are you Spirit-filled?

At the Big Brothers Big Sisters ice skating party tonight, I ran into a girl I'd recruited to volunteer as a Big Sister. She is a Christian and as we got to talking I told her I was a pastor of a church.

"So you're not the youth pastor or the children's pastor?" I assured her that I was the "pastor pastor" and her next question was one that I hadn't been asked in a while.

"So, is your church Spirit-filled?" translation: "Does your church practice the gift of tongues?" I let her know that I was filled with Spirit, but that I didn't speak in tongues. After agreeing to not get into a theological debate, I tried to explain to her the great amount of arrogance in a question like "are you Spirit-filled?" I'm not sure I communicated very well, but I am sure that this is not the last time I'll have this kind of conversation.

First, I do not speak in tongues, although I've personally prayed to receive it once or twice. Secondly, I have absolutely no quams at all with speaking in tongues as a gift of the Holy Spirit.

The problem is that there's a fundamental flaw in the question, "are you Spirit-filled?" when it is meant as "do you engage in the gift of tongues?" because it immediately assumes that if one does not speak in tongues, they aren't "Spirit-filled" or "baptized in the Holy Spirit." Hello. If anything, the burden of Scripture points toward confession, repentance, and a grace-filled life as evidence of the Holy Spirit way more often than it does tongues.

Arrogance from an immature believer who thinks tongues is the best thing [despite Paul calling it the least of the gifts] since manna is one thing. Pastors teaching that "doctrine" is quite another. And this is not an assault on all charismatic pastors and churches, but it is an assault on the term "Spirit-filled" and others like it that assume a higher rung of Christianity or intimacy with God [not to mention tongues as a necessity for salvation, what a lie].

We really need to rethink the term "Spirit-filled." And no, "Holy Ghost-filled" won't do either. It's arrogant on its face and it propagates arrogance with its use. "Full Gospel" seems to be along the same lines. It assumes everything besides the "miraculous gifts" is half-gospel. Anyway, the point is made, any ideas?

2 comments:

Dana said...

You confused ME!

Drew Caperton said...

How's that?