CSFF Blog Tour – The Resurrection by Mike Duran, Day 1

The Resurrection (Strang), the debut novel by friend and blogger extraordinaire Mike Duran, is this month’s CSFF Blog Tour feature. As you might guess by the title, this one falls in the supernatural category.

Which brings up some interesting questions, much as Frank Peretti‘s This Present Darkness did years ago. The premise of that book might be, Spiritual warfare is real and far more influential in the daily affairs of men than most people realize.

The Resurrection doesn’t camp on the warfare side of the supernatural but more on its actual existence and the varying reactions of believers and skeptics to an indisputable miracle.

Bringing me back to those interesting questions. Do miracles happen today? Are demons real? Do they work through people? inhabit people? And what about the “ecstatic gifts of the Spirit” — speaking in tongues, prophesying, and such?

I come from a branch of evangelical Christianity that says those kinds of gifts “ceased” after the first church. The thinking is that once the Bible was completed, there was no need for God to speak via visions and prophetic utterances. I’m not clear why this included tongues and the interpretation, which seems more an expression of praise, though there is also instruction about it’s use indicating that edification of the church is part of its function.

The thing is, the Bible which these evangelicals hold to be authoritative, gives these instructions for proper inclusion of “ecstatic gifts” in the worship service. I asked a friend once what Scripture supports the secession idea. She named I Corinthians 13:8-10 that speaks of tongues ceasing and prophecy being incomplete. The capper is “but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away” (v. 10). The thinking is that “the perfect” refers to the Bible.

I find that to be a stretch. How could you call the Bible “perfect” if it contains chapters of instruction about the use of gifts that have ceased? Further, Paul goes on to say that now we see through a glass darkly, “but then face to face, now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known” (v. 12b).

I don’t think the Bible, though inspired, inerrant, authoritative, and complete, lets me know God or the things of God as I am known by God. There’s still the “glass darkly” part of now.

And finally, I’ve been taught not to interpret Scripture based on an unclear passage. It is unclear, to me at least, that the “perfect” mentioned in verse ten actually means the Bible. On the other hand, it is abundantly clear in I Corinthians that Paul is giving instructions for the use of “ecstatic” spiritual gifts in the church.

Interestingly, it seems that “ecstatic gifts” has become somewhat of a dividing line among evangelicals, in part because we tend toward all or nothing positions. I’ll freely admit, I believe God has not brought an end to these gifts of the Holy Spirit. I believe He can heal. I believe He can give discernment, prophecy, tongues, or visions.

At the same time, I believe a lot of false teaching and fakery can stem from those who claim to have spiritual gifts when in fact they do not. I also believe Satan can imitate these gifts (think of Pharaoh’s magicians turning staffs into snakes and water into blood or the witch of Endor actually calling up Samuel’s spirit from the dead).

Where does that leave me? Believing and skeptical. What about you? What would your reaction be if you went to a funeral and the person in the coffin sat up?

See what CSFF tour participants have to say about this topic and the book itself. A check mark in front of a name links you to a specific article that has been posted.

Advertisements
Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 11:18 am  Comments (23)  
Tags: , , , ,

23 Comments

  1. I actually come from a Charismatic background ( no longer though ) and while I feel they are no longer normative for the Church they have not been totally abandoned. I agree that if the gifts were to totally have ceased why would the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to include instructions and parameters for the body of believers?

    At the same time we do have a more sure Word in the completed Scriptures and God has spoken to us through His Son Jesus Christ. I believe firmly in Sola Scriptura, that is that Scripture is the sole and complete rule of faith and as such is sufficient for our needs, but that the Spirit still leads and guides and instructs both personally to the believer and through ministers, elders, etc. ( always in light of the revealed Word though )

    Do demons exist? most assuredly

    Do they still possess people? No biblical evidence to make me believe otherwise. Though I do feel that in American society we place to much blame on outside influences and not enough on ourselves.

    Miracles do happen but if they are everyday would they still be considered miraculous?

    God bless and I pray success for Mr. Duran’s book 🙂

    Like

  2. I agree with you that satan can “mimic” those gifts, so as with everything we have to use discernment.

    I think he tends to work more fantastically in cultures or areas of the world that aren’t so hardened to him message. I just heard a story on moody the other day about a then-Muslim who was visited by Jesus in spirit. If God wants to reach someone, it seems He will, and He will use whatever means necessary.

    If I was at a funeral and the person in the coffin sat up, I would FREAK OUT, especially if the person’s bodily fluids and such had been removed, at which point, I’m quite sure the undead person would be after my brains.

    Like

  3. Jessica – if you’re lucky, you could be around the zombie on the right .

    I started out in a Southern Baptist church, but we got a pastor who crossed over to being Charismatic (BTW, I hate the labels, but for sake of discussion…) I agree with Becky in my reading of the Word that the cessasionist view has tremendous weakness, but that there is a lot of abuse by the flesh and the enemy.

    I am quite curious to see the response of mainstream evangelical readers about Mike’s book. This tour should be a start!

    Like

  4. Luther, I appreciate your perspective. Interesting to see that our early influences were different but we seem to be at the same place on this matter. I think the only way we can discern the spirits as we’re commanded to do, is by measuring the message with the truth of God’s word. Anything that doesn’t fit with revelation is not of God, pure and simple.

    I had a pastor God used to speak into my life in a unique way. I mean, I’d leave the service thinking, How did he know to say that to me? This happened time and time and time again. Then I found out others felt the same way. Now I suspect this pastor, who is a gifted expositor of the Word, might have the gift of prophecy. But is it important to name it so? I don’t think it’s necessary. But I tend to think that’s more likely what the gift of prophecy means than that some random person comes up and tells me I’m going to get a book contract before the year’s out. As much as I’d like to believe that, I’m skeptical about such things that can’t be verified by the Word.

    Becky

    Like

  5. Jessica, I agree with you, too, that God may use more miraculous means of drawing people to Himself in other parts of the world. I don’t know if that’s because they don’t have Scripture at their fingertips as we do or if they aren’t as skeptical as we are. The people around Nazareth doubted Jesus, and consequently He didn’t do miracles to the same extent that He did elsewhere. Might our doubt have the same effect?

    And yet, I agree with Jason — there are those charlatans … I don’t think it’s wrong to name them that. Their beliefs that contradict Scripture make their questionable deeds no longer questionable, from my perspective.

    But does the church here in America miss out by not looking for God to do the miraculous?

    I tend to think we miss out more by not trusting Him and praying for what is in accord with His state will.

    Becky

    Like

  6. I have no position regarding tongues, but I agree with everything you said. Tongues make me leery. I wouldn’t trust a person who spoke in tongues nor the interpreter. Plus, emotionalism could very well play a major part in that and I think we have way too much emotionalism nowadays which is why our society is messed up.

    Visions and stuff, I cautiously believe in that with perimeters. I’ve had a few myself–one that predicted the future in an answer to prayer as a child and the rest as simply assurances from God or a lesson I needed to learn as I got older. They weren’t meant for anyone else except for me.

    However, if someone came back from the dead I’d have no words. Fear, yes, but no words. Zombie’s might occur to me, but only in a sense of humor way.

    I do think Mike makes a great point about people who worship idols (i.e. the alter at Ruby’s front porch). Some religions get so hung up on their idols that God is most definitley replaced and instead of worshiping Him we are worshiping a statue that cries etc.

    Like

  7. Hmmm…this is a subject that will probably be debated until our time with the Lord in Heaven. There are those in the camp of Classical Pentecostals like Paw Creek Ministries (Pastor Joseph Chambers) who comes against those who abuse the tongues. Then there are those who do not think tongues are important.

    I think the careful examination is in order and to place everything on the mighty anvil of the Word of God.

    Like

  8. Hey Becky,

    Great discussion here. I’m probably something of an odd duck in that my theology is essentially reformed, but I’m also continuationalist in terms of the charismatic gifts. I believe the gifts are for today, and an regularly encouraged by their expression.

    Keep on blogging,
    Dave

    Like

  9. Becky, great conversation! Interestingly enough, my editor and I got into a significant conversation about dispensationalism during the editing of The Resurrection. It’s a complex subject, not at all monolithic, with many shades of belief across the spectrum.

    I was raised a Catholic, very non-Charismatic. But when I left the church, I began seriously exploring alternative beliefs (mainly mystical, Eastern). It’s a long story, but my experience there expanded my worldview and really paved the way for my commitment to Christ. In short, I became aware of real spiritual darkness.

    Like many, I am turned off by much of what constitutes the Charismatic movement. And in The Resurrection, I do not go easy on them either. There are just as many extremists on one side of the aisle as the other. (In fact, Benjamin Keen may be the ultimate representative of the pluralistic fringe.) All that said, I do believe that a universe that allows the miraculous and the mysterious is far more in keeping with the world portrayed in Scripture.

    Becky, thanks so much for your ministry! Looking forward to your reviewers takes on my book.

    Like

  10. “But does the church here in America miss out by not looking for God to do the miraculous?”

    Yes definitely. I don’t think most of us know how, do we? I tend to think a person needs to go through some pretty intense trials and suffering before they know how to look to God in that way. I actually feel like I understand suffering, maybe more than the next guy, but I also know it’s nothing compared to what people around the world in much less fortunate circumstances are experiencing. (Much of my suffering has been self-imposed by the way…it just took a long while for me to figure that out…) When a person is in really dire straights, I mean totally desperate, then yes, that want and need a miraculous God. He answers those who knock.

    Like

  11. sorry, typo “they want”

    Like

  12. Wow, you’ve really inspired some great comments here, Becky. I do come from a mainstream evangelical church that is cessationist. Personally, I don’t know for sure. I believe God can do whatever he wants, and certainly can still perform miracles as he sees fit. I guess the acid test as to the “gifts of the Spirit” are…when a person claims to have them, are they doing this for His glory, or their own?

    Like

  13. I believe people operate in many of the gifts all the time – they just don’t realize it! I hear some Christian singers, and their songs never fail to prick my conscience. I believe they are being prophetic in speaking God’s word in a creative way to make us look to Him – the main definition of prophecy. Much prophecy is only repeating God’s previously revealed Word in the current context.

    I’ve been around Christians who are adamant cessationists, and note they are operating in a gift. I love the irony.

    Again on the flip side, many of those who claim “prophet” or “apostle” do so out of ambition and ungodly motivation. It doesn’t make the gifts less valid – but it does the enemy’s work of tainting a good thing of God in our minds.

    (Again, this could get interesting! If anyone wants to discuss this with me, feel free to contact me at my blog and I’d be happy to continue – I just don’t want to hijack a thread)

    Like

  14. Listening to Mike’s reply and that little bit of background on him I have to ask him if Clark had a little bit of him in it? You know how we writers write…a little bit of us and people around us or people we have met go into them.

    Like

  15. Nikole, I answer that question, in part, over at Jason’s blog today.

    Like

  16. I thought it was interesting that the guy who seems to play the voice of reason during his short appearance, Dr. Beeko, is implied to have a connection with those “holy rollers” up north.

    Myself, I was raised Pentecostal and believe the charismatic gifts are still valid today, but I think the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement suffers, in general, from a lack of discipline, discernment, and accountability, which leads to abuse and confusion.

    I think Jason is right on the money. When it comes to the working of the Holy Spirit, people are so focused on looking for the fire, they miss the still, small voice.

    Like

  17. This is an excellent discussion, and I think, with Fred, that Jason has said some important things.

    1. Whatever the word of prophecy or vision or interpretation of tongues, it needs to be consistent with God’s word. I like the idea that it may be speaking God’s word into the context of a person’s life. I’ve had people do this, definitely.

    2. No matter whether we call these by the names used in Scripture, God isn’t therefore stopped from dispensing His gifts. I have an idea that “apostle” might equate with “missionary.” If so, that would be a perfect example.

    3. People who are standing up to be recognized for their “spiritual gift’ might be the most likely candidates to look at with suspicion.

    The point of the activity of the Spirit is to bring God glory. That’s what John, the gospel writer said. The signs that Jesus did were to verify that He is the Son of God that we might believe. Today it seems like some people want ecstatic gifts to glorify themselves.

    Becky

    Like

  18. I agree…there is much abuse in charismatic circles as everyone is seeking the next big thing instead or the emotional thrill instead of seeking the Lord with their whole heart. People seek ( not all ) seek the experience and the gift rather than the one who is the Giver of the Gifts.

    The Miraculous Gifts are not a make or break issue for me however though many in my family no longer speak of church with me since I no longer attend that branch of church. The one thing that does bother me about it, is that in my experience, many of the gift seekers feel they are more “spiritual” than others.

    I really do appreciate this discussion and the points of view here.

    Like

  19. […] As usual, you can also see the list of participants and links to specific articles that have been posted on my day one post. […]

    Like

  20. […] responses to said gifts. It led to a lively discussion. You can see Becky’s post HERE. Novelist Bruce Hennigan has written three very extensive posts about the themes of the book. […]

    Like

  21. Oooo, great discussion, Becky!

    I was raised in the charismatic movement, but I too agree that there is a lack of discipline and a lack of accountability. Charismatics are much too worried about the fluff of God and not enough about the Mightiness of God. At least, that’s been my experience. I think it really depends on the church or body.

    I’m excited about my own journey through this subject over the years. I’ve gone from being scared of it all to seeing where the balance could be made.

    Anyway, I try to focus on God and not on what his followers are doing. I makes me less irritated…lol.

    I have always believed tongues is vital, though. I just think it’s used wrong a lot in the church and therefore it’s shunned more than not–fear of the unknown. IMO: Tongues was meant to be a prayer language between you and the Lord. It’s the groaning of the spirit when the mind has no words left. I think the scriptures about it are pretty plane. It is a gift we should covet. I think it’s kind of sad that we shy away from even talking about it more than not.

    Like

  22. Wow. Some interesting thoughts here. I wasn’t raised in the church, but I always believed in God. When I finally met Jesus as an adult, I wanted all He had to give because by that time I fully realized how needy I was. I’m Pentecostal and not ashamed of it. I won’t make excuses for those in the Charismatic movement who indulged the flesh–we all manage to do that in our lives in one vein or another. Hopefully we repent and allow ourselves to get straightened out by the Holy Spirit. I’ve been humbled by being used in the prophetic utterances, and it’s an honor I’m not worthy of but blessed to be able to be used in the body.

    What hurts are statements such as this: “Tongues make me leery. I wouldn’t trust a person who spoke in tongues nor the interpreter. Plus, emotionalism could very well play a major part in that and I think we have way too much emotionalism nowadays which is why our society is messed up.” Without considering the fruit of individuals which demonstrate the love of Jesus or the potential wisdom He might give through HIS Spirit to strengthen the body or a particular person, the blanket condemnation is made against someone who received the Baptism in the Spirit (Acts 1:8 and Acts 2:4) with the evidence of speaking in tongues. We need power from on high to witness in these days of rampant confusion and spiritual illiteracy. I need all the help and all the power of God’s instruction from His Word and amplified by His wisdom which we can ask for and receive. God is quite emotional about His people and those He’s calling to receive His Son.

    The supernatural facets of our Lord haven’t changed, and with the onset of ever-expanding evil in our midst as the last days rush us to “the end”, we need the maximum that God offers. He is a miraculous being, a supernatural God, and He is limitless in what He can do in His people if they’re willing.

    We dispel the enemy’s supernatural abilities, and he often runs right over the top of us because we refuse to recognize or document his interferences. He’s headed toward his end and nothing would please him more than to rob, kill, and destroy God’s people or His potential people before they can be reached. Not that he can at will, but he won’t quit trying.

    Sorry for the length of this, Becky.

    Like

  23. […] discussed. Interesting because the last two Realms books, The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell and The Resurrection by Mike Duran had similar […]

    Like


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: