No room for magic in B.B. Warfield’s theology

Over here, Leithart gives criticism of B.B Warfield’s particular flavor of Reformed theology. Thought I was only familiar with about half of the points of discussion myself, the questions Leithart raised ring true to some of my own troubles with Warfield over the years.

Warfield, as far as I can tell, is the chief source of anti-charismatic sentiment within the Reformed tradition. I think it goes hand in hand that he is also, against Calvin, not much of a sacramentalist either. To have even a moderately high view of the bread, wine, and water of baptism, one has to (though he may be loth to say it this way) ascribe some sort of magic powers to them. Warfield will have none of that, nor anything else that smells a bit magical, be it strange tongues, healings, and the like. He is quick off the blocks to all but dismiss much of the book of Acts at the earliest opportunity. Virtually all meaning the Lord’s table and the baptism waters may play in the life of a Christian are naturally obliterated and chalked up as collateral damage to his view of the Spirit working without mediation.

I say no. The Triune God works VIA a great number of persons and things, even though He doesn’t have to. In fact, it seems that He delights to do so at times – for his own reasons.