Q8 for Bryan: A third question about abuses

I promise this will be my last question about abuses, but it will run a little long. :-)

Elsewhere in your answers, you made it clear that you think abuses aren’t really that important.  That’s an odd position for a guy who, as we discussed over lunch, thinks that the natural tendency of Reformed believers is to be either legalists or spiritually-powerless against their own sins.  That is: you can see that the gift of discernment has its own pitfalls, but you are somehow squeamish regarding the obvious pitfalls of Charismatic practices.

Some churches claim to be Bible-believing churches, but the way they read the Bible frankly causes them to do all manner of abusive things, including the emotional and personal abuse of believers and unbelievers alike.

Some churches claim to use the signs of the church as Christ commanded them — that is, Baptism and the Lord’s Table.  However, the way they use them (for example, rebaptizing people over and over, or including both believer and unbelievers at the eucharist) abuses both the sign and the people who are receiving them by deceiving them about what they are doing.  It puts people spiritually in harm’s way.

It’s clear, it seems to me, that every good and Godly thing can be abused, and there are consequences to doing so.  Why would the Spiritual Gifts be any different?

I definitely agree with you that every good and Godly thing can be abused, and that the spiritual gifts are not excluded. In terms of potential for abuse, they are no different. I wouldn't be writing all of this if I thought abuses weren't important. Of course, that's why you're asking "Why the pattern of easily pointing out the pitfalls of reformed discernment yet remaining hesitant to answer concisely about the pitfalls of charismatic practices?" 
My simple answer to that question: I've more experience with the weaknesses and abuses on the Reformed side. I'm just more familiar with what it's like to operate out of a reformed cessationist paradigm and how it influences thinking on this issue...I think. Conversely, I've very little actual exposure to abuses on the charismatic side. 

Perhaps this story will help. Go here If you've time to read a little more of the backdrop to my response to this question. I couldn't include it here because of word count, however, my points below correlate with what I've written there. 
To respond to your wording of my view being that "the natural tendency of Reformed believers is to be either legalists or spiritually-powerless against their own sins", I'd like to say three things.
1. I understand my story in living out the Christian life within a Reformed cessationist paradigm is unique. I don't automatically project it on anyone else nor do I think John Macarthur would ever endorse any of the things I've done in the name of discernment or his name, especially while living a double life. 

Furthermore, some of the godliest, faithful, and most loving men I've known are cessationists.

In my limited understanding of things, the gifts of the Spirit stem from an intimate relationship with God, a way of relating to Him that I think includes the confidence that God still speaks individually to His children just as he has throughout biblical history. I personally think intimacy with God cannot be nurtured if one is in any state of paralyzing uncertainty of whether or not he or she is His child or if they're convinced He's mostly resistant or even reluctant to communicate with them normally on a very personal level. So, I think it's worth exploring how issues around identity (including but not limited to assurance of salvation) and intimate friendship with God play in to and affect the reformed cessationist view and experience overall.     
2. There may be someone reading this whose experience in the Reformed cessationist paradigm has been exactly opposite. I get that. But I think, if I may use a broad brush, the very things which are foundational to all of the Christian life in the Spirit --Identity as a son or daughter & Intimate friendship with God--are two things at least in my experience, tended to be weaknesses in the reformed cessationist camp. Of course I'm in no way saying cessationists don't have a rich relationship with God. There are many cessationists who walk more intimately with God and look more like Him than I do, many that I can learn much from.  

To address my own tendency to legalistic relating--I would like to start asking myself as I go through my day--"Father, am I engaging with you and your purposes right now from a place of intimate companionship or intimidated compliance?" For me this can reveal if I'm working to please God (outside relationship) or walking with God to advance His Kingdom. Whether it's prophesying or expository preaching, casting out demons or holding strange fire conferences, I think the tendency for all of us is to do things outside of intimate relationship our Father and without a view to do His will by the power of the Spirit of God.      
Also it may be good to say something here about Christlikeness and your comment that I've badly misread the analogy of being like Christ and am attempting to make you guys feel impoverished with my views of what it means to imitate Christ and carry out His ministry. I think the main thing I seek to imitate or should seek to imitate as one who is in Christ, is Christ's intimacy with the Father. All of His authority and power flowed from His relationship with His Father, and His character and ministry were lived out in the Power of the Holy Spirit. How should we be different?  
Those who say, "Lord Lord, did we not do this and do that..." are obviously presenting these works to Jesus as the basis for why they should be accepted. They neither knew God nor were known by God. There's obviously a form of power there that has nothing to do with Identity and Intimacy (being known by God). It's a sober warning for everyone, not just charismatics. But the charismatics who I know-- love Christ, want to know Christ,want to love like Christ and make Him known. They seek to walk intimately with the Father, and seek to carry out His will in their daily lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. To suggest that since we believe we should carry on those works of Jesus mentioned in that passage necessarily puts us specifically at a greater risk of being the very group he's talking about is a misguided application of that passage.       
3. Because of my own journey, because of the testimony and teaching of scripture, and because of my greater familiarity with what living in the Reformed paradigm generally is like, even if I am wrong on some of what I've written here, I am persuaded that cessationists have far more to learn from their Continuationist and Charismatic brothers than they do to criticize and condemn.
That's why I think the pitfalls of the cessationist camp are on my front burner. I really do feel like they've, as in the Strange Fire conference, took extreme steps in cutting themselves off from some of the very men and things that could strengthen their walk with the Lord and the churches they lead. Sadly, they've attempted to extinguish them.