Spiritual Gifts: Definitions And Kinds -- By: James F. Stitzinger

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 14:2 (Fall 2003)
Article: Spiritual Gifts: Definitions And Kinds
Author: James F. Stitzinger

Spiritual Gifts:
Definitions And Kinds

James F. Stitzinger

Associate Professor of Historical Theology

Noncessationism has spread rapidly in recent years, being represented in three groups: Classic Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement, and ThirdWave Theology. Cessationism joins the three groups in representing the fourth position on spiritual gifts. An examination of several Greek words is helpful in arriving at a definition of spiritual gifts: charisma, pneumatikos, doma, dorea, merismos, diaireseis, diakoniai, and energemata. Two positions on spiritual gifts exist today, one holding that all gifts are for today and the other holding that some gifts were temporary and some permanent. The latter position sees apostleship, prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, miracles, healing, tongues, and interpretation of tongues among the temporary gifts. Apostleship was a foundational gift for the NT church. Along with the temporary gifts, the latter position sees a number of permanent gifts: evangelism, pastors and teachers, and those with gifts of assistance, administration, exhortation, giving, and showing mercy. The primary goal of all the gifts is building up the body of Christ.

The subject of spiritual gifts has aroused unprecedented interest in every religious circle. With almost universal appeal, the tide of charismatic theology has cut across all theological barriers and religious institutions.1 Synan concluded that in 1995 the aggregate number of Pentecostals/Charismatics in the world numbered 463,000,000, second only to the Roman Catholic Church.2 Such interest has resulted in the publication of an entire body of literature, both inside and outside the

Pentecostal tradition.3 Discerning Christians who embrace the biblical teaching of cessationism, must take this matter seriously, since almost every branch of evangelical Christianity has embraced some form of charismatic theology.

When John MacArthur published his book Charismatic Chaos4 in 1992, Robert W. Patterson offered a review featuring a contorted picture of MacArthur, holding a shield, and describing him as the last holdout and single defender of the dying cessationist view.5 The pursuit of charismatic theology today has all but drowned out clear biblical exposition on this vital issue. Robert Lightner pointed out that the biblical doctrine of the Holy Spirit suffers today from three extremes: abuse, negle...

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