The Diversity of Gifts in Denominations
NCW 11, August 1994
Q. Why is it that people like the Penetecostals seem to have the monopoly of spiritual gifts? Why do so few other churches have them? What kind of Church is the NCCG? Do you have all the spiritual gifts?
You must be careful here not to make too collective judgments. Yes, the Pentecostals do indeed enjoy many of the spiritual gifts though it is important to mention that this is not uniformly true amongst Pentecostal churches -- some congregations are more endowed than others. Moreover, the Pentecostals are by no means blessed in all the spiritual gifts. They are a people who quite simply believe in miracles and an empowered Christian life; and because they believe in miracles, they frequently experience them. At the same time many of the gifts expressed through them are certainly false and much of the so-called "tongue-speaking" is just soulish gibberish masquerading as a spiritual gift. They are certainly a "healing church" and there can be no doubt that because of their faith in healing their church has experienced much healing.
On the other hand, they have far less expectations in what I would describe as "beyond-the-veil" experiences. Stories of angel ministry and visits from the spirits of the righteous departed are far less common. By contrast, such experiences are relatively common among the Mormon people. And why? Because this is what they expect and this is what they truly believe. Again, there is no doubt that some of the spiritual manifestations they receive are false. However, they must be credited for their faith and the fruits of that faith.
Similarly, Roman Catholics experience a different kinds of "miracles" to the Pentecostals because their faith and expectations are different. Catholics, when they do experience supernatural manifestations, tend to report miracles more in line with their own faith, namely, bleeding statues, astigmatism, and apparitions of the Virgin Mary.
Each Church has its own "spirit" or "collective being" which is in direct proportion to its faith and expectations. We, as New Covenant Christians, are likewise endowed with our particular gifts, namely the gift of prophecy, dreams, beyond-the-veil experiences and spiritual knowledge, because that has been our collective expectation and where we have invested our faith.
The NCCG believes in all the gifts but if we were to be totally honest not all of the gifts have been experienced because we have not always expected them or had faith in them. This is a fault of our people and, more often than not, our spiritual backgrounds which have conditioned our belief and expectations. There is therefore a gap between some of our doctrinal propositions and what the people actually believe can happen amongst us. Our collective faith and experience has been shaped by our several backgrounds in the Lutheran, Pentecostal, Mormon, Reorganized, Jehovah's Witness and Russian Orthodox faiths. Because each of these faiths has certain prejudices towards different gifts, eradicating these subconscious prejudices (or perhaps "hesitations" would be a more charitable term) has been extraordinarily difficult and will take time. Creating a new part of the Body of Christ out of new human resources and revelation is an extraordinarily difficult task and one which may well not be fully accomplished in the first generation.
As New Covenant Christians we admire, and try to emulate, much of what we see in Pentecostalism (the belief in miracles and God's power), Mormonism (the belief in revelation and the reality of angels and the spirit world and its organisation), Catholicism (the self-discipline and dedication of those in holy orders), the evangelical faith (the solid, sober foundation in, and love of, God's Word), etc.. All of these are expressions of the true faith. Our mission, in the New Covenant, is to integrate them all and to inject a few ingredients missing in the rest. We have learned much from other Christian bodies, and continue to learn. We have much to be grateful to them for.
This page was created on 24 April 1998
Last updated on 24 April 1998
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