the
counterfeit gifts of the heretics.
Our first step then is to do a brief Biblical review of what
gifts we're talking about when we talk about the "spiritual
gifts." This will then be followed very quickly by a survey
of statements made about the gifts by orthodox early Christians.
This will in turn continue into a survey of statements regarding
the gifts as history moved forward toward the present. In
this way, we will be able to reconstruct a timeline of the
practice and prevalence of the gifts in Christian history.
The Spiritual Gifts
1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts,
brethren, I would not have you ignorant...2 Ye know that
ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even
as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that
no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed:
and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the
Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the
same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations,
but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations,
but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But
the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit
withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word
of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by
the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit;
to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy;
to another discerning of spirits; to another divers
kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of
tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame
Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
The reason these gifts are often referred to as the "spiritual
gifts" (even by early Christian writers) is not because they
are more "spiritual" than the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-8
for example or the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:8-12. Rather,
because these works are the "manifestation of the Spirit"
they are called the "spiritual gifts."
(As a footnote, some distinguish the gifts listed in these
respective passages into different categories. However, whether
or not such a strict distinction is warranted or not is the
point of this article series. Practically speaking, we acknowledge
that the gifts mentioned here are distinct from those mentioned
in Ephesians 4 and Romans 12 because these gifts [in 1 Corinthians
12] are entirely supernatural in nature. Or in other words,
to perform a miraculous healing requires a visible supernatural
intervention on the part of God. By contrast, teaching and
encouraging do not require any visible supernatural intervention.)
Some have called the gifts mentioned here in 1 Corinthians
the "charismatic gifts." In reality, this term is wholly redundant
given the fact that the word "charismatic" means, "gift."
So, a charismatic gift would be a "gift gift." Despite this
redundancy, because the phrase "charismatic gifts" has become
so identifiably and uniquely associated with the gifts of
1 Corinthians 12, we will use that term from this point forward
in the study. That way we will avoid any confusion or objection
that could be incurred by applying the adjective "spiritual"
exclusively to these gifts and not those mentioned in Ephesians
4 or Romans 12.
For review, below is the full definition of the word "carisma,"
the New Testament word meaning "gift" from which we get our
5486 carisma charisma khar'-is-mah
from 5483; TDNT-9:402,1298; n n
AV-gift 15, free gift 2; 17
1) a favour with which one receives without any merit of his
2) the gift of divine grace
3) the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue
4) the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin
and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration
of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith
5) grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing
certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of
Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine
grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit
That being said, there are 9 gifts mentioned here in 1 Corinthians
12. They are:
1) the word of wisdom.
2) the word of knowledge.
4) gifts of healing.
5) the working of miracles.
7) discerning of spirits.
8) divers kinds of tongues.
9) and the interpretation of tongues.
Definitions for each of these certainly varies, but perhaps
those spoken of most often both in modern times and in the
early Church were tongues and prophecy.
The gift of tongues is broadly defined as the ability (given
by the Holy Spirit) to speak in a language not previously
known, learned, or spoken by the speaker. We see this first
occurring on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-11, when Jewish
pilgrims heard the Apostles declaring the works of God in
the native tongues of over a dozen foreign lands.
Prophecy is even more simple to define. Prophecy has a very
long-standing history and precedent in the Old Testament and
from its very onset it involves the ability to accurately
and specifically describe future events (or even present or
past realities that could not have been know by the prophet
apart from supernatural means.) (See Deuteronomy 18:21-22
below for an illustration of how prophecy works.)
Deuteronomy 18:21 And if thou say in thine heart, How
shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing
follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the
LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously:
thou shalt not be afraid of him.
(While we will not spend a lot of time on Deuteronomy 18 now,
it is significant to take note that here God specifically
declares how his people were to determine whether or not a
prophet was from him. If what the prophet spoke came to pass,
then it was from God. If what the prophet spoke did not come
to pass, then the prophet was not from God. We will need to
remember this during our historic survey section a little
The reason that we highlight tongues and prophecy is that
the entire set of these gifts from 1 Corinthians 12 is at
times referred to by the early Christian writers as the "prophetic
gifts." Likewise, much of the historical commentary regarding
the gifts involves tracing the mention of tongues (as we will
So, having identified that we are talking about those specific
gifts which involved visible, miraculous (supernatural) intervention,
we will now move on to our survey of these gifts throughout