02 November 2007

Something "Nice"?

Part 2 of 2: Why I think Charismatic Doctrine Is to Blame for the Overabundance of Craziness in That Movement
by Phil Johnson

    prodigious wacko fringe has always been one of the charismatic movement's most prominent features. In little more than a century, the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements have spun off so many bad doctrines and bizarre characters that I have a thick dictionary in my office just to help me keep track of them all.

Furthermore, I'm convinced it's not just some kind of fantastic cosmic coincidence that has loaded the movement with an unusually high number of charlatans and heretics. I've suggested on more than one occasion that a major reason the charismatic movement has produced more than its fair share of aberrant behavior is because the distinctive doctrines of charismatic belief foster gullibility while constantly seeding the movement with all kinds of whimsy. Specifically, the charismatic belief that it's normative for Spirit-filled Christians to receive extrabiblical divine revelation through various mystical means has opened the door for all kinds of mischief.

I would not for a moment deny that there are some relatively sane and sensible charismatics who love Scripture and generally teach sound doctrine while avoiding most of their movement's worst errors. I think they represent a fairly small minority of the worldwide charismatic community, but they do exist. A few of them are good friends—even longtime friends—of mine. I have friends (for example) in the Calvary Chapel movement, which is mildly charismatic in doctrine but whose worship is generally more Bible-centered than even the typical non-Charismatic seeker-sensitive church. As a matter of fact, my chief concern about the Calvary Chapel movement would not even be their advocacy of charismatic views, but their increasingly aggressive campaign against Calvinism.

That's not all. I have warm affection and heartfelt respect for most of the best-known Reformed charismatic leaders, including C. J. Mahaney, Wayne Grudem, and Sam Storms. I've greatly benefited from major aspects of their ministries, and I regularly recommend resources from them that I have found helpful. I've corresponded with the world-famous Brit-blogger Adrian Warnock for at least 15 years now and had breakfast with him on two occasions, and I like him very much. I'm sure we agree on far more things than we disagree about. And I'm also certain the matters we agree on—starting with the meaning of the cross—are a lot more important than the issues we disagree on, which are all secondary matters.

But that is not to suggest that the things we disagree on are non-issues.

Candor, and not a lack of charity, requires me to state this conviction plainly: The belief that extrabiblical revelation is normative does indeed "regularly and systematically breed willful gullibility, not discernment." Even the more sane and sober charismatics are not totally exempt from the tendency.

Remember that Paul Cain and the Kansas City Prophets found an amazing amount of support from "Reformed Charismatics" on both sides of the Atlantic, even after it was clear to more objective minds that the "prophets'" were regularly and systematically issuing false prophecies.

And that fact ought to have been clear very early. In 1989, the senior Kansas City prophet, Bob Jones, acknowledged that he could claim an accuracy rate of no higher than two-thirds. By 1991, Jones was utterly discredited because of his own sexual misconduct with women who came to him seeking prophetic counseling.

Shortly after that (in early 1992), John MacArthur, Lance Quinn, and I met with Paul Cain and Jack Deere in John MacArthur's office at Jack Deere's request. Deere wanted to try to convince John MacArthur that the charismatic movement—especially the Vineyard branch—was on a trajectory to make doctrinal soundness and biblical integrity the hallmarks of Third-Wave charismatic practice. He brought Cain along, ostensibly so that we could see for ourselves that Cain was a legitimate prophet with a profound gifting.

But Cain was virtually incoherent that day. Lance Quinn remarked to me immediately afterward that it seemed as if Cain had been drinking heavily. (In retrospect it seems a fair assumption that this may indeed have been the case.) Even Deere apologized for Cain's strange behavior that day, but Deere seemed to want us to assume it was because the Spirit was upon Cain in some unusual way. They both admitted to us that Cain's "prophecies" were wrong at least as often as they were right. When we cited that as sufficient reason not to accept any of their prophecies at face value, they cited Wayne Grudem's views on New Testament prophecy as justification for ignoring the errors of prophecies already proven false while giving credence to still more questionable pronouncements.

That meeting was extremely eye-opening for me. Deere was unable to answer basic questions about certain practices Lance and I had personally observed him participating in at the Anaheim Vineyard just a few weeks before that meeting. Specifically, we asked him about two "prophets" whose public words of knowledge in the morning service were flatly contradictory. (The dueling prophets were apparently using their "gifts" to air out a dispute over some decision the church's leaders had recently made.) Deere acknowledged that the prophecies that morning were contradictory. And he could not explain why John Wimber let both prophecies stand without a word of explanation or clarification. (He seemed to shrug off our concern by speculating that perhaps even Wimber wasn't sure which prophecy, if either, was the true one.) Again, he appealed to Grudem, perhaps the most theologically sound of all charismatics, as justification for accepting the two prophets' gifting as legitimate anyway.

I left that meeting amazed that anyone would give credence to such "prophets." But several of the best "Reformed Charismatic" leaders—all citing Grudem for authority—continued to give credence to Cain, the Kansas City Prophets, and others like them for a long, long time. Some of the Reformed Charismatics who lent Paul Cain undue credibility did not really renounce him as a prophet until about twelve years later, when his personal sins finally came to light.

(And it may be stretching things to say everyone concerned actually "renounced" Cain's supposed prophetic gifting even then. He has lately made something of a comeback.)

As long as Reformed charismatics justify the practice of encouraging people to proclaim "prophecies" that are unverified and unverifiable—and which frequently prove to be wrong—I'll stand by the concern I expressed: even the very best of charismatics sometimes foster unwarranted and unreasonable gullibility, and gullibility about whether God has really spoken or not is seriously dangerous.

When a false belief is truly dangerous and comes replete with the kind of long and dismal track record extrabiblical revelation brings with it, it's not "uncharitable" for those who see the danger and are truly concerned about it to sound a warning rather than humming a gentle lullaby.

My charismatic friend, Dr. Warnock, insists that I have been uncharitable because I have stated my opinion about the dangers of charismatic doctrine without explicitly exempting him and others whom he likes from my warning against gullibility. It makes him "uncomfortable" to read such things on our blog as often as we post them (even though the vast majority of our recent posts on the charismatic issue have actually been made at his behest).

I have to say in reply that his appeal to how our posts make him feel, while he declines to give any rational or reasonable explanation for why he thinks our candor must be motivated by a lack of charity, is an echo of the very tendency that I think is so dangerous in the charismatic mindset.

I do realize some people are uncomfortable with such a firm stance against the charismatic position. I'm equally uncomfortable with the charismatic position itself. Let's both remember that our respective comfort levels are not a reliable gauge of our brothers' charity (or lack thereof), and let's try to focus on the actual issue under discussion.

Phil's signature

168 comments:

Robert said...

Interesting post.
I'm currently a Reformed Christian in a Charismatic style church; Assemblies of God.

I do wholeheartedly agree that the real issue that causes the problems is that the members believe in getting extra biblical revelation.

This is a dangerous jumping off point.

David said...

I want to disagree with you, but cannot.

As a general rule, the charismatics I have personally known over the years have been the most committed to personal evangilism, the most committed to living a life characterized by love, the most willing to step out and care for other believers. And I have also been taught by several charismatic pastors that clearly and soundly exigeted scripture in thier messages.

Yet your main point stands correct.

"Specifically, the charismatic belief that it's normative for Spirit-filled Christians to receive extrabiblical divine revelation"

...

"As long as Reformed charismatics justify the practice of encouraging people to proclaim "prophecies" that are unverified and unverifiable—and which frequently prove to be wrong—I'll stand by the concern I expressed: even the very best of charismatics sometimes foster unwarranted and unreasonable gullibility, and gullibility about whether God has really spoken or not is seriously dangerous."

DJP said...

You know, Phil, reflecting on what you wrote, it seems to me that Grudem himself is a very apt illustration of what we keep trying to get across.

Has Grudem made significant contributions to the body of Christ? Without doubt: his writing on complementarianism, his systematic theology, these and other labors are of undeniable benefit to the body.

All of these flow from convictions he shares with "cessationists."

But what fruits have his distinctively Charismatic notions borne?

You document some here. By readjusting select Scriptures downward in a manner that accommodates charismatic fraud, Grudem has provided a pretext for the worst sorts of charlatans.

And that's the note we keep sounding. It's had a century and a year since its invention in 1906. What distinctive "contribution" has the charismatic movement made, by its distinctive doctrines?

The legacy is not one to be proud of.

Libbie said...

I agree that this is the massive inherent weakness. Because of the very fact of ongoing secondary revelation, the default position of the charismatic has to be acceptance until proven otherwise.

And because of the fuzzy nature of how such things are tested, the dangers are absolutely part and parcel of the movement, not just the 'extreme end'.

steve said...

Exceptional post, and exceptionally well said. Thanks, Phil.

It's bewildering that even the more conservative Charismatics will point to a so-called prophet's handful of allegedly accurate extrabiblical revelations as affirmation of his giftedness and turn a blind eye to the contradictory or errant prophecies, no matter how few they are.

If such revelations are the work of God and the Holy Spirit, as Charismatics claim, then ultimately even the utterances that become evident as being contradictory or errant have to be traced back to and blamed on God and the Holy Spirit.

Which leaves pretty huge black marks on the reputations of God and the Holy Spirit. It makes them out to be far more human than divine.

And here's nothing charitable at all about that.

That the theological reasonings of the more upstanding members of the Charismatic community, such as Grudem, make it permissible for this to continue is especially tragic.

centuri0n said...

Here's the perspective I come at this thing with.

I live in a town where every major road into the city has a giant sign which says, "Welcome to Siloam Springs, where Jesus is Lord. Welcome to God's Country." It's a place where there is an apocryphal story of Corrie Tin Boom having a prophetic vision that there are "legions of angels and spirits" surrounding the land and protecting it. It's also a city where we hold the dubious world record of having more churches per capita than any city in the world.

I go to a church which is SBC and seeking to reform itself to be more than a place to get good lifestyle advice -- because all churches are likely gullible on that account. But many of my friends and neighbors attend churches and confess a lifestyle of charismatic belief, specifically relating to the Kansas City movement and the so-called "house of prayer". many of them makes "retreats" and "pilgrimages" to KC to stay in-touch with the so-called spiritual energy of the IHOP organization.

I love these people. I worry daily for them on the basis of their discernment and frankly the way they apply the faith they have to the way they live. And the root cause for all -- and I say this with all gentleness and reverence possible in this case -- their various troubles in life is investment in phony prophecies and visions which never come true and which lead them down blind alleys where they expect God to deliver them from their own frankly-godless ends. I know a businessman who took his current position based on a "personal word from God" which became immediate clear to be false, but rather than consider whether his decision, then he went seeking another word from God to find out what to do.

What does God do to a people, I wonder, who follow false prophets, and take their own word as His word? Do we have any examples in Scripture? What does John say about the fate of people who follow false prophets?

This is a far more serious issue than the charismatic advocate will allow, and that actually makes me personally more worried that they are deceived.

There was no reason at all today to point out that, most of the time, Piper, Mahaney, Storms and Grudem are all reliable guys with a pretty steely gaze for most of the charismatic landscape -- because what's in question here is not "is there a contingent in this movement which is generally reliable", but "isn't this movement overwhelmingly populated with Benny Hinns, Pat Robertsons, Earnest Angeleys, infamous Crouch families, Jim Rutzs, Rick Joyners, Joyce Meyers, etc. etc.etc." The fact that it's a minority of the public leaders of this movement who aren't in some stage of coming off the rails.

Take it or leave it. I look forward to hearing why I should use this same kind of logic on the Reformed Baptist movement or the SBC or the outpouring of men coming from TMS/TMC.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"When a false belief is truly dangerous and comes replete with the kind of long and dismal track record extrabiblical revelation brings with it, it's not "uncharitable" for those who see the danger and are truly concerned about it to sound a warning rather than humming a gentle lullaby."

Spot-on in every way! There is a danger and it's not uncharitable in the least to call attention to that danger.

Ahhhh, I can hear it now... "But you're making the dreaded 'slippery slope' argument! And just because there's a slippery slope doesn't mean that all the boogyemen and scare tactics that you employ to frighten me away from the gifts of the Spirit will necessarily happen! TeamPyro is so divisive, so unloving, so uncharitable, so contentious... such a group of fundamentalist pharisees! What a hateful group of Christians! They need to learn that Christ is loving, inclusive, tolerant, pluralistic, and diverse."

(Sorry, but I'm not very good at whiny sarcasm. But I like to try!)

David said...

TMS/TMC?

SBC I get, but those two?

joanna said...

I have somewhat of an uneasy relationship with this topic. I believe that God could and sometimes does work though signs, miracles, prophecies and the like. That would probably make me a charismatic. However a lot of what i see in the charismatic/ pentecostal movements causes me concern. Since when has the holy become a stage show or the supernatural been for our personal gain? Give me someone with fruit of the spirit over gifts of the spirit any day.


Once aspect of the charismatic culture that i rarely see mentioned that concerns me is its reinforcement of the instant gratification culture. Instant healings, instant breakthroughs, instant miracles ect. Sure sometimes God works in a dramatic way but to claim its the normal isn't healthy. Unfortunately many of the things we want do not come straight away or even at all. I've seen a lot of people drop away because bad things happened, they didn't get what they want or they didn't learn the endurance necessary for christian life. It seems to especially be an issue amoungst people my age (i'm 19) and unfortunately once they leave they seem not to come back.

donsands said...

Excellent post.

I agree the particular doctrine of prophets and prophecy has done great damage to the Body of Christ.

Ezekiel 13:22 says false prophecies have made the Lord's people sad. I've seen that first hand.

Travis said...

Excellent stuff, Phil, and delievered, I believe, with clarity and charity.

Dan is 100% accurate when he state that fruits which are distinctly charismatic have been unprofitable.

DJP said...

Thanks Travis. One can cherish the child-like hope that it precludes all the "but I heard _____ preach Christ this one time!" comments.

Benjamin Nitu said...

I would recommend
"Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship With God" by Dallas Willard.

As for the "extra biblical revelation" ... we now know why people no longer read their Bibles ... they don't have to ... their pastor is there to "create divine revelation" for them.

A pumpkin grows 6 months; an oak its entire life. -- There are no shortcuts to maturity in Christ.

Shannon said...

Phil...
THIS post was so full of grace. I just wanted to acknowledge that up front. You have won a sympathetic ear.

I would love it if you one day read my blog post "Whatever happened to Miracles" (http://heatlight.wordpress.com/2007/07/26/whatever-happened-to-miracles/) and "How to be a Charismatic in a non-Charismatic Church" (http://heatlight.wordpress.com/2007/07/31/q-a-how-do-i-publicly-affirm-my-charismatic-beliefs-while-not-furthering-disunity-in-a-non-charismatic-church/) to get a better picture of modern-day 'prophecy' as I've experienced and expressed it: very cautiously. I don't believe I have it all together, but I have no instances where I feel I have mis-spoke prophetically, nor have caused disorder by my actions. That's just to say, I believe that the belief in modern-day charismata when understood within a reformed system (most, sadly, are practiced within a strongly arminian - often even open theistic - framework, revealing their connection to the Holiness movement of the past). That's just to say, I personally believe that the 'sickness' in much of the charismatic movement is a low belief in the Sovereignty of God, which results in an over-emphasis of the significance of man and our abilities. This results in heresies such as the Word of Faith movement, which equates us with 'little Gods', able to call reality into existence. Even Dr. Deere, though I do like some of what he's written, lacks in this area - he's no 'Reformed Charismatic'.

So, would you agree with me? Many of the problems with the charismatic find their roots in the a Pelagian Holiness movement that, when coupled with the 'power of God' (I'm not saying that it's all genuine, but the 'concept' of the 'Power of God') tends to bread chaos and heresy. What do you think?

TBE said...

The argument so far against the charismatic movement (at least as I've seen it addressed thus far on this site) is that its rampant abuses somehow indicate its "unscripturality" (English grad students have a God-given RIGHT to make up new words!!!!).

But is this really a valid argument? It sounds shockingly like the arguments I hear from Arminians all the time about how genuinely Reformed theology dismisses the need for evangelism because God's always going to save His elect. That, of course, does indeed spring forth from a perversion of Calvinism, but an Arminian could simply reply in the way that you have, Phil, and say that since Calvinism lends itself so readily to that kind of heresy, Calvinism itself MUST be inherently unbiblical.

In short, so far I haven't seen you show in any sense that the abuses of charismatic theology (which no one denies) flow NECESSARILY from its theological underpinnings...indeed, the very fact that you always seem to have to make exceptions (Piper, Mahaney, Grudem, Warnock, etc.) suggests rather strongly that such abuses are NOT necessary consequences of the theology itself.

Shannon said...

p.s. - Centurion, and others...
though I don't LOVE all that goes on at the IHOP in Kansas City, I have 5 or 6 friends who are currently interning there, and though they began there as 'run of the mill' charismatic types, since they've been studying there they have discovered (though IHOP assignments and recommendations) not only John Piper, Wayne Grudem, & Sam Storms, but even J.I. Packer, Jonathan Edwards, & A.W. Pink. On top of that, many of their recordings are simply Scripture set to music, so it's hard to find modern worship music that more Biblical, even if some of the theology behind the movement isn't always sound.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Thanks for this post, Phil. I agree with the post, but I am more interested in the history. I'm sure this will make it into MacArthur's biography!

DJP said...

Shannon — can you cite any real (i.e. Biblical) prophets who expressed their prophecies "very cautiously"?

Shannon said...

Sorry to take over the comment board, but I had a book recommendation for you Pyromaniacs, one you may disagree with, but find interesting, and one you will probably find much to agree with:
1.) Sola Scriptura and the Revelatory Gifts - Don Codling
2.) Who's afraid of the Holy Spirit - edited by Daniel Wallace
Have you read either? Thoughts?

nolongerblind said...

Excellent, well-reasoned post, phil.
As to the argument that some of these so-called "prophets" are accurate some of the time, I'd like to quote MacArthur (from a different context), "even a clock that doesn't work is right twice a day!"

Johnny Dialectic said...

Phil, this post does exactly what Adrian and some others requested. It is a model of charitable, though strong, disagreement. Of course, there are those who think "strong disagreement" is, ipso facto, uncharitable. But that is simply not true.

The Rubicon seems to me to be where one leaves illumination of the Spirit in the study of the Word and crosses over to direct revelation apart from a Scriptural anchor.

Might that be the key? I believe in a robust doctrine of the Holy Spirit, for strength and wisdom and power in service (all confirmed by and tied to a study of actual text). But not to receive a "word" that should be considered infallible and authoritative when uttered by a human being.

It is this latter doctrine which make INEVITABLE the abuses that you catalogue.

I cannot, therefore, agree that God would approve of such doctrine, one that results in so much error, not to mention actual abuse.

pfg blogmatron said...

TMS ~ The Master's Seminary?

TMC ~ The Master's College?

Guessing and might be wrong.

Shannon said...

Mr. Dialectic:

God calls women to be subject to their husbands, a 'doctrine' that is clearly Biblical, yet has also been shown to very often been abused by harsh, domineering, abusive 'Church-going' men over the years. Does God, as a result, disapprove of such a doctrine because it leads to abuse?
Paul recognized the potential for (maybe even propensity towards) error, but instead of banning prophecy, he corrected it's use - to taught the Corinthians how do use the gift properly. He also added "Do not despise Prophecy". It seems that is exactly what we are doing all too often: despising Prophecy.

Aric said...

I hesitate to enter the fray; yet, my charismatic-teaching-of-yesteryear wars against my reformed-teaching-of-yesterday. If I had to describe my transition, I would say that in my youth I was taught more like the Robertson, Hinn, fringe crowd; however, now Mahaney, Piper, and Grudem would best represent my thoughts/teaching on this subject.

I appreciate the urgency and honesty shown by those who post on this site. It has edified me and challenged me to dig deeper into the Word. Even though it is difficult to set aside years of 'teaching' from a charismatic background, I constantly fight to read the Word and have my mind renewed by that Word, no matter how contrary to what I may have been told in the past.

Which brings me (finally) to what I struggle with in this discussion. From the Cessation side, I definitely see the gross abuses of the charismatic movement. However, I don't want my doctrine to be formed by what I see. I also see the abusive exaltation of the gifts, in contract to the more excellent way of Love and seeking all things to edify the body.

From the Charismatic view, I see where God is the one who gives all the gifts. I see Paul exhorting the church to seek the gift of prophecy, and not forbidding tongues. I have yet to find where the Word states something to the effect, "seek prophecy before it ceases, and do not forbid tongues until the time God stops giving that gift" or "even though the manifestations of the Spirit are many and varied, some of the manifestations on this list have stopped – forever – can you guess which ones." (forgive me for the sarcasm, I truly am trying to be nice and at the same time express the inner struggle I have with this issue to a bunch of people that I have never met).

We can debate all day what it means "when the perfect comes," but what I continually wrestle with is that Paul lumps all of these gifts together (healing, miracles, administration, tongues, etc.), only talks of tongues and prophecy ceasing at some point in time, that God grants all gifts, and we now pick through the list and state that "God has ceased this gift forever, but not these other ones, even though Paul exhorts you to seek it" or "God wants everyone to have this gift, manifest it all the time, don't worry about order or edifying the body, and don't worry that the Word says not all people will have all the gifts."

For fear of seeming to want to placate both sides, could it be that somewhere in the middle is where we should be. Perhaps, God gives all the gifts, even today, yet we aren't seeing them (especially in industrialized nations) because of His sovereign choice and not because they have ceased everywhere for all time. Not that we shouldn't seek them, but that we should realize God will give them when he desires, and in the mean time, we need to remember that we need to "eagerly desire the greater gifts" and we need to desire the Giver! Abuses must be confronted. But it seems that both sides make their strongest arguments based on experience, which causes me to continue to thrash around as I search for the truth.

I am now ready for those who are wiser than I (and they are legion) to point out the flaws in my theology and logic. Please type slowly, as I cannot read very fast.

Mike Riccardi said...

At Frank's request, and of startling relevance:

As for the prophets: My heart is broken within me, All my bones tremble; I have become like a drunken man, Even like a man overcome with wine, Because of the LORD And because of His holy words. For the land is full of adulterers; For the land mourns because of the curse The pastures of the wilderness have dried up. Their course also is evil And their might is not right. For both prophet and priest are polluted; Even in My house I have found their wickedness," declares the LORD.

"Therefore their way will be like slippery paths to them, They will be driven away into the gloom and fall down in it; For I will bring calamity upon them, The year of their punishment," declares the LORD. "Moreover, among the prophets of Samaria I saw an offensive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led My people Israel astray. Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah.

"Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets, 'Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood And make them drink poisonous water, For from the prophets of Jerusalem Pollution has gone forth into all the land.'"

Thus says the LORD of hosts,
"Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD.

"They keep saying to those who despise Me, 'The LORD has said, "You will have peace"'; And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, They say, 'Calamity will not come upon you.' But who has stood in the council of the LORD, That he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened?

"Behold, the storm of the LORD has gone forth in wrath, Even a whirling tempest; It will swirl down on the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD will not turn back Until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart; In the last days you will clearly understand it.

"I did not send these prophets, But they ran. I did not speak to them, But they prophesied. But if they had stood in My council, Then they would have announced My words to My people, And would have turned them back from their evil way And from the evil of their deeds. Am I a God who is near," declares the LORD, "And not a God far off? "Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?" declares the LORD. "Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?" declares the LORD. "I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, 'I had a dream, I had a dream!' How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?" declares the LORD.

"Is not My word like fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock? Therefore behold, I am against the prophets," declares the LORD, "who steal My words from each other. Behold, I am against the prophets," declares the LORD, "who use their tongues and declare, 'The Lord declares.' Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams," declares the LORD, "and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit," declares the LORD.

"Now when this people or the prophet or a priest asks you saying, 'What is the oracle of the LORD?' then you shall say to them, 'What oracle?' The LORD declares, 'I will abandon you.' Then as for the prophet or the priest or the people who say, 'The oracle of the LORD,' I will bring punishment upon that man and his household. Thus will each of you say to his neighbor and to his brother, What has the LORD answered?' or, 'What has the LORD spoken?' For you will no longer remember the oracle of the LORD, because every man's own word will become the oracle, and you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God.

"Thus you will say to that prophet, 'What has the LORD answered you?' and, 'What has the LORD spoken?' For if you say, 'The oracle of the LORD!' surely thus says the LORD, 'Because you said this word, "The oracle of the LORD!" I have also sent to you, saying, "You shall not say, 'The oracle of the LORD!'"' Therefore behold, I will surely forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city which I gave you and your fathers. I will put an everlasting reproach on you and an everlasting humiliation which will not be forgotten."

Jeremiah 23:9-40

Yow...

Marie4thtimemom said...

Phil,

thanks for this post. The timing is interesting, as I've once again been personally wrestling with this issue. Having come out of and researched the movement and the problems inherent in it objectively, obviously I agree with everything you're saying, but have noticed that even among conservative cessationists we are somewhat in the minority in terms of our concern.

Our women's Bible study was discussing godly speech and rebuke on Wednesday, and I brought up the question of whether and how the Church is to respond to false prophets. None of them had ever heard of the KCPs, so I used Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar as examples. The overwhelming response could be summed up as 1) we're to err on the side of love, not truth; and 2) well, we don't really know their hearts, so who are we to say they're leading people astray?

(This is in a conservative evangelical church which is doctrinally sound, btw.) I decided not to press the point, but was very disappointed - these "words from the Lord" lead to all kinds of doctrinal ambiguity and spiritual confusion. Truth without love wounds, and we don't ever want that in the Body. However, it is my conviction that "love" without truth poisons. Poisoning is much harder to recover from.

Marie4thtimemom said...

Shannon,

Predictive prophecy ended with the closing of the canon. John Macarthur has a couple of very good sermon transcripts on that subject:

http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/CHAOS2.HTM
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/CHAOS3.HTM

This is a good one on true spirituality:
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/CHAOS11.HTM

Connie said...

Thank you for once again stating things plainly and boldly. God graciously snatched me out of the charismatic movement years ago and the impact of those days continues to shape my faith and encourage strong resolve to deal carefully with God's Word.

stratagem said...

I believe this is the best-written article I have ever read on this blog, although I'm not claiming to have read every article that has appeared here.

Many of my early experiences as a Christian adult were within the charimatic movement, beginning in the 1970s. Looking back, I now realize that most of these were part of the whole "Kingdom Now" movement and the spiritual authority movement perpetrated sincerely but incorrectly by Bob Mumford. You know, believers intimidated into washing the cars of the person next higher-up in the church hierarchy and so on (and no, I'm not kidding about that).

Without exception, every one of those churches ended in some sort of scandal. Every "minister" eventually defrocked over some sin. At 19, I could not see fully that these people were just power-hungry people acting in the flesh. Now, I can but I am 47 years old. Thanks be to God, He gave me just enough sense at that age to realize that something was not quite right, so I stayed on the fringes of the movement most of the time, and remained committed to a church that was non-charismatic during my formative years.

I now fully realize that Joel 2:28 does not refer to now, it referred to the first day of pentecost. The passage in Daniel that seals up prophecy applies to this present age.

Fear of being guilty of the unforgivable sin (dissing what the Spirit is doing) keeps charismatics locked in fear of questioning any new revelation or false teaching, no matter how absurd or unscriptural. After all, we may be entering a new dispensation, or so the unspoken theory goes.

The Lord has led me to the place that I am no longer held in this fear. Praise God.

Cris said...

Richard B. Gaffin's Perspectives on Pentecost (P&R Publishing) provides an interesting take on the whole idea of 'spectacular gifts'. He makes a convincing case from 1 Cor 14 that Paul is teaching that "tongues are a sign of God's judgment...an indictment against unbelievers." "They are a mark of his turning away and alienation from those who have spurned the plain intelligible message of the gospel", and not anything that mature believers would seek after.

TheoJunkie said...

A prodigious wacko fringe has always been one of CHRISTIANITY'S most [publicized] features. Ever since Christ rose again [but certainly accelerating over the last century], the CHRISTIAN FAITH has spun off so many bad doctrines and bizarre characters that [The tail that wags the dog?] [there are whole libraries of] thick dictionary[s] just to help [us] keep track of them all.

... There have always been false prophets and charlatans and heresies.

If we claim that the spiritual gifts must have ceased because there are so many wackos out there claiming and abusing spiritual gifts to their gain and destruction... then by rights we should claim that the Christian Faith is false and dangerous because there are so many wackos out there claiming Christ to their gain and destruction.

Let us rather rightly divide the word, and trust what it says (regardless of what it says).

Johnny Dialectic said...

Shannon, call me Johnny D., and your question is an excellent one. I would answer it this way.

Biblical doctrine is self-correcting. That is, in the example you choose, we can go to other Scriptural mandates and show that women being subject to their husbands does NOT include abuse, etc.

But with sign-gift revelation, there is no self-correction from Scripture. If someone claims to have a “prophetic word,” that ends the discussion.

That is what I meant by Scriptural anchor. That is why I cannot see God approving of this type of revelation, and why abuse is INEVITABLE. Whereas, when grounded in Scripture, abuse may be properly dealt with.

Does that mean it all works out perfectly? Of course not. We know that. It’s just that a doctrine of revelation that cannot be analyzed and approved or condemned via Scripture is open to so much more error and abuse (as we have seen historically) that there doesn’t seem to be much comparison, does there?

DJP said...

Good and apposite Scripture, Johnny. Join me in waiting for Shannon's examples of "very cautious" real (i.e. Biblical) prophets.

TheoJunkie said...

Johnny D,

"But with sign-gift revelation, there is no self-correction from Scripture. If someone claims to have a “prophetic word,” that ends the discussion."

On the contrary, Scripture is always THE authority rule of all matters of faith and practice.

This is why John says (1 John 4):

1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for(C) many false prophets have gone out into the world.

[He goes on to say that the "test" is whether they claim Christ... However, John clearly means the Christ of Scripture, and so inherently he is referring back to Scripture. Further, he continues:]

Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

If some do not do this-- i.e., test all spirits and listen to the Apostles in testing said spirits-- this is to their own folly.

It is the responsibility of all hearers of prophecy to test the prophet-- even if they say "so says the Lord."

Laura said...

Straw man alert: "normative for Spirit-filled Christians to receive extrabiblical divine revelation through various mystical means."

I appreciate that you're consistent -- that you call everyone a wacko, even if that wacko happens to be right in so many other ways, but to hold a position with an attitude of gentleness and grace will win more "converts" than to hold it while rolling eyes at those who disagree when not dismissing their contributions out of hand.

I think the cessationist position is more dangerous than the charismatic position (if indeed charismatic theology is dangerous) because it promotes a sort of theologically elite, seminary-educated, white, middle-class gnosticism. Can you imagine an ex-Buddhist from Tibet or an ex-Animist from Ecuador, apart from the influence of a MacArthurite Baptist missionary, reading 1 and 2 Corinthians for the first time and saying, "Well, clearly some of those gifts in that list don't exist anymore"?

Furthermore, can you really not see the difference between Wayne Grudem and Benny Hinn in their understanding and use of sign gifts? It's astonishing to me that you refuse to differentiate between them. Grudem, Storms, Mahaney and other Reformed charismatics insist that churches must carefully regulate the speaking of prophecy, follow biblical instruction regarding tongues, etc.

On the far reaches of charismatic insanity, by contrast, Hinn and his ilk promote and encourage, even seem to demand disorder, labeling almost any display of kookitude as a move of the holy spirit -- laughing in the spirit! Shaking in the spirit! Roaring in the spirit! Puking in the spirit! Roasting marshmallows in the spirit! This "guilt by association" argument really fails to address the root theological issues you claim are so dangerous.

chris said...

"Don't blame good charismatics with the faults of bad charismatics", yet nobody can give any credible examples of God-given prophesy, tongues, etc from the good charismatics (this will probably spark loads of "credible" prophesy stories). So, the question still stands: What good is coming out of the "good" charismatic doctrines? It is almost as if charismatics don't want to deny the gifts because they think that puts a limit on the power of God, when in fact God is simply choosing other avenues to speak to man, like, uhh, the Bible.

DJP said...

Thank you, Chris.

stratagem said...

Yeah, that's right, Chris. At the root of the extrabiblical-revelation movement is a lack of confidence that the Bible is complete enough to suffice, in and of itself. It simply must be added to.

The Seeking Disciple said...

This is why charismatics must stay true to the Bible. If charimatics (and that includes myself) truly believe that the Bible is the final authority for faith and practice then we must examine all things by the Word (1 Thess. 5:21).

Phil, whom I don't always agree with on his charimatic positions, is correct that too often we charismatics allow things to go on unchecked when it is time to stand up and question all things by the inerrant Scriptures (1 John 4:1). Keep in mind that Jesus warned us that many false christs would come (Matthew 24:4,5).

Laura said...

"Nobody" can give "any" examples, Chris? Big words. I think the problem is that there are no circumstances under which a die-hard cessationist will ever accept anyone's story of a fulfilled prophecy as anything but fakery or coincidence -- sort of a "Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is made up." I've heard cessationists go to bizarre and unnecessary lengths to explain away remarkable prophetic utterances, whereas some charismatics (especially Reformed ones) will quickly deny the validity of any purported prophecies and prophets any they do not meet the standards God's word has set.

TheoJunkie said...

Excellent points, Laura.

pfg blogmatron said...

Is not the charismatic movement(word/faith?) that which involves synergism rather than monergism concerning salvation? If so...then why is anything expected to be rightly divided from that foundation of such blatant error of a different gospel(human effort and glory sharing of man and God rather than God's sovereign & triumphant grace and glory alone) ~ those offering such a gospel to be rebuked and avoided if remaining in such error? Rightly divided should be more a surprise rather than an expectation when looking a little deeper into the pride that is the root of the chaos. When any passage has wrong interpretation...it involves extra-Word(Biblical) revelation(self/flesh/satan rather than Spirit).

It is getting old these days(old as in tiresome rather than old truth and old path) having to weed while feeding on teachings for fee or for free on/offline from teachers that may not even be believers though obviously charismatic...rooted in charisma...charm(and why does that make me think of Kaa's hypnotic song from The Jungle Book http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBzqvic_PIg ).

Pyromaniacs, Pulpit Magazine, and those likewise standing boldly for Truth are counted a blessing for the sheep of the Master's fold.

DJP said...

Not very good points, Laura.

So, in Jesus' day, hardened unbelievers were scrambling desperately to explain away the miraculous.

In our day, credulous believers are scrambling desperately to try to make the non-miraculous appear miraculous.

The burden of proof is on the leaky-Canon set, though I certainly understand why you don't care to bear it.

Libbie said...

A couple of things jump out at me. I have heard the 'what if an alien came and read 1 Corinthians for the first time, they wouldn't think the revelatory signs had passed away!'

I think it's perhaps not a sound argument to base biblical teaching on what a novice in the faith might make of a complex passage.

The other thing is, I don't forbid speaking in tongues. Never have. If you have that gift, go ahead and use it. If, however, you occasionally speak in non-rational gibberish, I will probably ask you not to do that in the prayer meeting.

The final thing is, I don't think the charismatics in the thread have understood the post. This isn't slippery slope or guilt by association.

The argument is that by dint of believing that there is some kind of ongoing, secondary level or prophetic revelation, you are forced into a position of gullibility, because to do otherwise would be to potentially frustrate the Holy Spirit.

That is exactly the warning that even sound and sensible charismatics give when something new and odd comes along claiming to be prophecy or some other revelatory sign.

Terry Rayburn said...

I agree with Phil that the Charismatic doctrine itself is often inherantly the source of the other aberrant stuff.

As a former Charismatic (25 years ago) who lured several others into the movement through tricky Scriptural argument, I am convinced of two things:

1. A typical Charismatic knows in his heart that the tongues he speaks (or "prays") 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. (This also applies to various "prophecies", "words of knowledge", etc.)

2. This typical Charismatic often 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).

A more detailed explanation and my Charismatic "testimony" may be found at:

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2007/07/cessationism-again.html.

TheoJunkie said...

PFG

No, the charismatic movement is not "word-faith". "Word-Faith" is heresy (though they are also charismatic). Charismatic movement is the larger category.

A Ford is a type of automobile, but not all automobiles are Fords.

... and the error going on in here is the same generalization that says "Fords are fraught with mechanical problems, therefore all automobiles are fraught with mechanical problems."

DJP

You commit the same error of generalization.

"In our day, credulous believers are scrambling desperately to try to make the non-miraculous appear miraculous."

1) This is not true of all charismatics, particularly those to which Laura referred (i.e., those who test all things against Scripture alone).
2) It is an a priori opinion
3) There is a difference between an outright miracle and a spiritual gift.
4) Even God's providence over all of creation is supernatural, so technically you should consider it a miracle every time you wake up in the morning. (In other words, your comment is simply not helpful.)

DJP said...

And yet still what I said remains true, not really touched by your response.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Theojunkie, if someone says, "I have a word from the Lord for you. You are to move to Des Moines, for there is a great work there for you to perform."

How do we "test" this spirit? How do we test this prophet? What would be your counsel?

TheoJunkie said...

"The burden of proof is on the leaky-Canon set, though I certainly understand why you don't care to bear it."

... but I do agree with this.

Therefore, among the closed-canon, Sola Scriptura set, the burden of proof is on the cessationists to demonstrate FROM SCRIPTURE ALONE that the gifts have ceased.

(In other words, those who claim Sola Scriptura should not be making a priori proclamations, should not be claiming "lack of historical evidence" as proof (much less claiming their own opinion on various alleged occurrences as proof), and should not be pointing to heretics as proof of their position.)

Laura said...

Dan, I must respect you as a more experienced believer, and I apologize if my words came across as disrespectful -- why else would you have replied so tersely if not to correct my hubris? I'm not trying to be difficult, but I know this kind of communication can be a bit dangerous. I wouldn't have spoken so bombastically in your presence and I hope you wouldn't have been short with me in person either. I hope that my disagreement with you won't color your opinion of me entirely!

But again, the straw man is popping up: the "leaky-Canon set"? I don't think it's the disagreement itself that I find distasteful, but the caricature of the opponent's position that bothers me the most. I don't believe that the kind of prophecy Paul writes about carries the same authority as the Scripture he was writing -- why else would he tell folks to "test" the prophecies? Or why would he refuse to obey Agabus's prophecy, though it was factually accurate? Furthermore, look at the church at Corinth -- a bunch of tongue-happy, disordered weirdos. If any of us saw a church like that, likely we'd tell them to knock it off, and feel fully justified in doing so. Yet what's amazing is that Paul doesn't tell them to stop. In fact, he encourages them to "eagerly desire" prophecy, wishes that they all spoke in tongues and "even more" that they all could prophesy, commands them not to forbid speaking in tongues. In a church full of charismatic abuses, Paul refused to shut down the charismata.

And it's handy to say, "the burden of proof is on you," but it seems to me that the burden of proof is on the person calling names. I've lain out some of my argument, but I have yet to see a compelling reason that charismatic theology itself, and not abuses of it (or its unfortunate partners, like word-faith/prosperity "gospel" or raging hyper-arminianism), necessarily causes theological danger bordering on heresy.

"Not very good points" -- fine, I know that we disagree, but in what way are they "not good"? Can you interact with what I said rather than just giving me a "grade"? Tangential: That was my pet peeve in seminary -- I wanted profs to tell me how my ideas fit their rubric, not just slap a "B" on the top of the page and call it good. :)

You're articulate and persuasive in many areas -- so teach me, Yoda, the ways of the Dark Si-- I mean, the cessationist...

threegirldad said...

Can you imagine an ex-Buddhist from Tibet or an ex-Animist from Ecuador, apart from the influence of a MacArthurite Baptist missionary, reading 1 and 2 Corinthians for the first time and saying, "Well, clearly some of those gifts in that list don't exist anymore"?

"All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all:[2 Pe 3:16] yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.[Psa 119:105]"

WCF, 1.7

Of course, that was written by a bunch of "theologically elite, seminary-educated, white" guys (though decidedly neither "middle class" nor gnostic), so I'm sure you'll have no trouble dismissing it out-of-hand.

TheoJunkie said...

DJP,

LOL... "And yet still what I said remains true,"

... is that a prophetic command for me to believe you and not test it against Scripture? [wink wink nudge nudge]

Johnny D,

If someone says, "I have a word from the Lord for you. You are to move to Des Moines, for there is a great work there for you to perform," then I would first pour over Scripture to see if there was anything in it that either confirmed what the person said or contraindicated what the person said, with respect to my life circumstances. I would also see if there were other signals that God was moving me in that direction, which may include discussing with other believers on the matter (including particularly their understanding of Scripture with respect to my life circumstances), and also looking out for clear signals in my circumstances that indeed this is where God is sending me.

(By the way... You seem to be making an analogous reference to the calling of Abraham. Note that in that circumstance, God spoke to Abraham directly, and God told Abraham rather specifically why he was sending him. Also-- and tell me if I'm wrong, because I don't have time to pour over the Bible right now-- it seems to me that every time God tells someone to do something (whether directly or indirectly), he not only tells them why, but he also tells them that something or another will happen when they get there as a sign for them.)

wordsmith said...

Thank you, Phil, for this post about the inherent problems of charismatic doctrine. That doctrine has lead untold numbers of people to shipwreck in their faith, and it's time for the body of Christ to stop pretending that calling Jesus "Lord" and being sincere somehow excuses all the charismatic goofballs.

Charismatic doctrine is patently unbiblical, and therefore dangerous.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Theojunkie:

What are "signals"?

What are "clear signals"?

How can we tell the difference between "clear signals" and just "signals" or "unclear signals"?

What Bible texts can you cite that defines what a "signal" is, and then how to determine if it's a "clear signal" or an "unclear signal"?

What are "life circumstances"? How can I tell if my "life circumstance" is the right one? And if I decide that it isn't, does that mean the guy who gave me the "word" in the first place is a false prophet?

Where does the subjectivity end? Answer, it doesn't. It seems to me you're just adding more layers of exerpeiential, non-objective data. That is where the Charismatics land, every time.

The biblical examples (quite limited, as you well know) of God's direct revelation are relevant only to show how today's "revelations" pale in comparison.

Phil Johnson said...

These are probably the only replies I will be able to give today:

Joanna: "Give me someone with fruit of the spirit over gifts of the spirit any day. . . . (i'm 19)"

That's a very sage perspective for a 19-year-old. Thanks for your comment.

Benjamin N: "I would recommend 'Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship With God' by Dallas Willard."

I gotta disagree with you there. Slightly different flavor of mysticism and more sophisticated than the charismatic variety, but it's still unwarranted mysticism. Perhaps we'll review that book one day.

TBE: "so far I haven't seen you show in any sense that the abuses of charismatic theology (which no one denies) flow NECESSARILY from its theological underpinnings...indeed, the very fact that you always seem to have to make exceptions (Piper, Mahaney, Grudem, Warnock, etc.) suggests rather strongly that such abuses are NOT necessary consequences of the theology itself."

Perhaps you need to read the above post again. It was prompted in the first place by a demand from Dr. Warnock to explain why I didn't exempt those men when I said (in an earlier post) that charismatic doctrine is inherently dangerous.

In this post, I cited Grudem's work as a significant example (not an "exception") of the problem I'm pointing out. My whole point here is that just because there are good aspects to these men's teaching, it does not nullify the dangers inherent in their defense of the charismatic quest for extra messages from God.

Shannon: "would you agree with me? Many of the problems with the charismatic find their roots in the a Pelagian Holiness movement"

Of course. But my point here is that the quest for new revelation is an equally grave problem, and even the best "Reformed Charismatics" have not escaped the problems associated with that belief.

One of these days perhaps I'll explore the point you are making in a post. I said this last week (and I think Dr. Warnock took exception to it) but it is a fact that the very roots of the modern Charismatic movement are, as you point out, rooted in the errors of perfectionist doctrine, Pelagianism, semi-pelagianism, and anti-intellectualism. That's why the movement has spun off so many gross heresies like Oneness doctrine and the prosperity gospel. The "Reformed Charismatics" are latecomers to the movement, and if church history is any indicator of what we may expect, I predict charismatic tendencies will ultimately corrupt that wing of the movement, too, rather than expecting their Reformed soteriology to redeem the larger movement.

Jonathan Moorhead: "I'm sure this will make it into MacArthur's biography!"

We ought to get Lance Quinn to write up his account of that meeting. His memory for details is better than mine, and I'm sure he remembers it like yesterday.

Shannon: "It seems that is exactly what we are doing all too often: despising Prophecy."

There may be no more abused text in the charismatic repertoire. I don't despise legitimate prophecy. I thank God that He has given us a book full of it. But don't you think we ought to despise false prophecy?

See Jeremiah 23:9-40, posted above by Mike R.

Aric:

I do essentially agree with you. My cessationism is not a doctrinaire kind of quasi-deism based in its totality on the meaning of "when the perfect comes." I'm a cessationist because it's obvious from the NT itself that the miraculous gifts were diminishing even before the canon was complete, and all the leading claimants of ongoing prophetic giftedness after the apostles and throughout church history have discredited themselves with false prophecies, gross moral failure, or other things that bring a reproach on the name of Christ. The various meltdowns among the KC prophets and friends are only the latest example of this.

In other words, it's simply a fact that no one today is performing apostolic-quality miracles or pronouncing prophecies that meet the biblical standard for true prophecies. Even the very best men in the charismatic movement acknowledge that today's charismatic "gifts" are of a lesser quality.

That being the case, let me repeat something I said here: It is seriously dangerous to dignify amateur prognostication with the title of "prophecy" by teaching people that imaginary messages in their heads might actually be revelation from the Holy Spirit and yet be fallible at the same time.

Therefore I agree with DJP: The burden of proof in the cessationist/charismatic debate is on the charismatics. And they have not only failed miserably to meet the burden of proof; every significant (i.e., non-trivial) example of modern "prophecy" they have ever pointed to as evidence of the Holy Spirit's gifting has on careful examination proved to be false, and in many cases flat-out evil.

That needs to be acknowledged before "Reformed Charismatics" press on, full speed ahead, seeking even more of these private messages from God.

TheoJunkie: "A prodigious wacko fringe has always been one of CHRISTIANITY'S most [publicized] features. ... There have always been false prophets and charlatans and heresies."

Yes, I think I said that. And virtually all of them have this in common: they are driven by a thirst for extrabiblical revelation. Don't you think we ought to be especially wary of any contemporary movement who has that as one of its driving motives?

Laura: "I think the cessationist position is more dangerous than the charismatic position (if indeed charismatic theology is dangerous) because it promotes a sort of theologically elite, seminary-educated, white, middle-class gnosticism."

*sigh*

Well, I have no answer for that, because I'm white and middle class. (Not seminary-educated, though.)

Laura: "'what if an alien came and read 1 Corinthians for the first time, they wouldn't think the revelatory signs had passed away!'"

...which is just one small reason why I don't look to aliens who've never really studied the Bible to instruct me in New Testament doctrine.

tnpotts said...

Why does Paul give directions for the proper use of the gifts if they have ceased? This is an honest question. I'm not a charismatic, but was led to Christ by my grandmother who was. Also, my Uncle Jimmy is a charismatic & I aspire to be half as bold as he is in sharing the Good News.

BTW - my grandma graduated due to cancer. One night I was praying for her & she began to speak in tounges. It had been years since I heard her do it... but it was the first time I ever understood it. Was it my imagination? These are honest questions from someone who is on the fence about this issue.

pfg blogmatron said...

theojunkie...

Ford would be a big 3 automaker. A Mustang would be a vehicle in their line of cars. So if word/faith is part of the charismatic movement...the movement has upline issues just like Ford would if the Mustang was found to be a total failure mechanically.

I searched google for "charismatic movement synergism", "charismatic word/faith", "word/faith movement salvation doctrine" and "charismatic word/faith movement salvation".

Phil Johnson said...

PS:

It's OK to disagree vigorously, but let's not get intentionally nasty.

Especially if you're on my side of this argument. Defcon 1-level sarcasm and nuclear snark are neither necessary nor helpful here. This is a case where just the plain truth is already harsher than I wish it had to be. Please don't get nasty with it.

Phil Johnson said...

pfg blogmatron:

I think I understand your argument, but in all fairness, the Word-Faith doctrines aren't necessary elements of the charismatic perspective. They are a perversion of it. And some of the best critiques of the Word-Faith heresy come from charismatic critics of the movement.

I think it's important to acknowledge that, because while I've already said (above) that my differences with charismatics involve secondary issues, I would not say that about the word-faith message proclaimed by Mr. Hagin and his brood, which I would be more inclined to see as rank and damnable heresy.

Rhology said...

TNPotts,

What was the interpretation?

And do you believe you have the gift of interpretation? Do you believe your grandmother had the gift of tongues?
If 'no' to either or both, does that not say something about the continuation of these gifts? Can not God heal people apart from giving the Gift Of Healing®?
(Please understand that I am NOT being sarcastic.) Thanks!

Grace and peace,
Rhology

stratagem said...

Hey Dan, how come when I agree with you, I don't get a reply, only when I disagree?

Shoot, now I'm going to have to find something to disagree with. :-)

Shandala-key! Shandala-kuy! Uh-oh, I'm glossalalia-ing, again!!!

TheoJunkie said...

Johnny D,

Signals become clear and clearer by building on them. But there is no difference here than trying to discern whether God is calling you to go to seminary or not, or whether your infant baptism is "valid" or not. Discerning whether a prophet is true or false is no different. Therefore, it would not be fruitful to chase this question.

As far as life circumstances, your life circumstances are the circumstances of your life. [???What kind of a question was that???] Are they right for you or does God want you to change? See above. The answer is the same whether you just "got an itch" one day or someone told you the think God has a plan for you.

Is the guy a false prophet if you decide God doesn't want you where the "prophet" said to go? Maybe, maybe not. Probably so. For if God actually spoke through the guy, and God actually wants you in Des Moines, then God will make it very plain to you that Des Moines is the place. Think about the questions you are asking here-- they are not very relevant to the question of whether gifts continue or have ceased. You might as well ask the same thing about pastors being called or whether a single should get married or stay single.

Subjectivity ends at Scripture. So no, for charismatics who uphold Sola Scriptura, it does not result in any layers of "subjectivity" beyond the usual problems with infallible man discerning truth... which, as noted, cessationists have also to deal with.

But none of this discussion proves cessation or continuance, because it is all about "what ifs" and conjecture about "where things might lead" or a priori generalizations.

The biblical examples (quite limited, as you well know) of God's direct revelation are relevant only to show how today's "revelations" pale in comparison.

Another a priori statement. I would suggest to you that the "only relevance" of the biblical examples of God's direct revelation are to glorify God.

And does "pale revelation" prove it is false?

And what is the difference between someone saying "God says you should change jobs." And someone saying "I strongly think God is telling you that you should change jobs." And you waking up one morning and thinking "I think God wants me to change jobs."

The only difference is, the person who states "God says"-- is sticking their neck out in risk of being shown to be a false prophet. The second person is just adding a few words so they don't come off like a charismatic, even if they strongly feel it is true... and the third (you) will have to discern this thought just like everything else.

But once more, all this is silly. What does scripture say on the gifts? Yea? or Nay? And how so?

pfg blogmatron said...

tnpotts ~ you understand/speak the particular varied tongues(plural) your grandmother spoke? The purpose of the gift of the diversities of tongues, in my understanding, wasn't a spiritual language for believers to individually converse on a higher spiritual level with God or to show others their spirituality...it was given for the sake of the unbelievers hearing from God in their own language through those that didn't know the unbeliever's language. Someone interpreted for the edification of the believers that didn't understand the languages according to Corinthians. I don't see this going on today with the tongues movement.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Act/Act002.html#8

http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/1Cr/1Cr012.html
http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/1Cr/1Cr014.html#top

tnpotts said...

pfg blogmatron: No, I don't understand or speak in tounges. It was the only time I've ever understood what I heard. Personally, I think many charasmatics are frauds. But others I've met are as genuine as they come. My grandma was a master at speaking the truth in love & God used her to bring many to faith in Jesus. So I guess my real question is... Are all people who speak in tounges wrong?

Phil Johnson said...

TheoJunkie: "But once more, all this is silly. What does scripture say on the gifts? Yea? or Nay? And how so?"

I've had a standing offer for more than a year to answer that question on the blog if a charismatic will first answer this one for me:

What does Scripture say about the closure of the canon? Can we expect more inspired Scripture to be added to our Bibles? Why or why not?

Biblical answers only, please, with no recourse to the facts of church history.

TheoJunkie said...

Phil,

"And virtually all of them have this in common: they are driven by a thirst for extrabiblical revelation. Don't you think we ought to be especially wary of any contemporary movement who has that as one of its driving motives?

Indeed we should be wary (nay, reject) of any person or group who is driven by a "thirst for extrabiblical revelation" as an authoritarian rule of faith and practice.

Indeed also, we should be wary of any person or group who is driven by a "thirst for extrabiblical revelation" for the sake of extrabiblical revelation.

[ditto ditto] so as to glorify themselves... [ditto ditto] for their own gain or so they can "feel close to God"

However, if a person or group is pursuing (not "thirsting after") prophecy not as a replacement for scripture or rule of faith (which is what "extrabiblical revelation" implies)... and not to glorify themselves but to glorify God and edify the church... and not so they can have some mountaintop experience... and not to profit off of it... and not so they can feel good... and BUT ONLY because Scripture itself seems to exhort the church to do so... and "on the back end" they maintain Scripture as The Authority by which all things must be tested... then while we might strongly disagree with them we also should not "be wary" or "reject" them any more than we would reject Arminius (or Calvin, depending on where someone is on that).

... this type of movement is not what you are talking about. But this type of movement IS charismatic.

Basically the criteria for "being wary" hinges on Scripture. Do they put it First, Second, or On Ignore?

Otherwise we would be "being wary" of every group that held doctrines we didn't agree with.

TheoJunkie said...

PFG,

I would ditto Phil's response to you concerning automobiles and Word-Faith.

Just to add... a problem in Mustangs indeed might indicate upstream problems in Ford. But problems in Ford does not indicate problems with Honda.

.. regardless of Ford's status as "one of the Big 3".

TheoJunkie said...

Phil,

Your challenge ["What does Scripture say about the closure of the canon"] is like saying you will only discuss what a yardstick says about the length of an inch, if someone can show you "what the yardstick says about it being a yard in length."

By looking at the yardstick, can we expect more inches to be added to the yard? Why or why not? Speak only in terms of what the yardstick says, with no reference to any history or scientific standards organization.

They are two different things, Phil.

If you need to use extrabiblical material to defend cessationism... how is that any different from (ONLY as a pointed example) the Catholic church using "tradition" to defend the doctrine of Mary's eternal virginity (or any number of things)?

See that your challenge basically rejects Sola Scriptura.

Daryl said...

theojunkie,

if extra-biblical revelation is not authoritative or is not the rule for faith and practice, then what is it?

if it is a word from God, it is authoritative by nature, so therefore it becomes someones rule of life at least at the moment.

What is a word from God (prophecy) if not authoritative?

nolongerblind said...

I'm a newcomer to the blog world; been reading this and related blogs for a while, but never flet like commenting until recently...

Maybe I'm not getting the full gist of this thread, but, I'm wondering why noone has yet to clarify 2 verses often used to justify "continuationism":

1 Cor. 12:31a -- wouldn't a more accurate reading be "But, you are earnestly desiring the showy gifts wrongly"?

Also, 1 Cor. 14:1 -- isn't the reference here to "prophesy" not referring to prediction, but, instead, to "speaking forth" or "proclaiming publicly"?

DJP said...

tnpottsWhy does Paul give directions for the proper use of the gifts if they have ceased?

Because they hadn't.

Doesn't mean they haven't.

Stefan said...

Aric wrote:

"Please type slowly, as I cannot read very fast."

Thanks for punctuating this ultra-serious discussion with a little humour!

pfg blogmatron said...

Don't want to come across as being argumentative, Phil ~ and do want to have a fair tone when questioning/discussing(am relying on google results that appear reliable for understanding charismatic and word/faith movement connections while responding to theojunkie's analogy). From the perspective of the word/faith movement being heresy coming from the charismatic movement ~ do they both have a similar synergistic salvation doctrine(which is a different gospel to these eyes)? Is the charismatic movement itself monergistic concerning salvation while the faith/word doctrine is synergistic(and then other aspects could surely be worthy of scrutiny)? Not denying that some within the movement may be genuine believers.

My mind isn't wrapping around this well(in all honesty, Phil ~ you are way over my head in much of what you understand and share). What easily recognized teachers(tv/radio/books) would be recognized as only charismatic and which would be charismatic yet also word/faith teachers? Maybe that will help clear the muddy waters for me. When I see/hear charismatic the thinking is "chaos".

theojunkie ~ I wasn't putting Mustangs with Hondas. I was putting Mustangs with Ford just like you were saying word/faith is part of the charismatic movement. Shouldn't have added in the big 3 as there aren't 3 Christianities just as there aren't all these denominations and labels within the pages of the Bible. Do apologize. :)

tnpotts ~ don't see the way the gift operated in the Bible operating that way today and do think it not necessary considering the translations of the Word of God in print and otherwise available today. Tend to think it over ~ ceased.

Gotta go deal with a hospital bill that was "supposed" to be paid at a higher amount than now in print that just about took my breath away. Might not be back today to read or reply(if necessary).

:-)

SolaMeanie said...

I wish I had more time to wade into this one today, but alas, I don't. I will say this in response to an earlier comment from Laura.

It is certainly true that those on the Reformed side of the equation can respond with arrogance, and I really don't think I see that quality very often in the answers given here by TeamPyro. But make no mistake, those on the charismatic side can also send arrogant vibes out. If one hasn't received what they consider to be the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, you haven't arrived yet or are somehow less mature in stature because you don't practice any of the sign gifts. I have seen that over and over again. So please let's not throw out hasty charges of white, ivory tower arrogance when people raise concerns about a theological position. That basically poisons the well.

Now, on a lighter note. I have wondered whatever happened to the Travelocity Gnome, who made Fox News after being kidnapped recently. Now I see a photo of him posted here on the blog, looking somewhat distressed. Who is the culprit? Phil? Dan? Frank? Heaven forbid, even Officer Pecadillo?

I'm shocked, shocked.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Phil,

I sincerely do not understand what is a primary doctrine if this---"extrabiblical revelation is normative"---doesn't violate one of your primary doctrines. Could you explain?

Second, when Jesus said it is an evil and adulterous generation that seeketh after signs, how is that not a primary doctrine or a secondary issue? Do we eat with the adulterous and evil? I'm sincere in all this.

It seems Jesus was being tough there and that wasn't uncharitable. He is Love.

DJP said...

Stratagem, even I can't fully explain why and when I do and don't comment.

Don't curl up fetal on me, now.

TheoJunkie said...

Dan,

A "rule" is a reference point (for testing other things). The Authority of rules would be the Rule by which all other things are tested.

A rule of faith and practice is anything dealing with the Law, Theology, Soteriology, and Eschatology. (Can you think of anything else? Fair enough).

But the point is, some things are Truth without relating to Faith and Practice (of Faith).

For example, I either have cancer right now, or I do not. If someone states publicly that I have cancer, this has nothing to do with how people are to lead their lives, or how they get saved, or the nature of God. It's just a fact. (Or, not... in which case it is a false statement-- but also, this would mean the message didn't come from God).

Or, if I have cancer, God will either heal me of it next week, or he will not. This has nothing to do with God's holy law, my responsibilities under it or freedom from it, or whether God is inherently just and righteous, etc. It's just a fact.

So, those are just two examples of messages that can be Truth (i.e., from God) without relating to faith and practice (much less being a rule thereof, much less being THE rule thereof)... yet be otherwise unknowable by a human being.

Also, a prophet is a human. So, while God is never wrong, humans can be... and so humans never can be taken as The Rule, but always must be compared to Scripture which IS The Rule. That's what it is there for. And this has always been the case even when God WAS revealing Scripture through prophets (thus the admonition in Deuteronomy). Even back then, people were to test an alleged prophet (and the prophecy) against what had already been revealed.

Now of course, the canon is closed, so prophecy today does not-- cannot-- take the form of new Scripture. (As noted to Phil, the question of how we know the canon is closed, is a different subject).

TheoJunkie said...

oops... my comment addressed to "Dan" should have been to "Daryl". sorry.

wordsmith said...

Ditto what Solameanie said about arrogance - he beat me to it! The whole "baptism in the Holy Spirit/second blessing subsequent to salvation" thing by definition sets up a system of two-tier Christianity, and as long as you're one of the have-nots, you're an outsider of sorts who hasn't experienced the "fullness" of what God has in store. Furthermore, you can't possibly understand the deeper things of God since you can't pick up the spiritual "batline" and talk to the "Commissioner" himself, poor thing you.

Such an attitude is rank gnosticism.

TheoJunkie said...

Kent,

Not all charismatics "seek after signs". Some charismatics simply pursue the Gifts as Paul seems to have encouraged believers to do. There is a difference.

the postmortem said...

Phil,

Thanks for this post. I appreciate your candor as well as your clarity. Your post reminded me that sometimes in the course of talking about doctrine, it is good to remind ourselves of that which unites us, even as we seek to proclaim truth and reprove error. Otherwise on-lookers, especially unbelievers, may get the wrong impression of what it means to be a Christian.

Phil Johnson said...

Kent B:

Good question, worthy of perhaps a whole post in its own right. Perhaps I can address it in more detail soon.

For now, just a very quick answer:

If someone thinks he has "a word from the Lord" or a dream or vision that flatly contradicts Scripture, and yet he insists his private revelation supersedes the Bible, I believe that would be a violation of an essential Christian truth about the authority of Scripture.

If on the other hand, he thinks he has heard from God and the message simply repeats a truth already taught in Scripture, or it's a "word of knowledge" about some trivial or silly matter and doesn't contradict any essential gospel truth, that seems to me a secondary matter. Lots of saints throughout church history have fallen into that error, even many who were not charismatics.

My point in this post is simply that even if it's an error involving secondary matters, it can still be be quite dangerous. The silly gullibility that is spawned and incubated by a seemingly harmless credulity (such as believing that the Spirit of God spoke directly into my head and ordered me to wear polka-dotted trousers to church on Sunday)--the kind of merely flippant gullibilty we witness even in the best "Reformed Charismatic" circles--that sort of gullibility can indeed develop into a deadly openness to serious error if not squelched.

And we could cite lots of famous examples <cough>Hobart Freeman</cough> to make that point.

So in saying my differences with "Reformed charismatics" entail secondary matters, I'm merely saying they don't necessarily rise to the level where we would have to conclude that the person making these errors is not even a true Christian.

But I'm by no means saying these are unimportant matters. And that was the main point of this post.

Now I hafta go for the weekend. We're hosting a conference in GraceLife tomorrow and Sunday, and I am going to be tied up till Sunday night. Then I'll have to write Monday's post, so I'm out of this comment thread.

Adios. Carry on politely, please.

TBE said...

Phil: In this post, I cited Grudem's work as a significant example (not an "exception") of the problem I'm pointing out. My whole point here is that just because there are good aspects to these men's teaching, it does not nullify the dangers inherent in their defense of the charismatic quest for extra messages from God.

But it would seem that my counter-example from the Arminian-Calvinist debate would still stand. An Arminian could argue(and I've heard them do this!) that even though there are good aspects to some Calvinists' teachings, the fact that these teachings lend themselves so readily to the perversion of hyper-Calvinism means that Calvinism is in itself a dangerous mode of theology.

But in any case, showing that some charismatics who are in grave error appeal to Grudem to justify their position does NOT mean that Grudem himself is in error, or that Grudem's theology is incorrect. If someone appealed to Calvin to justify their hyper-Calvinism, would that make Calvin's theology incorrect?

What I'm getting at, I suppose (and what I probably haven't articulated very well hitherto) is that simply showing how Grudem, Piper, etc., have been reappropriated by bad charismatics does not show that charismatic theology as a whole is dangerous or unscriptural.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I see these 3 terms frequently used in combination with one another: "Reform", "Charismatic", and "Dispensational".

(Although I'm not a Charismatic, I have to confess that Charismatics and their movement have never bothered me. I just kinda shrug, say "Not for me", and soldier on.)

Anyways, for all the Reform Christians out there, what bothers you more:

(A) A Reform Charismatic, or a
(B) A Reform Dispensationalist?

Although it is is highly probable that there are Reform Charismatic Dispensationalists!

Alex said...

DJP you said

"tnpotts—Why does Paul give directions for the proper use of the gifts if they have ceased?

Because they hadn't.

Doesn't mean they haven't."



What scriptures point to this? That these gifts have ceased? I'm not trying to be smart w/ this comment, I'm not very uninformed when it comes to why cessationist believe these gifts have stopped.

Habitans in Sicco said...

"simply showing how Grudem, Piper, etc., have been reappropriated by bad charismatics does not show that charismatic theology as a whole is dangerous or unscriptural."

I think he was pointing out what a negative influence Grudem's justifications of fallible prophecy have made among "good" charismatics. The bad charismatics don't even read Grudem.

Jesse P. said...

Ah! Cessation Nation is up in arms again. Let the charismaniac bashing begin in earnest. Die, Benny Hinn die!

DJP said...

Gee, that is so mean and sarcastic, Jesse.

However, since charismatics won't carry out their own trash, someone who does care about the glory of God, and health of the Body of Christ, will have to do it.

David said...

Not a charismatic, but.....

"What does Scripture say about the closure of the canon?"

Nothing.

Can we expect more inspired Scripture to be added to our Bibles?

Possibly.

Why or why not?"

As Scripture is silent on the issue, it is not possible to take a definitive scriptural position. All arguements for either postion are based on assumptions about how God will chose to act in the future and how will man choose to respond to such actions, including archeological finds that may impact our views, not the least of which is the discovery of letters that we may or may not chose to add to the cannon.

In the end, the Canon is a man made construct, and will continue to be until Jesus comes again.

I have just pushed this way off track, but Phil did bring it up first.

And before any of you push me into po-mo heresy land, try reading this first.

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/10/02/why-i-dont-believe-the-canon-is-closed/#more-436

Daryl said...

Theojunkie,

Thanks for you answer, but you've committed the most common error I see. You've said "God doesn't make mistakes but people do". Trouble is, the Biblical standard for prophecy is perfection, always, no exceptions.

How do you deal with that?

rabbi-philosopher said...

Here's a short list of well known hyper-calvinists.

???????????????????????????????

Even Harold Camping sends out tract sharing teams for short mission trips.

TheoJunkie said...

Daryl,

Don't get me wrong: I'm not giving prophets any slack for error.

I think I said earlier in this thread, if a person is EVER wrong, then they are a false prophet. If a person fancies themselves a prophet of God, and they are ever wrong-- then they must shut up and never "prophesy" again (i.e., repent of their "prophesying"), or face church discipline.

What I'm saying is, EVEN IF a prophet has been consistently right the last 8 gazillion times... we STILL must test his next prophecy against Scripture, for Scripture is THE Authority Rule.

donsands said...

"Die, Benny Hinn die!"

I would say, "Repent, Benny Hinn repent!"

canonglenn said...

Phil, I have been involved in the charismatic movement since August 1979, the day I first spoke in tongues on a street corner in Dallas, Texas. I have seen more aberrant behavior and strange practices than you may ever experience. As a pastor of twenty-five years, I have ministered to many in emotional pain caused by the misuse of the charismata.

However, I cannot discard the gifts of the Spirit, especially the gift of prophecy, simply because some abuse it. The Apostle Paul stated clearly, "Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Keep away from every kind of evil."(1 Thes. 5:19-22). The word of prophecy is spontaneous, Spirit-inspired, intelligible speech, orally delivered to the church gathered intended for the building up of the people of God. Prophecy can be both foretelling, insights into the plans of God, and forthtelling, God’s word for our present circumstances. Evaluating a word of prophecy involves three elements: revelation, interpretation, and application. Revelation: Is this word genuinely from the Holy Spirit having a sense of eternity? Interpretation: What does the word mean to us? Application: What do we DO with this word? The gift properly ministered is not extrabiblical revelation, but timely guidance, encouragement, and comfort from the Lord that gives insight to our present (and sometimes future) circumstances (I Cor. 14: 3).

The problem with some in the Charismatic movement is a lack of discernment. The gift of discernment is insight from the Holy Spirit which enables a believer to know whether a practice, teaching, or gifting is from God, Satan, or a manifestation of the flesh (1 Cor. 12:10). What makes some in the Charismatic movement gullible to false teachers and prophets is this lack of ability to distinguish between genuine holiness and “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” As our Lord Jesus Christ said, “you will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15-20). However, we must be careful. We should not throw out biblical truth just because Trinity Broadcasting Network is bizarre. Their strange behavior does not make a whole movement heretical nor should the gift of prophecy be discarded because some misuse it. I am grateful for men like John Piper, Sam Storms, Wayne Grudem, and Jack Hayford; they are building up the Body and equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. I pray more men and women will live the life of Christ as these men do and operate in the spiritual gifts in a balanced and mature fashion.

Habitans in Sicco said...

Canonglenn: "I am grateful for men like John Piper, Sam Storms, Wayne Grudem, and Jack Hayford"

I think you shot your whole argument in the foot when you put Hayford's name in that list.

centuri0n said...

Jesse:

I have a second thesis for the DebateBlog, if you're game --

The pastoral letters of Paul (Titus, 1 + 2 Timothy) refute the necessity of the sign gifts for the on-going life of the church.

Expanded format: 10 Q's and A's each, 1000-word answer format, opening statement from both sides; closing statement from both sides; 1000-word limit for those statements.

I will take the affirmative.

SolaMeanie said...

Jesse,

Didn't you know Dan's favorite band is "Bash-n-the Code?"

Just kidding. I do have one request of you, though. Please don't accuse people of "bashing" when they are trying to discuss theological differences. Charges like that are one of two things, a- a way to avoid thinking and b - an attempt to chill debate.

The New Testament makes it clear that even the early church which we all idolize was not devoid of having theological disputes. In fact, the Apostle Paul says divisions are necessary at times (1 Corinthians).

If I am simply passing out unthinking, inaccurate insults on a particular group of people holding to some persuasion, that might be bashing. Disagreeing with their position on biblical grounds (or philosophical if you prefer) is not bashing.

If I am bashing anyone, you'll know it. Trust me.

John Haller said...

I'd be curious to know if when you shared your concerns with Jack Deere, did he ever consider that what you gave him was a prophetic word?

I've heard people giving these prophecies that "the Lord gave them" and I'm sitting there thinking, well, if the your hearing from "the Lord" then He's telling me that you're way off base. Unfortunately, the word you get is never given the same weight as the one they get.

John Haller said...

Phil also mentioned Hobart Freeman. I went to college in the community where his "church", the Glory Barn, was located and at the height of its, well, nonsense.

I worked in a factory with people who were unsafe to be around because they couldn't see, but had thrown away their glasses because Freeman had convinced them they were healed. Freeman was dangerous and manipulative. I see the same to a lesser degree in almost every charismatic ministry (there are a few exceptions).

I remember Freeman being carried into the courthouse in his trial because diabetic sores and gangrene on his legs prevented him from walking. Yet, his followers insisted he was healed.

centuri0n said...

Fwiw, Jesse has declined due to time constraints.

Open call: any charismatics care to take up the challenge as posted? Big opportunity to prove out a major tenet of your movement.

candyinsierras said...

The question was asked:

(A) A Reform Charismatic, or a
(B) A Reform Dispensationalist?


I would not be distressed at either one since they are both reformed!

Joanna: "Give me someone with fruit of the spirit over gifts of the spirit any day. . . . (i'm 19)"

Joanna. Sovereign Grace Ministries has a Christian school at its "mother church", a Pastor's College, New Attitude Ministries, and many Sovereign Grace churches all across the country. They coined the term "Humble Orthodoxy" because they emphasize the cross of Christ over anything else. They have written many modern day hymns and songs that are very biblical.

John Piper is probably the most influential speaker/Pastor in the lives of young people and very instrumental in the embrace of Reformed theology among said population.

Wayne Grudem wrote a very thorough and articulate Systematic Theology.

Interestingly, Calvary Chapel was brought up, and Chuck Smith actually backed away from the Charismatic Movement for the most part, although keeping the "mildly charismatic" label. It is not the charismatic movement that is obstructing the Calvary Chapel movement, but the Dave Hunt influenced attack on Calvinism, and Chuck Smith's own son embracing the Emergent movement.

Ah! Cessation Nation is up in arms again. Let the charismaniac bashing begin in earnest. Die, Benny Hinn die!

Jesse. I stood up for you when you desired a sincere discussion. Why are you being sarcastic now and negating the grace which you yourself wished in the discussion?
I got Dan all mad at me besides. Sheesh.

tnpotts said...

Rhology - again, I have never spoken in tounges. I only understood it once & the interpretation was "She will be healed." I am not led by my emotions but it gives me goosebumps just to write it & she was healed - she passed on to eternal life! I absolutely believe that God can heal without giving the gift of healing - He is God & His ways are not my ways - His thoughts are not my thoughts. Finally, just because I have those gifts does not mean those gifts have ceased. I don't know whether they have or not, just trying to reconcile what I have witnessed with what I think might be correct.

DJP

"Because they hadn't.

Doesn't mean they haven't."

I ask this question with complete sincerety... If they hadn't is the answer, then when did they?

Annette Harrison said...

Hi Phil, the TeamPyro guys, and all you wonderful commenters.

Adrian has asked me to come over and let you know he has now replied, albeit briefly, to your kind post. You can find his post here. I guess this now relegates me to the position of Link Troll #2, eh?

May God bless this discussion, and may it bring glory to his Name!

Annette Harrison
Editor and Research Assistant to Adrian Warnock

Cindy said...

I did not know that Calvary Chapel has an "aggressive campaign against Calvinism," but now you've got me wondering if this could explain the abuse from a Calvary Chapel-attending coworker who over a period of weeks has been interjecting ridicule of my Calvinistic beliefs into non-spiritual conversation, and finally just called me a heretic.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

CandyinSierras wrote: "The question was asked:

(A) A Reform Charismatic, or a
(B) A Reform Dispensationalist?

I would not be distressed at either one since they are both reformed!"

Me neither! Although truth be told, a Reform Charismatic makes me pause a bit longer than a Reform Dispensationalist.

And if I'm not mistaken, Dan Phillips is a Reform Dispensationalist.

FWIW, I'm still in the slow, long process of sorting out eschatology, and .... honestly wondering what import it has... which makes it a low priority .... which makes it an even longer process!

joanna said...

Thanks, candyinsierras. Being in Australia, i don't think we have any sovereign grace churches unfortunately. I've been reading the new attitude blog and listening to some of the messages from the conference. It's good stuff. I do own John Pipers book desiring God. The first 2 times i read it a lot of it went over my head but i'm going to try it again.

Silly Old Mom said...

tnpotts said:

I only understood it once & the interpretation was "She will be healed." I am not led by my emotions but it gives me goosebumps just to write it & she was healed - she passed on to eternal life!

That is probably the most elastic definition of "healing" I've ever heard.

When you heard "she will be healed," were you surprised when she died? Didn't you think at first that she would recover from her illness? 'Cause that's what most people -- even believers -- do when they hear the word "healed." They don't use "healed" as a synonym for "taken home to glory."

BTW, what language was she speaking?

Unfortunately in this case I think you *are* being led by your emotions. If the experience you related is supposed to be evidence in favor of sign gifts, then you're proving the cessationist's point. I won't question your grandma's love for the Lord and commitment to evangelism, but I do question her "gift of tongues" and anyone else's "gift of interpretation."

FWIW, I have known one or two people who were healed by seemingly miraculous means, but 1) the healings had nothing to do with purported sign gifts, and 2) the people were actually healed -- they didn't die. It was evident to both believers and unbelievers at the time that the healing was medically improbable/impossible.

Jesse P. said...

candyinsierras:

Please forgive my sarcasm. I meant it only for the sake of parody.

On a serious note, I do appreciate the references to SGM and the acknowledgement that not all charismatics fall into the common pitfalls.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I did not know that Calvary Chapel has an "aggressive campaign against Calvinism," but now you've got me wondering if this could explain the abuse from a Calvary Chapel-attending coworker who over a period of weeks has been interjecting ridicule of my Calvinistic beliefs into non-spiritual conversation, and finally just called me a heretic." (Cindy)

That's quite a narrative! It's actually humorous! Calvinism = Heresy. Calvinist = Heretic.

I could sorta understand a staunch Roman Catholic saying that, but a fellow Christian? Wow.

Shannon said...

Wow – where to begin? This has been an excellent blog, with a discussion surpassing most I’ve read here before. Congrats Phil! Again, I commend you for your tone in this blog – never again will I call you ‘rude’, even if it was in jest.

• First, Marie4thetimemom – ‘predictive prophecy’ ended with the closing of the canon

Maybe so – maybe not. My personal experience with something on the order of ‘the prophetic’ (maybe it would be better to call it a ‘Word of Knowledge’?) has never been predictive. I will listen to those Macarthur sermons soon, but I have found him to be quite unfair - to the point of him playing fast and loose with facts – that I tend to take everything he says, apart from directly reading the Scripture, with a salt-shaker.

• Johnny Dialectic – “Biblical doctrine is self-correcting. That is, in the example you choose, we can go to other Scriptural mandates and show that women being subject to their husbands does NOT include abuse, etc. But with sign-gift revelation, there is no self-correction from Scripture. If someone claims to have a “prophetic word,” that ends the discussion.”

Thanks for chiming in, Johnny. I disagree, however – the Biblical gives a great deal of guidance on how to correct the NT gift of Prophecy. You may note that I specify “NT gift of Prophecy” – I’ll get back to that in a minute. 1 Corinthians 14:29, however, encourages us to “weigh” what is spoken in a prophecy. 1 Thessalonians 5:21, likewise, encourages us – after telling us not to ‘despise prophecy’ (and doesn’t that mean that there must be some reason – misuse, probably – that led people to be tempted to ‘despise prophecy’?) – to “test everything and hold fast to what is good”. That’s only the beginning, but I think it’s a pretty big oversight to suggest that the Bible doesn’t set certain ‘self-correcting’ parameters around a gifts as potentially dangerous as prophecy.

I’ll respond to other specific responses later, but first I need to address my prior comment. I’ll be copying some of this from a blog I directed folks to earlier in this discussion.

First, I think it’s important to note that the Hebrew Old Testament word for “prophet” meant “authoritative messenger of God”. However, by the time of the writing of the New Testament the Greek word that we translate as “prophecy” didn’t necessarily carry that same connotation. We have a number of extra-Biblical writings ranging from the time 60 B.C. – 199 A.D. wherein the word “prophet” is used to mean anything from a philosopher to a medical quack – a botanist to historian, and any range of things in-between. The primary definition for the Greek word “prophet” was essentially “one who declares, proclaims, or makes known” and that appears to have only sometimes been a proclamation of secret knowledge revealed from the spirit-realm. That is why the soldiers who blindfold and beat Jesus in Luke 22:64 command him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” They are not commanding Jesus to speak revealed words of divine authority, but simply to tell them something hidden that has been revealed to him. Actually, this appears to be a good working definition of the New Testament gift of prophecy as well.

The first time that I discovered this it was a faith-shaking experience for me, and sent me back to the Scriptures with new eyes. You see, I was a campus minister in a reformed discipleship ministry, and was also being groomed to take over as the pastor of a PCA Presbyterian church. I had rarely studied the gifts in depth, other than to read other reformed authors as to why they no longer operated, which put a significant distance between myself and those pesky trouble makers, like tongues and prophecy. However, a group of folks from Morningstar – Rick Joyner’s ministry - came to another rather large campus ministry that was between leadership and being student led for a few months and those so-called prophets reeked havoc there. It was so bad that they were almost immediately disciplined even by Morningstar, which is not known for being terribly Biblical (and I say that as one who has many friends there). That ministry shrunk down from just under 1000 to less than 200 students immediately, and those wounded by these false-prophets went seeking help, and a good number came to me. Sadly, I didn’t have very good answers, so I began studying to help me better ‘counsel’ those who had been hurt by this. What I learned, and the conclusions I was led to, eventually put me at odds with the leadership of my church, and put me ‘out of the running’ for the pastorate there. Serious stuff.

Back to prophecy, also notice the stark contrast between what is said of prophecy in the Old Testament verses the New. In the Old Testament, prophets are the authoritative messengers of God, usually beginning and/or ending their prophecies with phrases such as “declares the Lord“ and “thus says the Lord“. They often shift back and forth between first and third person, sometime speaking as one relaying a message, and other times as the mouthpiece of God himself. Look closely at Jeremiah 1:9 for just one clear example: “I have put my words in your mouth.” If you need more to think about regarding this, look up Exodus 4:12, Numbers 22:38, Deuteronomy 18:18, and Ezekiel 2:7, among many others. No matter how it is phrased though, it is clear that the Old Testament prophets spoke the very words of God, and as the words of God they were absolutely authoritative.
There is a practical outworking of this truth – to disobey or disbelieve an Old Testament prophet’s words was to disbelieve God himself! Deuteronomy 18:19 says, “If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him into account.” This truth is echoed and expanded on in 1 Samuel 8:7, 1 Kings 20:36, 2 Chronicles 25:16, Isaiah 30:12-14, and Jeremiah 6:10-11. To deny a prophet was direct disobedience to the Lord.
Because of this authority, there were incredibly harsh punishments imposed on those who presumed to speak for God and were discovered to have not. Deuteronomy 18:20 says, “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other Gods, that same prophet shall die.” Because of the authority divested in the office of Old Testament prophet, to speak the very words of God, harsh penalties HAD to be instated lest false prophets abound in Israel.
These OT punishments have been referenced often in this discussion, but I don’t think they are at all relevant, not only because Jesus significantly altered our relationship to Old Testament law, but the gift we call ‘Prophecy’ in the New Testament – again noting that the definition of the word in Greek is significantly different that the Old Testament Hebrew term – seems to have a different set of guidelines set forth for it.
First, New Testament prophecy was not necessarily authoritative – rather than to accept it as a message from God, Paul said that it must be “weighed” (read 1 Corinthians 14:29-38) and to “test everything, and hold fast to what is good” (read 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). Notice that it is not the prophet’s gift that is in question, and not the prophet himself who is to be judged. It is the content of the prophecy that is in question – and in that it is acknowledged that some will be good, insinuating that some may also, in fact, be bad.
Secondly, Paul explicitly states to those using prophetic gifts in Corinth that they are NOT speaking the words of God. He asks them, “What! Did the word of God come forth from you, or are you the only ones it has reached?” Clearly the implied answer to this question is, “No, as New Testament prophets, the word of God did not come forth from us.“
So what IS the gift of prophecy in the New Testament? Apparently, it is anything that God may suddenly bring to mind or impress on someone’s heart – and in that, it is even an imperfect, partial revelation. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 says, “Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully…” Note the phrase, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part.” Quoting Wayne Grudem, “Prophecy only gives partial knowledge of the subjects it treats.” This means that though prophecy may give guidance, like a sermon, it may also occasionally be wrong on certain points – which is any Biblical Christian should test any sermon – and likewise any prophecy – against the Word of God.
Apparently because of the nature of prophecy some Christians were tempted to throw the gift out altogether, which is quite possibly why Paul wrote the church in Thessalonica to “…not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). This verse has, very appropriately, already come up several times in this discussion.
So, to the cessationist reading this – is it possible that God has given you a word, or opened your eyes to a deeper truth, that you could then look at in light of the Scripture and test and see if it was indeed from God? Have you, when preaching (if you’re a preacher or Bible teacher), just had an idea that seemed to come out of no where, which apparently occurred regularly to famous preachers like Spurgeon and even Knox. I was surprised to find that even the Westminster confession of faith gives allowances for the modern-day usage of prophecy when it says in paragraph 10 that the Holy Scriptures are “the supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees or counsels, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits are to be examined…” “Private Spirits” is an older English term for “personal revelations” – what we are here referring to as “prophecy.”
Judging by how many even here have been wounded by prophecy improperly wielded, these sorts of gifts can be scary and quite dangerous if not used properly. But I close this post again quoting Grudem;
“At this point someone may object that waiting for such ‘promptings’ from God is ‘just too subjective’ a process. My reply is that the people who make this objection are exactly the ones who need this subjective process most in their own Christian lives! This gift requires waiting on the Lord, listening for him, hearing his prompting in our hearts. For Christians who are completely evangelical, doctrinally sound, intellectual, ‘objective’ Christians, probably what is needed most is the strong balancing influence of a more vital ’subjective’ relationship with the Lord in everyday life. And these people are also those who have the least likelihood of being led into error, for they already place great emphasis on solid grounding in the Word of God.”

Shannon said...

Laura said Can you imagine an ex-Buddhist from Tibet or an ex-Animist from Ecuador, apart from the influence of a MacArthurite Baptist missionary, reading 1 and 2 Corinthians for the first time and saying, "Well, clearly some of those gifts in that list don't exist anymore"?

I agree. It seems that too often the cessationist case against the gifts BEGINS with their personal experience. Even though they may begin with Scripture when explaining themselves, all-to-often, at least in the conversations I've had, their argument eventually moves to "I've never seen a genuine gift". Since Don Carson did such an incredible job of demolishing all cessationist arguments (and to any cessationist who hasn't read "Showing the Spirit" - well, shame on you! Seriously, it's pretty lazy to not engage the most significant book ever published on the subject, particularly when it's written by a non-charismatic reformed scholar on the level of Carson).

Terry Rayburn - A typical Charismatic knows in his heart that the tongues he speaks (or "prays") 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. (This also applies to various "prophecies", "words of knowledge", etc.)

Terry, the first time I spoke in tongues I didn't even BELIEVE in tongues. I had an idea - what turned out to be a verse from the Psalms - come to mind out of the blue, and when I spoke it what came out of my mouth was a rather complex language that I did not recognize. It only happened once, and it was when I was a fairly young believer. I tried to explain it away at the time, as I had just recently become a Christian out of Atheism, and have always remained fairly skeptical, however now, looking back, it seems pretty accurate to say that I was speaking in tongues, and interpreting at the same time. I definitely don't have any question as to whether or not that was a real spiritual experience or not - I had no reason to fake it. I had more than enough reasons to try to explain it away. I imagine that you would point out that I am not a 'typical Charismatic' - in that you would be right. ;-)

And the mast himself, the honorable Rev. Dr. Phil Johnson - What does Scripture say about the closure of the canon? Can we expect more inspired Scripture to be added to our Bibles? Why or why not?

Honestly, it directly says very little, and MOST of the texts used to justify the closing of the canon can be easily shown illegitimate. I do believe that the canon is closed, however.

My case goes back to what I said in my last response about New Testament prophets, and how that applies to how we understand the Apostles in the New Testament. I'm copying much of this from a former blog on the topic, but I will attempt to personalize it to this conversation.

You, I imagine, argue that the Canon of Scripture is closed because prophecy is no longer in operation (what I would argue is an Old Testament understanding of the word) is no more - or at least that the canon is closed, and therefore we no longer NEED prophecy. Yet, the New Testament was not written by prophets, with the exception of the Revelation of John (who was also an Apostle)! You see, there WERE a group of men in the New Testament who spoke the words of God with God’s authority – they were called “the Apostles.”

First, the message the Apostles proclaimed was the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the revelation of God’s message of salvation to the world. As Grudem points out, “Such an insistence on the divine origin of (this) message is clearly in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets.”

Secondly, Jesus promised a special empowering to the 12, who were called the Apostles after Christ’s resurrection. John 14:26 says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you (he was speaking here to the Apostles) all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Later, in John 16:13, Jesus says to the Apostles, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth…” Jesus promised the Apostles that the Holy Spirit would help them remember and understand the message that he gave them to proclaim to the world.

Lastly, the Apostles recognized the authority of their own teachings and writings as the very words of God. Paul commands the church in Thessalonica to receive his words “…not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13), and points out, as was the case with denying the words of the Old Testament prophets, that anyone who disregards his words “disregards not man but God” (1 Thessalonians 4:8). Others are punished for disregarding the message of the Apostles; “If anyone refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.” (2 Thessalonians 3:14) Also, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter equates Paul’s letters with “the other Scriptures.” Further, Acts 5:3-4 & 21, implies that lying to an Apostle is equivalent to lying to the Holy Spirit, and thus God himself!

The New Testament is made up of the writings of the Apostles (or of those under their authority) because it is THEY, not the New Testament prophets, who are the authoritative messengers of God during that time. And since to be in the office of New Testament Apostles you had to have personally experienced the living or physically resurrected Jesus, that office (in the New Testament sense of being an authoritative messenger of Jesus) is now closed, thus no one can any longer speak the very words of God to his people, except in that they are rightfully dividing His written word (the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles) in the Scriptures.

I'm coming back one more time to tell a few personal stories...then I'll return to dormancy again.

Shannon said...

I'm sorry to keep quoting from my own blogs, but as I've already addressed many of these issues in them, it's convenient, and I've not a whole lot of time, as I work 3 jobs and have a family. As charismatics and their gifts seem to seem usually 'wacky', I want to share a few of my own experiences...as I often tell charismatics, it doesn't have to be 'weird' to be God.

In college, one of my friends, a generally all-around bad fellow before he came to Christ, told me that he could sometimes see demons - what he called a very STRONG gift of discernment. On numerous occasions he’d tell me to stop and he’d point to someplace across the street and say, “I see darkness there - something VERY bad is about to happen”, and within minutes a fight would break-out in the exact location he pointed to. Though I never personally experienced such a gift, he was almost always DEAD on, and it happened OFTEN. I’ve talked to him recently, and he claims this gift is still with him to this day.

More than one time in college I heard what I believe was God’s ‘voice’ - not an audible voice, but an overwhelming impression that an idea from outside myself was ringing in my mind. Once, I awoke at 3 in the morning ‘knowing’ that I needed to go to a friend’s apartment, which was almost a mile away. That wouldn’t be so bad, but it was below zero outside, and there was almost a foot of snow on the ground, and I had no car! I went back to sleep, but only for a moment - the idea was still there, and it distressed me severely. I laid in bed for a while and argued with myself, finally giving up, throwing on some boots, a t-shirt, and a thick trench coat (I looked like a flasher, I’m sure), and trudged through the snow to my friend’s apartment. Surprisingly, the lights were still on. As I approached the door, normally locked tight, I noticed it was propped open, so I walked right on in. As I entered the hallway, another friend (one who didn’t live there) busted through a door and nearly knocked me over - his face was red, and his eyes teary. He said, “Thank God! I was praying someone would come!” Turns out several college leaders of the various local ministries were having a HUGE argument - the sort that ends fellowship, and I was the only person that didn’t take a side on their ‘debate’, yet knew all three, and so I became their mediator for the evening.

On another occasion, while just passing time between classes, I ‘heard’ that same voice - it simply said “Turn here.” ‘Here’ was a rather nasty, and somewhat dark and creepy, alley between two buildings. But, seeing that I could think of no reason that I would WANT to go down that alley, had no classes, and no place I needed to be, I did it. An acquaintance of mine was behind a dumpster down that alley about to slash his wrists. God used me to stop a suicide and share the gospel with this very friendly Goth guy.

Another college experience is when God ‘told’ me who the ‘love of my life’ was going to marry, and I introduced the two (which seemed almost totally out of my control) - it was my first hard lesson about God’s sovereignty - they were married within a year.

I only had a few similar experiences while in Athens, GA, but when the ‘voice’ did come I usually attempted to act on it, in a way that was as unobtrusive as possible.

For instance, the ‘voice’ usually came while talking to non-believers, and I’d incorporate whatever it told me into the conversation, which usually stopped them in their tracks. I’d be discussing something and say, “So, how was it growing up Presbyterian” or “When did your father leave you”, and it would change the dynamics of the entire conversation because they’d given me no hint whatsoever of those truths.

Since moving to the deep South; One of my friends seemed down one evening, so I asked him what was on his mind. His uncle was in the hospital dying - had been given less that 3 hours to live - and was too far away for him to visit. I just suggested we pray, we prayed, and in a miraculous turn-around that astounded the doctors, he went home healthy and well 2 days later (those 2 days mainly for observation because they were so befuddled by the turn-around. Last I heard, he’s still alive and well.

More recently, just a few months ago my wife and I went to a conference in Jacksonville. The last day there, while my wife was getting a few piano tips from a respected musician, I looked over at a young teenager (no older than 15, I’d guess) and a few VERY SPECIFIC phrases popped into my mind. I’d never really seen this girl before, and didn’t know her from eve, and sure as heck wasn’t going to walk up to her and say such things. I prayed over those words for about 15 minutes, then pulled out my journal and wrote them down. Tearing the page from my journal, I folded it and laid it on the (VERY LARGE) stage about 20 feet from the girl (who was looking the other way) and simple prayed “God, if these words are for someone in this room, you are able to lead that person to read them.” I left the room and went to another training session in the other end of the church (and this church is HUGE - it has it’s own TV show and such). An hour or so later as Cyle and I were leaving the church that young woman shout out “Sir” - she had clearly been crying. She asked me if I had written the words that were on the stage, and I nodded - she then asked if they were for her, and I said, “I thought they might be, but just asked that God would lead you to them if they were“, and she said, “They were exactly what I need to hear.”

Now, I’m not some raging ‘Pentecostal’ looking for a miracle under every coincidence - in fact, I’m well read in quantum physics theory, biology, and the philosophy of science, and worked for 4 years at a science research library - meaning I lean towards skepticism in each individual case, and I also note: life is not one big series of miracles (at least, not if understood according to their usual definition – whether or not that understanding of things is correct is certainly up for grabs). But, of course, it wasn’t in the Bible either - it’s just that, like what I wrote above (not mentioning how many days passed between each occurrence, and the ‘normal’ events that took place in them), the Bible mainly engages the more miraculous events - the more profound aspects of God’s revelation in history.

From the church I attended in Athens, GA, for many years I became friends with an older Reformed Presbyterian missionary who had founded multiple seminaries, and published a few books, and ‘hung-out’ with friends like J. I. Packer and John R.W. Stott. That is just to say that he’s not only ‘Presbyterian’, he wrote the book on it (well - one of them: an almost 3, 000 page official history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the USA) - this guy was a full-on cessationist: i.e. - he believed that all of the spiritual gifts (including miracles) ended with the apostles and were for the sole purpose to giving credence to, and evidence for, the truth of the Gospel which led to the authoring of the Scriptures - he believed, in essence, that we no longer need miracles because we have God’s written Word in it’s entirety. As much as I respect him, we disagree on this.
Anyway, on one of his missionary journey’s about 4 years ago he traveled to an African tribe who had NEVER heard (there are still many worldwide): in fact, after he could travel no further by car, then had to walk for a day to reach these folks. As soon as they showed up - these ‘white folks’, it began to sprinkle. They were mobbed by the tribe - not violently - but it seemed very strange to these tribes-people that this very strange looking man showed up (they hadn’t seen hardly any Caucasians), and - according to my friend’s interpreter - they’d been in a very serious, multi-year drought - making it even stranger that it began to sprinkle. In the drizzle, he set up his small portable sound system to hold a ‘meeting’ with the tribe…of course the tribe gathered around him, chattering among themselves loudly. When he was ready to begin preaching and teaching the gospel, he grabbed his microphone and said, to his OWN surprise, “God will stop the rain until I am finished speaking, then your drought with be over, and it will rain like you’ve never seen.” I say, ‘to his OWN surprise’ because he had NO IDEA why he had said it, or where the words had come from, and felt quite embarrassed and even worried after saying it - he didn’t believe those sorts of things happened now-a-days. So, he began to preach, and the sprinkling rain immediately ceased - and the tribe was so in awe that they sat and listened for hours. At the end of his teaching time, he bowed his head and prayed, and as soon as he closed, and his interpreter spoke allowed his “amen” the skies just fell - it rained like no rain they, or he, had ever seen! Nearly the whole tribe converted, and he’s been involved in pastoral training there yearly - usually for about a month at a time - since. He’s changed his mind a bit regarding modern day miracles. Yes, I received this first hand from his very mouth - and he was quite humbled by this entire experience, and it had left a clear mark on his life. He was a different person as a result - formerly an academic, and now a man of DEEP passion.

My final story: this one of the twin sister of an old friend, both of whom I am still friends with… She went to Covenant College, which is atop Look-out Mountain in Tennessee, just outside Chattanooga, for any who might not be familiar with the place. This particular day it was raining very hard. If you’ve ever been to visit Covenant college you know that there are far too few guardrails along the route, and far too many steep falls, and the road basically winds it’s way uphill, zigzagging over itself on it’s way upward towards the school. As she was driving home and making her way around one of the many curves she was faced with a car speeding towards her in the wrong lane, and with a prayer and thoughts of her family, she shot off the edge of the cliff anticipating death. Next, not knowing how much time had passed, she awoke suspended upside down, held into her car by her seatbelt. Unbuckling her seatbelt, she fell to the road. Her car was suspended on a large rock at least 10 feet above the road, but as if that wasn’t strange enough, things also just didn’t look quite right. It all became very clear, or all the more confusing, depending on how you look at it, when the cops got there. Now, my friend was hoping to do missionary work in a foreign country later that year, but her parents were afraid of letting her go - they weren’t sure if they could trust God with their daughter’s life, and little did she know, but they had been praying about their decision, whether or not to let her go, the night before. Now, the part I left out before when I was telling the story was the reason she was so confused. You see - there was no road above her from her to have fallen from where she was standing - in fact, judging by the tire-marks on the road, she was standing on the very patch of road she had fallen from; her car had fallen from the right side of the road, up ten feet, and landed on the left side of that same road she had fallen from. The police officer in charge of writing the report, who was an atheist, was chain smoking and yelling at her because he was so frazzled as to what to write; “What am I supposed to write - that a bunch of angels lifted your car to safety and set you on the other side of the road?!!” Afterwards, they pulled her car from the cliff, and towed it to a garage to estimate the damages. Meanwhile her parents had decided, after seeing how God had protected their daughter in what would have definitely otherwise been a fatal accident, that they could indeed trust God with their daughter in a foreign country, in spite of their fears. Unfortunately, if the car needed repairs, money would be very short - she might still not be able to go. The next day they received a phone call from a rather confused mechanic asking them to come to the garage ASAP. Apart from a few small scratches, and one loose wire, her car was unscathed - in perfect running order. While viewing this, it became simply too much for the police officer to bear, and he broke down in tears and prayed and gave his life to Christ. So, in one event God 1.) glorified Himself, 2.) saved one of his children from death, 3.) gave faith to her parents to stand behind her missionary work, 4.) enabled a missionary to spread the gospel with PASSION, 5.) and saved/converted a non-believer. That was a pretty radical event, and I’ve not only seen photo’s the accident site, but know those involved, and was even on the phone with them in the midst of this event.

I hate to use experience to make a case, but I can't find any instances where these experienced contradict the Scripture, especially now that I'm no longer convinced by the reformed case for cessationism. Next time I mention the gifts, and I respond, I hope this post gives you a little more insight into what I'm personally referring to.

tnpotts said...

silly old mom:

Yes, it is an elastic definition - no I am not making a case for the sign gifts. As a matter of fact, I lean more toward the cessationist side of the debate. I was surprised when she died. I assumed physical healing. However, what better healing is there than passing from this life to the next. I absolutely am not trying to pass it off as evidence & often question the event myself. That being said, I've heard people speak in tounges hundreds of times, but never understood until the one time. To repeat myself, I'm trying to reconcile what I've seen & heard with what the Bible says & also repeating my question; are all people qho speak in toungues wrong? If so, why?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"John MacArthur, Lance Quinn, and I met with Paul Cain and Jack Deere in John MacArthur's office at Jack Deere's request. Deere wanted to try to convince John MacArthur that the charismatic movement—especially the Vineyard branch—was on a trajectory to make doctrinal soundness and biblical integrity the hallmarks of Third-Wave charismatic practice. He brought Cain along, ostensibly so that we could see for ourselves that Cain was a legitimate prophet with a profound gifting.

But Cain was virtually incoherent that day." (Phil Johnson)

2 possible outs:
(1) It was just one day and maybe Deere and Cain were having a bad day that *particular* day.

(2) Deere and Cain have totally different recollections of that day than Phil Johnson.

----

That being charitably said, I tend to believe PJ's account of what transpired. And a "one-off" experience is not a large enough data set to write off an entire movement ... with *certainty*.

But I do think it's appropriate to express serious misgivings like PJ has done.

Pax.

Jesse P. said...

One more note on the "bashing" comment I made.

I do not believe that Phil's post was 'bashing'. I think he did an excellent job expressing his views, while acknowledging that not all people who hold this view are this way. I thought it was fair and refreshing to read.

The comment I made "let the bashing begin" is because so many times it is not the posts themselves that are bashing, but the comments that degenrate into that.

Dan's comments about us being charlatans, newbies on the scene, having made no contribution with a shameful legacy seemed to start the train down this track.

J Wragg said...

If the prophecy views of John Piper, Sam Storms, and Wayne Grudem are "building up the Body and equipping the saints for the work of the ministry", why have they never published some of their own personal prophecies as an example? It seems that these men (whom I greatly respect, in spite of what I think are some glaring exegetical assumptions) should not simply be "open" to extra-biblical revelation, but actually experiencing it so that the church can witness one of these so-called "lesser authority" prophecies.

Could it be that in actual practice, these men are so grounded in scripture that their own strong "inner-impressions" are generally accepted as God’s providential leading in a spiritually seasoned believer whose biblical convictions “speak to them” in the milieu of daily living?

Could it be that they already recognize such promtings as powerful inner “direction” through biblical convictions which the Spirit has seasoned through obedience over time, for His providential and effective use at that particular moment? In fact, we could say that the more biblically refined our convictions, the more Spirit-driven our strong “impressions”. But if we mistake sensitive and mature spiritual convictions for “direct revelation” from God we will most assuredly “hear” God’s will where He has not spoken (the problem Phil has been pointing to), and miss His clear written direction (scripture) in pursuit of more than He offers.

DJP said...

Various:

Johnny Dialectic - Phil, this post does exactly what Adrian and some others requested. It is a model of charitable, though strong, disagreement.

Yep.

Just like every other post Phil has written on the subject, without exception.

Aric - what I continually wrestle with is that Paul lumps all of these gifts together

Yes, that single consideration probably kept me Charismatic longer than any other.

What put an end to it was this: apostles and prophets are also included on those lists. I hadn't been indoctrinated with the dishonest hermeneutic that redefines those gifts to accommodate modern frauds, so I knew they meant Christ's-plenipotentiary, Bible-writing apostles and inerrant-direct-revelation-imparting prophets. Yet, like all sane charismatics at the time, I knew those gifts had not been around for, oh, about two millennia.

Dwelling on that incontrovertible fact and its implications opened the door to (necessarily) considering that the same principle applied to other gifts. As indeed it does.

Laura - I must respect you as a more experienced believer

Yes, I'm very old. Thank you for mentioning that. (c;

the straw man is popping up: the "leaky-Canon set"?

No straw man. That is how I characterize the charismatic view, which necessarily entails the position that God did not tell us everything we need to know as Christians, in this age. It takes in the whole charismatic sweep, from those who muzzily depict God as mumbling and hinting (apart from Scripture), to those who imagine that He is still adding to the inerrant revelation of Scripture.

Pat Robertson's assertion that the Bible contains "maybe 94%" of what a Christian needs to know obviates the "straw man" accusation.


I don't believe that the kind of prophecy Paul writes about carries the same authority as the Scripture he was writing -- why else would he tell folks to "test" the prophecies?

That has been often answered in this blog. The Bible gives one definition of prophecy, and that is that it is 100% accurate and 100% inerrant, or it is false prophecy. THAT prophecy was tested (Deuteronomy 13 and 18). NT prophecy is not different.

The invention of semi-inspired prophecy is yet another watering down of Scripture to accommodate modern counterfeits of the real thing, which would dissolve instantly if anyone measured it by the test of Scripture.

In a church full of charismatic abuses, Paul refused to shut down the charismata.

Right. Because they were abusing real gifts; whereas today they are imitating real gifts. Big difference.

And it's handy to say, "the burden of proof is on you," but it seems to me that the burden of proof is on the person calling names. I've lain out some of my argument, but I have yet to see a compelling reason that charismatic theology itself, and not abuses of it (or its unfortunate partners, like word-faith/prosperity "gospel" or raging hyper-arminianism), necessarily causes theological danger bordering on heresy

It isn't because you haven't been shown, though.

Bible gifts = panicked unbelievers
Modern fakes = panicked proponents

The former had to explain away their undeniably supernatural nature. The latter have to explain away their undeniably lower-grade nature. If you're unaware of that -- and I don't say this with cruel intent -- I can only surmise you haven't been following the issue much. I've heard thirty-plus years of lame explanations for the the failure of ONE CENTURY'S EFFORTS to produce one instance that will pass Biblical muster.

You don't like the burden of proof. I don't blame you. But you have it nonetheless. The fault is in your position. I recommend that you abandon it. It doesn't deserve your efforts to keep it on life-support. That's kind of the point of these posts.

"Not very good points" -- fine, I know that we disagree, but in what way are they "not good"? Can you interact with what I said rather than just giving me a "grade"?

This is where these interchanges get a bit wearying. I did precisely that in the comment to which you're objecting. You just didn't like the substantive interaction, and attempted to dodge it.

So I simply reaffirm it.

Gotta run, hope this is of some use.

Shannon said...

DJP...

I do understand where you are coming from now. I didn't realize that you were an x-charismatic, with all the baggage that comes with. Now it's clear that it colors every comment you make on the issue. I'm very sorry you saw so many 'fakes'. That same burdon has hurt my wife - now that she's outside her radical charismatic upbringing she's far more skeptical than I, at times even questioning God's goodness because of her experiences. Honestly, I'm so refreshed to have her 'reforming' from the ugly side of Charismaticism. It was very telling when - after being married to me for a few years - she acknowledged that until recently she'd always hated preaching and though that the worship/music aspect of church was more important. Now that she's away from that climate, she loves the word and is studying the Bible daily. Now, you see, she is continually being filled with the Spirit, as His fruits are showing forth.

So, have you read my response above? Was I "imitating real gifts", and if so, why would I do such a thing - I wasn't even in a charismatic church, or around charismatics when most of those things occured? I most definitely wasn't seeking after them.

I, too, believe the burdon of proof is on the cesationists. A simple reading of the Scripture seems to display that the life of a true believer in Christ should be a life lived by the power of the Spirit, with both the Fruit and the Gifts present. Tell me - apart from the fact that you haven't SEEN such (which would be judging the Scriptural accounts by your experience, rather than judging your experiences by the Scriptures), beginning from the Scripture, can you give us a solid reason, Biblically, to believe that the gifts have ceased - particularly one that hasn't already been shown false by Carson? I appreciate your participation in this dialogue and look forward to your response.

blessings!

Shannon said...

j wragg - just because Piper, Grudem, and Storms believe in on-going prophecy doesn't mean that it is one of their gifts, necessarily.

Brad Williams said...

DJP,

I thought I had gotten all the good out of this comment section until I read your late comment containing the word "plenipotentiary." I mean, that was worth wading through 110 comments to get to.

DJP said...

Popcorn.

Peanuts.

AND a prize in every box!

DJP said...

ShannonSo, have you read my response above?

No. First, I'm still waiting for your examples of real (i.e. Biblical) prophets who expressed their prophecies "very cautiously."

Second, as a rule we discourage cutting and pasting. We also discourage "come read my blog" adverts. If folks wanted to read your blog, they'd (we'd) go there.

Stefan said...

Truth Unites...And Divides wrote:

FWIW, I'm still in the slow, long process of sorting out eschatology, and .... honestly wondering what import it has... which makes it a low priority .... which makes it an even longer process!

Don't worry. In the end, it'll all get sorted out. (Ba-da-dum!)

I'm still trying to make sense of it, too. The guys here do a good job of keeping eschatological issues out of the picture, because let's face it, I think different views of the Millennium divide us Reformers even more than positions on baptism or gifts.

J Wragg said...

Shannon -
Isn't that strange? Why would "lesser authoritative" personal words from God not be for every believer?

In fact, since most charismatics I know (and I've had a close friendship with many over the years) regularly use some form of the God-spoke-directly-and-specifically-to-me approach to the Christian life, it would seem to be a very prolific gift. Why not the main theological spokespersons for the issue?

Shannon said...

DJP - No. First, I'm still waiting for your examples of real (i.e. Biblical) prophets who expressed their prophecies "very cautiously."

Then you will miss what I see as the most important aspect of this discussion: the testimony of Scripture. In response to your request: You will likely find no examples of Biblical prophets who expressed their prophecies "cautiously".

DJP - Second, as a rule we discourage cutting and pasting. We also discourage "come read my blog" adverts. If folks wanted to read your blog, they'd (we'd) go there.

Very sorry - I missed that rule (it that in an 'about me' section somewhere?). So, you'd prefer I simply re-typed the content of my blog here, as it directly relates to this discussion? Give me a little grace, please? These are detailed, complex issues, and they take a LOT of words - I don't have time to repeat things I've already addressed at length, so - it seems to me - the best thing I can do is redirect folks to my response. Since so very few actually engaged the real issues, I re-used those blogs as the foundation for my responses here.

I know you feel you've already addressed these thing - but these supposed posts must be buried somewhere in far distant past blogs, which means it would probably serve us all well if you broke your rule, and either copy & pasted those responses into this one, or linked that past blog. Seriously, I'd really enjoy hearing someone engage the Scriptures on this, which - as of yet - I've not seen.

Shannon said...

Hey wragg...
I don't know...you'll have to ask God as to why He gives certain gifts to some people and not to others. ;-)

ddd said...

Interesting discussion.

I am an ex-charismaic (lower division; ie I didn't experience the second baptism), but I do see the points Shannon are trying to make, and also the points Phil and other cessationists are trying to make. You know, maybe when we can stop talking past each other, we can make more progress on this issue.

DJP said...

So the testimony of Scripture is that there are no very-cautious genuine prophets.

No, I really don't think I missed that. It's actually my point.

And the "little grace" you requested was shown in my electing not to delete your cut-n-paste, as we've done in the past.

Shannon said...

Ooooooooooh DJP!
You are SUCH a sweetie-pie, aren't you?
So, it doesn't contribute to the discussion?
Anyway, I answered your request, now it's only fair you answer mine. Thanks.

Mike Riccardi said...

Shannon,

You asked for links. I haven't read your comments, so I don't know which Scripture passages you want interaction with, or if there are specific issues, so bear with me.

But I've found this collection of posts by Frank extremely helpful on this issue.

Also, Dan deals with 1 Cor 13 issues in this post that I thought was very helpful.

And if there are other things you're looking for, you can peruse this.

Hope it helps.

Link said...

You can find lots of examples of people who gave false prophecies.

Why?
The universe operates the way the New Testament teaches it does. In New Testament times, there was true prophecy and false prophecy. There were even false prophets, like Jesus warned about. But there was also true prophecy and true prophets. That is the way the New Testament teaches that things are.

The Thessalonians were struggling with the issue of false predictions of the future. Perhaps they had heard prophecies or letters claiming to be from the apostles that the day of the Lord was at hand. In spite of all these problems, Paul did not tell them to believe only his letters and reject any extra-Biblical prophecy. Rather, he said, "Despise not prophesyings." Paul's letter to the Corinthians actually commands 'covet to prophesy.' That letter was written not only to the Corinthians, but to all believers. Paul wishes his readers 'that ye come behind in no spiritual gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The issue is this. Does the Bible teach that there is no extraBiblical revelation? No. Does the Bible teach that God gives revelation by gifts of the Spirit like prophecy and words of knowledge. Yes.

The problem with false prophecy in the varous charismatic type movements is that many churches do not put into practice Biblical teachings and practices regarding testing the Spirits, weighing prophecies, and proving all things.

The issue here is whether we believe the Bible or not. Sure, it is comfortable and convenient to believe that there is no revelation and we simply have to intepret the Bible with our minds and know all things. The idea that God put us here, drew us to Christ, and now expects us to actually discern what prophecies, etc. are from Him may be a bit uncomfortable to deal with, but that is the situation He put the early church in, and that is the situation he puts the current church in.

The issue is whether or not we will believe the Bible and accept these gifts as real, or believe a man-made theory of cessationism.

Mike Riccardi said...

Stefan? Is that you?



:o)

Link said...

The charismatic can be decieved if he does not discern what prophecy is true properly.

The Cessationist viewpoint can cause people EVERY TIME THEY HEAR A PROPHECY.

Cessationism leads to disobedience of scripture. Let me explain.

How can you be a cessationist and obey this command, "Despise not prophesyings"?

What about this command "Covet to prophesy..."?

Or, if you are in leadership, "Let the prophets speak two or three" or "Forbid not to speak with tongues"?

How can you obey these scriptures if you do not accept the teaching of scripture that these gifts exist.

Someday, the perfect will come. When the perfect comes, the understanding Paul had in the first century (much of it recorded in the New Testament) will seem childish in comparison. When will this occur? Consider Paul's words at the opening of the book of I Corinthians, in 1:7, that ye come behind in no spiritual gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

No doubt Paul knew that he was going to write the Corinthians about their spiritual gifts and the resurrection that occurs at Christ's coming before he wrote this epistle. No doubt, he knew the message the Lord had laid on his heart before he wrote these words in I Corinthians 1:7, which give us insight into the timing of the events he had in mind when he wrote of the coming of the perfect in chapter 13. We should interpret I Corinthians 13 in light of the other scriptures in the passage.

The person who holds to a futuristic view of Revelation has to concede that the blood of prophets will be found in Babylon and that God will send two witnesses who will prophesy. If the gift of prophecy will not have ceased by that time, then it makes no sense to argue that it has ceased already.

A study of the post-apostolic (post 12, that is) period shows that the church at the time recognized the gift of prophecy as genuine. We can see this in Justin Martyr's writings, Ireneas' writings, and in the fact that the Shepherd of Hermas was so popular. Cessationism is a doctrine that arrived late on the scene.

Mike Riccardi said...

Link,

One way I think we can obey the command to not despise prophesy and to earnestly desire to prophesy is to understand prophecy to be referring not only to the foretelling of events even in the day of the Corinthian church. In other words, to prophesy is to explain and unfold the Scriptures, and the gift of prophesy would be bestowed on one who could do that with particular accuracy, ease, and with edifying effects. Hear John Gill on this, from his exposition on 1 Cor 14:1:

Of all the gifts of the Spirit, the apostle prefers prophesying, and recommends this to the Corinthians, as what they should be chiefly desirous of, and more desirous of than of speaking with tongues, which many among them were so very fond of: by which he means, not so much the gift of foretelling future events, though there was such a gift bestowed on some persons in those times, and, in certain cases, was very profitable to the churches; but a gift of preaching the word, or explaining the prophecies of the Old Testament, and of praying and singing of psalms, all which, as appears from some following parts of this chapter, were included in it; and that not in an ordinary, but in an extraordinary way; a person possessed of this gift could at once, without the use of means, or help of study, preach the word, and open the more difficult parts of Scripture; he had an extraordinary gift of prayer, which he could make use of when he pleased, and at once compose and deliver out a psalm, or hymn, in the public congregation.

So whether you accept that or not, just know that it's not just utterly ridiculous, given the commands you cite.

As far as the "forbid not to speak in tongues," could the argument not be made that this was indeed a letter from a particular person to particular people or a particular time? I understand the shortcomings of such an argument because of what's known as our slippery slope. And so I want to be careful with it as well. But even so, is this not even plausible? Tell me, along these same lines, how do you -- personally -- propose to obey the following:

For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. -- 1 Cor 11:6-15

Stefan said...

Mike:

The deleted comments? No. I guess I'm not the only one who edits after he (or she) posts!

Link said...

Calvin fuzzed up the definition of 'prophecy' for millions of people for centuries. The describes the nature of OT prophets when it says they 'spake as moved by the Holy Ghost'. The I Corinthians 14 type of prophecy is used almost interchangeably with 'revelation.' When a prophet is speaking, if another sitting by receives a revelation, the speaking prophet is to be quiet and let that other person speak.

Throughout scripture prophesying is speaking as moved by the Spirit. Prophets generally quoted God when they gave their prophecies. Paul lists prophet and teacher as separate offices. He lists prophecy, teaching, and exhortation as distinct gifts. Prophecy can be about anything God wants to talk about.

About the hair thing, I'm not sure if Paul is talking about hair or veils. I've heard arguments for both. Since I'm a man, I don't have to wear anything. I do not believe we should just disregard the passage. I know at least one group of translators translated the passage to say that the whole issue was not a custom of the churches, but that seemed to be a biased translation.

SolaMeanie said...

Brad,

Yes, "plenipotentiary" is a good word. Just wait until Dan finds a way to use "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Hint. That wasn't glossalalia.

I can't help it. I can only stand so much heated debate without trying to inject a little breather. You can sort of compare me with a Christian version of Konrad Adenauer, the late West German chancellor. When things got too hot in the Cabinet room, he stopped the proceedings and passed around a bottle of Rhine wine. I can't quite do that, but I can throw in a bad joke now and then.

Shannon said...

Hey SolaMeanie...

I'll gladly volunteer my address if you'll SEND me a bottle of Rhine Wine. Sounds good!

DJP said...

So Link, will you at least admit to being a first-time visitor to the blog?

Otherwise, it's hard to see why you're whipping out that old canard. Not a one of the three of us ever has forbidden or would forbid anyone prophesying or speaking in tongues. As we've explained more than once.

DJP said...

In fact, BTW, I believe that no cessationist has ever done so. Ever.

If you bury the straw man, I'll say the prayer.

Link said...

posts not going through, it seems.

I've seen the blog a few times. I think today was my first post to go through.

Considering the fact that speakers in tongues have been kicked out of churches over it, particularly in the early 20th century and in the 60's and 70's, saying that no cessationist has ever forbidden speaking in tongues is a rather unreasonable position to hold. If I'm not mistaken, the SBC in recent years has barred people who speak in tongues from certain missionary roles.

If you were in leadership in a church, would you allow someone to give a message in tongues to the congregation, provided it was interpreted? Would you allow the prophets to speak two or three, and allow for one sitting by who recieves a revelation to speak as the prophet yields the floor to it?

Link said...

Benjamin Nitu wrote
>>>As for the "extra biblical revelation" ... we now know why people no longer read their Bibles ... they don't have to ... their pastor is there to "create divine revelation" for them.<<<

Barna did a survey a while back that indicated that Charismatics knew the Bible better than evangelicals on average, if I remember the report correctly.

One could also make the same charge, btw, that many Christians feel they do not have to read their Bibles because they have a pastor who has studied theology heavily laced with neoPlatonic theology who will, out of the depths of his intellectual ability, explain to them what the Bible really means.

dlormand said...

Shannon:
Thanks for your blog reposts. I've got my Sunday School lesson for tomorrow!

As a Southern Baptist, I tend to be cessationist, but my heritage leaves the question open rather than coming down hard on "no, they aren't around anymore". But I've seen enough God-works - answered prayer, miracles, God-speaking - to know that miracles and revelations DO happen.

At the same time, I've been in Assembly of God meetings with tongues going off and "healings" taking place. I figure that if all these healings were real, the doctors in my area would be alarmed, and I haven't heard that yet. I've known too many believers tell me stories of how they came to faith in a charismatic church, and shortly after were taught how to "speak in tongues". In fact, a girl in my youth group is confused right now, because her mother "speaks in tongues", and is expecting her to do so as well.

So while I readily acknowledge that God CAN and DOES perform miracles and answer prayers and speak to hearts, I have not personally experienced the reality of anybody who had a gift, and could invoke God's power regularly or on command.

ddd said...

Phil et al:

It is not enough for Cessationism to just use the leaky Canon issue. Not all versions of continualism implies that the Canon will remain open. Just because the charismatic movement by and large subscribe to some form of extra biblical revelation which possess a certain standing comparable to the Bible does not mean that all forms of continualism do so. Also, I agree with Shannon as that experiences must somehow be explained. You can't just posit the finality of revelation and discount any experience; you must explain them within a biblical framework. And some experiences are indeed real.

Shannon:

I hope at the very least, you should realize that the gifts of the Spirit serve the cause of the Holy Spirit as He works in bringing people to Christ. Therefore, the gifts are not an entitlement for any and every Christian, and the Holy Spirit does not need to give them to anyone at any time if He doesn't want to do so. As such, the question I ask is that: Is there any reason why any of the gifts are to be normative for this period (not the exception; I will grant the exception)? Knowing that the gifts are meant for a specific purpose within the context of the development of the Church, is there any reason why the Spirit will pour out the sign gifts again when they are (mostly) not exactly needed?

Link said...

DLorman
Responding to your reply to Shanon.

You ask why God would pour out the sign gift when they are mostly not needed anymore?

Can you show any scripture to indicate that they are needed less? The Bible says the I Corinthians 12 gifts are given to profit the whole body. They are intended to edify the church. Where is the scripture that says that the church does not need edifying as much now a it did in the first century?

Also, I am unable to find any passage that refers to these gifts as 'sign gifts.'

David said...

http://whatum.com/?p=184

Benny Hinn Interview with INM.

Phil Johnson said...

Sorry I've been tied up this weekend. Interesting discussion.

Lord willing, I'll be back sometime tonight with a comment to wrap all this up. Then I'm going to close the thread. So if anyone has anything else to say here, you've got about twelve hours starting now to say it.

Jorge said...

Interesting discussion. I think Shannon's question to DJP really hits at the heart of the issue:

"I, too, believe the burdon of proof is on the cesationists. A simple reading of the Scripture seems to display that the life of a true believer in Christ should be a life lived by the power of the Spirit, with both the Fruit and the Gifts present. Tell me - apart from the fact that you haven't SEEN such (which would be judging the Scriptural accounts by your experience, rather than judging your experiences by the Scriptures), beginning from the Scripture, can you give us a solid reason, Biblically, to believe that the gifts have ceased - particularly one that hasn't already been shown false by Carson? I appreciate your participation in this dialogue and look forward to your response."

This has not been answered. The fact is, as far as I can tell, the Bible does not teach cessationalism - and the cessationalist knows that very well! Abuse of a biblical teaching is not justification for prohibiting or rejecting it. What we have seen here are cessationalists responding to the biblical challenge concerning the charismata by side-stepping the question of what the Bible actually teaches concerning the charismata.

--A Reformed Charismatic

Stefan said...

Solameanie:

I'm not sure about "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," but one could conceivably see "antidisestablishmentarianism" being used around here, being a 17th-century ecclesiological term....

As Cent would say (in so many words), be with the Lord's people in the Lord's house on the Lord's day!

ddd said...

Huh??!! 12 hours only. That's too short.

OK, anyway, in response to Link (who responsded to the wrong person, but nevermind):

The phrase 'sign gifts' is a theological phrase, just like the term 'Trinity'. They describe the purpose of those gifts that are by nature spectacular (ie. miracles, tongue-speaking, interpretation, fortelling prophecy, words of knowledge etc.). That is to say, the spectacular sign-gifts are meant to show the Jews that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 2:22), and are done by the Apostles to validate their status as Apostles (See the entire book of Acts where only the Apostles can perform and utilize all these sign-gifts at will (unlike the charlatans like Benny Hinn with all their fake healings etc.)). Therefore, since these gifts are meant primarily to validate the authority and Messiahship of Jesus, and the Apostleship of the Apostles, they are in general not operative today because we do not have Apostles today (contra the New Apostlic Deformation).

Spiritual gifts do edify the Church. However, why are we operating as if the Church only consists of the peoeple in our particular period of time? We have Apostles - who minister to us through the fruits of their labor from ancienct times. We have Prophets - their prophecy minister to us via the fruits of their labors from ancient times as well as the inspired Scriptures they were led to pen down. We have the gift of speaking in tongues in the Church - as a validation of Apostolic authority for the building up of the foundation of the Church which we now continue to build on.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not against the presence of sign-gifts per se. I do not see strict Cessationism written in the Bible (proving a universal negative is next to impossible, especially when it isn't explicit). Nevertheless, Scripture indicates that the sign-gifts are there for a purpose, and therefore they are not normative at all for the Church of all ages. I have no problems with occasional expression of the sign-gifts under exceptional circumstances which demands it, but to seek after them, to treat them as normative is not something I think the Scriptures advocate.

SDG,
Daniel Chew.

Link said...

The concept behind the term 'sign gift' as many use it, is built on an unbiblical paradigm.

Yes, signs and wonders did confirm the word. But the Bible never says they confirmed the scriptures, as some have proposed. Philip wasn't an apostle, but he did signs. Jesus even called casting out demons a sign. Some people were casting out demons in His name who were not a part of the apostles' group. They rebuked them, but Jesus corrected the apostles. (Btw, if you believe in casting out demons today, it is inconsistent to say that there are no more signs.)

Even in the time described in the Gospels, the apostles were not sovereign over who had the gifts. God bypassed them to fill Paul with the Spirit and make him an apostle. The Wind bloweth where it listeth.

The idea that 'sign gifts' only existed as a sign to the Jews and to verify the apostles or the New Testament contradicts scripture. Paul said that the gifts were given to profit the whole body. So even if one argues that the 'sign' aspect of gifts is no longer needed, then the edification aspect of them is still needed.

Furthermore, there are still unbelievers and there are still unbelieving Jews today. The apostles and perhaps others who heard Christ did signs and wonders when the Gospel was first preached among the Hebrews. But Paul and Barnabas kept doing signs and wonders when they encountered new groups of Gentiles who had not heard the Gospel. There are still people who have not heard the Gospel. The signs in scripture go with the word preached. Nothing in there says they were to confirm the scriptures that were long ago written down. This is a man-made excuse for getting rid of gifts.


One of the key issues here on cessaionism is the idea of protecting a doctrine of sufficiency of scripture. So some preachers and theologians have invented a doctrine that is not supported by scripture, and then they disregard direct commands and teachings of scripture to support this doctrine. The Bible teaches that God communicates to the church through the gift of prophecy and commands 'despise not prophesyings.' But to defend a man-made twist on the doctrine of sufficiency of scripture, certain theologians disregard these scriptures, explaining them away to protect their man-made doctrine.

Adrian said...

When Phil shuts off comments here, feel free to continue the conversation over at my place if you want. I want to know more about where this idea of 'sign gifts' comes from.....

The best post to comment on over at my place is probably my latest response to Phil. I use the same comment system as these guys.

God bless,

Adrian

adrianwarnock.com

Link said...

ddd

You say that he apostles could exercise the sign gifts at will. Can you prove this was always the case? I can think of several scriptures that argue against this idea.

One is that in Acts 4, the apostles did just go out and start doing signs and wonders. They actually prayed for God to do them, as if they were dependant on God for these things to happen.

Why didn't Peter just traslate himself to John Mark's mother's house instead of waiting for an angel to free him? Why didn't Paul just translate himself to Rome, or out of the sea when he was shipwrecked? Why didn't he just walk on water, at will?

Why was Paul sick with an eye infection early on in his ministry, before he wrote Galatians, an early epistle?

DJP said...

Jorge--I think Shannon's question to DJP really hits at the heart of the issue: ....This has not been answered.

That's simply not true, much as you might wish it were otherwise. It has been answered again and again. Perhaps, like Shannon and Laura, you don't like the answer. If so, can't help you.

The burden of proof is on the person claiming to manifest a revelatory and/or attesting gift. It was thus in Biblical times, it would be so now, particularly after 1900 years of the gifts' absence among the Biblically faithful. Read Deuteronomy 13 and 18.

You can join the leaky Canoneers in attempting forty-nine evasions, and it will still be the case: you claim a Biblical-level revelatory and/or attesting gift, YOU have to prove it. You claim they've never left the church, YOU have to prove it.

The fact that there's such squealing over this simple and uncontrovertible fact is eloquent testimony to the understandably injured conscience of the modern leaky-Canoneer.

They know they don't have the goods.

They just don't want to admit it. Ruins their game.

DJP said...

DDD -- It is not enough for Cessationism to just use the leaky Canon issue [etc etc etc]

Yes. That would be why we've examined the issue from a dozen Biblical angles over and over again, every one of us, and done what you suggest and more beside. Some snipe at us for not repeating ourselves an eighty-ninth time, others snark at us every time we take up a new angle. I guess they want their money back; hope they kept the receipt.

But the leaky Canon fact won't go away, much as it irritates leaky Canoneers. After all, the Pharisees formally affirmed the full authority of Scripture. That should have settled it, if one reasons as your comment suggests.

However, as I'm sure you know, Jesus would not have concurred.

One can formally affirm something, but deny it in practice.

Like what leaky Canoneers do with the sufficiency of Scripture.

QED

Link said...

There is plenty of evidence for the spiritual gifts in the Ante-Nicene period.

Link said...

djp

Sounds like the issue is this.

Your concept of 'sufficiency of scripture' is not in scripture.

The fact that God gives the gift of prophecy to the church and communicates to the church through other means IS in the scriptures.

So the issue is whether to believe what the Bible teaches, or a bunch of man-made doctrines about the role of the Bible, doctrines that contradict the teachings of scripture about spiritual gifts.

Shannon said...

DJP...
so, I have to prove, to you, that my gifts are genuine? How, then, do you suggest I do that? I already responded here with a slew of miracles that can be confirmed - how would you suggest the individuals contact you, or would you like their emails addresses or numbers? I have a really hard time understanding why you feel the ball is in our court, when the Scripture seems so very clear, and you've given us no reason, so far (though you say again and again that you HAVE - I've not seen it), to believe otherwise. Personally, I guess I'm a bit 'fundy' in that way - if the Bible says it, I really try to make that my belief system, and don't demand that the Scriptures prove themselves, nor do I demand that those following the Scriptures prove themselves. Of course, it is very simple for you to refuse to read the posts that may actually make a point contra yours with some detail - ignoring the fact that I've ALREADY - IN THIS POST - done exactly what you've asked, but ignore it you will, apparently. Seriously DJP - I'm angry. It's rediculous, the games you play. Absolutely rediculous. I'd honestly like to be engaged as a brother - a real person, who's got the same relationship to God that you do, who's digging in the Word and trying to really know God and follow Him, as I hope you are. Please stop writing us off as though we are imbeciles, with responses like "It has been answered again and again. Perhaps, like Shannon and Laura, you don't like the answer". It's not that I don't LIKE your answer - I haven't SEEN one, seriously. BRING IT! Else all those reading this will just have to assume that you don't because you can't. Of course, you haven't read Carson yet, have you? Maybe you're just delaying until you can get your hands on the book, but if that's the case, just say so. Thanks.

wordsmith said...

Link:

"Your concept of 'sufficiency of scripture' is not in scripture."

Ahem.

2 Tim 3:16-17 (NKVJ):
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

If Scripture is given that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work, that of necessity implies that Scripture is sufficient.

Link said...

Does the verse about the man of God will be thoroughly equipped and try to use that as an argument about the gifts. But this is nonsensical. If that verse caused revelation to cease,we should throw out verse 18 and the rest of the book, and the books written after it. Also, Paul was likely referring to the OT, the scriptures
available at that time. Furthermore, the verse doesn't say that the Bible is the only equipment we need, only that the scriptures are given to make
the man of God fully equipped.

The US army gives a soldier a rifle so that he might be fully equipped. But the rifle is not the only equipment he needs. He needs bullets, clothes, and
a helmet. But the gun is given so that he might be fully equipped.

Plus, who would say that if we have the Bible, we don't need love. Just imagine this line of reasoning. "I don't need love because the Bible makesme thoroughly equipped. I don't need honestly, because with the Bible I am fully equipped." What if someone says they don't need the Spirit because they received the Bible so that they might be fully equipped? What if they say they don't need the gifts of the Spirit because the Bible is given that
they might be fully equipped.

This line of reasoning is nonsense because the Bible teaches us that we need love, honest, the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit.

We need not only a copy of the Bible. But we also need the things the Bible says we need.

Shannon said...

Wordsmith, let's be fair...
Link stated "YOUR concept of 'sufficiency of Scripture' isn't Scriptural"...not that, altogether, Scripture isn't sufficient. It is good, however, to clearly state what we means by the term. I believe that Scripture is sufficient, and since the Scripture tells me to desire Prophecy, and to not despise it, I seek to hear God that way, and since Scripture tells me that the heavens show of His glory, I recognize that there are things to know of God revealed by the stars and creation, and since the Scriptures encourage fellowship with other believers as a source of growth and strength, I expect to meet God there too. Being obedient to Scripture IS a proper recognition of Scripture's sufficiency. Developing doctrines which entail ideas and restrictions that aren't necessarily in the Word, is not a good way to recognize the Scriptures' sufficiency.

I'm pretty much gone for the rest of the day, so I suspect that will be my last post on this thread. Your welcome. ;-)

wordsmith said...

Having just a rifle is not "thoroughly equipped." But the Scriptures make us thoroughly equipped, so there is no need of ongoing revelation, and your analogy breaks down.

Furthermore, Paul didn't say "The OT is what's inspired and thoroughly equips" - he said "ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God...," which included the NT writings, as Peter recognized Paul's epistles to be.

Your comments and remarks are nothing new, and have been answered time and again by TeamPyro and others. It is wearisome to be expected to re-invent the wheel all the time. Try digging around a little (hint: Google is a fabulous tool) and read what's in the archives.

Shannon said...

So, Wordsmith...
you don't think that Christians need love, only the Scripture? That sure sounds Biblical! ;-) All analogies break down, but his point was very Scriptural. Why don't you address the ACTUAL point, instead of finding fault with the analogy, which was only an attempt at helping you UNDERSTAND his point.
Welcome, yet again, to "Adventures in missing the point entirely."

johnMark said...

Phil or anyone else with some insight,

What do you tell someone when they tell you that they audibly heard God speak to them concerning a matter? For example, they were seeking something like whether or not to marry someone or adopt a child. Something along those lines. The person isn't necessarily a "charismatic" either.

Thanks,
Mark

DJP said...

Well, Shannon, Link, it's tempting to say that I had a prophetic word about this very meta. But I won't.

I found long ago that Scripture, facts, reason and history are really upsetting to Charismatics. Adduce them and all you get is a "Yeah, but" (if that), a thousand more words, a refusal to deal with what you've already wrote coupled with a puzzling insistence that you write yet more.

Then you face a choice. You can pretend (with them) that they've really dealt with what you already said, and are bringing up new and weighty points.

Or you can point out that they haven't yet dealt honestly with what you've already said, ask that they do that, and not go on until they do.

The former course is endless. The latter provokes criticism about how mean you are, from people who evidently feel that all your time is owned by your critics until the last one admits what you already knew: that you'd answered him, and that he just really hated the answer.

So you can get angry, hold your breath, and beat your fists and feet on the carpet if you like. You're not raising one point that hasn't already been spoken to, and you haven't dealt sufficiently with one counter-point.

So I think this argument is over.

Link said...

wordsmith said
"But the Scriptures make us thoroughly equipped,"

The passage does not say that. It says 'that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped'(NKJV)-- not that the scriptures are all the man needs to be equipped. But there is a stronger point in the passage.

II Timothy 3
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(NKJV)

Having a copy of the Bible is not enough to be thoroughly equipped. If you say, "I have the Bible, I don't need salvation, grace, faith, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the gifts of the Spirit because I have the Bible and that is all I need to be fully equipped" you would be in error.

The passage does not say that the Bible is all you need.

You need the doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness that comes from the scriptures so that you might be thoroughly equipped. So the Bible does not replace it's own teachings. The Bible does not replace grace. The Bible does not replace faith. The Bible says we need the things.

The Bible does not replace the gift of prophecy. The Bible says 'despise not prophesyings' and 'covet to prophesy.' This is a part of the 'instruction in righteousness' that you need to be thoroughly equipped. If you reject the instructions of the scripture, you are not going to be thoroughly equipped.

Having a copy of the Bible does not do away with the need to follow the teachings of the Bible.

Using II Timothy 3:17 to argue that there is no need for spiritual gifts is nonsensical. This is especially true considering the historical context. Paul did not say anything about future scriptures or a completed canon in the context of the passage. He is talking about scriptures that already exist as in verse 15,

"and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (NKJV)

Timothy had these scriptures, and the fact that he had them did not do away with the gift of prophecy or even close the canon. Paul continued on to write II Timothy 3:18 and other scriptures. The gift of prophecy continued.

I'm not saying it is wrong to extrapolate from this passage that NT scritpure is profitable for correction, etc. But to try to make a case for cessationism out of this passage does not agree with the argument Paul is making in context.

And the really strange thing is that the book of Revelation tells about prophecies, and you have all these futurists, dispensationalists and others, trying to argue that prophecy has ceased, and trying to figure out a way to resurrect it for the two witnesses in Revelation. This is really an irrational way of approaching the topic.

Shannon said...

Absolutely incredible. I honestly don't think I've ever heard someone speak (or write) so very much, and looking it all over, see that they've said absolutely nothing what-so-ever.

A recap:

Adrain, Jesse, Link, Shannon & others - Scripture, Bible, good exegesis, more Scripture...serious points deserving engagement, etc.

Phil, occasionally piping in with a good response, with a few others on his side of the debate...

and DJP, and I quote: "The burden of proof is on the leaky-Canon set"
"...not really touched by your response"..."it's hard to see why you're whipping out that old canard." "It has been answered again and again. Perhaps, like Shannon and Laura, you don't like the answer."

Or to put it into other terms "Little silly persons, I am not speaking to you" (sticks out tongue and pats himself on the head, much like the French-men in the Holy Grail)

I guess I have a hard time believing that you've ever actually contributed anything to a discussion, apart from telling people you've already addressed something. Maybe I should start debating that way..."Well, sir - I've already answered you...even if you weren't here to hear it! Touche' Can't touch this!"


Sure felt like I got my money's worth.

Phil Johnson said...

Dan's right; every major point brought up in the flood of charismatic comments lately added to this thread has been answered before.

I've repeatedly explained why it's facile, self-contradictory, and inadequate for charismatics on the one hand to acknowledge that the gifts supposedly operating today are not apostolic-quality manifestations (a point conceded by everyone but the rank charlatans in the charismatic movement), while on the other hand rejecting every argument for cessationism other than air-tight proof-texts. Because there is no airtight proof-text saying that the apostolic-quality gifts would cease and be replaced by lesser gifts, either.

As I've suggested many times before, that belief makes charismatics de facto cessationists (albeit cessationists of a different kind) anyway. So they have already conceded the cessationist argument in principle, and when it comes to exegetical support for their position, they face the very same hurdle they claim is insurmountable for full-fledged cessationists. In other words, the position refutes itself.

It's also irrational and inconsistent for charismatics to insist on exclusively exegetical proofs for cessationism, while they are insisting that cessationists must exegete the charismatics' anecdotal accounts of private, subjective experiences.

Note: the miracles, dreams, and visions recorded in Scripture are comparatively rare and never trivial. They always signalled something important that God was doing. If charismatics were producing miracles of that sort, we wouldn't be having this debate.

As it is, the anecdotal, trifling, hit-and-miss (mostly miss) phenomena charismatics are pointing to and demanding explanations for strike me as the exact parallel of a file drawer full of material I used to keep when I was acquisitions editor at Moody Press. The drawer held a sheaf of manuscripts sent to me by people who insisted these were verbally-inspired messages they got directly from God—i.e., new Scripture.

But I'm a cessationist for exactly the same reason I believe the canon is closed. It's not because I can cite chapter and verse saying how and when the NT would be complete, but because for roughly two thousand years there simply have not been any credible claimants who could do the things Jesus and the apostles did.