Work in the Spirit 15

imgresCharisma is the New Testament key to understanding calling according to Miroslav Volf in Work in the Spirit.

Specifically, “the general calling to enter the kingdom of God…becomes for the believer[s]…as they are placed in various situations, the calling to live in accordance with the kingdom…in the multiple gifts [i.e., charismata] of the Spirit….”

Volf provides five quick takes on charisma.

First, we should differentiate between “the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit.”  The fruit is about “the general character of Christian existence.”  The gifts are related to the “specific tasks or functions to which God calls and fits each Christian.”

Second, charisma is not something that is “only [for] ecclesiastical activities.”  It is impossible to “consistently [limit] the operation of charisms to the Christian church.”  This is the very insight Kenman Wong and Scott Rae appropriated in Business for the Common Good.

Third, “charisms are not the possession of an elite group within the Christian fellowship.”  Since there is no Christian without a function in the body of Christ, there is no Christian without a charisma.

Fourth, charisma is a generic term referring to “both the spectacular and ordinary.”  (This is in contrast to “widespread pneumatologies in which…’charismatic’ is taken to mean ‘extraordinary’” only.)

Fifth, God imparts charisma to individuals via “interaction.”  This means “a person who is shaped by her genetic heritage and social interaction faces the challenge of a new situation as she lives in the presence of God and learns to respond to it in a new way,” and this is what it means to acquire a new spiritual gift.  (By contrast, impartation via “addition” assumes the Holy Spirit simply “adds” a new substance or quality to a person.)


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