Calvin And The Spiritual Gifts -- By: Paul Elbert
JETS 22:3 (September 1979) p. 235
Calvin And The Spiritual Gifts
With the onset of world interest in Christocentric pentecostalism1 and its outgrowth, charismatic theology,2 together with the impact of the renewal movements in various sectors of Christendom,3 it seems appropriate to attempt a specific examination of John Calvin’s understanding of the “spiritual gifts” as Calvin translates tōn pneumatikōn in 1 Cor 12:1. This endeavor is justified not only by Calvin’s stature and contemporaryinfluence as one of the greatest exegetes and expositors in the history of the evangelical faith but also by the fact that this aspect of Calvin’s teaching has received little or no attention. As far as I know, among those works touching on aspects of Calvin’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit nothing specifically focusing on his understanding of the spiritual gifts has appeared.4 An examination under the focus of the “pentecostal/neo-pentecostal” lens is needed, yet this is not at all to suggest a naive reading of current attitudes and assumptions about spiritual gifts into Calvin’s thought.
Writers in the Reformed tradition have dealt adequately with the “principal work” of the Holy Spirit in Calvin’s thought, such as witness, Word and sanctifi-
*Paul Elbert is adjunct professor of New Testament at Christ College Irvine and summer sessions lecturer in physics/astronomy at the University of California in Irvine.
JETS 22:3 (September 1979) p. 236
cation.5 His concern in these matters is union with Christ and a free flow of grace to the elect via the Holy Spirit as they progressively mature throughout salvation in faith and holiness. However, the equally principal workings of the charismatōn, diakoniōn, and energēmatōn (gifts, service ministries and energizing effects, 1 Cor 12:4–6) by that same Spirit in manifesting evident grace to profit the elect seem to have been neglected.
Parratt concludes his discussion of Calvin’s rediscovery of the testimonium Spiritus sancti as follows: “If it be true that the effectiveness of the church is largely dependent upon her possession of the Spirit of God, then a fresh examination of this aspect of the Holy Spirt’s work is sorely needed at the present time.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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