19 July 2007

The Gift of Hiatus (Hez 9:11) [Part 2]

by Hiatus Interruptus

This is part 2 of my response to Dan Edelen on the charismata. You can find part one here. I think I have licked all my typos this time around, but please feel free to send me a note if you find one I missed.

| (As to #2 in your post, my answer is
| encapsulated in #1.)
| 3. The Bible says the gifts will cease
| I absolutely agree the gifts will cease!
| The question becomes one of when.
| You quote 1 Corinthians 13:8-10:
| Love never ends. 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.
| ---1 Corinthians 13:8-10
| I understand this is a favorite verse of
| cessationists. It seems their entire
| argument against the vast reality of
| the gifts and their continuation rests
| on this verse. I have no idea why.
| Again, solid exegesis demands that, to
| overturn a foundational truth laid out
| in Scripture, we must go to multiple
| sources within the Scriptures
| themselves. But you have not.
| Worse, you attempt to overturn a
| foundational truth not just by one
| verse, but by one word within that
| verse! The rich reality of the gifts gets
| annihilated by one word! That
| astonishes me, Frank. I, for one, don't
| have the courage to recreate doctrine
| found in both the Old and New
| Testament based on one word. I doubt
| that any serious Biblical scholar does.
There are two humorous aspects to what you are doing here. The first is frankly a mis-statement of what I have done. I didn’t stop at v. 10 – I went to the end of the passage to connect all the aspects of the dissertation of the apostle on what is a "more excellent way", which plainly you are ignoring.

And that's fine – it's not the first time the question of what Paul means by the metaphor of child-to-man in this passage has been ignored by the charismatic advocate. However, what you do next is far more comical because you have simply changed the ground of our discussion from Scripture to what some other men have said! And in that, you have changed men who are non-charismatics into advocates of your position by avoiding the balance of their commentary here.
| I pulled four commentaries. All four
| came out long before the modern
| charismatic movement came to the
| fore, so none are predisposed as being
| pawns in the pro-charismatic camp.
| Here's what they say about v10 and
| the idea of "the perfect":
| Albert Barnes: "The sense here is, that
| “in heaven” - a state of absolute
| perfection - that which is “in part,” or
| which is imperfect, shall be lost in
| superior brightness. All imperfection
| will vanish. And all that we here
| possess that is obscure shall be lost in
| the superior and perfect glory of that
| eternal world. All our present
| unsatisfactory modes of obtaining
| knowledge shall be unknown. All
| shall be clear, bright, and eternal."
| In other words, the perfect comes at
| the end of all things, when the
| Kingdom comes fully in Christ's
| return.
| Adam Clarke: "The state of eternal
| blessedness; then that which is in part
| - that which is imperfect, shall be
| done away; the imperfect as well as
| the probationary state shall cease for
| ever."
| In other words, the perfect comes at
| the end of all things, when the
| Kingdom comes fully in Christ's
| return.
For the sake of complete transparency, I have to let Clarke and Barnes go because I cannot lay a hand on their commentaries. Gill and Henry, however, are another story.
| John Gill: "When perfect knowledge
| of God, of Christ, and of the mysteries
| of the kingdom of heaven shall take
| place; which will not be in this life,
| but in that which is to come."
| In other words, the perfect comes at
| the end of all things, when the
| Kingdom comes fully in Christ's
| return.
The problem here is that Gill's view of what gift are being spoken of here is somewhat different than yours:
but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;
by which are meant, either the predictions of future events, not that they shall fail in their accomplishment, but they shall be no more, because they will all be accomplished; or else the gifts of explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament, and of preaching the doctrines of the Gospel, will be no more, because there will be no need of them in a state of perfection:
whether there be tongues they shall cease;
not but that, in the resurrection, that member of the body, the tongue, will be restored as the rest, and be everlastingly employed in celebrating the perfections of God, in singing the hallelujahs of the Lamb, and in joining with angels and other saints in songs of praise to the eternal Three; but the gift of speaking with divers tongues will cease, indeed it has already; nor will there be any use for such an extraordinary gift in the other world; when probably, and as it is thought by some, there will be but one language, and that the Hebrew language; as the whole earth was of one language and speech before the confusion at Babel: …
In that context, Dr. Gill is not even talking about the same thing you are – so his view that there is a future, perfect time when they will be passed away has to be read in that context. Not, as someone of interest once said, by forming "doctrines based on a single ... verse" of his exposition.
| Matthew Henry: "But it is plain that
| the apostle is here setting the grace of
| charity in opposition to supernatural
| gifts. And it is more valuable, because
| more durable; it shall last, when they
| shall be no more; it shall enter into
| heaven, where they will have no
| place, because they will be of no use,
| though, in a sense, even our common
| knowledge may be said to cease in
| heaven, by reason of the improvement
| that will then be made in it. The light
| of a candle is perfectly obscured by
| the sun shining in its strength."
| In other words, the perfect comes at
| the end of all things, when the
| Kingdom comes fully in Christ's
| return.
| And Henry makes a very telling
| observation in his commentary. He
| notes that the gifts will not be needed
| in the world to come, but love will be.
| This is the whole point of Paul. I fully
| agree that the gifts cease on the Great
| Day of the Lord, but love endures past
| that day because God is Love and
| love powers the Kingdom both now
| and forever. Will we cease to love
| God and He us when we die or when
| He comes again? No! But there will
| be no need for the gifts then because
| our work is done (a concept I'll
| expand further on).
Before we get to Henry's notes here, let's keep something in mind: it is specifically my argument that Paul exalts love in 1 Cor 12-13 as the real gift, the real object of what the Christian must be after. That's what I have said from the start of this exchange, so let's please not try to make that a point of contention. It is, in fact, the strength of the cessationist reading of this passage.

But in that, here's Henry's extended comments on this passage:
Here the apostle goes on to commend charity, and show how much it is preferable to the gifts on which the Corinthians were so apt to pride themselves, to the utter neglect, and almost extinction, of charity. This he makes out, I. From its longer continuance and duration:
Charity never faileth. It is a permanent and perpetual grace, lasting as eternity; whereas the extraordinary gifts on which the Corinthians valued themselves were of short continuance. They were only to edify the church on earth, and that but for a time, not during its whole continuance in this world; but in heaven would be all superseded, which yet is the very seat and element of love.
Prophecy must fail, that is, either the prediction of things to come (which is its most common sense) or the interpretation of scripture by immediate inspiration.
Tongues will cease, that is, the miraculous power of speaking languages without learning them. There will be but one language in heaven. There is no confusion of tongues in the region of perfect tranquility.
In Henry's view, the gifts had already ceased. When your citation is linked in with this text, the force of the comment is directed away from a dream that there is a continuation of the gifts to through the whole church age to today.
| I'm not going to let non-apostles
| interpret that Scripture for me,
| though. I'll let Peter speak on
| Pentecost, the day of the enabling of
| the charismata, the day the Church
| was founded, and the day the Church's
| mission began. He quotes the Old
| Testament prophet Joel:
| 'And in the last days it shall be, God
| declares, that I will pour out my Spirit
| on all flesh, and your sons and your
| daughters shall prophesy, and your
| young men shall see visions, and your
| old men shall dream dreams; even on
| my male servants and female servants
| in those days I will pour out my
| Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I
| will show wonders in the heavens
| above and signs on the earth below,
| blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
| the sun shall be turned to darkness
| and the moon to blood, before the day
| of the Lord comes, the great and
| magnificent day. And it shall come to
| pass that everyone who calls upon the
| name of the Lord shall be saved.'
| ---Acts 2:17-21
| Peter frames Pentecost and the
| outpouring of the charismata within
| the Joel prophecy. The last days begin
| with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
| (and the gifts) and end with the Great
| Day of the Lord. That timeframe
| delineates the extent of the
| continuation of the charismata.
What I find amazing about this is that what happened at Pentecost is not what you are advocating for. Can you name one time in your own church where the gift of "tongues" was manifest in a form of speech which was understood by each man in his own native language? Or a prophecy was given which came to pass, with the requisite "this shall be a sign unto you"?

You cannot read Peter's affirmation of Joel as a statement of perpetual action: Peter himself says that the explanation of the behavior before the men in Jerusalem was the fulfillment of what Joel prophecied. Peter didn’t say, "this is how the church will act from now on," but instead, to explain the behavior the visitors to Pentecost witnessed, he proclaimed that Joel was there fulfilled.

If your plea is to let Scripture interpret Scripture, so be it. But let's make sure we don't miss any of the salient points such as when a person is speaking particularly rather than generally.

| These sources are not in dispute. They
| all agree that the charismata will
| cease--but they will do so when the
| end of time comes, when the Lord
| returns on that Great Day.
That is wholly false regarding Henry and Gill – because they explicitly endorse the idea that the miraculous gifts have already ceased.
| Again, the burden of proof for the
| cessationist view must provide
| compelling evidence to overturn
| foundational truth. That compelling
| evidence simply cannot be made from
| one word in one verse.
Well, there you go. Glad I could help.
| 4. Misunderstanding 1 Tim 4:14-15's
| reference to Timothy's prophetic word
| spoken over him
| The passage in question:
| Do not neglect the gift you have,
| which was given you by prophecy
| when the council of elders laid their
| hands on you. Practice these things,
| immerse yourself in them, so that all
| may see your progress. Keep a close
| watch on yourself and on the
| teaching. Persist in this, for by so
| doing you will save both yourself and
| your hearers.
| ---1 Timothy 4:14-16
| You claim I'm misunderstanding what
| the gift is here. I'm not. I'm fully
| aware that Timothy has been blessed
| with a pastoral gift. I've never
| disputed that. What I'm referring to,
| and you missed, is the prophetic word
| spoken over Timothy that confirmed
| his pastoral gift.
Aha. At last we get to the gift of prophecy. This will be, by far, the most useful part of this discussion, no matter which side of the fence one starts on. For the record, there are still plenty of seats on my side of the fence for those who find, in the end, they have no place on the other to sit or stand.
| You claimed Paul discussed nothing
| of the charismata in his letter to
| Timothy, but he clearly does by
| recalling the action of a revelatory
| word of God confirming the pastoral
| role of Timothy!
I would argue that this passage says something very different than you would accept, but I would be arguing from a minority position. I have already conceded that the miraculous gifts were active in the Apostolic age. Let's operate from that standpoint.

How does the ordination of Timothy apply to someone other than Timothy? For example, does every overseer require a prophecy to tell the church he is gifted for service?

If the answer is, "no, every overseer does not require that," then who was the last one for whom it was true? That's a rhetorical question. The actual, you-should-answer-it question is below.

... to be continued ...


centuri0n said...

Comments will be opened when Part 3 comes up later today. Thanks.

centuri0n said...

Comments are now open. Please issue your concerns in an orderly fashion.

threegirldad said...

With a hiatus like this, who needs a personal blog? ;-)

Seriously, I very much appreciate this series of posts, as it touches close to home for me.

donsands said...

"Are the charismatic gifts necessary
| or not?"

Some are and some are not. The gift of helps will always be needed. As the gift of teaching, and administrations.
Tongues isn't needed. And interpretation as well.

I have never heard a good explanation of the gift of interpretation. I have no idea how this gift works in its fullness.
Nobody has ever dug into the Scriptures and tried to explain this gift for me as long as I have been a Christian, and I suppose that it will always fall on the wayside.

I'd love for someone to explain what this gift is, according to Acts 2 & 1 Cor. 14.

LeeC said...

Barnes and Clarkes commentaries are available through E-sword for free btw.

Timothy II said...

As far as prophecy is concerned most where for individuals not groups.
Could the prophecies concerning tim not be for all but just for him.
And where is He?

Here I am