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Particulars of Christianity:
310 Pentecostalism,
the Charismatic
and Faith Movements

The Origins of the Modern Charismatic Movement

5 Tests for Authenticity: The Test of Apostolic Continuity
The Test of Origination
The Test of Quality (or Ecstasy)
The Test of Heresy
Defining the Test of Purpose and Verifiability
On Faith and Miracles
The Sign Sign-Giver Process
Applying the Test of Purpose and Verifiability (Part 1)
Applying the Test of Purpose and Verifiability (Part 2)

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4
| Section 5

So far from our historical surveys, we have established the following. First, from the words of Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, we know that the prophetic gifts including tongues continued past the close of the New Testament Canon, past the death of the apostles, and past the destruction of the Temple and were occurring at least into the mid or later half of the second century AD. Second, we know from the historic record that counterfeit gifts had arisen by the time of the second century and that the orthodox church distinguished between the counterfeit and the authentic gifts by the fact that the counterfeit gifts were practiced in a state of ecstasy and accompanied by raving and babblings, all of which was held to be contrary to the way in which the prophetic gifts occurred in the orthodox churches.

Third, by the time of Augustine and John Chrysostom in the fourth century, Church leaders faced the dilemma that the authentic gifts had ceased and this dilemma forced them to deal with the problematic questions of why and how this occurred and what the implications it had on salvation. Fourth, there is insufficient documentation to support the conclusion that authentic gifts occurred among orthodox groups from the Renaissance until the eighteenth century. And fifth, all modern Charismatic groups evolved out of the Wesleyan doctrine of "perfection" and the Wesleyan Holiness movement (despite the fact that there is no evidence that John Wesley spoke in tongues.)

Now that we know the general history of the charismatic gifts and the Charismatic movement, we can discuss more specifically how to evaluate whether or not modern charismatic gifts are authentic.

There are five tests for authenticity. First we will list them, then we will explain and apply them.

1.) The Test of Apostolic Continuity.
2.) The Test of Origination.
3.) The Test of Quality (or Ecstasy.)
4.) The Test of Heresy.
5.) The Test of Purpose and Verifiability.

The Test of Apostolic Continuity

This test deals very simply with whether or not a particular occurrence of the charismatic gifts can adequately trace its origination all the way back to the 12 apostles in an unbroken continuous line of practice. Or more simply put, this test deals with the notion of whether or not the apostle laid hands on someone who in turn laid hands on the next generation and so on and so forth in an unbroken chain of charismatic practice from every generation to the next right until the current generation.

Justin Martyr and Irenaeus at least indirectly attest to the Apostolic continuity to the charismatic gifts occurring in the churches of their day. However, as we have shown, all modern occurrences of the charismatic gifts fail this test because the existing historic record and documentation unequivocally demonstrates that the gifts ceased for a time spanning at least from the fourth century to through the Renaissance and the seventeenth century. Therefore, no modern occurrence of the gifts can trace is origin as a matter of continuous practice all the way back to the Apostles.

However, it should be noted that while passing this test would go a long way toward authenticating a particular occurrence of charismatic gifts, the failure of this test does not necessarily invalidate a particular occurrence of the charismatic gifts. Failure of this test simply indicates that a particular occurrence of the gifts cannot be validated by continuous practice from the Apostles.

Because the chain of practice is broken, no modern charismatic group can substantiate their practice of the gifts by appealing to ties to Apostolic laying on of hands. All modern occurrences of charismatic gifts are then, by very definition, a hypothetical restoration or reemergence of the gifts after a time of absences. Therefore, they began with someone else other than the Apostles who, like the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, must have received the charismatic gifts spontaneously without the laying on of hands by a predecessor. In short, all modern occurrences of the charismatic gifts fail the test of Apostolic Continuity.