Top critical review
Built on a flawed foundation
April 20, 2004
I applaud the Fortunes for doing a great job of encouraging people to discover and develop their spiritual gifts. Many of their tidbits and applications are very helpful and motivating. However, I have a problem with some of their foundational assumptions.
First, the idea that the "motivational" gifts of Romans 12 are of a different nature than the "manifestational" gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 is, in my opinion, not defensible. While Paul uses a variety of terms, the key word "charisma" is present in both passages. Also, the Fortune theory requires that the gift of "prophecy" in 1 Cor 12 be given a different definition than the gift of "prophecy" in Rom 12 even though the word is the same in both passages and there is no compelling contextual reason for two different definitions. Is it my personal suspicion, based on my study, that at the root of the "motivational vs manifestational" dichotomy is (in part) the desire to avoid dealing with the more "phenominal" gifts of 1 Cor 12 (tongues, miracles, etc.). Please note that I do not adhere to charismatic or pentecostal theology. However, I also don't find any Biblical warrent to exclude the 1 Cor 12 gifts from today's church.
Second, the practical result of this dichotomy is that the Fortunes must find a way for every believer to have not only a spiriutal gift, but specifically a Rom 12 gift ... significantly narrowing the field of variety of gifts.
Third, the Fortunes don't seem to distinguish clearly enough between spiritual gifts - gifts given by the Holy Spirit when He enters your life; and given specifically for the building up of the Church - and natural talents (God-given abilities that can be used in all facets of life). Yes, spiritual gifts and natural talents will often correspond closely, since ultimately they both come from our Creator God. However, the clear Biblical purpose of spiritual gifts is not to find a job you like, but to advance God's Kingdom. I admit that not all "God's work" happens within the walls and programs of the organized church, but to link spiritual gifts to finding a job is, in my opinion, weak theology.
There are some good nuggets in the Fortunes' book. Unfortunately, the flawed foundation points the reader in a less-than-ideal direction. A better basic perspective on spiritual gifts is C. Peter Wagner's little book "Discover Your Spiritual Gifts".