28 March 2007

The Amazing Dr. von Cipher's "Conversation" with "God"

by Dan Phillips

Yes, indeed: why should Frank and Phil have all the fun?

Bypassing for the moment the beloved physician and Dr. Piper, I'd like to focus on the fountainhead article: My Conversation with God, in Christianity Astray Today, by that bold, lionhearted professor... Anonymous.

I'm surprised nobody has accused me of paying Dr. von Cipher for illustrating virtually every point I've ever made about the leaky-Canon set. Let's see, what do we have here?

Anonymity. We are supposed to accept his anonymity right off the bat, and keep reading with respect, openness, and interest. But should we?

The Bible says, "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion" (Proverbs 28:1).

Our erstwhile prophet says, "I can only [testify personally to hearing God's extra-canonical voice] anonymously, for reasons I hope will be clear."

Um... yeah. Maybe they are clear.

I guess maybe some parents might feel a tad uneasy if they knew one of their kids' profs was hearing voices which he felt compelled to obey? Or adults might save their money, if they learned that one of their professors did not really believe that the Scripture was sufficient? Or the trustees, or the department head, might be uneasy about continuing to employ a man who felt equally morally bound to obey internal voices as the Word of God on occasion.

If he were honest about it, about his rubber-meeting-the-road beliefs, it might cost him his job or something, I guess. Meanwhile, better to let all the folks who trust him and trust their kids (or money) to him think that he is something other than what he really is.

It's hard to think why the writer feels he must maintain this anonymity — or at least hard to think of a charitable reason. Christians don't kill Christians for having different doctrine these days. Heck, we can barely bring ourselves to have a decent argument with each other! If we even try, we're called "judgmental," "unloving" — "shrill," even.

This man isn't a Muslim professing Christ, likely to bring horrible torture and death on himself and his family. Further, the leaky-Canon position is all the rage today; if he's such a famous author, surely some "love-that-Bible-,-but" school would snap him right up. If he lost his job, he'd be a hero!

What good motive are we all to attach — as he invites us to do — to his secrecy?

God made him write a book. Again and again, those poor souls desperate to save modern revelatory counterfeits assure us that their notion of "prophecy" does not threaten the Canon. God won't be writing any books through them, they insist. The Bible is safe and inviolate.

Yet read what this man would have us believe (emphases mine):
The next week, I was at the same spot in my morning exercise when something amazing happened. Out of the blue, a book title came to me. It was so clever I knew two things instantly: It wasn't mine, and it would sell.

Then, in almost the same instant, the entire outline of the book was there in my mind. Every chapter and its title. No discursive thought preceded it. I immediately went home and began writing. As I wrote, I had the distinct feeling that this was not me. I had never written like this before. The words poured out. Two weeks later, a 200-page manuscript sat on my desk. I knew it was good.

Well, I guess so! It would have to be good! He got it by inspiration of the Holy Spirit!

"Whoa, whoa there, wait just a minute. He didn't say that," a modern enabler might object.

He didn't? Do words mean things, anymore? Are we supposed to believe what he tells us? What he tells us is that this book title "came" to him "out of the blue," and he knew instantly "It wasn't mine." It wasn't? Then whose was it? And whence did it come? "No discursive thought preceded it," he insists, thus most plainly telling us the source was not his own mind. Would it be going too far to re-phrase him as asserting that his book did not come from his own interpretation, nor was produced by his own will?

Read 2 Peter 1:20-21, and tell me what this describes.

He's a theology professor. He knows what he's claiming — or he'd better darned well.

Now, a pagan would say, "Oh yes, this is a well-known phenomenon. It's called 'automatic writing.'" But the writer is not a pagan. He's a Christian, writing to Christians. Clearly, we're meant to believe this book was "given by inspiration of God," as the phrase goes. (And the proof is that he got a lot of money for it. Hey, don't look at me like that — read the article!)

So, if it came from God, as Dr. Braveheart clearly wants us to believe — how much of it came from God? Was it 14%? 39%? 87%? 99.732%? 100%? How much?

Those welded to the charismatic tradition hate it when I use the phrases "leaky canon" and "low-octane, semi-hemi-demi-revelation" — but you tell me what this is supposed to mean, if it's supposed to mean anything.

Don't bother. I'll tell you: it is supposed to mean that God imparted new, unmediated, verbal revelation to this man.

Again, read the article: "Then God spoke: It's not your money.'" That is a direct quotation, purportedly from God. Just like Isaiah and Jeremiah and any prophet proclaiming koh 'amar Yahweh ("thus says the LORD"), so this man tells us exactly what God says, verbatim.

So, were those God's exact words? Wow, that's really something.

Now, just reflect on that earth-shaking claim for a moment. This is the selfsame God who spoke the Ten Commandments, Isaiah 40, Psalm 23; the God who most recently was seen breathing out Romans, Hebrews, Revelation.

And now He parts the curtain once again, after two thousand years of silence as to fresh revelation, to give direct, unmediated, verbal inspiration — and what He has to say is:
"It's not your money."
Oh. Huh. Wow. Well...em...not exactly Romans 8, is it?

But "God" wasn't done. (I won't put "God" in quotation-marks throughout; mentally supply them, please.) Our man isn't brave enough to tell everyone his name, but he is brave enough (on his own admission) to argue with God, to demand an explanation of Him. (Mercy; if only Job, Peter, Isaiah had known it was so easy and casual to speak to God in this way!)

God replies, "It's not your money. It's his."

Now, that's funny, too. If God wanted to say it was His money, this would be no great news. It is all His, every last bit. We know that from the Bible (Psalm 50:10; Haggai 2:8, etc.).

But it is passing odd for Him to say the money belongs to someone else — after He'd made such a point about personal possession and rights of private property (see commandments ##8 and 10). Has He, well, you know...changed His mind? (I speak as a very-leaky canoneer.)

I guess that's why it took fresh, unmediated revelation. The Bible never would have told him this.

And that whole thing is odd, isn't it? The man imagines that he's got God's ear, and he wants to quibble about royalties? Two thousands years of silence broken, and this is the topic?

Why didn't he ask God for something quotable on baptism, or eschatology, or what happens to infants when they die? Why not ask Him for the exact exegesis of Romans 5:12? Or 1 Corinthians 13:8-10? (Wouldn't it have been funny if God had told him it meant that revelatory gifts would cease with the close of the Canon? What a conundrum! But I digress.) Or the meaning of "Parbar"? Or what God's favorite Bible translation is?

The Deepest Concern. But wait, there's more. And I think this may be the most table-poundingly important aspect of the whole thing.

Charismatics like to (evade responsibility for their claims and) insist that what they experience is not high-octane, canonical-level revelation. It's just a fun little intimacy they share with God. No cause for alarm. Put away the big guns. Nothing to see here.

Uh-huh. Well, we've already seen that that doesn't quite work out. But check out this interchange, in which Dr. von Cipher is arguing with God about giving all his royalties to the prospective student. We resume the "conversation" in progress, adding emphases:

"All of it?"

"That and the rest."

I knew "the rest" meant any further royalties the book might earn after it was published.

Absolutely flabbergasted, I raised my fist in the air and asked aloud, "What about my roof?"

The voice said, "I'll take care of your roof, if you'll be obedient."

Then I said, "If you want to use me to help him go to the university, why not give me everything it will cost? Why this amount that will make a difference but not pay his whole way?"

"Others have to be obedient, too," I heard in reply.

First, the smaller point: he "raise[s his] fist in the air." The sinless, perfect, burning seraphs cover their eyes and feet before the glory of Yahweh (Isaiah 6); prophets and saints fall on their faces and beg for mercy, expecting to die instantly. But the impact that a visit from God has on this man is... well, it ticks him off. Brave before God, not so much before men. Prophets and apostles and angels in glory shake their heads in astonishment.

Now, the greater point: "OBEDIENT." Said twice.

"Obedient" speaks of moral obligation. It is a binding of the conscience and will. It is a narrow road. Obey, and you do righteousness. You please God. Disobey, and you sin. You invite the judgment of God.

Obedience is a wonderful and essential Christian grace (John 14:15; 15:14, etc.), and its opposite is an appalling offense. "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Samuel 15:22-23a).

But nota bene: the man is speaking of obedience, not to a Biblical command such as "Do not commit murder," "Do not commit adultery," "Love Yahweh your God with all your heart...", or "Husbands, love your wives."

He is speaking of obedience to a voice in his head.

Think about it. Now, please think this through soberly and as Christian adults. What do we have here? We have two momentous claims: (1) the claim of a book authored by God Himself, and (2) quotable verbal revelation with absolute binding moral authority.

What is a nine-letter word for that kind of revelation? I'll give you a hint: it starts with a "C."

The man then reveals this revelation to his wife, who (go figure) was kind of looking forward to fixing the leaky roof. But he tells us that she "is more spiritual than I am." Lucky thing for him, that. The roof is going to have to wait, because he's had a direct, verbal revelation of the morally-binding will of God, and she must obey too.

If our hooded brother had wanted to write an anonymous article about how he had felt moved — by Christian love and generosity, voluntarily, and according to a personal application of Biblical principles — to give his royalties to a struggling young student, that would have been one thing. We would easily have understood the anonymity as being Christian modesty and reluctance to toot his own horn. We would have understood the point of the story as being that we should maybe live out the values of the early church, in thinking of how we can invest in others. There could have been a lot of positive value in the story, and no argument whatever. We'd have admired him, and felt challenged to emulate his example.

But that isn't what the story was about, it isn't why it was written, it isn't the impact it is meant to have.

Look, I could go on and on and on, and it wouldn't get one bit prettier.

This is the foundation. Tomorrow, Lord willing, some (far briefer) reflections on the whole.

AFTERWORD: I am aware that this is a blisteringly scathing essay. What possible justification is there, for this tone?

Because our Lord Jesus, and His apostles and prophets, were always the most unsparing and ferocious with false teachers and religious leaders.

Because the issues are huge, though they're being dealt out as if this were a playground conversation.

Because I feel deeply concerned for all the people who you and I know darned well will read an article like this, envy this man's (purported) intimacy with God, and start listening for voices in their head, too. And they'll start heeding those voices, even if (as in this case) they don't quite jibe with the Bible.

And what kind of Christ-shaming, damaging, ruinous behavior will come of that?

You want to resent me, be mad at me, rake me over the coals? Go for it.

Because I'm laying it all right out here before you. I'm not hiding behind a claim to private revelation.

And, by God, I'm signing my name to what I'm telling you.

Dan Phillips's signature

170 comments:

centuri0n said...

I just wanted to say that I love Dan Phillips.

Libbie said...

Dan, Dan, Dan. Always with the high-octane stuff. And because the thread is likely to include more than enough battering to outweigh the fangirl/boyness -

A plate of my best biscuits for you, my lad.

Highland Host said...

Excellent post. I do wish these writers would give their names.
On a related topic Just last night I was listening to a pastor preaching on the importance of hearing the voice of God speak - and he wasn't a Charismatic, but a Strict Baptist. We at least ('we' referring to some local Strict Baptists) are alert to the dangers of extremes in both directions - the 'prophect every five minutes' and the cerebralist errors.

Rich Ryan said...

A nine letter word that begins with C and characterizes authoritative revelation? Hmmm....

"Centuri0n?"

Robert Ivy said...

You've done it Dan! You've convinced me!

People abuse the gifts.

Look, I'm no more a fan of this guy than you are, but what you're saying doesn't really help anyone. Cessationists will just get more bitterly entrenched in their position and continuationists will get more convinced of theirs.

Personally, I really like Phil's tactics: accept the Apostolic gifts but deny that anything today is like that.

Based on what you said, I'd think you'd reject Scripture if you were living in 50 A.D.

Rather than rail against all communication from God, it might be helpful to admit that God at one time did communicate and that he still has the power to do so. Then teach people what real communication from God looks like.

I know you do this daily as you expound the Bible - I just wish you would stick to expounding the Bible rather than condemning others who are sincerely (but wrongly) following after God.

Adrian said...

Speechless. Thats what I am - spechless. Well, ALMOST!

Except that two thoughts came to me (not by revelation I hasten to add!) during my reading of this article. The first was a warm fuzzy glow about my new nick-name "beloved physician". Thats two new nicknames in a day!

I think I will reserve yours for my calmer moments (I do have them, honest). Mind you, "thrill seeker" to be fair wasnt actually used by Phil - just implied.

The second thought was, when you were asking "What possible reason could he have for being anonymous?" I found myself thinking - "Loads - especially if his name was actually John MacArthur!"

Anyway ta ta for now...

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

And it's not just the Charismatic crowd. Here's Billy Graham for example:

"when I started doing my ministry in the South it was still segregated in a few cities and when we went to Chattanooga for a crusade, the Lord spoke to me and I went down and I took the barriers down and insisted that they be non-segregated".

What's wrong with just saying "those barriers bothered me so I...". Or say "those barriers seem inconsistent with the bible". It's very sad that some have to make themselves sound super spiritual by "God spoke to me".

centuri0n said...

rich ryan:

If this were my home blog, I'd give you a blue ribbon, dude.

Connie said...

I now have a whole new context for the comedic phrase, "Heeere's your sign"!!!!

BTW, great post!

Phil Johnson said...

Jim makes an important point:

What Dan is dealing with here is by no means a uniquely charismatic problem.

Two words: Gothard. Blackaby.

Martin said...

nailed it.

Libbie said...

Have you actually done those posts dealing with the Blackaby thing yet, Phil? I would be so, so interested in them, having done the Experiencing God study a few years ago, and feeling a bit of an oddball because I couldn't work out what a lot of it meant.

Doug said...

All I can say, Dan, is "Wow!"

And maybe, "Pass the meat chub!"

Scott said...

Dan,

At first I was going to guess "crazy" but it doesn't have 9 letters, so I'll have to settle for canonical.

Scott

Trinian said...

"What possible reason could he have for being anonymous?"

"He would have a good reason if he were [J. Random Major Cessationist Preacher]."

Maybe things get different when you are well known, but whenever I discover through study of God's Word that there is a point of theology that I've been completely and totally wrong about the whole time, I immediately and passionately want to tell every single person who I might have convinced to my original point of view - not anonymously write a letter to my bible study group in fear that they might loose some respect for me.
I hope that this sort of impulse would be normal among the teachers that I respect (our hosts included) - I know for a fact that it is for the specific teacher that was mentioned.

Phil Johnson said...

Adrian: "The second thought was, when you were asking 'What possible reason could he have for being anonymous?' I found myself thinking - 'Loads - especially if his name was actually John MacArthur!'"

...which only goes to illustrate that Dr. Warnock understands practically nothing about John MacArthur.

But, then, that was pretty obvious.

Inidentally, I think Dan's post makes an important point here. If Dr. Cipher is holding a position on some faculty where the point of view he expresses in the CT article contradicts the doctrinal statement he signed in order to get his job, shame on him. If he signed a doctrinal statement and has since changed his mind, he ought to resign the position before he writes about it in CT. Then he could sign his name to it like a man, instead of hiding behind anonymity like a... a... like a European or something.

Rhology said...

"centuri0n" has 8 letters. And 1 number.
That is, if zero is a number.


Also,
"Wouldn't it have been funny if God had told him it meant that revelatory gifts would cease with the close of the Canon? What a conundrum! But I digress."

That's awesome!

John K said...

I read the article and I wouldn't be surprised if it was one big put-on, not meant to be taken seriously. Is that possible? It's almost too cliche-ridden to be real. Read it again; I think you'll see.

Take Care

The Doulos said...

Sheesh. Dan, this post is positively inspired.

(And I mean that in the non-canonical sense, of course...)

robert ivy: I just wish you would stick to expounding the Bible rather than condemning others who are sincerely (but wrongly) following after God.

Robert - I don't think Dan is so much condemning this guy as he is pointing out the error to warn the gullible crowds that will read and follow. And I don't care how sincere someone is in following after God - if they're doing it wrong, they're wrong. Uzzah was sincere when he put his hand to the Ark - and he was also wrong and paid for it.

dan w said...

First time post, so anyone reading this dont be too harsh, I am not a pro like you guys.A brilliant article. I was once a person who believed God would speak to us directly as well as from his word.

The Doulos said...

I just had another thought. (pausing for laughter...) Why didn't the "holy men of old" do what this guy did - take their manuscripts from God to the publisher and get a great book deal? Wow, can you imagine the royalties that Isaiah and Jeremiah would have racked up by now?

centuri0n said...

Apparently, the truce is not only off, it's been kicked into the well and we are oiling up our massive Spartan pecs in order to do final battle with the hords of misshapen Continualists and their hairless Emperor Xerxes.

wow. I got goosebumps even writing that ...

Trinian said...

"...oiling up our massive Spartan pecs..."

Ahhh... yeah... you do that. If you need me, I'll be over here whipping the Hellespont.

donsands said...

"That's one reason I know it was real; I'm not a person who shows emotion easily." -Prof Cipher

Scary to listen to your own thoughts, and trust in your own emotions, on the whole; that is without being challenged.

Nice article Dan. A lot of excellent thoughts.

It's amazing how this supposedly little exchange of words is so far greater than that of the Holy Scriptures being right before us, and the Holy Spirit sovereignly filling our hearts and minds with His wisdom, love, and power as we read, study, and meditate upon the Word.

I have learned that people like to think that God said a little something to them, and to get goosebumps over that, then to study the whole of the 66 books of God's Word to us; that are treasures from our sovereign Lord.
Hard work to study the Scriptures, but overwhelmingly rewarding.

Of course, I suppose some would say you can have both.

donsands said...

"Apparently, the truce is not only off, it's been kicked into the well and we are oiling up our massive Spartan pecs in order to do final battle with the hords of misshapen Continualists and their hairless Emperor Xerxes.

wow. I got goosebumps even writing that ... "

I had holy laughter reading that!
Thanks.

James Kubecki said...

"'centuri0n' has 8 letters. And 1 number.
That is, if zero is a number."

Yes, zero is a number. The Arabic term, according to Merriam-Webster, is sifr, from whence we get the word "cipher."

Perhaps Dan is trying to give us a hint as to the identify of Dr. von Centuri-cipher-n...

Jeremy Weaver said...

I think the author of that article commented on my blog...

Steve said...

The next week, I was at the same spot in my morning exercise when something amazing happened. Out of the blue, a book title came to me. It was so clever I knew two things instantly: It wasn't mine, and it would sell.

Then, in almost the same instant, the entire outline of the book was there in my mind. Every chapter and its title. No discursive thought preceded it. I immediately went home and began writing. As I wrote, I had the distinct feeling that this was not me. I had never written like this before. The words poured out. Two weeks later, a 200-page manuscript sat on my desk. I knew it was good.


We editors get a good number of cover letters from aspiring authors who begin their letters in this way. Tragically, the Holy Spirit gets blamed for a lot of poorly done and doctrinally errant writing.

Jeremy Weaver said...

James White just wrote a book in less than a month...could it be???

danny2 said...

incredible!

my only critic is that the banana caption should say:

"not at all a-peel-ing

great great points

Kent Brandenburg said...

Dan,

I liked this:

"Charismatics like to (evade responsibility for their claims and) insist that what they experience is not high-octane, canonical-level revelation. It's just a fun little intimacy they share with God. No cause for alarm. Put away the big guns. Nothing to see here."

It was high-fives all around. Whooping for the cessationist guy.

Except it was so SHRILLLLL. Very shrill, Dan. Shrill is moving up my charts as a favorite word. It has a kind of ambiguity to it that makes me wonder if it is that bad. I think it is. Yer Shrill. Sounds like something that Friar Tuck would say to Robin Hood in a lighter moment. Yer shrill, Robin.

centuri0n said...

Steve:

The proper response to these people is --

If the Holy Spirit gave you this book, perhaps you should consider that He didn't want it, either.

DJP said...

I'm basically here so Frank doesn't look shrill.

centuri0n said...

I'm so glad you have my back, Dan.

I called Blue Raja "Hadji" over at my blog today. You should have been there for that.

DJP said...

I... I... you... oh, my.

Well, I can't be, you know, ubiquitous.

April said...

Ok ..please don't eat me alive, but I am wondering why God can't speak to us. I thought that the Holy Spirit revealed truth to us. I thought that was one of the reasons Jesus came, to remove the veil.
I have been in prayer for someone and, I feel God, puts a burden to pray for a particular person, on my mind. And later that week I hear how they recieved an answer or felt peace about the very thing I felt lead to pray about. Don't you think thats from God? Especially when I didn't know what was going on with that person...I honestly don't know what to think...reading whats been said so far and weighing that with my own personal experiences.For me this ties in with spiritual warfare...I have no clue what you think about that, but I know I've been in it and rely on God to impress upon my heart what to do and how to pray in that particular situation. How do you recieve direction in your life? What job to take, or any big decision in your life. Don't you pray about it and as you read the Word pray that God would open your eyes and ears to hear what He may be trying to tell you....? I would think that the peace you feel, the clarity in a difficult situation would be God"speaking" to your heart about what to do. Please, again don't beat me to hard with the club of meat, I am really wanting to learn from you guy's...There are so many things going through my mind right know I hope this makes sense, and I really want to "hear",what you would say.

centuri0n said...

April:

The veil thing is pretty good -- probably the best inductive example presented here in a long time.

Tell me: how do we know that the rent veil means "God making personal verbal contact with all believers apart from Scripture"?

MennoMatt said...

Another question from an honest (read:non-antagonistic) inquirer, who would stand with Geisler on Calvinism. (Now that the knives are drawn, I'll go ahead with my question). How does a strong Calvinist reconcile cessationism with his belief that in election God, through the Spirit, sovereignly infuses the life of the elect? Also, how do you explain the inclusion of "knowledge" in 1 Corinthians 13:8? Surely you would not agree with the Emerging crowd that the gift of knowledge has ceased to exist! Why is Grudem's view of prophecy and "da gifts" not plausible?

Nathan White said...

Because the issues are huge, though they're being dealt out as if this were a playground conversation.

Amen. Why this isn't seen as a serious, serious issue is beyond me. After all, if this error received death under the law, how much worse will the punishment be now? People are so flippant about this now days, as if it is perfectly OK to be wrong on, and they don't sit down to consider the deathly seriousness of how scripture treats this matter. That is scary.

Great post, Dan.

SDG

Nathan White said...

Mennotmatt,

Maybe you have gotten your impression of what Calvinism is through Geisler, because its all wrong.

"What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" - 1Cor 4

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

April:

I just want to make sure that you understand that we do indeed believe God guides us, and even that He speaks to us. For example, here is a blurb from Matthew Henry that I read the other day:

"When you speak to God by prayer, be willing to hear him speak to you in his word, that there may be a complete communion between you and God.".

I'll let some of the others answer your specific questions.

MennoMatt, I think you meant to say that you "stand with Geisler on Arminianism" (or some offshoot thereof). I found his book really helpful though; I'm not sure what I'd line our parakeet's cage with if I didn't have it! I couldn't resist on that one Menno, you lined that up for us in such a handy way:-)

Robert Ivy said...

Well Dan, I've been debating, and since you seem to think it necessary to discuss this issue with the strongest of terms, I shall join swords with you.

Do please understand I'm not defending this particular story per se I only defend that God can, and does, speak.

You, my brother in the Lord, make an idol out of the Scriptures. You think that mere letters on a page have more value than the Spirit of the Living God.

You do exactly what the pharisees did in John 5:39-40. "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life."

Dan, dead people don't speak your claim: God doesn't speak.

Ah, but you say, "false dichotomy" why? Because to you - God is the Bible.

Yet what do the very Scriptures, which you claim to follow, say concerning that claim. "they that bear witness about me." In other words THEY are not ME.

ME has life:: THEY don't have life.

I, for one, praise the Lord that he did not stay in the grave 2000 years ago, but rose, and lives, and to this very day gives life by his Spirit to those who have faith in Him. Meanwhile, many are led astray by your false teaching to believe their God is contained within the two covers of their leather-bound book.

Nothing is more stifling to true religion.

danny2 said...

mr ivey,

you do realize the severity of your claim is that you are calling dan a non believer? in essence you are saying he is missing Christ?

yikes!

(i'm so sick of this gross over representation of the problem of the pharisees. spending time in the Word was not their problem!!!! [how could anyone who believes the Bible is produced by God believe it is detrimental to spiritual life.] their problem was their own self-righteous, man centered, pride induced perspective that eliminated the need for Christ to atone for their sins. they read the Scriptures to affirm self, not to savor God.)

danny2 said...

ivey,

also...

the Word of God is living and active.

God has told both of us that pretty clearly.

DJP said...

Nathan WhiteWhy this isn't seen as a serious, serious issue is beyond me. After all, if this error received death under the law, how much worse will the punishment be now? People are so flippant about this now days, as if it is perfectly OK to be wrong on, and they don't sit down to consider the deathly seriousness of how scripture treats this matter. That is scary.

Well, would you look at that. We totally agree.

DJP said...

mennomatt—I've actually written a lot about that, and commend to you the archives.

Short answer: "knowledge" in that context is not general knowledge, but a revelatory gift (1 Corinthians 12:8; 13:2, 9). Paul says it would be put out of business when the partial was displaced by the complete. It has been.

Richard D said...

I was doing pretty well following this conversation until I came across the terms "non-antagonistic" and "Norman Geisler" in the same post (MennoMatt).

Since I read that, I've been hearing the sound of electrical arcing in my head. I think it's God telling me something.

Robert Ivy said...

Danny2,

I did not call Dan an unbeliever. I specifically called him, "my brother in the Lord."

Nor did I accuse Dan of pharisaism, in terms of legalism. I only accused him of committing the error the pharisees are seen to commit in John chapter 5.

You should read me more closely.

I do believe Dan a firm grasp on the Christ of the past, just as the pharisees had a firm grasp on the traditions of the past. But I think that by his form of cessationism he denies that Christ is alive today.

As you excellently pointed out - he takes Hebrews 4:12 and says, "SEE the BIBLE is living and active - who needs a hokey pokey SPIRIT?!"

The issue is more complex than most people think.

Libbie said...

Why does believing that God speaks through the bible equate to believing that God doesn't speak today?

Do you have a bible? Do you know every verse intimately and perfectly? If the answer is no (and it is for me), then I humbly suggest it's probably wise to try and exhaust God's voice in scripture before you start listening out for the subjective impression as a guide.

*Hint: it can't be done....*

DJP said...

For those keeping score at home, that last post by Robert Ivy really tells you everything you need to know about him.

Every time I lob a well-aimed Biblical rock at the leaky-canon fantasy, Robert runs around loudly yelping "Not hit! Not hit! Not hit!"

Then he misrepresents, "answers" what wasn't said, misses the point to a degree that must take a great deal of effort, and proclaims victory.

Those who engage him on what he says have not yet found it to be a productive investment of time.

So I, for my part, (A) don't, and (B) thank God that all can correct his misrepresentations by going back to my on-the-record writings, and decide for themselves.

donsands said...

We need a refuge, and a place of solace, and this is the Scriptures; the truth. Sure, Jesus is the Truth, but we only know this from the Bible.

I thank the Lord for His Word, and for the 66 books He has given to us, His people, and for His Holy Spirit, who lives in us.

"The devil will not be ugly, but he sets forth all his words with the color of truth, and with the name of God. ... So he stirs up wicked spirits and ungodly teachers, which at first allow our doctrine to be holy and heavenly, and teach the same with a common consent together with us; but afterwards they say, that further mysteries of the Scriptures are revealed to them from above, and they are called for this purpose, to open them to the world. ...
So we must pray without ceasing, read the Holy Scriptures, and cleave fast unto Christ, that we may overcome the devil's subtleties." -Martin Luther

joey said...

I would like to see someone from the cessationist perspective respond to april's examples of receiving impressions to pray for specific people that turned out to be very timely. It seems to me that she was hearing God "speak" apart from the Scriptures. Does this present a problem for you guys? Would you respond with, "It didn't happen", or "coincidence" or "that's fine but it doesn't have anything to do with ad gifts"?

April said...

Thank you for answering, some of my questions. Cent you asked, "Tell me: how do we know that the rent veil means "God making personal verbal contact with all believers apart from Scripture"?
I was taught that the veil being torn meant we had access to God and now would not have to go through a priest to speak to, and hear from God Himself. Didn't the veil seperate us from the Holy of Holies? Now through Jesus we have access to God on a much more intimate level. Didn't Jesus say it was better that He return to the Father so that He could send the Holy Spirit, now we can speak to God and hear from Him because He lives in us. John 16:7-15
I believe that because, before Jesus came all they had was the Word and the people relyed on the prophets to hear from God and share that with them. But after Jesus came and "went" we now have God inside us and we don't need to rely on other people, or a particular person to hear what God would want to say to us. He can speak to us whenever He wants, He's God.
I can only speak from my own experience and, while I totally agree that people say to easily that "God told me to do this or that" (My pastor calls that taking the Lord's name in vain. Making it powerless by using it so carelessly), I truly believe He "speaks" not only through His Word but in my head as well. Now absolutly it should agree with scripture. I mean God's not going to tell me to murder my neighbor, or steal or anything that would contradict His Word. So if we feel that God is saying something specific we should find it in the Word ask God to confirm it.Yes WE are fallible but God isn't. And if I think that God is telling me something and it didn't happen or wasn't correct that means it wasn't Him.

DJP said...

April...I truly believe He "speaks" not only through His Word but in my head as well

If you believe your former claim, then you should be able to show us many in-context, unambiguous passages in Scripture that say, in so many words, that every Christian should expect your latter claim to be his regular experience.

Otherwise you have absolutely no reason to expect it, or to encourage others to expect it, other than your own opinion. Which is what Biblical Christianity is not about.

That is THE issue.

DJP said...

(April, just to give you a perspective: if you were able to do as I ask, you'd be the first. Which, if our concern is the teaching of the Bible, should tell us something. Otherwise, we should be candid with ourselves and everyone, and admit, "In my idea of Christianity, the Bible is helpful, but not essential.")

janelle said...

April,

Don't let these guys scare you:-) FYI, I agree with you.

For any Pyro writer: do you think us Reformed-Charistmatics are (besides crazy, apparently:-D) compromizing the Gospel? By the tone of the discussion to far, this seems like everyone, no matter what side they are on, believes this is "a hill to die on". I certainly think it is.

DJP said...

So, Janelle, given the context of this discussion, you're encouraging April to stick to listening to voices in her head no matter what the Bible says, I take it? And on top of that, to ignore requests to show plain, unambiguous Biblical basis for that practice? And not to be concerned about the absence of such a basis?

And people wonder why the professing church is where it is today.

April said...

I'm not a Bible scholar...please give me some time to find those thigs for you...

jsb said...

I've heard John MacArthur say on a couple of occasions, "God laid it on my heart..."

I respect him and believe him. But I also know he is steeped in Scripture and that always comes first and last, and that the "laying on the heart" would never be followed outside of that.

DJP said...

Tell me if John MacArthur ever says "God told me," quotes Him verbatim, and it isn't Scripture.

April said...

As I am going through scripture I want to know what do you think the Holy Spirit is here for? Why were we given the Holy Spirit?

janelle said...

I am simply encouraging April to continue to seek the Holy Spirit, who actively speaks to us in accordance with what is Biblical. And yes, if "Listening to voices in her head" means she is listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit who affirms what is BIBLICAL (not Benny Hinnish or this Anonymous fellow), then by all means, why shouldn't she? Didn't Jesus Himself say the Holy Spirit was being given without limit? And didn't Peter write:


1st Peter 4:10-12, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

And didn't Jesus tell his disciples, "And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit."

So the Holy Spirit can't do that now? If you were arrested and brought to trial for believing the Gospel, the Holy Spirit would be limited, and could not speak through you?

Mike Jones said...

hi April,

three thoughts:

First, you asked:

"How do you recieve direction in your life? What job to take, or any big decision in your life."

I wonder how this thought is connected to the previous one. Is this saying that this is spiritual warfare? This is not spiritual warfare. But how do I decide things like that? I evaluate my options when it comes to taking a job or getting married or buying a home (I have recently done all three). I determine which options are eliminated immediately because they are sinful (for example, while being a porn-star may be a viable career choice, it had to be eliminated). Following this, I choose the option which seems most beneficial. For example: All other things equal, I would choose from two possible jobs the job that pays more (assuming it is the same work). I married my wife because I want to love her for the rest of my life. I desire her, I am not exactly granted to be a eunich for the Kingdom, so I took a wife for myself. All of these are things created by God to be received by those who believe. I am not paralyzed over what to do.

So here is the question: Are you? If so, is that what you think Christianity is supposed to be like?

Many of my friends are actually paralyzed because they are waiting for the Holy Spirit to reveal what they should do. It is a sad and tragic irony that some of my closest friends are so uncertain regarding their purpose and their day to day life, because they are afraid they will not be 'doing God's will.'

As one who loves the complete sovereignty of God over everything, and one who believes that God has ordained all things, I see the concern over "God's will for my life," in the context of hoping for some esoteric revelation, as seriously misunderstanding reality.

Whatever comes to pass is God's will. Therefore, we cannot possibly make a decision that places us outside God's will in an absolute, universal sense. I am also not a fatalist. It would be irrational to disobey the God that I know is king. So I concern myself with obedience to what has been revealed (Deut. 29:29), and i apply my mind to determining what to do in each situation. Look at this:

1 Corinthians 7
36If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry--it is no sin. 37But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

Much of this portion of Corinthians is an admonishment to stop using the freedom that we have in Christ with respect to non-moral preferences for our own gain, and instead use it to help others. Look at what Paul says: "36If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes." Do as you wish. Make a decision.

So I ask you: Do you go through life somewhat fearful that you might not be doing what God is "trying" to tell you to do?

Or do you approach life with boldness and confidence knowing you have freedom in Christ, not worrying about God's preceptive will, but applying your cognitive faculties with the Scriptures to making the best decision in every instance, knowing that the Scriptures are sufficient for obedience in every possible scenario?

The second thing is this:

Consider this scenario: There are two people who are engaged. The engaged man lives in another city, a long ways away. Another man meets the engaged woman, and spends some time alone with her, and talks to her about various things. She ends up telling him that her relationship has a lot of problems, and that she isn't sure she wants to get married.
So he thinks on it, prays and fasts, and becomes convinced they should not be married. He goes to his church, and an elder comes up to him spontaneously, and tells this man that he feels that this man wants to pray about something, and it has to do with a marriage.
This man takes this as an affirmation that this his concerns about the engagement are from God, and that God has affirmed that they should not be married.
So he continues speaking to the woman, telling her she is beautiful, and working to break the engagement.
Some other Christians discover what is happening, and being convinced themselves that this man's conduct is wrong, since he has been in questionable situations with this woman, intervene and enforce discipline. While not convinced the other Christians are right, the man stops what he is doing because he doesn't want to lose their fellowship.
Some time later, the engagement is still on, the woman is happy about it and looking forward to it, and they plan to get married in a few months.

By any metric I have seen for Charismatic personal communication with God, this man's claim to have it is as good as the next one - it even had strange coincidences that seems impossible. Yet he was dead wrong.

And it is this destructive, sinful obedience to subjective impressions that is so tragic.

Is this how we are to think that Christians are to go about life?

Third:

The Word is said to be our lamp in a dark place (2 Peter 1) until Christ returns. Peter even writes that the Scriptures are more sure than our own experience - he states that they are more sure than his own eyewitness testimony of the transfiguration. The reason is that they did not come from man's own interpretation or the will of man, but from the Holy Spirit. Studying this Word is hard work. It takes time and effort. It doesn't always feel great. We have to do it all the time (Ps 1). And I opt to pursue the word as the lamp in the dark place, knowing that it is spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2) and that I cannot possibly comprehend it (receive it in my heart, not recognize what it is saying) unless the Holy Spirit opens my heart to it. He is certainly living and active and present in my life - it is because of Him that my heart cried out "Abba, Father!" I know that, however, because the Bible stated so. What is revealed is revealed for our obedience (Deut 29:29). So I concern my cognitive faculties with what is revealed.

I find it to be a tragedy to see my own friends paralyzed, to any degree, because they are waiting for a Word from God, when the Scriptures are more than sufficient to me as the lamp in a dark place, commended to us by the Holy Spirit Himself, because He wrote them.

Now I'm not saying you don't believe the Bible is our lamp in a a dark place. But do you functionally practice it?

jsb said...

Right, Dan. That's a good distinction.

April was asking about "burdens" to, e.g., pray for people. In that way, God lays it on the heart, she was saying.

I would presume that MacArthur meant something similiar. Would you go along with that much?

What do you suppose MacArthur meant?

joey said...

DJP said

"Tell me if John MacArthur ever says "God told me," quotes Him verbatim, and it isn't Scripture."

MacArthur wouldn't say that, and neither does any reformed charismatic. It goes more like "I believe God laid it on my heart..."
And when "the voices in your head" give impression that you should pray for person x right now...and you do...and it turns out that person x was in need of prayer at the time you prayed, then the cessationist position of "that's undermining Scripture" seems silly. And for every example of heresy, or just plain wackiness you throw out, there's another example of God leading people by His Spirit in specific situations to do things that are taught in Scripture.

DJP said...

Thanks, Janelle; but that brings the count of in-context, unambiguous passages in Scripture that say, in so many words, that every Christian should listen for voices in our heads up to zero.

Your inferences are not found in the passages.

MTG said...

I guessed I missed it.....if the Author knew God was talking to him...why did he ARGUE?

DUH....

This had to have been a fabrication...ya think?

Homemade cookies for Dan in addition to the biscuits from Libbie.

Best, Morgan

DJP said...

JSB, I wouldn't even try to guess. Phil maybe could offer his thoughts.

Morgan, make 'em low-carb, and that'd be great!

janelle said...

Perhaps not. But if you were brougt to trial for the Gospel wouldn't you want the Holy Spirit to speak through you? Can he? Do you think that possibly maybe he could? Because if you don't think he could, isn't that limiting him? And if you think that he could and most definitely would doesn't that mean he can speak in everyday ways?

Personal example, from everyday ways: I was at a conference and felt that God impressed upon me to be a nurse. I am now about to enter nursing school. I wasn't reading scripture, I wasn't praying. But when I felt that he told me that, I started to read scripture, I spoke with my pastor, I prayed about it, and the Holy Spirit affirmed it. That's not biblica? That is listening to voices in my head?

Scriptural example: The Holy Spirit SPOKE to Simeon, and he went to the temple, LED by the Holy Spirit, and saw what the Holy Spirit had PROMISED HIM he would see, Jesus Christ, and blessed Him. In other words, he listened to the voice in his head which led him to see the Christ.

Are those unambigous as well?

joey said...

Dan, the problem is that if we did give you specific versus about eagerly desiring to (hear voices in your head) prophecy, like from 1 Corinthians for instance, you would simply respond by saying, "those don't count!" So what's the point?

April said...

So the Lord's prayer is exactly word for word what we should only pray? It say's Jesus said to "pray this way..." Also didn't Abraham hear the Lord tell Him to take his son and sacrifice him...I don't think he read that....God told Jonah to go to Ninevah, Noah and the ark? God remains the same yesterday, today and forever...

DJP said...

No, Joey; your position's problem is that it is not Biblical. Your problem seems to be that you ask questions, and don't listen to the answers.

April said...

Thank you Janelle! I was thinking the same thing, (no pun intended!)about the Holy Spirit, speaking through us...Luke 12:11-12

candyinsierras said...

DJP said:encouraging April to stick to listening to voices in her head no matter what the Bible says

I didn't read anything from April that stated that she listened to voices contrary to what the Bible says.

You also stated (writing about April "In my idea of Christianity, the Bible is helpful, but not essential."

Where does she give the impression that the Bible is not essential?

She states: I truly believe He "speaks" not only through His Word but in my head as well.Now absolutly it should agree with scripture.

DJP, you almost make it sound like continuationists don't have a proper respect for the Word of God, when they may be totally looking to the Word for confirmation to what may "speak" to their minds. Does God seriously never quicken something out of the Word that speaks to you? I think part of Piper's essay is in essence saying that there are times that the Word of God speaks directly to whatever we need at the moment from God. It becomes personal to us and is an affirmation of whatever God is doing in our lives. As we mature in Christ, we can be smart enough to figure out if our discernment of the Word pertaining to our lives is in context or not. I don't know about you, but most Christians I know that frequent these blogs are pretty smart and sober minded and I don't imagine that most people who comment relies on random impressions and elevates those impressions above the Word of God.

Mike Jones said...

Hi Janelle,

You wrote:

"Perhaps not. But if you were brougt to trial for the Gospel wouldn't you want the Holy Spirit to speak through you? Can he? Do you think that possibly maybe he could? Because if you don't think he could, isn't that limiting him? And if you think that he could and most definitely would doesn't that mean he can speak in everyday ways?"

The issue is not what the Holy Spirit CAN or CANNOT do. It is a straw-man argument to use the 'limiting God' argument. The issue is what IS the Holy Spirit doing in the normative Christian life. God can and does do anything He that pleases Him.

"Personal example, from everyday ways: I was at a conference and felt that God impressed upon me to be a nurse. I am now about to enter nursing school. I wasn't reading scripture, I wasn't praying. But when I felt that he told me that, I started to read scripture, I spoke with my pastor, I prayed about it, and the Holy Spirit affirmed it. That's not biblica? That is listening to voices in my head?"

You desired to be a nurse then? But what is it that demonstrates that this desire has a different origin than, say, the desire to get a coffee in the morning? What do you mean with this word 'affirmation?'

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. So, anything we plan is ultimately purposed and established by God for His own ends. He ordains everything. Why not concern yourself with obedience as instructed and revealed in the "lamp in a dark place" for everyone to see?

"Scriptural example: The Holy Spirit SPOKE to Simeon, and he went to the temple, LED by the Holy Spirit, and saw what the Holy Spirit had PROMISED HIM he would see, Jesus Christ, and blessed Him. In other words, he listened to the voice in his head which led him to see the Christ."

It is a major and unwarranted leap to assert that this 'SPOKE' is the same as the impressions people attribute to the Holy Spirit today. What is the clear distinction between something 'revealed from the Holy Spirit' in the time of Christ, and the normal voice of our own minds in everyone's head, believer or not? Where in the Scriptures does it teach how to distinguish between the voice in our mind and the voice of the God in our mind? This is actually a question - I want to hear your answer (ie: I'm not saying it argumentatively).

DJP said...

April, I can tell you're brand-new to this issue. Glad you're starting to ask questions.

Prayer is what we say to God, and has nothing to do with the subject.

Nobody denies that the people who the Bible says received direct revelation received direct revelation.

Again, the issue has nothing to do with God's immutability -- unless you want to start getting your cattle together for a trek to the Temple (that no longer stands) in Jerusalem.

Robert Ivy said...

Libbie,

You asked, "Why does believing that God speaks through the bible equate to believing that God doesn't speak today?"

I don't understand how you arrived at that conclusion from what I wrote. So please show me how and I would be happy to respond.

I do think it's clear that believing that God speaks only through the Bible equates to believing that God doesn't speak today in ways like prophecy, dreams, visions, etc.

And I take your second admonition quite seriously and am earnestly trying to memorize the whole Bible. I am certainly not nearly as diligent as I ought to be, but that is my ultimate goal.

DJP said...

That's right, Candy: anyone who listens for voices in his head does not appropriately respect the Bible in practice. And that is what this discussion is about.

joey said...

My position is that Paul's instruction to the Corinthians about orderly worship, love, marriage, sin, and the spiritual gifts can all be used as instruction for my life as well. I see no reason to dismiss his instruction on the gifts because of one very ambiguous verse.

I'm sorry if I don't appear to be listening. Your helpful direction on the limited atonement issue a few months ago was extremely helpful. On this issue, I just don't agree with you.

April said...

So my question is then Dan if he spoke to them why can't he speak to me?

Robert Ivy said...

DJP,

It seems clear at this point you have just zoned me out, so this will likely fall on deaf ears. If you do not desire to discuss your position, that is fine, I won't put any more comments on your posts concerning the gifts after this.

First, the Biblical issue is nuanced, therefore my position is nuanced. It indeed takes some deep thought to understand what the Bible says about this. It is not easy, therefore I don't see why you make it out to be that way.

There will indeed be missed shots and there will be hits. We've only been discussing this for a few months now, I don't see what reason you have to think you should have pinned me down and blown me out of the water by now. In fact thus far, I still do not know where the heart of our disagreement lies.

It would help if you would realize that the charismatic debate is only a surface issue and not the source of the debate. All I want to do is get to the source.

Therefore, you should understand that I never proclaimed victory. I certainly hold a position, and hold it strongly, but I would not discuss it with you if I didn't think there was something to learn and if I could be wrong. Yes, I still say, on second order doctrines, I might be wrong. I am starting to come to the conclusion that, with you, anyone who does not bow to your clairvoyant understanding of Scripture has nothing to say to you.

So I apologize for, "running around" and, "yelping" and never being constructive. You can be sure I will never attempt to discuss this issue with you again, unless you would like to still discuss.

I only wish to build up brothers in the Lord. If that is not what I have done then please forgive me for my sophistry and evasion. Just know that I never intended that to be the case. You have my brotherly love and respect.

April said...

IN 1 John 5:8 it says the Holy Spirit bears witness here on earth, how do you think He would do this? And could you please answer my question about why God has given us His Holy Spirit....

DJP said...

AprilSo my question is then Dan if he spoke to them why can't he speak to me?

That question is as meaningful as asking why He can't turn you into a pink flamingo.

Please answer my question first, and then we can get to this question — if you still find it a meaningful question.

DJP said...

Joey...I just don't agree with you.

That, of course, is allowed.

(c;

As to your introduction of issues that have nothing to do with the post... whatever.

janelle said...

Mike, thanks for the questions.

God can do whatever pleases him. You are right. I believe that it pleases him to reach beyond the veil, as April was saying earlier, and speak to His children through Scripture and through the Holy Spirit. He's God. He can do that and I believe He does do that.

I did not want to be a nurse, in fact the thought had never crossed my mind. I wanted to go to India to be in missions and be single the rest of my life. So what you said about obediance applies to me; I believe that when I heard (the voice in my head), that in obediance I 1) spoke to those in authority over me 2) prayed about it, ie. God is this really you? 3) Holy Spirit affirmed that this was the way to go.

Affirm: to validate, or confirm

Scripture teaches of discernment. There are numerous passages on discernment in the Bible. We can apply this to (the voice in our head) compared to the actual voice of the Spirit. Would the Spirit say "Go the Temple for there you will see Jesus Christ." Maybe not exactly like that...but...well...he kind of did already. With Simeon.

"It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts."

Or with Jonah. Or with Daniel, or with Paul. Or with numerous other scriptural examples that most Bible-believing Christians know.

When you speak of the word being a lamp, I agree with you. But I also agree with the scripture that says the Holy Spirit "sent" as in Acts 13, or the Holy Spirit filled, and spoke through individuals, such as Acts 13. In fact that passage is pretty amazing, isn't it? The Holy Spirit said something, so what did they do? Fasted and prayed, and then obeyed.

Since they were under the New Covenant, and we are too, then why can't we apply this to us as well? Since they had the Holy Spirit with them, speaking through them and proclaiming the Gospel, then why can't we? If Jesus promised something to his followers that was SO amazing, SO comforting, SO fulfilling and SO uplifting of the church; if the Holy Spirit spoke in powerful ways and performed powerful miracles, why not now? Why would He stop? Why would He only give it to one generation of believers who were spreading the Gospel, and not to all the generations after that?

DJP said...

April, I'll wait all other answers until you answer mine. Think of it as a show of good faith.

April said...

Well Dan you asked for unambigous in-context scripture that said God spoke to them... It doesn't get any clearer than that. and what about the Lord's prayer....

HeavyDluxe said...

I'm going to say it again, because I think it bears repeating: The level of vitriol that is edging into this conversation is disturbing to me.

Why is it we can punch each other in the arm playfully if we're discussing baptism with our baby-sprinklin' friends, but the issue of the gifts within Reformed circles becomes a catalyst for real angst?

Look, I get the point when we're discussing real leaky canon Pentecostals ("God told me this, and it's true regardless of what the Bible says!"). That kinda conduct/doctrine should be squished. However, I really don't hear that coming from any of the charismatics in this thread.

In fairness, one thing I do think is problematic is that responsible continuationists (a category that DJP, cent, and Phil might disagree even exists) sadly throw our weight into discussions on the gifts and not often much else. I think the real reason that phenomena is perceived is that there's only a need for so many 'AMEN!' comments... And since we largely agree with out cessationist brothers/sisters re: doctrine, we just keep our mouths shut.

To the degree to which we are making the gifts idols, however, we're guilty of a bigger problem than a cessationist who dismisses what we think is a Biblical case for continuation. That's what the Corinthians did and why Paul needed to smack them down.

Sorry - that's more of a rant than a comment. But, there you go.

PS. The whole 'oiling our pecs' bit... I think I threw up a little.

April said...

1 Samuel 3:11" The Lord spoke to Samuel... " Sounds pretty clear to me.

HeavyDluxe said...

By the way, PLEASE don't read my comment re: the spirit of this conversation (ha!) to mean that I I don't think this is important stuff.

This is important... So, I have nothing against the presentation of vigorous dialog and defense. We should hold strong, informed convictions in this arena and be ready to defend them.

However, I think the meat chubs need to stay in the freezer.

Robert Ivy said...

Wait!! Libbie!!

I think you might have hit on something! You asked, "Why does believing that God speaks through the bible equate to believing that God doesn't speak today?"

My point is exactly the inverse of what you said. Namely:

If God speaks through the Bible then he must speak today through things like prophecy.

Nowhere does Scripture only limit God's voice to the Bible. Infact Scripture has a great deal to say about things like prophecy, dreams, and visions. The drive a wedge between the Spirit speaking in Scripture and the Spirit speaking in prophecy is completely unbiblical.

That's the point I'm trying to make (sorry for the confusion). If it is GOD speaking through Scripture then it is NOT SCRIPTURE ALONE speaking. And if GOD is speaking through Scripture then GOD is speaking - no different than prophecy or any other divine communication.

I hope that helps to clear things up.

April said...

1John 4:1-3 Why would God ask us to test the spirits if we weren't going to be spoken too, wether by a "bad" spirit or the Holy Spirit...?

April said...

1 Cor 12:3 "Therefore I make know to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God...." why would God say this if the Spirit doesn't speak to us...? v7 says "but the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one ...."
Dan I think I have given some good examples ....I also think that we can talk about this till we're blue in the face...so I humbly agree to disagree with you.

donsands said...

"am earnestly trying to memorize the whole Bible."

Kudos for that effort!

April,

The way I test the spirits is against what the Holy Word says.

Satan uses ministers of righteousness to dilute the truth. He doesn't delete it he twists it.

Genesis to Revelation, these 66 books are our refuge from the father of lies.

HeavyDluxe said...

Robert Ivy said: If God speaks through the Bible then he must speak today through things like prophecy.
...
That's the point I'm trying to make (sorry for the confusion). If it is GOD speaking through Scripture then it is NOT SCRIPTURE ALONE speaking. And if GOD is speaking through Scripture then GOD is speaking - no different than prophecy or any other divine communication.


Ummmm... Can't go there with you, sir. Look, I don't see a firm Scriptural case for cessation. However, to use the existence and illumination of Scripture as a proof for the continuation of 'revelatory gifts' is philosophical doublespeak doublespeak.

If I write you a letter, I don't continue to speak to you. Granted, Scripture transcends a poorly scratched Hallmark card from me... But God has spoken through Scripture. He need not continue to speak just because Scripture exists.

Can't follow your breadcrumbs there, friend.

Mike Jones said...

Hi Janelle,

Thanks for the reply.

I know the definition of 'affirm.' When I have heard people speak of it, it is not often the application of contextual, Biblical truth to a particular situation to discern truth from untruth, right from wrong. I have seen that 'affirmation' is often derived from coincidences, seemingly remarkable happenings and events - it is omen-reading or divination. I trust that you are practicing the former, then?

The reason i ask is that you didn't actually answer my question:

"What is the clear distinction between something 'revealed from the Holy Spirit' in the time of Christ, and the normal voice of our own minds in everyone's head, believer or not? Where in the Scriptures does it teach how to distinguish between the voice in our mind and the voice of the God in our mind?"

and

"But what is it that demonstrates that this desire has a different origin than, say, the desire to get a coffee in the morning?"

maybe i'm just not familiar with the context you are speaking in, so by all means if you think that I am misunderstanding what you are saying clear it up.

You wrote this in your reply:

"3) Holy Spirit affirmed that this was the way to go."

I asked you what this means. How did this happen? How did the Holy Spirit affirm it? What took place? Explain to me the progression of events, if you are willing.

I gather that you are saying that apply Scriptural discernment principles to the voice/impression. But it seems that you consider it to be a Biblical test of discernment to say: "Well, Simeon had a voice in his head telling him to do something, and I do too, and I believe the Holy Spirit does that, then that voice prodding me must be the Holy Spirit." Did you apply Scripture in this scenario that brought about this affirmation? If so, which Scriptures?

Would the Spirit say "Go the Temple for there you will see Jesus Christ." Maybe not exactly like that...but...well...he kind of did already. With Simeon.

How are you using this as a test of the Holy Spirit speaking to you? This isn't a proof. You haven't demonstrated how you can apply this particular instance of the Holy Spirit speaking as test of the CONTENT of what you claim to hear. You have not demonstrated how you can apply the other examples you mentioned as a TEST of the Holy Spirit speaking to you. You seem to assume a particular understanding of a Divine revelation, that being that revelation is an impression in your mind, and you read that into these examples, and call it proof that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. Do you think that when a prophet or an apostle received a revelation from God, it was a thought in their mind? Or could it be that it was as immediate and apparent as a burning bush, or a vision of a heavenly temple, or a dream of a ladder, or the numerous other explicit and overt descriptions of God clearly communicating with chosen messengers to speak to His people (who for the most part were NOT getting said messages apart from the prophets and apostles) in both the OT and NT?

Since you seem to equate the revelatory experience of even the apostles to that which should be experienced normatively today, does this mean that you believe the gift of apostleship is still in full effect? Is this the case?

The Doulos said...

Decided to check back and see what the comment count is - looks like I may make 100. And you're all still here swinging the meat chubs...

An observation: why do we tend to talk past each other so much in these kind of meta-conversations? I see far too much setting up straw men at each end of the argument and then attacking that, rather than thoughtfully responding to the views expressed. No one specific person targeted here, just an observation.

One of the great things about blogging is that we can pause, think, reflect and then respond. One of the less-great things is that we rarely do.

Ben Stevenson said...

DJP: "If you believe your former claim, then you should be able to show us many in-context, unambiguous passages in Scripture that say, in so many words, that every Christian should expect your latter claim to be his regular experience."

Someone could be a continuationalist and not believe that EVERY Christian would hear voices in their head on a regular basis.

Prophecy is one of several gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. This passage does not say that every Christian has the gift of prophecy, or that all Christians had it in the early church. 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 specifically imply that not all Christians would prophecy or speak in tongues, though clearly some people did in the early church, and continuationalists believe that people still do today.

I don't like your continued assertion that all Charismatics/continuationalists necessary have a faulty view of Scripture. There is no logical reason to believe this must be the case.
In Acts 21:8-11 we are told of the prophecy of Agabus (which is recorded in the Bible), and that Philip had daughers who prophecied (their prophecies are not reported in the Bible).
Agabus' prophecy is a message to an individual, predicting a future event. It does not have doctrinal content contrary to the Old Testament Scripture. Is it implausible to believe that Philip's daughters prophecies (mentioned in the verses right next to the story of Agabus) were similar, i.e. messages specific to individuals or churches, that was not intended to bring new doctrinal content binding on all Christians.

DJP said...

April, 1 John 5:8 does not say what you quote it as saying, and even the mis-quotation does not say anything like what I asked you.

janelle said...

Mike,

Those are lots of questions:-D I'm sorry if it seems I did not answer you.

If I understand you, you are wanting a step by step process of how I believe the Spirit affirmed that He was speaking to me? If that is what you want, the whole story step by step, there are other contexts to which we can discuss this that aren't relevant to the thread. That's not my way of avoiding the question, I promise:-) We can talk about it on my blog if you want (www.janellephillips.net.)

Do you think the only options for a continuationists is to be omen-believing or practice divination? That's interesting. This means that there are leading men in the church today, like Wayne Grudem, who fall into that category. I prefer to be Bible believing. We will just to have to disagree on that, I think.

The apostles were prophets. I don't think God had to speak to them through burning bushes. The Holy Spirit spoke to them, made abundantly clear in Scripture. I believe that the Holy Spirit not only speaks to apostles (yes, I would believe there are modern-day apostles, though not in the same context as the 12, so to speak. That's another discussion.)


As for the Simeon example, we can move on from that if you like. We can use the Peter example of being led from the roof to the house of Cornelius, or the sending of Barnabas and Saul, or numerous other examples of the voice of the Holy Spirit leading people to do things.

As far as discerning between our own voice and the voice of God, and scriptures that help you with that, you might look at the following: romans 9:1-3 (particularly because he spoke the truth and the HS confirmed it through his consience). This was similar with me. And if your argument then is that the Holy Spirit does not nowadays confirm our consience, then I honestly don't know what to tell you. I have never come across anyone who would claim that that no longer applies.

Junction said...

OK, sorry if I'm a bit dense, but being new to this issue I'm having trouble framing this debate.

1) Does the issue all hinge on the word "spoke"? It seems people are using this word to mean different things.

2) How does providence fit into this?

Here's a hypothetical example:

You're driving home from work. There are two routes you can go. For some unexplained reason you decide to take the less traveled route. On the way home there is a car on the side of the road. You stop and are able to help a person who is having some kind of medical issue. As you look back on this, how do you explain it? (Or do you?)

Does it matter what the "unexplained reason" was for taking the route less traveled?
Say traffic was bad the other way, or your wife called and wanted you to stop at a store on the other route, or you just plain missed your turn, or you "felt" the Holy Spirit was leading you that way?

Of course, if we assume the last reason, and there was no one hurt on the side of the road, then our feeling would seem pointless. I wonder then if people are simply using hindsight to find those acts of providence that result in an immediate and noticeable good act, and then ascribing this to the Holy Spirit?

Have I totally missed the boat? (Don't be too harsh if I did, like I said, I'm new to this issue.) This doesn't really address the people who say they actually heard God speak words in their head, but I don't really think many, if any, are claiming that beyond the author of the CT article. I think most of us are just confused on when we have some unexplained reason for doing something (usually a "feeling")that seems to connect with a good work. Is this what people mean when they say they are being led by the Spirit?

Thanks

Phil Johnson said...

I'm tied up with meetings today and unable to participate in the blog-discussion, but a couple of people have e-mailed me privately with the same question about this thread. One begged me for an answer; the other accused me of dodging the question.

So here's the question and my short answer:

Q: If God doesn't speak to you directly, how does he "lead" you to do anything? How, for example, did you know Darlene was the right person to marry?; how did you know you were called to ministry?; and how do you explain it when a thought pops into your head and prompts you to pray for someone?

Short answer: I trust the providence of God. I can't necessarily interpret the providence of God infallibly, though.

So if (for example) I suddenly think to pray for the safety or holiness of one of my children, I don't need to interpret that as a prophetic message from God that Pecadillo or one of his brothers in in immediate danger. But I pray for them nonetheless, though I can't possibly understand why that thought popped into my head or even discern correctly whether it originated in my own imagination or was immediately infused into my brain by the Holy Spirit.

If it turns out later that I prayed at exactly the right moment when some specific danger befell one of my kids, I praise God for a remarkable providence.

I DON'T, however, twist it into some kind of quasi-revelation and use it as an excuse to trust my own heart. Scripture says those who do that are fools (Proverbs 28:26).

Here's the thing: I trust Providence enough to believe that God ordained that I should pray, and He will answer my prayer for His glory and my good, even if the thought that prompted the prayer was out of my own imagination.

But it would be a sin for me to claim God "told" me to pray about that particular thing at that particular time when He did no such thing.

Providence, people. Go and learn what that means, and we can avoid having this debate every 6 weeks or so.

Here's a book, written by a good friend of mine, that deals with this issue well.

DJP said...

Heavydluxe—always a pleasure to see you, but I must say that your thinking seems incredibly muddled on this issue. Insofar as this thread is about the article to which it is attached, it is about the claim that God speaks today in the sense that He speaks verbally and directly, unmediated, apart from Scripture; and that Christians should expect this experience.

That is a huge deal.

100 comments, and not even close to a decent attempt to build a Biblical case for it, not a unanimous disowning, on the part of the leaky Canon set, of the absurd and dangerous article on which I'm commenting.

April—I'm going to ask you to re-read the question I asked you out loud, slowly. Nothing you are citing is even getting remotely close.

Ben—can you relate anything in your comment to anything I said in the article? I can't offhand. And if by "prophecy" you mean inerrant, unmediated, direct revelation, you agree with how the Bible defines it, and you disagree with most modern leaky Canoneers. And if you think it's still going on, we strenuously disagree.

But at least there can be clarity about the issue.

Junction said...

Hmmm...providence in action? Phil responds to my lengthy post (and answers my question) at pretty much the exact same time I posted it! Or was that the Holy Spirit leading he and I to submit our posts at almost exactly the same time... :-)

DJP said...

Junction— first, please read the article.

Insofar as this thread is about the article to which it is attached, it is about the claim that God speaks today in the sense that He speaks verbally and directly, unmediated, apart from Scripture; and that Christians should expect (and seek) this experience.

Phil Johnson said...

Junction: "Hmmm... providence in action?"

Yes. Precisely.

Providence.

Not revelation.

joey said...

Phil said;

"If it turns out later that I prayed at exactly the right moment when some specific danger befell one of my kids, I praise God for a remarkable providence.

I DON'T, however, twist it into some kind of quasi-revelation and use it as an excuse to trust my own heart. Scripture says those who do that are fools (Proverbs 28:26)."

Very helpful explanation.

jbuck21 said...

Dan,

Succinct and clear....oh, and correct, as well.

I think at times the issue becomes one of humility. It is humbling to consider that God doesn't speak to you except through the external Word. That means that your thoughts and random musings, unless they're BIBLICAL, are from you -- not God. Dr. M.L. Jones said something like, "We are too often listening to ourselves rather than preaching to ourselves." This is kind of crushing if you think that God's been having chats with you.


"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked..."

Praise the Lord that He has provided a rock on which we can be grounded!

Jon

PS. Psalm 29:7-9 The voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; The LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve, And strips the forests bare, And in His temple everything says, "Glory!"

Hard to do this whilst exercising, eh?

DJP said...

That's one of my favorite Lloyd-Jones sayings, Jon.

I think you're right. Plus, it's the ultimate cop-out to be able to blame your (harebrained) ideas on God. Ultimate abnegation of responsibility.

Like this guy explaining why he wasn't going to repair the roof.

lawrence said...

from what I understand, djp, you're pretty much saying that God spoke to the Old Testament writers (and only to them) then didn't say anything for 3 to 400 years, then came back and holla'd at the new testament writers, and now he's gone, no more talking by God until Heaven. If God hadn't talked for 2000 years, then OF COURSE when He did talk he wouldn't be talking about an author's royalties. But this professor obviously believes that the Holy Spirit has been active and moving (almost kind of like what Jesus promised to the disciples) for all of those 2000 years. To try to say that this professor believes God didn't talk for 2000 years and the first thing God says is "the money isn't yours" is intellectually dishonest.

p.s. however, i do agree with you that this professor lacks courage, so don't think I agree with him or anything.

Junction said...

Dan, yep I did read the article. I wasn't confused at all about that or what you wrote in your post, I was just trying to figure out the debate in the comments on this thread. In any case, Phil's timely comment cleared most of it up for me.

jbuck21 said...

If that were *my* wife who got that explanation for why *our* roof wasn't getting repaired, I'd be the Hellespont, and she'd be doing the whippin'.

:)

Also, to imply that the Holy Spirit speaks to us like He did through Paul, Peter, etc, is the height of insanity and arrogance.

2 Cor. 12:12 "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles."

Don't be afraid to prove your status as a mouthpiece for God by raising the next corpse you encounter.

DJP said...

Lawrence—it is indeed characteristic of the leaky-Canon set's enablers to speak slightingly (as you do) of the Bible. It is less characteristic of those who accept God's testimony as to its role, power, function and worth.

Ben Stevenson said...

DJP: "can you relate anything in your comment to anything I said in the article? I can't offhand."

I was responding to what I quoted - which was something you said in the comment section, not the main article.

DJP: "And if by "prophecy" you mean inerrant, unmediated, direct revelation, you agree with how the Bible defines it, and you disagree with most modern leaky Canoneers."

I disagree with a lot of modern day Charismatic practice, but that is mostly irrelevant to whether continuationalism is correct or not.

1 Corinthians 14:29 says that prophecy needs to be weighed. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 says that prophecies should be tested.

"Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast what is good." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 (ESV)

It seems to me that this has a different status to Scripture. The Scripture is the standard by which other things should be tested.

HeavyDluxe said...

Dan,

Thanks for the shout-back...

But I must say that your thinking seems incredibly muddled on this issue...

Bleh... My thinking is muddled on just about everything. But thanks for pretending not to notice.

Insofar as this thread is about the article to which it is attached...

I suppose that I am/was guilty of commenting more on the commentary than your post. Insofar as we're beating up the perspective of your 'Dr. von Cipher', let's clear the air:

Dan, you're right.

Those are sweet words, ain't they? They're also words rarely thrown in my direction. ;-)

The concern, if that's the right word, that motivated my first comment is that I don't want this guy's exceptional caricature of the 'charismatic set' to be broad-brushed onto every continuationist out here. While that may not have been your point in the post, that seemed to be the direction of some of the comments.

I say that knowing that you would raise some of the same concerns you have with this yahoo in reference to CJ Mahaney or Sam Storms... However, I know I always hated my crazy cousins for doing ign'ant stuff that made the whole family look 'common'. In the same way their actions didn't define me, this wingnut doesn't define me or others.

Robert Ivy said...

Heavydluxe,

Finally, someone understands what I am trying to say. You admit the exact point that I am making.

You said, "If I write you a letter, I don't continue to speak to you."

EXACTLY!! That is the FLAW I am indicating that the cessationists make. Because the Bible says God DOES continue to speak to us THROUGH SCRIPTURE (John 6:45, 1 Cor 2:9-12). Therefore scripture in no way replaced the working of the Spirit.

In other words, Scripture is just a book that is powerless to do anything APART FROM God's Spirit illuminating it (for an example see John 5). The cessationists claim that God's Spirit does NOT illuminate today (give me a second to explain), therefore, they elevate the Bible to the position of being able to ILLUMINATE ITSELF. (The error I spoke of in John 5. And thereby ascribing to the Scripture attributes which out to only be ascribed to God.)

Now, I admit, this is difficult, because Hebrews 4:12 seems to indicate that very thing. But I submit that that would be an incorrect interpretation.

Now, of course cessationists admit that the Spirit still illuminates the Bible, but they say it doesn't go beyond that. And what I am saying is that this is a unwarranted division to make.

Spirit-illumination outside of Scripture is Spirit-illumination outside of Scripture. It takes different forms, but to hold on to one (illuminating what one reads in Scripture) while denying another (illuminating the mind as to future events) is totally unwarranted.

Everyone would agree that SCRIPTURE is in a unique category in terms of the work of the Spirit. Everyone (I hope) would also agree that Scripture is the ONLY unique inspiration given to man. THEREFORE, to say that with Scripture prophecy, healing, tongues, etc. ceased is to either unbiblically EXALT tongues and prophecy to being in the Spirit-working category of Scripture or to unbiblically TEAR DOWN Scripture to being in the same Spirit-working category tongues and prophecy.

The only way for a cessationist to get himself or herself out of this conundrum is to say that Scripture has Spiritual power in and of itself (and therefore can't be put in a Spirit-working category such as tongues or prophecy).

And were cessationists to do this (which it seems to me that they do), in my opinion, deifies the Bible.

Therefore, cessationism must be false. (Thanks everyone I'll sign autographs after the show.)

Look, I KNOW, this argument is difficult to get your mind around, that is why I am having such trouble stating it. I'll try to diagram it for everyone so it can be more easily understood. But please just TRY to think with me here.

If you can show I have an error in logic, I would certainly admit defeat (in this line of argument) and would be very grateful for your helping me to think this through.

DJP said...

Ben—absolutely not possible, and only invented to make excuses for modern failed counterfeits.

Prophecy was clearly defined in Exodus, and that inerrant prophecy was also to be tested (Deuteronomy 13 and 18). Nothing in Scripture overturns Scripture's own crystal-clear, univocal, and consistent definition of prophecy.

MTR said...

Person A: I heard God.
Person B: No you didn't.

Hmm... I wonder who person B thinks he is to deny what God can and cannot do.

DJP said...

Robert Ivy...I won't put any more comments on your posts concerning the gifts after this.

Show of hands: how many thought this was a promise of cessationism at least as to Robert Ivy comments?

DJP said...

HeavyDDan, you're right.

Those are sweet words, ain't they?


Yeah... could you come over and show my family how you did that?

(c;

DJP said...

MTRHmm... I wonder who person B thinks he is to deny what God can and cannot do.

Um... literate, and believing?

Robert Ivy said...

Sorry Dan,

Call it the final yelps of a dying dog. I feel like that's about how you perceive it.

Never mind my argument, of course, it surely isn't even worthy of your consideration.

But yes, I am done now. After I diagram the argument I'll probably send it to you via email, just to see if you'll give it a chance then, if not, you are free to theologize whatever you like.

MTR said...

As a sidenote, and after seeing the "sola scripture" label, I always get a chuckle out of reformed types handing out the Westminster Confession of Faith to explain "sola scriptura."

Here... We only believe in the Bible. Read this book, it will explain it.

;-)

lawrence said...

djp,

I'm sorry for not making to clear. I believe the Bible is the inerrant, inspired, powerful Word of God. I also believe that, just as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit continues to comfort and guide us today. I believe that because he is all-powerful and all-knowing, he can do this through speaking to us fallible, sinful humans. I'm not saying this arrogantly, I actually truly want you're opinion; are this beliefs contridictory?

DJP said...

Lawrence—talking about what God "can" do "can" be a fool's game. God "can" make a pickle taste like a chicken. Let's talk about what He says He will do.

And that brings us to the topic of this thread: it is about the claim that God speaks today in the sense that He speaks verbally and directly, unmediated, apart from Scripture; and that Christians should expect this experience.

It isn't about what God can do. It is about what He says in Scripture that He will do.

janelle said...

Dan I think you just made Lawrence's point.

"This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will."

Ok, I'm done. Great discussion, thanks for getting it started.

lawrence said...

djp,

"it's not about what God can do. It's about what he says in scipture He will do."

I like that. It's clever. The only thing I would add to all this is that it's not just about "voices in our heads" and stuff. God makes it clear in Acts one "You will receive power from on high...and you will be my witnesses" so when denying the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you're denying everything therein. Prophecy, tongues and intrepetation etc. AS WELL AS the "power to witness" that comes as a result of baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Donette said...

Ok, I have waded through 123 comments, occasionally interrupted while trying to fulfill my parental duties, just so I could comment in full confidence that I am trying to understand both sides and am not just jumping into the mix for the sake of argument.

I think robert ivy summed it up perfectly:
"I am starting to come to the conclusion that, with you, anyone who does not bow to your clairvoyant understanding of Scripture has nothing to say to you."

Listen, I was raised a cessationist, and still consider myself one, but I was also raised with the idea of "God laying it on my heart." I know plenty of classic dispy's who would say the same. All of that to say to you, DJP, that I'm not rooting for the other side.

However . . . (and this is a big however) I think April and Janelle and others have valid questions. And for the most part, the continuists are asking them in a humble manner, seemingly seeking to understand your post and position more fully. But I don't see you seeking to teach them in all humility. I see their questions getting mocked or dismissed by your pithy and sarcastic answers. I am disappointed, to say the least.

Why not really try to engage them? Not everyone here is either a swooning fan or out to get you, Dan. Some are really trying to use this vehicle to learn more about theology. And they view you, the author of the controversial article, as the person with which to engage in the discussion. Put down the brass knuckles and use this opportunity to TEACH! Show them why you disagree with their presuppositions.

Phil exhibited an excellent response with this in mind. Try it out, Dan, and you might like the rewards.

Supraman said...

Not that Dan needs help here...

BUT, Lawrence, who is Jesus addressing in Acts 1:8, when He says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."?

Last I checked, it was the "apostles he had chosen". Why do you take it to mean, "every single regenerate person that will ever live."?

James Kime said...

Reading through all the continualists comments, I am reminded of the sheer laziness that so many demonstrate in interpreting the scripture.

I would have to put it up there with the laziness amills demonstrate.

Oh this and that passage would require a well thought out position. Hmmmm, that will take time. Perhaps I can just say I got a word from the Lord.

Uh huh.

Hebrews 2
3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

Alright class, what was the purpose of signs and wonders?

Yes, you in the back.

Um, to bear witness to the message spoken by the Lord and his apostles?

Yes, you are correct. Come get a lollipop.

Sigh.

Ben Stevenson said...

DJP: "Prophecy was clearly defined in Exodus, and that inerrant prophecy was also to be tested (Deuteronomy 13 and 18). Nothing in Scripture overturns Scripture's own crystal-clear, univocal, and consistent definition of prophecy."

"But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or[f] who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.'" -- Deuteronomy 18:20 (ESV)

Can you explain Acts 21:4 to me please?

"And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem." (ESV)

Was this a command from God that Paul disobeyed?

Wayne Grudem writes:
"This seems to be a reference to a prophecy directed to Paul, but Paul disobeyed it! He would never have done this if the prophecy contained God's very words and had equal authority to Scripture"

James Kime said...

Dan, if you wear those brass knuckles out, I have another set for you.

Gayla said...

Donette, thank you. Well said.

I waded through every comment myself and I have to wonder - where is the grace-filled speech, seasoned with salt so that you'll know how you should respond to each person? As in Col 4:6.

I never comment in here, but I read this blog all the time, and appreciate so much the solid teaching that comes outta here.

But truthfully, at times, I'm left with a bit of a bad aftertaste. Whether or not you Pyro guys intend to display an arrogant tone, I don't know, but you definitely come across that way sometimes. I mean no disrespect, but is it possible this may be something to examine?

Kudos to April and Janelle for having the courage to stick with it as long as they did. I would have like to have seen some honest teaching on the subject. I wrestle with some of this stuff too.

Hayden said...

I have one question for all of our continuationist brothers and sisters, "Is there a difference between description and prescription in the Bible?" (example David was described as killing a lion with his bare hands, should we expect the same??)

DJP,
Great article brother. Sorry it got "hijacked"

Darlene said...

Proverbs 15:1-3 applies to all.
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of the fool pours forth foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good."

Phil Johnson said...

(I think she meant that mainly for me.)

The rest of you, carry on. But if we could just lower the level of snark about two notches all around, it would definitely make for a more interesting discussion.

Questions and disagreements are fine with us, but we do ask commenters to observe rule 1. Remember that all of us Pyros are gainfully employed and our jobs are demanding, so it's hard to give in-depth answers to EVERY question--especially when the comment-count rises into triple digits, and doubly especially when the questions are only tangentially related to the actual material in the original post.

For our part, we admit to being sometimes a little too brusque for the Teletubbie crowd, and we apologize for that. We're working on being milder (especially toward people making their first foray into the Pyro-comments), so please bear with us. We take your admonitions to heart.

But keep in mind that Pecadillo IS armed, so don't push us.

DJP said...

Yes, Janelle, Hebrews 2:1-4 is a very powerful cessationist passage. "Was confirmed" (v. 3, aorist passive), coupled with the present participle describing the confirmatory activities of that past period of miraculous attestation (v. 4).

Lawrence...when denying the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you're denying everything therein

Ah. I must have done that when I was giving that speech about what a great president Clinton was.

In other words, never.

Ben Stevenson— Acts 21:4? Sure. No need to charge Paul with sin, as Grudem necessarily (if unintentionally) does. The Holy Spirit had attested accurately that bonds and afflictions awaited Paul (20:23). These (wrongly) interpreted those Spirit-given prophecies as meaning that Paul shouldn't go — which is more (and other) than the prophecies actually said.

No need to trash all the rest of Scripture just to prop up a modern fad. The prophecies were accurate, and Paul was right to go. He was "constrained by the Spirit" to go (Acts 20:22), it was the Lord's will (21:14), and he arrived in good conscience (23:1).

Perhaps a helpful analogy would be Matthew 16, where Jesus tells the apostles of the horrible torture and death that awaits Him Matthew 16:21). Peter takes that prophecy, and rebuked Jesus, trying to turn Him from the path (v. 22). Does that mean that what Jesus said was wrong? Obviously not. Peter took the absolutely true prophecy of Jesus, and abused it according to his own feelings -- and was severely rebuked for it (v. 23).

donsands said...

"I mean no disrespect, but is it possible this may be something to examine?"

Amen. And I'm sure they do, as we all should do, as we speak the truth in love.
We're all sinners, and we all need to examine ourselves.

Christ our Lord was the only One who never needed to exaime His motives.
I'm sure Phil, Dan, and Frank do this. And with genuine reflection.

I truly appreciate this blog. They speak with integrity and boldness. I thank the Lord for my brothers here. I am encouraged to read their posts, and edified with the teachings.
May the Lord continue to bless. To Him be all the glory.

Coram Deo said...

On the bright side at least the Lord didn't command him to kill the children of Anak and destroy their cities and all their substance.

That could have gotten pretty messy.

candyinsierras said...

Thank-you Donette and Darlene. James Kine...did you show up cuz you heard there was a fight?

Jenn said...

Hmm, I read that article in CT and I didn't really think about all of the things presented in this post. I'm thankful for the light shed on it from a Scriptural standpoint.

Christ alone.

Ben Stevenson said...

DJP: "These (wrongly) interpreted those Spirit-given prophecies as meaning that Paul shouldn't go — which is more (and other) than the prophecies actually said."

Then are you saying they are guilty of sin - a sin that carried the death penalty in the Old Testament?

"But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.' -- Deuteronomy 18:20 (ESV)

DJP said...

Not at all, Ben, not even close. It was not the prophecy that was in error (which was the subject of OT sanctions), but their applicaiton of it.

DJP said...

Coram Deo—exACTly. Thanks for deftly bringing out one of the weightiest concerns.

Jenn—I'm grateful to hear it. Thanks for saying so.

Gayla said...

"For our part, we admit to being sometimes a little too brusque for the Teletubbie crowd..."

Who is the Teletubbie crowd?


Don: "Amen. And I'm sure they do, as we all should do, as we speak the truth in love.
We're all sinners, and we all need to examine ourselves."


Don, I hope you didn't I was implying that I didn't need to examine myself. Of course I do, we all do, as you said. My comment was simply addressed to the Pryos for that moment.

Gayla said...

correction: I hope you didn't think.....

Donette said...

"Snarky" - I like that word. It's cute. It aptly describes how my 3 year old acts when he doesn't get a nap. But c'mon. I think we all know that the comments here are a little more than just "snarky."

Listen, I admit to being a part of the Teletubbies crowd (or Dora the Explorer), but this isn't about offending me. It is about wasting a beautifully ordained moment to be humble and teach. Need I repeat that I agree with you, Dan? You are the author, you have the unique opportunity to reply with graciousness and set the tone of the discussion. Just because someone else gets "snarky" doesn't mean you have the right to.

Wow. This sounds like a lecture I gave my kid just a few days ago.

Moving on . . . Dan, you can be right and go into your corner with your trophy above your head and claim victory, but what good does that do in the long run? Readers who disagree walk away with a really nasty taste in their mouth and maybe never return. And if your goal is to have all comments either singing your praises or only looking for a battle, then you are well on your way . . .

donsands said...

"Don, I hope you didn't think I was implying that I didn't need to examine myself."

Nope. Didn't think that at all.

I was simply trying to bring attention to the character of this proven "blog-ministry" of the Lord, that's all.

wwdunc said...

Donette said: "Dan, you can be right and go into your corner with your trophy above your head and claim victory, but what good does that do in the long run? Readers who disagree walk away with a really nasty taste in their mouth and maybe never return."

I concur. Many of the comments here do leave a very bad and nasty taste in my mouth. However, I will return. I like much of what you "Pyromaniacs" have to say about a lot of things, even though I don't like the attitude you gentlemen (and quite a few of your "fans") exude.

Unlike Donette, I happen to disagree with the you on these issues. I don't care to debate, but if you're really interested in knowing how others feel about these issues, I invite you to my blog:

http://adebtortomercy.blogspot.com/2007/03/and-fight-continues.html#links

http://adebtortomercy.blogspot.com/2007/03/great-is-lord-and-greatly-to-be-praised.html#links

http://adebtortomercy.blogspot.com/2007/03/some-books-worth-reading.html#links

Your brother in Christ,
Wyeth Duncan

Gayla said...

Thanks Don! You know it's sometimes difficult to tell what someone is trying to convey with this kind of format. :)

James Kime said...

Donette, you said, "Dan, you can be right and go into your corner with your trophy above your head and claim victory, but what good does that do in the long run? Readers who disagree walk away with a really nasty taste in their mouth and maybe never return. And if your goal is to have all comments either singing your praises or only looking for a battle, then you are well on your way . . ."

I wonder how this is truly the right position to take. Is it better for Dan to say it is okay that others hold to bad theology and feel okay about it?

If a person comes here to discuss an issue that has been laid out, should they not be willing to engage their minds and backbone? If they cannot handle this, it is better to not post. Why interact if you cannot interact?

It isn't about claimingn victory by holding up a trophy. It is about being able to actually believe something and have at the same time the desire and ability to stand firm in it.

Dan did not ask me to post any of this obviously. I have just seen this attitude displayed so often it is disturbing. No one is advocating a beat down of someone. At the same time, one should not engage a tank with a BB gun.

Truth is not determined by consensus. The Lord hates a coward.

Mike Jones said...

Can someone please cite what exactly you find offensive or rude in Dan's comments? What warrants this?

"Moving on . . . Dan, you can be right and go into your corner with your trophy above your head and claim victory, but what good does that do in the long run? Readers who disagree walk away with a really nasty taste in their mouth and maybe never return. And if your goal is to have all comments either singing your praises or only looking for a battle, then you are well on your way . . .

What warranted the trophy comment? What basis do you have, in any of Dan's writings, to think that the latter is his goal? And if there is none, then you are being antagonistic, and there is no reason to even suggest such an ad hominem notion, even hypothetically.

150 posts ago the blog was in view - and Dan expresses on that blog why he adopts an authoritative and unwavering tone:

I am aware that this is a blisteringly scathing essay. What possible justification is there, for this tone?

Because our Lord Jesus, and His apostles and prophets, were always the most unsparing and ferocious with false teachers and religious leaders.

Because the issues are huge, though they're being dealt out as if this were a playground conversation.

Because I feel deeply concerned for all the people who you and I know darned well will read an article like this, envy this man's (purported) intimacy with God, and start listening for voices in their head, too. And they'll start heeding those voices, even if (as in this case) they don't quite jibe with the Bible.

And what kind of Christ-shaming, damaging, ruinous behavior will come of that?


If you find that Dan's tone is inappropriate, why not send him a PM or something (find email here: http://www2.blogger.com/profile/16471042180904855578). First admonish him privately from the Scriptures, with evidence.

It would seem to me that Dan has a deep concern that he believes warrants the "rebuke them sharply" approach of Titus 1. He said as much at the beginning.

One might consider returning to the subject at hand - I was most enjoying the read.

If you believe your former claim, then you should be able to show us many in-context, unambiguous passages in Scripture that say, in so many words, that every Christian should expect your latter claim to be his regular experience.

Otherwise you have absolutely no reason to expect it, or to encourage others to expect it, other than your own opinion. Which is what Biblical Christianity is not about.

That is THE issue.

Phil Johnson said...

Mike Jones:

Exactly.

Thank you.

Luke 6:41-42.

Connie said...

I've said this before on other Pyro comment threads--pretty much everyone who comes here to read (and comment) understands that the wit and humor is sharp and no one is spared. I know that everytime I wade into the waters of any discussion I'd better be rock-solid or willing to be challenged or corrected. Pyros, please continue to keep us thinking, challenged, and on our toes--and don't leave out the wit and humor!! :-)

donsands said...

gayla,

So true. That's my point. It's always imperative to remember who you're "blogging" with. Always consider the source. It's the mature thing to do.

I had another thought hit me as I looked over the post again.

I remember seeing the Unknown Comic once doing his routine, and he introduced his parents in the audience, and they had paper bags on their heads.
He was funny.

DJP said...

Two funniest comments (so far):

Rich RyanA nine letter word that begins with C and characterizes authoritative revelation? Hmmm....

"Centuri0n?"


And...

jbuck21If that were *my* wife who got that explanation for why *our* roof wasn't getting repaired, I'd be the Hellespont, and she'd be doing the whippin'.

Well, of course I loved:

PJFor our part, we admit to being sometimes a little too brusque for the Teletubbie crowd...

True, true.

amysuz said...

Is it permissible to recommend some articles for teaching on this subject? If so, here are the links.

http://svchapel.org/Resources/articles/read_articles.asp?id=116

http://svchapel.org/Resources/articles/read_articles.asp?id=131

Mike Jones said...

Here is some food for thought.

These points were raised in another discussion regarding these issues in my own fellowship. They are meant as a STARTING POINT for a grounded discussion - and they are somewhat random. They do not necessarily represent a convinced view of their writer or myself, BUT ARE A POINT TO BEGIN A DISCUSSION. This may not even be the best venue, but I want to help lay some tracks for some of you to properly begin to think of these things, as best I can.

I feel obligated since I said the discussion should get back to the topic at hand.

Incidentally, so it is clear, I agree with the Pyros that what is happening in the churches, from everything that i have seen and heard of, is not the prophecy/revelatory gifts of the apostolic times. I also hold that subjective impressions are no metric for the Holy Spirit's approval, no matter how good it feels or how right it feels. Elevating one's own mental voice and inclinations to the authority of the Holy Spirit arbitrarily is extremely dangerous. Upon inquiring how one knows the voice of the Spirit, such that it is quantifiably not arbitrary, as prescribed in the OT requirements for a word from God or prophecy, I have not seen a convincing or helpful argument thus far. For example, from earlier: Romans 9:1-3 is not in the context of an instruction on discernment, and to think that the apostle had that in mind is quite an acontextual reading.

A book recommended to me on the topic is a Zondervan title edited by Grudem: 4 Views of the Miraculous Gifts, or Are the Miraculous gifts for Today, or
something like that.

1. The issue is the revelatory gifts - tongues, prophecy, words of knowledge. To a lesser extent, the gift of signs and wonders and miracles is also included, at least as far as it is understood to be exercised by a human agent.

2. The issue is not the other gifts - administration, teaching, encouragment, service, etc.

3. I've always found a case for cessationism built on 1 Cor 13 to be weak at best. But what 1 Cor 13 does demonstrate is still a very pertinent point, and that is this: These gifts will pass away at some point.

4. There are two important precedents for cessationism: the period with no prophecy between Malachi and John the Baptist, and the fact that there are no NT-type apostles today.

5. The above point must be conceded by all who wish to retain a closed canon. If there are still apostles, there may still be enscripturation.

6. One mark of an apostle was to have seen the Risen Lord in the flesh (1 Cor 9:1). There can be no such apostles today.

7. 1 Cor 13 suggests strongly that the point at which knowledge and prophecy (note: tongues is NOT repeated here) will pass away will be when the perfect comes.

8. What does "pass away" mean? Does it mean that the PROVISION of these prophecies and knowledge will pass away (i.e., there will be continuing revelation up to this point?) Or does it mean that the CONTENT or USE of these prophecies and knowledge will pass away (i.e., the provision may have ceased already, but when the perfect comes the Bible as we now have it and other gifts will be of no more use and will themselves pass away?)

9. Note that Paul uses the term "pass away" of prophecy and knowledge in two separate places: verse 8 and verse 9.

TONGUES

10. The term used in reference to tongues is different: "cease." Note also that Paul does not mention tongues again in his argument like he does with the other two.

11. The issue: is Paul simply varying his writing style for literary effect? Or is there an important point here?

12. The Old Testament describes "men speaking strange tongues" as a sign of judgment on the Hebrew people for unfaithfulness (is 28:11, 33:19. Right from the incident at the tower of Babel in Genesis, strange languages are seen as a sign of judgment and oppression. The captivity in Egypt is described in parallelism as coming out of a people of strange language (Ps 114:1). This is the context in which we must understand the gift of tongues, a point that Paul himself makes (1 cor 14:21-22).

13. The strange languages anticipated by Old Testament prophets were not necessarily miraculous - after all, the Egyptians spoke their "tongue" naturally.

14. The incidents of tongues described in Acts all happen as the Gospel crosses cultural barriers - to Samaritans and Gentiles. They are described in contexts that suggest that the tongues authenticate the Gospel message.

15. The other place where tongues become an issue in the New Testament in in 1 Corinthians. This passage can be interpreted as either abuse of a miraculous gift or the use of ordinary foreign languages in inappropriate ways. Corinth was a very multicultural city. The Greek "glossa" can describe either miraculous or nonmiraculous language. In fact, it's only in English Christian practice that "tongue" and "language" take on different connotations - in Greek it is the same word.

16. Remembering that tongues are a sign of judgment to unbelievers, and in OT use were a sign to Hebrews in particular, it has to be significant that judgment did indeed befall the Jews in AD 70, when the Temple was destroyed and Jerusalem sacked.

17. Jesus clearly prophesied in Matthew the destruction of the Temple as it happened in AD 70. This was a judgment for Jewish unbelief.

18. Clearly the issue of tongues becomes related to the issue of eschatology, then, and how the judgment of God is to be understood in history.

19. I don't see any Biblical evidence for the notion of tongues as an unintelligible, "heavenly" prayer language. It seems always to be described as a translatable, objective human language. Modern Pentecostal tongues don't really resemble the Biblical paradigm.

20. Ecstatic utterances of the Pentecostal pattern have been observed among Hindus and Buddhists, as well as Catholics, Mormons, anti- Trinitarian United or Apostolic Pentecostals, and other heretical groups. They were known to occur in the NT period among Greek mystery religions as well. They may be more psychological than spiritual in origin.

21. In summary: could tongues have passed away at the end of the NT period, but other gifts have carried on? Patristic citations may support this view.

Incidentally, I looked into the patristic writings for a while. For the most part, they don't really talk about tongues or prophecy except in quoting Corinthians, as far as I can tell (so far - there is a LOT of material). There is this passage from Clement of Alexandria [153 - 193 - 217 AD ?ish?] - Stromata, Book IV, Chapter XXI:

And now we perceive where, and how, and when the divine apostle mentions the perfect man, and how he shows the differences of the perfect. And again, on the other hand: "The manifestation of the Spirit is given for our profit. For to one is given the word of wisdom by the Spirit; to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith through the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing through the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another diversities of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: and all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, distributing to each one according as He wills."2879 Such being the case, the prophets are perfect in prophecy, the righteous in righteousness, and the martyrs in confession, and others in preaching, not that they are not sharers in the common virtues, but are proficient in those to which they are appointed.

As a note, I think this testimony of the patristic writings in this case is something to consider with respect to the fallible prophecy argument, which, incidentally, I cannot agree with.

Also, Phillip Schaff notes regarding the issue in his Introduction to the Shepherd of Hermas:

As Eusebius informs us, the charismata were not extinct in the churches when the Phrygian imitations began to puzzle the faithful. Bunsen considers its first propagators specimens of the clairvoyant art, and pointedly cites the manipulations they were said to practice (like persons playing on the harp), in proof of this. We must place ourselves in those times to comprehend the difficulties of early Christians in dealing with the counterfeit. “Try the spirits,” said St. John; and St. Paul had said more expressly, “Quench not the Spirit; despise not prophesyings; prove all things,” etc. This very expression suggests that there might often be something despicable in the form and manner of uttering what was excellent. To borrow a phrase of our days, “the human element” was painfully predominant at times, even among those who spoke by the Spirit. The smoke of personal infirmity discoloured genuine scintillations from hearts in which still smouldered the fire of Pentecostal gifts. The reticence of Irenæus is therefore not to be marvelled at. He cautioned Eleutherus no doubt, but probably felt, with him, that the rumours from Phrygia needed further examination. The prophetic gifts were said to be lodged in men and women austere as John the Baptist, and professing a mission to rebuke the carnal and self-indulgent degeneracy of a generation that knew not the apostles.

...

To our scornful age, indeed, glutted with reading of every sort, and alike over-cultivated and superficial, taking little time for thought, and almost as little for study, The Shepherd can furnish nothing attractive. He who brings nothing to it, gets nothing from it. But let the fastidious who desire at the same time to be competent judges, put themselves into the times of the Antonines, and make themselves, for the moment, Christians of that period, and they will awaken to a new world of thought. Let such go into the assemblies of the primitive faithful, in which it was evident that “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, were called.” There they were, “as sheep appointed to be slain,” “dying daily,” and, like their blessed Master, “the scorn of men, and outcast of the people,” as they gathered on the day of the Lord to “eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” After the manner of the synagogue, there came a moment when the “president” said, “Brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.” But the tongues were ceasing, as the apostle foretold; and they who professed to speak by the Spirit were beginning to be doubted. “Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live forever?” It was gratifying to the older men, and excited the curiosity of the young, when the reader stood up, and said, “Hear, then, the words of Hermas.” Blessed were the simple folk, those “lambs among wolves,” who hungered and thirsted after righteousness, and who eagerly drank in the pure and searching Scriptural morality of The Shepherd, and then went forth to “shine as lights in the world,” in holy contrast with the gross darkness that surrounded them.

I found it interesting. This is just to get the brain turning, not to start a wild fire... Read it for the context...

Long post - but I hope it helps, whatever your position on the topic. May we all by grace continue reforming to the Scriptures.

Gayla said...

Mike, thank you.

I find this to be extremely helpful for further study - which is why I printed it. Thanks again.

Donette said...

I'm all for wit and sarcasm, when appropriate. After all, if I thought it was all wrong, all the time, I wouldn't come here much, right? I just implore you to be a bit more gentle with those of us who are here to learn, not just argue. I have questions, and up till now, I have never commented because sometimes dissenters get eaten alive! I think April and Janelle had valid questions that never got fully answered because they didn't have a passage of Scripture that showed private inspiration is relevant for today.

Let's move on. I don't want my plea for civility to become the focus. It was just a side note.

Realize that many of us who have cessationist backgrounds still have heard "God laid it on my heart." To be a *true* cessationist, do you have to say that is wrong? Or is it possible that is what the work of the Holy Spirit is all about?

I haven't figured this out yet, and truly am trying to work through it. Any thoughts? - just be gentle! :)

donsands said...

"God laid it on my heart." To be a *true* cessationist, do you have to say that is wrong? Or is it possible that is what the work of the Holy Spirit is all about?

I had a thought, and a Scripture.

"Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You. ... Incline my heart unto Your testimonies, and not to covetousness." Psalm 119:11,36

"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another inpsalms and hymns and spirtual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Col. 3:16

The Word needs to be hid in our hearts, and it needs to dwell in our hearts, and surely it needs to be the Holy Spirit who is taking this same Word to shape us, and to renew our minds, and those around us as well, for the glory of Christ our Lord.
I don't know if that helps or not.

Phil Johnson said...

Donette:

I think you're right: it's time to give the issue of "tone" a rest. After re-reading the whole thread, I have to say I think the complaints from those who claimed they got "blasted" were severely overblown. In fact, I don't see where anyone was trying to be mean-spirited on any side of this discussion, and no one said anything here in this thread that was out of line, until a handful of people started impugning Dan Phillips's character and motives. (Unless private e-mails were sent that I am unaware of, I'm frankly mystified as to what the complaints about extreme nastiness and brutality were based on.)

Anyway, none of our guests should have felt brutalized. Even Tinkie Winkie, the gay Teltubbie, ought to have been able to withstand the level of contention in this thread. If the disagreements expressed here, and the tone with which they were expressed, seems so awful as to offend certain sensitive souls, then one might well conclude that we should never disagree with another Christian about anything, and if we ever did have a dissenting opinion, we ought to just keep it to ourselves. But we know that's not the case.

So let's give one another the benefit of the doubt when it comes to tone monitoring. Taking unnecessary offense is just as evil as unnecessarily causing offense, and vice versa. Being insensitive is no less a fault than being overly sensitive, and vice versa. We can all work on being nicer. Let's do it, OK?

And now, let's also carry on, shall we?

You raise an excelent question, Donnette. I'll tell you what: I'll try to answer it in a new post—hopefully before noon today (Saturday). Watch the space above.

Mike Jones said...

Realize that many of us who have cessationist backgrounds still have heard "God laid it on my heart." To be a *true* cessationist, do you have to say that is wrong? Or is it possible that is what the work of the Holy Spirit is all about?

I, for one, am looking forward to Phil's writeup.

What generally seems to happen with respect to the 'God laid it on my heart' scenario is this:
1) A person feels a desire or compulsion for some action/outcome.
2) They mull it over in their mind, and the desire grows.
3) As the desire grows, their perception of its rightness grows with it.
4) Unable to explain the desire, and feeling that it is right, they intellectually associate it with a 'leading of the Spirit'
5) Now feeling led by the Spirit, they may take action, or the opposite may happen - they feel paralyzed, and begin to look for signs - this is what i call omen reading.
6) Saying they act, if things seem to work out good, they then conclude that it MUST have been the Holy Spirit.
If things work out bad, they either repeat at step one, or become disillusioned.

I realize that is a bit general. I have seen that on more than one occasion.

Here is the problem with this scenario: The desire or impression or 'voice' is tested against itself - that is, our own inclination to it. The outcome is then often used to confirm it by arbitrary PRAGMATIC standards, rather than by Scripture.

What I am getting at is that a person is willing to act on the basis of an arbitrary assignment of authority to the voice in one's head.

That is exceedingly dangerous. And it is significant that there is no NT or OT precedant for this.

Let me give you an example from my own life.

One day, out of the blue, I remembered a girl that was in my class in university: She was an agnostic, and I had been in a short conversation about religion with her at one point.

So I figured I'd send her an email, and see how she was doing, and perhaps meet up and preach the Gospel to her. She was formerly close friends with one of my friends, so in part I longed to see her saved for the sake of his joy and conscience. I felt compelled to preach the Word to her, both by duty and from personal inclinations.

It turns out that when I emailed her, she was actually wanting to talk to me because I was one of the only Christians that she knew who actually took the faith seriously, but being a very introverted person, she didn't want to impose. She had been seriously thinking about God, felt convicted of sin, and had even been trying to read the Bible.

She didn't receive the Gospel immediately, but after having told her clearly of the substitutionary work of Christ, the total depravity of man and our position as children of wrath, and even given her 'Sinners in the hands of an angry God,' she repented and is now pursuing godliness in our fellowship.

Now - many that I know would say the Holy Spirit led me to speak to her.

Why do I not make that claim?

1) God is sovereign. Of course He ordained that all of that would take place, such that this girl would hear the Gospel.

2) I cannot honestly say that I had an explicit or implicit 'word from God.' What did I feel/hear? Nothing out of the ordinary. I cannot distinguish the origin of the desire for emailing her from the desire I had that morning, that compelled me to purchase a coffee.

3) What I can say is that God necessarily disposed reality such that all these things would take place (He does that in everything). Whether he disposed my mind to that, or directly impressed it upon me, i cannot tell.

But I have complete confidence that the Holy Spirit is working in the church to make her pure and perfect for Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the only way I could receive the Bible - I know that because the Bible tells me so. The Holy Spirit is the only way my heart would cry out "Abba, Father" - that is, I would be inclined to have intimacy with God - I know that because the Bible told me so. I know the Holy Spirit enlightened me to receive the Gospel, and quickened me to desire God and pursue joy in Christ - I know that because the Bible told me so.

This is the issue: It seems that many assume that the perhaps the only way for God to push us in a particular direction is a word from the Holy Spirit. But He can use any number of ways to put my mind into the state He so desires, and it may not involved a 'word from God' or being 'led by the Holy Spirit.' Those are explicit, distinct occurrences. I just cannot say or determine if those explicit occurrences are what forms my desires in any instance. It is dangerous to do so. Those who claim to do so have no cognative reason for thinking it may be the Holy Spirit. As Janelle said earlier, 'The Holy Spirit confirms a persons conscience.' But this is a circular argument, since the conscience is still the arbiter of determining if it is confirmed by the Holy Spirit, apart from an objective standard of measurement for such esoteric experiences with God. Nice feelings are used to confirm the 'good source' of those nice feelings. The Bible gives us no such precedant for thinking this way or for thinking that these experiences are the way the Holy Spirit interacts with us. I do not see the Scriptures commending us to lean on even our regenerate heart, but I do see them telling us to lean on the Word, knowing we are enabled to do so by the Holy Spirit.

Here is the bottom line. Nobody that I have met has ever managed to provide one iota of Biblical basis for asserting that my desire or impression was explicitly a word from God. It was my desire. This does not match the pattern of any of the gifts in the NT. It isn't a gift. It is a normal part of being a human. I am not saying that God did not ordain it - He certainly did: But it seems quite arrogant as to claim to be a prophet when I know full well that I am not. I wrote the email to that girl because I desired to do so to find an opportunity to speak the Gospel. That is all I will say of it, and I will give God the glory for His providence and mercy in causing this girl to receive the truth. And I pray that it is sincere, and that He will persevere her.

Even unbelievers experience this sort of coincidence, or desires, or compulsions. They really do. And they experience it in the context of other religions and turning from God. I had a Hindi-agnostic explaining the same sort of experience to me four days ago about how things had worked out mysteriously and how she felt all the events in her life had led her to better pursue the fulfillment of her humanity.

What distinguishes us from them? How do we know what to do? How do we know what to think and whether our desires are godly?

2 Peter 1
19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

I KNOW that THIS is from God.

Romans 12
2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Same with this. So I apply my cognitive faculties to the one thing that is 'more sure' than my own experience: I pursue understanding and learning of God from the Scriptures, and use them as the rod and rule of every desire and impression. And from this, I have concluded that I am in no position to make assertions about the arbitrary feelings in my heart and their origin.

I am at peace with my purpose, what I should do, my job, and my life. Not that I am perfect by any means, but I do not wonder about what to do because I have a lamp for my feet. And that lamp points me to the pursuit of righteousness, peace, love, and faith, for the glory of God.

What are you lacking that you need more?

This is a real question to ask yourself. From my end of things, the pursuit of the voice of God in subjective impressions appears to be such a blind trek, and a wasteful tragedy.

I will state clearly now: I believe The Holy Spirit grants gifts to whomever He wills for the edification of the church.

This means, of course, that if the Holy Spirit decided not to grant gifts for some reason, then He won't do it - on His own divine prerogative.

EDIFICATION. Yet the written word is more than sufficient - I do not perceive I need a sign for my faith, or a prophecy for guidance. The written Word is more edifying than I could have ever imagined prior to diving headlong into it.

Psalm 119:
81My soul longs for your salvation;
I hope in your word.

Jesse P. said...

Dan,

One of the quarrels that cessationists have with 'charis-maniacs' is that they make too big a deal out of the gifts of the spirit, de-emphasizing the gospel, love and other things. The fact of the matter is that this brother did a very generous thing, which seems to be lost just because he had the audacity to use language like "God said..." to describe an inner struggle.

Your role as word police has blinded you to the act of Christian love and charity that you claim to be far more important than the gifts themselves.

In my experience, contrary to the popular stereotype, it is the cessationists, not the charismatics, that get hung up on this issue of the gifts. This certainly seems to be true in this instance as well.

For you to equate someone's choice of words to describe their inner wrestlings with Paul's battle for the gospel seems to further cloud the gospel as Paul was defining it. You seem to be an advocate for a gospel-without-gifts as much as you are a gospel-without-works.

If the gospel, charity and love really were more important to you as you say they are, you would not allow your disagreement with his language to overshadow the good things he has done.

I think you're guilty of the very thing you think charismatics do, making the issue of gifts a stumbling block for partnership in the gospel.

Phil Johnson said...

Jesse P.: "The fact of the matter is that this brother did a very generous thing, which seems to be lost just because he had the audacity to use language like 'God said...' to describe an inner struggle."

Note: It was not Dan or any of the PyroManiacs who brought this whole matter up in the first place. It was John Piper, himself a Continualationalist® who wrote the definitive complaint about the article—and we were merely agreeing with Dr. Piper.

Moreover, the HUGE point you are missing here is that the anonymous gentleman who wrote the CT article is not being criticized "just because" of a language infraction. He is being criticized (not merely by us but by Dr, Piper as well) for suggesting that a private message from God is more thrilling and more important than the message we get from God in His written Word.

If we're going to insist on strict charity here, we ought to start by correctly representing the point under discussion.

Incidentally, the original remarks on this blog dealing with the issue were posted by Frank Turk and me; Dan wasn't even planning to join the dogpile. Frank and I independently of one another posted brief, single-sentence affirmations that were simple nods of the head in Piper's direction.

We would have left it at that, but one of our dearest charismatic friends, Dr. Adrian Warnock, requested that we needed to post more in-depth analyses of Dr. Piper's remarks. We actually tried to leave it at that, but Dr. Warnock was insistent.

So, for the record, we began this thing simply wishing to express agreement with a point made by John Piper. We developed our thoughts under protest at the insistence of another charismatic brother. And now we are being tarred with the complaint that we are "uncharitable" toward charismatics. It's a little bit hard to make the whole charismatic community happy, evidently. We find ourselves pining for the old days when Pentecostals were pretty much hap-hap-happy all the day.

DJP said...

Jesse P

First, part of my article that you seem to have skipped:

If our hooded brother had wanted to write an anonymous article about how he had felt moved — by Christian love and generosity, voluntarily, and according to a personal application of Biblical principles — to give his royalties to a struggling young student, that would have been one thing. We would easily have understood the anonymity as being Christian modesty and reluctance to toot his own horn. We would have understood the point of the story as being that we should maybe live out the values of the early church, in thinking of how we can invest in others. There could have been a lot of positive value in the story, and no argument whatever. We'd have admired him, and felt challenged to emulate his example.

But that isn't what the story was about, it isn't why it was written, it isn't the impact it is meant to have


Second: you seem to have skipped the rest of the article as well. That, or we'll put you down in favor of people claiming unmediated, direct, verbal, morally-binding revelation apart from the Bible, AND claiming to have written books by direct divine inspiration.

In which case, BTW, you validate every concern Frank, Phil and I have ever lodged about continuaglossalalaicists®.

Jesse P. said...

Phil Johnson said: "We actually tried to leave it at that, but Dr. Warnock was insistent."

Dan justified the admitted strength of his blistering statements by comparing what he was doing with apostolic defense of the gospel. This hardly sounds reluctant to me. If this is such a serious issue to you, why were you reluctant to respond, if the sufficiency of scripture is at stake?

Dan said: "Second: you seem to have skipped the rest of the article as well. That, or we'll put you down in favor of people claiming unmediated, direct, verbal, morally-binding revelation apart from the Bible, AND claiming to have written books by direct divine inspiration."

I have never received, nor am I in favor of these. Please do not interpret my observation of your response as an endorsement of what you responded to.

I was simply noting that the harshness of your response seemed to indicate that this issue of the gifts is a stumbling block. You seem to interpret a person's use of charismatic language as some sort of evangelism. How else would you know what his motives are for writing, as you claimed to?

I agree with you in as much as subjective impressions should not be given the authority of scripture. Anything that challenges the authority of scripture undermines the entire Christian faith. I think your impulse to guard scripture is commendable.

Phil Johnson said...

jesse p.: "If this is such a serious issue to you, why were you reluctant to respond, if the sufficiency of scripture is at stake?"

Because we've already been through the same debate a gazillion and a half times, and it invariably draws people to our blog who don't really seem to care all that much about the truth of whatever issues are on the table anyway. They just seem to like arguing for sport. They usually are people who haven't read or commented on our blog before. They apparently aren't interested in reading old posts to learn what our position is or how we have argued in favor of it. They just want to join the fight before it dies down again.

And then they are gone as quickly as we post on a different subject.

Most of our regulars will testify that those kinds of discussions pretty quickly begin to feel like a sickening merry-go-round.

But the newbies who actually have done the most to poison the atmosphere (including girls barely into adulthood who aren't ashamed to write a long, blistering rebuke to a 50+-year-old pastor on their second or third comment at the blog—and such)? They usually creep away to other, safer places, where they spread stories about how badly they were treated here.

We tire of it.

Jesse P. said...

My goal was not to blister anyone, but to provide some honest observations and questions. I certainly did not wish for a digression into name calling (i.e. hap-hap-happy, adolescent girls). Actually, the only name calling I did was self-deprecating (charis-maniac).

I hope that my commendation of your meticulous defense of scripture is not lost here. It's good to have staunch supporters of orthodoxy on our side. Thank you!

Brian said...

I would like to know more about your face-to-face experiences with God?
I ask because you say "the perfect" is the Canon of Scripture.
But, if you would read the rest of the passage (that little thing called "context"), you would read, "When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

I could buy that the perfect was the Canon of Scripture, if it weren't for that little detail that I'm not seeing Jesus face-to-face. It may seem a minor detail, but I feel a bit cheated if I'm supposedly seeing Him face to face and I can't actually see Him.

You might argue that "the perfect" is the neuter "telios" in the Greek. And Paul never refers to Christ in the neuter. But that's no real argument.

Look at 1 Corinthians 1:7-9: "so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

The "end" is the greek word "telos", the root of "telios", and also in the neuter. The perfect is the end, the consummation of all things. Then we will really see Him face-to-face.

Am I missing something?