For full reports and exact statements of the denomination's position on a particular issue, the reader should look to the references provided.
The whole church and every member must live in close fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ so that believers’ lives, individually and communally, may always show the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Christ, through his Spirit, sovereignly distributes his gifts to the body of believers when and where he wills, and he empowers the members of the church in every age with whatever gifts he judges necessary for the building up of his body. Individual congregations should provide within their communal fellowship for the free exercise of all genuine gifts of the Spirit so long as all things are done for edification and in good order, and churches should provide full opportunity for kingdom service in ministries appropriate to the gifts received by their members.
Churches should be alert to errors and excesses involved in the exercise of claimed “charismatic” gifts, such as tongue speaking, faith healing, and exorcism. Churches should accept in love and patience those members who claim to have been baptized with the Holy Spirit as a “second blessing” distinct from and received after conversion and should deal firmly with them in a pastoral way to correct them in their belief. According to biblical teaching, a believer receives baptism in or with the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion.
Persons involved in neo-Pentecostalism are urged to remember that all believers have received the Holy Spirit and that all religious experience is to be judged by God’s written Word, through which the church must discern the leading of the Spirit. Further, gifts of the Spirit must be confirmed by the presence of the fruit of the Spirit and must be used for the good of the whole body of Christ.
Church members who believe the “second blessing” teaching are disqualified from holding office, but not everyone who claims to have certain charismatic experiences is by that fact alone disqualified. The Spirit-filled church must judge what gifts of the Spirit may or should be employed in the exercise of the offices.
After considering lengthy study reports on Third Wave Pentecostalism in 2007 and 2009, Synod 2009 adopted the following counsel to churches:
- Gratefully accept all the ways in which the Holy Spirit manifests his work in this movement for God’s glory, notably in demonstrating the present reality of the spiritual gifts (charismata) recorded in Scripture and of being filled with the Holy Spirit in different ways and on multiple occasions.
- Beware of any tendency to make dramatic emotional or miraculous experiences the center of the Christian life, to underplay the foundational value of the fruit of the Spirit in sanctification, to restrict the things of the Spirit to charismatic phenomena, or to minimize the positive way God uses suffering for our good.
- Acknowledge the gift of prophecy today, subject to the overriding authority of Scripture and the discernment of the Christian body.
- Beware of any claim to prophecy that goes beyond Scripture, that does not respect the authority of the church leadership, or that fosters dissension rather than loving edification.
- Be fervent in prayer and expect God to do great things as a result. Think of prayer as a dialogue, not a monologue, and be attentive to what God is saying as you pray.
- Accept with gratitude that God continues to give physical and emotional healing in response to prayer, both through his gift of medical science, and through medically inexplicable ways. At the same time, accept that when God, in his sovereignty, does not heal, he manifests his love in and through suffering and death. Such present healing points us to the complete healing Christ accomplished and will bring to fullness at his return.
- Beware of misuses associated with healing ministries, since they detract from God’s glory and hold potential for doing great damage. Avoid healing techniques that fail to recognize the multifaceted nature of the brokenness and the context of specific suffering.
- Acknowledge the reality of the believer’s warfare against his or her sinful nature, temptations of the world, and demonic powers. With discernment and caution, be willing to engage in scripturally sound deliverance ministry against demonic powers in the authority and name of Jesus Christ.
- Affirm that the apostolic office, which belongs to the foundational period of the church, gave rise to the canonical writings of the New Testament. Reject all claims of contemporary leaders to this apostolic office.
Because of the influence of neo-Pentecostalism on the CRC and its officebearers and especially in response to two overtures in 1971 and the denial of candidacy to a seminarian in 1970, Synod 1971 appointed a committee to study the teachings and practices associated with this movement in the light of biblical teaching on the Holy Spirit. Synod 1973 adopted several statements that are summarized in the position stated above. At the same time that synod acknowledged a painful lack of assurance of salvation and a lack of overt displays of joy and power among the members of the CRC, it also firmly rejected some teachings and practices of the neo-Pentecostal movement, including the second blessing of baptism by the Holy Spirit. Synod 1974 adopted guidelines for officebearers in regard to this subject.
In response to an overture regarding Third Wave Pentecostalism, Synod 2004 appointed a committee to study this issue. The committee reported to Synod 2007, and synod sent the report back for revision. A reconstituted study committee reported to Synod 2009, and synod adopted the counsel outlined above.
References to Agendas and Acts of Synod
Acts of Synod 1970, p. 12
Acts of Synod 1971, pp. 97-98, 102, 147, 642, 671
Acts of Synod 1972, pp. 31-32, 112, 485
Acts of Synod 1973, pp. 71-79, 398-493, 745-46
Acts of Synod 1974, pp. 31, 623-25
Agenda for Synod 2004, pp. 436-7
Acts of Synod 2004, pp. 556, 608-9, 642
Agenda for Synod 2005, pp. 620-21, 628-29
Acts of Synod 2005, pp. 784, 821
Agenda for Synod 2007, pp. 331-88
Acts of Synod 2007, pp. 613-15, 675
Agenda for Synod 2009, pp. 335-432
Acts of Synod 2009, pp. 590-92