Yeah, um, my blog is still dark, so that's what I'm calling a hiatus. And for those of you who are following the saga, my weight loss program is getting interrupted by a series of oh-dark-hundred family events which are always the domain of Dad because Mom needs her sleep. I can be just as cranky on 8 hours sleep as I can on 4, so I'm the night watchman in my house.
Anyway, Dan Edelen had posted some criticisms of a piece Phil wrote a while back, and his interaction with me got cut short because of some bad news he received. It was somewhat obtuse of me to pursue that exchange in light of his concerns, but since then he has come back with his own criticisms. I'll take that as a signal from Dan that he's ready to hear some discussion of the views he has presented on Charismatic gifts. I figured this would be a good time to go back to that discussion.
As to Tozer, I'm not writing this blog for TeamPyro. I'm writing it for people looking for the 1st century Church in 21st century America. That's the whole point of this blog. If you feel my posting the Tozer is some kind of backhanded slap at you, you're wrong. I posted it because I'd recently read it, thought it useful, and I did not have time for anything else giving what is going down with my family.For the record, the -most- amusing part of your blog is its claim to want a 1st century church. Really? A church under severe persecution? A church without the wide distribution of the whole Bible—or any Bible? A church, which, if we are to believe the NT, had problems doing something about sinful members, legalism, cliques, a proper attitude toward the ordinances, and was full of "liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons"? (Cf. 1 Cor, Titus and Galatians, in any order you please.)
I get your intended meaning of the "1st century" thing, but one of the things that most people who talk like that forget is that we are not living for something past, or in view of a past which was far better than what we have today. The real "ad fontes" claim is that we go to scripture to find out what we ought to correct, and then correct that. And then as they say on the back of a shampoo bottle, "rinse. Repeat."
But we should be living for something which we should see as imminent—that is, the return of Christ. That view is what would bring restoration and life to the church—to seek the bridegroom and not some allegedly-better past age.
If you say the Tozer post was not a shot at my objections to your response, I take that at face value.
As to the charismata issue and Paul and Timothy:The answer to your question here is, "If the church in Crete was being abused by spiritually-deficient men (and it was), it seems obvious to me that Paul would instruct Titus in how to use the miraculous gifts to point to the Gospel since that is the thesis you have affirmed here." If "the Lifeblood of the Church is the Holy Spirit", and the church in Crete was dying, you'd think that Paul would tell Titus to give it a transfusion. That's not what he does: he says, in words to this effect, "Preach the Gospel so that people will live as if it were true".
1. Paul usually wrote corrective letters. If the people within Timothy's fellowship weren't having problems with the gifts (as did Corinth), why would Paul need to address them? I can name dozens of issues Paul didn't address in his letters to Timothy and Titus. He doesn't give any instruction on the understanding of the Trinity or how to correctly handle the Lord's Supper, yet both of those are critical elements of the Church. If the Lifeblood of the Church is the Holy Spirit, why point out something so obvious unless it was being abused, as it was in Corinth?
The thesis I proposed to you was, "The Charismatic Gifts, as manifest today, point people to Jesus Christ." For Titus, the problem was that people were turning away from the Gospel. If the thesis is true, then the obvious, clear, and most vivid way to turn them back (it seems to me) is "the Lifeblood of the Church". If it isn't, please let me know why.
2. The gifts were definitely still functioning when Paul wrote Titus and Timothy.I was actually hoping you would bring this up. There is no question—none—that Paul and the other Apostles were healing the sick and so on in the time of Titus and Timothy. I wouldn't bother to try to say otherwise.
But if this is true, why are the gifts -at-best- given only a passing mention by Paul, especially in contrast to sound doctrine and the consequence of sound doctrine, which is sound living? The gifts, in your words, demonstrate the "lifeblood" of the church. You'd think something that critical would not be overlooked or taken for granted but heavily relied upon to fortify the mission of the church.
Well, I would think that. You might think something different.
3. Try to prove why someone left something out. Any proof you have is conjecture. Given that the Bible makes no conjecture about the gifts ceasing either DURING the lives of the apostles or AFTER, anything you attempt to insert there is eisogesis. If you wish to take that direction and force the “prove what's missing” route, I'll ask you what I asked Phil to prove: That there has never once been a genuin manifestation of a charismata since the Apostle John died. Good luck, you've got a lot of research to do.The Bible makes "no conjecture" on this subject?
"As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away."
I think it does make at least this much conjecture. Plainly, this statement by Paul—speaking to the Corinthians about what he calls a "more excellent way" than the gifts of the previous section—says that the gifts actually will cease, will pass away.
In one sense here, I think it is obvious that he means that at some point, if you are speaking in tongues, you're going to stop—maybe just to take a breath—and at some point, a prophecy will be fulfilled and therefore pass away, but love is not a part-time practice. Love is perpetual. That's one thing he means here.
But it is equally obvious that he's talking about the end of signs and wonders—that the signs are for a time only, and not for every moment and certainly not for every age or every single day. "When perfection comes" is a sequential delimiter for Paul's argument, and when he follows that with this—"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."—it's plain that he's saying that to be fixated on the signs is immature and must be given up for something greater.
The question is not merely what's missing: it's what is missing and what is instead evident. If the gifts were the thing, the real backbone or lifeblood of the practice of the church, you'd think that Paul would have told the Corinthians, "listen: the Gifts are holy and to be prized and feared because they are literally the manifestation of God. So when the gifts are on, all else is off—and let those gifts point you back to the Gospel." But instead of saying that, Paul says here that obsession with the gifts is immature because they are short-term means. They are passing away.
The question is not just what Paul left out: it is what he says instead which really clears the slate regarding the role of the kinds of gifts you are trying to make into a spiritual gold seal.
4. Paul clearly references in 1 Timothy 4:14-15 the laying on of hand for the impartation of the Spirit (and spiritual gifts) and for empowering for service and ministry as was common in Acts—and just as commonly accompanied by charismata. That Timothy passage sounds darned-near “charismatic” to me. (THAT word “charisma” is also there in the Greek.) Paul also notes that a prophetic word was spoken over Timothy. Or did you miss that?Wow. That's amazing. I agree—the word in the Greek there is "charisma"—but in what way can you interpolate that to mean "tongues, prophecy, or some other miraculous wonder-making sign"? Doesn't it seem more obvious in the context that the gift Timothy received from the elders by laying on of hands and with a "prophecy" (that is, by an authoritative word of or from God) is the gift of being a teacher or pastor in the church? That's the context Paul is on about here: Timothy should not be discouraged by his youth or let others undermine his ministry because he was has firm foundations to stand on: God's word in Scripture, sound teaching, and the endorsement of the elders and of (apparently) God.
BTW, every single commentator I have found so far agree that the gift Timothy has is the gift of leading and teaching—not some kind of miraculous gift like changing water into wine. That includes Andrew Wommack, who is hardly any kind of cessationist.
Why does this passage have to mean, "and the ability to heal the sick"?
5. Paul only briefly mentions the Spirit six times in the three epistles. Your argument here, if extrapolated, would make it seem as if the Holy Spirit isn't all that important to Paul as a person in the Trinity because he mentions Him so little. Does this mean the Holy Spirit has little to do with the believer or the functioning of the Church? Hardly.You misconstrue my argument. What is at stake is not whether the Holy Spirit is important: it is whether the miraculous gifts which Paul does not mention at all are the obvious, natural or necessary outworking of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
In that, if Paul is tasking Timothy, for example, on how to select overseers, you'd think one of the key matters would be, "and he exercises his supernatural gift for the life of the church." Seriously: you yourself will admit (I hope) that not every believer has these gifts—some of us only have the mundane gift of administration, for example. But in that, I think it would be unconscionable for you to say that you should have a pastor who has no supernatural gift.
Why doesn't Paul make tongues or healing or prophecy a criterion for eldership? Is having the gift of prophecy that much more obvious than having to be a husband of one wife, or a man with a well-run household?
Frank, the evidence is there for the continuation of the gifts. To me it's unmistakable and clear. In truth, I was taken back by your question because—for the very reasons I address above—it seems so fragile a means by which to build a cessationist argument. In fact, the 1 Tim 4 passages clearly mention the charismata and show them in the very context of their proper use in ministry.Not even hardly true. Not even barely true. John Gill disagrees with you; Matthew Henry disagrees with you; John Calvin disagrees with you; indeed, even Andrew Wommack—himself a continualist—disagrees with you.
You can try to apply the sticker that says "eisegesis" on me if you like, but first you have to peel it off your own fingers. 1 Tim 4 does not mention the "charismata" (as you mean it here) at all.
As I said before, Jesus commanded His people to minister and He gave them power to do so. That power was given as part of the commission. None of that power has been rescinded, because the commission to us today is the same as it was to the early Church. Jesus's commission remains, as do the gifts.It's simply a phony conflation to say, "well, if the Gospel is still true, the gifts must still be true and valid." It's a baseless equation. There is no place in Scripture that says that the Gospel will always—in all places, at all time, until the return of Christ—be paired with the supernatural gifts, and it certainly never says that this is the primary or most critical way the Holy Spirit points men to Christ. But it does, in fact, say that the gifts will cease—that seeking the gifts rather than a life which is changed by love is an immature practice.
And listen—you have yet to address my only direct question to you:
Why is martyrdom extolled by Christ as a sure sign of being His true disciple, but doing signs and wonders in His name specifically named by Him as a broad attribute of those whom, in the final account, He will say He never knew? That is: why doesn't Christ tell us in His own personal ministry about the Gospel-pointing ministry of supernatural gifts if they are as important as the Continualist position suggests?
Please reconsider this question, as it strikes right at the heart of the matter of how Christ's gifts to us through the Holy Spirit until the end of all time are actually manifest.