Is this a charismatic theology?
The Greek word “charis” simply means “grace.” The word “charismata” is the plural form of this word which is usually translated something akin to “works of grace” or “grace gifts” or “good and gracious gifts.” Because Trinitarian Gifts are bestowed upon the church as a sovereign act of God’s gracious love, they would indeed be “charismatic” gifts (grace gifts). Though this does answer the question, this may not be satisfying for those who are attempting to place Trinitarian Gifts in a particular theological camp. Therefore, I will expand on this answer by stating that Trinitarian Gifts advocates for the continuationist position (as opposed to the cessationist position) in view of what the scripture teaches in 1 Cor. 1:7-8; 13:8-10. However, we have deep and abiding respect for our cessationist brothers and sisters and desire to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).
What is unique about Trinitarian Gifts?
The Trinitarian framework is what makes Trinitarian Gifts unique. It brings these “grace gifts” to life. Over the years, I’ve found that the church is quite confused about the nature of the gifts found in Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12-14. Though these gifts were given to bring about unity and health within the church, they have been the source of great division and disharmony. It brought me to ask the question, “Why is there so much misunderstanding, confusion, even disgust towards these gifts?” There is certainly no simple answer to that question. Some have received incomplete or inaccurate teaching, some simply haven’t been taught, some hold to a theological tradition that is divisive and errant, others have been wounded by their experience (or lack of experience) with the gifts, ad infinitum. However, I’ve found that the best place to start to correct such issues is the God-breathed scripture. THAT is where Trinitarian Gifts begins and ends, diving into the depths of God’s word to mine the riches of the Spirit’s revelation to mankind. Together, we’ll discover anew, the ancient tradition of “grace gifts” distributed by the Father, Son, and Spirit as handed down by the Apostle Paul: Trinitarian Gifts.
Do apostles and prophets exist today?
The short answer is “yes.” Some would argue that these gifted individuals were “foundational” gifts due to Eph. 2:19-22, Eph. 3:5, and 2 Peter 3:2. And indeed there is this sense in scripture. In Luke 11:45-52, Jesus foretells the giving of a particular group of “apostles and prophets” who would be persecuted, even killed. However, also note that this grouping is distinguished from the Old Testament prophets. In other words, having distinguishable groups called by the same name was acceptable to Jesus (and to Paul). 1 Cor. 12:28 acknowledges a priority in the giving of gifts to the church of which the first two were “apostles” and “prophets,” the Ephesian church was indeed founded upon the apostles and prophets, and the Holy Spirit did indeed reveal the mystery of the gospel (formerly a “secret”) to the apostles and prophets. However, in Eph. 4:11-16, Paul writes that Christ gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to the church. If apostles and prophets ceased to exist in the 1st century, would not also evangelists, pastors, and teachers have ceased to exist? After all, according to the scripture, they serve exactly the same purpose within the church. Also, you must ask the question, “Has the church any further need to be equipped for ministry after the 1st century?” Well, of course! Globally, the body is being continually equipped by gifted men and women. Or, “Has the church actually reached maturity, having attained to the measure of Christ’s full stature?” I think not! We are a woefully immature, yet maturing, church. Also, take a brief look at Rev. 18, the destruction of Babylon. During this eschatalogical event, apostles and prophets are actually mentioned as those being avenged! Finally, there are apostles (Acts 14:4; Rom. 16:7; 1 Cor. 4:1-13, 9:1-6; 2 Cor. 8:23; Gal. 1:19; 1 Cor. 15:5-7) and prophets (Luke 2:25-40; Acts 11:28, 13:9-12, 15:32, 21:8-9, 21:10-12) that don’t seem to be part of those identified as “foundational.”
What about the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Trinitarian Gifts does not touch on the baptism of the Holy Spirit directly. However, it could be indirectly approached when we walk through 1 Cor. 12-14, teaching through Paul’s instruction regarding tongues and the interpretation of tongues. My theological conviction is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place when a person is justified in and through Christ and may or may not be accompanied by a tongue. The Holy Spirit can sovereignly distribute the Spiritual Gift of speaking in tongues whenever it wills; however, scripture indicates that a person should earnestly desire this ability (along with the other spiritual gifts, especially prophecy). Because I desire to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace, I can strive to be sensitive to the particular theological tradition of a congregation in this regard without compromising my own conviction. In other words, I do think it is possible to firmly hold a differing theological conviction while valuing others’ theological conviction simultaneously as this fosters meaningful dialogue and a humble, learning attitude that strengthens the church.
What about tongues and prophecy?
Tongues and prophecy, in particular segments of the church, seem to be approached in a manner that is counter to their purpose: strengthening the church. These gifts have been particularly misunderstood and misapplied. Therefore, the controversy surrounding these gifts has fostered a windstorm of division within the church. That’s why the Apostle Paul devoted an entire chapter to their proper use and purpose, correcting many of the errors that still plague the church today. As we journey together through Trinitarian Gifts, we’ll discover that the Corinthian church was especially corrupt, confused, and divided. However, they did not lack any Spiritual Gift (1 Cor. 1:5-7). Paul’s solution was not to cease using these gifts, but to correct their misuse, instructing them (with patience – at least, most of the time) on their proper use and purpose. And that is what is at the heart of Trinitarian Gifts: a deep desire to see the church embrace all the grace gifts imparted by our Triune God in such a manner that the church is restored to health, equipped for ministry, and catalyzed for mission.
What is the author's background?
I’ve been married to the same amazing woman for more than 28 years, have two adult sons, a daughter-in-law, and a grandson who I deeply love. In addition, I’ve been a church planting pastor among missional movements in Texas, Oregon, and Colorado over a 26 year timespan. I have a Masters of Pastoral Studies with an emphasis in Church Planting, a Masters of Divinity equivalence with an emphasis in Trinitarian Theology, and a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership. I am currently a Faculty Mentor for Redemption Seminary and was a web consultant for Fidelis International Seminary. My deepest desire is to see the church live into her kingdom destiny as the church is restored to health, equipped for ministry, and catalyzed for mission.