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Today there is a plethora of books using questionnaires or similar tools in order to identify what spiritual gifts a person might have. I am wondering who was the first using this methodology and/or what book was the first to be published using this approach.

(I am looking for the first book, not the "best" book or the "first good" book, nor am I currently wishing for answers about the benefits or drawbacks of the approach.)

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2 Answers 2

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Spiritual Gifts Inventory (SGI) is a type of material that is associated with the Church Growth Movement (CGM). It combines theology with sociological methodologies, including questionnaires, in this case for identifying Spiritual Gifts. All SGI materials are based on the assumption that gifts are given once and then remain with the bearer for life, a thought championed by Peter Wagner in his books about spiritual gifts. (A contrasting view can be found in the exegesis of James Dunn and Gordon Fee. Both interpret 1 Cor 12:7-11 as manifestations of the Spirit in the moment, based on many details in the text, including the fact that it is using the present tense for all verbs.)

The first SGI material that was published was SGI-McMinn in 1972. In order to avoid controversies it excluded gifts like tongues miracles and healing. Other popular tests that followed were:

  • SGI-WMHQ (1979).
  • SGI-L (1984), a modification of SGI-McMinn.
  • SGI-Gilbert (1986), the material presently being recommended by Church Growth Inc.

Source: Pochek, Robert (2011) Toward An Ecclesiocentric Model of Spiritual Gift Identification. http://digital.library.sbts.edu/handle/10392/3738 (+ Jesus and the Spirit, by James Dunn and God's Empowering Presence by Gordon Fee.)

Pochek has written a critical evaluation of the various SGI materials, and bases many of his arguments on the exegesis of Kenneth Berding. (See Berding, K. (2006). What are spiritual gifts? : rethinking the conventional view. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.) But regardless of ones view on the gifts as such, Pochek seem to be a credible source to provide an authoritative answer to my specific question.

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+1 nice research! –  Paul A. Clayton Jun 30 '13 at 19:12
Questions and Answers on Spiritual Gifts first published in the 1930s by howard carter is much older –  caseyr547 Jun 30 '13 at 23:26
and I'm sure if you ask the Catholics they have documents organizing the spiritual gifts from even earlier. –  caseyr547 Jul 1 '13 at 0:29
I have read everything I could lay my hand on by Howard Carter, Donald Gee and Thomas ab Aquino on the topic of Spiritual Gifts. They do not share the methodology of the SGI-type of material. Please note the word "questionnaire" in the question. (There are in fact many differences between the SGI material and the pentecostal tradition.) –  itpastorn Jul 1 '13 at 22:10

1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

The first book written describing the spiritual gifts in the operation of the Church was what we call First Corinthians.

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I'm pretty sure you completely missed the spirit of the question. The OP specifically identifies the methodology of using a questionaire that gets filled out and the results show the respondant "you have gift X". These are pretty common in some circles but don't have a long history. The question specifically asks about books using this methodology which Corinthians does not. –  Caleb Jun 29 '13 at 10:59
@Caleb the question first says: "What was the first Spiritual Gifts Inventory book published or who was the first to use the method?" –  caseyr547 Jun 29 '13 at 16:58
That's a pedantic distinction based on the wording of the sumarized title. That doesn't mean that's really what the intent of the question is. I'm suggesting you missed it the spirit of the whole thing, not necessarily the wording of the title. –  Caleb Jun 29 '13 at 17:09
@Caleb if you think the Bible is without methodology or approach that's between you and God but don't blame me for believing that the methods were included –  caseyr547 Jun 29 '13 at 17:27
I didn't say it was without method or approach, I indicated that it does not use THIS method. I even italisized "this method" in my comment to be clear. –  Caleb Jun 29 '13 at 18:04

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