Monday, August 10, 2009

Upstaging the Devil

I suspect that many charismatics in ANiC do not know that J. I. Packer was a serious critic of the charismatic movement back in the day while still residing in England. Roger Steer notes no less than 10 things that Packer criticized it for: elitism, sectarianism, emotionalism, anti-intellectualism, illuminism, ‘charismania', ‘super-supernaturalism' (constantly expecting miracles at every turn), eudaemonism, demon obsession and conformism. (Church on Fire at 298-99.)

Packer changed his mind after coming to Canada, and has discussed this in a number of his books. Here's the most charming and compelling quote explaining his reassessment of the charismatic movement (from Rediscovering Holiness at 62):
What should one say of the worldwide charismatic movement of the past thirty years?...I believe that God has generated it in order to counter and correct the death-dealing fashions of thought, which, starting with theologians and spreading everywhere, for the past century have done damage by demurring at the truth of the Trinity, diminishing the deity of Jesus Christ, and for practical purposes discounting the Holy Spirit altogether.
To deal with these theoretical errors, and the spiritual deadness to which they have given rise, God has raised up this movement of uninhibited and flamboyant Holy Spirit life...Those who maintain the errors mentioned are thus comprehensively outflanked, not to say upstaged. How wise is the strategy of God!