06 July 2007

Cessationism again

by Phil Johnson

ere are some excerpts from an e-mail exchange I had with a charismatic gentleman. I had suggested that the utter absence of any credible biblical-quality miracles is one of the reasons I'm not inclined to reconsider my cessationist stance every time charismatics claim we're seeing a new wave of Spirit-gifts. Phenomena such as holy laughter, tricks with gold dust, and "prophets" whose prognostications are less than one-third accurate don't impress me. Ditto with "tongues" that have none of the characteristics of true language.

If charismatics could produce the kind of miracles described in the Bible, or if anyone's "gift of tongues" turned out to be authentic or objectively translatable languages (like in Acts 2:8), I would be forced to reconsider my cessationist opinions. But (although I've heard an abundance of urban-legend-style unverifiable anecdotes) I have never encountered anyone today who is gifted to perform miracles in the same way the Apostles were.

So this man suggested (in all seriousness) that I should turn on TBN and watch Benny Hinn heal person after person.



The following is my reply. Actually it's compiled from a series of e-mail messages I exchanged with the fellow. His remarks are interspersed in dark red type:
I've already seen more than enough of Hinn's stuff on TV, and I grew up practically next door to Oral Roberts University. In high school, my best friend's dad was a well-known faith healer. I've seen plenty of Oral-Roberts-quality "miracles."

I suspect that you don't really understand what I mean when I say I have never seen any biblical-quality miracles. I'm talking about people born blind receiving sight, or true paraplegics instantly gaining the ability to walk.

Disappearing cancer, healed back pains, deliverance from migraines, a ringing in the ears that is suddenly "cured," eating disorders overcome, etc., may be: 1) God healing through a non-miraculous work of providence; 2) a false claim (and make no mistake: many modern "healings" on investigation have turned out to be demonstrably false); 3) a misdiagnosis in the first place—or any number of other non-miraculous possibilities.

The healing miracles found so frequently in the New Testament included a number of dramatic healings from long-time, notorious illnesses and irreversible conditions—undeniable miracles that even the harshest critics of the gospel could not deny. People born blind suddenly saw, paraplegics walked, and people were raised from the dead—usually with crowds of witnesses watching. Those were not Benny-Hinn-style healings.

Have you not noticed that Hinn's "healings" invariably involve invisible or unverifiable ailments? In fact, whenever Hinn's miracles have been investigated, the facts simply have not born out his claims. I watched a documentary exposé about Hinn more than a decade ago in which claims he made about healing cancer were conclusively proved false. In the case featured in the documentary, a woman he had pronounced "healed" on his television program was back in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy less than 10 days after the "healing." (In fact, as I recall, she was hospitalized and in serious condition the very week Hinn was touting her "healing" on TBN.) Stories like that abound from Hinn's crusades.

So if you think a Benny-Hinn-type miracle answers my challenge, you have not yet grasped what I mean by "biblical-quality miracle."
How can you be so cynical or is it that you simply won't believe?
I'm cynical about professional faith healers, because they tend to be transparently phony, and so many of them have been proven phony on investigation. I'm also cynical about stories of chickens raised from the dead, etc., because they trivialize true biblical miracles.

But I am not cynical about the Bible's claims.
If I'm wrong forgive me, but in the last years I've seen no active search for any evidence, and a lot of criticism for those that offer it.
I'm inviting you to supply true evidence. Anecdotes do not count.

A simple healing ministry where truly disabled people are routinely healed would be enough to silence my criticism on this issue. I'm talking about people with cerebral palsy, severe paralysis, congenital blindness, etc. Ever wonder why, with huge crowds of such cases in attendance, none of the really seriously disabled people ever make it to the front to be healed by Benny Hinn on live TV? Why is it that when so many quadriplegics are present at every meeting looking for healing, those cases never make it to the platform, much less get shown on the TV program?

Extreme gullibility is not faith. And if charismatics are going to make such outlandish claims, they should not be offended when people ask to see proof.
And you should not be offended if a charismatic says to you that your demands of proof has the taste and feel of the devil in it. "Throw yourself down from here if you are really the son of God . . ..Make these stones into bread IF you are really the Son of God . . ...Go ahead and prove that you can do these things!!!!!"
I'm not offended. I can understand how my position might come across like sheer skepticism to a devoted charismatic. It's well worth noting that Jesus did not indulge the curiosity of those who wanted Him to show them miracles as mere novelties. He refused to turn His ministry into a traveling show where miracles were done on stage to heighten the sensationalism. (Again, this sets him apart from Benny Hinn and friends.)

But my insistence on verification has nothing in common with the devil's dare. Try to hear what I am saying. I don't for a moment doubt God's power to do miracles or to heal. I am not asking someone to do miracles just to put on a sensational show. I don't think it would be right to do that, and in fact one of my complaints against charismatic media figures is their tendency toward sensational on-stage shows, while desperate people are suffering in real wheelchairs at the back of the auditorium. I am saying, "Come off the stage and go to the back of the auditorium and heal some truly disabled people, if you really have the power to heal."

There is no record that anyone ever made such a challenge to Jesus. There was no need to make such a challenge. He did not need to prove that His miracles were genuine; they were obviously so. Furthermore, He healed people who were truly in hopeless straits, and He healed them ALL, with a hundred-percent success rate. Scripture repeatedly stresses this (Matt. 4:24; 8:16; 12:15; Lk. 4:40; 6:17-19).

We are commanded to test ALL things (1 Thess. 5:21). The standard by which we test is Scripture. And since there is a such vast discrepancy between the kind of healings that are recorded in Scripture and the public claims of contemporary charismatic faith-healers, it seems not only fair to ask for proof, but also I believe it is our duty. In fact, too many of the best-known healers have been proven to be charlatans. They are a stain on the church and a reproach to the name of Christ.
Maybe it would be wise to concern yourself with your own stuff and leave Brother Hinn alone. If he is a fake, my God is big enough to take care of him.
God will indeed take care of him in His time. Meanwhile, the command to test all things is still in force.

Consider this: if Peter had taken the approach with Simon Magus that you propose taking with Hinn and his ilk, the early church would probably have been overrun with charlatans, too. Or if Paul had taken such an approach with the Galatian legalists, the church might not have endured through into the second century.
Phil's signature

155 comments:

David said...

Phil,

Even though I'm not a strict cessationist, I thoroughly agree with you on this. What goes for "tongues" and "healing" in the church today is utterly deceptive, if not destructive.

I always ask why guys like Hinn never seem to show up to heal people at ...um...a hospital?

David

Libbie said...

I predict... a comment count running to three figures.

Actually David, the answer I have had from others on that question you pose is that the healings need to be done in an 'atmosphere of worship and expectation'.

Which is why I remain convinced that the 'healings' that Mr Hinn can effect are the result of simple show-hypnotism.

Phil, I wonder if you have heard of a woman called Patricia King? She teaches that we should practice 'resurrection' on roadkill and houseplants.

It's very, very hard to imagine how it's possible to equate these sorts of things with the biblical miracles that even the enemies of Christ acknowledged.

jc said...

May Benny Hinn find the truth as it is in Jesus.

donsands said...

Thanks for posting this. It's good stuff.

It's so difficult to discuss this kind of thing with some Word of Faith followers. As soon as they become a little uncomfortable with the discussion, they seem to think the uncomfortable feeling is God showing them that this is the devil. And you're caught in a Catch 22.

I remember telling my brother, after he went on and on about Benny, that this man isn't full of the Sprirt, but full of baloney. I blew it.
We hardly talk anymore.
I hope I can learn to discuss as you did here Phil.
BTW, nice article in Tabletalk.

jsb said...

I hope commentors can stay focused on the central point.The "quality" of current "healings" is not what we see in the NT. That seems indisputable. So where does that leave us?

1. These healings are fake.
2. Some healings are real
a. because God answers prayer;
b. or because God gives the healing gift to an "imperfect" person whom He uses anyway.
3. These "healings" are counterfeited by the enemy.

Charismatics must posit 2b, IMO.
Most non-Charismatics lean toward 2a, with some also holding the possibility of 3 (a minority insists on 3 alone).

I'd like to hear justification for 2b. Unless there is some biblical case to be made for it, it seems that 2a is established by default--all Christians may pray for healing, and sometimes God answers those prayers in the affirmative. Why do we need an "imperfect giftedness" in the hands of a single individual?

david rudd said...

it seems to me that the biblical miracles we're talking about here seemed to come for the most part in bunches at significant times (Moses/Joshua, Elijah, Jesus/Apostles).

this would seem to imply that one need not argue an "ongoing trail" of these miracles through the last 2000 years, but rather they would need to suggest a rational why NOW is the complete fulfillment of Joel 2 (assuming they can make a reasonable explanation of Acts 2 as partial fulfillment).

unfortunately, i NEVER hear anyone try to make this argument... in fact, i rarely hear a sound biblical argument for these things that takes into consideration the WHOLE of God's activity in history as revealed in Scripture...

DJP said...

It goes like this:

Charismatic: Look! Look! Look!

Sufficient-Scripture-guy: I'm looking, and it doesn't measure up.

Charismatic: Scoffer! Stop looking!

Aric said...

Phil,

This is my first blog comment (ever), so please be gentle. Recently, God has graciously opened my eyes by revealing the sweetness and truth of a more Reformed/Calvinistic theology. Growing up in a very Charismatic (mostly void of any theology) background, the cessationist position is something I am now trying to evaluate from a Reformed, biblical perspective. Stumbling upon your blog a month ago has truly been a blessing in my quest for a more solid theology.

Obviously, there are men much more intelligent than I on both sides of this debate. What I find interesting is that your position today is seeking experiential proof of miracles to help "convince" you to reconsider you position, when reliance on experience is a major component of the trouble with the organizations like Hinn's.

Although I lean more towards continuationism, I am trying to firmly ground my views in scripture (without any need to rely on experience). The biggest reason that I cannot adhere to the cessation argument is that scripture never states that the gifts ceased (experience may show that the gifts are not as readily apparent, but that can be for a variety of reasons, and it again relies on experience). In I Cor. 13, it seems to say that the gifts will continue until Christ's return. Ah, the journey continues.

I am sure someone will point me to a great article on the cessation view point, which I will gladly read. For now, I will await the lashes from the masses (albeit in love, I'm sure), as they gently prod me along and reveal the shortsightedness in my thought process. By His grace . . .

John Haller said...

I believe that if you examine the progression of the sign gifts in Acts, you will find that their manifestation tracks the spread of the gospel and the affirmation of the apostolic office to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.

Libbie said...

aric,

Two books by Dr Peter Masters helped me immensely in understanding the biblical argument for cessationist thinking - The Charismatic Phenomenon and The Healing Epidemic, and I recommend them to you.

Terry Rayburn said...

Modern Charismatic doctrine is normally based on a widespread deception, the deception that modern so-called tongues are really the Scriptural supernatural gift. Many are deceived by various forms of "instruction" in speaking in tongues.

It goes something like, "Just speak, but don’t speak English…that’s right...no, don’t speak English...but speak out, let the words flow...that’s it, you’ve got it!" And another dupe is lured into Charismania.

I can speak so disrespectfully because I was one of those dupes in the early ‘80’s. I was a teaching Elder in a Charismatic church called New Wine Fellowship in Grand Rapids. I "spoke in tongues", "prophesied", laid hands on people to "receive the Spirit", spoke to the devil and diseases, blah, blah, blah.

Like other Charismatic recruits, I looked around at a Laodicean church, and desired more. I rightly desired revival, joy, and other good things of an abundant life. And I saw these Charismatic folks who were always raising their hands and shouting "Jesus" and looked more alive, and I made a conscious decision to put my brain on the shelf, and jump in with both feet.

The entry ticket into that world is, of course, the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" with the "evidence of speaking in tongues". So I bought my ticket and joined the "movement". I began reading and listening to the leaders, from the more moderate Jack Hayford types to the more vehement Hagin/Copeland types.

I became a powerful advocate for the movement, and to be honest, could run rings around most Christians in arguing FOR Charismatic doctrine from the Scriptures (cut crooked, of course).

But I noticed something regarding this entry ticket of "tongues". I sensed that it wasn’t real. That it wasn’t the supernatural gift that the Bible spoke of. I would be riding down the road, dutifully "praying" in tongues, and the thought would clearly come to me that I was speaking gibberish.

At first I thought it was only me that might be speaking gibberish, and all the other tongue-talkers had the real supernatural thing. But then I began to realize that they were just speaking gibberish, too. When they spoke, it had no sense of a real language, and was actually repetitious and copycat.

Then I heard Kenneth Copeland say that "the Devil" told him that his tongues weren’t real, and that he told the Devil that he was going to pray in tongues until the Devil stopped his lying, no matter how long it took.

Something like 24 hours later, as memory serves, he arose from a marathon tongues stupor declaring that truth had prevailed, the Devil lost, and he now "knew" his tongues were real.

Give me a break.

Anyway, I dove back into studying and experimenting, and was appalled to find out that many others were having the same doubts, and others denied doubting but were obviously lying, such was the fear of "doubting" the Holy Spirit’s "gift".

I also realized that so-called "interpretation" was likewise a cruel joke, and that if I would deliberately make up gibberish, someone would "interpret" it. And the interpretation was as repetitious and copycat as the "tongues".

It was invariably something like, "My children, and you are my children, I am the Holy God who loves and blesses you. Bow to Me and you will be blessed." And other such profound regurgitation of Scripture. I even knew of a Greek professor who attended a Charismatic meeting and spoke John 3:16 in Greek, and sure enough, someone "interpreted" it (not with John 3:16, of course).

I went to all kinds of meetings with some "top" leaders, and I began to see that their Emperor had no clothes either. When they would "prophesy", it was either some bland generalization that a 5-year-old could have concocted, or it was flat-out false prediction. When it didn’t come to pass, no one dared mention the Emperor’s nakedness.

I got nauseated by the wool that had been pulled over my eyes, and that I had pulled over others’ eyes, and I went to my two co-pastors and told them that I must in good conscience resign, because I no longer believed that the Charismatic doctrine was true.

(Sidenote: I was a flat-out Calvinist before this, and continued to be, and preached Sovereign Grace to the New Wine congregation, and they loved it!)

To my amazement, they said, "Oh, no, don’t leave. You don’t have to believe our way. You don’t have to teach the baptism of the Holy Spirit, etc."

Such was the depth of *their* conviction, which made it even more comical, if it wasn’t so tragic.

Terry Rayburn said...

I say all the above to say this:

I have a theory. It’s not an off-the-top-of-my-head theory, but a studied one after many years of experience and observation regarding the Charismatic movement.

My theory is two-fold:

1, A typical Charismatic knows in his heart that the tongues he speaks are not real, but gibberish. And because he WILLFULLY lives that lie every day of his life, he is subject to all kinds of spiritual maladies and confusions.

2. This typical Charismatic thinks of himself and refers to himself as "Spirit-filled". And because he wrongfully thinks that way, he is not inclined to understand Eph. 5:18 which says literally "be being filled" as an ongoing process or experience. Thus they are automatically more inclined toward the flesh (other things being equal).

I believe that these two aspects of my theory explain how so-called "Spirit-filled" folks can have such dramatic and newsworthy falls as has occurred with, say, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker, and Ted Haggard, among MANY others.

Obviously such falls are not exclusive to Charismatics, but I’m only pointing out the contradiction of being so-called "Spirit-filled" and the real spiritual condition of the man, because he’s not truly "being filled" with the Holy Spirit.

Once one willfully suppresses the truth in one area, they are open to literally anything.

John H said...

I once heard the conservative evangelical Anglican preacher Dick Lucas make the very telling point that, if healings were taking place today in the same way as in Jesus' ministry, we'd see the same crowds flocking to witness them. No need for advertising, no need for television stations. You'd need to call in the army to control the crowds. (More on this here).

John Haller said...

Phil:

Is there a connection between the post earlier this week on the emerging church and this one?

SolaMeanie said...

I think it is the "televised show" aspect of this that bothers me the most. I can't see either Jesus or His apostles doing what Benny Hinn does, i.e. hawking his healing services like a carnival barker. In fact, Jesus often did quite the opposite, telling the person He had just healed to keep quiet about it. (The reasons for that instruction are another subject)

Some modern-day faith healers have also made the implication that the more money you give to them, the better chance you have of being healed, which is revolting.

I have had a hard time with complete cessationism because I don't see it in Scripture. Having said that, I think 90 percent of what goes on today under the name of "gifts of the Spirit" is not of God.

DLE said...

Phil,

Since we've sparred on this topic before, I thought I'd post a comment.

It always bothers me when real, sane, theologically-sound charismatics get lumped in with charismaniacs. Just as there are extremes in every sector of Christian thought, charismaniacs ruin it for everyone.

You don't have to go too far to find genuine miracles in churches that believe the gifts are still for today. But people like to point to the Hinns and W.V. Grants of the world and go "Ah ha!"

We've seen several miraculous healings in our church in the last year. People with just days to live. At issue would be whether they were healed because the charismata still exist or because God (who some would say is on the side of cessationism)chose to heal them, well that issue's kind of moot when the outcome is the same. Either way, God used prayerful Christians and did a healing.

I know all this is true because God once tapped me on the shoulder and told me to go pray for a woman going blind. At the same time, He called another prayer warrior over to pray with me. That woman's blindness vanished after that prayer.

Do I consider myself to have the gift of healing? No. But God was gracious to that woman and used me in her healing. We can argue theology on what exactly happened there, but the outcome is the same. God was glorified and one of his servants was healed.

As the Bible says:

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For it is God who said, "Out of darkness Light shall shine;" who shone in our hearts to give the brightness of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us...
---2 Corinthians 4:5-7

If the apostles, who definitely manifested the charismata, had this attitude, it should be the attitude of all of us. Perhaps then this entire debate would go away and we could simply do the works God called us to and give Him the glory, no matter how He decides to work.

Terry Rayburn said...

dle,

You wrote:

At issue would be whether they were healed because the charismata still exist or because God...chose to heal them, well that issue's kind of moot when the outcome is the same.

Your comment is part of the problem.

When "the outcome" is placed above "what is true", you are as open to error as you are with suppressing the truth about "phony tongues".

Prayer for healing is legitimate, and many times honored by God in this age.

Speaking to diseases and commanding them to leave, or addressing a "spirit of cancer" is not.

Part of the reason more theologically astute Charismatics are sometimes lumped in with others is because of their willingness to believe "fables" they've heard from the kookier fringe.

I heard one the other day online, spoken from a "moderate" Charismatic pulpit:

A visiting Pastor told of a Muslim woman who was killed by her husband and buried in a tomb. Her two children cried for her until the man put them in the tomb with his wife. Two weeks later, they were still alive, so the story goes. The older 7-year-old daughter said that a man in white with holes in his hands raised mommy from the dead every night to feed them chocolate, thereby keeping them alive.

Aside from the likelihood of two weeks of nothing but chocolate killing them faster than starvation, it didn't even occur to the "moderate" Pastor to question the veracity of the visiting Pastor's story.

These verses are relevant:

“...nor give heed to FABLES [Gk. mythos, ...fiction...invention...falsehood] ... which causes disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.” (1 Tim. 1:4)

‘...and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to FABLES.” (2 Tim. 4:4)

“For we did not follow cunningly devised FABLES when we [the REAL Apostles] made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Pet. 1:16)

Al said...

Phil,
That was a very gracious response. The temptation to go for the jugular is often strong, esspecially when one lifts his chin and says, "look at my pulse."

You pointed out the problems with Hinn et al and then urged a reconsideration of the Word of God. I have learned a great deal from this post. Well done.

al sends

Gilbert said...

Ah, so that's what a cessationist is. :-)

Phil, I have heard arguments that we don't have enough faith in our country to see things like this happen. I've also heard anecodetally of miracles over in Russia, where in one area, these things are "expected to happen". I really pray those are true.

So I say this. We know God can raise people from the dead. We know that His apostles brought back at least one person from the dead, spoke in tongues, etc. So Paul was a murderer, and tried to eliminate Christians entirely. You've obviously been called by God and I can tell your posts are Spirit-led. You haven't physically or mentally wanted to or carried out eliminating Christians from the Earth. And you want all to repent on our hands and knees and ask Jesus to forgive our sins, and believe and follow Him to be saved.

So what has changed between then and now that people cannot do what the apostles did? Sorry Dle, the evidence---even by SECULAR stories of Benny Hinn and others...have proven him to be false. End of story. But are there true believers in the world that God still does miracles through like these? If it was necessary to bring back people from the dead or miraculously heal people then for them to believe, why not now? Can it not be argued that the world is so hard-hearted that only miracles on a scale like that would get people would believe? Or would they also be so jaded by the Hinn-like ministry that they would dismiss that outright?

I don't have answers on those. God most certainly can do whatever He wants. I'm wondering why he stopped doing "spectacular" (pardon that word, you know what I mean) miracles. What, if anything, occurred to make Him stop doing them through His believers and followers?

I eagerly anticipate your 20 page reply that would blow most Divinity theses right out of the water. ;-D

Carla Rolfe said...

Libbie: I think you might be right. It's a huge issue these days.

I continue to be astounded at the "continuationists" that also claim to be Calvinists. No matter how many times it's explained, it still doesn't connect for me.

I'm actually looking forward to this comment thread.
:-)

DJP said...

DLE — It always bothers me when real, sane, theologically-sound charismatics get lumped in with charismaniacs

Whose fault do you think that is? I'm minded of the "moderate" Muslims who complain about being lumped in with the "fanatical" Muslims — who, that is, complain about being lumped in with them, but don't so often complain about them.

And so here you are, complaining about this lumping. Are you equally vocal in complaining ABOUT the Hinns, the Copelands, and the rest?

First, I myself don't think that modern Charismaticism is "theologically sound." If you want to say "otherwise theologically sound," I might agree.

Second, I think it's difficult for "otherwise theologically sound" Charismatics to police their own house, because it's their own premises and sloppy Bible-handing that even makes room for the Hinns and the Hagins. Otherwise, they'd be forced to say, "Theoretically, I believe that all the gifts are available; however, no revelatory gift has evidenced itself in nearly 2000 years."

Which probably wouldn't sell a lot of books to the TBN crowd.

Gilbert said...

Terry,

Well said and I am afraid my comment above could be miscontrued.
And, if a miracle has occurred with the story you gave, I'd want to hear it from the person(s) it happened to directly, rather than second-hand. No offense to those who speak the truth to such events, but call me Thomas and want to see the dead risen or the healing or whatever directly. The word "miracle" gets slapped around wayyyyyy too loosely these days.

Seth F said...

I agree that Benny Hinn is a false prophet. In my opinion, he is a son of the devil. But in the similar sentiments of an earlier comment, please be careful not to lump maniacs like Hinn in with other non-cessationists. You didn't in this post, but it might be inferred.

The Reformed community needs to move past this issue. There will always be different stances. There are other more pressing and deeper issues within our spiritually dry community that we need to continue to address. Call these faith healers what they are, swindlers and heretics, and move on with it.

Seth
whatum.com
Theological Satire

Phil Johnson said...

I have time for one comment only this morning, and then my workload today will preclude me from being involved in this thread much further. Since Aric is a first-time commenter and hit on several of the issues others have raised, I'll answer his comment:

Aric: "This is my first blog comment (ever), so please be gentle."

Thanks for your kind words, and welcome to the blog. Most of the regulars here are pretty gentle folk, until someone with nothing but mischief on his mind comes in and starts throwing the furniture around or coloring on the wallpaper. Then we do tend to be less than wholly affirming. But the average commenter will find us harmless as doves.

Aric: "What I find interesting is that your position today is seeking experiential proof of miracles to help 'convince' you to reconsider you position, when reliance on experience is a major component of the trouble with the organizations like Hinn's."

Yeah, that's a good point. To be clear, I'm not on a quest for experiential proof. I've been a cessationist since the early '70s. Because I grew up in Tulsa hanging about with people from the faith-healing community, this was one of the first issues I really studied carefully as a young believer. During that same time (my first year in college) a couple of good friends who were long-time Pentecostals (who never gave me the gospel when I needed it, but who were suddenly keen to get me to speak in tongues now that I was a believer) began to slip into lifestyles that were inconsistent with their profession of faith in Christ. The faith-healing father of my best friend contracted a lingering cancer that finally took his life after a protracted time of great pain and suffering, and my best friend virtully abandoned the faith because of it. I took a hard look at charismatic claims and realized then that they don't match up to what we see in Scripture. My stance on that has never wavered.

Nevertheless, charismatics constantly appeal to supposed evidence, pointing to the latest "miracle," or miracle-worker, or strange new phenomenon, or whatever. What I'm saying is that all such "proofs" that have been singled out so far are not even worthy of anyone's consideration. If someone wants me to reconsider my stance on charismatic gifts based on some kind of empirical evidence, that person is going to have to point to more credible evidence than anyone has brought forth yet. In other words, continuationists who appeal to experiential "proof" need to make a credible argument to demonstrate that gifts just like those described in Scripture are still functioning today.

They cannot do that.

Aric: "Although I lean more towards continuationism, I am trying to firmly ground my views in scripture (without any need to rely on experience). The biggest reason that I cannot adhere to the cessation argument is that scripture never states that the gifts ceased (experience may show that the gifts are not as readily apparent, but that can be for a variety of reasons, and it again relies on experience). In I Cor. 13, it seems to say that the gifts will continue until Christ's return. Ah, the journey continues."

A couple of other commenters have made similar comments. "I don't believe in cessationism because I don't see it in Scripture." I dealt with that point in a post about a year and a half ago. The fact is, whatever view you hold with regard to the gifts: 1) there's a measure of cessationism in it; 2) you cannot justify your view by purely exegetical arguments; and 3) you need to think of this question the same way you think about the close of the canon.

Here's what I mean:

Does Scripture plainly and explicitly foretell the closure of the canon? Let's assume, hypothetically for the moment that Revelation 22:18-19 applies only to the book of Revelation and not the complete canon. (That's the view most charismatics would insist on anyway.) Where, then, in the Bible does it ever say that the writing of inspired NT book would end? It doesn't. And yet (except for cultists and wackos) we all believe the canon did close. The inspiration of Scripture ended. That's a historical reality, not an exegetical conclusion.

Likewise, it is a well-established fact that the regular manifestations of true apostolic-quality gifts on a large scale such as we see in the early chapters of Acts also ceased (and as a matter of fact, we see evidence in Scripture that the charismata were beginning to diminish even before the closure of the canon). Except for unusual and spurious claims here and there in church history, Christian lay-people did not even claim to have miraculous spiritual gifts on any major scale until the dawn of the charismatic movement at the start of the 20th century.

Therefore, it is the continuationist claim that needs solid biblical proof. The burden of biblical proof is on the charismatic, not the cessationist. And the proof for charismatic claims needs to start with credible evidence demonstrating that modern tongues, healings, and prophecy are exactly the same gifts that were described and manifested in the NT. Instead of providing that evidence, the most biblically-oriented and serious-minded charismatic apologists have actually made the exact opposite claim, acknowledging (as Jack Deere does in Surprised by the Power of the Holy Spirit) that modern charismatic miracles are in fact not apostolic-quality phenomena.

In other words, Jack Deere is a kind of cessationist, too. He has no exegetical basis for his own brand of cessationism, but that doesn't seem to disturb him.

The subsequent claim that today's lesser "miracles" are true gifts from the Holy Spirit does disturb me, and it disturbs me greatly in light of the current reality worldwide. Literally millions of Christians are willfully gullible, unthinkingly and undiscerningly accepting spurious claims that are demonstrably at odds with what Scripture says about true miracles. The systematic cultivation of such extreme gullibility in millions of Christians' minds is in my view not a minor flaw we can afford to wink at. It's one of the major factors that has eroded the foundations of evangelical conviction in our generation.

Aric: "I am sure someone will point me to a great article on the cessation view point, which I will gladly read. For now, I will await the lashes from the masses (albeit in love, I'm sure), as they gently prod me along and reveal the shortsightedness in my thought process."

Here's a great book I recommend on the subject.

Terry Rayburn said...

Gilbert,

You wrote:

If it was necessary to bring back people from the dead or miraculously heal people then for them to believe, why not now?

That is a wrong premise. It was never "necessary" to bring back people from the dead or miraculously heal people for them to believe.

Faith has always been a gift of God, given through the hearing of the Word of God, specifically the Gospel, which is "the power of God for salvation to those who believe".

Your premise was the basis of John Wimber's error in his "classic" Power Evangelism, which has caused as much confusion on this subject as any modern book.

The eventual fringe elements of his movement (Vineyard) and his related Apostolic/Prophetic mentors and protege's clearly shows how one can be led far astray once they accept the Charismatic "basics".

Connie said...

I always appreciate when you and the other Pyros deal with this topic, mostly because you continue to deal with it directly and without all the "fluff" and excessive emotion that comes from the charismatice camp.

As a former charismatic I feel comfortable saying that this matter continues to be much like the "Emperor's New Clothes"--what is claimed to exist simply does not.

Mike-e said...

Great post Phil. Although i'm as strict a cessationist as they get (yes, even more than DJP...ha!), its always good to be reminded of the truth. In order for me to even consider the Pentecostal perspective, I must be shown, like you said, that the authentic apostolic gift is still around. But it would also be nice to find even one Pentecostal church that actually practiced the gift of tongues in accordance with 1 Cor. 14! How rare do we even find that!

DJP said...

Mike-e(yes, even more than DJP...ha!)

Whoa. Dude.

GeneMBridges said...

As I recall, healings were reputed to have been part of the ministry of the Particular Baptist, Hanserd Knollys,and his integrity in ministry is beyond question; so let us be clear here, while we should admittedly be skeptical of charlatans like Benny Hinn, we should be equally careful not to shuttle off all such reports to the realm of the charlatans and charismatics.

I continue to be astounded at the "continuationists" that also claim to be Calvinists. No matter how many times it's explained, it still doesn't connect for me.

Carla, my sister, I do appreciate you greatly, but perhaps you should take a look at Warfield's own summary of positions on cessationism/continuationism with the Reformed tradition itself. He's quite candid that the Reformed tradtion is not of one piece on these issues.

janelle said...

I have a couple questions and/or clarifications

1) What do you mean by "God healing through a non-miraculous work of providence"
2) Regarding tongues, if someone were to interpret biblically, meaning TO God and not FROM God, would that be considered a "real" tongue
3) If you want eyewitness proof of a miracle, told from someone who was actually there, how obvious does the miracle have to be? Where is the line drawn? If migraines don't count, why does cerebral palsy?

Thanks for any clarification.

Phil Johnson said...

Gene:

My position is not that healings never take place. My position is that the gift of supernatural healing and its genus have ceased. As far as I know, Knollys never claimed to have the gift of healing.

It's one thing to recognize the hand of God in extraordinary providences; it's another thing entirely to embrace the theology of continuationism because of a few isolated and admittedly extraordinary incidents, and thereby force oneself to pretend that the full panoply of charismatic gifts are still fully and completely operative, despite all evidence to the contrary. That's an especially problematic stance in an era like ours, when phony miracles abound so feely within the church herself.

My own view is described pretty well in a position paper written by an ARBCA ad hoc committee a few years ago. Note: I would not necessarily take every anecdote about Knollys or Spurgeon at face value or even think it necessary to interpret certain extraordinary events the way Knollys and Spurgeon themselves seemed to interpret them. Nevertheless, the ARBCA paper gives a helpful perspective:

"There are some Reformed believers who adhere to a strict cessationism, and who deny the continuance of the revelatory gifts, yet who cannot deny that some extraordinary events have occurred in history to faithful Reformed men. Some Reformed men of the past have reported extraordinary events in their lives which seem to mimic the revelatory gifts mentioned in Scripture. Reported occurrences include specific knowledge of unknowable circumstances beyond normal illumination of Scripture, or unusual knowledge of God's immediate will and guidance for their labors, or predictions of the future which have come true. It is reported that Hanserd Knollys once healed Benjamin Keach and predicted that he would live longer than Knollys, which he did. Spurgeon reported in his autobiography (vol. 2, p. 59-61) of two incidents wherein he preached that someone was present in disguise, only to be informed by a woman on each occasion that they were present in disguise so that no one would know their presence. On another occasion, he pointed a finger at a portion of the assembly where a young man sat and said: "Young man, those gloves you are wearing have not been paid for: you have stolen them from your employer." Following the service, a young man visited him, laid the gloves on his desk, and confessed to the crime. Other reports of extraordinary predictions in church history have been reported by George Gillespie, even by some of the reformers (Works, vol. 2, chap. 5, sec. 7, p. 30).

As difficult as it is to explain such events, these occurrences still were not performed by "prophets" as described in the New Testament, nor did these experiences fit the regular practice of prophecy in congregational worship (1 Cor. 14), which some are claiming today. Neither did these men foster the use of such gifts nor attempt to restore them to the church as is done today in "restorationism." Such extraordinary occurrences, or opinions, or errors of good men must not be used to modify the plain words of the LBC. For one to believe that there may have been extraordinary experiences by good men in the past which seem to mimic, at times, revelatory gifts in the New Testament, does not necessarily mean that one believes that the revelatory gifts still exist as formerly practiced.

SolaMeanie said...

Phil,

Thanks for those comments on cessationism. I hadn't seen your post of a year ago. Very helpful, and food for much thought. Basically where I've been on this is that, while I am not one who practices any of the sign gifts - and I hold the majority to be suspect - I haven't been able to quite bring myself to say that God cannot and will not manifest any of them today. However, I am open and teachable.

Carla,

Why would being a Calvinist clash with being a continuationist? Just curious.

DJP said...

Not to answer for Carla, but I'd say that if Sola Scriptura is definitional of being Reformed, then the marriage isn't a happy one.

Sewing said...

This is just an anecdote, but a couple of weeks ago, I attended a Filipina step-cousin's church service on Sunday afternoon. (Don't worry: I also attended my home church in the morning!) I was apprehensive about going, not knowing what kind of teaching there'd be.

This was the church's 2nd birthday, so that day, there were two guest pastors. The first pastor—who did the main sermon—was preaching on the Cross, all about repentance and the blood of Christ and the need to trust God with ALL (not part) of our lives. He even quoted MacArthur. (I asked him afterwards if he'd heard of Phil Johnson, but sadly, no such luck.) "Okay, not bad!" I thought.

Then the second guest pastor spoke, and it was all distinctly charismatic: talk about "signs and wonders" and rebuking sickness and the like. I'm still not sure which side the church falls on—maybe it's a combination of both—but it was an interesting exercise in contrasts.

Phil Johnson said...

"Why would being a Calvinist clash with being a continuationist?"

I'll agree with Dan's reply and chime in with this: The roots of the charismatic movement could hardly be more far removed from Reformed belief, and there's an important doctrinal reason for that, I think. The original itching after supernatural manifestations (which is what led people to seek the gift of tongues in the Holiness and Arminian movements in the first place) was rooted in the misconception that if God isn't actively producing miracles, He's not really intimately involved in His creation. That idea, in turn, reflects a lack of understanding about the sovereignty of God in the outworking of divine Providence.

Occasionally, a "Calvinist" charismatic will challenge my cessationist views with a remark like this: "You don't actually believe God is active today, do you?" I find it stunning that anyone who is a Calvinist would even think in such terms. Who has the stronger belief in God's immanence? The Charismatic who thinks God is truly "active" only when He is performing miracles, or the Calvinist who understands that God carefully governs every minute detail of Providence?

A Calvinist shouldn't need to trivialize the concept of miracles or exaggerate his our own experience in order to give God the glory and gratitude when a headache goes away. Even if an aspirin I took was the means God used to heal me, I realize that He is still the One who determines whether I am healed and healthy or achey and breaky. Moreover, because I believe God sovereignly governs every detail of whatever happens, I can also give Him thanks and praise when the headache does not go away. I know that He ordains that as well.

So whether I ever witness a miracle firsthand or not, my faith in God's ability to do whatever He pleases is absolute. The charismatic notion that God is in some sense "inactive" unless he intervenes with a miracle is totally at odds with that aspect of Reformed doctrine.

Connie said...

Please read this in the nicest and politest tone, as a charismatic I found that I and most everyone else would often cling to miracles and/or signs and wonders out of a desire/need for relief from suffering or fear of possible suffering.

This is one reason I consider charismatic theology to be primarily man-centered. It often reflects a lack of humility and submission to an all-wise God who doesn't necessarily operate as one might "believe" or wish/desire.

Carla Rolfe said...

Gene,

I should have worded my comment a bit better. The only reason I wasn't more clear was due to a reluctance on my part to really *get into* this topic. It can get a little hairy at times.

While I realize that the reformed (I'm speaking soteriologically in case anyone wondered) tradition is not all in one camp on this subject, all I meant by my earlier comment was that the explanations given by non-cessationists that also call themselves Calvinists, just don't add up for me, especially when digging deep into the context of Scripture.

I have had very long and very involved discussions on this with many over the years (including my husband who is also a strict cessationist like myself) and I'm still at a loss, especially as it pertains to (for example) the gift of tongues being given to the early church as a sign to the unbelievers (1Cor.14:21-22) - fulfilling the prophecy given in Isaiah. Oddly enough, not once in my nearly 4 years in the charismatic church did I ever hear that. It was simply ignored whenever the topic came up, and I never heard it or read it all, until I left that church.

Once the gift of tongues were exercised in the early church and the unbelievers heard this and still rejected Christ, there was no further need for this sign gift. It's purpose was achieved for that time and for that place.

Coming from a Charismatic background in the mid 90's and into an understanding and humiliated appreciation of the doctrines of grace, then spending the next year or so measuring what my former church taught against what the Scriptures teach, I've not been able to see how the two can ever go together.

Others can (and have) elaborate on this much better than I can, so I will just leave it at that, and look forward to the discussion in this comment thread.

I learn a lot more reading, than I ever do participating.
:-)

Sorry for the long reply, but it seemed appropriate.

SDG

The Doulos said...

I have been working on a lesson regarding John chapter 9 - Jesus' healing of the man blind from birth. Here is an example of a bona-fide miraculous healing, done as Christ states for the purpose of demonstrating God's power and work, and to testify to Jesus as the Messiah. And the response of the Pharisees is extraordinarily telling - they refuse to accept or believe. They do everything in their power to deny the miracle, the One who performed it (they won't even call Him by name, only referring to Him as "this man"), and they appeal to their own righteousness.

How does this relate to the topic at hand? It shows quite clearly that even when confronted with irrefutable signs performed by the Lord Himself, belief is not assured or compelled. This was true in the days of Christ and the apostles, and it is true today. The proposition that I have heard regarding the continuationist view by others (and in a few cases implied by some here) is that miraculous gifts are a means that God uses to bring people to Himself. However, the testimony of Scripture is clear that unless God quickens the person's spirit to receive the gospel and repent, no amount of miraculous signs and wonders will penetrate the hard and unregenerate heart. Consider Pharaoh...

GeneMBridges said...


My position is not that healings never take place. My position is that the gift of supernatural healing and its genus have ceased. As far as I know, Knollys never claimed to have the gift of healing.


I agree, but I think we should be careful about lumping people into the same camp. That's all I'm saying. I'd also add that it is my understanding that Knollys never claimed to have the gift of healing in his day - but he was also known for his deep piety and humility and would never have made such a claim in my estimation if he did possess such a gift. That said, I believe others did make that claim about him. So, it all depends on how one defines "healing," which in turn depends on a wider position.

donsands said...

I always wondered why there's very little discussion about the gift of interpretation.

That's one gift I would love to hear people say they understand.
I have no idea what this gift is.

david rudd said...

doulos,

would you agree that:

a) the pharisees rejection of Jesus and his miracles was not because they checked the revelation of God available to them and found the two to be incompatible?

b) their rejection of Christ was because of who he claimed to be, not because of what he did?

what "irrefutable signs" would you suggest are being given today that would parrallel John 9?

Sewing said...

Phil wrote:

"Moreover, because I believe God sovereignly governs every detail of whatever happens, I can also give Him thanks and praise when the headache does not go away. I know that He ordains that as well."

To comment on this side note, there is something so true and precious in what you wrote there.

I know that some of the Lord's elect undergo greater sufferings than I may ever know, so I don't mean to be trite in writing this, but at least as I look back on my life, I am compelled to thank Him both for His blessings and for His tribulations, even if in my sinful and unsaved state, I didn't feel any desire to thank Him during the tribulatory times. He still tests me today, however, and by both means in tandem—the blessings and the trials—has He taught me in the ways of discipleship, and worked out His will in the world through me (as through all other believers and quite often through non-believers as well).

lawrence said...

Dan,
you don't really believe that sola scriptura and the belief in the charismatic gifts cannot coexist do you? I'm not trying to be precotious (sp?) or clever or anything, but the way you said it seemed to me like you wouldn't actually think that it's true if someone pressed you on it.

I'm pretty sure Paul thought that Scripture was self-authenticating, clear and rational, it's own interperter (I'm a terrible speller) and sufficiently authoratative of Christian doctrine, and he still desired that everyone speak in tongues (if only he knew that people for thousands of years would read his words, truly desire to speak in tongues as he was saying, and, though they were geniune believers and who loved God and were used by God in many ways, and actually spent their entire lives devoted to studying him, they would, according to Terry Rayburn, simply be decieving themselves and others) Even if one believes that tongues have ceased, that doesn't mean that the two (belief in the availibility of Charismatic gifts and belief in sola scriptura) cannot coexist.

Gunner said...

Phil: I appreciate your straightforwardness and grace here. Thanks for the post.

My Daily Bread said...

Brother Johnson,

I am no longer a "strict cessasionist" but I am still, after 35 years, still a 5 point Calvisist and an Old Baptist.

I do not think I Cor. 13 can be used to teach that the gifts were to cease shortly after Paul wrote Corinthians.

I agree with what John Piper has written on this topic. I also plan to write more on this topic myself, possibly even a book.

I am open to receive the gifts, desiring them, as I am commanded to do. I do not preclude God giving them.

Yes, I too have not seen any genuine revival of the gifts, but that does not mean they cannot be revived.

I take the view that they will be restored, as part of the "latter rain," and as part of the plan of God to equip the tribulation saints.

Who can deny that the two witnesses of the Apocalypse will have these gifts?

I appreciate your ministry. I am a friend of Brother Bob Ross.

Check out my blogs and see if you might recommend them.

Yours in Christ,

Stephen M. Garrett
www.baptistgadfly.blogspot.com
www.stephenmgarrett.blogspot.com ("My Daily Bread")

mike said...

I was charismatic when years ago. When I became a new believer this was the style of worship that I knew. It has been about ten years since I began my walk with Christ. Being a charismatic gave me such an ego and privilege to be a "real"Christian! I spoke in tongues, slaying in the spirit was a regular on friday night prayer, healings, visions, prophetic utterances were common in my life. About 2001 is when I began to feel uncomfortable about my believes! The Holy Spirit began to do a work in me. I came to find out that my life was inconsistent. So this supernatural experiences did not qualify me to be a believer, I was not grounded in the Word!! Heck, they don't even teach truth, its all about the next experience and what I can get!! They, definitely do not teach thinking of others before yourself, it is a self seeking, self gratifying doctrine. With much help from doctrinally sound men of God, I repented from the life of heresy. I could go on, but I think my point is made. Just shall live by faith alone!

Sister Judith Hannah said...

Good Morning, Pyro Brethren... This is just a thought to add to your cessationist discussion.

It seems Brother Phil is correct IN WHAT HE HAS OBSERVED. However, the gifts and calling of The LORD are without repentance (Rom. 11:29), are they not? So, is the Word wrong ... or are we missing something?

The healings we see presented MAY oftentimes be temporary. But since GOD is not a man that HE should lie...maybe we should change our approach and look in another place...indeed, in another country to find preaching which is confirmed by The LORD with signs and wonders following.

One of our problems is that Western Civilization is a CHRIST-rejecting, pagan-serving society. In other words, we've heard the Word that JESUS CHRIST came to save sinners... we're just not too interested. [And if we are, we're not too interested in changing our lifestyles to conform unto HIS Word, for the most part.]

But, if you are hungry to see the workings of the HOLY SPIRIT in accordance with HIS Word, you might try looking in the places on this earth where the people are TRUE heathens, that is, where the name of JESUS CHRIST has never been heard... where the people have never even laid eyes on a BIBLE. To those people, the working of the HOLY SPIRIT is visible, as the signs of healing and other miracles do go forth with the preaching of the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST.

Try looking at the non-slick ministries that are run on GOD's provision and the little no-name preachers (i.e., "...making themselves of no reputation")who are willing to lay down their lives to take the message of JESUS to unreached peoples.

Look at Brother Yun and Pastor Khing; you can find these and a lot more at ASIA HARVEST [www.asiaharvest.org] . It's an eye-opener, if you are hungry to see the TRUE workings of the HOLY SPIRIT.

Yours, in CHRISTIAN love,
Sister Judith Hannah

The Doulos said...

david rudd:

Thanks for the clarifying questions. Yes, I would agree with your points a & b. The Pharisees' rejection was a rejection of Christ and His person and His identity, not of the signs and wonders that He performed. Although because of their rejection of Him, they could not accept or be persuaded by those same miracles, and were forced by their hard and unregenerate hearts to attribute His power to the devil.

What "irrefutable signs" do I think are active today that parallel this and similar miracles of Christ? None, and I apologize if I implied such. My point was that even when confronted with true miraculous healings done by the Son of God Himself, there was no power in these signs in and of themselves to compel belief. And in today's context, when there are purported gifts of healing as discussed in this thread, which even anecdotally fall far short of the quality of signs performed by Christ, the same holds true. It is God's Spirit and His word that He uses to regenerate and bring to faith, not the performance of miraculous acts. As Christ said in Luke 16:31, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead."

jodiraeofsunshine said...

Great post Phil. I'm new to your blog and this is the first article I read. I whole heartedly agree with you and think you represented Christ in a God glorifying way and presented the truth to a man who views himself above any biblical truth, or so it seems. One way that proves that Hinn's "miracles" do not stand against biblical truths is by Hinn's motives. Are they for God? Or are they for himself? The answer is obvious to those who live for honoring Christ and glorifying God. But too many people (churches in general) today water down the gospel, contort scripture to fit their mold of thoughts and are hypocrites to the core of their being. But praise God for His providence in this world and may those who don't believe be drawn closer to Him and the truth be revealed to their hearts. It breaks my heart for those who truly need Christ and not a fake miracle performed on a huge stage "exalting" Benny Hinn instead of being fed the richness of truth from the Word of God.

DJP said...

...the gifts and calling of The LORD are without repentance (Rom. 11:29), are they not?

Yes, they are.

That's why ethnic Israel must have a future before God. (See the context of Romans 11:29.)

SolaMeanie said...

It's been said by many that the issue of continuing revelation is the Achilles heel of the charismatic movement, and I can certainly see that. If we believe in a closed canon (which I most certainly do), then someone's "prophetic" utterances cannot be added to Scripture. I would like to see someone from the charismatic camp explain how a modern "word from the Lord" somehow doesn't carry the weight of Scripture, if indeed it IS a word from the Lord.

dks said...

I will make a brief comment.

If God were ever to give a person the gift of "Healing". They should go to each Children's Hospital in the world and empty them. No TV, no Tent meetings etc...

It would not be for fame or fortune it would be because Jesus loved the little children and to do the will of God and for HIS Glory alone.

dks

centuri0n said...

Wow. I hate coming back from vacation, having missed this bruhaha. The real craziness is that any other comment I made in the past week was texted (is that a word?) in from my phone.

But that said, I love it when people use Benny Hinn as an example of anything. Even an example of a person who can "speak English". It makes the rest of the discussion so much more enjoyable.

centuri0n said...

dks:

Even Jesus didn't heal all the sick people.

However, when He did heal, God was glorified. Here are the real questions:

-- did Jesus intend to heal people who didn't get healed?
-- did Jesus ever fail to heal someone he intended to heal?
-- what was the purpose of healing the people who got healed anyway?
-- was the Gospel overshadowed by the healings, or was it highlighted by the healings?

Nice to meet you.

wwdunc said...

I have very much enjoyed this post and have been enlightened by the comments, particularly the ones by some of the ex-charismatics. I share your distaste for "healing evangelists" and their continued manipulation of the gullible, but I am equally dismayed by the high degree of gullibility that so many display despite scandal after scandal and expose after expose.

Nevertheless, I am not a cessationist, and the only reason is because I haven't yet been convinced from Scripture that certain of the gifts have definitely ceased. However, after what I've read today, I will prayerfully rethink my position (in light of God's word, of course). So, thank you for challenging my thinking on this issue!

Wyeth Duncan

Gilbert said...

Terry,

You are correct, my bad. Thank you for correcting me and pointing that out!

Cent,

1. No.
2. No.
3. To glorify God by...
4. Highlighting with the healings. Or, more specifically, to highlight the authority of those healings.

Nice to meet you too, but smile in your icon every now and then, mmmkay? ;-)

P.S. And Phil, you're breaking up!

P.P.S. And if you ever wonder if anyone's reading your posts, just mention Benny Hill, er, Hinn...wait, did I just confuse the two?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxIEaJXSPmA

MTR said...

Using false prophets and examples such as Benny Hinn to prove Cessationism seems like a fairly unscientific approach to formulating a stance... Let alone an absolute.

There are pretty crazy people out there who think they have radio implants in their heads allowing the government to control their thoughts. Should I use this as proof that radios do not exist?

Jesse P. said...

Team Pyro is on the charismatic witch hunt again! Outstanding.

I want you to be completely honest with me on this one...Do you think that Benny Hinn will be in heaven?

As a charismatic, I am concerned that some of your readers who have commented have the following stereo-types about charismatics:

1. They doubt the genuineness of their tongues speaking.
2. They are not rooted in the word.
3. They are experience driven.

I would have to politely ask that those who believe these stereotypes visit my church before prematurely subscribing to these views.

Merle Wentz said...

Phil,
Wouldn't you think that those who claim to be faith healers would go about healing all those that they could possibly heal. All those who claim to be faith healers in the name of Christ that are known to be phonies need to be exposed. I like your article much......Merle Wentz

Phil Johnson said...

MTR: "Using false prophets and examples such as Benny Hinn to prove Cessationism seems like a fairly unscientific approach to formulating a stance... Let alone an absolute."

Did you actually read the post? Notice, it was the charismatic guy scolding me who used Benny Hinn as an argument against cessationism. I simply responded.

On the other hand, If you know of a reliable faith-healer whose gift of healing will stand up to objective examination in comparison to the biblical description of the apostlic gifts, I'd be happy to consider that person's healings as evidence of continuationalism.

But I don't hear about many of the sane, biblically-minded charismatics who claim to have the gift of miraculous healing.

Why is that, if the gift described at the beginning of Acts 3 is still supposed to be fully operational?

joey said...

I find it ironic that most arguments against the gifts are based significantly on experience...cessationist, who typically are very strongly grounded in the truth of Scripture above all else, all the sudden throw out a mess of anecdotal stories and personal experiences to demonstrate why something clearly encouraged and expressly touted in Scripture is no longer to be sought. (not accusing anyone in particular over anyone else...just seems to be a pattern)

Doug said...

Joey said, "cessationist, who typically are very strongly grounded in the truth of Scripture above all else, all the sudden throw out a mess of anecdotal stories and personal experiences to demonstrate why something clearly encouraged and expressly touted in Scripture is no longer to be sought. "

1) When does Scripture "clearly encourage" everyone to seek to be a faith healer?

2) When does Scripture "expressly tout" faith healing or tongues speaking in the manner that has been described by Charismatics?

3) How does examining a modern claim against the examples of Scripture make someone an experientialist?

Jesse P. said...

The gifts, including faith, healing and miracles are "clearly encouraged" in 1 Corinthians 14:1.

The gifts are expressly touted in 1 Corinthians 12:9, which says that God clearly gives "to another faith...to another gifts of healing...to another miracles".

Phil said: "But I don't hear about many of the sane, biblically-minded charismatics who claim to have the gift of miraculous healing."

I think there is a misconception here about what the gift of healing actually is. The gift of healing is not the ability to always heal every disease at any time.

Sam Storms is helpful. In his book "Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts" he says: "Paul did not envision that a person would be endowed with one healing gift operative at all times for all diseases" But, "a person may be gifted to heal many people, but not all. Another may be gifted to heal only one person at one particular time of one particular disease."

Just because a person may not be able to heal every disease doesn't mean that a person has never legitimately healed any disease.

We are equally dependent on God's power to heal the "invisble" diseases as we are to heal the "visible" ailments. We need God's miracle to heal cancer just as much as to heal blindness.

DJP said...

Ah, yes; the Bill Clinton option.

Merle Wentz said...

david that is a good point, if these people can truly heal why aren't they going into hospitals and healing everyone? Why don't we ever see those who have very serious physical problems healed?
Merle Wentz

DLE said...

@ Terry Rayburn:

I'm not talking about charismania. You're confusing the two. I'm talking about whether the gifts mentioned in 1 Cor. 12 still exist today.

I don't support charismania at all. I support the genuine charismata.

If I believe charismata exist today (and as A.W. Tozer once said, no one who comes to the Scriptures fresh and reads them through walks away a cessationist)then I believe God works through people to heal and work miracles.

If you believe a cessationist view, then you believe that God always works apart from His Church OR you don't believe those items in 1 Cor 12 exist at all today. As to the first belief, what then is the point of us being the Body of Christ if He no longer works through His people? If you believe the other way and believe that no "power" gifts exist today, then not only have you bound the Church, you've bound God Himself!

Who then is believing fables?

DLE said...

jsb said: "Why do we need an "imperfect giftedness" in the hands of a single individual?"

I'll let the Bible answer:

And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me.
---2 Corinthians 12:9

DLE said...

JSB also said: "The "quality" of current "healings" is not what we see in the NT. That seems indisputable."

Actually I'll dispute it quite easily. In the least few months in our church we've had two radical healings of people on death's door because of cancer. We had a man who was bloated with accumulated fluids because of heart failure whose doctors gave him two days to live. Three days later all the fluids were gone, his heart was radically healed, and he was dancing in church giving his testimony.

Ask the people healed if their healings qualify as "quality" healings or not.

DLE said...

@ Terry Rayburn again

Terry, I read your story later on and I'm sorry that you fell in with charismaniacs. However, the fact that you fell in with people who were not practicing genuine gifts does not negate the genuine gifts. I can see why your disillusionment led you to the position you have now.

But I can also tell you that I know of self-righteous, xenophobic, materialistic Reformed/Calvinists, but that in itself does not negate the veracity of Reformed thought. We simply can't take the excesses of any group and ascribe them to everyone labeled with that group's name.

Unfortunately, whenever the cessationist debate occurs, it always highlights charismaniacs and not thoughtful, theologically-strict charismatics who test the spirits to see if they are from God. I'm disappointed that Phil's post seems to lump all charismatics together, including the Reformed Sovereign Grace Churches (a pastor from which preached at Phil's church), when he starts discussing the cessationism debate. All charismatics wind up being labeled as charismaniacs. Unfortunately, that's a logical fallacy and does a disservice to the readers of Pyromaniacs.

DLE said...

One last comment:

Several years ago, I was part of a charismatic church that held a special worship service. That evening, a man I knew well stood up and gave a word of knowledge (you know, one of those gifts).

This man told of a teen who had run away from home to live in a city several hundred miles away. The teen had gotten into the drug culture of that city and had bounced around from house to house. The teen had contacted his family just once and left a phone number, but the mother had tried that number only to find that the teen had moved to another part of town. She had not heard from him in a year and feared him dead. The man then went on to say that the teen was now again reachable at that phone number. If the mother called him, he would come home and their family would be restored.

This man didn't give words of knowledge very often, but the ones he had given in the past proved true. He named the teen's name, named the city, knew how old the teen was now, and many other explicit details.

Well, I was incredulous even though I knew the man giving the word. Since we were a small congregation, I also knew that no woman in the church fit that mother. I clearly thought on first examination the word of knowledge was bogus.

Our church met in a school. As the meeting was going on, I noticed a woman who was not part of our church bringing in supplies for a school group's meeting. She had been bringing supplies for several minutes when she paused to hear the word the man was giving. As soon as he was done, this woman ran forward in tears and said that she was the woman with the teen son and that she was astonished that everything the man had said was true.

Later, she went home, called her son at that number, spoke with him and the family was restored, just as the man had said through that word of knowledge.

I know the man who gave that word. He didn't know the woman or her family. Nor could he have orchestrated the son coming back home.

So we have two possibilities:

1. The word was from God.
2. The word was from a deceiving spirit.

Obviously, the Enemy gains nothing from the son's restoration to his family. Since all the praise went to God, the chthonic loses, too. In fact, in no way does the Enemy profit from any of this. Liars lie. This was no lie. This was the real thing.

That's not the only true and fully detailed word of knowledge I've heard. God still works through earthen vessels to empower us for service to bless others. His power is made perfect in our weakness. God will only entrust the gifts to those who take Him at His word and have proven themselves to be reliable stewards of little so they can be entrusted with much more as they grow in grace.

If we do not believe that the Lord still works through the Spirit living in us, then of course we will not see miracles. Christ could do few miracles in His hometown because the people did not believe He could. So we today in the United States take the same rationalistic, disbelieving stance and therefore we pat ourselves on the back when we see no miracles. We are reaping the very fruit of our disbelief. We say the Bible is true, yet we continue to say, "Show us or we will not believe." Does the Lord reward that kind of faithlessness?

I think we all know the answer.

donsands said...

"If we do not believe that the Lord still works through the Spirit living in us, then of course we will not see miracles. Christ could do few miracles in His hometown because the people did not believe He could."

John the Baptist did no miracles, and yet he was the greatest of all prophets.
Jeremiah was a great prophet of the Lord, and he failed miserably. And yet he was faithful to the Lord, which is what it's all about.

I don't think anyone here is not believeing God can work miracles or heal. His Word declares it.
Phil said he would love to see the genuine gifts in operation, as I, and all who love the Lord would surely love to see healings like in the book of Acts. Would we also be willing to be stoned to death as Stephen was?

DLE said...

To answer one last question as to why don't all these healers go into hospitals and heal everyone:

You'll have to ask the Lord why He works the way He does.

Take for example the narrative of the healing of the paralyzed man in John 5. The Scriptures say that a multitude of sick hung around the pool of Bethesda waiting for the angel to stir the waters. However, from the structure of the story, Jesus only healed one person there. Why? Could He not have healed every sick person there? Wouldn't the narrative have said so if He had?

You'll have to take that up with Him.

DLE said...

@ donsands,

Don,

I can't believe it when people say they've never witnessed a healing or encountered a genuine charismatic gift before.

If that's the case, then find a church where the genuine gifts are used. Those churches exist! They are not impossible to find!

DLE said...

@ donsands again:

As to John the Baptist, he did the greatest miracle of all. He didn't just raise a dead person, he raised a dead nation!

jsb said...

dle:

jsb said: "Why do we need an "imperfect giftedness" in the hands of a single individual?"

I'll let the Bible answer:

And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness...."

It appears, then, that you are saying there IS an "imperfect giftedness" that God's hands to some Christians, but not others. IOW, a Christian without the "gift of healing" cannot pray for healing and have God answer in the very same manner the "imperfectly gifted" person can?

And my comment about the "quality" of healing had to do with the GIFT, and I worded that in a way that was ambiguous. Sorry about that. By "quality of healing" I mean we don't see people healing the way Peter and Paul did. We do see healing prayers answered, but that's not because they are uttered by one "imperfectly gifted" person.

donsands said...

dle,
"Those churches exist! They are not impossible to find!"

Could you help me out? Could you name one for me? And if possible, in the Baltimore MD area.
I truly would love to see authentic biblical miracles, healings, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

"As to John the Baptist, he did the greatest miracle of all. He didn't just raise a dead person, he raised a dead nation!"

"John did no miracle: but all things that John spoke of this Man were true." John 10:41
The Bible doesn't say what you have stated.
However, I agree that the Baptist, by his preaching, caused many to come to repentance of their sin, and to look for the forgiveness of God in the Lamb of God.
But this is not really a miracle, at least the kind we are discussing.
A miracle would be to make an axe-head float, or turn water into wine, or have your shadow fall upon a cripple, and he rise up, etc.

Mark B. Hanson said...

One healing does not make a healer (or demonstrate the gift of healing). My story:

I was an elder in our Missionary Church, and one Sunday night the pastor was on vacation. During the congregational prayer, one of the members stood up and asked if the elders would anoint and pray for him. His problem: he felt he was called into the ministry, but had warts all over his hands. He believed that they were holding him back, since he couldn't shake hands.

So we anointed and prayed for him. Before the service ended, the warts were beginning to fall off his hands. A week later, they were all gone. He accepted a pastoral call a few weeks later, and was gone.

I believe he was miraculously healed. But it was not through a charismatic gift - only the application of the normal means God provides for healing (per James 5). No other such healing ever occurred while I was an elder.

I attribute it purely to God's grace working through His appointed means. Not every miraculous healing is due to a spiritual gift.

joey said...

doug,

Jesse answered your questions one and two I believe, Paul clearly encouraged the pursuit of the gifts of the Spirit...as for your third question...this isn't a modern claim, its a biblical claim.

Zack Allen said...

Here is a great article regarding continuationism. It specifically addresses the gift of tongues, but is also applied to the rest of the spiritual gifts.

http://brothermel.com/tonguesthroughoutchurchhistory.aspx

Here are two others by the same man regarding common objections to tongues.

http://brothermel.com/commonobjectionstotonguesrefuted.aspx

http://brothermel.com/threegreatesterrors.aspx

Brother Mel's site about the gift of tongues can be found here.

http://giftoftongues.wordpress.com/

Good stuff.

in love,
>>zack

Zack Allen said...

SolaMeanie:
"I would like to see someone from the charismatic camp explain how a modern "word from the Lord" somehow doesn't carry the weight of Scripture, if indeed it IS a word from the Lord."

I found a really good book about (round-about anyway) this subject. It has to do with the continuation of the gift and calling of apostleship and the uniqueness of the twelve as apposed to post-pentecost apostles.

Very good read.

here on Amazon:
Apostolic Government in the 21st Century

David said...

I wonder when Christians will get past the "isms" and merely follow Christ in His attitude.

Zack Allen said...

David,

"I wonder when Christians will get past the "isms" and merely follow Christ in His attitude."

I'm confused by this statement. What exactly are you trying to say?

in love,
>>zack

Terry Rayburn said...

dle,

You have several misconceptions I'd like to address:

1. You think the reason that I'm not in the Charismatic movement is because I "fell in with" some Charismaniacs who were "not practicing genuine gifts", and became disillusioned.

I have interacted for over 25 years with with hundreds of Charismatics from many churches, many of whom were respected leaders in the movement. And I am 100% convinced that they are ALL speaking phony gibberish, and I'm 99% convinced that they ALL know it, and are suppressing the truth.

2. You think there are only two possible explanations for your "word of knowledge" story.

a. It's a word of knowledge from the Lord, or
b. It's a word of knowledge from an evil spirit, (By the way, theoretically, an evil spirit may have reason for the reconciliation of the mother and son, if it deceived your whole church).

Actually there are LOTS of other possiblities. For example,

a. It was a set-up between the guy and the lady (this sort of thing is not uncommon, and you "knowing" the guy doesn't change that);

b. It was a lie by the lady, and the balance of the story never took place (this would leave the guy with a clear conscience, thinking he had spoken truly);

c. You are deceived by the spinning of the events, and a sort of "wishful thinking" has overtaken you (nobody laugh...I have seen this phenomenon on several occasions; this is similar to the kind of suppressing truth which is the foundation of the phony tongues movement);

d. You are simply, how shall I say it nicely, lying to forward your cause (my experience, again, has been that once a person has willfully suppressed the truth of their phony tongues being real, they will suppress the truth about almost anything);

I'm not implying that any of the above are actually the case, only that they are other possibilities. And there are others.

I assume from your posts that you yourself "speak in tongues". Ask yourself the question, strictly between you and God, "Are my tongues real? That is, are they the biblical miraculous supernatural gift of the Spirit? Or are they just gibberish I make up as I go along, or mimic others with?"

Zack Allen said...

Terry,

And I am 100% convinced that they are ALL speaking phony gibberish, and I'm 99% convinced that they ALL know it, and are suppressing the truth.

That's quite a claim, bro. With absoluteness such as that one would hope for some pretty concrete evidences to support such claims. Technically speaking, how is it possible for you know that 100% of them are speaking gibberish?

I remember the first time I spoke in tongues, and I remember the first time I saw a genuine healing. I'm not going to go into details about the stories because you people don't seem to buy eyewitness testimony from fellow believers. For some reason you have to have 100 skeptical news reporters present for any story to check out.

The bottom line is, the gifts have not ceased. There is absolutely nothing in scripture that even hints at that belief. I do not deny that the gifts have waned in times past, but that is not cessation. The waning is our fault...not God's.

You see there is one very important underlying principle within this entire argument.

"So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and DO NOT DOUBT, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." -Matthew 21:20-22

Jesus tells us that all we need is faith the size of a mustard seed. That's not much faith. But only a little bit of doubt will quench the fire of the Holy Spirit quicker than anything, and render whatever faith you might have utterly useless.

I've heard a story (I don't expect you to believe this one either) of a people group from up north (can't remember the nationality). Some missionaries came and gave them the Bible and preached the Gospel to them. They stayed with them for a little while and left. Some years later the missionaries returned to find these people speaking in tongues and walking in signs and wonders amongst themselves. When asked why their response was as simple as the one I give you, "It's in the Bible you gave us." Upon reading, they desired those gifts (just as Paul instructs us) and the Holy Spirit manifested Himself mightily among them. They believed the Word of God for what it said.

That's all I'm doing. I came to to Christianity with a huge biased against the supernatural (I was an atheist), but when I began searching this is what I found.

I don't need to ask God if my tongues are real. I already know they are. I had this syllable on my lips for so long that I just held back. I fought if for so long. One day I said the syllable and it began to flow. After than I began to laugh some laugh that was not my own. It was as if the Holy Spirit was rejoicing within me. That was over 4 years ago. Later on (like last year) I heard about the Holy Laughter thing and boy was that affirming. Other people had been through things similar to what I have been through.

Now, yes you can argue that perhaps it is some master scheme of the enemy to deceive us all, and to that, I leave you with this...

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. - 1 Corinthians 12:3

in love,
>>zack

DJP said...

I don't doubt you mean well, Zack, but my, your argument goes in several directions.

You use the common history-spinning dodge of blaming the church's lack of faith for the gifts' occasional (i.e. nearly 2000-year-long) waning.

Question: how many of the original tongue-speakers believed in or sought speaking in tongues before they did so? (Hint: any number larger than zero is incorrect.)

You try to say that a strict reading of Scripture would demand affirmation of these gifts, then you tell the story of some spiritual influence you assume to be the Holy Spirit causing you to laugh for no reason. And the direct Scriptural basis for that is...?

(Hint: once again, any answer larger than zero will be incorrect.)

Zack Allen said...

You use the common history-spinning dodge of blaming the church's lack of faith for the gifts' occasional (i.e. nearly 2000-year-long) waning.

Perhaps you should look a little more into Church history. The gifts continued long after the Apostles were around. The gifts continued long after the Apostles grandchildren were around. It wasn't until the late 4th century to the middle 5th century that the gifts really began to subside. This just happens to be the same time that the Roman Catholic Church became the face of Christianity in the world. (That's a pretty big hint as to what legalism and compromise will get you.)


Question: how many of the original tongue-speakers believed in or sought speaking in tongues before they did so? (Hint: any number larger than zero is incorrect.)

By "the original" I'm assuming you are speaking of the 120 on the day of Pentecost. The Scriptures do say that they were gathered together praying in one accord. I wonder what they were praying for. Most likely not the gift of tongues specifically (but that isn't the point). I'll bet they were most likely praying for God to manifest Himself mightily. What do you think?

Besides. Your point is completely irrelevant. We are commanded to seek the Spiritual gifts. All of them.

You try to say that a strict reading of Scripture would demand affirmation of these gifts, then you tell the story of some spiritual influence you assume to be the Holy Spirit causing you to laugh for no reason. And the direct Scriptural basis for that is...?

Aww, man. You got me here. I guess we better tear down our church buildings, get rid of our cars, quit teaching about the Trinity, stop using the word rapture,...need I go on? (sorry for the sarcasm)

in love,
>>zack

DJP said...

The first claim has been often made, and just as often refuted. Only by Clintoning down the gifts can they be put on life-support after the apostolic age.

Find me one indication that anyone was believing to speak in tongues in Acts, ever. Just one. What the text (you do remember the text?) emphasizes is that the Spirit caused those to speak in tongues whom He wished to cause. The idea that everyone successfully thwarted His desire until all the fakery that started in 1906 is... well, "silly" would be a kind word.

Quite the chameleon. To wit:

Z: "We're just seeking what the Bible says to seek!"

D: "How does the Bible say to seek irrational laughter?"

Z: "It doesn't have to be in the Bible!"

Nice.

All the gifts? Where does the Bible say we should seek to be apostles and write the Bible?

donsands said...

zack,

Appreciate you sharing your experiences.

I was in the midst of this for a few years as well.
I thank the Lord for bringing me out.

It was so man-centered. I got caught up in trying to impress others.
And those who would be honest, like my wife, would be treated as a sister in Christ, but without any real power, and without knowing the love and joy of God in a way that "we do", those who have been baptized in the Holy Ghost, with evidence of speaking in tongues.

This is all false teaching. And I thank the Lord for opening my eyes to my deception, and my being deceived.

I appreciate what Terry has shared.
The Scriptures are the final authority, not an experience of laughing, or speaking a lot of syllables.

Of course, if someone did come in the name of Christ, and went to someone who had a broken neck, and in the name of Jesus Christ healed this person, then I would surely give glory to God for that healing.
That would be evidence which is good evidence.

That's what Jesus did. He said to the crippled man, "Your sins are forgiven". And to prove He had the right to forgive sins Jesus said, "Take up your bed and walk".
This proved He could forgive sin, and that He was the Messiah.

Everyday Mommy said...

Over 17 years ago I accompanied my brother to an event held at Kansas City's Kemper Arena. It was called "A Healing Explosion" and featured Charles and Frances Hunter.

I'll never forget the electricity in the air. The arena was filled to capacity with people hoping for a miracle.

I walked down to the floor of the auditorium with my brother and he approached a prayer team. They laid hands on his shoulders and prayed.

A few feet from us sat a man in a wheelchair, surrounded by people who were praying. One woman knelt in front of him, gently holding his left leg in her hands. His foot had been amputated and they were praying that God would restore it.

That image was burned into my mind. The man in the wheelchair left the arena that day without a newly restored foot. I have often wondered if he also left without his faith.

My brother died a few months later, at the age of 31, from colon cancer.

The untold damage done by these people will only be known on the other side of glory. May God have mercy on them.

Daryl said...

I too, spent a large part of my life within the Charismatic movement. I struggled long and hard against feeling left out of all the "real action", all the while "speaking in tongues" and being considered one of the "spiritual ones".

In that environment questions are discouraged and generally answered with some higher spiritual knowledge kind of idea. Scripture was used, but the verses that caused difficulty (like Paul telling tongues speakers not to look down on non-tongues speakers and vice versa) were just ignored.

I am convinced that, given that I was sure I was missing out on something more while being percieved as one of the ones who had the "more", that my experience is duplicated over and over and over.

Zack's reasoning is way too familiar to me. Scripture is given as the authority until it seems insuffucient and then we were told that God has something more...It's bogus.

Here's what keeps so many trapped. The whole "grieving the Spirit" line. I "spoke in tongues" for years, not really convinced or thinking they were real because I was afraid that to not do it was to grieve the Spirit. Thankfully now I see the folly and have been delivered of that kind of guilt.

You dare not use the Holy Spirit as a pressure tactic as so many do.
Nor do we dare avoid the WHOLE counsel of God, to do either leads to...well we know where it leads.

One last thing. I keep reading Charismatics say how that Hinn and others are on the fringe. That sounds good I suppose, but the reality is that within normal everyday non-freakazoid Charismatic circles, these guys are not vilified or called out but are generally defended and respected. You Pyro's are right to use those examples just as you are right to use Brian McClaren when discussing the EC.

The attitude within the Charismatic movement toward those guys really is a wink-wink nudge-nudge, they may be wacko's but they're our wacko's kind of thing.

Keep up the good work guys!!

Terry Rayburn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry Rayburn said...

Zach,

You wrote to me:

Technically speaking, how is it possible for you know that 100% of them are speaking gibberish?

Of course it isn't possible to KNOW in the empirical sense. Nor do I deny that God could do ANY miracle that doesn't violate His Word.

It's merely an observation of a phony movement, an observation over many years and many supposed tongue-speakers.

A silly but meaningful analogy:

If I said I am 100% convinced that every bowl of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes was coated with sugar (at least in the pre-Splenda days), you could ask, "How do you KNOW that EVERY bowl is such?" Well, of course, I don't KNOW. I simply have that opinion, based on observation, study, dialogue, and cross-checked evaluation of many Flakes (no pun intended).

I have asked Charismatics from time to time, "O.K., lay some of your 'language' on me, and let's examine it together, in the light of how you received it, and the Scriptures."

In a VERY few cases, they have assented, and convinced me even more that it's phony.

But in most cases, can you guess what the reaction to my question is?

It's something like, "Oh, no. I wouldn't test the Lord, and make a mockery of what He's done. I know my tongues are real."

"I'm not asking you to test the Lord, just test your tongues."

"No."

"Oh, c'mon, just a few words?"

"No."

"How do you know they are real?"

"I just know."

"So if I said 'Shambala kayoo mahta paroosi', would you think I was speaking in tongues?"

"Dunno."

"How would you know? Would you not just take my word for it if I greeted you and told you I was 'Spirit-filled'?"

"Dunno."

"Would you think it was serious if you thought 400 million people were deceived by thinking they had a real spiritual gift and it was only gibberish?"

"Dunno."

"I heard you in the service. Your tongues sound a lot like Jimmy Swaggert's tongues. Whadya think?"

"I don't know anything about that."

"Just give me a little sample and let's examine it by the Scriptures."

"I'm outa here."

wordsmith said...

Believe it or not, there are many of us who once were charismatics/Pentecostals (sometimes even zealously so) but have now come around to the cessationist position. The reasons are as varied as the individuals involved, but a common theme would be that we grew sick and tired of all the hype and hoopla exhibited by the charismatics/Pentecostals. The non-cessationist camp is long on promises but short on substance, and those who fail to receive are more often than not vilified, impugned, belittled, mocked, and worse – most of the time it is stated implicitly rather than explicitly, but the intent is clear and the damage is real nonetheless. Those who leave with their faith intact are blessed indeed, for it is only by the grace of God that anyone could survive such spiritual abuse at the hands of those who purportedly are giants in faith. It is a form of gnosticism, where those who are "in the know" are the super-Christians, walking in the "power of the Spirit," etc. while the rest of Christendom is viewed as merely playing church, not having the "full gospel" nor walking in the "fullness of the Spirit," "quenching the Spirit," being "unbelieving believers" and so on. This two-tier, party-spirit Christianity is the sort of thing that Paul expressly castigated the Corinthians for.

The thing is: those of us who have "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" have seen the phoniness and superficiality of the charismatic/Pentecostal claims. If push comes to shove, we'll gladly hold fast to Scripture, and reject all the unbiblical nonsense that permeates the charismatic/Pentecostal movement.

Zack Allen said...

The first claim has been often made, and just as often refuted. Only by Clintoning down the gifts can they be put on life-support after the apostolic age. - DJP

What do you mean by "Clintoning down the gifts?" Regardless of one's views on cessationism the history records remain the same. The gifts waned, bro. That's all there is to it. They kept going, then started to dwindle (after a long time...not immediately after the apostles). Say what you will about that, but that's what the history books say.

The Bible says to seek Spiritual Gifts(1 Cor. 14:1), but you don't. The Bible says not to forbid speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39), but you do. It is there plain as day. But rather than accept that you just attempt to explain it away.

Further, church history attests to the continuation of the gifts (including but not limited to speaking in tongues) long after the apostle's deaths. It is there plain as day. But rather than accept that you just attempt to explain it away.

Why?

The Bible says it. Church history attests to it. Pretty solid evidence.

Find me one indication that anyone was believing to speak in tongues in Acts, ever. Just one. -DJP

Why?

The idea that everyone successfully thwarted His desire until all the fakery that started in 1906 is... well, "silly" would be a kind word. -DJP

First of all, calling it fakery is rather presumptuous. Have you ever considered what it would mean if you were wrong?

Also, I'm not sure where you get this “idea” from. I've never made that claim. Speaking in tongues has popped up all throughout church history. Besides, even if it were so, why would it be silly. What if it really was that way? What if that is exactly what happened. Why is that so hard to believe? Truth is stranger than fiction. Many things God does don't make sense to us. But I digress...

Quite the chameleon.

D: We uphold the Bible as the final, infallible, and authoritative Word of God.

Z: The Bible says to desire spiritual gifts and not to condemn speaking in tongues.

D: Well we just can't figure out tongues, so we just ignore that part.

Nice.

It's easy to misconstrue someone's thoughts, Dan.

All the gifts? Where does the Bible say we should seek to be apostles and write the Bible? -DJP

I've tried to touch on this before. I believe that the gift of Apostleship never stopped. However, the Twelve are a special group of pre-Pentecost Apostles (Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, James the Less, Matthew, Simon the Zealot, Judas (not Iscariot), and Matthias). I believe there is a difference between the post-Pentecost Apostles (most notably, Paul, Barnabas, Andronicus, Junias, Appolos, Epaphroditus, Silas, Timothy, and the 70). God will not contradict Himself. Because of this, the teachings of the post-Pentecost (Lesser) Apostles will never contradict the foundational teachings of the pre-Pentecost (Greater) Apostles, and if they do then we know that the teaching is not from God. The Bible is our standard. So to answer you question. While Apostleship is definitely a gift from God, it is more specifically a ministry calling. We should not all seek to be Apostles no more than we should all seek to be Pastors or Teachers. And we certainly shouldn't seek to “write the Bible” as it has already been done.

It was so man-centered. I got caught up in trying to impress others. -donsands

Unfortunately there are many who fall off that side of the road. However, this is certainly not just in Charismatic circles.

"we do", those who have been baptized in the Holy Ghost, with evidence of speaking in tongues. -donsands

I'm sorry that you felt alienated in this way. I don't agree with that mentality either. Paul prescribed what to do about just that in 1 Corinthians 13. LOVE.

This is all false teaching. -donsands

What is? The way the people acted or speaking in tongues. If the way the people acted, then yes. If speaking in tongues, no it isn't. It's in the Bible.

I appreciate what Terry has shared.
The Scriptures are the final authority, not an experience of laughing, or speaking a lot of syllables.
-donsands

I completely agree with that.

Of course, if someone did come in the name of Christ, and went to someone who had a broken neck, and in the name of Jesus Christ healed this person, then I would surely give glory to God for that healing.
That would be evidence which is good evidence.
-donsands

This is typical. “I don't believe in those things. But if it does happen...Glory to God!!!” Pick a side and stick with it. Things like that do happen...alot. But let me to try point out why your view is so wrong, and that as long as you have a view like that, even if you witness it with your own eyes...you won't believe it.

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. -Mark 11:24 NKJV

It is not:
1.Pray
2.What for it to happen wondering if it ever will
3.Watch it happen
4.Believe

It is:
1.Believe (Know that what you pray will come to pass)
2.Pray
3.Watch it happen

The prior exemplifies quite a bit of doubt. Doubt quenches to Holy Spirit.

everyday mommy,

I'm sorry that you experiences turned out the way they did, and I am sorry for your loss. I don't want to speak against your brother. I certainly hope that he did not lost his faith because God didn't give him a new foot. I've read a couple of stories similar to this where an amputee was given new feet. I've heard things even more drastic than that. I know God can and will do those things. However, according to the Bible, either someone doubted (or eventually doubted) or these people weren't from God.

In that environment questions are discouraged and generally answered with some higher spiritual knowledge kind of idea. -daryl

This seems to be the norm here. Everyone has had a bad experience with Charismaticism and left it behind. You guys must have been in some pretty odd-ball churches. I've never been to any Charistmatic church where my questions were avoided. Rather they were promptly answered. On the contrary, as a child in a Church of Christ and Southern Baptist Church my questions were largely ignored.

Zack's reasoning is way too familiar to me. Scripture is given as the authority until it seems insuffucient and then we were told that God has something more...It's bogus. -daryl

I never said that. Scripture is never insufficient. However, I promise you, God does have something more. A great deal more.

Here's what keeps so many trapped. The whole "grieving the Spirit" line. I "spoke in tongues" for years, not really convinced or thinking they were real because I was afraid that to not do it was to grieve the Spirit. Thankfully now I see the folly and have been delivered of that kind of guilt. -daryl

Yeah that's some pretty whacked out logic. But again, looks like someone was doubting...

One last thing. I keep reading Charismatics say how that Hinn and others are on the fringe. That sounds good I suppose, but the reality is that within normal everyday non-freakazoid Charismatic circles, these guys are not vilified or called out but are generally defended and respected. You Pyro's are right to use those examples just as you are right to use Brian McClaren when discussing the EC. -daryl

I'm not sure what everyone's opinion of Hinn is. Personally, my view is that one should be very slow to cast judgment on such fruit. It's easy to look at something you don't understand and blow it off as ridiculous.

Terry,

Cool.

I have asked Charismatics from time to time, "O.K., lay some of your 'language' on me, and let's examine it together, in the light of how you received it, and the Scriptures.” -Terry

What do you mean examine? By what standard do you “test” tongues. (The Scriptures of course, right? Right!) Of the four types of tongues taught in Scripture (intercession, a sign to unbelievers, interpretation, and edification) the only one I'm sure you could really examine is the sign to unbelievers as it is always in a known human language. If you are talking a person's prayer language (edification tongues) then it is just short of impossible to “examine” them as they are unintelligible. This is why when linguists try to examine someone's prayer language that they determine it isn't like a language. I believe God was serious when He had Paul write, “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” Ever wonder what those mysteries were?
That's another topic, but a good one nonetheless. This verse is speaking about a specific type of tongue speaking: tongues for edification, a private prayer language. I know there is a difference in this type of tongue and other types because the people understood on the day of Pentecost, and other times were tongues are interpreted. That is not so in this case. Paul must be speaking about something different.

Love you guys,
>>zack

DJP said...

Zack, the Bill Clinton option ("Clintoning down the gifts") was already linked earlier in the thread.

Now, again.

donsands said...

"This is typical. “I don't believe in those things. But if it does happen...Glory to God!!!” Pick a side and stick with it. Things like that do happen...alot. But let me to try point out why your view is so wrong, and that as long as you have a view like that, even if you witness it with your own eyes...you won't believe it."

I do pick a side. Scripture is #1. And I said I'd love to see a genuine healing, and you say I wouldn't believe even if I did.

That's a little judgemental.

You said there are a lot of these healings.

I asked where? Please tell me where I can see this?

Zach, you have to step back. You can not judge what I would believe, or wouldn't believe.

It's all by His grace, and grace alone that anyone believes the Gospel and the truth.

When Jesus rose from the dead, the women came and told the Apostles, and they didn't believe. But then they saw Him. Then they believed. And many more people saw Him risen.
That's why I believe, though this is only by His grace.
And blessed are those who haven't seen but believe.
I believe that God could heal, and does.
But I haven't seen it. I'd love to see a cripple walk. Especially someone like Joni Erickson, who has been such a shining light for the Lord and His gospel.

I'm rambling.
Have a blessed day in His grace.

wordsmith said...

Zack:

With all due respect, you're repeating all the charismatic talking points that ex-p/c folks have heard before. Maybe your arguments are convincing to someone who's sitting on the fence, or someone who hasn't studied the issue before, but for those who have left that stuff behind, such talking points are nothing but same old same old. They didn't hold water, Scripturally speaking, when we were in the midst of charismaticism, and they aren’t any more compelling today.

Let us know if you come up with something fresh and original. It’d be a welcome change of pace to hear a novel argument.

Zack Allen said...

Unfortunately, I can only come up with the arguments that Scripture allows me to.

Sorry.

I suppose the greatest argument would be no argument at all though, but a demonstration.

"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." -1 Corinthians 2:4-5

...at least that's what Paul seemed to think.

Your inability to comprehend an argument, and your unwillingness to accept it does not make in invalid. You see the same arguments because these are the arguments that are there. The Bible says it. Church history attests to it. What more do you need?

You don't need another argument. You'll try to find a way to explain away that one too. You can explain away anything, bro. At least trick yourself into it anyway. And when you have a bias against the supernatural it's quite easy to do just that. It's not that you can't accept it. You don't want to accept it. For some reason you don't want it to be so. Just like an atheist doesn't want God to exist. The evidence is there. He just refuses to see it for what it really is. Why? He doesn't want to.

No...you don't need another argument. What you need is a demonstration.

But I wonder if even that would convince you...

in love,
>>zack

wordsmith said...

You don't get it, do you? I, and others reading this as well, *have been where you are now*. We're not biased against the supernatural. We don't lack the ability to understand your arguments. We understand them very well *because we too used to make the same arguments*. The thing is, these arguments do not rightly divide the Word of Truth. Instead, such arguments rely heavily on presuppositions which you are reading into the text.

You can con yourself into thinking that you've got a handle on everything, and that the rest of us are deluded ignoramuses who refuse to believe in the power of God. Whatever - I know that you're not able to entertain the thought that you might be mistaken in your interpretation of Scripture. I just pray that when you discover the hollowness of p/c doctrine, you'll forsake all else and cling to Scripture alone.

As for me: "Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils [or word of faith preachers], for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen."

donsands said...

"You'll try to find a way to explain away that one too. You can explain away anything, bro."

Bad to judge someone in this way.

Zack, you have not answered where "a lot" of healings are taking place. I would love to know.
Could you e-mail me where healings like those in the Bible are taking place?
Sincerely,
Don

Daryl said...

I can only echo Wordsmith and others Zack. I too have heard, been taught and used all the arguements you are using. I've even heard and used the doubt line before too. Funny how, when we can't make an arguement we claim the non-p/c are blind, or doubters, or grieving the Spirit etc.

Incidentally, you wrote off much of what I said because I "must have some from some really out-there group" (my paraphrase).
I wish that were so. I've been in a lot of different groups, I've avoided the wacko's and stayed with the "moderates", trouble is, the arguements are the same, the heroes are the same wherever you go.

Like Wordsmith, I've been where you are and no anti-supernaturalist leanings have ever been a part of my thinking (to my knowledge). It wasn't the supernatural that pushed me away. It was the lack of reality in the claims of supernatural events and the lack of solid Biblical explanation for what didn't add up.

I've attended many Charismatic churchs and attended a Charismatic Bible College, believe it or don't but so far everything you've said (as has been mentioned already) is old, tired, unconvincing news to someone who's lived it and wanted it to be true.

Try and understand that my views are not that of a materialist skeptic looking into something he knows nothing about. They are the conclusions of someone who has weighed the evidence and the arguements and found them wanting.


Gentle-pyros, until fairly recently I had rarely heard of and never understood the cessationist position. Let me tell you that what I've read on this site is far more complete and balanced than what the caricatures of that position ascribe (that's always the way isn't it). So I find myself having a far deeper appreciation for what God is actually doing than I ever had back in the "Expect a Miracle" days.

Thanks for your clarity and patience.

ianmcn said...

It is a good point about the lack of verifyable biblical scale miracles. However, I would explain this by the culture that we live in today - there is so little faith and expectation for the miraculous in the western world today. These days, God's miraculous intervention is only one of many possible solutions to an infirmity.

In the third world, there is a lot more reliance on God for healing, because they often have no other option. I would recommend you have a read of Chandrakant Chavada's blog (a Christian minister in India) and read about the biblical scale miracles they experience http://chandrakantchavada.blogspot.com/

Zack Allen said...

I guess the thing I really don't get is how an argument taken directly from Scripture (which is what you claim to want) can be tired and unconvincing.

The Bible says to seek the gifts. The Bible says not to condemn speaking in tongues. The Bible says the gifts will cease, but at a very specific point in time. Church history attests to the continuation of the gifts long after the apostles deaths. That's pretty sound, friends.

The reason I "just don't get it" is because you continually say that I am trying to work off of sense experience and things of that nature. All the while, the only "convincing" argument you have is that "we don't see Biblical miracles on a wide scale today." Pardon me for asking, but isn't that relying extremely heavily on sense and experience (or lack thereof). The reason I don't get it is because you are doing the very thing you claim I and other charismatics are doing. You say we rely on experience, but you rely on the lack of it. What is the difference.

I've read the Bible.

It's there. Plain as day.

I do it.

That's all there is to it.

...but I guess that's tired and unconvincing...


Don,

Check out Bill Johnson's church,

Bethel Church

and an incredible book he wrote:

When Heaven Invades Earth

I'm sure you've heard of Smith Wigglesworth, but anything about that guy is worth reading.

Reinhard Bonnke is another. Millions upon millions upon millions of souls saved in Africa.

K.P. Yohannan's Gospel for Asia is good.

...as has been mentioned, you can pretty much walk into any third world country and see miracles left and right in the right community. It'll change your whole perspective.

You'll see that God is manifesting Himself mightily among those who are desperate. That's what He wants. DESPERATION!

in love,
>>zack

DJP said...

Unfortunately, I can only come up with the arguments that Scripture allows me to

...except for making up "holy laughter" out of nothing, fabricating definitions of two-level apostles, etc. etc. etc.

DJP said...

BTW, this accusation that I (or other readers) disobey the injunction not to forbid speaking in tongues indicates that you haven't either read this blog much, or you haven't read it well.

I have never disobeyed that injunction. I have never read of anyone disobeying that injunction, EVER, ANYWHERE. I doubt that any of our readers have ever disobeyed that injunction.

However, you should note: Paul does not urge us not to forbid anyone from babbling, gibbering, or otherwise making a disordered fool of himself.

But then, while that is what modern pretenders do, it isn't speaking in tongues.

Sewing said...

Daryl, God bless you. I come from a totally different background with totally different theological issues to work through, but God has worked through Phil, Dan, and Frank to train me in my discipleship too. (Playing an absolutely secondary role to church life, of course.)

donsands said...

Zack,

I checked out Bethel. That have links to Benny Hinn & Jon Arnot. These two false teachers are revered for their so-called healing powers. Arnot had laughing rooms, and barking rooms, I think. i don't know if he still does, but he is a phoney.
That's a red flag.
I didn't see anything on their website that said more than I already know.

If you believe people like Hinn and so on are healers chosen by God, then i would urge you to dig a little deeper.

Jesus said there will be false teachers and prophets, who will do signs and wonders, who will even, if it were possible, deceive the elect of God.

I do believe in healings and miracles.

I'll share one.

There was a disciple of the Lord walking down the road, and he came upon a beggar, who was crippled. The beggar wanted some money.
This disciple said he didn't have any money, but he said to this cripple, "Arise and walk in the name of Jesus Christ". And this man's legs were immediately healed and he walked.
I believe that with all my heart.
That man was Peter. He didn't have any money, and he didn't ask for any.

Keep to the Bible. Beware of false disciples.

Sewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing said...

Zack, I think a case could be made that miracles may be occuring even today in places where God's word has not yet firmly taken root. (That is my personal position, and may or may not be consonant with the position Phil or Dan take.) But I'm talking about select, individual miracles that God performs so that through them, He can bring the full number of His elect to Himself. The miracles I have heard of—missionaries in Africa who were assaulted and yet whose lives were preserved against all odds; two children in Thailand who were cured of their infection—did not involve the agency of individuals with particular spiritual gifts, but the direct intervention of God alone. And it's not at all for the sake of the people whom He miraculously heals or helps—and it's not to make them healthy or perhaps in some cases even wealthy for their own sake—it's for the greater glory of God, and God alone, in the proclamation of his Gospel to all the nations.

But since we here in the US, Canada, or the UK are in post-Christian societies where, despite the secular and relativistic encroachments on every side, God's Word has nevertheless firmly taken root, God does not need signs and wonders to reach His elect among the unbelievers. We are not an unreached people group. Nevertheless, I do believe that God intervenes intimately in every believer's life on a daily basis—not through signs and wonders, but through His providential will, in his desire to disciple us and make us better servants so that we can do His work in the world. And He often intervened in my life long before I was saved, not for making me healthy and wealthy (I was just getting by), but to nudge me in the direction of ultimately realizing that I had no choice but to surrender to Him, and not for my sake, but for His, soli Deo gloria.

(BTW, on a personal note, if we consider my Jewish brethren an unreached people group, the miraculous healing of a girl after an intercessionary prayer to a deceased, formerly atheist, Jewish Catholic nun led to her recent canonization; learing her story was instrumental to my salvation. This didn't involve a living person with the gift of healing, but a deceased saint. It's possible that God Himself answered the parents' prayers so that atheist Jews like me would one day hear the story of this saint and be moved to repentance and salvation.)

IJH said...

Just a quick comment (in love) for Zack...

Zack, you keep saying that history verifies these charismatic gifts, but I can't seem to figure out which history books you are reading. Every historical theology or Church History book I have ever read seems to believe the opposite of what you do.

I am also afraid of how you are reading the Scriptures. As those of old used to say, "context is king."

You have mentioned on numerous posts now that your arguments are biblical. I wont deny that your arguments are coming from the Bible, but that doesn't mean you have a right understanding of the passages you are using. Some deeper examination of the context(both historical and flow of thought ie. The points Paul has previously made to the Corinthians) must be taken into consideration.

There is a lot more to Scripture at times than reading over a passage and thinking you understand what it means. This is a huge problem in the Church today otherwise known as "biblical illiteracy." We as believers, must learn to dig deeper into the text. With a little more exegesis you can see things in the text that a quick glance doesn't always allow for.

Let me give you an example. You have mentioned 1 Cor. 14:1

"...desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy."

Paul has already dealt with not desiring the "extravagant" spiritual gifts as the Corinthians were sinfully doing (ch. 12).

12:31 - earnestly desire the greater gifts

Further exegesis explains this passage (as does context). Paul has just finished telling them not to desire the "prominent" gifts so he would not contradict himself by then turning around and telling them to do just that.

Also, in the greek, the verb form of "earnestly desire" is NOT an imperative. As you likely know, an imperative in English as in Greek is a command. Paul could have used this form if he wanted them to desire the gifts.

Instead he uses the Indicative form. In Greek, the indicative indicates a statement of fact showing no doubt in the mind of the writer or speaker. So Paul is saying, "You ARE desiring the showy gifts" and his whole point of the chapter is WRONGLY. This is further seen in 12:31b where he contrasts what they are doing with the "more excellent way" of love.

Back to 1 Cor 14:1. Love does not mean that we stop exercising our spirtual gifts, that's Paul's point here. God has given the body of Christ spiritual gifts to be used, that is obvious. Notice in this passage however, Paul leaves out the desiring of "greater gifts" which is what they were doing and rebuked for (chp 12). Paul and the Holy Spirit clearly want the Church to desire to exercise and use the spiritual gifts God has given to them.

"but especially that you may prophesy." - This indicates a few things that at first glance may not be obvious either.

First, we must have a right understanding of prophesy (which I won't get into here unless needed). Essentially though, it is speaking God's Word - pretty important, right?

Second, there is special significance to the role of prophesy in the body of Christ (see above)

Lastly, it is important to recognize that the "you" is not singular but plural in the Greek. This signifies in the context that the collective corporate body of believers are to desire the word of God to be spoken to them, which is what the Pastor/teacher does every time he opens the Bible (hopefully!).

In another post, maybe I will explain Paul's use of the singular and plural form of the word tounges to indicate the right and wrong definition (and use) of the gift. But know that this grammatical feature exists, and to diligently and rightly dividing the word, they must be taken into account.

I Hope this helps, I've left out any form of experience and stuck strictly to the text. I hope you understand that I am not reading into the text as many do, just seeking to see (without a bias) what the text itself says.

You have mentioned that you are merely saying what the Bible says but I would suggest to you that you aren't saying what the text says unless you say what it means by what it says.

In love,

stevenlamm said...

Zack,

You’re probably confused by the responses you have received from many on this site who think your arguments are very weak. You’re referring to Scripture, yet they we do not accept your arguments. This is because we are familiar with the exegetical, theological and historical arguments from both sides of the charismatic debate.

Here is a direct quote from you:

The Bible says to seek the gifts. The Bible says not to condemn speaking in tongues. The Bible says the gifts will cease, but at a very specific point in time. Church history attests to the continuation of the gifts long after the apostles deaths. That's pretty sound, friends.

Actually, your claim is not sound at all. The tongues referred to in the Bible are known, human languages. Now, if you’re going to claim otherwise (i.e., that there is a private prayer language), argue your point exegetically from Scripture, using sound principles of interpretation.

You say church history attests to the continuation of the gifts (I assume you mean tongues, healing, doing of miracles). In my study of this, I found that the vast majority of those groups that claimed to have the gift of tongues for example, were theologically aberrant, even heretical. Perhaps you have found otherwise. If so, make your argument by referencing the sources so that they can be checked out. That means historical sources that are respected by scholars on both sides of the issue (Church Fathers, Schaff, Cairns, Shelley, etc.).

I don’t want this thread to get sidetracked, but I went to your own blog and read some of your posts to get a better sense of your handling of Scripture. I read your post on Arminianism and Calvinism. In my opinion, you demonstrated a woeful lack of understanding of both and many of your explanations of the theological points related to the acrostic TULIP showed that either you have not read the best Calvinist theologians, or you did not sufficiently grasp what they said. I will assume it’s the first.

My point is this: you’re arguing against a straw man in that issue and in the charismatic issue as well.

I suggest that you read a few authors critical of the modern charismatic church who present some of the strongest arguments. You can start with MacArthur’s book Charismatic Chaos. His bibliography can direct you to others. You’ve been pretty critical of Dan Phillips. I challenge you to read his posts on this issue. The one you will find is that he has a sound grasp of the issues at hand!

One other thing: restating the same arguments in a slightly different form won’t fly very well here. Merely quoting Biblical texts that are hotly debated is not sufficient. You must state and defend your interpretation of those passages. If you cannot do so, then you need to go back and do some more study.

Respectfully,
Steve Lamm

SolaMeanie said...

Congratulations to Libbie for accurately predicting a comment count of three figures. Does that make her a prophetess?

I'M KIDDING..I'M KIDDING!! Put down those stones!

Pastor E said...

You said, "If charismatics could produce the kind of miracles described in the Bible, or if anyone's "gift of tongues" turned out to be authentic or objectively translatable languages (like in Acts 2:8), I would be forced to reconsider my cessationist opinions."

If you are really ready to dialogue with a Pentecostal and not a flaky charismatic (you named one in your article), then I can provide proof of all the above that is not urban legend. The tongues you are describing are known as "xenoglossolalia", and many examples abound. However I'd challenge you with Acts 10:42ff, Acts 19:1-6 as to tongues 'having' to be a recognizable tongue. No where in the Word are we told that it has to be a translatable or discernable language.

I'll be glad to provide refutation for the 'age of the apostles' and any other cessationist thought in a kind and gentle manner.

Blessings,

Pastor Eric Smith
www.whatwehavehereis.blogspot.com

Zack Allen said...

“Zack, you keep saying that history verifies these charismatic gifts, but I can't seem to figure out which history books you are reading. Every historical theology or Church History book I have ever read seems to believe the opposite of what you do.” -ijh

Forty years after the Apostle John's death, Justin Martyr writes in 150 AD:

"For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to this present time." (Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 82).

and

“Now, it is possible to see amongst us women and men who possess gifts of the Spirit of God;" Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 88).

Irenaeus: (130-202 AD)

"Wherefore, also, those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ] and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years. And what shall I more say? It is not possible to name the number of gifts which the Church, [scattered] throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ," Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter 82, section 4.

and

"We speak wisdom among them that are perfect, terming those persons "perfect" who have received the Spirit of God, and who through the Spirit of God do speak in all languages, as he used Himself also to speak. In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God," --Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book V. Chapter 6. section 1)”.

“Irenaeus testifies, in writings that exist to this day, that "prophetic expressions" and believers "who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages" were so common and widespread in his life (130 - 202 AD) that "...it is not possible to name the number of gifts..."”
Tertullian (155-230 AD):

In writing against the heretic Marcion, Tertullian writes:

"Let Marcion then exhibit, as gifts of his god, some prophets, such as have not spoken by human sense, but with the Spirit of God, such as have both predicted things to come, and have made manifest the secrets of the heart; let him produce a psalm, a vision, a prayer--only let it be by the Spirit, in an ecstasy, that is, in a rapture, whenever an interpretation of tongues has occurred to him;... Now all these signs (of spiritual gifts) are forthcoming from my side without any difficulty..."--Tertullian Against Marcion, Book 5 Chapter 8.

Asterius Urbanus (232 AD):

"For the Apostle [Paul] deems that the gift of prophecy should abide in all the church up to the time of the final advent."--The Extant Writings of Asterius Urbanus Chapter X.

Urbanus explicitly denies the theory of cessationism.

Novation (258 AD):

"This is He who places prophets in the Church, instructs teachers, directs tongues, gives powers and healings, does wonderful works, often discrimination of spirits, affords powers of government, suggests counsels, and orders and arranges whatever other gifts there are of charismata; and thus make the Lord's Church everywhere, and in all, perfected and completed."--Treatise Concerning the Trinity Chapter 29.

Hilary (306-367 AD)

"For God hath set same in the Church, first apostles...secondly prophets...thirdly teachers...next mighty works, among which are the healing of diseases...and gifts of either speaking or interpreting divers kinds of tongues. Clearly these are [not were] the Church's agents of ministry and work of whom the body of Christ consists; and God has ordained them."--On the Trinity, Book 8 Chapter 33.

Ambrose (340-397 AD)

"As also the teacher of the Gentiles [Paul] tells us, when he says: "God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers; then miracles, the gift of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues.

See, God set apostles, and set prophets and teachers, gave the gift of healings, which you find above to be given by the Holy Spirit; gave divers kinds of tongues....Not all, says he, have the gift of healings, nor do all, says he, speak with tongues...as the Father gives the gift of tongues, so, too, has the Son also granted it."--Of the Holy Spirit 8, 149-151

For more go here...

Tongues Throughout Church History

Yes there was error in the early Church. But those same people also practiced baptism. You don't outlaw that do you? That is addressed there as well. Read it.

“This is because we are familiar with the exegetical, theological and historical arguments from both sides of the charismatic debate.” -stevenlamm

I'm a theology student at Liberty University. I'm pretty familiar with it too.

“The tongues referred to in the Bible are known, human languages. Now, if you’re going to claim otherwise (i.e., that there is a private prayer language), argue your point exegetically from Scripture, using sound principles of interpretation.” -stevenlamm

First of all, no they aren't. Lets say someone next to you burst out in tongues (in a known human language) unless you know the language you would have no way of knowing what the person was speaking.

The Scriptures teach four different kinds of tongues (1 Cor. 12:10). Tongues as a sign to the unbeliever (like on the day of Pentecost). These tongues were indeed in known human languages, and for good reason. These types of tongues still happen. Tongues for interpretation (1 Cor 14:27). Interpreted...not translated. There is a difference. Tongues for intercession which occur in angelic languages (typically in private) on behalf of another (Romans 8:26). And finally, tongues for edification. These are the tongues that most people think of when the think of charismatics. What you guys call gibberish. It also occurs in an unintelligible tongue (1 Cor. 14:2). It's purpose is to edify (build up) the believer (1 Cor. 14:4).

I apologize if that is not sufficient. I'm not going to write 4 pages on here. If you really want to know more of that then read Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy with God

“You say church history attests to the continuation of the gifts (I assume you mean tongues, healing, doing of miracles). In my study of this, I found that the vast majority of those groups that claimed to have the gift of tongues for example, were theologically aberrant, even heretical. Perhaps you have found otherwise. “stevenlamm

See above.

“In my opinion, you demonstrated a woeful lack of understanding of both and many of your explanations of the theological points related to the acrostic TULIP showed that either you have not read the best Calvinist theologians, or you did not sufficiently grasp what they said. I will assume it’s the first.” -stevenlamm

I read....alot. That article expressed something I was struggling with at the time. I did a lot of research and talked with several local pastors and theologians about the issue. That is the result. I know it isn't much to look at, but whatever. You should read my latest post too.

Keep in mind, I am a theology student. Unlike many of you, I don't have a regular job. This is my life.

“My point is this: you’re arguing against a straw man in that issue and in the charismatic issue as well.” -stevenlamm

Do you know what a “straw-man argument” is?

“I suggest that you read a few authors critical of the modern charismatic church who present some of the strongest arguments. You can start with MacArthur’s book Charismatic Chaos.” -stevenlamm

I was hoping someone would bring that book up. Read this Biblical Truth and Experience by J. Rodman Williams Ph.D. He also wrote the first “real” charismatic systematic theology book. Check it out. Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective.

“You must state and defend your interpretation of those passages. If you cannot do so, then you need to go back and do some more study.” -stevenlamm

That's the problem. I don't feel I need to. I feel the text speaks for itself. God didn't author is Word so that only highly trained theologians and linguists could understand it. It says what it says.

You guys seriously need to check out this book I'm reading. When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. I was in tears within the first twelve pages. This guy gives that “new argument” you so desperately desire. Well, really it's not. But he is much better gifted at putting things in words than the likes of me.

In love,
>>zack

Libbie said...

Solameanie - I was kind of relieved when it stacked up over the 100 mark. I was a little worried I was going to be called out there :-)

donsands said...

"No where in the Word are we told that it has to be a translatable or discernable language."

What about the gift of interpretation?

Ian & Sarah Hales said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pastor E said...

to donsands:

apples and organges - my understanding of what Phil was saying was that unless it's humanly possible to translate or discern tongues as a human language, then it wasn't valid.

This does not preclude the Biblical gift of 'interpretation of tongues', which is a supernatural gift (of course) which Paul calls for in churches so the Body of Christ can be edified.

stevenlamm said...

Zack,

You’re repeating yourself without making an exegetical argument from Scripture about your view of tongues. Try making a biblical/exegetical argument and you’ll get more respect from those who disagree with you.

Here’s an example of what I mean. You said the following in your last comment:

“The Scriptures teach four different kinds of tongues (1 Cor. 12:10). Tongues as a sign to the unbeliever (like on the day of Pentecost). These tongues were indeed in known human languages, and for good reason. These types of tongues still happen. Tongues for interpretation (1 Cor 14:27). Interpreted...not translated. There is a difference. Tongues for intercession which occur in angelic languages (typically in private) on behalf of another (Romans 8:26).”

Let’s stick with your last reference to Romans 8:26 to keep this short (I’m tied up studying for my message on Sunday).

Romans 8:26 – “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (ESV)

The context of this passage has nothing to do with tongues. This text does not refer to a private prayer language. Consider what Paul actually says: the Spirit of God does the interceding, not the weak believer who is at a loss as to what he should pray for. The Spirit perfectly intercedes for us (vs27).

In addition, He intercedes with “groanings too deep for words.” There are no words at all, never mind a private, unintelligible, human-generated sound.

This text speaks of the divine, perfect communication that goes on between the members of the Trinity. It has nothing to do with the gift of tongues.

One more thing: You mentioned that you know of John MacArthur’s book “Charismatic Chaos.” Have you read it? That book led to much of the debate that still rages today over the miracle sign gifts. I would think that any man preparing for ministry or studying theology would want to consider MacArthur’s arguments, especially since a large number of your brethren take a view similar to MacArthur’s (especially people who frequent this site!).

Look, I suspect that you are still a young man who is trying to learn and grow in your knowledge of Scripture and theology. Praise God for that, and may your kind increase! Keep studying and do so with a humble heart and don’t be too quick to dismiss the views of men older than yourself who have devoted their life to the study of God’s Word, even if you disagree with them. It’s amazing how many opinions that I held to firmly as a young man have been changed by 30 years studying God’s Word and reading others much smarter than myself!

Blessings,
Steve Lamm
www.gracesantee.org

donsands said...

pastor e,

The church comes together. If people want to speak in tongues, then three at the most. And in order.
AND, if there's no interpretor, then let them keep silent.

How do you explain this as supernatural?

Zack Allen said...

Let’s stick with your last reference to Romans 8:26 to keep this short (I’m tied up studying for my message on Sunday).” -stevenlamm

Ok. What's the message about?

This text does not refer to a private prayer language.” -stevenlamm

I didn't say it did. I said it referred to tongues for interpretation. A specific type of tongues which (like the others) the Holy Spirit prays through us in intercession according to the Will of God because “we do not know what we should pray for.”

Consider what Paul actually says: the Spirit of God does the interceding, not the weak believer who is at a loss as to what he should pray for. The Spirit perfectly intercedes for us (vs27).” -stevenlamm

That's exactly what I said.

In addition, He intercedes with “groanings too deep for words.” -stevenlamm

One of my translations reads, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” I like that. I take the same thing out of both translations, but I just really like the way that's worded..

“There are no words at all, never mind a private, unintelligible, human-generated sound.” -stevenlamm

Again, I'm not talking about a private, unintelligible, human-generated sound. At the very least I'm referring to a private or public, unintelligible, Holy Spirit generated sound. The Greek word alaletos means inexpressible, unspeakable, or “words cannot express.” God can do anything. The thing is not beyond His expression. It is beyond our expression. I cannot express the intercessions of the Holy Spirit, only He can do that. And just as the Holy Spirit worked through and in the man Jesus Christ He also works through and in us. Jesus Christ said of Himself, “The Son can do nothing.”

“He had NO supernatural abilities whatsoever! While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once He was redeemed. He made that point over and over again. Jesus became the model for all who would embrace the invitation to invade the impossible in His name. He performed miracles, wonders, and signs as a man in right relationship to God...not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us. But if He did them as a man, I am responsible to pursue His lifestyle. Recapturing this simple truth changes everything...and makes possible a full restoration of the ministry of Jesus in His Church. What were the distinctions of His humanity? 1. He had no sin to separate Him from the Father. 2. He was completey dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him. What are the distinctions of our humanity? 1. We are sinners cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Through His sacrifice He has successfully dealt with the power and effect of sin for all who believe. Nothing now separates us from the Father. There remains only one unsettled issue—2. How dependent on the Holy Spirit are we willing to live?” (When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson).

...AND, if I'm not mistaken, a groan is a noise. So indeed, there are no words in tongues for intercession (at least not words we can comprehend), rather there are the groanings of the Holy Spirit.

One more thing: You mentioned that you know of John MacArthur’s book “Charismatic Chaos.” Have you read it? That book led to much of the debate that still rages today over the miracle sign gifts. I would think that any man preparing for ministry or studying theology would want to consider MacArthur’s arguments” -stevenlamm

I have not read it in its entirety. I don't think he understands what he is talking about. Would you want a PE teacher to try to teach you Advanced Number Theory. Unless the PE teacher was also a college mathematics professor on the side I would certainly hope not. I think the same goes with the miraculous things of the Kingdom of God. Why would I want to learn from someone who doesn't know what he's talking about. I would much rather learn from a person who walks in signs and wonders.

I don't know if you read that page I linked you to earlier, but check it out.

Biblical Truth and Experience: A Reply to John F. MacArthur, Jr.

Look, I suspect that you are still a young man who is trying to learn and grow in your knowledge of Scripture and theology.” -stevenlamm

Indeed. Are you not?

Praise God for that, and may your kind increase!” -stevenlamm

Thank you very much.

Keep studying and do so with a humble heart and don’t be too quick to dismiss the views of men older than yourself who have devoted their life to the study of God’s Word, even if you disagree with them.” -stevenlamm

I'm with you there. I've never quickly dismissed anything regarding the Kingdom of Heaven. There is too much at stake.

It’s amazing how many opinions that I held to firmly as a young man have been changed by 30 years studying God’s Word and reading others much smarter than myself!” -stevenlamm

I can imagine. I'm amazed at the transformation that has taken place in my mind and heart in a mere four years. Do you really think it has anything to do with how smart you are. If that is really the way you feel then that is probably the most revealing statement about they way you think about the Kingdom so far. Friend, it has absolutely nothing to do with your intellect.

Don't let your mind get in your way too much.

The mind makes a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” -Bill Johnson

in love,
>>zack

ianmcn said...

I haven't got time to properly join in this debate, but kudos to Zak for defending the side. Despite the patronising comments many are making about you, you are doing a great job of intelligently and sensitively defending the gifts of the Holy Spirit. For more good, sound, un-flaky teaching on these gifts, I recommend John Pipers biographical sermon on the life of Dr Martin Lloyd Jones

donsands said...

"Friend, it has absolutely nothing to do with your intellect."

Hope you don't mind if i drop a thought in here.


God has given us brains. We are intelligent beings. We were created with a MIND.
We are to love God with all our MIND, as well as our souls, heart, and strength.

This is why much of the Church is in error.
They don't use the gracious gift of our intellect, which God calls us to use.
And surely we need to have His Spirit with us. We must be born again as well.

Keep to the Scriptures, and love the Lord with all your MIND. Difficult in our culture today, but essential.

Lord bless you.

wordsmith said...

"One more thing: You mentioned that you know of John MacArthur's book "Charismatic Chaos." Have you read it? That book led to much of the debate that still rages today over the miracle sign gifts. I would think that any man preparing for ministry or studying theology would want to consider MacArthur's arguments" -stevenlamm

"I have not read it in its entirety. I don't think he understands what he is talking about. Would you want a PE teacher to try to teach you Advanced Number Theory. Unless the PE teacher was also a college mathematics professor on the side I would certainly hope not. I think the same goes with the miraculous things of the Kingdom of God. Why would I want to learn from someone who doesn't know what he's talking about. I would much rather learn from a person who walks in signs and wonders."--Zack

...

"Keep studying and do so with a humble heart and don't be too quick to dismiss the views of men older than yourself who have devoted their life to the study of God's Word, even if you disagree with them." -stevenlamm

"I'm with you there. I've never quickly dismissed anything regarding the Kingdom of Heaven. There is too much at stake."--Zack

Is there anyone besides myself who is shaking his head at the irony of Zack's comments here?

Zack Allen said...

"God has given us brains. We are intelligent beings. We were created with a MIND.
We are to love God with all our MIND, as well as our souls, heart, and strength.

This is why much of the Church is in error.
They don't use the gracious gift of our intellect, which God calls us to use.
And surely we need to have His Spirit with us. We must be born again as well.

Keep to the Scriptures, and love the Lord with all your MIND. Difficult in our culture today, but essential.
" -donsands

Aside from a few grammatical and stylistic differences, I have spoken those exact same words.

Nobody is saying that you shouldn't use your mind though. Indeed, it is a gift from God. However to believe that the depth of your walk with God and your spiritual understanding is determined by how "smart" you are is troublesome to say the least. The mind should be controlled by the spirit, not the other way around.

To use your own quote against you. This is why much of the Church is in error. We are plagued by the fruits and logic of Western civilization. Much of the Church is in error because we rely to heavily on what we can make sense of rather than saying, "Come, Holy Spirit!"

Funny isn't it. You insist that you used to be just like me. Caught up in the heresies of charismaticism even. But, you know, I used to be just like you.

in love,
>>zack

Libbie said...

However to believe that the depth of your walk with God and your spiritual understanding is determined by how "smart" you are is troublesome to say the least.

And this is the cessationist position in what sense?

See, here's the problem, Zack. I looked at the arguments, I looked at the scriptures, and the ongoing-sign-gifts argument just doesn't convince me.

Doesn't mean I don't believe that the Lord moves supernaturally. Doesn't mean I don't give God the credit for every little bit of healing He gives me. I believe most strongly that He is active in every single thing in my existence (and yours, for that matter).

How on earth do we access the truths of scripture? We read the scriptures with understanding. That's not intellectualism - it's an acknowledgement of the way we have been created.

If it's troublesome we're talking about, I am always concerned when I hear about people who believe it is neccessary to somehow bypass the mind to access the things of God. That is the stuff of mysticism.

donsands said...

Zack,

What Libbie said! Amen.

Zack Allen said...

"And this is the cessationist position in what sense?" -libbie

Who said that? It certainly wasn't me. You know, for a group of folks who insist on taking things in context you sure don't do it very well in a conversational setting.

"Doesn't mean I don't believe that the Lord moves supernaturally." -libbie

Also not what I said. If you deny that God moves supernaturally today then you deny the possibility of our salvation. You certainly don't do that.

"Doesn't mean I don't give God the credit for every little bit of healing He gives me." -libbie

This is the same thing charismatics do. We don't give ourselves the credit. Those that do are obviously in error.

"How on earth do we access the truths of scripture? We read the scriptures with understanding. That's not intellectualism - it's an acknowledgment of the way we have been created."

To "access the truths of Scripture" is to "read the Scriptures with understanding." One is not the result of the other. They are the same thing. Many people read the Scriptures and don't get a lick of it (take atheists for example). The question is, "From where does our understanding come." That's an easy one. The Holy Spirit.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,And lean not on your own understanding" -Proverbs 3:5 NKJV

Indeed, some things are beyond our understanding.

"and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:7 NKJV

"If it's troublesome we're talking about, I am always concerned when I hear about people who believe it is necessary to somehow bypass the mind to access the things of God. That is the stuff of mysticism." -libbie

I agree with this statement. I do not wish to bypass my mind. My mind is a very valuable tool. I only wish for my mind to be controlled by my spirit. Not the other way around. The spirit should have precedence. The realm of the unseen (the spiritual realm) is a dominating one and is much more "real" than this temporary one we live in. The spiritual reality is a greater reality.

"For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:18b

"The invisible realm is superior to the natural. The reality of that invisible world dominates the natural world we live in...both positively and negatively. Because the invisible is superior to the natural, faith is anchored in the unseen.

Faith lives within the revealed will of God. When I have misconceptions of who He is and what He is like, my faith is restricted by those misconceptions. For example, if I believe that God allows sickness in order to build character, I'll not have confidence praying in most situations where healings is needed. But, if I believe that sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul, then no disease will intimidate me. Faith is much more free to develop when we truly see the heart of God as good.

The same misconceptions of God affect those who need to have faith for their own miracle. A woman who needed a miracle once told me that she felt God had allowed her sickness for a purpose. I told her that if I treated my children that way I'd be arrested for child abuse. She agreed and eventually allowed me to pray for her. After truth came into her heart, her healing came minutes later.

Unbelief is anchored in what is visible or reasonable apart from God. IT honors that natural realm as superior to the invisible. The apostle Paul states that what you can see is temporal, and what you can't see is eternal. Unbelief is faith in the inferior.

The natural realm is the anchor of unbelief. But that realm is not to be considered as evil. Rather the humble of heart recognize the hand of God through what is seen. God has created all things to speak of Him--whether it is rivers and trees, or angels in heaven. The natural realms carries the witness of His greatness...for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
" (When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson)

in love,
>>zack

wordsmith said...

Bill Johnson sounds like a Hagin/Copeland et al clone.

'Nuff said.

donsands said...

"But, if I believe that sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul, then no disease will intimidate me. Faith is much more free to develop when we truly see the heart of God as good."

This is teaching of man, not Scripture.

Zack,
Do you think Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and Jon Arnot are genuine preachers?

Daryl said...

Zack said
"...if I believe that God allows sickness in order to build character, I'll not have confidence praying in most situations where healings is needed. But, if I believe that sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul, then no disease will intimidate me. Faith is much more free to develop when we truly see the heart of God as good.
The same misconceptions of God affect those who need to have faith for their own miracle. A woman who needed a miracle once told me that she felt God had allowed her sickness for a purpose. I told her that if I treated my children that way I'd be arrested for child abuse..."

--------------------

Apparently Job didn't think so

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Job 2:10

Nor did Moses...

"...I put to death and I bring to life,
I have wounded and I will heal,..." Deut. 32:29

Nor Isaiah...

" I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things." Is 45:6-7

Nor Samuel...

"The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts." I Sam 2:6-7


This is where things really begin to come apart Zack. Not just for Charismatics but also Arminians and anyone else who sees anything as coming from anywhere other than (ultimately) God's hand.
In my experience anything people label as bad instantly becomes something over which we must "claim authority" or use as an identifier for the lack of faith in someone.

And when we do that, we eventually start to define what a good God would do based on what we think he should do. That doesn't mean we don't pray for healing. It just means we take the healing or lack of healing for what it is. A good gift, whether we like how it looks or not.

Same thing with the sign gifts. How could a good God keep from us what he would give to the apostles?

That is not for us to decide.

By the way, this whole child abuse thing keeps coming up lately. Steve Chalke, your Bill Johnson. Everytime I hear that I think, "if God is to be held to the same rules I am held to, we're all cooked." Not only that, but have these guys ever had to deal with an unrepentant child that will not bend on an issue? You'd be surprised how far a parent may need to go sometimes for the good of his child...

Libbie said...

Zack, I quoted what you said, as you made it the contrast to the continuationalist position.

As to your extensive Bill Johnson quote, I'm content with the response Daryl has given you. As someone with a painful disability and a belief in the sovereign plan of God, I don't trust myself to continue to be rational in conversation with someone who gives credence to the type of theology that you are promoting.

Rhett said...

"..leave Brother Hinn alone. If he is a fake, my God is big enough to take care of him."

Brother Hinn???

Can those two words be used together in a sentence??

Actually, this person's "god" probably isn't big enough to deal with Benny, however, the God of the Bible is big enough and will take care of Benny in due time!

Zack Allen said...

If anyone is still around...

"This is teaching of man, not Scripture." -donsands

What is? Were you referring to:

1.sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul, or
2.faith is much more free to develop when we truly see the heart of God as good

Do you think Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and Jon Arnot are genuine preachers?” -donsands

What is this “genuine?” But based on what I know to be a preacher...yes.

Daryl,

You listed 4 Scripture references:

1."...I put to death and I bring to life,
I have wounded and I will heal,..." Deut. 32:29
2." I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things." Is 45:6-7
3."The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts." I Sam 2:6-7
4."Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Job 2:10

...specifically in reference to this statement:

if I believe that God allows sickness in order to build character, I'll not have confidence praying in most situations where healings is needed. But, if I believe that sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul, then no disease will intimidate me. Faith is much more free to develop when we truly see the heart of God as good.

None of these passages speaks about:

1.God allowing sickness in order to build character.
2.Confidence in situations where healings are needed.
3.Sickness is to the body what sin is to the soul
4.Faith being freer to develop when we understand the heart of God as good.

The first three verses I listed didn't pose a problem to me as they primarily deal with God punishing people, however I have to admit I was really caught off guard by Job 2:10. So I dug into it...

God didn't inflict those things on Job...satan did. Yes, God “allowed” him to do so, but I don't believe it had anything to do with “building character.” Job's response makes it clear that he, in large part, already had the necessary character.

There is a lot of tension in the OT Scripture. For example, many Protestant Christians hold that God does not change His mind based on passages such as Numbers 23.19. The Hebrew word niham is the word for “change one's mind.” The OT records that God does not niham six times. But did you know that the OT also records that God does niham some twenty-six times? There is obvious tension there. Is there a contradiction? No. What does it mean? I think it means we don't understand God as well as we give ourselves credit. I think the Job passage falls into this sort of category.

Also, I emailed Bill about those four verses and this is what he had to say:

If an Old Testament revelation of God's nature has more merit than the perfect revelation found in the person of Jesus Christ then we might as well go back to blood sacrifices. Jesus Christ is perfect theology. He clearly manifests that nature of the Father - He healed everyone who came to him. If the Father gives sickness, and Jesus bears stripes in His body to destroy it's power, we have the two working against each other - it's a divided house and cannot stand. That of course is not the case. Jesus healed all who came to Him because He was revealing who the Father really is, and what He is like.

So basically, the revelation of Christ has precedence. And if God is the author of sickness and Christ came to heal us of both spiritual and physical infirmities then God and Christ would be in opposition to one another. Christ said, ““Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” God and Christ are obviously not in opposition to one another so it doesn't make sense unless God gave the sickness for the sole purpose of healing it for His glory.

I don't know about you, but I don't think all the floods, disasters, cancer and other diseases are God inflicting punishment on us, or Him trying to build up our character. The enemy is behind those things. If we had not fallen, he would have never been able to do such things.

Jesus said, “Your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” That is what I want. There is no sickness in heaven. I'm sure the enemy would love for there to be, but there is not. If we are to live by our Lord's prayer then we should do away with sickness here.

Same thing with the sign gifts. How could a good God keep from us what he would give to the apostles?

That is not for us to decide.
” -daryl

Are you asking me a question here or trying to make a point or what. I'm confused.

Not only that, but have these guys ever had to deal with an unrepentant child that will not bend on an issue? You'd be surprised how far a parent may need to go sometimes for the good of his child..

Yes, friends. You heard it here first. Do you have a child that will not budge? Let not your heart be troubled. We have the PERFECT solution. It has worked 100% of the time. Give your child a disease. We have literally TONS to choose from. Influenza, Avian Bird Flu, Cancer, HIV, AIDS, whatever tickles your fancy. The list goes on and on. Friends, this is sure to set your unrepentant child straight! Just call 1-800-DISEASE. Don't hesitate. Call now!

...please.

Can those two words be used together in a sentence??” -rhett

Yes. You quoted it in a sentence once, and stated it in a sentence a second time.

Actually, this person's "god" probably isn't big enough to deal with Benny, however, the God of the Bible is big enough and will take care of Benny in due time!

Wow! I can't believe I actually read that. As if this is some game? No matter your differences, you and Benny Hinn still bow your knees before the throne of Glory and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of All, and by that confession you are brothers under the name of Christ. What you've done here is no different than the latest news from the Vatican. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I certainly hope that the others on this board do not condone such statements.

Here is something good to read: Teaching Into an Encounter. Pay special attention to the sections titled “God is Bigger Than His Book” and “Road Map or Tour Guide.”

One of my favorite quotes: “God does as He pleases. While true to His Word, He does not avoid acting outside of our understanding of it.”

in love,
>>zack

Zack Allen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zack Allen said...

For some reason the link in my previous post isn't connecting. I'll quote the passage here for you.

::begin quote::

GOD IS BIGGER THAN HIS BOOK

“You are wrong because you know neither the Scriptures nor God’s power.”15

In this passage Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for their ignorance of the Scriptures and God’s power. His rebuke comes within the context of marriage and resurrection, but is aimed at the ignorance infecting every area of their lives.

What was the cause? They didn’t allow the Scriptures to lead them to God. They didn’t understand…not really understand. The word know in this passage speaks of “personal experience.” They tried to learn apart from such an experience. They were the champions of those who spent time studying God’s Word. But their study didn’t lead them to an encounter with God. It became an end in itself.

The Holy Spirit is the dunamis of heaven. An encounter with God is often a power encounter. Such encounters vary from person to person according to God’s design. And it’s the lack of power encounters that lead to a misunderstanding of God and His Word. Experience is necessary in building a true knowledge of the Word. Many fear experience because it might lead away from Scripture. The mistakes of some have led many to fear experiential pursuit.16 But it is illegitimate to allow fear to keep us from pursuing a deeper experience with God! Embracing such fear causes a failure to the other extreme, which is culturally more acceptable, but significantly worse in eternity.

God does as He pleases. While true to His Word, He does not avoid acting outside of our understanding of it. For example, He’s a loving God who hates Esau.17 He’s the One who has been respectfully called a gentleman, yet who knocked Saul off of his donkey18 and picked Ezekiel up off the ground by his hair.19 He’s the bright and morning star20 who veils Himself in darkness.21 He hates divorce,22 yet is Himself divorced.23 This list of seemingly conflicting ideas could go on for much longer than any of us could bear. Yet this uncomfortable tension is designed to keep us honest and truly dependent on the Holy Spirit for understanding who God is and what He is saying to us through His book. God is so foreign to our natural ways of thinking that we only truly see what He shows us—and we can only understand Him through relationship.

The Bible is the absolute Word of God. It reveals God; the obvious, the unexplainable, the mysterious, and sometimes offensive. It all reveals the greatness of our God. Yet it does not contain Him. God is bigger than His book.

Revival is mixed with many such dilemmas—God doing what we’ve never seen Him do before, all to confirm that He is whom He said in His Word. We have the inward conflict of following the One who changes not, yet promises to do a new thing in us. This becomes even more confusing when we try to fit that new thing into the mold made by our past successful experiences.

Not everyone handles this challenge well. Many hide their need to be in control behind the banner of “staying anchored to the Word of God.” By rejecting those who differ from them, they successfully protect themselves from discomfort, and from the change for which they’ve been praying.

ROAD MAP OR TOUR GUIDE

The acceptable way of studying Scripture puts the power of revelation into the hands of anyone who can afford a Strong’s Concordance and a few other miscellaneous study materials. Put in the time, and you can learn some wonderful things. I don’t want to discount a regular disciplined approach to study, or certainly those wonderful study tools, as it is God who gives us the hunger to learn. But in reality, the Bible is a closed book. Anything I can get from the Word without God will not change my life. It is closed to insure that I remain dependent on the Holy Spirit. It is that desperate approach to Scripture that delights the heart of God. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” 24 He loves to feed those who are truly hungry.

Bible study is often promoted so that we will get formulas for living. Certainly there are principles that can be laid in an A to Z fashion. But too often that approach makes the Bible a road map. When I treat the Bible as a road map I live as though I can find my way through my own understanding of His book. I believe this perspective of scriptures actually describes living under the law, not living under grace. Living under the law is the tendency to desire a list of preset boundaries, and not a relationship. While both the Law and Grace have commandments, Grace comes with an inbuilt ability to obey what was commanded. Under Grace I don’t get a road map…I get a tour guide—the Holy Spirit. He directs, reveals, and empowers me to be and do what the Word says.

There are many concepts that the Church has held dear desiring to maintain a devotion to Scripture. But some of these actually work against the true value of God’s Word. For example: many who reject the move of the Holy Spirit have claimed that the Church doesn’t need signs and wonders because we have the Bible. Yet, that teaching contradicts the very Word it tries to exalt. If you assign ten new believers the task of studying the Bible to find God’s heart for this generation, not one of them would conclude that spiritual gifts are not for today. You have to be taught that stuff! The doctrine stating signs and wonders are no longer needed because we have the Bible was created by people who hadn’t seen God’s power and needed an explanation to justify their own powerless churches.

Revelation that doesn’t lead to a God encounter only serves to make me more religious. Unless Scripture leads me to Him, I only become better equipped to debate with those who disagree with my way of thinking.

“Knowledge puffs up...”25 Notice Paul didn’t say unbiblical knowledge, or carnal knowledge. Knowledge, including that which comes from Scripture, has the potential to make me proud. So how can I protect myself from the pride that comes from knowledge, even when it’s from the Bible? I must be certain that it takes me to Jesus!

The pride that comes from mere Bible knowledge is divisive. It creates an appetite for one’s own opinion. “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.”26 Those trained without a revelation that takes us to Him are trained to speak from themselves, for their own glory. This drive for knowledge without an encounter with God wars against true righteousness.

Not only does righteousness suffer, so does our faith. “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?”27 That desire for glory from man somehow displaces faith. The heart that fears God only—the one that seeks first His Kingdom and desires God to receive all honor and glory—that heart is the heart where faith is born.

The mission of heaven is to infiltrate earth with its realities. All teaching is to lead us to that end, for training in the Kingdom is not without purpose. We are being trained to run the family business. This is the discovery of the next chapter.



ENDNOTES

16. Being deceived didn’t start with believing something unscriptural. It started with a heart full of compromise. For no one is ever deceived except they first compromise. See 1 Tim. 1:18-19.
17. See Mal. 1:2-3.
18. See Acts 9:4.
19. See Ezek. 8:3.
20. See Rev. 22:16.
21. See Ps. 97:2.
22. See Mal. 2:16.
23. See Jer. 3:8.
24. Prov. 25:2.
25. 1Cor. 8:1.
26. John 7:18.
27. John 5:44.


::end quote::


I think I am finished here. It is obvious that no fruit will come from such a discussion over a medium such as this. I'm not going to convince you (although that really wasn't my purpose to begin with) and you aren't going to convince me.

I love all of you and have thoroughly enjoyed myself here in this discussion.

Keep loving God.

in love,
>>zack

donsands said...

What is this “genuine?” But based on what I know to be a preacher...yes.

These men are false teachers. They are enemies of the Cross.

Zack,
Jesus said there would be deceivers. We need to be aware of people like Hinn. The whole Word of Faith movement preaches a perverted gospel, and a different Jesus.

Check with Christian Research Institute if you really want to know the truth.
They have documented false teachings, saying, prophecies, and even more crazy stuff these false tecahers have done.

Lord bless you, and help you see the truth about these men who twist the truth for their own gain. Amen.

ps There certainly are Charismatic brothers who believe in the gifts that i repect greatly.
CJ Mahaney, Wayne Grudem, and Calvary Chapel, and even Jesus People USA.

Zack Allen said...

I'm sorry. I couldn't resist.

"These men are false teachers. They are enemies of the Cross." -donsands

Benny Hinn Ministries Statement of Faith:

::quote::

We Believe

1. The Bible is the inspired Word of God, a revelation from God to mankind, the infallible rule of faith and conduct, and is superior to conscience and reason, but not contrary to reason (2 Timothy 3:15-16; 1 Peter 2:2).

2. The one true God has revealed Himself as the eternally self-existent, self-revealed "I AM" and has further revealed Himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association, i.e., Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; Isaiah 43:10, 11; Matthew 28:19).

3. That man was created good and upright, for God said "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." But man, by voluntary transgression, fell, and his only hope of redemption is in Jesus Christ the Son of God (Genesis 1:26-31: 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-21).

4. The grace of God, which brings salvation, has appeared to all men, through the preaching of repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ; man is saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, and, being justified by grace through faith, he becomes an heir of God according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 2:11; Romans 10:13-15; Luke 23:47; Titus 3:5-7). The "inward" evidence to the believer of his salvation is the direct witness of the Spirit (Romans 8:16). The "outward" evidence of his salvation to all men is a life of righteousness and true holiness.

5. The ordinance of baptism by a burial with Christ should be observed as commanded in the Scriptures, by all who have repented and in their hearts have truly believed in Christ as Savior and Lord. In so doing, they have the body washed in pure water as an outward symbol of cleansing, while their heart has already been sprinkled with the blood of Christ as an inner cleansing. Thus, they declare to the world that they have died with Jesus and that they have also been raised with Him to walk in newness of life (Matthew 28:19; Acts 10:47-48; Romans 6:4; Acts 20:21; Hebrews 10:22).

6. The Lord's Supper, consisting of the elements, bread and the fruit of the vine, is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4), a memorial of His suffering and death (1 Corinthians 11:26). It is enjoined on all believers "until He comes."

7. That all believers are entitled to, and should ardently expect, and earnestly seek, the promise of the Father, the baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, according to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the normal experience of all in the early Christian church. With it comes the enduement of power for life and service, the bestowment of the gifts and their uses in the work of the ministry (Luke 24:29; Acts 1:4; 1:8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). This wonderful experience is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth (Acts 10:44-46; 11:14-16; 15:7-9).

8. In the baptism of believers as a unique work of the Holy Ghost—an evidence of which is the speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance (Acts 2:4). The manifestation of speaking in other tongues, in this instance, is the same in essence as the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:4-10, 28) but different in purpose and use.

9. The Scriptures teach a life of holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. By the power of the Holy Ghost we are able to obey the command, "Be ye holy, for I am holy." Entire sanctification is the will of God for all believers, and should be earnestly pursued by walking in obedience to God's Word (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 1 John 2:6).

10. The church is the body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit with divine appointments for the fulfillment of the great commission. Each believer, born of the Spirit, is an integral part of the church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven (Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:22; Hebrews 12:33).

11. A divinely called and scripturally ordained ministry has been provided by our Lord for a twofold purpose: The evangelization of the world, and the edifying of the Body of Christ (Mark 16:15-20; Ephesians 4:11-13).

12. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement and is the privilege of all believers (Isaiah 53:4-5; Matthew 8:16-17).

13. The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation, together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, is the imminent and blessed hope of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Titus 2:12; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Romans 8:23).

14. The revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven, the salvation of national Israel, and the Millennial reign of Christ on earth is the Scriptural promise and the world's hope (2 Thessalonians 1:17; Revelation 19:11-14; Romans 11:26-27; Revelation 20:1-7).

15. The devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, and whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, shall be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10-15).

16. "According to His promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

::end quote::

How many of those do you disagree with, Don?

I'm guessing two, maaaaybe three (7,8,12).

Turns our those three things are the things we've been talking about.

If by that Benny Hinn is a heretic, false preacher, what have you, then you've just labeled nearly half of the Body of Christ the same.

Way to go.

I can tell you right now. Benny Hinn is no "enemy to the Cross."

His ministry is very Christ centered, and very SOUL centered.

How many people have you led to Christ, Don?

I don't want to get into comparisons as it is wrong, but how do your numbers stack up to his or the likes of Reinhard Bonnke?

I'm guessing they don't stack up very well.

If I'm wrong I apologize.

"Jesus said there would be deceivers. We need to be aware of people like Hinn. The whole Word of Faith movement preaches a perverted gospel, and a different Jesus." -donsands

Yes he did. What if you are one of them? You don't feel ashamed to point that finger at Hinn. Mayne I'll point that finger at you.

You are a false teacher, Don.

Now do I believe that?

No.

You've done a fine job of glorifying Christ...as far as I can tell.

Lay off the "h" bomb, Dan.

The Word of Faith movement does not preach a different Jesus.

"Check with Christian Research Institute if you really want to know the truth." -donsands

The Christian Research Institute was founded by a Pentecostal, was it not?

I searched their site and couldn't find much. It was rather difficult to navigate. That site could use a redesign.

"if you really want to know the truth." -donsands

How incredibly arrogant of you.

"these men who twist the truth for their own gain." -donsands

Their own gain? You mean like the millions upon millions of souls they've led into the Kingdom of Heaven. Or are you talking about the incredible price they've paid to walk in the power they walk in to feed the poor and heal the sick?

From what I can see...

Benny Hinn's ministry is a near copy of the ministry of Jesus Christ when He walked this earth.

You can debate all day long about how a person can't have the gift of healing or that whatever other gift is not for today, but these men do those things. I do those things.

No matter how much "logic" you try to throw at me or anyone else who has experienced God to this extent will budge. They know what God did. They were there!

Open your eyes, Don!

All of you! Open your eyes!

There is so much more to this Kingdom thing than salvation.

God's plan of salvation was a means to an end...not the end itself.

Wake up!

May the Lord our God manifest Himself mightily to you. Awaken the groan, God! Increase our hunger, Lord!

We want you, Lord. We want you, we want you, we want you!

In His glorious and wonderful name,

Amen.

in love,
>>zack

donsands said...

Zack,

I'm not being arrogant. If you really want to know the truth, then you will check out what others know about Hinn.

There is a lot of material out there on this false teacher. And with Google you can find it, if you want to.

He has been exposed over and over as a someone who loves money.

He stays in hotel rooms that cost $10,000 a night. He buys himself a jet with money he pleads for from people, and says I'll write your name in the cockpit of his airplane that's going to save souls for Jesus.

This guy needs to repent.

He says that jesus died and went to hell, and he was born again in hell. And that when we are born again we become Christ.

He says there are 9 persons of the God head.

He teaches a false gospel of Jesus died for your bank account.

He lied over and over again. He prophecied falsely over and over.

I pray for this man. I don't want to see him die in his sin.
But if he doesn't repent, then he will have to answer for all his deceptions.

Like I said zack, if you really want to know you will find out.
The truth about him isn't that hard to find.

May the Lord lead you away from these false teachers, who pervert the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen.

stevenlamm said...

God will not judge a minister based merely upon his published doctrinal statement, but by the content of what of what he teaches as a matter of practice. On this account, Hinn fails miserably.

stevenlamm said...

Donsands,

You're wasting your time brother. Zack's main source of authority is experience, not Scripture.

regards,
Steve

wordsmith said...

Benny Hinn's ministry is a near copy of the ministry of Jesus Christ when He walked this earth.


*wordsmith reaches for the barf bag*

donsands said...

*wordsmith reaches for the barf bag*

Thanks, I needed a little levity.

You're spot on Steve. I'm done.

Bruce said...

Sometimes people get better when I pray for them. Mostly I don't remember any specific immediate miracles or dramatic instances. Here's some. Once my mom couldn't get her wedding ring back on after she took it off, because her hands had swollen, so I prayed for her and the swelling went down. Once, Derek Prince was teaching on healing and doing "leg lengthening", which brother Prince thought was pretty eccentric himself, but the length of people's legs were changing when he prayed for them, and then they would be in an existential place with God having gotten their attention. Well, the night was going well and a lot of us in the sponsoring church were enlisted in praying, and when we (including me) would pray for people, they would get "leg lenthening." I know, beats me. Afterward, I drove someone home, and told the friends back at that dorm about it, and then I prayed for that person too, and the same thing happened there.

Once when my wife was driving friends to a Bill Gothard seminar in Detroit, in a thunderstorm, the car started to slide on the road, and someone grabbed the steering wheel and helped straighten it out. Afterward, she tried to thank whoever in the car reached up, and no one had done it. I'm guessing it was an angel. No, really.

I've done a few exorcisms and watched several that seemed pretty unusual and real. And been where there were a bunch of not-so-real-seeming ones.

Once there was a fire nearby and I prayed that if it would help, would God send rain? Thunderstorm soon arrived, in a few minutes.

About bad things happening among the charismatic wings, I don't think that we have any monopoly on weirdness or abusiveness, or false doctrine. There's plenty of calvinistic baptist charismatics in my circles, and among my bible-preaching reformed cessationists friends, there's a lot of feminist-heading-to-liberal-night-terrors going on. (Check out the Calvin College website, say.)

About my own lack of sanctification, I can't really tell how much is due to being under this kind of teaching, and how much is due to me being "me."
Oh, and lots and lots of people in hospitals DO have people pray for them, and people DO get better, sometimes dramatically. Imagine here a hospital admissions guy snapping his fingers, all right people, we don't have all day, let's get the bed filled up with the next shift.

Tim said...

I noticed on the thread that there was much spoken about in the area of tongues. Does this experience sound real or do you think it was bad pizza. The scenario;

My wife and I had just visited her mother in the hospital. First time she had ever had to go into this kind of a medical situation which included surgery.

We went home and prayed for her (mom that is) and in the middle of the prayer my wife said she had three words in her head that she never had heard before. They were (mind you my wife was deeply worried for her mom) "truestucio erie abba". We had not been apart of this "tongue talking" stuff before. I immediately felt that what she had spoken was some type of Latin and felt that the interpretation was "Trust the Father." We immediatly thanked God because we felt the Holy Spirit had spoken a word to us for comfort and so that we would not be anxious over this situation. What do you think? Bad pizza or a possibel true tongue with interpretation. It has never happened since.

Tim said...

Let me correct something here. Maybe it was more like Greek, hence the word Abba.

I also had an experience one time that I prayed over a person who had terrible asthma for several years (20+). As I prayed for her, her short breathing became deep and what I would call normal. She later saw me and said that she had gone to the doctor and verified that she was healed. How do I not consider that a reality. Unfortunantely, I did not know her name or ever see her again, so as usual I cannot verify it except that aothers had been there and seen what looked like a healing through the Holy Spirit and we give God all the credit. Noting I can do. Now what, do I need to reconsider that this didn't really happen?

Daryl said...

Tim...

As has been mentioned before, the cessationist position does not deny (in fact, as I understand it, it emphatically endorses) the fact that God answers prayer. What it addresses is the apostolic sign gifts which would probably entail you walking into the asthmatics room and saying "In Jesus Name, Arise" and then going off and doing that somewhere else. As I'm sure you can tell, there is a significant difference there.

As far as your tongues speaking experience, excellent question...no idea.

Yesm God does miracle in response to prayer but we're talking about the Peter & John in the temple kind of thing.

Daryl said...

By the way...Abba is Hebrew...maybe it was bad pizza...

Tim said...

Thanks Daryl,

I will stand on my belief that it was one of those very, very, very, very few times that the Lord answered prayer and NOT go the way of the "Prophetic/Charismatic" movements of today.

I appreciate the comments...

Shannon said...

Hey there, Phil - I think I met you, with James White, at the Toledo Reformed Theological conference some years back: "Hello again!"

Anyway, that's just to say that, as a 'Reformed Charismatic' Christian I can find very little to disagree with in your criticism here. This blog exchange is one of your best. Keep up the good work.

blessings

David H. Willis said...

Wow! Thanks for being so clear. Keep on keeping on!

Eric said...

What do the cessationists here think of Kathryn Kuhlman? I bought a book called Real Miracles that has strong documentation she consistently performed healing miracles like those in the NT.

johncoombes said...

To Zack
To rely on a "Statement of Faith" contained on a website is dangerous. It may say something about what's 'inside', but it is only words until you have the opportunity to really study and compare their teaching AND behaviour against Scripture; the ultimate litmus test.
For example my wife and i are blessed to receive via internet or cable the preaching of a number of "your" USA teachers (MacArthur, Lutzer, de Waay, Jeremiah et al). What is common to all of these? Not just a statement of faith but a visible WALK of faith; in other words their lifestyle and character measure up.
I am looking forward to hear Phil expound the gospel eruditely and clearly at the Shepherd's conference due to be held at my church in Cape Town (South Africa) in May/June later this year (2010).
Benny Hinn has not healed a single person in his life, but he has economically raped thousands upon thousands of gullible, poor Africans over many years. It's a glib story. "Look what i've got!! So pay me and the more you pay me, the more you'll get." Guess what? Who gets richer and who gets poorer?
Now i do not seem to recall hearing anything like that from the solid guys you have over there like John MacArthur.
Go figure.
And yes, i too pray for Benny; surely there is a God-image human underneath all the huff and puff. be saved Benny and leave the miracles to soli Deo.

Anthony Spitteler said...

You shouldn't need experience to validate the word of God. In the end, all discussions on Benny Hinn and perceived charismatic hysteria, count for nothing. We should never lower the word of God to the level of our personal experience - for example, you wouldn't deny the doctrine of hell because you haven't experienced it or seen a credible report of an experience of it.

The issue is this - does the word of God teach the cessation of the gifts with the death of the apostles or the completion of the canon of scripture, as cessationists believe? Or does it teach they will no longer be necessary with the return of Christ or the new heavens and the new earth, when everyone agrees they will no longer be required?

The fact cessationists appeal so much to experience, or lack of it, likely reveals that deep down they do not have confidence in their biblical exegesis when it comes to cessationism. And they would be right not to have confidence in it, as it requires some serious intellectual gymnastics to make the Bible say what they claim it teaches on this subject. There is only one passage, in 1 Cor. 13, that mentions the cessation of any gifts, and the context clearly points to the new heavens and the new earth, as being the time of completion and full revelation, when healing, prophecy etc are no longer required. A flick back to 1 Cor. 1:7, where Paul commends the Corinthians for walking in the gifts ahead of Christ's appearing, makes this even clearer, though it's clear enough in 1 Cor. 13 too.

If you are sola-scriptura, believe what the word of God clearly says.

Frank Turk said...

Anthony --

I always enjoy the objection that somehow the Cessationist is hung up on "experiences," and then we are admonished to simply have the experiences the Bible says we ought to be having since there's no expiration date for Apostolic special effects in the NT (you know: unless we take phrases like "and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles" in Acts 2:43b at face value, which points out that it's the Apostles who were doing signs and wonders, not just random people).

But, since I do enjoy it so much, here's the rejoinder:

1. I concede that the NT does not have an expiration date for the Sign gifts -- those things called "signs and wonders."

2. You have made the case that they are necessary for the life of the church until Christ returns. I concede that.

3. Here are my questions, now that I have given up cessationism:

--- What are these gifts necessary for? That is, in good sola Scriptura form, what must they be used for in the life of the church? Where does the NT instruct us to use them as you describe?

--- Because they are necessary for the things you will undoubtedly list, why doesn't the Charismatic church use them for these purposes? That is: why is the church still plagued with these problems if there's a part of the church which has the solution?

Looking forward to your response.