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A 21st Century Reformation: Recovering the Supernatural

作者: Hwa Yung
日期: 29.09.2010
Category: 正直与谦卑

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最初发表于英语

One of the big surprises of the 20th century was the dramatic growth of the churches in the non-western world. A bigger surprise was that, as Philip Jenkins asserts, those churches growing fastest are all strongly supernaturally oriented. ’In this thought world, prophecy is an everyday reality, while faith-healing, exorcism, and dream-visions are all basic components of religious sensibility.’ This is true of African Initiated Churches, Latin American Pentecostalism, house churches in China and India, plus numerous others.

I too grew up in a thought world wherein ancestral spirits, demonic powers, ’gods’ and miracles of all kinds abound. Modern education, the most powerful of secularization forces, almost succeeded in getting me to toss out everything as mere superstition. Some clearly are, but not all. Careful reading of the Bible and the sheer weight of empirical evidence eventually forced me back to a supernatural Christianity. But in this I found myself out of sync with much of western theology. Here at least liberals were consistent, but not evangelicals. The liberals denied the supernatural both in the Bible and the present; evangelicals fought tooth and nail to defend the miraculous in the Bible but rarely could cope with it in real life!

Increasingly it is now recognized that much of the western mind has been domesticated by modernity, with its roots in Enlightenment thought. The autonomous rationalism initiated by Descartes and a narrow empiricism pioneered by Hume have so emasculated the modern worldview that what is left is merely a mechanistic universe. The resultant denial of the supernatural crippled much of theology, leading to at least two serious consequences.

First, most present-day western systematic and pastoral theologies fail to address the realm of the demonic, at both the personal and cosmic levels. Many scholars simply deny or ignore the whole subject, explaining away numerous related biblical passages. Paul’s references to ’principalities and powers’ are reduced to mere sociological structures; sin and evil are discussed without reference to the demonic. Such theologies may sit well with modernity, but provide little or no help for evangelists and pastors ministering to people who are demonized or under spiritual bondage of various kinds. Without these issues being properly addressed, many in the non-western world will find the gospel impotent and irrelevant.

The other consequence is that western Christianity often fails to fit the ’signs and wonders’ of the Holy Spirit into its theological framework. Until recently, classical Pentecostalism has tended to be treated as some form of aberrant religion. The same attitude was taken toward the various versions of non-western indigenous Christianity that also took the New Testament teaching on spiritual gifts and the miraculous seriously. But today, with Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement increasingly accepted in the west, and most of the dynamic non-western churches taking the miraculous seriously, it increasingly looks as if, by New Testament standards, the real aberration is ’mainline’ western Christianity!

A 21st century Reformation will demand that the supernatural be reinserted back into the heart of Christianity. The result will be not only a sounder biblical theology but a more powerful missional church. The world will then understand what Jesus meant when he said, ’But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you!’ (Mat 12:28)

关键词: Christianity Today, reformation, supernatural, domestication, power, mission

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PhContributeBy
回复 标记 1 支持 反对 jackyo (1)  
联合王国

I believe in and have experienced our wonderful God at work in the supernatural. I have also seen Disabled people bruised by peoples zeal in the area of healing. How do we give people dignity and respect whilst not denying them or others Gods Holy Spirit miraculous intervention? Let us not deny the power of the Gospel but let us not forget we are all made in the image of God whatever our ability and be slow to rush in with our ideas of putting things right.

Jacky


29.09.2010
PhContributeBy
回复 标记 0 支持 反对 Hwa_Yung (0)
马来西亚
@ jackyo:

I am in total agreement with you that even those who may be disabled in some ways are also made in the image of God. I believe you are referring to the tendency amongst some Pentecostals charismatics who insensitively insist on divine healing for everyone. This a matter that needs to be addressed with pastoral sensitivity. We need to remember that neither the Lord himself nor his apostles healed every sick or disabled person.


05.10.2010
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回复 标记 0 支持 反对 gospeldriven (0)
美国
@ Hwa_Yung:

Dear Pastor Yung,


Thanks for writing this article. Men in the West such as John Wimber, John White, Kevin Springer, Wayne Grudem, Gary Greig, Gordon Fee, etc... have written extensively on this subject in their ministries and made similar arguments and pleas such as you express in your article.


There is no doubt a need for more openness to the supernatural work of God among churches in the West (and the East). Reports from the mission field about our Lord’s working in the 10/40 window certainly challenge the mainline thinking of many churches here in the West.


There is also a great need for pastors and theologians to give more critical and careful thought to this issue. I have served and fellowshipped in both "Charismatic" and "non-Charismatic" churches and circles. I have seen abuses and errors in both camps.


Moreover, I have given a lot of thought to this issue not only because of the theological issues at stake but also because of my own personal suffering of physical pain and brokenness. You can read about my journey here:


  


Wherever one finally comes down on this issue (cessationist, non-cessationist, open but cautious, etc...), the thing that we must all remain committed to is the preservation and proclamation of the gospel as being of first importance (1 Cor. 15:3). The gospel must always be Paramount both in our preaching/teaching to believers in the church (Rom. 1:15) and to the unbelieving world (Mk. 16:15). For, there is nothing more notable or glorious in the church than the ministry of the gospel.


Gospel blessings!



13.10.2010
PhContributeBy
回复 标记 0 支持 反对 gospeldriven (0)
美国
@ Hwa_Yung:

Please forgive me. I am showing my inability to use technology properly! Here is the link one more time to my article: http://gospeldriven.wordpress.com/2007/09/11/gospel-driven-suffering-lessons-from-the-cross-at-ground-zero-part-1/


Thanks for your patience and grace!


13.10.2010
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南非

In response to your wonderful article I have added my own here. I hope you enjoy it and are encouraged by the impact your article is having.

http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/conversations/detail/11132


08.10.2010
PhContributeBy
回复 标记 0 支持 反对 gospeldriven (0)
美国
@ Lex_L:

Not sure what happened to my link? I’ll try again.


http://gospeldriven.wordpress.com/2007/09/11/gospel-driven-suffering-lessons-from-the-cross-at-ground-zero-part-1/


13.10.2010
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南非

I appreciate this article very much. This really should be a plenary session topic as it is the key to the massive growth of the church in much of the world today (and through history, of course!).

So thank you very much for bringing it to a wider audience.

I sincerely hope that there will be much room to discuss this very issue and to seek to find ways of engaging with each other across the continents to strengthen one another’s hands in this particular respect.

We have much to learn from the vibrant and growing churches in the global south.

For those unfamiliar with such things in the West, they may be helped by the following articles:

Jonathan Edwards and the effects of the Spirit: http://lexloiz.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/jonathan-edwards-and-so-called-physical-manifestations/

John Wesley and demonstrations of God’s power in the evangelistic arena: http://lexloiz.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/changed-in-a-moment-demonstrations-of-power-in-the-evangelistic-arena/

John Wesley and so-called manifestations of power: http://lexloiz.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/john-wesley-and-so-called-‘physical-manifestations’/


08.10.2010
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回复 标记 0 支持 反对 TEDS-Patrick_Hall (0)
美国

I just wanted to note that your thoughts and reflections on the importance of addressing the supernatural dimension is highly noted.  I would agree that the past notions of spiritual warfare are both foolish and potentially detrimental to our role as Christians in God’s mission.

Just a note of encouragement, I myself come from a highly Evangelical but simaltaneously Dispensational background.  I just want to say that not only in myself but even admist my denominational surroundings it seems that this generation is much more open to God’s moving in ways of healing as well as other supernatural elements.

I will note that on another note just because my generation is more open to the importance of supernatural things and having faith in God’s power there still seems to be a large distance between those who believe in the more supernatural elements of God and those who are actively seeking to live by faith in the supernatural workings of God.

More love, grace, and faith Lord

-Patrick


29.09.2010
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马来西亚
@ TEDS-Patrick_Hall:

Thanks. I concur with you that there is much more openness to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the present generation than in the past. Perhap we can thank STAR WARS and the like for this mind-set change! But the New Age movement and the like have certainly challenged the present generation of people from the West.


 


05.10.2010
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圣文森特和格林纳丁斯

Excellent article. Does the supernatural always refer to the act of spiritual warfare ? Or do we see it in answered prayers, healing, bearing up under extreme duress and strength for a specific task ?


01.10.2010
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马来西亚
@ Kenyatta:

’Spiritual warfare’ is an over-used term in some circles, and to see everything supernatural in those terms distorts the work of the Holy Spirit. I use the term ’supernatural’ to refer to all that which cannot be explain by scientific laws or given a merely naturalistic explanation. This of course would include what you list as healing, answered prayer, and grace given to us which goes beyond our natural strength. It includes more of course, including exorcisms, prophecies, and ’signs and wonders’.


05.10.2010

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