25 June 2008

The Spirit, and Power


by Frank Turk

I'm majoring in drive-by blogging these days due to circumstances at work and at home (as in, I have to go home when I'm not at work, and "going home" implies that I am mentally there when I am physically there), so this post and the ones which will follow it will be brief, if not an actual drive-by.

Our spiritual friend John Piper has been podcasting an older sermon series over the last two weeks regarding the spiritual gifts, and as I start writing this I admit that I have only listened to them through 6/17/08 -- so if my comments today will be answered in his future podcasts on this subject, I am ready to post corrections or retractions as they are necessary.

Overall, I think I like his spirit in these messages, even if (as you might suspect) I think he has made some mistakes in his reasoning from the text. I appreciate that he approaches this subject with the fact clearly in mind that his father, whom he loved deeply, believed he was flatly wrong about his position.

But, speaking broadly, I think Dr. Piper makes two mistakes in the messages I have heard so far -- and they are really foundational to the gap between the cessationist and the continualist.

[1] He overlooks or underplays the cessationist admission that God still works miracles today. In all seriousness, there are no cessationists that I know who would say flatly, "No: God works no miracles today." None. And in missing this, Dr. Piper's messages seem to argue against someone who doesn't exist.

Yes: he does frankly say with words that the cessation view is that the gifts are not normative. The problem is that what we mean by that looks a lot like what he means by that in saying, for example, that his father (a cessationist) would admit that only about 5 times in his life could he look back and say that he had prayed a "prayer of faith" in which he knew for certain God would do something specific.

"Not Normative" means "rare, and not an experience around which to build the life of the church". The Lord's table is normative; Scripture is normative; church discipline is normative; prayer itself is normative. The Gifts as Dr. Piper explains them are frankly not normative.

And in that, I credit him for saying in one of his intros to these messages that both cessationists and continualists can be distracted by from the Giver of all good gifts by seeking the gifts and not the Giver. That, to me, is a very serious admonition.

[2] He also, I think, misses the difference between (on the one hand) corporate prayer and even the prayer of the elders and (on the other) passages like Acts 3 (Peter heals the beggar), and Acts 9 (Peter raises Tabitha). It is one thing to say that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much, and another to say that every prayer should be made with the kind of command authority demonstrated in these passages -- especially, I would add, when even Dr. Piper admits that many of these supplications will go unanswered.

Yes, I know this opens up a can of worms. I will listen to the rest of these sermons and come back with more thoughts. Your thoughts, insofar as they are on-topic and not linked to questionable site content, are welcome in the meta.







53 comments:

Johnny Dialectic said...

The giftedness continuationists argue for today is a less potent version of what the Apostles performed. Like, e.g., the "slightly less" prophecy Grudem argues for. My question for the continuationists is why does God "continue" with "inferior" versions of his gifts?

And how is this any different in practical outcome than when cessationists pray for God to perform a miracle (which we certainly do, as Frank points out)?

ChiefsSuperfan said...

Should churches state their position on cessationism versus continuationism up front?

Should elder teams be in full agreement on this issue?

Is there enough common ground between cessationists and cautious continuationists to forge a strong, united local church?

DJP said...

What great questions.

Frank?

(c;

Marty Winn said...

I often find Piper brilliant and am often surprised by the conclusions he comes to. I think this is in part because he is willing to take risks and say provocitive things. I am very glad he is out there but when he says something that strikes me odd I quickly run back to MacArthur for a more "solid/trustworthy" understanding of the Bible passage to help verify Piper's claims.

donsands said...

Miracles would be nice to see like in the days of the Apostles. I haven't seen any. Not that God couldn't work a miracle through His chosen vessels.
And I'm talking about feeding 4 thousand people with a loaf of bread, or floating an axe-head, those kind of miracles. Not the every day sort of miracles, like abbay falling in a pipe, and then being rescued, which was a blessing of God, but not a miracle miracle.

Mike Riccardi said...

I think churches should indeed state their position on the gifts up front, and I also think elder teams should be in full agreement on it. Disunity in the body of elders will always make for a non-unified and often unhappy congregation.

The issue is important particularly because of where it can go. I think that Piper could totally function fine in MacArthur's church, and vice versa, because Piper's continuationism is fairly conservative... what one might call "open, but cautious." So there aren't going to be outbursts of tongues or people running around the sanctuary screaming or barking in the Spirit, and cessationists see that and think people are nuts and feel that rift there. They either think that their brothers/sisters are nuts and sold out to emotionalism, or they think that they need to "get in the Spirit," and think themselves second-rate Christians if they don't start clapping or dancing soon.

From the other end, the charismatic folks may look down upon their brothers/sisters and consider them second-rate Christians because they're not "earnestly desiring these greater gifts." Or they might despise their brothers/sisters for looking down on them as overly emotional.

When all this is going on, the leadership would need to address it. How can they do that if they're split on the issue? Perhaps the only way is to ask the continuationists to, in love, sacrifice their liberty of the over-the-top stuff for the sake of their "weaker" cessationist brethren. But you run the risk of violating their conscience and stifling their worship. And that just doesn't seem like a desirable outcome.

Of course, you could always ignore it entirely, which a lot of churches do, and have all these problems, but just pretend they don't exist.

Mike Riccardi said...

Wanted to add this to the end:

I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. -- John 17:20-21

DJP said...

...what one might call "open, but cautious."

Which (as Sam Waldron observed) makes the rest of us closed, and reckless.

(c:

Chris HH said...

Hi there!
(Before you reach for your guns, I come in peace! ;-))

I just wanted to say that I appreciate Frank's spirit in this post.

It is measured, thoughtful, honouring of a fellow servant of Christ, yet still remaining honest to areas of disagreement.

A great example of how we can disagree without being disagreeable (and yes I know I'm as guilty as anyone else on that count!)

If I can throw in a point for thought...

Ac 19:11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul.

Isn't there implicit in this statement a case that there are indeed miracles that are normative.

After all the greatest miracle of all - salvation - a mortal becoming a participant with the divine nature - should be normative for every group of believers and is undeniably supernatural.

Frank Turk said...

Hmph. Should a church state its position up front regarding cessationism/continualism?

I think my gut reaction is, "no, because that tactic falls into the trap Dr. Piper warns about, namely: it's putting the Gifts before the Giver."

If that's not the "right answer", I think that there's a short list of serious problems someone with a different answer has to reconcile, in no particular order:

-- In a cessationist church, will the elders refuse to pray for the sick and the troubled? Likewise, in a continualist church, will the elders "let on" when they have prayed and they know that the prayer was not what the writer of James calls "the prayer of faith" -- letting people know that they prayer, but God is probably not going to do anything?

-- In a cessationist church, will they therefore not accept praise offerings/acknoweldgments when prayer is answered and God does deliver? Likewise in a continualist church, will they ponder the meaning of all the prayers they make to which God does not say, "yes"?

My opinion is that a "cautious" continualist and a "cautious" cessationist have way more in common that they have in contention. They agree that prayer is efficacious; they agree that God is the giver of all good things; they agree that the Christian has a priviledge to ask God for his needs; they agree that we should rejoice when God supplies those needs.

The problem is when someone claims more than that, or less than that. I would say that those who fall outside of those affirmations put themselves in spiritual danger -- a topic about which I am sure I have more I should write down.

So then to answer the over-arching question to the best of my ability, I think cessationists and continualists can coexist and fellowship in the local church. They simply have to be very clear about what they agree on, and let that govern their unity.

'zat help?

Frank Turk said...

Chris HH:

um, no.

That is to say, yes: being born again is a miracle, and may be the singular normative miraculous event in the church. But it turns out that no cessationist (except maybe those of the revivalist/finneyist stream) would reject that idea.

The problem is not calling the second birth and the gift of faith a miracle. It is a miracle. The problem is the demand, for example, that there ought to be guys in the church today who are prophets in the Elijah sense of prophecy -- that they can call down fire from heaven or outrun chariots as if God needed the Justice League of America to preach the Gospel.

The problem is the insistence that God is dispensing "gifts of healing" in a random and non-significant way (meaning: they are not explicit signs pointing toward some greater truth) and calling that a "sign".

When Paul healed, when Peter healed, when the apostles healed, or spoke in tongues: these events signified something. And those making the signs could testify to what these signs signified. Today, at best, we have no idea when God is going to pour out his mercy and his grace and his power -- so to make that equivalent to "in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk" is, at best, an enthusiastic and optimistic view of what is happening today.

The work of salvation is a miracle. It is not what is in question in the exchange between the cessationist and the continualist.

Daryl said...

" I think cessationists and continualists can coexist and fellowship in the local church. They simply have to be very clear about what they agree on, and let that govern their unity."

That helps me, Frank. In fact, that's pretty much the case in my family. That is, my wife would be a cautious (albeit quite a bit more cautious than most) continualist, while I would be a somewhat less cautious cessationist. It's pushed us to learn how to discuss things we disagree on (sadly, we've had some unecessarily hot "discussions" on this topic).
It's also pushed us, as you stated, to see that our commonalities far out-weigh our difference in this area.

Pedro said...

I did listen to all of Dr. Piper’s messages as well as read the interviews at Challies from Grudem and Waldrom (all this is new to me.)
I presented the question to my pastor and his position was similar to Dr. Piper’s and he would argue that God might grant more signs and wonders in an unreachable place of the world where say there was no Bible in their language/dialect as a way of empowering the missionaries work. Is this in line with a cessationist view?

Mike Riccardi said...

I think cessationists and continualists can coexist and fellowship in the local church. They simply have to be very clear about what they agree on, and let that govern their unity.

But Frank, wouldn't that require them to be "up front" on their position on the issue then?

ChiefsSuperfan said...

I'm not so sure it would work quite as "speed bump" free as you might think.

Share the same pulpit in a conference--Yes. Speak in each others churches as a guest preacher--Yes. Share the same blog authorship--Yes. :)

But on a local church level and in particular among a team of elders? There are some "minor" nuances which differ in the two theological schematics which influence not only our pneumatology but also our understanding of sanctification--well, and for that matter devotions and worship too.

But, yes, I do think there is much more in common than naught between the two cautious "C's."

These questions bear a huge degree of relevance for me just now. :) I'd love to hear more input.

Tim said...

Thanks for what you write. I enjoy it and am challenged by it. I appreciate you sharing your HEART and MIND.

candyinsierras said...

Mike said: Perhaps the only way is to ask the continuationists to, in love, sacrifice their liberty of the over-the-top stuff for the sake of their "weaker" cessationist brethren. But you run the risk of violating their conscience and stifling their worship. And that just doesn't seem like a desirable outcome.

I think that the structure of a church service is important and many times a person who believes they should exercise a gift in the middle of a church service might be bringing attention to themselves instead of bringing glory to God. Some continuationists might sometimes fall into the idea that unless a church service is hopping that it isn't real worship. Real worship, as we know, is the singing, reading of the Word, prayer, the message, reverence and honor to God, and all things done decently and in order. We do not want to distract from God being the focus of our worship.

I think God is fully able to bring about miracles, and the Holy Spirit able to move among a congregation even if a church is very structured, and with little fanfare. If that happens, there will be no doubt at all that it is God who does it. Perhaps we will see more miracles when we depend more on God instead of ourselves, which may be the case in the days to come with the economy and all. There was a good article over at Desiring God about God multiplying the loaves and fishes, and if we understand that God will meet our needs, even in miraculous ways, then we need not worry or fret over the storm clouds heading our way.

Mesa Mike said...

A slight nitpick:

Are we confusing the term normative with normal?

Wouldn't not normative actually mean, "not what ought to be?"

And isn't "not what ought to be" the same as, "what ought not to be?"

I think I would agree that the "charismatic" gifts are not normal (I mean authentically; there are plenty of congregations where these "gifts" are both normal -- but are they authentic? -- and normative).

I'm not so sure that I would go so far as to say they are not normative.

Frank Turk said...

Riccardi:

I think every church ought to be able to say that they believe that prayer is efficacious; that God is the giver of all good things; that the Christian has a priviledge to ask God for his needs; that we should rejoice when God supplies those needs.

I'd only want to know is a church denies any of those things or adds to any of those things -- and in the latter case, I think that as long as they affirm the four core issues I could pray for them to be reconciled to the truth. Anyone who denies the 4 core issues I have identified here is denying something Scripture says pretty plainly.

But they are secondary issues.

Garet Pahl said...

Very few things I disagree with Dr. Piper about, and that would certainly be one of them.

I wonder if he and Dr. MacArthur have discussed this one...

Phil Johnson said...

Mesa Mike: "Are we confusing the term normative with normal?

nor·ma·tive (NORM e tiv) adj. Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or standard.

It's the right word.

Rick Frueh said...

So some are saying that several chapters in I Corinthians and some of Romans are just window dressing? God guided them into the canon so we could see a list, read how they opperate, written as an epistle to the church, but just confined to an undisclosed time frame which that same New Testament never makes clear, aside from an incredibly tortured interpretation of the latter part of I Cor. 13?

No one who became saved, was indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and given a Bible to read would ever come to the cessationist view. That view is founded upon experience, like the reverse view in the charismatic circles, but is not substantiated in Scripture. The categories of gifts (sign, motivational, etc) are all man made and are not delineated as such in Scripture.

God has not revealed His self limitation in the New Testament. He may change methods, but everything is still on the table.

Sharon said...

Rick:
No one who became saved, was indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and given a Bible to read would ever come to the cessationist view.

Amazing claim, this. My brain is inundated with a huge list of biblical scholars whom you just called unsaved, devoid of the Holy Spirit, and Bible-less.

A Musician by Grace

DJP said...

That inane comment caps everything you said in the political meta's, Rick. Which is saying something.

FIRST: Since when is someone with zero experience, zero qualifications, zero maturity, and zero training a preferable judge over someone who's paid his dues in each of those areas?

SECOND: I'll see your inane remark, and raise you one "ane" remark.

That same person might (or might not) be a cessationist —

— but he would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS look at what "continuationists" are doing, and say, "Oh yeah, just exactly like what I read in the Bible!"

Rick Frueh said...

My point is that without "help" people would not come to this conclusion on their own. It originates from experience and now is taught to others. I called no one unsaved or devoid of the Spirit.

Since it isn't happening we can "assume" it's gone. Very shaky theology.

Rick Frueh said...

"inane comment"

Does that mean you "disagree"? A few posts ago the issue was what weight academia carried when teaching the Scriptures. My political views notwithstanding and irrelevant, I have failed to see the Scriptural foundation for cessationism.

"but he would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS look at what "continuationists" are doing, and say, "Oh yeah, just exactly like what I read in the Bible!"

And with that I also agree since much of it is contrived by experience and not Biblical guidance. Since God included the gifts in the Scriptures, teaching them in the epistle, I still cannot see where He clearly said they would cease. What does cease mean - does it mean God can't or isn't but reserves the right to apply them again?

The reason I suggested a new believer is so he could be free from the things you mentioned which are claimed by many different doctrinal teachers. There are deep Greek and Hebrew teachers, mature and with proven lives of faithfulness, who teach all sorts of things.

In order to get a semblence of a pristine view we might want to engage the subject without that influence.

Boanerghes said...

guys, I've only one thing to say : I LOVE YOU and your ministry through this blog.

God bless,

Boanerghes.

Susan said...

Frank, thanks for clarifying the cessationists' view on miracles. I didn't know until you pointed it out. Sure learned something new today....

Susan said...

"...I'm talking about feeding 4 thousand people with a loaf of bread, or floating an axe-head, those kind of miracles. Not the every day sort of miracles, like abbay falling in a pipe, and then being rescued, which was a blessing of God, but not a miracle miracle."

Phil may need to run back to the GTY archives to verify (or correct) what I'm about to say (because my memory isn't so hot sometimes). I distinctly remember hearing Pastor John (MacArthur) preaching in the GTY radio program one night long ago about a man that he either knew or heard about. Apparently this man lived in a remote part of the world and had no access to a bible, missionary, or any other "normative" way of knowing about Christ, yet God revealed himself personally to him and through that he knew who Jesus Christ is.

Would that be considered as a miracle? And if so, would a die-hard cessationist have trouble with it?

Susan said...

Sorry, donsands, it was your comment that prompted my question (just in case ppl don't go back to the beginning of the meta).

Libbie said...

I've been having just this discussion with some friends on another site, and I think I'm going to link to this post, it's useful stuff, including the comments.

*doesn't mean to sound surprised*

Rick Frueh said...

Many Muslims are having dreams about Jesus and have become believers and have had to deal with telling their families to say nothing of how to approach the society of which they are a part.

"And if so, would a die-hard cessationist have trouble with it?"

And that is my point. Would they change their Biblical view based upon a miraculous experience? Where is Sola Scriptura in that?

Doug E. said...

Loraine Boettner actually held that God no longer does miracles. You can find this in his book, "studies on Theology" He has a chapter on miracles and the supernatural.

This may be where Piper is leaning when he links the cessationist view with the idea of God not doing miracles anymore.

Though I deeply admire Boettner I think he was wrong on this issue and this is not the normative/normal :-) view of the cessationist.

Good thoughts,

Doug

donsands said...

"Would they change their Biblical view based upon a miraculous experience?"

I would love to see some one raised from the dead.

I prayed for a young woman once, right after she died of Hepatitis, to be raised back to life, for the glory of God.
But she remained dead. Perhaps my faith was too weak, I don't know.
I know I know the lord could have raised her up, and I would have been thrilled.

We do need to be cautious though.
(Deut. 13:1-3; Matt. 24:24)

ChiefsSuperfan said...

Cessationism does not believe that God has ceased working miracles.

Cessationism simply believes certain GIFTS which were miraculous in nature faded away with the end of the Apostolic Age.

Again, Rick, Cessationism does not put God in any box whatsoever. It simply recognizes the obvious that miracle working gifts given to individual believers for the Body faded within the New Testament church itself.

Rick Frueh said...

"It simply recognizes the obvious"

Again, experience dictates that view. Is there clear and convincing Scriptural teaching about that view.

And I reiterate my objection to what usually passes for the gifts today since they also have been honed by experience.

ReformedMommy said...

"Many Muslims are having dreams about Jesus and have become believers and have had to deal with telling their families to say nothing of how to approach the society of which they are a part."

Twice in one week I've heard personally from missionaries of exactly this. And I've read of it in non-Muslim situations to (e.g. Lauren Winner) Which is great. Praise the LORD! But given that these are occurrences that are happening to un-believers, not only spiritually dead but asleep at that, there is no agent of those occurrences but God - perhaps working through things like a dodgy dinner, but certainly not through a believer. Isn't the issue of cessation vs. continuation more to do with the(fallible, sinful, ignorant, etc.) human agents those gifts are supposed to be manifest through?

Mesa Mike said...

> I would love to see some one raised from the dead.

Me too.

I've heard several people claim that there have been several "documented" healings and even resurrections at the big Lakeland shindig.

I've yet to see any documentation though.

Frank Turk said...

Susan:

I have no problem believing such a thing could happen.

I have a problem believing that that's how God intends to save everyone he intends to save. God can save who he wants, when he wants, but he has revealed through Scripture that the way this happens by His will is through the preaching of the Gospel.

Jono Mac said...

I don't wish to derail this thread, but:

What have men such as Piper, Grudem and other cautious continuationists 'gained' over the cessationists?

It seems to me that a less potent manifestation of the gifts requires greater reliance on 'experience' than the cessationist position.

Also, would a chronological reading of the NT (with books such as Romans at the end) have a bearing on this issue? The case for cessationism seems to increase chronologically towards Revelation.

PuritanReformed said...

pedro:

that view is known as the concentric cessationist view and its best known advocate is Daniel Wallace. I concur with that position too.


Rick Frueh:

besides your ipse dixit, can you come up with anything else?

>No one who became saved, was indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and given a Bible to read would ever come to the cessationist view.

Somehow I came to the Cessationist view without having any prior reading of Cessationist literature. In fact, it was when I was biblically illeterate that I was a Charismatic.

Mike said...

I think cessationists and continualists can coexist and fellowship in the local church. They simply have to be very clear about what they agree on, and let that govern their unity.

Disagree. Unity in the body of Christ (a single church) is not governed by agreements between two parties whose unity is already compromised (Can two walk together, except they be agreed?--Amos 3:3).

(There can be fellowship between people from two individual churches, one composed of cessationist and the other continualist.)

An individual church is not composed of functional cessationist and continualist. There's no such thing in a church: there's only those who have asked and received the HS, and those who haven't.

If a church is going to be in keeping with Eph 4 regarding unity, it cannot be composed of cessationists and continualists as functional entities.

Mike said...

donsands:

I would love to see some one raised from the dead.

Some 12 years ago, one of our people (a Spanish pastor) suffered a severe stroke, taken to a hospital, and was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was raised up from the dead by the Lord. True story.

Puritan said...

Whilst I'm not aware of any pastor who is a cessationist and believes God never does any miracles today. I have come in contact with a lot of believers who think this.

Mike said...

Frank:

I have a problem believing that that's how God intends to save everyone he intends to save. God can save who he wants, when he wants, but he has revealed through Scripture that the way this happens by His will is through the preaching of the Gospel.

I dunno the context of this with Susan, but after the gospel is preached, it's God who does the drawing of men to Himself (John 12:32, 6:44).

Carlo said...

Mike: Some 12 years ago, one of our people (a Spanish pastor) suffered a severe stroke, taken to a hospital, and was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was raised up from the dead by the Lord. True story.

Now that's what I call a very FUNNY way of telling a true story. Thanks for the laugh.

Susan said...

Frank, thanks for answering my question directly! :) IOW, the example from Pastor John is an exception but not the rule, right? Right.

Incidently, I was baptized years ago in a charismatic church with the word "Apostolic" in its name. (Does that sound an alarm with any cessationists out there?? If not, let's just say that I did see people there dancing in the aisles and "speaking in tongues" during worship.) That didn't become my home church, however, and when I look back, I really question the way certain practices were deemed to be "in the Spirit" (such as the aforementioned examples) because of their manifestations. Yet I know Christian friends who will stand by them!

Susan said...

I mean, "incidentally". Wow, it's already the next day! Better go!

Rick Frueh said...

"Somehow I came to the Cessationist view without having any prior reading of Cessationist literature."

What Scriptures where primal in your coming to the cessationist view? I am still looking for Scripture, not just the experiencial "it doesn't happen anymore". Even if it doesn't happen anymore does not equal a cessationist view.

Which clear and convincing Scriptures do cessationists use and what Scriptures changed you mind? The abuse of charimatic theology is still no Scriptural evidence for cessationism.

Rick Frueh said...

"it was when I was biblically illeterate that I was a Charismatic."

Another one of me contentions is that much of the cessationist theology is a response to obvious Charismatic doctrinal abuse.

Chris HH said...

I think this thread has raised some important points, and has generated more light and less heat than usual for posts on this subject.

It's easy to remain entrenched along the lines of our disagreement, but what I like about this post is that Frank has tried to draw out the areas of common ground.

I'd like to attempt a summary, before the thread veers off onto its usual course.

(A) There are some miracles that do not happen today [eg. turning rivers into blood, parting seas, etc]

(B) There are some miracles that are not normative today. [eg. Raising the dead. An unbeliever receiving Christ through a vision] Things that God can still do in his sovereignty but by their very nature are "extraordinary"

(C) There are still miracles that are normative. [eg. Salvation!]

(D) There are "miracles" that are not miracles at all but are just bluster and hype.

* Only the most extreme cessationist believes all miracles fall into category A

* Only the most deluded charismatic denies there are miracles that fall into categories A and D

* The main point of disagreement is over the classification of the charismatic gifts (tongues, interpretation, prophecy, gifts of healing). The cessationist classifies them as B whereas the charismatic as C.

* There is a need for both openness and caution in both camps. The cessasionist needs to remain open to the sovereignty of God to move in miraculous power, and the charismatic needs to remain cautious so as not to receive any old nonsense that clearly originates in the flesh as if it were of the Spirit of God.

* If we hold both openness and caution in balance we find that we agree on much more than we disagree on.

Is this a fair assessment?

Rick Frueh said...

"Is this a fair assessment?"

Yes, it does. But it also draws into focus the lack of any Scriptures suggesting cessationism. If we espouse Sola Scriptura, we cannot disregard it when it isn't convenient.

I Cor.12:29 - Are all apostles? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

This verse includes the worker of miracles with teachers. It is man who consigned certain gifts as different than others in the entire economy of the gifts. God made no distinction.

Frank Turk said...

Chris HH:

You had me until the last two bullet points.

I don't think either side needs more "openness". I think both sides have to do what any two parties who have a serious disagreement have to do, which is to first define what the problem is.

I have to be honest: I am sick and tired of talking about this subject overall. People start the exchange overcommitted to one side or the other and walk away when they have blurted out their story rather than trying to think in a serious and clear way about it.

"openness" and "caution" are not what is needed. Seriousness, beginning with the things which neither side denies, and then approaching the Bible with the theory in mind that if this topic is essential to faith and practice, the Bible will speak to it clearly and authoritatively, are what is needed.

Humble orthodoxy is needed -- because while Boettner may have openly said, "here are no miracles today", I am 100% confident that in context, he was not including the matter of regeneration; and in the same bucket, while Dr. Piper may endorse one aspect of John Wimber's ministry, it is clear he did not endorse Wimber 100%.

When this discussion can escape the excesses it inevitably generates, and people begin with the things both sides would affirm and then disagree from there, I think it would be far more civil an exchange -- and we might actually learn something.

Thread closed. We'll pick this up next week.