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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Living naturally in the supernatural???

I am a charismatic, albeit a mild mannered one, and a recurring theme in some of the circles in which I move is that God wants us to be living naturally in the supernatural. Miracles, we are told, should be everyday events in all of our lives. This is, of course, aspirational because it is a lived reality for only a very tiny number of people (and even in their cases there is a tendency for myths to grow around them).

So I have been struck recently by how much the characters in the Bible did not live naturally in the supernatural. I notice the lack of miracles in the stories of key characters such as Joseph, Ruth, David, Solomon, Josiah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, etc, etc, etc.

I am also struck by the fact that amazing miracles clearly cluster around key people at key times in the salvation story

1. Moses
2. Elijah and Elisha
3. Jesus
4. The apostles

What strikes me in the book of Acts is not that all the believers were doing miracles (as many charismatics would have us believe) but that they were not! The miracles in Acts cluster around a small band of people. The believers brought their sick to those people. There was no call to normal believers to be raising the dead every day. Thus Paul refers to his signs and wonders as the things that mark an apostle out (2 Cor 12:12).

Of course, I do believe that the church is a charismatic community in which the Spirit sheds abroad gifts such a tonogues, prophesy, healing, etc (1 Cor 12-14). I am in no way a cessationist! I do expect to see the gifts of the Spirit operative in the body.

However, I do not think that I if I am not seeing miracles in my daily life of the quality and quantity that Jesus did then I am falling short of God's best for me. Sorry but I am not prepared to carry that burden (and it is a burden, because all those who aspire to such things fall far short of their goal). Doing miracles is God's job not mine and if he don't do 'em then, so long as I have been obedient, I am not going to feel guilty.

So I am inspired by the very biblical vision of believers finding God at work in their very 'un-supernatural' lives. If we are honest that is where most of us engage with the living God and I, for one, don't feel bad about that.

10 comments:

simon said...

That's a really helpful post. Thanks, Robin.

Celestial Fundy said...

I betrayed my charismatic roots and became a cessationist some years ago.

I think the large absence of charismatic phenomena througout church history puts a high burden of proof on those claiming miraculous gifts today.

I do appreciate your recognition that every-member miracles was never the pattern for the church.

Robin Parry said...

Matt-Fundy

Cessationism is a hard line to hold - I don't envy you trying to make a biblical case for that one!!!

That said, I appreciate some of the arguments that have been employed by cessationists (as the use I make of them in my post probably makes clear).

BFN

Gavin said...

Good post here with some helpful perspective.

My own church has of late put more of an emphasis on living naturally supernaturally as it were (which we particularly could maybe do with a bit more of), but balance with sound expectation is definitely a good place to be I think.

Anonymous said...

Robin signed off

BFN

Is it a new theological abbreviation I've missed?

Celestial Fundy said...

By the way, Robin, how are you enjoying the new Doctor Who series?

Robin Parry said...

Anonymous: Sorry - BFN means "bye for now" (although it could perhaps mean 'baptism for neonates')

Matt: yup - I like the new Doctor and the new series (though not convinced by the new Daleks)

James Goetz said...

Hi Robin, I agree with living naturally in the supernatural, but we need a sound definition of miracles. For example, I would never judge you if you're not the type to lay hands on the corpse at a funeral. And the subtle inner witness of the Holy Spirit per Romans 8:16 should be constant miracle in believers. And between those two extremes are many gifts of the Spirit while many of these gifts are still untapped.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I'm so stupid about internet abbr.

However, "baptism for neonates" sounds ok too. Maybe you're about to renounce "credo-baptism only"?!

BTW, thanks for the helpful post.

BFN!

Robin Parry said...

Anon.

I don't think this one is an internet abbreviation. It is one that I made up. I just count on people guessing what it means but half the time they don't. My fault.

Actually - I remain a credo-baptist. :-(