the weblog of Alan Knox

Sharply defined class of spiritual gifts?

Posted by on Feb 12, 2010 in spiritual gifts | 2 comments

I found this interesting passage concerning “spiritual gifts”:

[W]hen people turn to Christ, and receive the Spirit, their whole life becomes pneumatic. In the terms of Romans 8 and Galatians 5-6, all authentic Christian existence is ‘led by the Spirit’, bears the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, and is empowered by the Spirit. There is thus a sense in which all Christian life is the gift of the Spirit, the charisma of God expressed in a multitude of charismata. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why it is difficult to provide from Paul a sharply defined class of ‘spiritual gifts’…. So asking the question ‘at what point does this or that activity of the Spirit become a “spiritual gift”?’ is like asking how many hairs a man must lose before he becomes ‘bald’. (M. Turner, “Spiritual gifts,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (ed. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner; Downers Grove: IVP, 2000), p. 794) (italics in original)

Do we need a “sharply defined class of spiritual gifts”? Why do you think Paul (and Peter) always gave different lists of spiritual gifts? What would be the danger is seeing any activity that is led/empowered by the Spirit as a “spiritual gift”?


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  1. 2-12-2010


    From my reading of the Scripture I have not found a “comprehensive” list of spiritual gifts. Would it be too much to think that someone may have a spiritual gift that is not “explicitly” listed in Scripture?

    As far as the danger of seeing “any activity” as a spiritual gift I am always careful not to confuse natural talent or ability as a “de facto” spiritual gift.

    Finally, though not specifically mentioned in your post, the creation of spiritual gift inventories has added to the confusion of spiritual gifts. These inventories resemble pseudo personality tests. Further, rather than relying on Scripture and the community of faith to determine someone’s spiritual gifts they rely on one’s own myopic view of himself.

  2. 2-12-2010


    I agree about the spiritual gifts inventory tests.

    Interestingly, the passage that I quoted was in a section that discussed and compared spiritual gifts, talents, and the fruit of the Spirit.