There’s a lot of fog surrounding the question of charismatic and non-charismatic churches. The debate is often discussed in terms of miracles or the Holy Spirit. Do you believe God performs miracles today? Do you believe the Holy Spirit is active today? These are distractions and miss the real issue being debated. The debate is really about the sufficiency of Scripture.
The sufficiency of Scripture is a precious truth that was articulated during the Protestant Reformation. It means that Scripture is enough. Now, I’ve never heard a charismatic come out and deny the sufficiency of Scripture. But being charismatic and the insufficiency of Scripture necessarily go together. Like two dominoes in a row, knock down one, and the other will fall.
A pursuit of new revelation can only be because Scripture is insufficient. The Bible isn’t enough. In the life of a charismatic congregation, the 66-books of Scripture are inadequate as revelation. Sure, they tell you how to be saved. Sure, they tell you how to grow as a Christian, but there’s more revelation out there. The Bible does not contain the complete will of God for your life. You will be missing out with just a Bible and no prophet. That fresh, extra revelation that you’re offered in a charismatic church automatically undermines the Bible’s sufficiency.
By contrast, in a cessationist church, the 66-books of Scripture are completely sufficient as revelation. They fully reveal God’s will for our lives. All we need to do is unpack what is already in those Scriptures. Now, that unpacking is not an easy task. The Holy Spirit of God is essential to that task. Leaning on the gifts of preachers and teachers is important. The “sufficiency” of Scripture has never meant the “self-sufficiency” of Scripture. But in a cessationist congregation, all that is happening is Spirit-assisted applications of Scripture. And applications of Scripture are a very different thing to prophetic additions to Scripture.
Cessationists and continuationists can agree on the inerrancy of Scripture. We can agree on the holiness of Scripture and even the centrality of Scripture. But we do not agree on the sufficiency of Scripture. Quite simply, you cannot consistently be a continuationist and committed to the sufficiency of Scripture. The two positions are contradictory.