In this video, I present my chapter “Charismatic Anabaptism: Combining Signs and Wonders with Peace and Justice”, which is included in the new anthology A Living Alternative. In the chapter I argue that Christians should use the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to promote nonviolence and economic equality. To defend this thesis, I use the Bible, church history as well as modern testimonies.
The church historical part can be a bit mind-blowing to some – not many Anabaptists know that their movement initially was very charismatic, with an emphasis on prophetic visions, healing and miracles. Likewise, most Pentecostals and charismatics are unaware of that the early Pentecostals were pacifists and criticised capitalism. Even though they are hardly connected historically, early Anabaptism and early Pentecostalism were extremely similar, which I interpret as the work of the Holy Spirit, whom both movements wanted to be influenced by.
Both Anabaptism and Pentecostalism are restorationist, that is, they want to restore the New Testament church. Now, Calvinism and Lutheranism – Protestant movements that also originated during the 16th century reformation just like Anabaptism, that were far more positive to violence, economic inequality and pesecution than the Anabaptists – also argued that they restored the Biblical church, basing their theology on “Scripture alone” instead of relying on Catholic unbiblical tradition.
However, besides the fact that there are several examples of these church traditions not being like the Biblical church – said positive view on violence and persecution (Lutherans killed Anabaptists simply because they were Anabaptist), sacramental view, state church system etc. – there is an even greater problem here, namely that both early Calvinism and Lutheranism were cessationist – they believed that certain aspects of the biblical church had “ceased”. This was primarily applied to miraculous Spiritual gifts like healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues; but the same reasoning was also applied to defend why Calvinists and Lutherans don’t practice community of goods like the apostles (Acts 2:44-45) – this practice has simply “ceased”.
There are countless arguments against cessationism and I have already presented several of them here, but what I want to highlight here is that it is impossible to be restorationist and cessationist at the same time. You cannot say “Let’s restore the Biblical church!” and in the next sentence argue “X has ceased since the time of the Biblical church!”
If you want to believe and argue that a certain aspect of the Biblical church has ceased, you’re free to do so (unlike the early Calvinists and Lutherans I won’t kill you for expressing your opinion), but you cannot claim to be a restorationist. That title only belongs to Anabaptists, Pentecostals and other Christians who are not cessationist, since we are not arguing that certain aspects of the New Testament church should be ignored. It is we who truly “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” (Jude 1:3), which was “given by our Lord and Savior through [our] apostles.” (2 Peter 3:2)