Or he'll try. < /tough-talk blustering bluff >
If you haven't read the first part, please start there, for truly Phillipses do not love to chew their cabbage twice.
Having responded to what I think is the heart, not only of Adrian's post, but of modern Charismaticism, I now move on to some of the specifics. In this post, I'll focus on the nature of evidence, and the burden of proof. Now back to Adrian Warnock.
A word about that man. You can learn more of him in the distant Tim Challies' interview, and you can even hear him preach. (Warning: he kinda preaches like a Charismatic. Also, I'm convinced that anything anyone says in a British accent automatically sounds 25% smarter -- so he's definitely got that going for him. Envious? Me? Never! That's why you never see any daft and balmy [correction: barmy (thanks, Libbie!)] Britishisms in my writing. It's sad that Adrian's so darned homely, too, poor man. We all have our crosses to bear.)
I'll say this clearly as I can. Adrian and I are both public men. My stuff has been dissected and shredded at atheist message boards, in charismatic blogs, and probably in a hundred other places. I'm sure it's the same for Adrian. Our public words are open for public discussion and debate and analysis.
I mean to continue to look unsparingly at what Adrian wrote. I'd be very saddened, however, if anyone misinterpreted my, erm, spirited disagreement with Adrian's words on this one topic, and this one specific position he has adopted, to translate to general overall disagreement, or specific animosity for him as a brother in Christ. I honestly have no doubt that, in personal conversation, we'd hit it off well, and that we'd find a host of shared truths we'd gladly proclaim and defend shoulder to shoulder.
Now, without further eloquence....
Now, it is quite striking to me that Dr. Warnock says this (emphases added):
There are in fact stories circulating of specific cases where modern tongues were understood by someone in the meeting as literal human languages. I have never witnessed this, but have certainly heard from those who have.Now, as I argue very briefly here, the Bible only knows one kind of tongues (more on this, next post, DV). That kind is supernaturally-acquired human languages. Yet Dr. Warnock says he's never witnessed that kind of "tongues." And that doesn't bother him? How many "tongues" has he heard ? One? One thousand?
So, Adrian has never yet seen the only phenomenon the Bible knows of as the supernatural gift of tongues -- yet he'll suffer none to suggest that tongues are not for today. What then shall we conclude? That tongues are for today... but nobody's ever seen them?
Someone has always talked to someone who overheard about a speaker who told the tale of a friend who once heard of a missionary who....
And this is all in stark contrast to Biblical supernatural events, which were right out in bold daylight, in front of God and everybody. Biblical miracles left unbelievers stunned, gob-smacked, and searching for explanations. Modern counterfeits have that same effect on their advocates.
To stick with Acts 2, alone: the consensus of those present was not, "What's wrong with Barney?", but "Hey -- how did that pinhead Barney ever learn Tagalog?"
More troubling to me, Adrian isn't concerned if the genuine, only-Biblical-"tongues"-there-is cannot be found anywhere. He'll settle for whatever anyone wants to call "tongues," I guess, because he suggests that
even if Dan isn’t wrong, it is quite possible that we are in a period of time when only the beginnings of supernatural gifts are currently being given. These things seem, in my experience, to come in waves, and somehow the outpouring of God's Spirit does not seem to be constant. There are “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:20). Couldn’t the tongues we often hear today be almost like precursors to those which are more recognisable linguistically? I have certainly heard some that sound to an English-speaker's ear more like human languages than others.First, though Adrian has by his own testimony never experienced the only gift of tongues the Bible talks about, he bases a theory on his "experience." Since he has said he has had no experience of what I define as Biblical tongues, I'm unsure what "experience" he has as a basis for this theory.
Beyond that, I'll tell you, friend Adrian, and Dear Reader -- that whole statement just really worries me. It doesn't bother Adrian if modern "tongues" aren't like actual Biblical tongues. He comes up with this idea about waves or phases --- but he has no specific Biblical basis to it. It may be clever. It may be inventive. But he's just making it up. Aren't we not supposed to do that?
The citation of Acts 3:20 doesn't help. Read it in context. This is part of a call to the nation of Israel, still, to repent and believe in Jesus as Messiah. How could Peter possibly have in mind far-future sub-Biblical semi-supernatural events as sort of a warm-up game for the "real thing"? What possible sense would that make?
Think about it. Pentecost had just happened. Surely if ever there was "a period of time when only the beginnings of supernatural gifts" were in evidence, that was it. And at that time, healers healed dramatically and undeniably, people spoke languages they'd never learned. Tongues were a current and happening event.
And how long had it taken the real real thing to happen? How many generations of waves of Christian preparation did it take? How purified did the Christian recipients have to become? How long had these Christians sought tongues?
Well, of course, they had not sought tongues at all. There was no preparation, as they were all caught by surprise. The original recipients in Acts 2 had no faith in tongues. They had never asked for tongues. They had done no preparation, no seeking. Tongues just happened. And not in a vestigial way, not a "warm-up act" of gibberish -- it was the full-bore, legitimate, verifiable/falsifiable article itself.
Except on an emotional level, it is very hard for me to understand this willingness simply to make things up. Ponder anew: here is a movement which calls people to give over control to some putatively spiritual power, to let it have control over their minds and bodies. If some hapless soul points out that the result is nothing like the Bible, comes the response, "Oh, well, nevermind -- maybe it's a warm-up act!"
So one must ask: how long will the Charismatic movement be warming up, then? How long have how many people prayed how many prayers to receive the gift of tongues, without one well-documented success of Biblical proportions? One hundred years of trying. One hundred percent failure. Scores of theories invented to rationalize the failure. That shouldn't concern us?
Is it too much to ask a spirit whether Jesus has come in the flesh, if that spirit makes you feel good? What if you ask, and the spirit answers, "Maybe"? Shall we say that maybe this is just part of a cycle, a wave of spiritual renewal, and accept the spirit in the meanwhile? Perhaps, if we tarry and persist for another hundred years, it will eventually say "Probably"?
I spoke in tongues back in the seventies, I thought. But I kept studying my Bible. Studying the Bible eventually led me to be uncertain whether or not what I was doing was the same as what the Bible described. It felt good to me, it came out of love for the Lord. But if it wasn't what the Bible described, it wasn't real. If it wasn't real as judged by the Bible, I wanted no part of it. So I stopped until I could be sure. Eventually, I came to be sure. I never "spoke in tongues" again.
I am still waiting for the cessationists to demonstrate from Scripture that all the miraculous gifts (with the exception of authoritative doctrinal revelation) have indeed stopped permanently and forever.Well, why? What does it matter if we can "demonstrate" it "from Scripture"? We've already seen what happens when we do. An ironclad case can be (and has been) made from Scripture that tongues were always supernaturally acquired human languages. Confronted with that fact, and lacking any such occurrences today, Adrian says, "Oh, well. Maybe we're just kicking the football around before the real match starts!"
So one must ask, What is the standard of proof? If in this one readily-testable phenomenon the evidence simply don't matter, in the face of a willingness to "make it up" -- well then, what evidence could be agreed on as convincing?
Suppose the Bible had a verse that actually said, "After John dies, no more revelatory gifts!" Would that be good enough? But I can hear one saying, "Ah, but it doesn't say how long after John dies! 'A day is as a thousand years,' you know." And another, "I've never seen John's body... have you?" And on it could go. All of which minds me of the couplet:
A man convinced against his willMoving on, Adrian then says,
Is of the same opinion still.
I have also not seen [cessationists] give good explanations regarding the experiences so many of us describe or the benefits that those who speak in tongues receive from them. If the cessationist is correct, then the charismatic is, by definition, either deluded or demonised!My first, honest, non-sarcastic response to this confession was to wonder how many cessationist books Adrian has read, and which ones; and how many cessationists he's talked with. But never mind that for now.
The question is simply answered.
Suppose you say, "Oh, look! A cat!" And you point to a snake. So I go fetch a textbook that we both respect, and I read, "Cat: mammal, possessed of four legs, a tail, a head, lots of fur, and an insatiable appetite. Purrs when petted." Then I say, "That thing you're pointing at doesn't look anything like a cat. At. All."
What do you say? "Yeah, but maybe it's a furless, legless, reptilian cat who never purrs! Or maybe it's just warming up, and one day it will be a cat! You have to give me a good explanation of what it is, or I'll pick it up and call it a cat!"?
No, actually, I really don't have to. I've demonstrated that it isn't a cat. In so demonstrating, I have demonstrated that, if you do pick it up, you won't be picking up a cat. My work is done.
If, however, I keep looking through my nature guide, I'll find several things that are long and thin and wiggly. It might be a worm. It might be an eel. It might be a snake. What kind of snake, though? Maybe I can't identify the exact species of snake you're pointing at. But I know that there are various venomous vipers about, and that's reason enough to worry. I advise you that it's best not to pick it up until we're sure what it is.
Doesn't that make good sense?
But at any rate, even if you pick it up, and suffer no immediate harm, and report that it gives you warm emotions to hold it, I'm still going to insist that you not call it a cat. And particularly, if you are going to take a job as a veterinarian, and tell others how to acquire and care for animals, I'm going to urge you in the strongest terms to get your head straight about the differences between cats and snakes. You really could hurt somebody with your wretched advice.
Now, we'll look at a couple of the the specific verses brother Warnock adduces, because there are some similarities to what we've discussed thus far. Next week, DV, we'll look at some more.
Quoth the good doctor, emphases supplied:
Why does Mark 16 (even if it isn’t in the original autographs, but is instead an early addition to the text) say that those who believe will speak in new tongues; why is there no sense in these words that this experience is limited to the disciples?There's that odd thing again: "Even if it isn't really in the Bible, you're obliged to explain it!"
My simple answer is, if it isn't in the Bible, I don't much care what it says. It matters if it isn't actually part of the Gospel of Mark! (I'm assuming that most readers are aware of the textual issues here.) So we really have to try to answer that question first -- and a deucedly hard question it is. Again, a mighty shaky foundation on which to rest a major doctrinal edificce.
But let's say the passage is genuine. If it is, I have another short answer.
The passage says that "these signs will accompany those who believe" (Mark 16:17). One of the signs is speaking in languages new to them. That happened. Please note carefully: the passage says that every believer would speak in tongues just as surely as it says every believer would forever speak in tongues -- which is to say never. And that is a very good thing, because the first statement would explicitly contradict 1 Corinthians 12:30, and the latter would contradict 1 Corinthians 13:8.
I'd further ask this. If this passage teaches that every believer in every generation would speak in unlearned languages, then it equally teaches that every believer in every generation would cast out demons, handle deadly snakes, and drink poison, and lay hands of healing on the sick (v. 18).
Would I be right in guessing that these do not all feature prominently in every service of Adrian's church?
Adrian's next challenge, the last for today:
Why, in Acts 2 when some heard the first outpouring of tongues did they say, “They are filled with new wine.” What was it about the disciples that made them seem drunk?The short answer is, "they" didn't.
Let us read carefully:
And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"They didn't say, "Why, they're drunk!" They said, "Good grief, these rubes are speaking our languages! However did backwater bumpkins like these guys ever learn to speak our native tongues?" That is what they said. And further, "All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, 'What does this [speaking in unlearned languages] mean?" (v. 12)
13 But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine." (Acts 2:7-13)
And then, off to the side, was a minority of mockers, who did what mockers do: they mocked. They did what stupid people always do -- they blamed others for their stupidity. Their ignorance bubbled out of their foolish mouths in a lowbrow, stupid joke. They didn't know a word of the dialects being spoken, so they made fun of the speakers.
That passage isn't hard to explain at all. Here is what is really hard to explain: why do so many of the leaky-canon set build their idea of tongues on what mockers say?
Thus far for today. Lord willing, more next week.
[UPDATE: this series was started in part one, is continued in part three, and concluded in part four.]