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Charismata: Gifts, Enablements, or Ministries?

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image of Journal of Pentecostal Theology

In the midst of a growing awareness of spiritual gifts in contemporary church culture and in the academy, much confusion exists. The use of the term 'charismata' promotes this confusion and is not an appropriate label for the biblical evidence of such activity. The problem lies in a deficient linguistic and exegetical handling of this term—a problem identified by James Barr long ago and brought to the fore by Kenneth Berding. Proper exegesis overcomes this prevalent exegetical and linguistic fallacy and suggests another term, diakonia. However, a more foundational conception of both the church and ministry is lacking. By analyzing Pauline anthropol ogy in Romans, an enduring and foundational model for gifts and ministries emerges. This model is the Pauline conception of the church as God's tem ple. People who are delivered from sin's power through identifying with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection and who have the Spirit are free to give themselves both as sacrifice and temple servants in spiritual ministries. One other caution is raised and discussed. One must avoid the charge in practice and theology of Spirit-monism. Basic structures of the New Testament always place Jesus as the One through whom the Spirit comes. Conse quently, all Spirit activity must in some way be christological and sote riological in nature. Some contemporary applications are derived from this biblical theology of Church and ministry.

Affiliations: 1: Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 1435 N. Glenstone Avenue, Springfield, MO 65802-2131, USA


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