14 November 2006

Fundamental convictions about the Word, and the difference they make

by Dan Phillips

Last night in karate, Sensei told us to put in our mouthpieces so he could visit some further indignity on us. Like a good karateka, I ran over to my gear bag and started ransacking it. I couldn't see the ziplock bag with my mouthpiece right off, so I began to dig. I took out my giant blue headgear, looked inside it. Not there. Took out my hand pads, my foot pads. Nothing.

By this time, most of the other karateka's were back on the floor, and I was getting a bit panicked. If I couldn't find my mouthpiece, I'd be doing pushups. But I knew it was there. I hadn't taken it out, no one had had it; it had to be there. I looked in the side pockets, dug everything out, kept looking -- nothing. But it had to be there, I was convinced of it, I was sure of it. I just must have missed something.

Then I noticed that the floor of the bag wasn't fixed, so I moved it around, and then took it out. There, finally, in the corner, was my ziplock with my mouthpiece. In went the mouthpiece, and I was able to submit myself to the next round of happy abuse at the hands of my youngers and betters.

This morning, I start my Bible reading in the book of Numbers -- admittedly not my favorite in the Canon -- and the first two words in Hebrew are wayedabber Yahweh, "Then Yahweh spoke...." This reminds me of the opening word of Leviticus, wayyiqra', "Then [Yahweh] called." This is in fact the book's title, in Hebrew: wayyiqra'.

These are fundamental propositions one meets again and again in Scripture, like fruit on a grapevine, like stars in a desert sky. In the opening verses of Genesis, wayyo'mer 'elohim, "Then God said"; hayah debar Yahweh 'el 'Abram bammachzeh, le'mor, "The word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision, saying...."

These are, each of them, propositions about the kind of text we're reading. They are either true, or they are false. They purport to be quoting God to us, which they either are doing, or are not doing. Whether the proposition is true or false has a radical impact on how we approach the text.

If you've simply dulled yourself to the actual phenomena of the text, however, they won't have much of an impact. If all these expressions have become merely "bloop" and "blort" to you, then you can lazily go with whatever the popular flow is at the moment, or make something up that you think will get you noticed. There are many ways to dull the crackling, vital facts of Scripture, if you don't care about them as you should.

Theological liberals of all stripes (including "evangelical" ones) do it. I was speaking with a famous evangelical professor from a famous evangelical seminary once. In response to my question, he told me he had no idea who wrote 2 Peter. I asked him, "What about the opening words ["Simeon Peter, slave and apostle of Jesus Christ..."]?" The question clearly surprised him, took him aback for a moment. Then he said, "Well, that's rather beside the point, isn't it?"

Well, to a liberal, it really is. There's the text; and, above it, looking down on it, there's me. And above me, there are those whom I want to impress. I'm free to fantasize and make it up, shored only to suit my own agenda.

But equally leaky-canon Charismatics (which I regard as a tautology) do it. They throw around "Thus said the Lord's" and "The Lord told me's" loosely and frequently, but commonly mean by it nothing like what Scripture means. They've invented their baseless little post eventu notion of unauthoritative, semi-inspired, errant revelation -- which, don't you know, is exactly the way liberals see the Word! So in their mouths, "The Lord said" might equally mean "I was kinda thinking, or feeling -- but no one has to listen to me," or it might mean "Scripture says." Functionally, it comes to mean nothing much.

But it does serve to take all the juice out of what should be a world-stopping, climactic, drop-what-you're-doing-and-listen-up expression.

So how does this fundamental conviction affect what we do with the Word? It's probably plain to you, sharp readers that you are, but let me labor it just a tad more.

Why did I dig and dig through my gear bag? Two reasons: (1) I just knew that what I looked for was in there; and (2) I really, really wanted it (because I really, really didn't want to have to do push-ups). I was confident, and motivated.

Likewise with Scripture. Are you really, really confident that what you really, really need is in there? Liberals aren't. Charismatics aren't. The former do not believe it is the Word of God; the latter say they do, but do not believe that it is truly and fully sufficient. So they do not dig as if their lives depended on it.

But if we do (unlike the former) agree with Jesus that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God; and if we do (unlike the latter) agree with Jesus, the prophets and the apostles that it is the inerrant and sufficient Word of God, then we will dig. We will dig mightily. If we have a need, we will look hard for the answer, in Scripture. If we run into hard texts, difficult texts -- like, oh, I don't know... Leviticus? Numbers? --, we will dig hard and confidently, sure that the answer is there, sure that the Word will prove to be 100% right. We will seek and seek, and knock and knock, and pray, and search, and all those Proverbs 2 and Matthew 6 things. We may need to adopt an attitude of reverent agnosticism until we find. But we'll have no doubt that the answer is there, in the text.

So we can state it both ways. Our fundamental convictions make all the difference in how we treat the Word.

And how we treat the Word, in turn, tells loud and plain what our fundamental convictions really are.

Dan Phillips's signature

105 comments:

BlackCalvinist said...

Well said. Well said indeed.

Your namesake at Soaring Oaks Presbyterian in California said roughly the exact same thing earlier this year in a sermon entitled 'On What We Stand' (preaching on 2 Tim. 3:15-16).

An excerpt from his sermon:

I think that some things are unique by a thin margin and some things are unique by a large margin. The Bible is unique by a broad margin. There is NOTHING like it. There is no other 'word of God' in writing other than the Bible. It is UTTERLY unique. The trouble in modern Christendom is that we water this down with a phrase that we use too much and use in error; it's very common for people to say very casually "Well, the Lord told me...." and then they quote some hunch, feeling or experience that they had and say it was the Lord talking to them.

"Well, the Lord told me to buy this stock."
"Well, the Lord told me to go into gas station the other day."
"Well, the Lord told me I shouldn't watch tv show."

You know, that statement isn't used in the bible - EVER - except to mean
the very words of God that you can write down and put in your Bible we use it all the time. There is a very mischeivous part of me that, without exception, wants to stop folks and say "Wait a minute, wait a minute! - I want to make sure I get this in my Bible! What was it that the Lord told you that is not in my Bible, I want to write it down....I guess that's what the blank pages at the back of the Bible are for ? For all the things He kinda keeps mumbling and insinuating and nudge-nudge-wink-winking at us today ?"

The trouble with this is that when we give these feelings, hunches and experiences we have and say that this is God talking to us, the real God talking to us is brought down to a lower level as we exalt our experience to that same level. Instead, we ought to just say "I had a feeling, I got an idea, I had a hunch, I had a notion"....or better still, "I was dwelling on this scripture and my thought went this way...." But if you ever this phrase around me and it's not a quotation from scripture, expect at least a raised eyebrow...and probably more than that.

Now I can say "The Lord told me to love my wife like Christ loved the church." God did tell me that. It's in His Word. God did tell me to work as to the Lord Christ, because it is Him who I serve. God did tell us that in His Word. There's a great deal more that the Lord told us.

The trouble with this, though, is that with this trivialization with God talking, we make the Bible LESS of a special thing - when really, the speaking of God is a HISTORY STOPPING EVENT. It's "drop everything and listen to THIS!" That's what scripture is.

The whole sermon's great. It's here.

centuri0n said...

Trouble.
Maker.

Connie said...

Yes, Dan!!! You're right on target!

Kenneth Hagin, T.L. Osbourn, Oral Roberts, and the like operate just around the corner from me. It is a daily effort to challenge and encourage their followers to consider the WHOLE of scripture.

It saddens me that the God they claim is a figment of their own imagination and desire, NOT the God of the Bible.

I belong to a home school mom's egroup where weak and/or wrong theology is posted frequently--leaving others disillusioned and confused. I normally respond to those emails with compassion, but with a very firm and clear presentation of what Scripture REALLY says. So far, none have challenged these Biblical responses.

By God's grace, let's remain diligent to remind believers to consider the WHOLE of God's counsel.

(For the record, I know personally what damage this teaching/thinking can and has done. I was a full-blown, card-carrying Charismatic in the early 80's, right here in the "meca". Sadly, I see the "walking dead" among us daily--so much damage done because of twisting scripture. May God continue to show His merce.)

DJP said...

Thanks, BlackCalvinist.

(You do know that "my namesake" is me, right?)

DAD said...

The Lord told me you hit the nail on the head on this one.

;)

Tom

rick said...

I'll come up with a clever response to Dan later. Not enough time now.

Connie - please, have you no idea that Hagin, Osbourn, Roberts, etc. do not represent all Charismatic thought? You would do better to focus on a specific issue. Instead you make a statement about some segment of a population that you are having some difficulty with and inferring that is the problem with the whole. Poor form.

Then your issue says absolutely nothing. While I agree with you that many Charismatics need Biblical correction, does that mean this problem is limited to Charismatics? Or even that it is a problem?

I've had a lot of experience offering correction to people from all spectrums of Christendom. In fact, that's what the Scripture is good for right?

So your point only speaks to your bias rather than the crux of the issue.

philness said...

Dan,

Even when we know its there in the word we keep searching knowing full well that when we find it there will be pain. The time it took to find that mouth piece was filled with thoughts of taking one on the chin if you found it, yet you continued to search. You knew it was there. You didn't just have faith that it was there, but you knew 100% that it was there. And therefore had you not found it you would be guilty of not looking.

It is not the guilt that drives us to keep searching. It is not the satisfaction of finding it to fit in that drives us. We search because we know it pleases Him and however painful it might be once we find His truth we know that it will make us a better worrior in His field.

DJP said...

Hey, Rick,

I'll anxiously await the cleverness. (But what I'm really doing is watching my mailbox for fine cigars.)

I'm sure Connie knows what you're saying, but her point still stands. If you want to defend the leaky-Canon position, then you need to accept that Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, every one of these guys owes the fact that he's even seen as a Christian to you.

I know you don't mean it that way, and I'm sure these guys appall you -- but they're your guys. If you stood with the historic, Biblical Christian position of the sufficiency of Scripture and the closed nature of the Canon, they'd still be viewed as out-there kooks and nuts like the Montanists.

They're your crazy aunts and uncles. Not mine. Not Connie's.

Phil Perkins said...

Dan,
You said, "...crackling, vital facts of Scripture..."

AWESOME LINE!!!!

Will remember that one a long time. But the Latin stuff--not so much.

Phil Perkins

DJP said...

Phil P -- But the Latin stuff--not so much.

(That's okay -- I mostly made it up.)

Phil Perkins said...

Blackcalvinist.
Great thoughts. I have vowed that the nest time someone pops off with "the Lord told me..." from a pulpit, I am going to stand and ask if they could please limit their remarks to truths from the Scripture until we could verify their status as a prophet.

Phil Perkins

Phil Perkins said...

DJP,
You bust me up. Good sense of humor.

Won't bother you anymore.

God bless and thanks for a great post.

Phil Perkins

joey said...

I wonder how Piper and Mahaney would like being compared to liberels?

I have a question for Dan and blackcalvinist. Is every time God spoke to someone, either audibly or not, recorded as scripture? And since the answer is no, why make jokes about wanting to write down what the Lord told someone, as if all communication with God is supposed to be canonized. Obviously the early church felt no need to do that.

I agree with dan that frequent, flippant use of "the lord told me" type phrases leads to an elevation of man and minimization scripture.

"Likewise with Scripture. Are you really, really confident that what you really, really need is in there? Liberals aren't. Charismatics aren't. The former do not believe it is the Word of God; the latter say they do, but do not believe that it is truly and fully sufficient. So they do not dig as if their lives depended on it."

That is the part of the post that I disagree with. I agree about the liberels. I disagree that charismatics do not belive that the scripture is truly and fully sufficient. and i disagree that we do not dig as though our lives depended on it. lots of "charismatics don't i'm sure. but i've watched my dad dig as if his life depended on it for as long as i've been alive. he taught me to. we find that digging into the word, and living by the spirit go hand in hand.

DJP said...

Joey -- I wonder how Piper and Mahaney would like being compared to liberels?

I imagine they wouldn't like it. So? They're not my popes. Yours?

Search our comment threads, everytime we affirm Scripture's sufficiency. Your position affirms it formally, then denies itEVERY TIME. Look at the blogs that comment on our posts. One guy was nailed for just that thing, protested vehemently, went crying off to his blog, and EXACTLY PROVED my point.

So you believe that people are receiving inerrant, quotably Divine revelation today? Wow.

Your dad sounds like a great guy. You're blessed.

rick said...

Dan – I sure wish you would stop using the term leaky-canon. Every time I hear it I want to find some childish term to call you and then I get scared because you know karate and will beat me up.

I assume you’ve read Grudem but to be sure, here is my Charismatic understanding of the sufficiency of Scripture, “The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.”

Your analogy of digging around in your bag is great. In fact, if you do not object, I’m going to use that some time.

The difference between us is that when I was digging around in the bag (the Word of God – the same one I trust you were digging around in), I found that it is written that He has and will continue to speak to His people. This doesn’t replace the bag; it’s just what I found in there.

I recommend you dig more mightily. The answer is in there, perhaps in one of those side compartments. I’ll keep digging as well, but so far what I have found tells me He’s talking. Sometimes He’s leaning over my shoulder telling me where to look in the bag. Sometimes He tells me, “look, you’ve got what you need out of the bag for this match, you’ve got your equipment on, now go out to the mat, fight that fight, and at this specific moment, I want you to execute this move over the other ones I’ve taught you.” Sometimes He might even give insight into a particular issue with my opponent so that I can then better apply the stuff I got out of the bag.

Net, I think you just supported my argument for the Charismatic position. You just haven’t dug around enough to see it.

donsands said...

Good post. Made me think of the prophet Jeremiah.

" .. they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD ... Behold I am against the prophets, says the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He says".

Scarey words from our Sovereign Judge and King to say the least.

(Almost as scarey as that photo of that mean looking karate guy.) Just kidding.

rick said...

Phil - you are right. I am often embarrassed to tell people I am Charismatic. That's interesting since I am never embarrassed to say I am reformed or a Calvinist ... only some times I'm embarrassed to say Evangelical.

Good point - I''ll give you this one.

But I guess that's why I get defensive. Because there are a lot of us that while we may be wrong, we're not wacky. I don't mind being wrong. That seems to be something that can be corrected. But wacky seems permanent.

JSB said...

Great post, Dan! May the spirit of the Lord and Chuck Norris be with you.

joey said...

Piper and Mahaney aren't my popes. Glad thats settled.

"So you believe that people are receiving inerrant, quotably Divine revelation today? Wow."

No, as I implied in my comment, innerant divine revelation is called the bible.

but, as I also said, in that divinely inspired inerrant bible, it is clear that God didn't limit his leading of people, and his relationship with them, to the canon. throughout scripture he led and related through all manner of means. I don't think that scripture teaches that God finished the bible so he could sit back and let the bible act as God. He still leads us and has a relationship with. His gifts are a part of that.

And yes, dad is awesome.

DJP said...

Then, Joey, if it's not inerrant, it's not God's word. If you don't believe that, you don't believe the Bible. So don't call it "the Lord said," and don't call it prophecy.

Connie said...

Rick:

My comments were in response to Dan's statement, “Likewise with Scripture. Are you really, really confident that what you really, really need is in there? Liberals aren't. Charismatics aren't. The former do not believe it is the Word of God; the latter say they do, but do not believe that it is truly and fully sufficient. So they do not dig as if their lives depended on it.” So, you see, I was in fact “focused on a specific issue”, not because I am “having difficulty with and inferring that is the problem with the whole”. Forgive me, but I don't believe this constitutes “poor form”.

And, yes, I do realize that Hagin, Osbourn, Roberts, etc. do not represent all Charismatic thought. But, I must qualify that with this--and many will agree--they were/are some of the forerunners of “todays”Charismatics. Understandably many of today's Charismatics are working hard to distance themselves from the Charismatics of the 70's, 80's, and even 90's. Which by the way puzzles me as to why some accept the label "Charismatic Calvinist"--who would want all that nasty baggage?

If, as you stated, my “issue says absolutely nothing”, I'm curious why you “agree...that many Charismatics need Biblical correction”?

DJP said...

Rick

1. That's why I use it: to drive you nuts.

2. You look like a man who could hold his own.

3. It's my analogy, so you can't make it mean whatever you want! The bag is the Word. Everything I need to know and serve God is in there. Guidance from God, enlightenment, eye-opening in dealing with what's in there is fully consonant with the Biblical position. Yours necessarily implies that everything I need isn't in there.

4. (As I ask every one of you) so, you believe that God is giving inerrant, quotable, extra-Biblical revelation today?

joey said...

certainly anytime God speaks it is inerrant. So what do we make of the Corinthians who were prophesying regularly, yet it didn't make it into the canon? Was it not the word of God? (Paul still called it prophecy)

I believe that with this example you have a case of God speaking innerantly, but it not being scripture. Yet it was still "the word of God" so to speak. God speaking is not innerant, our hearing is. So sure, innerancy would imply the word of God, and we do not hear innerantly, so we should not say "thus sayeth the Lord."

joey said...

"God speaking is not innerant, our hearing is."

Obviously I meant that to be the other way around...dan thinks it was a freudian slip.

Catez said...

From BlackCalvinist's comment:

"or better still, "I was dwelling on this scripture and my thought went this way...."

I like that. Because if some-one then keeps digging after that (in the scriptures I mean) it's a helpful process and an honest description of it.

rick said...

Dan - sorry for calling you Phil earlier.

Number 4 is an excellent question! My reply will be a paraphrase from "Pope Piper" (hey, that flows nicely) ...

Prophecy is like teaching. Relative to teaching, the Word of God is perfect. When we read it we do not always read it correctly. Then we do not always process it properly. And finally we do not always teach it well. Yet teaching is a gift from God and it has value.

Relative to prophecy, God speaks perfectly yet we do not hear, process, nor share perfectly. And like teaching, it is nonetheless a gift and has value.

The God-breathed written Word was different. God ensured the writers got it right. When I prophecy I purpose not to say "Thus saith the Lord" (and anything else that sound King Jamesish) because I'm confident I don't have it perfect. Yet I share. I do the same when I teach. The only time I say "God says" is when I'm reading Scripture. The rest is "now here's how I understand that".

DJP said...

Then you just made it up, Rick, and called it prophecy. Scripture emphatically, clearly, and univocally defines prophecy. And it isn't what you say.

Call what you're doing "poogie," or "gazorninplatz." Please don't call it "prophecy."

And please don't class it as revelation of any sort.

Connie said...

Dan nailed it again--"Then you just made it up, Rick, and called it prophecy. Scripture emphatically, clearly, and univocally defines prophecy. And it isn't what you say."

This is the issue I tend to battle against the most, whether it is a Charismatic home school mom (or for the sake of Rick, a non-Charismatic home school mom).

The current/popular "redefining" of Biblical prophecy lends itself more to a man-centered theology rather than a God-centered theology.

tomgee said...

During my (brief) stint at a Pentecostal church, one Sunday evening I remember a man standing up and speaking in "tongues", which where then interpreted by his wife.

The message was basically repeating "I love you, my children. I'm pleased with your worship. I'm here with you, my children...."

But what was most striking to me was the absolute nonchalance of the others in the congregation. I kept thinking, "Wait, if this really is God speaking, I want to write it down! I want to meditate on it, and mull it over, and ponder it!"

You could tell from the attitude of the congregation that they were bored, had probably heard all of this before, and there is no way they believed that was from God.

Imagine if God really did speak and no one cared! Outrageous!

Thanks for the always-insightful post, Dan!

4given said...

Connie is a very good frined of mine. We went to church together while we lived in Tulsa. THis is a lady that walks her talk.

God does still speak to His people... through Scripture and illumination of the Holy Spirit of what is already there- not "divine revelation"... voices or whispers of what is not in Scripture. God's Word is knowable, applicable and sufficient.

4given said...

Tomgee,
Ever hear of the guy that went to a charismatic church and "spoke in tongues" saying the Lord's prayer in Latin and an "interpreter" said he was saying something completely off the wall? In other words, they had no clue he was speaking in Latin and saying the Lord's prayer.

rick said...

Dan - I'm tempted to agree with you just to get beyond the log jam but there are two Scriptures that I know we both see in our gym bag. To me they look like one thing, to you another.

I doubt I'll change your mind but they require that if I am to be true to what I see, I'll have to stick with the term "prophecy".

1 Co 14.29 (and surrounding verses) and 1 The 5.20

Connie - clearly my choice of words offended you. I apologize. The group you cite are not my "forerunners" ... my roots run a little deeper than that. They are more like the crazy cousins we might find on the Jerry Springer show. I'm not proud. But I have found Springer material in all "branches" of our faith so I'm sensitive when these guys are offered up as examples.

Just because there are bad Christians doesn't mean that Christianity is wrong.

I know Christians that because of some wacky Christians (I use the term loosely) are ashamed to be known as Christians. I know some Republicans that are ashamed to be called Republican. I know some Americans ashamed to be called Americans. We need to stop being ashamed and others need to stop talking bad about the whole because of the negatives.

I said that while I agree that these Charismatics need correcting it does not prove anything because I think all of us need correcting by the Scripture. I know I need constant correction. I suspect you may need correction from time to time. Perhaps only Dan doesn't ...

please, please laugh and don't get mad at me.

joey said...

Dan said

"Then you just made it up, Rick, and called it prophecy. Scripture emphatically, clearly, and univocally defines prophecy. And it isn't what you say."

Were the Corinthians making it up? Were those who prophecied over timothy making it up? (1 Tim 1:18)

Yet neither were they writing inerrant scripture.

rick said...

Dan/Connie - you guys are too fast for me.

Where does Scripture clearly define prophecy as you understand it? I was looking at verses such as 1 Co 14.3, 29ff to understand prophecy as spontaneous revelation from God meant to build-up, encourage, and console.

Am I reading those Scriptures wrong? Perhaps you could state your definition and the supporting versus.

DJP said...

Joey -- you seem like a dear guy, a good brother; but you just do. not. get. this issue.

Yep, before the Canon was completed, there were piecemeal prophecies all over the place. Every one of them was 100% inerrant. Quote those prophecies, and you quoted God. The "hearing" junk is total red herring, completely made up, nothing to do with Biblical prophets.

The whole then replaced those parts (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). Biblical Christians see the completion of the Canon as a significant event.

Rick -- I'm sure I did a post that included Biblical definition of prophecy, but I can't remember it. I think it was one of my replies to Adrian.

Perhaps I simply should devote a post on the topic. Not sure whether it'd have to be at my personal blog; if so, I'll try to remember to let you know.

But the Biblical definition, never ever rescinded nor changed, is found in Exodus 4 and 7, and Deuteronomy 13 and 18.

rick said...

Dan - thanks. You can blog about this more if God leads you, oops, I mean if you want, but I got what I was looking for. I see where our understanding of Scripture diverges.

For some reason God wouldn't speak to me about how to pray for you but I now I know. ;- )

Connie said...

Rick,

Thanks for your apology, but I assure you it wasn't necessary. You, nor your choice of words have offended me. You made some assumptions regarding my initial post, and I responded to your assumptions. I think that's pretty much the intended nature of blog posts and comments.

I whole-heartedly agree that “all of us need correcting by the Scripture”, and that is often carried out by fellow-believers (a basic function and responsibility of a healthy church/body of X). If I'm not willing to receive correction, I'd better not risk commenting on a blog the caliber of Pyromaniacs!!! :-)

Now, if you'll please humor me--cause I REALLY want to know—who are your “forerunners” in which your “roots run a little deeper”? Please do not read any sarcasm into my question. I seriously am interested cause it just might help me better understand to whom and where “todays” Charismatics look for their support and foundation. I have personally been out of the movement for quite some time, but living in one of the meccas makes it very difficult to miss or ignore—no matter how “wacky” or mainstream.

Lastly, please do not think I am “mad” at you. I enjoy a good discussion that gives me opportunity to sharpen my mind and reexamine my positions--an essential exercise to help strengthen my own theology.

voiceofthesheep said...

Is it just me...or do the quick, short, direct posts back and forth feel like a karate exhibition (a most civil one, mind you)?

I think Dan is winning this one.

This post reminds me of the recap I read of a recent conference where - I think it Bob Kauflin on stage- said he was being led by God to call up all the women of a particular name (I forget the name) to be healed.

While I respect Bob greatly, I can still find no biblical support for that sort of 'revelation'.

MTR said...

You're in Karate!
Oh my Lord!
somebody alert Ingrid! This is evil!
--FTM

Backwoods Presbyterian said...

As a semianrian I am encountering the first vestiges of "textual criticism" when it comes to namin the authors of scripture. New Testament Letters is a course I am going to tkae next term. The professor does not believe in Pauline authorship for most of the Pauline section. Should be an interesting course. :)

DJP said...

Sounds like cutting-edge 19th-century German scholarship.

rick said...

Connie:

I hate to tell my roots ... not because I'm ashamed but because that will give Dan more fodder.

I'm a "third wave" guy ... some will now argue that is playing games with words but we don't think so. We disagree with a lot of Charismatic "theology".

Specifically, I'm a Vineyard guy and while some would say we come out of the same root system, we did not. We started in the early 70's and although we gleaned (or were poisoned depending on your perspective) from the Charismatic group you are referring to, we purposefully maintained that we were not them.

By deep I didn't mean to imply back to the first century Church, we all claim that? I meant that we didn't have some influential leader out of that movement developing our thinking in the formative years. We were more of a parallel thing and we fought hard to keep some distinctions.

Sojourner said...

Dan,

So what did we decide about Spurgeon busting the kid with stolen gloves in his pocket again?

For a more serious question, do you believe in spiritual gifts at all? Like teaching? How do they function in conjunction with the Holy Spirit? If He is working through me to teach the Scripture on Sunday morning, is that inerrant? Surely not! So then, is He not working through me to teach the Word?

DJP said...

Rick

A-ha.

< nods significantly, raises eyebrow >

Sojourner -- My first response is extreme weariness, as I feel I have tried to make that clearer than the spelling of my first name, which is only triliteral.

But then I think, "No, Dan; think of it as a teaching opportunity."

So yes, like all cessationists, I believe in spiritual gifts. I affirm that God succeeded in revealing the sum total of what we need to know in this age. God having succeeded in that grand work of revelation, there is no further need for gifts that impart or confirm fresh revelation.

DJP said...

You're in Karate! ...somebody alert Ingrid! This is evil!

If we're ever walking with Ingrid and she's attacked, I'll be sure to ask her feelings on the subject before I take any action.

(c;

Douglas said...

You're in Karate!
Oh my Lord!
somebody alert Ingrid! This is evil!


Kara: empty/out of the mind.

Te: hand, way of.

Karate is "occultic" but so many professing Christians are blind to what martial arts are all about.

The whole church needs alerting to this fact.

MTR said...

'Karate is "occultic" but so many professing Christians are blind to what martial arts are all about.'

Oh I love it! This is great!
FTM

MTR said...

Maybe I should clarify my sarcams. Karate is no more evil than trick or treating dressed as a clown.

Or maybe I should continue clarifying... :-)
FTM

Sojourner said...

Dan,

Well, since Scripture is sufficient, why do we need spiritual gifts? What are the gifts for?

And just for the record, I nowhere near Brownsville geographically or theologically, nor am I riding any wave. (Sorry Rick.) I'm a crusty Southern Baptist. But I do believe that God revealed to me that I am a teacher in the context of His Word, and that He confirms to me that I am His child. And I believe that it is quite possible that He told Spurgeon that the boy stole the gloves, something that hasn't yet been touched by you. Either Spurgeon had a direct revelation about stolen gloves, or he made it up, or he had a lucky hunch and attributed it to the Holy Spirit. Unless the whole thing was made up by someone else and attributed to Spurgeon, which I'd be glad if someone would fess up to it. But if you think that the story's bunk, you might as well say so. He's not the pope, after all.

Cameron said...

Yes, so the cessationist digs and digs and digs in the Bible to try to find some proof that the gifts have ceased. And you know what? They don't find any proof.

Your assertions are consistently more ridiculous. It just shows the slippery slope of cessationism. As one who is open to the gifts of the Spirit, I believe the whole Bible is true and the whole Bible is relevant for us today! And that causes me to dig, revere, and respect God's Word in a much fuller way than I could as a cessationist.

DJP said...

Sojourner

The gloves seems a big issue to you. I talk about and make a case from Scripture -- but everything stops until I explain a story someone told about Spurgeon and the gloves? And when I explain that, how many other stories do I have to explain before we can get back to affirming that Scripture is what it says it is?

Cameron -- Hey, that whole thing of naked, baseless, off-the-cuff assertions looks like fun. Can I try it? Here goes:

You present nothing but bluster, and try to sweep a century of worse nothing under the rug, hoping that nobody will rememberr that the Charismatic movement has by its distinctives introduced only corrosion and harm into the church.

How's that?

Oh, wait. It was supposed to be baseless, wasn't it?

Dang, I'm no good at this.

Daniel Kropf said...

When the Roman Catholic Church forced Galileo to recant concerning the earth moving he recanted and then whispered, "but it moves."

According to our understanding of aerodynamics the bumble bee cannot fly and yet it flies.

According to your post, God cannot speak to us today in a personal way, and yet He speaks. Your belief otherwise does not change the underlying facts or the Scriptures that speak of them.

If men claim to be prophets and are false, that does not prove that all prophetsa are false anymore than a person claiming to be a Christian and not being invalidates Christianity.

joey said...

Dan said

"Yep, before the Canon was completed, there were piecemeal prophecies all over the place.
Every one of them was 100% inerrant. Quote those prophecies, and you quoted God."

I simply cannot read 1 Corinthians 12-14 and believe that. Paul did not speak to the corinthians as if they were quoting God.

"Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." 1 Cor 14: 29-33

Paul is saying that only two or three should quote God? Inerrantly? These instructions, going along with all of Paul's instructions to the corinthians, simply make the cessationist position difficult to believe.

Sojourner said...

Dan,

Only a big deal because Spurgeon, who I suspect both of us admire, seems to have had an experience which is not possible if I understand your explanation of Scriptural sufficiency. I could care less what Benny Hinn says, but if someone like John MacArthur had such an experience like is described about Spurgeon, would you not at least scratch your chin? Isn't Spurgeon someone on that level of trustworthiness?

Further, I do not understand why spiritual gifts are even necessary under your definition of Scriptural sufficiency. I say this, not to exhaust you, but because what I read here implies this. And if you keep having to answer the question I raised over and over again, then it may be that others read you this way as well.

And hey, I admit that if someone comes up to me and says, "The Lord told me (you fill in the blank)", I do exactly what you do, and what Spurgeon said in the post you wrote. However, I must also admit that I had a very real experience in my call to the ministry, and that when I was saved I received a revelation from God, that is, that Jesus is the Christ. And that since that day, the Spirit of God bears witness with my Spirit that I am His child. To all of this, you may say amen.

Where we diverge, I think, is when a guy tells me that the Lord led him to do something sane and biblical, I don't think that he's off his rocker. (Like when a young couple recently told me that they felt God calling them to mission work in Ecuador.) I worry, and I want to be certain that they aren't being merely emotional, but it can be a legitimate, Holy Spirit guided experience.

If you agree with all that, then I've made much ado over nothing. If this is all about goofy things like people borrowing money to get out of debt "because God told them to," then I'll travel the circuit with you to condemn that idiocy. But if this winds up denying that God can't reveal to a man that he's called to pastor or that God won't lead a person to serve in Maine instead of Maryland, then I'm off the bus.

BlackCalvinist said...

DJP - I thought it was you, but thanks for confirming. :) This is probably one of my top favorite sermons all year. :)

Antonio said...

Note: this is not a spammed message but one I constructed off the cuff in response to this post, honestly (with the exception of the quotes at the end.

Dan,

As I read your post and pondered your illustration about the mouthpiece at your karate instruction, my mind immediately jumped to the doctrine and definition of faith.

You wrote:
----------
I knew it [the mouthpiece] was there… I was convinced of it, I was sure of it.
----------
Faith is the passive result of being convinced that something is true. When you are convinced that something is true, you believe it to be true as a passive result.

Once consideration of evidence, communication, or self-deliberation causes one to be convinced that a proposition is true, faith occurs as a passive result.

It is manifestly obvious that you “believed” that the mouthpiece was in your bag. Being convinced, you believed the proposition “my mouthpiece is in my bag”.

Faith = certainty. You were “convinced” that the mouthpiece was in your bag. You were “sure” that your tote contained that protection device.

There are no degrees of faith. Either one is convinced that something is true, and therefore believes, or one is not convinced, retaining doubt. Doubt will preclude one from faith. Why? Doubt precludes one from being convinced.

You often hear of “strong” faith or “weak” faith, “great” faith or “little (or small)” faith. Let me contrast them for you and the readers of Pyromaniacs.

Strong (or great) faith is a faith that is not easily broken. When the wind and the waves test a strong faith, it will endure. It can be illustrated by an unbroken line.

Weak (little) faith, is certainty, nonetheless. It is absolute confidence that something is true. But having been exercised very little, when circumstances come to test it, that faith can falter. Depending on the conditions, weak faith can be illustrated by a perforated line.

It is abundantly clear that you were certain that your mouthpiece rested within the confines of your athletic bag. You plainly stated such. Having been convinced, you believed. Belief is certainty. Not only were you convinced, certain that the mouthpiece rested in your bag, you were “sure”, you said. Assurance is of the essence of faith.

Furthermore, you exhibited a “strong” faith. Even after rummaging through your bag without its intended results, your faith that the safety device was in the bag did not break.

Free Grace theology teaches that assurance is of the essence of saving faith. Calvinists and Lutherans who take their name from the great reformers may not be aware that both Luther and Calvin believed that assurance was of the essence of faith, not by looking to works!

It is generally observed by Reformed authors that both Calvin and Luther grounded assurance on the objective word of God, in that certain and absolute assurance was of the very essence of saving faith:

Joel R. Beeke (TMS) admits, "Whereas the early Reformers held that assurance is part and parcel with faith, post-Reformation divines felt free to distinguish assurance from faith as witnessed by chap. 18 of the Westminster Confession." (Beeke, "Does Assurance Belong to the Essence of Faith? Calvin and the Calvinists," The Master’s Seminary Journal (Spring 1994) pg 45)

He also makes this further admission: "The bulk of current scholarship, however, no longer views the post-Reformation struggle to develop a detailed doctrine of assurance as a faithful outworking of early Reformation principles." (Ibid 46)

D.A. Carson, writing on assurance, states that the Reformation, with “its virulent [sic] emphasis on sola fide led Luther to see assurance as an element of saving faith. If one truly trusts Christ for the forgiveness of sins and full justification, so far also one is assured of his forgiveness. Carson continues, “The same connection can be found in Calvin” (Westminster Theological Journal 54, Reflections on Christian Assurance, 1992 pg 3). [emphasis his]

Robert L. Dabney concluded that the “doctrine concerning faith which the first Reformers … Luther and Calvin… adopt[ed] from their opposition to the… teachings of Rome… asserted that the assurance of hope is of the essence of saving faith. Thus says Calvin in his commentary on Romans: ‘My faith is a divine and spiritual belief that God has pardoned and accepted me’” (Discussions by Robert L. Dabney, D.D., L.L.D., pg 173; taken from: Volume I: Theological and Evangelical, edited by C. R. Vaughan, published by the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, Richmond, VA., 1890.).

Hodge states that the Reformers “identif[ied] assurance with faith, making it essential to salvation,” teaching “that the special object of justifying faith is the favour of God toward us for Christ's sake: therefore to believe is to be assured of our own personal salvation. Thus Luther, Melancthon, and Calvin taught. This is the doctrine taught in the Augsburg Confession and Heidelberg Catechism” (A Commentary on: The Westminster Confession of Faith, A. A. Hodge, Online Edition, Chapter 18, Section II, 2).

Institutes III.ii.16, John Calvin writes (quoting from the 1960 Westminster Press edition, edited by John T. McNeill, and translated by Ford Lewis Battles):

“Here, indeed, is the chief hinge on which faith turns: that we do not regard the promises of mercy that God offers as true only outside ourselves, but not at all in us; rather that we make them ours by inwardly embracing them. Hence, at last is born that confidence which Paul elsewhere calls "peace" unless someone may prefer to derive peace from it. Now it is an assurance that renders the conscience calm and peaceful before God’s judgment.”

Shortly after these words comes this famous statement:

“Briefly, he alone is truly a believer who, convinced by a firm conviction that God is a kindly and well-disposed Father toward him, promises himself all things on the basis of his generosity; who relying upon the promises of divine benevolence toward him, lays hold on an undoubted expectation of salvation.” [emphasis mine]

Earlier (Institutes II.ii.7) Calvin proclaims:

"Now we shall have a complete definition of faith, if we say, that it is a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence towards us, which [is] founded on the truth of the gratuitous promise in Christ" (Institutes, II, ii, 7) [emphasis mine]

Conclusion: there is no three step, subjective experiment needed to know if one is saved or not, based upon one’s works and other subjective criterion. One can know if one believes by whether they are certain, and thus assured. In as far as someone believes Christ’s promise:

“Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47)

he is thus assured.

Why?

Faith = passive result of being convinced = certainty = assurance.

Assurance is of the ESSENCE of saving faith.

Dan, thank you for such a wonderful illustration of this very fact.

With sincerity and respect,

Antonio da Rosa

Sojourner said...

Okay, if Antonio's post...errr..comment has anything to do with the post and the following discussion, then I concede everything to Dan and will endeavor to read things more carefully in the future.

Douglas said...

MTR said...

Karate is no more evil than trick or treating dressed as a clown.

As far as I am concerned and I am not alone on this view, Karate is occultic. It has nothing to do with "trick or treating dressed as a clown." Comments like that show me how ignorant or arrogant some people truly are. Karate is deadly serious. It is not a game. It is overshadowed by DEATH!

Here are some articles I generally agree with that may enlighten you, Martial Arts: Responses (Don't practice) (that's if this doesn't get deleted?)

It amazes me that so many professing Christians fear "mere man" more than they fear God. Martial Arts, including "Karate," are not "self defense" though they can be used as such, they are the arts of war/killing. Period. With whatever means at ones disposal. Karate is a way of life. To attain the ultimate in Karate one has to give their whole being over to it, body/mind/will/soul/spirit. Karate becomes ones god, ones idol. There is much that is secret and hidden and demonic within Karate the average student does not get into. It is there for the dedicated.

Has God abandoned America (play download) as John MacArthur says? Why? Because there is no fear of God or holiness of God in HIS Church?

William Dicks said...

Hi Dan,

I would like to see you explain your view on Christians and karate.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not swinging a sword at you here. I am in need of clarification myself. We have heard from so many people that karate is occultic, and I am sure that there could be elements like that. However, I would like to know from you what you think of it and how a Christian can be part of it.

I have read articles from both sides of the issue. It seems to me that those Christians that are pro-karate base it very much on who the sensei is and what his philosophy of karate is.

I have come to respect your views on other issues, and so I would like, if possible, for you to even write a proper blog post on this.

Please, please!

Blessings!

Antonio said...

Sojourner,

is it impossible to see the doctrine of "assurance is of the essence of saving faith" from DJP's comments?

I tell you the truth, God as my witness, that the moment I read his mouthpiece illustration, that the doctrine of faith popped into my head.

DJP was "sure" and "convinced".

If someone reads

"Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47)

and is "sure" that it this is correct, is truth

is "convinced" that Christ's statement has been 100% made in veracity,

then he by virtue of that faith in Christ's promise is ASSURED that he has eternal life

why?

The guarantee of eternal life is disclosed in the promise to the one who is certain of it, IOW believes.

DJP was sure (assured) of his mouthpiece's presence within his dufflebag by virtue of the fact that he was convinced that it was, IOW, believed that it was.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).

Stephen Dunning said...

tomgee said: "Imagine if God really did speak and no one cared! Outrageous!"

God has spoken - in the Scriptures. And many people, even in the church, don't seem to care. (Is 6:9f springs to mind).

As for those who say cessationists look in the bag for a verse to back up their view and don't find it, well 1 Cor 13:8 is still in my Bible. They will cease - the question is when.

rick said...

Hey Dan - I would also like to hear more of your thoughts on karate. I have no feelings/thoughts on it pro or con but my brother-in-law's Church is wrestling (can I say that?) with the idea of sponsoring a class and I was not informed enough to provide any guidance.

As you probably know, some Christians see the martial arts as a stepping stone to becoming Charismatic (joking) so I'm sure you have worked out some boundaries or principles that square it with our faith.

I would find your insight helpful if the topic comes up.

donsands said...

"God has spoken - in the Scriptures"

Hallelujah! And Amen brother.

"And He said unto them, 'These are the words which I spake to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me.
Then He opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures" Luke 24:44-45

Chris HH said...

> This morning, I start my Bible reading in the book of Numbers -- admittedly not my favorite in the Canon

I love the book of Numbers! So may Christians give it a bad rap. Sure there are long lists and genealogies, but just immagine if one of those names were yours (and our names are written in the book of life!) Numbers is chock full of really meaty revelation. The eleventh chapter is one of my favourites in the whole of Scripture.

Just for an example, have a chew on Numbers 11:29.

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

1. Dinner at the Antonio house:

Mrs Antonio: How's the roast, dear?

Antonio: (50,000 words in defense of antinomianism)

Mrs. Antonio: Oh.

2. Karate

Perhaps when Challies does 50000 words explaining why he, though a Christian, takes walks (if he does); or the Jollyblogger does 300 on why he, though a Christian, goes to the rifle range (if he does); or the Triabloggers do 900,000 words on they, though Christians, swim laps (if they do), I might consider an entire post here on why I, though a Christian, do karate.

3. I'm having the worst sense of deja vu with these repeat, repeat, REPEAT, as-if-I'd-never-written-about-it questions about "Da Gifts."

4. I'm having the worst sense of deja vu with these repeat, repeat, REPEAT, as-if-I'd-never-written-about-it questions about "Da Gifts."

5. I'm having the worst sense of deja vu with these repeat, repeat, REPEAT, as-if-I'd-never-written-about-it questions about "Da Gifts."

6. Maybe sometime I'll do an FAQ post, and just forever refer back to it. Phillipses don't love to chew their cabbage twice, let alone fifteen times.

In case you haven't noticed.

C.T. Lillies said...

Dan

...cabbage etc.

For some reason I'm thinking of Minnie Pearl singing "...so you better be sure and listen close the first time!"

Ahem...

Man if I had a dollar for every time someone wanted to lay hands on me because I had a sinus headache I sure wouldn't be on dialup right now. Sheesh.

Dan, you keep on with that karate whatever they say. (Sell your coat and buy a sword!) I don't mind the idea of martyrdom but lets not rush into it, OK?

Josh

joey said...

I haven't been reading the pyro's long, so I'm sure I'm asking those repeat questions you are referring to. But, even though I haven't been reading long, I've read long enough to see the same arguments against da gifts over and over. So, you want no response, or simply innovative ones? Oh, wait, you want us to lose!

DJP said...

Thanks, Josh. I'm particularly opposed to the "martyrdom" of anyone I'm with. Turning my cheek is one thing; turning anothers', totally different.

farmboy said...

When one has to begin his comment as follows: "Note: this is not a spammed message but one I constructed off the cuff in response to this post, honestly (with the exception of the quotes at the end." It says quite a bit.

Let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no" and you won't have to begin comments like that.

donsands said...

A green belt is good. I have a good friend in my church who is a black belt. He's been a good brother and a true servant of the Lord.

How does that belt color thing work? What will be you're next color?

BTW, you cracked me up. you cracked me up. you cracked me up.

DJP said...

Don, we are straying, and I may have to warn myself. But to answer: in our system, from lowest to highest, it's:
white
yellow
orange
purple
blue
green 2-stripe
green 1-stripe
brown 3-stripe
brown 2-stripe
brown 1-stripe
black

My oldest son is black, my youngest is orange, my middle is brown 3, and I'm green 2.

Net effect: have dinner with my boys and me, you should be safe.

DJP said...

PS -- just don't tick us off. If you ask a question, LISTEN TO THE ANSWER.

(c;

donsands said...

LISTEN TO THE ANSWER. Gotcha.

Paul Doutell said...

Farmboy is exactly right. "Anything beyond these is of evil" (Matthew 5:37).

centuri0n said...

I want to go on-record to report that it's official -- not only is Antonio a one-note instrument, but the note he is playing is the wrong one.

Antonio: 20 questions, double the word limit, you can have the first and last word. In fact, I'll give you 20 questions to ask me, and I'll only ask 10 -- one question after every second question you ask. That way you can follow-up or rebutt or redirect twice as often as I can.

Topic: Are there any tangible, logically-necessary, real-time results of God's salvation of man, or is salvation a wholly-eternal matter?

After that, if you finish the exchange, you can come back here and spam comments as if you can't be answered. If you will not accept that challenge, I'm going to make you persona-non-grata #6 at TeamPyro, and we'll be deleting all your comments going forward.

Your choice. Either get serious about establishing your belief system, or get moving.

centuri0n said...

Dan:

the conversation at the deRosa house is frankly brilliant. Post of the week.

DJP said...

From you, Frank, that's a high compliment. Sincerely.

Sojourner said...

Dan,

This is, I think, the weirdest conversation that I've ever tried to have on the internet. I am unaccustomed to having my questions answered with an exasperated, "I've already answered that." Or an emphatic, "I don't want to answer that, it's fruitless." You used Spurgeon to back up your position, I asked a question that seemed to indicate that Spurgeon didn't mean what you said that he meant, but you didn't want to answer it because you thought I'd bring up Sarah Edwards or somebody's Maw-Maw's charismatic revelation.

Then, you tell Don that he'll be safe at dinner because you and your sons can just about beat everybody else up. I'm good with that. But then you say that he'll be safe insofar as he LISTENS TO THE ANSWER! I got a little uncomfortable there because I think that you think that I haven't been "listening" to everything you've written. Frankly, you've busted me. I haven't read everything you've written concerning gifts and such. I didn't realize that I had to in order to comment. Iwas only responding to the previous two posts. (A link would have been nice! And besides, isn't this the place that laments the mantra that one cannot criticize N.T. before reading all his stuff!)

Since I hate getting slapped at dinner (it's bad for my digestion), especially when I am the guest (for goodness sakes, the readers are the guests, right?) I think I'll just concede the point and eat crawfish at my house.

DJP said...

Sojourner:

1. My interchange with Don was entirely humorous. Transparently, I thought; and so Don seemed to understand.

2. Here's a for-instance. You keep dogging me about that Spurgeon post of mine. Which Spurgeon post of mine? You mean the Spurgeon post of Phil's? Why not go bug Phil about it?

3. For my part, I did answer you. On 8:22 PM, November 14, 2006. Maybe you don't like my answer, but there it is.

4. Your going on about the non-reveelatory, non-attesting gifts indicates to me that you're not getting what I have been saying very plainly and emphatically and repeatedly. You haven't listened to what I alluded to above; apparently, you're really irritated at me for not taking responsibility for a post I didn't even post. So why should I keep answering?

I will, however, try one last time. You ask: what are the other gifts for, if the revelatory and attesting gifts are gone? You see no difference, even though this is the precise point I've hammered and hammered on. Consider this:

Does the gift of teaching impart or miraculously confirm fresh, direct-from-Heaven, inerrant, quotable, morally-binding, not-found-in-the-Bible revelation?

Does the gift of helps impart or miraculously confirm fresh, direct-from-Heaven, inerrant, quotable, morally-binding, not-found-in-the-Bible revelation?

Does the gift of administration impart or miraculously confirm fresh, direct-from-Heaven, inerrant, quotable, morally-binding, not-found-in-the-Bible revelation?

Does the gift of service impart or miraculously confirm fresh, direct-from-Heaven, inerrant, quotable, morally-binding, not-found-in-the-Bible revelation?

Rinse and repeat, for every non-revelatory, non-attesting gift.

Is that connecting any better?

Sojourner said...

Dan,

Man, I was half-way throught crawfish boil, but now we're talking.

First off. I'm an idiot. I have no idea why I thought that Spurgeon post was yours. I thought Phil was in Mexico or something. It's still a good question though.


Secondly, "fresh" is a bad way to talk about "new" revelation. What would Biblical revelation then be....stale? Biblical revelation is always frest to the one who receives it. It isn't old, stale, or boring. I don't care if people had been getting saved for thousands of years before I did, it seemed spectacular and new to me when I got saved.

So, to answer your question, yes, teaching does confirm "fresh from heaven" revelation. Each time someone is introduced/taught to Christ via the Spirit by means of the gospel, it is straight from heaven, hot off the press fresh. It is a real, mind-altering, heart-changing, resurrecting fresh (2 Cor. 4:6). And yet, it is still quite ancient and biblical.

Now to the less clear things like glove finding and church hunting. I mean what do you call it when a person seeks God's face in prayer and in the Word to find a Church in their new community and they feel "led" to a certain one? Is that a merely human hunch? Is it the Lord? If the Lord "leads" me to pastor a certain church, should I write it down and preach it as revelation to the congregation? I'm at a church now. I felt like it was the place I'd be called when they were interrogating/interviewing me, and they voted unanimously that I'd come. Revelation? Luck? What is that, man?

Here's what really, really, matters: I am responsible for over 200 souls in my church, and I feel that keenly. A few weeks ago a beloved couple comes to me and says that they feel that the Lord is leading them to Ecuador, as I mentioned previously. I don't care what sort of mud-wrestling match you've had with some starry-eyed disciple who is mortaging his or her house to foot the bill for Benny Hinn. I want to be able to affirm them in this decision and know that God is the One who is calling them to the uttermost where they will spend their lives for gospel deprived mountain folk.

I could say, "Great. The Bible says we need to go to the end of the world. Praise God you'll be in Ecuador!" That's true. But why Ecuador for them and not Macedonia? It simply boils down to a subjective feeling that they believe came from God. Nobody appeared to them in a dream and called them there, as far as I know.

So are they full of it? Am I? It's all fun and games to say rinse and repeat, and if it were just me, I'd be good with that. I'm a toad, dude. I'm a nothing. These people are the salt of the earth who are willing to go into harm's way because Jesus said, "Go." They have a desire to serve in Ecuador and they are crazy enough to think that God put that desire there. Now, they've asked me to affirm their call, lay hands on them, and send them off to the Andes with the promise of prayer and support.

There is more at stake here than just debate. So stick this in your pipe and smoke it: These people, regardless of what others may think, call me pastor and actually listen to what I say. So I want to know if I'm wrong to affirm their feeling, and I want to know it yesterday.

Gojira said...

Hi Antonio,

You have been stomped elsewhere:

http://gojirasstompingground.blogspot.com/2006/11/so-how-much-assurace-do-you-have.html

Gojira

Phil Johnson said...

Sojourner:

My bad. I've been too busy this week to answer the questions about Spurgeon's supposed "words of knowledge." That question has been answered several times before, but I've posted another reply on the subject in the thread under Sunday's post.

I addressed it to Adrian, since he seemed to be the first one who brought the subject up in that thread.

farmboy said...

"I mean what do you call it when a person seeks God's face in prayer and in the Word to find a Church in their new community and they feel 'led' to a certain one? Is that a merely human hunch? Is it the Lord?" It might be helpful to approach this scenario from the perspective of a sovereign God who ordains all things.

While there are many other passages one could work from, Psalm 139:1-18 will do as a starting point. Even after the fall, the characteristics of each person are God ordained. Why do I enjoy college sports? Why do I enjoy economics? Why do I enjoy running? Why do I prefer the open spaces of the west? Why do I have above average quantitative and analytical skills? Why am I, an Indiana native, an absolutely abysmal basketball player? Because God made me that way.

Based on the way that God made me - the talents, attributes and interests He created me with - I will prefer to walk through certain doors over others. The job I end up with. The church I end up attending. The woman that I marry. All these things are a function of the way God made me and the doors that God opened for me.

Given the above, that I "feel" led to one church over another is both a function of God's leading and my preferences. However, the preferences that I have are a result of God's handiwork. The churches that are available to choose from are a function of the doors God opened for me and my choosing to walk through those doors. However, my choosing to walk though a certain door over another is a result of how God made me.

God can guide and lead me without giving me "revelation" that would ever in any way be confused with the special revelation of Scripture. So, I both believe that God leads me and that the canon of Scripture is closed.

I'm not a pastor, but as a college professor I frequently encounter students who have little idea regarding a major program of study or a post-college career or vocation. They want to follow God's plan, but they are unsure how to discern His plan.

In situations like this I start with Psalm 138:1-18 and Willow Creek's "Network" curriculum. (I know, I know, but even Marx and Keynes had a few good insights.) I ask students to list the things they do well and the things they enjoy doing. Then we look for programs of study that represent an intersection of items from these lists. We apply the same logic to selecting careers or vocations.

Then, when graduation approaches and it's time to search out a particular job, we look at the particular doors God has opened. This approach works pretty well. Students are able to select a major, do relatively well in and enjoy the major, select an entry level position, do relatively well in and enjoy that position, and have a sense of peace about the whole process.

It makes sense to look at the more obvious things that God has ordained (things they do well, things they enjoy doing, jobs that are actually available) before we move on to more secret/special/you-pick-the-word sources of guidance.

Gojira said...

Hmmmmmm........

"1. Dinner at the Antonio house:

Mrs Antonio: How's the roast, dear?

Antonio: (50,000 words in defense of antinomianism)

Mrs. Antonio: Oh."

Mr. Phillips, you have been stomped.
http://gojirasstompingground.blogspot.com/2006/11/dan-phillips-youve-just-been-stomped.html

Antonio said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bobby Grow said...

Pyromaniacs,

Why do you consider Antonio's posts, spam? I've never seen any of you engage any of his arguments or assertions . . . he actually used some very credible sources from scholarly journals . . . even your own, fella, Beeke.

DJP's responses to anyone who apparently disagrees with him . . . is to take the dogged bully approach . . . which typically means he has no real response, other than to jab folks so the choir can all laugh together.

As far as I'm concerned the Pyro's are a joke, full of yourselves. You're not serious students, but rather have just enough knowledge to be dangerous . . . whatever . . .

donsands said...

bobby,

Centurion tried to encourage Antonio, I thought, to expand his thoughts a bit.
I know I need to be exhorted to do this at times.

Did you read his comment? About 11 comments back. Be interested on your take on Cent's comment.

Gojira said...

Hi Don,

How would you feel if someone made a joke of you and included your family in on that joke as well?

Is that what you think Christ calls us to do -- make jokes out of people and include their family in with that joke?

It's not just the joke, Don. It was including the man's wife in on it.

DJP said...

Gojira, my thought is that those with no evident sense of humor or irony, probably should attempt neither.

You're embarrassing yourself. Stop making it worse.

donsands said...

gojira,

I did not know Antonio was married.

I did not think Dan's statement was disrespectful.

If his wife is offened, and he is as well, I would want to apologize. I can't speak for Dan.

Personally I wouldn't be offened if what Dan said to me what he said to Antomio.
And my wife wouldn't either, and would probably thank him. I have a tendancy to go on and on at times.

Those are my thoughts for what there worth.

Phil Johnson said...

Bobby Grow: "Why do you consider Antonio's posts, spam?"

We've explained that numerous times: They are typically long, rambling, cut-and-paste jobs that don't really interact with anything other than Antonio's own agenda. He invariably deals with one controversy and one controversy only, regardless of the actual topic of discussion in this or that thread (see above). He is deliberately attempting to commandeer the discussion in our meta and take advantage of the readers of our blog. Those are all classic characteristics of blogspam. The fact that he has been asked multiple times not to do this and he still persists shows that he is not commenting in good faith. I have occasionally replied to him (but mostly ignored him) accordingly.

"I've never seen any of you engage any of his arguments or assertions . . . he actually used some very credible sources from scholarly journals . . . even your own, fella, Beeke."

If he seriously wants to make a point about Beeke, I've explained carefully where and how he may do that. The fact that he ignores all our blog's guidelines and ground rules and insists he has the right to decide how discussion-threads here should be conducted further illustrates why we believe he is not looking for dialogue in good faith but is merely trying to commandeer the readership here for propaganda purposes.

If he wants my response to any of his arguments, I have given him ample opportunities to interact with me in a reasonable fashion with a few simple guidelines. He hasn't even attempted to interact with me yet. If he wants an extended debate, Centuri0n has offered to give him one at his debate blog. Antonio refuses because he will tolerate no ground rules for the debate. If you're suggesting we are obligated to kowtow to someone who approaches a pet issue like that—well, you are quite simply wrong.

"As far as I'm concerned the Pyro's are a joke, full of yourselves. You're not serious students, but rather have just enough knowledge to be dangerous . . . whatever . . ."

Yeah. Thanks for a fine example of what you think dispassionate, humble, friendly interaction should look like. Is that a telephone pole protruding from your eye-socket? (Matthew 7:3) Ouch.

Phil Johnson said...

Gojira: "How would you feel if someone made a joke of you and included your family in on that joke as well?"

That depends. If it was a rude or crass joke, or if it painted my family members in a bad light, I'd prolly be annoyed. What Dan said didn't do that.

If anything Dan wrote had been the least bit insulting or unfavorable to Antonio's wife, I would personally apologize for the slight and put Dan in the penalty box. But he didn't do anything like that.

Jerry Wragg said...

Dan –
Great “bag” illustration (I’m creating quite a collection of these little gems).
On this revelation issue, charismatics always seem to default to the idea that God’s “leading” may be rightly referred to as “the Lord spoke to me”. However, the burden of proof is upon them to establish objective reasons why we should divinize every strong “notion” and inner “impression”?
In fact, I’ve not ever heard a charismatic make the same claim about the strong impressions of the conscience. The scripture’s teach that the conscience strongly “condemns” or “affirms” us, depending upon how we respond to the strongest inner standards of conviction we believe (Rom. 2:14-15). Such condemnation and affirmation may be so inwardly powerful that it seems like audible “screaming”! Yet, charismatics do not claim (that I’m aware of) that the promptings of the conscience are direct revelations from God. In fact, it is dangerous to give the conscience ultimate authority since it can be wrongly informed, sending false alarms where no sin exists, or no alarms when real guilt is present. It seems to me that inner convictions operate in a similar fashion and need not be referred to as God “speaking” in new revelations. The more biblically refined my convictions, the more Spirit-driven my strong “impressions”. But if I mistake sensitive and mature spiritual convictions for “direct revelation” from God I will most assuredly “hear” God’s will where He has not spoken, and miss His clear written direction in pursuit of more than He offers.
As I see it, the idea of direct, divine, freshly revealed specifics for my life cannot be a both/and proposition. Either I believe that all inner thoughts specific to my life are directly given by God to complement the general principles of His written revelation, or they are the fruit of a Spirit-trained mind being “led” by obedience-produced convictions.
More to the point…these “promtings” and “impressions” are easily explained as God’s providential leading in a spiritually seasoned believer whose biblical convictions “speak to them” in the milieu of daily living. These strong thoughts can result in experiences ranging from the mundane to the seemingly impossible. They DO NOT demand the belief that God has directly spoken beyond scripture. His providence working through obedient believers is all that is needed (Phil. 2:12-13) to experience His leading.

Gojira said...

Phil: "If anything Dan wrote had been the least bit insulting or unfavorable to Antonio's wife, I would personally apologize for the slight and put Dan in the penalty box. But he didn't do anything like that."

Gojira: I'm sure you would, Phil, ifit were something that *you* thought was wrong. That isn't meant as a smart-aleck remark, either. In fact, I think you do more than a fine job here, I think you do an excellent job. I am sure, though, that you wonder if the headache is often worth it.

Gojira

DJP said...

Jerry Wragg -- some very good thoughts; thanks for contributing them.

Yes, the Charismatic's completely a-Scriptural (if not anti-Scriptural) exaltation of personal feelings and hunches to the level of the Voice of God is damaging on many levels.

It's rather like the homosexual "marriage" issue. If you can call two individuals committing serial perversion together "marriage," then the term itself loses all meaning.

Ditto "the Lord said." If it means just anything, it means just nothing.

Bobby Grow said...

I previously said:

"As far as I'm concerned the Pyro's are a joke, full of yourselves. You're not serious students, but rather have just enough knowledge to be dangerous . . . whatever . . ."

Phil responded:

Yeah. Thanks for a fine example of what you think dispassionate, humble, friendly interaction should look like. Is that a telephone pole protruding from your eye-socket? (Matthew 7:3) Ouch.

I wasn't calling for dispassionate, humble, friendly interaction; just "respectful". Of course you caught the irony of my statement, and pointed out my less than respectful tone towards you guys--and for that I'm sorry--I recognize that that part of my comment was wrong--and I ask for forgiveness for that?

Centuri0n asked of Antonio:

Topic: Are there any tangible, logically-necessary, real-time results of God's salvation of man, or is salvation a wholly-eternal matter?

I don't think Antonio believes in this dichotomy at all--just look at the Free-Grace doctrine on rewards relative to sanctification and consequently glorification (btw I'm not an FG advocate only sympathetic to certain overlapping interests; such as refuting the Calvinist construct).

Phil Johnson said...

Bobby Grow: "I recognize that that part of my comment was wrong--and I ask for forgiveness for that?

Forgiven.

"I don't think Antonio believes in this dichotomy at all--just look at the Free-Grace doctrine on rewards relative to sanctification and consequently glorification (btw I'm not an FG advocate only sympathetic to certain overlapping interests; such as refuting the Calvinist construct)."

Note that we've requested all comments on the lordship debate to be kept in the thread that deals specifically with that subject.

As to your not being "an FG advocate," let's be completely honest: you did recently say at your blog, "I am slowly but surely turning towards the Free-Grace Theological position"—and practically everything you have posted there this month affirms the tenets of that position.

Anyway, take it to the correct thread, and you're welcome to post any argument you like in favor of that view. Note the commenting guidelines spelled out at the end of that post.

Bobby Grow said...

Phil said:

Forgiven.

Thank you.

Phil said:

As to your not being "an FG advocate," let's be completely honest: you did recently say at your blog, "I am slowly but surely turning towards the Free-Grace Theological position"—and practically everything you have posted there this month affirms the tenets of that position.

I overstated at that point (just because I'm not a Calvinist doesn't mean I'm by default an FG'er), and want to retract now per the qualification I provided in the subsequent comment thread (although I do advocate a historic antinomian position reflected by Sibbes; and I would label myself a semi-Augustinian).

Phil said:

Note that we've requested all comments on the lordship debate to be kept in the thread that deals specifically with that subject.

No problem. But remember my response there was to one of the Pyros who opened up that discussion via his challenge to Antonio.

rick said...

Jerry Wragg - "As I see it, the idea of direct, divine, freshly revealed specifics for my life cannot be a both/and proposition. Either I believe that all inner thoughts specific to my life are directly given by God to complement the general principles of His written revelation, or they are the fruit of a Spirit-trained mind being “led” by obedience-produced convictions."

Which Scripture is that based on? I find good examples of use of reason (Phil 2.25, 1 Co 16.4, 1 Co 6.5) and as well as revelation (my personal favorite is the Peter/Cornelius story precisely because it challenged their reason).

Dan - "the Charismatic's completely a-Scriptural (if not anti-Scriptural) exaltation of personal feelings and hunches to the level of the Voice of God is damaging on many levels."

I'm disappointed. I thought our relationship had grown beyond this. Don't look for those cigars now.

I don't blame you completely. At the beginning of this exhaustive series of comments I can see that you tried to be kind. In fact, I almost made mention of it but I didn't want to give you a foothold. Unfortunately, this thread this has taken its toll on you.

I'll go the step further, elevating personal feelings and hunches to the level of the Voice of God is more than a-Scriptural, it is anti-Scriptural and it is damaging.

But, are you thinking that is what all "Charismatics" practice/teach?

As you do, I grow weary of repetition but I thought we had progressed enough that you understood that at least some percentage of Charismatics believe that our hearts/minds need to be renewed and conformed to Christ AND that God can/does still provide personal revelation.

I understand you don't agree and that for you this is still an issue. My issue is that your statement leads people to think that all Charismatics think what you said.

Please allow me to be wrong on my own merit. Since I have enough issues of my own, I feel a strong need to point out that this group you define as Charismatic is not all the same ... It's kind of like you being a reformed dispensationalist. Some would say impossible. You would argue. I feel that way as a reformed charismatic.

Perhaps it's the reformed part makes us argue.

Connie said...

Rick (if you're still following this thread) -

Thanks for risking all and answering my question regarding your "roots"! I trust that Dan will use that info. for good and not evil!! (grin!)

I am very familiar with the Vineyard/Third Wave movement, but from a distance. We had just moved to Dallas when Deere and Bodine left the faculty of DTS due to their position/view on Vineyard theology.

As you can imagine, I agree with Dan's statement, "But equally leaky-canon Charismatics...do it. They throw around "Thus said the Lord's" and "The Lord told me's" loosely and frequently, but commonly mean by it nothing like what Scripture means..."

I've witnesed this practice both while I was in the Charismatic movement and in years since among so-called Charismatic Calvinists. It seems to be a practice that most cling to tenaciously and are unwilling to give up.

I'm wondering, what would the Charismatic/Vineyard church look like if this practice ceased? What would the impact be? What would be lost? What would be gained?

Please if anyone thinks my line of thought and/or questions have strayed too far from Dan's original post, say so and I'll gladly arrange to continue this discussion elsewhere. Thank you!

Antonio said...

How is it that my last comment DIRECTLY answered centurion, but it gets deleted?

Phil Johnson said...

Antonio: "How is it that my last comment DIRECTLY answered centurion, but it gets deleted?"

Because you posted it after the topic was closed in this and every other thread. Read this post, and pay special attention to the list at the end. Your post violated guideline 7.

rick said...

Connie - "I'm wondering, what would the Charismatic/Vineyard church look like if this practice ceased?"

I think the specific words "Thus said the Lord's" are common in Charismatic circles and less so in Third Wave. Third Wavers say "I think the Lord is saying".

Some would say no difference. Others would say false humility. Etc.. We'd say it is an important distinction because we want to acknowledge that we hear, process, and speak imperfectly - after all, this isn't Scripture coming out of our mouths. ;- )

With that said, as for the Vineyard, if a doctrine or practice was chosen that didn't allow that, I would leave. You can decide if that is good or bad.

If it stopped because God simply stopped speaking, then it would be just like so many times in my personal life, corporate Church experience, and Biblical history. Like David, I'd consider it a bit of a wilderness experience and so far I've managed to continue to seek Him, love Him, etc. even in that.

I'm very bothered by those that seem to "lose their faith" when the signs and wonders, etc. stopped. It speaks volumes about the true state of their heart.

God doesn't stop being God because has chosen to not tell me something or because I didn't hear him. I personally think those are times of strengthening. Our faith is not based on spontaneous personal revelation. It is based on the power of the Holy Spirit to make our dead hearts alive and then illuminate the truth of His written Word into those hearts. I thank Him daily for choosing me. I'm also thankful when He talks to me.

Jerry Wragg said...

Rick –
Thanks for the interchange.
First, the fact that God did give direct revelation (to some, not all) in the inaugural days of the new covenant ministry of the Spirit does not demand the conclusion that it occurred thereafter or even today (a proof-burden yet to be adequately borne by charismatic theology, in my opinion). In other words, Peter’s vision (a word directly from God) and Cornelius’ revelation (directly through “an Angel of God”) were received during the days of attesting miracles (clearly appropriate for the very reason you named, “…because it challenged their reason”).

Second, I’ve not accused charismatics of being anti-“reason”. I do believe that inner-guidance, normally attributed to “God’s leading via personal revelations”, is merely the result, at best, of biblical truth cured over time by the maturing work of the Holy Spirit, or, at worst, self-absorbed inner thoughts and impressions assumed to be related to spiritual inclinations. As I said, this is precisely how the conscience works (I did offer the Romans passage for your consideration on this front), becoming the proverbial “voice” in our head “alternately accusing or else defending [us]” (2:15). I raised this parallel because I find that charismatics, adamant to protect private revelations as such, are quite happy to allow both strong conviction and affirmation from the conscience without even so much as a notion that its “guidance” is “from God”. Strange, that someone would declare subjective inner impressions to be of certain divine origin, yet relegate the strong moral leading of a God-given taskmaster to mere human inclination. The scriptures affirm, on the other hand, that divine guidance, discernment, maturity, and absolutely sufficient revelation are accessible in its pages. Moreover, the word of God claims to bring the believer to maturity and inner renewal (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:12-16).

Thanks…