Day five was the end of the 9 Marks conference. We got to share about what we learnt and were encouraged by and then it was all over. For lunch I got to hang out with my very close friend Matt Freeman who is Mark Dever’s PA. In the afternoon I went to play Bball with some of the Cap Hill staff and some guys who were down at the court. It was fun to let loose and play some ball. My team won which is always nice. I also go called Steve by some people who were watching us because I sounded like Steve Irwin! I guess you can never blend in the crowd when you have a Bogan accent!
Day six was the day I flew out and I had the great opportunity to sit down with Matt Freeman and Gary Ricucci. Gary was one of the founding members of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg Maryland and is now there on the pastoral staff. We talked about their view of charismatic gifts and how the gift of prophecy works out in their church service (on this see below), church government and how Covenant Life got started.
As I said, I asked Gary about the way prophecy functions in their church services. He said that at Covenant life they have a ministry microphone which is manned by two Elders and if someone feels like God has given them a word to the congregation they approach the Elders at the microphone and tell them what God has given them to share. It is the elder’s job to discern whether or not this word is from God and is suitable for the church at this time. If the elders think the word is appropriate the person with the word can share it with the congregation. If not the person does not share the word but goes back to their seat. I asked Gary about what gets shared and he said mostly stuff like “I feel God is telling me that people are working too much on their jobs and spending not enough time with their families.” There is not much predictive prophecy but they are open to this. He also told me that if the ushers feel like a person is drawing attention to themself in the corporate gathering they will be commended on their enthusiasm but asked if they are drawing more attention to themselves than Jesus. Even though I do not consider myself a charismatic I felt that this approach to gifts of the spirit and charismatic worship was extremely sane and I believe my brother Gary to be very sound theologically and would trust him to preach at Resolved. We also talked about church government and Gary said he totally disagreed with congregational church government which was an interesting conversation in light of CHBC’s view that congregationalism is biblical.
After a short drive to the airport where Matt and I chatted more about church government and what we learnt from Gary I got on my plane and flew back home…..
Points of Learning
Who are our enemies? One of the things I can’t stand about conservative evangelicalism in Sydney is its view that anyone who calls themselves a charismatic is a threat to the gospel. A few years ago at a training event Phillip Jensen and John Woodhouse talked about “the silver bullet” that some people think that the Reformed Charismatic is. The conversation that followed was obviously slanted against the movement. Within their sights was some dudes in Sydney who are being influenced by Driscoll, Piper , Mahaney et al and calling themselves Reformed Charismatics. Another example of thinking that all charismatics are a threat to the gospel happened in 2009 when Ed Loane (who is a beautiful human being by the way) gave the centennial address at the Anglican Church league dinner. After he gave a brilliant history of Sydney Anglicans and evangelicalism he finished with these words:
Well the truth is, while our challenges might not be ritualism or modernism, evangelical truth is still challenged. Whether it’s the new perspective, the charismatic movement or something else, we must not get complacent and think Sydney evangelicalism is invincible – the challenges remain.
Is the charismatic movement really a challenge to the gospel like the new perspective is? No way in hell!!! Sure the charismatic movement’s excesses are disastrous to the gospel but if we lump guys like Gary and CJ Mahney into the same group as Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland we are guilty of slander in the highest degree. The reformed charismatic guys hate the excesses of the charismatic movement just as much as any reformed brother does. So we need to realize that these brothers are not our enemies but co workers in the gospel. I think it is also interesting that people bang on about the charismatic movement being wrong but we don’t talk about the fact that in our theological colleges inerrancy is denied, Neo Orthodoxy is praised and that some of our ministers are clearly in the New Perspective camp. All this being said we need a dose of reality when we think of who are enemies are and who our co workers are.
Generosity – When I went out to lunch with people in the states I never had to pay once. They saw me as their guest and a brother in Christ and I always got shouted. This generosity was very humbling and beautiful and one thing I want to learn from our American brothers.
If you have been reading these blogs about what I learnt at Capitol Hill I would suggest that you go over to the conference or at least subscribe to the Nine Marks e-journal.
 Read the whole address here http://acl.asn.au/acl-centenary-dinner-address/#more-2479