23 August 2011

"Reformed" "continuationists" and Gutless Gracers

by Dan Phillips

As I was mulling various things over, I hit upon a connection between two seldom-associated doctrinal groups. Perhaps in time this connection I'm making, existing at present only in my head, will prove prescient. I hope not.

On the one hand, we have "Gutless Gracers." This is a term I've used here, denoting a mindset I Biblically deal with at some length in Chapter Ten of... you know, that book. Advocates would call themselves "grace" believers; critics call them "non-Lordship" teachers, I call them "gutless gracers."

As presented by themselves, the position is that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. So far, so great. However, it is when they go on to define saving faith in such a way as to exclude repentance and submission to Christ's Lordship that these folks run into grave error. To them, such elements involve "works-salvation," and are to be strictly rejected.

The practical result — to put it in terms they would themselves seldom own — is that a man can continue to live like Hell and still go to Heaven. As long as he voices the opinion that Jesus is the Son of God, or assents to the proposition that Jesus died to save him from sin('s penalty), he's okay with God.

A critic (such as I) would say that the real heart of the position is not that one is saved by faith alone (a precious truth), but rather one is saved by claiming-to-have-faith alone (a pernicious error). This "salvation" is sheerly forensic and eschatological, one might almost say theoretical. It doesn't actually save anyone from sin's dominion or power. It does not necessarily result in owning or obeying Christ as Lord. These are optional, albeit desirable, effects.

I have actually known of advocates of this school who say that one can be a Christian Hindu, a Christian homosexual, even a Christian atheist. Now, however it may sound, the case is not that they are actual theoretical relativists or liberals; far from it. As a rule, they are fundamentalistic in their affirmation of Scripture's theoretical inerrancy. Nor would they say that it is a good thing to occupy any of these positions.

It is simply that gutless-gracers are rigorously consistent in the outworking of their fatally-flawed premise: sanctification in any measurable degree is not a necessary result of by-grace-alone-through-faith-alone salvation. If Johnny says he "prayed the prayer" when he was 5, 10, 15 or 20, then no matter what Johnny goes on to do or not do, Johnny is saved, saved, wonderfully saved.

At this point, the reader's patience may be waning. "And what," he may ask, "does this possibly have to do with Reformed continuationism?"

So far, not much. As a rule, formal gutless-gracers tend to be warped dispensationalists, and "Reformed" "continuationists" tend to be non-dispensationalists. Real dispensationalism should be fatal to the gutless-grace position, as real reformed thinking should be to "continuationism"; but that is beside the point at the moment. The point is that both schools of thought are seldom wed, to the point where ignorant "continuationists" often deride all cessationists as being dispensationalists. Which annoys anti-dispensational reformed cessationists no end, and tickles me some. But I digress.

So now I'll show you the connection.

First, have this firm in your mind: the gutless-gracer insists that real, live, saving faith can exist in the heart of someone who never, ever gives the least bit of real-world evidence in his life and priorities and choices that actual conversion has taken place.  In some invisible, inaccessible realm that no eye can see, there has been this massive shift — but observable history is absolutely innocent as to its occurrence. We just have to believe it's there. It's happened, because the professor says so, and the position dictates that it is so.

And so when we look at the Bible and see that Jesus defines saving faith as necessitating submission to His authority (Lk. 6:46; Jn. 14:15; 15;14), that Jesus defines genuine discipleship as involving continuance in His word (Jn. 8:31-32), that Paul insists that it is both impossible and impermissible for a converted person to continue to live in practical denial of Christ's Lordship (Romans 6), that John in his first epistle repeatedly emphasizes that genuine faith will necessarily involve doctrinal soundness and practical holiness, and that James laughs to scorn the notion that saving faith can produce no works — when we see all that, and look at the lives of these professed believers and see nothing like any of those evidences of genuine faith — we are required simply to "dumb down" the definition, in order to accommodate reality and save the theory.

And so the entrance to the Kingdom looks less like a needle's eye, and more like the bar on a Limbo dance — pretty low, and you can dance under it.

I've read leading advocates doing just precisely that. They scramble for shadows, illusions and chimera, call them "fruit," and cling to the theory, though to anyone else it is glaringly obvious that what we are seeing is nothing like what the Bible describes as genuine Christian reality.

Sharp cookies that you are, I wager that virtually every one of you sees the point now — though some of you will generously (if unwittingly) prove my point decisively by arguing against it, simply because you don't like it and change can be unwelcome, even if needed.

Because you see the "reformed" "continuationist" does the exact same thing, in order to prop up his theory.

Every honest objective observer admits that nothing of the caliber of dominical/apostolic revelatory and attesting activity is taking place today. Nothing of that caliber has taken place since the first century. This is a simple, incontrovertible fact. The Bible is not getting bigger, genuine apostles are not ranging about among the churches, dead are not being raised on command. There simply is no post-apostolic continuation of  revelatory/attesting activity, and never has been.

Faced with the evidence, yet formally professing the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, the would-be Reformed continuationist is faced with two choices:
  1. Abandon his insupportable "continuationism"; or
  2. Mess with the evidence/standard-of-proof nexus.
And, to a man or woman, unable to produce new Scripture or apostolic-level revelatorily-gifted individuals, unwilling to repent of their error, desperate to validate their experience at all costs, they opt for #2.

In this, then, they are mirror images of those very gutless-gracers against whose antinomianism they otherwise rail. They reject the gutless-grace position, with its theoretical affirmation and practical denial of real-life implications of Christ's Lordship... yet, at the same time, they insist on a theoretical affirmation of continuing apostolic/dominical-grade signs and wonders and revelation, while being equally incapable of pointing to any actual examples. So, like their gutless-grace brothers, they are forced to lower the bar so astronomically as to accommodate virtually anything as proof.

So, in both cases, it goes like this:

  1. The theory is all-important and must be preserved.
  2. The theory suggests there should be evidence, and must be a standard of proof.
  3. There is no evidence.
  4. But see #1, above.
  5. Solution: redefine "evidence," lower "standard of proof."
  6. Result: see #1, above.

As a result, then, both echo the famous line from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre:

"Fruits? We ain't got no fruits. We don't need no fruits. I don't have to show you any stinking fruits!"

Ah, if only more Christians as a whole responded with the wisdom of Humphrey Bogart's character "Dobbs," and said, "Better not come any closer!"

Dan Phillips's signature

184 comments:

Tom Chantry said...

My first thought upon reading the title was, "Is Dan aiming at every theological position with which he disagrees - all in one post? At least we Covenantalists are safe; Phil won't let him write about Dispensationalism here!" Then I read the post...

DJP said...

Troublemaker.

Robert said...

You also forgot to mention the alternate route of suggesting that the manifestation of these gifts occur in other regions of the world because our faith is not great enough. Of course, with modern technology I don't see how it'd be possible to state that, but it doesn't stop people.

Like I said last week, I would call this replacement theology of that term wasn't taken already...both of these groups basically replace the meanings of biblical terms with their own definitions. Maybe it could be called redefinition theology, water-down theology, or Clinton-theology.

Tom Chantry said...

If I were truly a trouble-maker, I would run to Phil complaining that DJP had stepped on my toes, but no matter how many whining critics I read, I just can't seem to get the hang of it. It's too bad, really, because it would be a nice break for Phil.

"What?" says Phil; "You mean it wasn't Frank that stepped on your toes?"

Thomas Louw said...

Dan.
So if I understand you correctly the gutless-gracer and the "reformed" "continuationist" do the same thing, in your estimation.

They stop thinking clearly.

They dance around in a circle of incoherent reasoning, kicking up dust, so that even they cannot completely explain how they came to the conclusion of their “deductive reasoning.”

Their eyes filled with dust and dazed by the circle dancing, cling to their convictions, hoping they kicked up enough dust.

JackW said...

Great point, I never would have connected the two together.

… and to think, I just had a great experience at a reformed continuationist church that sponsored a worship conference. Four days of wonderful preaching and great music and the only time I heard any speaking in tongues is when people would try to pronounce Thabiti Anyabwile.

DJP said...

Jack, I've always tried to be about as precise as sausage-fingers allow: when "continuationists" do what all Christians do (preach the Word in truth, etc.), they can be absolutely golden.

It's the specific distinctives that's the problem.

Tom said...

Sensei,

Did every / all believers during the Apostolic era perform the fantastic apostolic-like signs and miracles that you are claiming should be happening today?

Answer: No.

Can certain gifts like tongues, prophecy, etc. occur but not on the apostolic scale that you're claiming must be evident?

Answer:

Tom

Johnny Dialectic said...

I agree with both points here. I'm a Lordship guy, and also cessationist when people try to make the case (as Grudem does, I think) that "what we're seeing" is "similar" to what happened in NT churches. With Dan, I say that case very much depends on "Clintoning down" said events.

What if Grudem didn't try to make this case, esp. when it comes to prophecy? What if he was simply "open but cautious"? What if he called it "prompting" or "leading" instead of "prophecy"? I think he would be on much firmer ground.

I do believe in the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit a la Torrey. He can do as he will. Our part is to be a walking, talking disciple, via the Word and prayer and church. God still performs miracles, but NT giftedness is not at work. I wonder why continuationists see a need to go further than this? It seems unnecessary.

puritanicoal said...

Dan, you seem to base your conclusion on this statement: Every honest objective observer admits that nothing of the caliber of dominical/apostolic revelatory and attesting activity is taking place today. Nothing of that caliber has taken place since the first century. (hereinafter "your statement")

Biblical Continuationsts agree with your statement; explicitly and in practice. (I anticipate your scoffing of the term in this sentence - save it for the playground).

If you are arguing that the group of charismatics who don't agree with your statement (explicitly and/or in practice), are similar to gutless gracers, then you're shooting fish in a barrel. I would agree with that argument.

The real issue (if that is really your concern) is to combine your statement with the imperitives in 1 Cor. 14 - exegetically. On that level, there is a debate, an exegetical, biblical debate - but it is nothing like the Obama-esque "You-own-Benny-Hinn-and-now- you-even-own-Zane-Hodges Debate."

DJP said...

BTW, I assume Chantry's kidding. If not, I'm at a total loss as to how I'm seen as being critical (in this post) of Covenant Theology. Plus, since even critics acknowledge that dispensationalists aim at a literal hermeneutic — which would be devastating to "continuationism" — I don't see how this post could be seen as being about dispensationalism.

Chantry, that kidder.

JackW said...

Dan, I agree and there was even an example of it at this conference. Bob Kauflin, who I have an enormous amount of respect for, sang what he called a “prophetic song” and noted that if you were not a continuationist, that you could think of it just as a “spontaneous song.” Just change the meaning of the terms and we can all get along.

Thabiti coined a phrase in his address that I think fitted even better. He read what he thought a letter from Timothy to Paul might sound like and he called it “sanctified imagination.” I think that’s what Kauflin’s song was, sanctified imagination.

DJP said...

Yes, Jack, but calling something "sanctified imagination" harms no one. Claiming that anything, whether prose or 4/4 beat, is "prophecy," is dangerous, irresponsible, and harmful, no matter who's doing it or what a genuinely fine man he is otherwise.

Tom Chantry said...

Troublemaker? Not really

Kidder? Absolutely.

DJP said...

...and we love you for it.

In a totally non-hugging way.

Tom Chantry said...

Puritancoal,

I'm not quite sure you followed the argument of the post, or at least you didn't understand it in the same way that I did. That quote is critical to the argument, yes. But DJP is not addressing a hypothetical group of continuationists who disagree with that statement. He is addressing the very real group of Reformed continuationists who agree that nothing like the New Testament manifestations of the gifts are currently ongoing, yet insist that the very same gifts are active in the church. To do so, they must redefine the very gifts which they say are still active, even while admitting that they are not active in the same way.

DJP said...

Other Tom: the question is a silly distraction, like asking if God could have created Adam and all his children with fourteen arms.

Answer: maybe, who knows, what does it have to do with anything?

Listen carefully and closely: they call their position "continuationism"; they argue that God doesn't change and therefore must keep doing the same things He's always done; they appeal to no single verse stating that tongues will ce... okay, wait, there are verses like that, but they argue that they don't mean they actually have ceased.

Okay then. That's their position.

In that apostolic age, twenty-seven God-breathed, inerrant, Canonical books were authored within around fifty years, and universally acknowledged within another couple of centuries. To say nothing of raising the dead on command, sight to the blind on command, etc.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, we have nineteen hundred years without one book being added, or one apostolic/dominical-level attesting miracle tied to an individual. Tens of thousands of people trying to produce even one, and every one of them failing.

It isn't rocket science. It's just a sacred cow.

DJP said...

1. Continuationist mouth side one: We don't own continuationist nutcases!

2. Sufficient-Scripture-affirmer criticizes some nutcase "continuationist."

3. Continuationist mouth side two: Hey, Dr. This and Pastor That are silent about it, and they're continuationists, so....

Peter Eddy said...

Rabbi DJP in 1000 BC: "Clearly this man Samuel is a false prophet. If prophecy were continuing the way it happened in Moses and Aaron's day, no one would have any doubt! But words from the Lord have clearly ceased."


1 Samuel 3: 1: "[T]he word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision."

This is how you're coming off to me. Could you clarify your position? Positively, continuationism asserts that the gifts continue. There is no assertion of their extent continuing.

DJP said...

Wow.

It really, really sounds as if John Piper is underscoring my case.

But I am pretty sure that's not his intent.

Tom said...

Sensei,

Perhaps I misunderstand the continuationist postion then. In my reading of Grudem et al, they are quick to point out that the spiritual gifts today are NOT at the same caliber as the 1st-century apostolic gifts. This is where you get the whole "dumbing down" analogy. Yet, you're saying that they claim God works in the exact same way as He did in the 1st century, which is why you ask, "If so, where are the apostolic-level gifts?"

Are you making an argument, then, that they are not making? Or are you claiming that their argument is inconsistent because they want to affirm the Holy Spirit's gifting is the same today as it was in the 1st Century, but just to a different degree?

Can one believe that the Holy Spirit indeed gifts people with tongues, prophecy, etc. today, but also affirm that just like in the 1st century, the apostolic-level gifting was reserved for, well, the apostles? Thus, people can speak in tongues, speak prophecy (or what you and Phil call 'extra-ordinary providence'), and not run foul of Scripture.

Just wondering...

DJP said...

I don't think you're very familiar with the position, Peter. They argue exactly like that... until you ask for proof.

Still, even granting your case (which I don't), making "in those days" correspond to "for two thousand years" really, really won't work. The years would be measured in two digits maybe, or three at the most.

Now, in the glorious age of Messianic gifting (as continuationists describe it out of one mouth), the stretch is nearly two millennia and counting, and universal.

Can't shrug that one off. Well, not rationally.

Misha DX said...

Best post I've read all week. It is nice to see some bandwagon challenging now and again. The reformed-continuationist position does have a lot of momentum, but not a lot of biblical-historical support.

Tom Chantry said...

Not sure what Piper is using it for, but Lincoln's quote, for what it's worth, was about limitations on executive fiat, not categorical identification.

Lincoln's point was that even though he was President, he could not make slaves free by a proclamation, any more than he could make a lamb's tail into a leg.

Manfred said...

I've read and spoken with "free grace" guys. I like the term, "gutless gracers" much better. The line lifted from The Treasure of the Sierra Madres is priceless - and dead-on accurate. "Fruits? We ain't got no fruits. We don't need no fruits. I don't have to show you any stinking fruits!" As if one could be raised from spiritual death to be a new creature in Christ and NOT be changed? Not show any growth as the Holy Spirit convicts of sin and gives a thirst for righteousness? To quote another famous line, from the TV show, "A-Team" - "I pity the fool whose god don't grow no fruit!"

DJP said...

Among my many points, other-Tom, is that they are trying to possess their pastry and consume it as well.

Johnny Dialectic said...

@Tom 6:22 a.m.

In his interview with Challies, Grudem says "There are ways in which the Holy Spirit is still working that are similar to what was happening in the first century churches and described in the New Testament."

I think that's the problem here. I don't think it necessary -- or accurate -- to make that leap.

Can one believe that the Holy Spirit indeed gifts people with tongues, prophecy, etc. today, but also affirm that just like in the 1st century, the apostolic-level gifting was reserved for, well, the apostles?

I'm not sure this precise distinction can be made. If it is "prophecy" in the NT sense, how would that carry any less authority than the "apostolic-level" kind?

Lynda O said...

Good points Dan! In reading that six-step list, I also thought of another controversial topic that fits those steps: theistic evolutionists / old-age creation. Really this applies to all the controversial opinions within Christendom: the theory is most important: not the fact, not the biblical standard of exegesis and truth. So those holding the unsupportable view are forced to change the "evidence" to support their predetermined conclusion.

Tom said...

Among my many points, other-Tom, is that they are trying to possess their pastry and consume it as well.

That's fine, Sensei. But, can one make the following argument and do so biblically, historically, and rationally:

1) Like the 1st century, the Holy Spirit still gifts believers today with gifts such as tongues, prophetic speech (aka 'extra-ordinary providence'), etc.

2) Like the 1st century, apostolic-level gifts (e.g. resurrection, instantaneous healings, etc.) were reserved for the apostles or their immediate representatives, and are not normative for believers today.

3) Therefore, when it comes to someone who claims the gifts of prophecy / tongues today, we follow the adomonitions found in 1 Corinthians and 1 Thes 5. As it pertains to someone who claims apostolic-level gifts, we rebuke them and dismiss their claims.

Mel said...

Dan,
What do you make of the African tribal elder who prayed to God to show him which deity/idol he should worship and claiming that God gave him a vision of tents on a hillside? 4 years later when missionaries come and set up camp on that hillside he becomes their first convert within weeks.

What do you do say about Lauren, who had to walk with one orthopedic shoe because she was born with one leg shorter than the other, but after being healed of this she gave her life to Christ? To this day she doesn't use that shoe.

God does incredible things and sometimes graciously allows us to witness/take part in those things to His glory. The canon wasn't opened when these things happened and I can't quite understand why you presume it should have been. Just because God chooses to give one individual special revelation does not mean that He must share it with all of us.

How certain are you that you are not wedded to your own position in an idolatrous fashion?

Tom said...

@JD - I'm not sure this precise distinction can be made. If it is "prophecy" in the NT sense, how would that carry any less authority than the "apostolic-level" kind?

I agree that prophetic speech should be inerrant. Paul gives us the criteria to use to judge if prophetic speech is truly prophetic (1 Thes 5). If it's not, then we are to rebuke it and stay away from it.

Paul gives us similar criteria to judge whether the gift of tongues is used correctly in 1 Cor.

So, whether someone claims prophetic speech or the gift of tongues, we evaluate their gifts based on Scripture. If it conforms to Scriptural teaching, we embrace it. If not, we reject and rebuke it.

ajlin said...

Mel:

1. Can you put us in touch with these individuals?

2. Assuming "yes," and that these aren't just Christian 'urban legends:'
a. re: the pastor having a dream/vision, I think you should see Phil's post from yesterday.
b. re: the other example; cessationists do not deny the miraculous, but rather object to the idea of:
i. certain individuals having apostle-like giftedness to perform miracles;
ii. especially, the revelatory gifts, such as tongues and prophecy.

ajlin said...

other-Tom:

If someone delivers [inerrant] prophecy, then shouldn't we write it into the back of our Bibles?

NCH said...

@Tom "So, whether someone claims prophetic speech or the gift of tongues, we evaluate their gifts based on Scripture. If it conforms to Scriptural teaching, we embrace it. If not, we reject and rebuke it."

Which is why we reject and rebuke the use of such "gifts," because they do not conform to Scriptural teaching.

DJP said...

You know, I started a post years ago, for Phil and Frank and me to try to create one central post responding to these oh-dear-heavens-there-must-be-SOME-way-I-can-prop-up-continuationism irrelevancies we've answered again and again and again, so that we wouldn't have to keep answering them again and again and again. The post started, but we never finished it. I really wish we had; we really should.

So yeah, 2000 years of silence as explained above and in the post is undone because some guy heard about some tribesman who prayed some prayer and had some remarkable answer. And some lady. It's like the days of the apostles all over again!

My next post on the subject will be all in pictures. I've never tried that. Maybe that's where I'm failing.

< buries head in hands >

You know, if I'm ever slandered, I hope my friends work twice as hard to defend my name (as far as it can be defended) as leaky-canoneers work to prop up this bankrupt position.

Matt Aznoe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Matt, I'll refer you this one last time, and say the next attempted dodge in any thread means you don't want to be a commenter here anymore, and I'll grant your wish.

theinscrutableone said...

For the folks who hold to "a-continuing-gift-of-prophecy-that's-totally-different-from-the-gift-that-the-OT-prophets-and-apostles-exercised", I encourage you to read The Final Word by O. Palmer Robertson. In the last chapters he does a through job of deconstructing Wayne Grudem's theory of NT "congregational prophecy." IMO, Robertson proves beyond any reasonable doubt that every reference to prophecy in the NT refers to the exact same kind of infallible and inerrant prophecy exercised by the OT prophets and apostles. He concludes that the notion of fallible NT prophecy "hangs on an exegetical string."

Dave

Solameanie said...

Aside from the whole continuationist/cessationist debate, when I think of what you term "gutless gracers," I always wonder where the love is in their position, i.e. love for Christ.

They will be the first ones yelling at us about grace, grace, grace, and overlooking open sinful behavior. But one of the foundational principles Jesus taught was "if you love Me, keep my commandments."

Far from legalism, that kind of commandment-keeping is borne OUT of a saving relationship with Christ. You obey Him because you love Him, not because you're trying to earn enough brownie points to get beyond the pearly gates. Conversely, if you say you are His, yet habitually don't even TRY to obey His Word, how can you say that you honestly love Him? And if you don't honestly love Him, then how are you saved?

I guess I'm dense because I still don't get it.

Sir Brass said...

Off topic opinion statement: Tom Chantry for the 4th Pyromaniac! (dude's comments crack me up in the good way, and are spot-on)

Anyway, back to the meta...

"You know, I started a post years ago, for Phil and Frank and me to try to create one central post responding to these oh-dear-heavens-there-must-be-SOME-way-I-can-prop-up-continuationism irrelevancies we've answered again and again and again, so that we wouldn't have to keep answering them again and again and again. The post started, but we never finished it. I really wish we had; we really should."

Seems like what you now have is instead of one centralized post doing that, you have ALOT of smaller posts boxing the "reformed" continuationist into the proverbial corner.

DJP said...

Solameanie, as "continuationists" think they're protecting the Spirit's ongoing work and presence, "gutless gracers" believe they're protecting the gospel of grace.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"So, whether someone claims prophetic speech or the gift of tongues, we evaluate their gifts based on Scripture. If it conforms to Scriptural teaching, we embrace it. If not, we reject and rebuke it."

Tom, I appreciate your attempt at finding a valid test, but let me ask a hypothetical:

Church Pastor announces he has had a word from the Lord, as strong and clear as anything he has ever experienced. The word is, "Water baptism is not for babies."

Now, does that conform to Scriptural teaching (I'm not taking a stance on this; one could give a hundred like examples)? Since the issue is ambiguous and built upon bringing several Scriptures together, this clear teaching "from the Lord" would mean much needed clarity. It's not "adding" to Scripture at all. It is interpreting Scripture.

How, then, do we "evaluate" this prophecy?

Just Jules said...

DJP:

I would submit that the oh-dear-heavens-there-must-be-SOME-way-I-can-prop-up-continuationism objections are founded in one simple, inescapable truth: the continuationist finds Scripture to be insufficient.

Eric said...

"So, whether someone claims prophetic speech or the gift of tongues, we evaluate their gifts based on Scripture. If it conforms to Scriptural teaching, we embrace it. If not, we reject and rebuke it."

Dovetailing with Johnny, how does this method answer the Mark Driscolls of the world that may claim that "Jesus told me" (in a graphic vision) that person A had an affair ten years ago. Where in the Bible do we go to test that "prophecy?

Tom said...

@ ajlin: If someone delivers [inerrant] prophecy, then shouldn't we write it into the back of our Bibles?

Did every prophecy given by OT or NT prophets make it into our Bibles? No. For example, we know from Acts 21:8-9 that Philip had four daughters who prophesied, yet the Holy Spirit didn't include their prophecies in the NT canon. Therefore, we can conclude that prophetic speech (aka "extra-ordinary providence") <> Scripture.

@JD: Church Pastor announces he has had a word from the Lord, as strong and clear as anything he has ever experienced. The word is, "Water baptism is not for babies."

So, this example seems to be categorically different than the prophecy or "extra-ordinary providence" we've been discussing. In your example, the claimed prophetic word is about a particular interpretation of Scripture and (if inerrant) would be therefore binding upon the church universal for all time. Given that, the pastor is claiming to have an apostolic-level gift, and that would not be a legitimate use of the prophetic gift today.

Tom said...

@Eric: Dovetailing with Johnny, how does this method answer the Mark Driscolls of the world that may claim that "Jesus told me" (in a graphic vision) that person A had an affair ten years ago. Where in the Bible do we go to test that "prophecy?

The same place we should go to evaluate any use of the Spiritual gifts. Paul addresses prophecy specifically in 1 Thes 5. We are to dokimazete (test or prove) every prophecy we are told or asked to believe.

To quote Albert Barnes, "They were not to receive it on trust; to take it on assertion; to believe it because it was urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility. In the various opinions and doctrines which were submitted to them for adoption, they were to apply the appropriate tests from reason and the word of God, and what they found to be true they were to embrace; what was false they were to reject."

In other words, we exercise Holy Spirit discernment by searching Scripture to see if what we're told lines up.

DJP said...

...and on it goes, right under the post, like nothing ever happened.

Just Jules said...

Post? What post?

DJP said...

Gee, I dunno, Jules, some Spirit-quencher guy. Just say the bit about how anyone can do anything he wants, then do the "test it by Scripture" line. Should be good. After all —

Charismatic thought-progression: I had experience A; no one understands Biblical term B (OR it's totally different from Biblical term B, which doesn't happen anymore); therefore, I will assert that A is B. And tell 'em they can test by Scripture. Ta daa.

Tom said...

Sensei,

I'm not a continuationist. You and Phil recognize and accept what you call "extra-ordinary providence." You just can't bring yourself to call it prophetic speech. That's okay.

I'm only proposing that perhaps the spirit gifts of prophecy and tongues that are experienced today are not apostolic-level gifts, but are similar to what the ordinary 1st-century believer experienced. Just like the average believer in the 1st-century church could not instantaneously heal people or raise people from the dead, part the Red Sea, etc. we should not expect that to have occured throughout church history. Those gifts were only given to the apostles.

It's not anything like saying A is equal to B. We recognize a fundamental difference between apostolic-level gifts and what is normative for other believers.

Of course, these gifts today could all be a sham, but then we have 1 Thes 5 and other passages for us to consider and to use to evaluate those who claim these gifts.

DJP said...

"You just can't bring yourself to call it prophetic speech."

Right. Like I can't bring myself to call squash "hamburger."

Glad that's all okay.

Eric said...

Tom,

Can you explain to me where in Scripture we would go to discern the truth of Driscoll's specific claims of special revelation? In other words, how does Scripture settle the claim of direct special revelation of an adulterous affair? He says "Jesus told me" - what is your response?

F Whittenburg said...

What if the problem is everyone has the wrong interpetation of what "spiritual tongues" actually are?

What if the "spiritual language" or tongue that the Bible talks about the church speaking in is simply just a deeper spiritual understanding of existing scripture that is hidden from natural man in plain sight as Paul plainly taught about in 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 KJV.

With a new spiritual understanding the Holy Spirit brought Paul at his spiritual converstion (Galatians 1:11-24 KJV),the Bible says he now preached the faith that he once destroyed. Paul was a great student of the whole Old Testamnet but the gospel was hidden from him until his spiritual conversion and he originally thought the gospel to be heresy.

When a Christian is born again (i.e. born of the Spirit) he now has the ability to understand the spiritual things of the gospel that was once "foolishness" to him.

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath GIVEN us an UNDERSTANDING, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life (1 John 5:20 KJV).

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent (1 Corinthians 1:17-19 KJV).

What someone may have done long ago is read about this "spiritual language" spoken of by Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 KJV). And not understanding what it actually was, went about trying to CREATE a language that will match Paul explanation of it, whereas it is suppose to be "foolishness" to natural man, and at the same time have the ability to transfer deeper spiritual revelation to other believers that only those born again (i.e. born of the Spirit) should be able to understand. Thus by speaking this created spiritual language matching Paul's description, they can use it as a "proof" sign to themselves and to others that they are truly "born of the Spirit" or born again.

In His Service,

F Whittenburg

DJP said...

What if the apostles were actually made out of Velveeta?

But they weren't.

And they aren't.

Respectively, in reverse.

Tom said...

@ Eric: Can you explain to me where in Scripture we would go to discern the truth of Driscoll's specific claims of special revelation? In other words, how does Scripture settle the claim of direct special revelation of an adulterous affair? He says "Jesus told me" - what is your response?

If we cannot dokimazete a specific prophetic claim, either by searching Scripture, direct examination, speaking with those involved, or by observing if the prophetic claim came/comes true, we must reject it.

So, in Driscoll's case, his elders should be able to verify his specific claims by interviewing the people or person involved in the counseling session. If they are unable to do so, then they should rebuke Driscoll for claiming prophetic speech that cannot be verified or proven.

JackW said...

My inability to interpret tongues is why I don't read the KJV.

Tom Chantry said...

Oh, thank you, JackW! There was a group we hadn't yet attracted to this thread! However could we leave them out?

Peter W. said...

I am curious about two things...

1: If all true prophecy is inerrant, why do we not have NT congregational prophecies recorded in scripture?

2: If it's impossible to test NT prophecy against scripture as you claim, why did the NT scripture writers tell Christians to do so, and what on Earth did testing prophecy mean then?

Tom said...

@Sensei: Right. Like I can't bring myself to call squash "hamburger."

Presuppositions are sometimes cruel masters. It's not that the "extra-ordinary providence" claimed by Spurgeon and other believers throughout church history is categorically different than prophetic speech given by 1st-Century (non-apostolic) believers, it's just that our presuppositions won't allow us to go there.

Our presupposition is that spiritual gifts like tongues, prophecy, etc. no longer exist. Therefore, anything resembling these gifts must of necessity be 1) something other than these gifts (aka “extra-ordinary providence) or 2) fallacious. We do not even consider that our presuppositions may need to be reexamined.

Again, that’s okay. We just need to be honest about it.

Always Reforming said...

Boy, I'd love to know the difference between real dispensationalism and the other kind! Somebody should blog about that...

Tom Chantry said...

SEE! "Always Reforming" is the real troublemaker in this thread!

F Whittenburg said...

DJP,

All I am trying to do is look at the continustionist doctrine through scripture and try to understand why they so tenaciously hang onto it just like you are just as strongy are against it. What are you trying to do with this post, frame the debate on cessasionism vs. continuationist or just frame your understanding of the debate on cessationism vs. continuationist?

In His Service,

F Whittenburg

DJP said...

As to what animates Charismatics, FW, my 9:20 AM, AUGUST 23, 2011 comment is my response.

DJP said...

Someone help me.

My fingers are absolutely refusing to let me respond to other-Tom's 9:23 / 9:47 AM, August 23, 2011 reiteration even one more time.

Someone, show me the words in these posts and metas are getting further than my own monitor. These two, it's child's play. Hanging slowball. Someone who isn't me, swing.

Always Reforming said...

My phone really only allows me to bunt.

DJP said...

LOL; second-best laugh of day, and that's not bad.

Tom said...

@Sensei: Someone, show me the words in these posts and metas are getting further than my own monitor.

... crickets ...

Robert said...

Dan,

Two things...1) Didn't y'all already discuss what Tom is saying when y'all posted about Justin Taylor commenting on a paper by Yancey? He sounds like he has read Yancey's paper.

2) Mel came along and showed that it is inevitable that my option will pop up in these discussions.

jeff said...

In reading this post my thoughts ran another direction. Hyper-dispensationalists who are cessationists believe the church started after Acts 28. So, although they ridicule those who believe God still reveals things outside Scripture, entirely base their hyper-dispensationalism on extra-biblical "reasoning," not sure they'd call it "revelation," although I've met a few. . .

Tom Chantry said...

Hanging slowball. Someone who isn't me, swing.

I've read the commments three times now, and for the life of me I can't figure out what he's saying. I've got my bat in hand and I've dug in...but...

...are you sure he's not playing croquet instead?

donsands said...

"Of course, these gifts today could all be a sham, but then we have 1 Thes 5 and other passages for us to consider and to use to evaluate those who claim these gifts."

Mormons have these gifts. Joseph Smith was big on these gifts, I believe.

The foundation of the Church is Apostles and Prophets. There's only one foundation, right? Jesus is the Cornerstone, where the building is set so that it is built level and solid.

The Church is all the saints being added to this building, living stones as Peter said it.

Our foundation is the Holy Scriptures. And what a treasure it is. No more need for the gifts. God was gracious in the infancy of His Church to minister through His Spirit with these gifts and "provided special supports or endowments, until the time would arrive when these were no longer needed.". One of these gifts was prophesying. (William Hendriksen)

JackW said...

I had a other Tom reply all ready to go, but my presupposition got in the way … then we had an earthquake of all things. Maybe Elvis is alive?

DJP said...

Tom, some people have lives, unlike us evidently. I'll wait.

Robert said...

Tom,

The Bible defines what these things are. Grudem, you and others are trying to redefine them. So, do I take what you say and think, "Well, yeah, that's OK", or do I say that what you are saying is unbiblical? I have to go with the latter and point to the definition from Scripture. It is plain to see what a prophet is in Scripture, but apparently not to everybody.

Just Jules said...

Now waiting for the prophets to tell us the meaning of the earthquake outside Washington, DC.

JackW said...

JJ, I have it on good authority that the earthquake means that the Earth is goaning.

BTW, I felt it in California.



California Maryland

Tom Chantry said...

No need, Jules. Just wait for the President's speech. I'm pretty sure it was Bush's fault.

(I can do that, right? Talk about politics, I mean? I normally wouldn't, but since this was a post on Dispensationalism, I figure the normal rules don't apply...)

Eric said...

There goes Chantry...re-establishing his role as troublemaker.

Tom Chantry said...

Tom,

I think maybe JackW has opened my mind to comprehend what it is you are trying to say. (Sort of a prophecy/interpretation sort of thing, if you wish.) Is the "presupposition" to which you refer the presupposition that the apostolic gifts are actually defined in Scripture, and will not / cannot be other than as they are defined?

Just Jules said...

Doh! I think Chantry inadvertently activated my snark button. Self-control, Jules! Self-control!

DJP said...

Chantry's just excited because fifteen came forward and prayed the prayer at his altar-call last Sunday, plus three re-dedications.

Tom Chantry said...

OK. I suppose I deserved that.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Dan, my wife and I have both greatly benefited from Team Pyro's posts on this: thank you so much.

Now to address the post:

"I've read leading advocates doing just precisely that. They scramble for shadows, illusions and chimera, call them "fruit," and cling to the theory, though to anyone else it is glaringly obvious that what we are seeing is nothing like what the Bible describes as genuine Christian reality."

Have you ever had a good answer as to why non-cessationists keep on trusting in these things that aren't sure, and why they are so adamant that these things are the work of the Spirit when they fail so often?

Solameanie said...

Can I invite the Tone Police to this little soiree?

Tom said...

@Robert: 1) Didn't y'all already discuss what Tom is saying when y'all posted about Justin Taylor commenting on a paper by Yancey? He sounds like he has read Yancey's paper.

So, yes, I did read Yancey's paper and Pyro's response. But, no, my proposal is different than Yancey's.

My proposal (again, I am not a continuationist), is that there are two levels of spiritual gifts. We have the apostolic-level gifts (e.g. instantaneous healing, resurrection, prophetic speech that impacts the meaning of Scripture, etc.) and we have the normative-level gifts that many believers shared and used throughout the NT (e.g. tongues, prophecy). Apostolic-level gifts ceased with the Apostles, but the normative gifts that were practiced by the church are still operative today.

This proposal negates the Sensei's constant refrain that those who practice these gifts today believe in a leaky canon or that somehow prophetic speech (if genuine) should be canonized. As we know, not all prophetic speech in the OT or NT was added to the canon; thus, we should not argue that prophetic speech today demands that we add pages to our Bibles.

Furthermore, this proposal provides a framework for being obedient to commands given to the church in 1 Thes 5 and 1 Cor 14 regarding prophecy and tongues. This does not require us to abandon or to lower our view of the sufficiency of Scripture. In fact, being obedient to 1 Thes 5 and 1 Cor 14 will require us to “examine the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so” and use spiritual discernment when someone like Driscoll claims to give prophetic speech. Remember, one of the main requirements of divine prophetic speech is that it is verifiable and can be proven (Deut. 18:22; 1 Thes. 5:21; 1John 4). If we cannot substantiate prophetic speech claims then we should rebuke the individual and reject his/her words. That is what the NT church did; that is what we are called to do as well.

A final thought on this proposal is that instead of coming up with silly euphemisms such as “extraordinary providence” to explain away the Holy Spirit’s prophetic promptings or leadings (which believers throughout church history have claimed, including men like Spurgeon and MacArthur), we should acknowledge that the normative-level gift of prophecy is still active. That being said, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, and we should not seek out or glamorize prophetic speech, but should live our lives in obedience to Scripture and remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s working.

DJP said...

Sounds rather like the bit of nonsense dealt with at length starting here, in addition to what's already been answered several times above. Nothing not already answered.

Frank Turk said...

Wow, is my open letter tomorow going to be a disappointment after this post.

Mel said...

Ajlin:
I read Phil's article yesterday on this topic and loved it. As far as I'm concerned, Phil's post should have been a signal to jump to another topic.
I'm not real sure why Dan re-engaged the fight after Phil had so successfully convinced us to all to stop bickering.
And then it occurred to me, it's not enough for Dan to just leave it alone, he's got to prove his point and get the last word in. Apparently, Phil didn't say everything Dan would have liked for him to say, otherwise, why write/post the article? And so he engages in what he does best, straw-man boxing. He likes to build straw-men like the one he's built today, knock it over, and have everyone else on the playground give him rounds of applause.
For example: If you are a "continuationist" then you believe in a leaky-canon. In his mind, I'm faced with only 2 choices a)admit Dan's right and I'm wrong or b) change the standard and continue living in my fantasy world. Bravo Dan! It's the blogosphere equivalent of "Have you stopped beating your wife", but nevertheless you really got me. Shucks, I guess I'll just have to admit I'm wrong.

He does that because it's easier for him to refute leaky-canonism than miraculous manifestations of the Spirit, therefore, everyone who disagrees with him on this issue is a leaky-canonite, and is therefore wrong.
When given circumstantial evidence, all you do is demand proof and yell "objection, hearsay!".

A friend told me something that stuck with me once when we were discussing marital relationships. He said, "I realized that I didn't want to win her over, I just wanted to win the argument".
Methinks that might apply here as well.

Tom Chantry said...

Tom,

I think the problem here is that you really are defining "prophecy" in a manner inconsistent with Scripture, and I cannot imagine how you define "tongues." Prophecies are by their very nature revelatory, and the distinction between the apostolic, revelatory gift and garden-variety (normative, you say) prophecy is impossible to establish. Rather, prophets were to be treated as those who claimed to bring a new special revelation from God.

Moreover, while you seem to recognize that there is a problem with Driscollesque claims of prophecy while falling short of biblical standards of accuracy, you don't realize that the manner in which such charlatans defend themselves is through the very process of redefining prophecy away from it's scriptural moorings. You hope that redefining prophecy as something sub-apostolic and sub-revelational will somehow help to avoid the excesses of the charlatans, but history and experience keep proving that such redefinitions give them the very cover they need.

Frank Turk said...

I like it when the continualists start talking about "normative" gifts. That means we're at the end of the line here.

For the advocates of "normative gifts" which are not "apostolic gifts", can you tell me where the Bible tells us to use those gifts? For example, where does Paul talk about using intuitions which may or may not be at God's prompting in the church? How about prayers that may or may not be answered as a normative rule in the church?

This line of reasoning goes specifically back to this conversation which, if I can say it, finds the terminal point of the discussion. After that, one is either entrenched in his position for no reason but prior commitments, or one will admit he was mistaken and reprent.

Tom said...

@Robert: The Bible defines what these things are. Grudem, you and others are trying to redefine them. So, do I take what you say and think, "Well, yeah, that's OK", or do I say that what you are saying is unbiblical? I have to go with the latter and point to the definition from Scripture. It is plain to see what a prophet is in Scripture, but apparently not to everybody.

I'm not seeking to redefine them; rather, I'm seeking to distinguish them. I believe Scripture makes it pretty obvious that the gifts, signs, and miracles the Apostles did were unique to them. However, in addition to these apostolic-level gifts, ordinary believers also practiced gifts like tongues and prophecy; however, we don't read where in the first century Joe Regular at 1st Baptist Church @ Corinth went out and raised the dead, instanteously healed the sick, etc. In the first century, it appears that there was a recognition of the distinction between the gifts Paul exercised as an Apostle and the gifts given to the average believer.

My point in all of this has been that perhaps we should not view the gifts of prophecy or tongues, etc as all or nothing: either you have apostolic-level gifts or you don't have any. Rather, we should be willing to see that there was a distinction made in the NT between these two levels of gifting, and that the normative gifts given to regular believers could very well still be active today... as evidenced by the testimony of believers throughout church history.

DJP said...

Once again, Tom Chantry FTW.

Tom Chantry said...

Tom,

Again, that's an interesting theory, but you keep insisting that prophecy and tongues are the best examples of normative gifts. Where on earth does church history attest to tongues? What do you think tongues are? And how and where does the Bible distinguish the run-of-the-mill, not apostolic "prophet" from, say, Jeremiah?

Just Jules said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Chantry said...

and Frank,

I'd love to figure out what this debate has to do with Byron York's take on entitlement spending, but I'm not willing to read the 250+ comments there in an attempt to figure out whether, perhaps, you used a link you didn't intend to use?

Tom said...

@Chantry: Prophecies are by their very nature revelatory, and the distinction between the apostolic, revelatory gift and garden-variety (normative, you say) prophecy is impossible to establish. Rather, prophets were to be treated as those who claimed to bring a new special revelation from God.

I don't disagree with you. That is why I said at the very beginning that all prophetic speech should be inerrant and verifiable. The apostolic vs. normative distinction isn't about which one is true and which one isn't. To be divine revelation, they must of necessity be inerrant and verifiable.

DJP said...

Thank you Mel, that's very helpful.

Mel reminds us all of where "continuationism," in its distinctives, always takes us: away from Jesus, away from the Word.

Mark Driscoll utters an experience from within his all mind and, if we yield to treating it as even possibly legit, we're all snared in the subjective mire of reading Mark's mind and spirit and heart.

It all depends on what you think of Mark.

I build an argument from Scripture and reason... and Mel runs like a rabbit for mind-reading, heart-judging, and other forbidden practices. He doesn't want to talk about the Word or the Lord, but about me and my motivations.

But it has nothing to do with me. I could be dead, or never born, and the case would be the same.

And BTW, for you who are keeping record at home, I wrote this post days ago, before reading Phil's latest.

But what's one more failed prophecy, right, Mel?

Just Jules said...

Dan's motive was to "get that last word in"?

Rather, could Dan's motive be a desire to see his brothers and sisters in Christ repent and believe and cease from listening to the whispers of the Enemy of their mortal souls?

I adjure you read his 11:21am comment on this post.

Bob said...

This is what constitutes prophecy in a "reformed charismatic" church that I was in - Someone is praying for you and they say something like this - I believe that God showed me picture of you clinging to the edge of a hole in the ground - And you are left trying to figure out what that means. I am sure if you look hard enough you could find something in your life that would fit. But it is not prophesy, is not helpful and is just confusing and dangerous. Lots of people doing it though.

Tom Chantry said...

The apostolic vs. normative distinction isn't about which one is true and which one isn't.

So, help me out, Tom. Paul the Apostle gives a prophecy to the church, and at the same time so does Joe the Plumber. (OK, Joe the well-digger.) I'm a member of the church. Joe's prophecy is inerrant and verifiable, while Paul's is what? Inerrant, verifiable, and...apostolic? How does that work? What is the difference?

Tom said...

@Chantry: Again, that's an interesting theory, but you keep insisting that prophecy and tongues are the best examples of normative gifts.

Not necessarily the best examples, but they are normative in the sense that everyday believers used them regularly in the church. They weren't only used by the apostles.


And how and where does the Bible distinguish the run-of-the-mill, not apostolic "prophet" from, say, Jeremiah?

Weren't there schools of prophets in existance in the OT? Not everyone was an Elijah, Isaiah, or Jeremiah. Does that mean they weren't really prophets?

Tom said...

@Chantry: So, help me out, Tom. Paul the Apostle gives a prophecy to the church, and at the same time so does Joe the Plumber. (OK, Joe the well-digger.) I'm a member of the church. Joe's prophecy is inerrant and verifiable, while Paul's is what? Inerrant, verifiable, and...apostolic? How does that work? What is the difference?

Again, normative and apostolic gifts are not distinguished by which one is true and which one is not. To be prophetic speech, it must be inerrant and verifiable. So, in your example, both Paul's and Joe's prophecy is inerrant and verifiable. If they are not, then they aren't prophecy.

Tom said...

@Sensei: Mark Driscoll utters an experience from within his all mind and, if we yield to treating it as even possibly legit, we're all snared in the subjective mire of reading Mark's mind and spirit and heart.

See, this is where my proposal is different. If Mark Driscoll or Joe the Well-Digger gives a prophetic word, the first place I go is to Scripture in obedience to Scripture. Whether Driscoll is a nice guy or has a good heart is irrelevant. Can I validate what he claims is prophetic speech. If I can, I hold fast to it; if I can't, I reject it and rebuke him (1 Thes 5; 1 Cor 14; 1 John 4).

Tom Chantry said...

Tom,

The unknown Man of God in I Kings 13 wrote no Scripture. He was not an Isaiah or even an Elijah, nor was He a Paul or a John. But his words were infallible revelatory words from God. Jeroboam would have done well to take them as though they came from an Elijah, or perhaps, to keep the timeline straight, from a Samuel. There was not a distinction of the sort that you are arguing.

Further, some of the non-apostolic prophets of the apostolic era actually produced Scripture! (cf James, Jude, and - unless you side with John Owen - the unnamed writer to the Hebrews) What are we to make of them? Was theirs a third level of giftedness sandwiched somewhere between the level occupied by Paul the Apostle and that occupied by Joe the Welldigger?

When continuationists (not saying you are one - I'm really not sure what your position is) argue for a sub-apostolic set of gifts that include prophecy and tongues, they are arguing for a distinction that gets them out of having the same standard of proof as Elijah, Paul, and the Man of God. I don't think you can use this distinction without opening the door to the very defense that Driscoll and his ilk would like to use.

DJP said...

I went to Scripture. It says prophecy ceased. That suffices for me.

Additionally, and if one doesn't accept that reading, Scripture says prophets by definition never err. Driscoll says he errs. Double sufficient. I'm done.




...I have said this, folks, right?

Just Jules said...

...I have said this, folks, right?

Yes, you have. But, more importantly, Scripture says it.

JackW said...

Hebrews 1:1 Triple sufficient.

Matt Aznoe said...

So I guess knowledge has ceased as well....

DJP said...

The knowledge Paul speaks of, correct.

Sir Brass said...

New tactic for the nay-sayers... try and set the pyros against themselves.


Yeah, that's really going to work well >.>

<.<

-.-

Tom Chantry said...

New tactic for the nay-sayers... try and set the pyros against themselves.

Yes, and, while they're at it, cite Phil's pastor as a proponent of the nay-sayer's view.

Tom said...

&Sensei: I went to Scripture. It says prophecy ceased. That suffices for me.

Except for those pesky instances of "extraordinary providence" that seem to keep popping up like whack-a-moles... ;)

DJP said...

Which are, as has been explained how many times now?, as related to prophecy as quahogs are to Quaaludes.

Tom said...

@Sensie: Scripture says prophets by definition never err. Driscoll says he errs. Double sufficient. I'm done.

No, Scripture says that divine prophecy is inerrant. It does not say that prophets are inerrant. Not everything that Paul ever spoke or wrote was inerrant.

Tom said...

Okay, now we're past productive discussion, but...

@Sensei: Which are, as has been explained how many times now?, as related to prophecy as quahogs are to Quaaludes.

Except in the NT, these "extraordinary providences" that the Holy Spirit gifted people with are called ... wait for it ... prophecy.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Tom, maybe you just don't understand the office of a prophet - which is that whenever He is given a revelation that He is to speak it just as it was given - with authority and inerrancy. And it comes to pass with authority and inerrancy when said prophet proclaims, "Thus saith the LORD." That doesn't happen anymore.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

If I said "This is what the LORD has said," (enter random "prophesy"), and that doesn't come to pass, or is in error, what does that say about the LORD? What does that say about me?

Tom Chantry said...

Last comment from me today, because I'm tired of talking to a brick wall.

No, Scripture says that divine prophecy is inerrant. It does not say that prophets are inerrant. Not everything that Paul ever spoke or wrote was inerrant.

What Scripture actually says is that anyone claiming to exercise the gift of prophecy and proving wrong should be executed, or, in the New Covenant, excommunicated. Rather a big difference from what you're saying.

Except in the NT, these "extraordinary providences" that the Holy Spirit gifted people with are called ... wait for it ... prophecy.

And I am sure I can wait until the cows come home for you to supply us with that reference. And no, I don't have any cows.

DJP said...

Again, no, other-Tom. Do not despise prophecy to give false veneer to fakery. Read the series linked above. For that matter, read the post. Or just about anyone other than yourself.

Tom said...

@Chantry: What Scripture actually says is that anyone claiming to exercise the gift of prophecy and proving wrong should be executed, or, in the New Covenant, excommunicated. Rather a big difference from what you're saying.

Not really. I would agree with you that at the very least the individual should be rebuked and his words rejected. That is what we're told to do in 1 Thes 5 and 1 Cor 14. If a man persists in false prophecy, I would agree that he needs to be excommunicated.

Despite what the Sensei claims, this proposal and view does not give cover for charlatans anymore than Paul did by giving instructions on how to deal with these gifts in 1 Thes 4 and 1 Cor 14.

And I am sure I can wait until the cows come home for you to supply us with that reference.

I'll give the reference right after you and the Sensei give the reference that redefines prophecy as "extraordinary providence." Deal?

Seriously though, I've appreciated everyone's graciousness as I've laid out this proposal. Thanks, Tom, for the interaction. I'm not adamantine; I'm learning. Sensei, again, I appreciate your hospitality and correction.

DJP said...

In the extremely unlikely event that other-Tom is not the only one insists on misreading me so badly, I do not redefine prophecy as anything. I (tick a lot of people off because I) adamantly insist on defining prophecy the only way that Scripture defines it: as inerrant, morally-binding direct revelation.

Robert said...

Tom,

How can you explain Paul healing in the beginning of his ministry and not in the end of it? I mean, if normative gifts are used regularly, surely apostolic gifts must be much more so. I never seem to get a straight answer from "continuationists" about this issue and I am wondering if I ever will. Has Grudem ever tackled that one?

Johnny Dialectic said...

I do not redefine prophecy as anything. I (tick a lot of people off because I) adamantly insist on defining prophecy the only way that Scripture defines it: as inerrant, morally-binding direct revelation.

Agreed. So why can't continuationists just back quietly away from this claim? What's wrong with using "prompt" or "leading" in a way that ought to be confirmed via Word, spiritual counsel and so forth?

I don't see the need for taking the hard line, NT gifts stance. What, exactly, would the continuationist be giving up? In practical terms, nothing.

NCH said...

Tom-
The following questions are based on Eph. 2:20. If you don't agree with the interpretation of apostles and prophets being separate but foundational gifts for the church, then we won't get anywhere with these questions. If you do agree with that interpretation, please read on.

I think the questions you need to address are:

What was the purpose of the NT prophet and why was the prophet given for the church in the 1st century?

Is that purpose still necessary for the church since the completing of the NT?

If yes, why does the church today need something in addition to what is affirmed to be everything we need for life and godliness, that is, the Bible?

If no, why do you draw a distinction that the NT does not draw between apostolic prophecy and normative prophecy when the purpose for the office has been fulfilled?

the phantom of the bookstore said...

For all this talk about the Holy Spirit, continuationists ignore the primary work of the Spirit: Illuminating the inspired Scriptures to the heart and mind of a regenerate believer and empowering them to live the Scriptures out.

The only thing they “continue” to do is to point people away from the Holy Spirit working through the Bible.

DJP said...

Hear hear, Phantom. It amounts to "Yeah, that, whatever; but anyway..."

Chris B said...

DJP,

With all due respect sir, I don't really understand your point in posting this. Is this intended to convince wavering continuationists of the illegitimacy of their position? Is it intended to simply be a rant expressing your frustrations with what you see in the mainstream of charismatic chicanery? Are you seeking to show the stupidity and foolishness of the continuationists position? If so, to what end and in what spirit? I am a long time reader of team pyro and despite my appreciation of most all of your postings this is the issue wherein you come across most uncharitable. Comparing a biblically informed and "real" reformed continuationists position to non-lordship theology is a shameless straw man. At what point do you actually engage us on textual grounds sir? This approach is as fallacious and uncharitable as me comparing your brand of dispensationalism to that of John Hagee or Finis Dake... I would be totally out of line to do so. It appears that you have ignored the reality that no matter what theological persuasion of Christendom your in there are always fringers and no one appreciates being lumped in together with them. Ah, so because you've never seen the things scripture speaks of they must therefore cease to be happening and those who continue to believe that God works In these ways are looneys and crackpots? Yes, this sort of thinking is not too dissimilar from the thinking of Christopher Hitchens who says that all of the miraculous events of the OT are poppycock because those sorts of things just dont happen. At what point sir do you move from allowing God to speak for Himself and execute His own sovereign will to telling God the Holy Spirit what He will and will not do? If God has clearly revealed in His inspired and sufficient Word that He will act in certain ways within the Church without violating the closed nature of His final revelation in Christ (1 Cor 12-14) from whence do you derive the liscense to say "enough" and "no more"? Considering the fact that in this post you have presented only false comparisons and straw men I would be a bit shocked if you answered my last question with: the Bible. Good day and God bless.

BrettR said...

Now that I am done with continualism, what do I do with all of my spiritual warfare books?;)


Well written and a reminder that I was that "guy" and need to stick to the truth reveal in scripture.

Thanks, Dan.

P.S. I only read the comments that Tom Chantry wrote; Far fewer headaches that way.

NCH said...

Chris B, It sounds like you're new around here (I'm new, too). Do a search of "daGifts" on this blog and you'll find your questions and comments answered. The Pyro guys have a history of dealing with questions and comments such as yours.

Doug Hibbard said...

Forgive me for missing the discussion point on this, but if the only "prophecies" that one would accept now have to be in line with Scripture...

Why bother with it when you have Scripture in the first place? If the only time [fill in the blank] is certain to be right is when he's saying the same thing Scripture says then isn't he just quoting Scripture or making it up out of his own mind?

Not that what he comes up with is definitely bad (well, most of the time). Just that if the criteria of proving a "prophecy" is that it echoes the contents of Scripture, why would God send a new word that is the same as the old one?

When I preach on Sunday and a congregation member asks if I have "a word from the Lord" I point I have the same one they have. Then I tell them I'll try to help explain it and how the Word we've got applies.

But to claim I've got something special and unquestionable? Yikes. Who would want that anyway? On my best days I wouldn't want that and on my normal days I shouldn't have it.

donsands said...

Chris B, Did you see the film clip Dan gives a link to. You ought to check it out.

Great flick BTW. Love that clip. Love the whole movie. Bogart is superb.

Matt Burke said...

The irony of his pointing out alleged straw men and unfair comparisons is completely lost on Chris B. Self reflection is hard.

DJP said...

"Why bother with it when you have Scripture in the first place?"

Amen, Doug.

And after 2000 years, particularly the last 100 of tens of thousands trying, not one word of universal application has been uttered.

Most people would find that significant.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Brett R. said: "Now that I am done with continualism, what do I do with all of my spiritual warfare books?;)"

You could put new dust jackets on them and sell them at a garage sale for half the price. Or use them in your kitty litter box. Or use the pages to wrap fresh fish in. Or do like I did with the Purpose Driven Life. I put it on the bottom shelf of my basement library, so if it floods down there...oh well!

Phantom:

This is awesome! You said: "For all this talk about the Holy Spirit, continuationists ignore the primary work of the Spirit: Illuminating the inspired Scriptures to the heart and mind of a regenerate believer and empowering them to live the Scriptures out.

The only thing they “continue” to do is to point people away from the Holy Spirit working through the Bible."

How true this is, the continuationists tend to focus on the gift giver and not the gift.

Sir Brass said...

"Now that I am done with continualism, what do I do with all of my spiritual warfare books?;)"

Well... if you're one of those survivalist types and need portable toilet paper...

Or... again, if you're one of those survivalist types and have a woodstove in case the central heat goes out... you've got a ready supply of fire-starting material...

The possibilities for spare dead tree are endless :P :D

DJP said...

Well, if it's Brooks, I say, keep it!

(c:

Alex Guggenheim said...

When the gospel is presented as it should be as the shorthand in Acts states, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved..." the moment one believes the gospel, they have submitted to the Lordship of Christ since only the one true Lord can forgive and save them.

truthinator said...

Dan,

I got bounced from a Bible Study once when I defended the position you have taken on the subject of gutless gracers. The magic words men nothing if there is no evidence of change. The power is in God not in our words...

Carry on,
Truthinator.wordpress.com

DJP said...

That's right. If you'll forgive my saying so, I expand on that at some length in, you know, that book.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

You know what I find uniquely absent from prophesies such as the ones Mark Driscoll envisioned? The stories are incomplete. They lack the proverbial wisdom that usually accompanies/follows biblical parables, visions and stories.

They lack a reason for being a vision. We're left hanging in mid air, wondering where's the beef?Where's the moral to the story? We're sadly left in the dark, with no results/consequences or parabolic application. We have a right to say, “So—-And—-Your point being?"

But we don’t get that from Mark or other dream weavers. Instead we get bombshells dropped into the laps of people with no rhyme or reason to them. Think of Nathan when he told David, “You’re the man.” What was the result, the finish to the story, the lesson learned? David repented of his actions. The story had closure. We may not always have answers to all of God’s ways, but Scripture is never short on stories with real life applications and real moral conclusions.

Bombshells like MD had are totally destructive, because they operate void of any meaning, rhyme or reason. They only destroy and have no remedial application whatsoever.

Robert said...

I hold to the belief that to be Spirit filled is to be Scriptire filled.

DJP said...

Mary ET, really good point. All Nathan did was tell David a story, then nail him. No porn narrative. The Psalms indicate to my mind that the Spirit had already been working David over. This was the tap that undid the whole.

I picture a "visionary" to a convinced sola Scriptura pastor:
"I have visions and voices in my head. What do you have? Just that old dead Bible thingie? Psh. Nobody's going to repent over that."

Right. They'll repent over a voice or a vision.

Or if someone goes back from the dead.

Right?

F Whittenburg said...

I think one problem is many in the church confuse the "gift of prophecy" with "soothsaying" (i.e. the Lord told me to tell you).

Paul's own definition of the "gift of prophecy" is simply an understanding of all the mysteries and all the knowledge.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have the faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2 KJV).

I use to go to a church with an apostle that claimed that the Lord is doing a "new thing" today, and the church has entered a "paradigm shift". He even showed it to me in the book of Ephesians....

Are the "prophets" today presenting a new knowledge or revelation or simple discovering a new understanding of existing scripture that was previously hidden from them?

In His Service,

F Whittenburg

DJP said...

Yes, if by that you mean understanding into otherwise unknowable truths by direct, inerrant revelation by God's Spirit. Paul's "definition" of prophecy proper would be the same as the original definition: direct, inerrant revelation given from God for the purpose of inerrant communication in His name (Exod. 4:12, 15-16; 7:1-2).

Paul didn't secretly redefine and downgrade the word, as many do, thus despising prophecy.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the phantom of the bookstore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom said...

I appreciate everyone's comments. I have not yet heard of a solid objection to my proposal. Sensei, the crickets are still chirping...

Again, my proposal affirms what the Sensei affirms about the nature of prophecy: it is inerrant, morally-binding direct revelation. In addition, it must be verifiable.

My proposal affirms the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. It also recognizes the distinction evident in the NT between apostolic and normative gifts. It rejects anyone who claims to have an apostolic gift today. However, it allows for normative use of prophetic speech.

When someone claims prophetic speech, my proposal follows the commands given in Scripture to prove/test it (1 Thes 5, 1 Cor 14, 1 John 4), yet it does not despise prophecy (as the Sensei strongly does).

Sensei, your only objection so far is "The Bible says prophecy has ceased." However, good godly theologians disagree with your interpretation. Other than that, my proposal addresses all the objections you and Team Pyro have thrown around as to why prophecy cannot be a valid gift for today's church.

Thanks for the discussion.

donsands said...

Tom, Did you say why God needs to give this gift to his Church through His Spirit in our Day?

In the early Church they had only the OT. So the Holy Spirit used these gifts. Now that the Scriptures are complete, and God's Word is our authority, given to us by the prophets and apostles, who are our foundation, can you share why any of us need "prophecy", when we have the Gospel light in all its fullness and power.

cmt122 said...

"Gutless Gracers" lol that's funny

F Whittenburg said...

Interesting question donsands... on the other hand.

If Paul says the gift of prophecy is simply understanding all knowledge and all mysteries (1 Corinthians 13:2 KJV), why would you not want that in the church? Especially since the spirit of prophecy IS the testimony of Jesus Christ.

And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of the brethern that have the testimony of Jesu: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus IS the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10 KJV).

Without the gift of prophecy (undertanding all mysteries and all knowledge) in the church then scripture is left to private interpetation from the pastor (who maybe of God, or who may not be of God) and then from that you get different denominations and the following of bizarre doctrines and then the church really spirals down from there....

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophect came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:20,21 KJV).

DJP,

Why would I need to go back to Exodus to understand Paul's use and definition of "prophecy" when he plainly states what he means in 1 Corinthians 13:2 KJV (i.e. understanding all knowledge and all mysteries)?

In His Service,

F Whittenburg

DJP said...

Is that a trick-question?

Because that's where Paul went obviously.

homefront said...

Raising the Dead. I know a fellow who travels the globe teaching this 'gift'. And my State Trooper son has had a card carrying 'raiser of the dead' offer his services at the scene of a fatal accident. These folks consider themselves devout, Biblical Christians. Scary stuff. Here's the link..http://www.deadraisingteam.com/

donsands said...

Not sure where you're coming from FW.

The Corinthians were having problems with people prophesying and so paul says "And if I have prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and faith to move mountains but have not love, I am nothing." And even if I give all my money to the poor, and even give my body to be burned, it profits me nothing without love.

Our Lord has given us His Word through His prophets and Apostles, who are the foundation of His saints, the Church. We no longer need prophecy.

Our Lord, who is our Chief Shepherd has given many under shepherds to His saints as well, they are His pastors to feed and tend His sheep, these are those who teach us from the Holy Writ, God's truth, which is His Word; His final authority for us, and what a treasure he has bestowed upon us. And also evangelists are in the Church who encourage us, and who preach the Gospel with a holy zeal, moreso than those who are the saints who make up our Lord's people. Yet, all of us surely have out testimony of Christ, and we share our love for Jesus, and the truth that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

And through the Gospel, hard hearts become soft, and so they repent and ask God to save and have mercy. A dead sinner comes to life! Amazing grace is it not!

Rob said...

As an amusing aside, does a married man with two kids, who gets surgically-sterilized, become a 'Creation Mandate Cessationist'?

Tom said...

@Donsands: Tom, Did you say why God needs to give this gift to his Church through His Spirit in our Day?

I don't believe Scripture teaches God needs to do anything that he hasn't committed Himself to do. So, in that sense, God does not need to give prophetic speech to anyone today (unless you interpret Joel 2:28-30 to directly apply to us today).

Can you share why any of us need "prophecy", when we have the Gospel light in all its fullness and power.

If used properly, prophetic speech builds up and edifies the church, just like the other spiritual gifts do. If God has given the church the normative gift of prophecy, it means we need it. Again, I think of the Spurgeon example: God used prophetic speech (aka "extraordinary providence") to identify and rebuke sin, and to sanctify His people. Does this mean that Scripture is not sufficient to do so? Not at all. It is just evidence that God can and sometimes does use other methods to accomplish His will.

jmb said...

Very good post, and I really like the use of "...Sierra Madre."

I haven't read all of the comments, so maybe someone has already used this:

A mental patient in a hospital is convinced that he's dead. A doctor asks him, "Can a dead person bleed?" The patient says, "No, a dead person can't bleed." The doctor takes a pin and pricks the patient's finger - a little blood emerges. The patient is shocked. "Wow!" he says. "A dead person CAN bleed!"

NCH said...

Tom, the crickets are on your end. Please address the nature of prophecy in it being one like apostleship that is for the foundation of the church. I suggest you can't hold your redefinition of prophecy to what is laid out for us in Scripture without playing hopscotch with the text.

Tom said...

@NCH: Please address the nature of prophecy in it being one like apostleship that is for the foundation of the church.

Was all prophecy that was given in the first-century church given by the apostles for the foundation of the church? No. Therefore, we can conclude from Scripture that while prophecy was used for the foundation of the church, it was not and consequently is not necessarily limited to that function. Again, prophecy was used for the edification and building up of the church in general, just like the other gifts were used.

donsands said...

So Tom, the pope prophesies that Mary was conceived without sin, because God could only be born to a sinless woman.
I suppose this builds up the church. Millions of people are loving Mary and praying to her, and so on.

I suppose we need to leave it. I see prophecy ending , as God's will, and His giving us His Word in full, as He has willed, and so we have the Holy Word of God complete, and we need no more prophecy, as they did before the Scriptures were complete.

We must part ways my brother. And it's a bit scary to trust in humans. It's with great confidence we can trust in the Holy Scriptures of our Lord.

Tom Chantry said...

Was all prophecy that was given in the first-century church given by the apostles for the foundation of the church? No. Therefore, we can conclude from Scripture that while prophecy was used for the foundation of the church, it was not and consequently is not necessarily limited to that function. Again, prophecy was used for the edification and building up of the church in general, just like the other gifts were used.

Tom, you have a remarkable talent here. you pose questions, give unsupported and absolute answers to them ("No.") OK then, that's our answer, I suppose? Scripture says that the Apostles, together with Christ and the Prophets, constitute the foundation of the church (that's in Ephesians 2:20, by the way), but we know that the in fact, they were not just a foundation. How do we know? Because Tom said so at 8:50 PM on August 23! Along the way, you have defined "prophecy" in a manner which you cannot find in either the Old or New Testament.

But - (and I cannot possibly end this statement with sufficient exclamation points, so I will not even try) - you are worried that we are too wedded to our presuppositions.

Tom, in the realm of theology, the person who is too wedded to his presuppositions is the one who can't define terms biblically lest his his pet theories vanish into mist.

DJP said...

Add to that putting his fingers in his ears and singing la la la, reporting "Crickets!", and repeating exactly what has just been refuted as if no one had spoken.

I've seen this pattern, many times. The next usual steps are the repeated assertion that no one has answered him, and the demand that others do his research for him and find his answers in the meta for him, on threat of further reports of "crickets."

Robert said...

Reposting from the previous combox because it is relevant to this discussion as well. Tom Chantry already hit on the Ephesians 2:20 reference listed here.

I offer the following three portions of Scripture to see if any of the coninuationist camp will look at their precious 1 Corinthians references in light of them...then tell me what they think the implications are...I'm sure I'll start hearing crickets.

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." (Hebrews 1:1-2)

"After it was at first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will." (Hebrews 2:3b-4)

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone" (Ephesians 2:19-20)

Emphasis (for obvious reason, I hope) is mine for all of these.

John Frederick said...

concerning a well-known Baptist preacher in the 19th Century:

“While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, ‘There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence!’ A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, ‘Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?’ ‘Yes,’ replied the man, ‘I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and, under his preaching, by God’s grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place; Mr. Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit out of it. I did take ninepence that day, and fourpence was just the profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul though him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul.’”

“I could tell as many as a dozen similar cases in which I pointed at somebody in the hall without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved by the Spirit to say it; and so striking has been my description, that the persons have gone away, and said to their friends, ‘Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did; beyond a doubt, he must have been sent of God to my soul, or else he could not have described me so exactly.’ And not only so, but I have known many instances in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge their neighbours with their elbow, because they had got a smart hit, and they have been heard to say, when they were going out, ‘The preacher told us just what we said to one another when we went in at the door’” (The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, [Curts & Jennings, 1899], Vol. II, pp. 226-227).

DJP said...

Wow, no one's every brought up CHS stories like that before, let alone respond to them fifteen times.

< buries head in hands >

APM said...

I'd believe that CHS story if an angel of light appeared to me and said.....oh wait, nevermind.

I'll just stick to what God has told me in the Bible.

John Frederick said...

I have not read everything you have ever said or written so I missed the fifteen responses Dan. Is that your only response now?

Tom Chantry said...

For JF (and anyone else who has yet to discover Google - and trust me, it's a wondrous tool!)

http://phillipjohnson.blogspot.com/2005/11/spurgeon-on-private-prophecies-and-new.html

It's a start, anyhow.

Just Jules said...

TC...I'm swamped today, so thank you for posting that link. Appreciate it.

John Frederick said...

Spurgeon believed (and acted) as I do then. Spurgeon said: "I have been the subject of such impressions, myself, and have seen very singular results. But to live by impressions is oftentimes to live the life of a fool and even to fall into downright rebellion against the revealed Word of God. Not your impressions, but that which is in this Bible must always guide you."

He acknowledges having experienced impressions, yet affirms we should never consider them to be setting for us any kind of foundation, precedent, principle, or pattern upon which to build. That role belongs to the Word alone.

I agree completely.

I believe the canon is closed. I also believe that God does indeed lead and guide His people, sometimes even in unusual and very supernatural ways, but always, always, always in accordance with the word of God. I class myself as a continualist and can't quite see how Spurgeon could be otherwise. It all depends on how we define the terms, but all the evidence shows that Spurgeon was no strict or rigid cessationist as you are Dan.

DJP said...

All that proves is you've neither read the post thoughtfully nor the comments, and you don't really understand Spurgeon but instead see him as a convenient excuse for pursuing something without a shred of Biblical warrant rather than contenting yourself with His Word alone.

John Frederick said...

Dan, I dont think you are being fair here at all – many have paid a very high price to embrace the doctrines of grace, some pastors losing long standing friendships, relationships with family members and sometimes even churches, simply because they came to embrace reformed theology… it would be a great pity if they are then thrown under the bus by others in the reformed camp because they have sometimes followed a subjective impression as something they believed was given to them by the Lord.

My point in quoting Spurgeon was simply to then ask, “would these reformed people really want to throw Spurgeon out too?” I believe exactly as he did. The word alone is to be trusted. Subjective impressions can often deceive. Yet there are times when God has given direction in unusual and even dramatic ways, (as evidenced by Spurgeon ministry).

What am I missing Dan? What am I failing to see or read in the article?

DJP said...

With that, nothing (depending on what you mean).

This: "I class myself as a continualist"...

...and suggesting it has anything to do with CHS...

everything I said.

one busy mom said...

The theory is all-important and must be preserved. The theory suggests there should be evidence, and must be a standard of proof. There is no evidence. But see #1, above. Solution: redefine "evidence," lower "standard of proof."

Classic! No wonder the wisdom of man is foolishness to God.

What bugs me most about the clamor over "the gifts" existing today -aside from straight up ignoring Scripture, redefining terms, etc,- is the focus on elevating the least impressive things the Holy Spirit does (or did), while dismissing or ignoring the more impressive which He does continue to do today: convicting, sanctifying, and saving.

Seriously, which would be harder for an all powerful God - healing a disease or saving a soul? Seems to me, the second is the much more impressive miracle - since He's dealing with a rebellous creature with free will, not just an object that obeys His command.

It's like someone walking into a fine jewelry store, and drooling over glass beads while treating the diamonds as worthless. At some point one has to ask: "Why"?

F Whittenburg said...

Hello obm,

I am glad that someone out there is also asking "WHY?". I have studyed both positons and I have friends that "speak in tounges" and frinds that don't. It is a very interesting topic. This is the conclusion that I have drawn thus far. What I have observed is with many, "speaking in tongues" is a "proof of salvation", that can be pointed too and embraced without ever showing any other spiritual fruit or growth. They generally refer to it as "the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues". Only those that are saved have recieved the Holy Ghost.

I see the same thing with many conservative denominations who use their recitation of the "sinner's prayer" as a "proof of salvation" that they can also point to without ever showing any spiritual life change or fruits of salvation.

When you attack the "speaking in tongues" doctrine, I believe it is percieved by those that practice that doctrine as an attack on their "proof of salvation", not their spiritual gifts. Just as if you told someone that they might not have been truly sincere when they said their "sinner's prayer" and they may not be truly born again. The fights on.

Salavation is considered an "act of faith" in both camps, and they will tenaciously defend an attack on their "faith in their salvation" much more than a attack on their spiritual gifts. This is just my observation. I have friends in both groups.

Hope this helps

In His Service,

F Whittenburg

Connie said...

Bingo! I've mulled over the whole "Reformed" charismatic (aka: Charismatic Calvinist) thing since I first heard of it over 6 yrs. ago--I think you did a great job of pin-pointing the common line of thinking and attempts to defend it. The practice of redefining and down-grading is key.

henry said...

Every honest objective observer admits that nothing of the caliber of dominical/apostolic revelatory and attesting activity is taking place today. Nothing of that caliber has taken place since the first century. This is a simple, incontrovertible fact.

If by this you mean no accurate prophecy has taken place like in Acts where Peter supernaturally knows Ananias/Sapphira's sin, then most continuationists would deny your statement.

In fact even some cessationists would deny your statement (e.g Doug Wilson's example that happened to him).

DJP said...

No, Doug Wilson would not say that what I describe happened to him, or (A) he wrote very badly (very unlikely) or (B) I read him very wrong (conceivable, but still unlikely).

The NT contains no record that I can think of of believers finding such revelatory activity broadly incredible. So find me the specific record of an inerrant, morally binding verbal prophetic relation accepted by the Biblically-faithful Christian church. I will thank you for the education. In fact, all Christians will, because no such incident will have been known for <2000 years, prior to your documentation.

henry said...

DJP,

Doug Wilson, a cessationist, has gone on record as saying the following:

I was once in a counselling session with a woman who was being recruited by a really bad cult. She had been impervious to everything I had shown or told her about that group. I was stumped. But one morning I was reading in 2 Peter, and read the phrase “with eyes full of adultery . . . they seduce the unstable” and I knew that the husband of the couple that was recruiting her was sleeping with her as a recruiting technique. I had no evidence that would hold up in any kind of just courtroom, but I did have enough to ask her about it. When I did, she dissolved into tears. That was it, and she repented.

There is no qualitative difference between the nature of what happened to Doug Wilson and what happened to Peter in his supernatural insight into the sin of Ananias and Sapphira. He only gives the experience a different label.

For more documentation of supernatural insight like this you might like to read social anthropologist Dr David Lewis' investigation of a John Wimber conference titled "Healing: Fiction, Fantasy or Fact?", particularly the detailed analysis of a particular 'word of knowledge' on pp132-135. There are also other places to go if you wish.

DJP said...

Yeah, see, that's the thing with selective reading, line "continuationists" without exception do with the Bible.

Wilson's very next words:

I believe that I knew that because the world is a weird place, and I believe the world is a weird place because Jesus is the Lord of it. So in that sense, sure, He gave me that knowledge, the same indirect way He gave me bacon for breakfast this morning. I thank Him for both. But I would never say “Jesus told me, that’s how I knew” – I would say, after the fact, that I believe the Lord “had led me,” or had “put it in my heart.” I would actively seek to avoid any language that could be construed as a claim to an inside revelatory track. Why? Because I don’t have one.

So, hunh, turns out I was right.

henry said...

DJP,

you have ignored what I said - he merely gives the experience a different label.

That does not change the fact that it was an accurate supernatural insight into the woman's sin like Peter's with Ananias and Sapphira.

Apart from the label, there is no qualitative difference in the experience.

DJP said...

OK, so Doug Wilson is not a witness. Or you are a superior expert BOTH on the experience of Doug Wilson, AND of the apostle Peter.

Which is pretty silly. And irrelevant.

jollyblogger said...

I come late to every party it seems and I admittedly stopped reading after about 30 comments.
Did you refer anyone here to the Pyro interaction with Poythress on this? I'm not sure if you wrote the series or if it was Frank or Phil. I'm normally a Poythress fan but his attempted defense of some sort of continuationism was well refuted here. And oh btw some of these charismatics do claim that their healers are out their raising the dead. I remember someone getting indignant with me on my old blog for not taking into consideration the irrefutable evidence of all the raisings from the dead and such. I don't know - still haven't seen the evidence, you figure if people were being raised from the dead the news would make a bigger splash than some faceless commenter bloviating on an obscure blog.
Sorry, just had to find an excuse to use some form of the word bloviate.

DJP said...

Thanks, David.

The author was me, and the Poythress series starts here, and I did refer to it somewhere in these recent posts... but I forget where. So maybe it's worth another mention.

Mel said...

I count 2 SRLs