14 April 2009

Charismatic low-octane "prophecy" dodge (NEXT! #10)

by Dan Phillips

Challenge: Prophecy is no more infallible than preaching.

Response: Okay, now replace "prophecy" with the pan-Biblical definition of (1) "inerrant, (2) morally-binding (3) direct revelation from God," and try that again.

(Proverbs 21:22)

Dan Phillips's signature

131 comments:

DJP said...

And, to block off another rabbit trail, by "pan-Biblical" I mean Old and New Covenant alike.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Prophecy points back to a person. Preaching (properly done) points to THE Book. I know about the reliability of the Book, but who are you?

lee n. field said...

100% correct, and doesn't lead you to worship false gods. Otherwise "the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. "

So, not being in the Israelite theocratic kingdom, what are we to do with false prophets?

Vaughan Smith said...

Great point, Dan. O. Palmer Robertson also makes a great argument for this in "The Final Word".

ajlin said...

Dan,

Have you or any of the other Pyros addressed Wayne Grudem's use of Agabus' interaction with Paul as an example that NT prophecy is not necessarily verbally inerrant?

-Andrew

DJP said...

SO MANY have SO THOROUGHLY fisked that whole dodge, I don't know what we'd add.

It's just such a sad process:

1. The Bible defines something as "A"

2. Best you can come up with is "Double Teth" (i.e. not even the same alphabet)

3. Your choices:
a. Admit that you can't produce "A" and retool your doctrine and life
b. Define "A" down, down, down to legitimatize your "Double Teth"

This is, of course, option 3b

Elsewhere, I've called it "The Bill Clinton Option".

Aric said...

{Nervously eyeing DJP’s sword, he clears his throat and whispers . . .}

I am sure this has been dealt with elsewhere (feel free to point me in the right direction), but as a recovering Charismatic, doesn’t the word for prophesy have more than one meaning? Is the word used every time (pan-biblically) for inerrant, morally-binding, direct revelation?

I ain’t trying to start nothin’, I am truly curious. Plus, it is part of my 7-step Charismatic recovery plan (note: 12 steps is not as biblical sounding as 7 - sorry, can't shake the Charismania totally).

geekforgreek said...

I know it was cited in the Blackaby mess, but have you thought any about Poythress's argument?

Apostolic Preaching = infallible
Contemporary Preaching = fallible

Apostolic Prophecy = infallible
Contemporary Prophecy = fallible

Thus the gifts still exist in an analogous form.

DJP said...

No. If that's his argument, it's a silly argument, without warrant. But I'll reserve for some spare time when I can look over what he says.

DJP said...

Aric, quick answer: EVERY word can be used in some non-standard sense. You don't redefine the major usage by a minor variant. That's why I posted my first comment.

Jugulum said...

A reminder: These "NEXT"s aren't supposed to be conversation-stoppers or silver bullets. They're intended to redirect arguments to the important questions.

So... This does that well. It directs the argument to the evaluating the biblical case for a non-infallible gift of prophecy. Which is where it should be decided.

Aric said...

DJP,
I don’t want to stray any further from the post, but if you’d allow for one follow up (that'd be great (I’d buy you lunch and discuss if you lived closer). I understand the major usage should carry the day. And I can see where Paul stating that some would have a gift of prophecy could mean the Apostles. However, where it gets dicey is when Paul instructs to desire the gift of prophecy.

If this is major usage prophecy, then he is instructing to seek an inerrant, morally-binding gift. That’s where I get stuck. BTW, thanks for striking me with the flat of your sword. Your mercy is appreciated.

geekforgreek said...

I believe Poythress is ultimately arguing for something along the lines of what you are offering.

However he views the Gaffin/Grudem debate to be irrelevant in the final analysis and is approaching the issue from a different perspective.

I really appreciated the analysis of the Blackaby view and yet I was left with some lingering questions about guidance and providence (yes even after reading the providence post).

Poythress helped fill in some of the holes in my thinking and I think the two of you would agree and the combination of what you both have written would put to rest most of the lingering questions others, like myself, have had.

DJP said...

Fair enough, Aric, but I think that rests on misconceptions.

First, the existence of a fact isn't dependent on my (or anyone's) ability to explain it. I can't explain platypuses, but there they are. Ditto potato bugs. Ditto Benny Hinn. Well, I can partially explain that... but I digress.

The Bible very clearly and repeatedly and emphatically defines prophecy. If it strikes someone as odd that Paul should tell the Corinthians to seek the gift, that doesn't even come close to warranting a wholesale redefinition without explicit authorization.

We take having a Bible for granted. They had no Bible. They barely had an OT, and not for easy access. Paul had just said (1 Corinthians 13:8-13) that revelatory gifts were making piecemeal contributions to an eventual whole. Inerrant, binding New Covenant words from God were (A) needed and (B) not readily-accessible as they are now, that we have a complete revelation.

DJP said...

Well, as I said last time his name was thrown out there, if Dr. Poythress wants to drop by and interact with a post, I'm sure we'd all benefit. But my concern / the posts's focus isn't with The Poythress Theory of Word Redefinition (or whatever it is).

Stefan said...
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DJP said...

Stefan, love you, but I strenuously object to calling modern preachers "prophets" in any sense. That's kind of the point of this post.

DJP said...

Someone might report on part of one of President Obama's speeches. He might explain it at length. He might even be a functionary of the president's, charged with some responsibility.

But that doesn't make him a president, in any sense.

Stefan said...
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DJP said...

Again, Stefan (not to be picking on you today), that is something of a misconception. Thomas Edgar studied the use of the word in the NT, and found that it is very regularly associated with prediction. Clearly this is yet another point of continuity with the OT office (cf. Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

Solameanie said...

I have come to understand "prophecy" in two distinctions..one being a view toward future events by divine revelation, and the other being a "forthtelling" of God's truth, which is preaching or some other declaratory communication i.e. calling an individual or nation to repentance. If we're talking about the latter, I have no problem with the church having a "prophetic" ministry to the people, nation or culture. If we're talking about "predictive" prophecy, it's another matter.

DJP said...

Then you are using the word in a sense without any Biblical warrant, and I think that has caused a great deal of confusion.

Why not call preaching "preaching"? Daring idea, I know, but I think it works.

Stefan said...
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DJP said...

is there a good reason not to call preaching "preaching," then?

Personally, I'd rather call preaching "needle-point" than "prophecy." I think that would cause less harm.

Stefan said...
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Jugulum said...

Aric,

"However, where it gets dicey is when Paul instructs to desire the gift of prophecy."

I don't think that's significant to the question. Paul doesn't say, "Attempt to acquire the gift of prophecy. Practice it. Get better at it." Desiring the gift of prophecy is consistent with zealous prayer for the gift of prophecy.

I think the more significant questions to work through are:
(1) Whether Agabus' prophecy about Paul was off.
(2) How the role of prophecy in the Church is described--whether it's for doctrine/teaching, or more situational.
(3) In particular, whether "edification, encouragement, and consolation" (1 Cor. 14:3) is general-scriptural, or situational. Or whether 14:25 is about the way the Scripture reveals the secrets of our hearts, or is about specifically aimed disclosure of an individual's heart (14:25).
(4) Whether 1 Cor. 14 describes "sifting each prophecy for good and bad elements"--the view that Grudem argues for.
(5) What 1 Cor. 14:30 means, with regard to one prophet interrupting another.
(6) Whether "the perfect" in 1 Cor. 13 is the completed Scriptures, or whether it's eschatological.
(7) How the words for "prophecy" and "reveal" are used throughout Scripture as a whole, and how the Greek words are used in the NT in particular. (In other words, evaluate what the pan-Biblical definition is.)

DJP said...

Stefan, I'll resist the temptation to thump on the microphone to see if it's working, and just ask:

Do we have any direct Biblical warrant to call a pastor a "prophet"?Then why should we?

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jugulum said...

By the way, on my question #7:

I think charismatics raise a good question, when they ask whether the Greek words have the same usage as the Hebrew words. Even if a word is used to translate the Hebrew words, that does not imply that the Greek has the same range of meaning. That provides some grounds for asking whether "propheteuo" in the NT is identical to "naba" in the OT.

Of course, charismatics also sometimes argue from Joel's prophecy, as quoted in Acts 2--"Your sons and daughters will prophesy". They argue that a widely-spread gift of prophecy is a characteristic of the New Covenant. But if "propheteuo" is different from OT prophecy... Then that doesn't work.

DJP said...

Yep.

Stefan said...

Dan:

I see now why you were getting so flummoxed. I was trying to support your argument and making a careful comparison/contrast between Old Testament/Apostolic prophecy, and modern-day preaching.

My intention was to show that modern-day "prophecy" is laying an improper emphasis on one aspect of the OT/Apostolic prophetic office/gift.

But upon re-reading your original post, I see that, in fact, the dodge you're responding to uses the term "preaching" in it, so that any distinctions between prophecy and preaching end up just muddying the waters.

Please forgive me for making even more of a mess of things, but I've deleted my unintentional rabbit trail of comments, because in hindsight, it looks like just a massive, meandering missing of the point.

I am now going to go and bang my forehead on a hard surface repeatedly.

DJP said...

Oh mercy, Stefan, nothing to forgive. Thanks, but it's all-good.

(c:

Jugulum said...

I said,
"(3) How the role of prophecy in the Church is described--whether it's for doctrine/teaching, or more situational."

BTW, Dan--is there anything that you would point to, for this question? Any discussion of prophecy in the Church where it plays a clearly doctrinal role? (Outside of your argument on 1 Cor. 13, that is.)

Luke said...

DJP,

So what does Paul mean when he tells us to seek the gift of prophecy?

Or is that even necessary for us today?

DJP said...

See above.

Andrew Faris said...

DJP,

3 Things:

1. Is there any biblical preaching by godly people that isn't considered inerrant or authoritative? The obvious answer is "no" (we all agree on inerrancy here, don't we?). Could you not then make a similar argument that preaching should cease?

2. As a cessationist, what do you do with charismatic experience? What do you say when godly people who love their Bibles "prophesy" and it comes true? What do you make of it?

3. For the sake of argument, let's say that prophecy alone has ceased. Is it possible that what "low-octane" charismatics call "prophecy" is actually legitimate ministry, but should just be called "words of wisdom" instead?

Many thanks, brother.

Andrew

The Squirrel said...

Andrew:

Is there any biblical preaching by godly people that isn't considered inerrant or authoritative?Did you miss-type? I don't know of anyone, outside the RCC, who thinks that preaching is inerrant! It is the Scripture that is inerrant. Our understanding, and therefore our proclamation, will always be incomplete and prone to error. “We see through a glass darkly,” as it were.

~Squirrel

TerryNC said...

D. A. Carson weighs in here: http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=2821
in the third-to-last paragraph.

Excerpt: ...I have argued at length that “prophecy” in the New Testament is an extraordinarily broad category, extending all the way from the product of the pagan Muse (Titus 1:12) to Old Testament canonical prophecy.

Luke said...

So Paul's words are now useless because we have the text of the Bible?

Lets get this straight, and correct me if Im wrong (if this mischaracterizes you), but Paul said use Prophecy until you get the Bible, which states to use Prophecy until you get the Bible?

Sounds quite circular. Also, Paul clearly tells the Corinthians the day for the passing away of Prophecy, and its not the cannonization of scripture...

DJP said...

D. A. Carson weighs in....Carson read this post and responded to it? Cool!

Hm, wonder why he didn't do it here....

Jugulum said...

Andrew,

"1. Is there any biblical preaching by godly people that isn't considered inerrant or authoritative? The obvious answer is "no" (we all agree on inerrancy here, don't we?). Could you not then make a similar argument that preaching should cease?"

Er... I think you're using the language without precision.

Inerrancy doesn't mean that exegetical preaching is inerrant & authoritative in the same sense as Scripture. Exegetical preaching has authority, but it's derivative authority. It derives authority from the Scriptures, to the extent that it faithfully conveys Scripture. Which is not guaranteed. (And Scripture derives authority from the inspiration of the Spirit. Which is guaranteed.)

"2. As a cessationist, what do you do with charismatic experience? What do you say when godly people who love their Bibles "prophesy" and it comes true? What do you make of it?"

For myself--and speaking as someone who's studying, but is closer to charismatic than to cessationistic--I think that's an interesting question, but it's not decisive of anything. As Greg Koukl says, we don't exegete experience. We don't build our expectations from experience. We exegete the Word.

"3. For the sake of argument, let's say that prophecy alone has ceased. Is it possible that what "low-octane" charismatics call "prophecy" is actually legitimate ministry, but should just be called "words of wisdom" instead?"

Amen!

NoLongerBlind said...

Dan and others:

Not desiring contention or to be argumentative, but, instead, seeking clarification and understanding, I put forth the following:

In his study bible notes (which I know are not inspired! =;^) ) from the 1 Cor. 12:10 usage of the word prophecy - and referred back to in subsequent usage of the same word - MacArthur states:

"The meaning is simply that of 'speaking forth', or 'proclaiming publicly' to which the connotation of prediction was added sometime in the Middle Ages. Since the completion of Scripture, prophecy has not been a means of new revelation, but is limited to proclaiming what has already been revealed in the written Word. Even the biblical prophets were preachers, proclaimers of God's truth both by revelation and reiteration.

Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel spent lifetimes proclaiming God's Word. Only a comparatively small amount of what they preached is recorded in the Bible as God's direct revelation. They must have continually repeated and re-emphasized those truths, as preachers today repeat, explain, and re-emphasize the Word of God in Scripture. The best definition for this gift is given in 1 Cor. 14:3. The importance of this gift is given in 1 Cor. 14:1, 39. Its supremacy to other gifts, especially tongues, is the theme for all of 1 Cor. 14."

It seems that this understanding of the word best suits the usage in chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, and elsewhere.

I apologize if this only serves to further de-rail the meta from the original intent of the post; if tolerated, I look forward to clarification and, perhaps, a better understanding.

Andrew Faris said...

Squirrel,

I'm not suggesting that preaching now is inerrant. My point is only that if preaching is pan-biblically inerrant, then why don't we still think preaching is inerrant?

Especially when biblical preachers most certainly preached expositionally on earlier parts of Scripture, which is what we do.

So Jugulum, I understand the categories fine. It's a question of consistency of logic.

To be frank, I'm not sure my argument here works. I suppose I just want to know why it doesn't.

And also Jugulum, your response to my #2 is an obvious dodge. I agree that Scripture interprets experience, but you still have to do something with the experience. Just calling it "interesting" isn't enough. Perhaps the answer is to try to Scripturally interpret even the experience of apparent prophecy, and that's what I'm asking you (well, really DJP) to do.

Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

Andrew

Jugulum said...

Terry,

Carson's Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14 is more in-depth, and well worth reading.

ezekiel said...

God told Daniel " But you, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the Book until the time of the end. [Then] many shall run to and fro and search anxiously [through the Book], and knowledge [of God's purposes as revealed by His prophets] shall be increased and become great. [Amos 8:12.]"

Paul tells us

"So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another].
Rom 12:6 Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith;"

And

"EAGERLY PURSUE and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy (interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching).
1Co 14:2 For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the [Holy] Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding].
1Co 14:3 But [on the other hand], the one who prophesies [who interprets the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching] speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation."

And

"So let two or three prophets speak [those inspired to preach or teach], while the rest pay attention and weigh and discern what is said.
1Co 14:30 But if an inspired revelation comes to another who is sitting by, then let the first one be silent.
1Co 14:31 For in this way you can give testimony [prophesying and thus interpreting the divine will and purpose] one by one, so that all may be instructed and all may be stimulated and encouraged;"

Dan,

I am a bit confused at your concern for calling preachers "prophets" when Paul apparently doesn't hold the same level of concern.

Can you provide some clarity on your position?

By the way, before you label me with the charismatic brand and get the idea that I believe in new prophecy or new revelation, I don't. I do however know that knowledge will increase and it will happen as a result of men searching the scriptures.

Solameanie said...

Biblical warrant...I am certainly willing to re-examine the issue as I have no desire to be unbiblical. Without having researched the specific word and usage, the first question that pops to mind is now did it come to be misused (or misdefined) so badly?

The first knee-jerk (and I don't mean you, Dan) reaction against the word is often because of the charismatic meaning/usage i.e. modern-day prophets making predictives. However, I have heard non-charismatics often use the term in the sense I was using.

Perhaps that might be because of confusing what Nathan the prophet SAID with Nathan's office?

Jugulum said...

Andrew,

Ah, I read "biblical preaching" as "exegetical preaching", not as "preaching in the Bible". I see your point. If "preaching" is used that way in the Bible (which I haven't examined), then that's a good point. Though the answer could be, "Then 'preach' is a bad English word to translate the biblical text. By the biblical definition, 'preaching' has ceased." (Again, that's assuming you're right in how it's used.)

Oh, I realize I didn't answer your question. I was commenting on it, not answering it. Partly because I'm not cessationist. My answer would be something like, "If I encountered a credible case of prophecy, I would think God was probably involved." Which is problematic for Solo Scriptura.

Frank Turk said...

This thread is going to pop open the question of whether the Apostles were always infallible or if they were only infallible when they wrote Scripture.

I know it.

I can't wait.

Stan McCullars said...

Andrew,

What do you do with charismatic experience?Given the track record of modern day so-called "prophecy" I don't see how anyone could even suggest that it approaches actual prophecy.

What do you say when godly people who love their Bibles "prophesy" and it comes true? What do you make of it?I tell them even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Is it possible that what "low-octane" charismatics call "prophecy" is actually legitimate ministry, but should just be called "words of wisdom" instead?Again, given the track record it seems wisdom would be the wrong word.

stratagem said...

As a possible alternate Response #2, couldn't we just say "Now, imagine Isaiah saying what you just said about prophecy." NEXT!

The Squirrel said...

Andrew:

The proclamations of the prophets & the teachings of the Apostles as recorded in Scripture [are/were] orders of magnitude above and beyond what any exegete of the Word [is doing/can do] today. Even then, the Bible accurately records errors spoken by the Apostles (Peter’s denial of Christ, James’ and John’s ambitions, for example.)

I'm sure that even the Apostles didn't get everything right outside of what is recorded in the Scriptures.

~Squirrel

The Squirrel said...

Sorry, Frank.

(c:

~Squirrel

Sir Brass said...

Frank, isn't it obvious, they were infallible insofar as their cannonical works. We don't know about the rest of their material, but wouldn't it be safe to assume that since it is NOT included in Scripture that it was fallible or otherwise incomplete such that it did not seem good to the Holy Spirit to include it in the transmitted text of the NT :).

Basically, it doesn't matter ;).

Jugulum said...

Sir Brass,

So was all infallible or "complete" prophecy included in the Bible? :)

We probably can't say more than, "If it wasn't handed down, then God didn't intend for it to be handed down."

stratagem said...

Hey, I just thought of another smart-alecky Response:

Challenge: Prophecy is no more infallible than preaching.

Response: Then considering your preaching, I agree it's pretty doggone fallible!
NEXT!

Sir Brass said...

Well it was definitely infallible prophecy if it was contained in the epistles. The gospels and Acts contain historical elements, though, so they are infallible in terms of their content. Now, not to open a can of worms I do NOT mean to open, I'm not saying that the gospels are fallible in the words that Jesus spoke in them, or anyone else spoke by the Spirit of God. BUT, we do have examples in the historical books of people saying fallible things (ie. Peter saying, "Far be it from you, Lord, this shall not happen to you!", and I've found out that there is some question among some whether it was right nor not to pick a replacement for Judas Iscariot).

Solameanie said...

Frank,

Was that a prophecy or an ex-cathedra statement? :O

Jugulum said...

Sir Brass,

You misunderstood me. You asked, "wouldn't it be safe to assume..."

So I was saying, "That assumption doesn't work with prophecy, so it doesn't work with the apostles' speech." (In other words: We know there was prophecy that was not included in Scripture. But we can't assume all those prophecies were fallible, or "incomplete".)

You're right that we can assume that it "did not seem good to the Holy Spirit to include it in the transmitted text of the NT". But we can't assume fallibility of "incompleteness".


Sorry, Frank. I'll leave it alone now.

Stefan said...

Jugulum:

"So was all infallible or 'complete' prophecy included in the Bible? :)"

We know from the early post-apostolic fathers that there was a body of texts widely received as being inspired in early (late 1st century) circulation.

We can deduce from Acts and the Epistles that there was a considerable volume of communication (correspondence and movement of people) between different churches.

We know that there are letters that even Paul wrote, that are not included in the canon.

So in the time period before inspired works could have been mislabelled as uninspired and irretrievably lost to posterity, there was already a careful weighing and sifting going on, of what was inspired and what wasn't.

Therefore, we can be reasonably confident that there are not, in fact, "lost," truly inspired works that somehow missed the cut and did not get canonized.

Jugulum said...

Stefan,

I don't see a solid foundation for saying "Paul's first letter to the Corinthians must have been weighed and found wanting," any more than for saying "Prophecies that were not written down must have been weighed and found wanting."

We can assume that the Holy Spirit did not intend them to be handed down, but we can't assume the reason.

Ack, this is too far off-topic. OK, I mean it this time. I won't reply again.

Stefan said...

Well, maybe the uninspired letters were Paul kvetching about the weather and a slump in the tent market, or Peter discussing the merits of the latest Judean pop singer.

;)

donsands said...

"..whether the Apostles were always infallible or if they were only infallible when they wrote Scripture."

Peter was fallible, and so Paul rebuked him, and we have Scripture to tell us this.

All the prophets, even Moses were fallible for sure.

"..no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke moved by the Holy Ghost."

Jugulum said...

Mmmph. Mmm mm mmph mm mph.

geekforgreek said...

Thomas Edgar studied the use of the word in the NT, and found that it is very regularly associated with prediction.
___________________________________
I have argued at length that “prophecy” in the New Testament is an extraordinarily broad category, extending all the way from the product of the pagan Muse (Titus 1:12) to Old Testament canonical prophecy.
___________________________________
D. A. Carson weighs in....Carson read this post and responded to it? Cool!

Hm, wonder why he didn't do it here....
___________________________________

You cited an outside source to evidence the nature of prophecy in scripture -- so TerryNC offered a contrary conclusion from a reputable outside source. Why is this outside the bounds of the thread?

Andrew Faris said...

Stan,

You've been a little unfair with my statement, I think. I recognize full well that charismatics are known for their excess. Terrible track record, yes, yes.

But my point is, what about the ones who are going about it in a biblical way (assuming, for the sake of argument, that charismaticism itself is biblical)?

Here's the thing: it'll come as no surprised that I'm from a Vineyard background. My Dad's a Vineyard pastor in fact. And at my Vineyard church, I only heard tongues spoken out loud twice, ever. Both times the tongue was interpreted directly thereafter. That's biblical. The sharing of "prophecy" and "words of wisdom" was always done in an orderly way. Authority structures were in place and the church was biblical.

In fact, to be quite honest, in all my experience I've personally known very few charismatics who participate in the notorious excess.

So the question is: in my situation, where I've been around lots of godly, Bible-reading, prayerful, Jesus-loving, and edification-seeking charismatics, what should I do with my experience?

And the broken clock analogy obviously won't do. Come on now Stan, you have to do better than that. We're talking about more than twice a day. We're talking about consistency.

I understand that Scripture interprets experience and I'm not trying to argue that my experience is authoritative. But the DJP's of the world (who are, and I mean this with absolutely no sarcasm, quite refreshingly willing to give a bold and clear answer to most questions!) must do something with experiences like I share.

Squirrel,

You'll get no argument from me there, but that's not my point. It's not an issue of apostolic fallibility. It's an issue specifically of preaching. When they preached, they were infallible as recorded in Scripture. To my knowledge there is no preaching in the Bible by godly people that is wrong. So why not make a comparison analogous to DJP's prophecy argument with preaching then and now?

I'm so grateful to see cool heads in this discussion, by the way!

Andrew

Jugulum said...

"To my knowledge there is no preaching in the Bible by godly people that is wrong."

There's a distinction between "preaching without error" and "guaranteed-inerrant preaching". The Bible might not portray any incorrect preaching from godly people, but that doesn't mean the Bible says that their preaching was inerrant.

Dan's argument is that Biblical prophecy is guaranteed to be inerrant. Unless the same were true of preaching in the Bible, your comparison wouldn't apply.

wordsmith said...

(I can't figure out what (c: means :o !)

greglong said...

Admittedly, I have not read everything Grudem has to say about this issue. But I'm confused by his explanation of prophecy in Systematic Theology.

In it, he defines prophecy as "telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind" (p. 1049). He says people shouldn’t have had to “test” prophecy if it were “Scripture-quality revelation” (1 Cor. 14:29-38; 1 Th. 5:20-21).

But OT prophets were to be tested (Deut. 18:15-22)! The people didn’t know if the prophecy was truly from God. There certainly were false prophets, and they were to “test the spirits (prophets)” (Mt. 7:15-20; 24:11, 24; 1 Jn. 4:1-6; 2 Jn. 7-9).

shepherd boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

It's almost clockwork: make a very specific, virtually airtight Biblical point that is critical of just one specific Charismatic error, and a flood of vaguely-related free-associations is the result.

I've been in meetings and otherwise tangled much of the morning. Quite a few of the comments are either re-asking questions I've already answered, or far off-topic.

So here's my plan, partly dictated by necessity: I'll let the fires burn with moderate moderation, then try to come back towards the evening to repeat myself yet again, and add any needed on-topic clarifications.

Jugulum said...

(Hoping this will escape the impending Deluge of Off-Topic Moderation.)

greglong,

You're missing a piece of Grudem's argument, based on the distinction between testing the prophet and testing each individual prophecy that comes from the prophet.

He argues: In 1 Cor. 14, the testing isn't to establish whether the prophet is a valid prophet of God. Even previously-recognized prophets are having their prophecies tested. Each individual prophecy must be examined and weighed. And the individual prophecy is being sifted like wheat. (Because the prophet is fallibly reporting what God brought to mind, his report may have good parts and inaccurate parts. The good must be sifted/separated from the bad.)

Jugulum said...

"It's almost clockwork: make a very specific, virtually airtight Biblical point that is critical of just one specific Charismatic error, and a flood of vaguely-related free-associations is the result."

Frank started it!

DJP said...

Psh.

Breaking News.

/c:

shepherd boy said...

Meh, you're right, Dan. Sorry about the off-topic comment...Andrew's post touched a chord for me. I'll save those thoughts for another post, one that's more on-topic, perhaps.

DJP said...

(It was a shotgun-blast, not a rifle-shot.)

(c;

The Squirrel said...

Andrew:

You'll get no argument from me thereSmart man, imagine how silly you’d look arguing with a rodent!

(c:

Anyway, the argument for the continuation of preaching is the 1 Timothy and Titus requirement that elders be able to teach. The argument against continuation of prophecy is that even Charismatic theologians, at least the most levelheaded thereof, do not teach that modern “prophecies” are infallible nor the equivalent of Scripture. That is not prophecy as it is presented in the Bible.

~Squirrel

greglong said...

Jugulum wrote:

greglong,

You're missing a piece of Grudem's argument, based on the distinction between testing the prophet and testing each individual prophecy that comes from the prophet.

He argues: In 1 Cor. 14, the testing isn't to establish whether the prophet is a valid prophet of God. Even previously-recognized prophets are having their prophecies tested. Each individual prophecy must be examined and weighed. And the individual prophecy is being sifted like wheat. (Because the prophet is fallibly reporting what God brought to mind, his report may have good parts and inaccurate parts. The good must be sifted/separated from the bad.)
Well, that does help me to understand his argument better, and for that I thank you.

But I still don't think it biblical. Prophecy seems to be clearly connected with "revelation" in 1 Cor. 14:29-31. And I don't know there is a clear-cut difference between weighing the prophet and weighing what the prophet says. The only way we can tell a true prophet from a false prophet is by what he says, so it is his message that must be weighed, just as in OT days.

Also, Eph. 2:20 clearly says that "prophets" are part of the foundation of the church. Once the foundation is laid, it has served its purpose as the building is being built and is no longer re-laid. Grudem (IMO) dodges this verse by saying:

I do not think that Eph. 2:20 has much relevance to the entire discussion of the nature of the gift of prophecy. Whether we see one group here as I do (apostle-prophets) or two groups, as Richard Gaffin and several others do (apostles and prophets), we all agree that these prophets are ones who provided the foundation of the church, and therefore these are prophets who spoke infallible words of God. Where we disagree is on the question of whether this verse describes the character of all who had the gift of prophecy in the New Testament churches. I see no convincing evidence that it describes all who prophesied in the early church. Rather, the context clearly indicates a very limited group of prophets who were (a) part of the very foundation of the church, (b) closely connected with the apostles, and (c) recipients of the revelation from God that the Gentiles were equal members with Jews in the church (Eph. 3:5). Whether we say this group was only the apostles, or was a small group of prophets closely associated with the apostles who spoke Scripture-quality words, we are still left with a picture of a very small and unique group of people who provide this foundation for the church universal. (p. 1051, n. 4)

Jugulum said...

greglong,
"And I don't know there is a clear-cut difference between weighing the prophet and weighing what the prophet says. The only way we can tell a true prophet from a false prophet is by what he says, so it is his message that must be weighed, just as in OT days."

Yes. But once a prophet has been weighed, do you continue to test each individual prophecy? Or do you test his first prophecies in order to validate him as a prophet? Once he has been validated, do we accept every prophecy as the Word of God, or do we continue to test each prophecy the same way?

Grudem is arguing that 1 Cor. 14 portrays "test each individual prophecy, even of a previously-validated prophet". And he's arguing that this didn't happen in the OT.


I think I agree with you about the dodge on Eph. 2:20--his reply wasn't very good. Unless the verse means "apostle-prophets", not "apostles and prophets". If it means "apostle-prophets", there can still be a distinction between "prophets in general" and "apostle-prophets".

Andrew Faris said...

DJP,

I look forward to your response. I know my original second question probably qualifies as off-topic, but it's just something I figured a clear-speaking cessationist like yourself would give me a straight answer to, and I'm always curious what cessationists make of it.

Shepherd Boy: assuming from your later comment that your deleted comment was aimed at me, mind emailing it to me? I'm still glad for the discussion, even if it's off-topic here.

andrew@christiansincontext.org.

Andrew

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

Frank:

I think you caused a self fulfilling prophecy.

Dan: I haven't had formal grammar lessons since high school, but wouldn't pan-Biblical, by definition, refer to the whole Bible?

~Mark said...

I've never actually heard that challenge so I've been a bit confused all the way through! :P

jigawatt said...

Last NEXT! was on Catholics. This one's on charismatics. Up next, KJVO's!

I double-dog-dare you.

Lilian Read said...

Wordsmith...
The Chinese characters mean God's Grace.

HTH

Rick T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick T said...

DJP,
Sorry brother, I am new to the discussion and it is a good one. I don't recall Israel being told to weigh/sift the prophets' messages to them but I do see NT instruction to do that very thing on 2 occasions (1 Thess 5 and 1 Cor 14). Doesn't there seems to be a difference between the two?

Rick T said...

I read the Bill Clinton post you wrote and it is very good. However, perhaps God has diminished the role of prophet under the New Covenant and made it testable especially since it was going to be "poured out" in the latter days which it seemingly wasn't under the Old Covenant. Also, why is the gift of prophet and the command to prophesy different from that of pastor-teacher if they are essentially the same function, proclaiming Scripture? I understand that teaching implies didactic instruction, but prophesy involves revealing the secrets of the heart? Questions for thought. Thanks.

DJP said...

The flow of the meta has been interesting and, I think, instructive (to the, er, instructible).

Charismatics are generally (and for good reason) on the defensive, since what sets them apart from centuries of Biblically faithful Christians is vulnerable to Biblical criticism from so many angles. One oft-expressed angle of concern is the un-Biblical place they tend to give to emotions and experience over against the data of Scripture. "No, we don't!" they often say, when criticized.

Yet here's a brief, pointed post on a very specific, almost unassailable fact of Scripture — and several say "But what about my experience? What about this second-hand story, and this third-hand story, and what I've felt and seen?"

Briefly, "what about it" is that it has nothing to do with the post. That's what.

Further, if what you've experienced (or heard that someone knew someone who had a friend who read a story about...) is at variance with what Scripture teaches about prophecy, then there's an area of your thought and life that needs reforming according to God's Word. Period. (I think I'll devote a post to that sometime.)

One of the saddest "Yeah-buts" is the suggestion that NEW Covenant prophecy is LESS than OLD Covenant prophecy. I feel sorry for folks who argue this; they're so desperate to prop up someone else's bad idea that they don't see it: do you really, really want to argue that a New Covenant provision is pathetically less than an Old Covenant provision? That God lamely takes the glorious, crystal-clearly-defined term "prophet," and strips it down to mean "holy guesser"? Sad. Just sad.

And finally, though it has been responded to a number of times, 1 Corinthians 14:1 and 34 and trotted out as if they were trump-cards. Briefly:

1. Those verses have nothing whatsoever to do with the post. What it means is that, if you want to try to pull "prophecy" out of a hat after all of these centuries of Biblically-inexplicable dormancy, then you MUST be saying "Earnestly seek the ability to receive direct, inerrant, binding Divine revelation."

2. HSAT, the squawks are very telling, if unintentionally so. The guilty conscience of the Charismatic knows that nothing of the sort is taking place, and that their passtimes could NEVER pass Biblical muster. So, a diversion is necessary. It's a telling tacit confession.

3. And HSAT, the present tenses of these verses mean nothing to the present discussion. 2 Timothy 4:13 is also in the present tense. So is John 2:8. You don't trash context simply because a treasured passtime is threatened.

4. If you are going to insist that 1 Corinthians 14:1 and 34 are for today's churches, fine. Just man up about it. Hold every would-be "prophet" to Biblical standards. He must be 100% inerrant in all his prophecies all the time; he must make specific predictions that come to pass; his "prophecies" must be regarding as absolutely binding. And if he falters from this standard, he must be excommunicated as a fraud.

5. If you're ready to admit that 100 years of Charismatic efforts haven't produced one instance of prophecy that Biblically-faithful Christians have found broadly credible, then these verses will be very telling and helpful to Charismatics and all. Their practical import will be that all Christians should treasure the prophetic Word as we have it in Scriptures above all else, grow up, and stop being distracted by pathetic substitutes.

Gary said...

Lame response. You did nothing to respond to those who disagreed that "prophecy" always always always means "direct, inerrant, binding Divine revelation".

DJP said...

Sorry you don't think so. Hopefully, others will read more closely.

Jugulum said...

Dan, I'm curious--have you read Carson's "Showing the Spirit", on 1 Cor. 12-14?

DJP said...

Yep.

donsands said...

"That God lamely takes the glorious, crystal-clearly-defined term "prophet," and strips it down to mean "holy guesser"?"

Nice.

"Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the Lord,’ although I have not spoken?”" Ezk. 13:7

"Behold I am against the prophets, says the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, 'He says.'" Jer. 23:31

We should be fearful to say, 'The Lord says.'
But it seems it's no biggie to so many in the Church. Sad indeed.

I thank the Lord for His gracious hand of providence which brought me out of all that mumbo jumbo spiritual phoniness. And gave me a hunder for His Word, and a thirst for His Spirit.

"Jesus stood and cried, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.
He that believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, out of His belly shall flow rivers of living water.'"

"Your words were found, and I did eat them; and Your word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts." Jer. 15:16

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

The formatting got messed up, so I'm reposting.

Let's see... Andrew Farris asked,

"2. As a cessationist, what do you do with charismatic experience? What do you say when godly people who love their Bibles "prophesy" and it comes true? What do you make of it?"
After I responded, he clarified:

"I agree that Scripture interprets experience, but you still have to do something with the experience. Just calling it "interesting" isn't enough. Perhaps the answer is to try to Scripturally interpret even the experience of apparent prophecy, and that's what I'm asking you (well, really DJP) to do."
And then:

"So the question is: in my situation, where I've been around lots of godly, Bible-reading, prayerful, Jesus-loving, and edification-seeking charismatics, what should I do with my experience?

And the broken clock analogy obviously won't do. Come on now Stan, you have to do better than that. We're talking about more than twice a day. We're talking about consistency.

I understand that Scripture interprets experience and I'm not trying to argue that my experience is authoritative. But the DJP's of the world (who are, and I mean this with absolutely no sarcasm, quite refreshingly willing to give a bold and clear answer to most questions!) must do something with experiences like I share."

Based on the review I just did of the thread (and I may have missed a comment), Andrew was the only person who raised the question.

Then, Dan, in your summary this became:

"One oft-expressed angle of concern is the un-Biblical place they tend to give to emotions and experience over against the data of Scripture. "No, we don't!" they often say, when criticized.

Yet here's a brief, pointed post on a very specific, almost unassailable fact of Scripture — and several say "But what about my experience? What about this second-hand story, and this third-hand story, and what I've felt and seen?""

How did that happen? Where did you see all that? Specifically? (Did my review miss them?)

I understand "it has nothing to do with the post" as a response to Andrew. It's a fair response. So were the other responses given--along the lines of, "I've never heard of credible fulfilled prophecy that was better than 'a broken clock being right two times a day'."

What's neither fair nor rational is multiplying a single questioner into "several say". Nor is it fair or rational to respond to a question like, "Agreeing that Scripture should interpret our experiences...What do you make of fulfilled modern prophecies? How do you use Scripture to interpret these experiences?" with, "See! See! Proof! Charismatics do take experience over Scripture!"

Libbie said...

I don't get why the anecdotal 'fulfilled prophecy' thing is given any weight. I can give you examples of things I 'prophesied' about that came true, and I can cite you almost identical instances from a friend who operates in mediumship as part of her Wiccan practice. Patricia King will probably tell you that my friend has 'the gift of prophecy', all that remains is that she needs to be converted and realize where her gift comes from.

If you're going to go with the sub-standard definition of 'prophecy' thing, and you're willing to take these anecdotes as some kind of proof, then there's no real way to refute that effectively.

Oh, and I agree with Dan's 5:21 AM post completely. Holy guessing indeed. What a depressingly rubbish idea. And Cessationists get accused of reducing God by 'restricting Him to a book'. Oh the irony.

Jugulum said...

By the way--without exaggeration--the last few times "experience" has come up in my conversations with affirmed charismatics, it has been something along these lines:

"I'm tired of letting my experience build my expectations. I haven't had these experiences, but God's Word leads me to expect them."

DJP said...

So, Jugulum:

1. You see me as an exception to this blog's Rule #1? I'm the only contributor contractually obligated to respond to every clause of every comment of every commenter, to every commenter's satisfaction? Yikes, I'd better re-read my contract, and renegotiate my "take" from what all you commenters pay to read this blog. I definitely sympathize with anyone who demands that he get full value for every dollar he pays us for this service.

2. "As a cessationist, what do you do with charismatic experience?" may or may not be a fair question, but it is exactly what I said it is.

3. There were more than one, but I now see that one commenter deleted his own comment - which was right along those lines.

4. Gee, my experience is different from your experience. Maybe I should just write a post that's about the Bible, irrespective of experience.

Oh, wait -- I just did!

KM said...

I’m probably a little late to respond to anything but here goes anyway. In reference to this:

“One of the saddest "Yeah-buts" is the suggestion that NEW Covenant prophecy is LESS than OLD Covenant prophecy. I feel sorry for folks who argue this; they're so desperate to prop up someone else's bad idea that they don't see it: do you really, really want to argue that a New Covenant provision is pathetically less than an Old Covenant provision? That God lamely takes the glorious, crystal-clearly-defined term "prophet," and strips it down to mean "holy guesser"? Sad. Just sad.”

Please consider this scripture:
Zech 13:2-6 - 2 "On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the LORD Almighty. "I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. 3 And if anyone still prophesies, his father and mother, to whom he was born, will say to him, 'You must die, because you have told lies in the LORD's name.' When he prophesies, his own parents will stab him. 4 "On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet's garment of hair in order to deceive. 5 He will say, 'I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.' 6 If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.'

I will not say that the NCP is “less” than the OCP. But, it is clear from the scripture above that at some point God caused a change in ones attitude toward prophecy. That said, DJP and others who share his perspective on modern day prophecy don’t want anymore to do with it than the people described in this noted passage. I wonder why that is? Could it be that when God said that people would respond to prophets this way from then on He meant it? From my point of view one should be thankful that they are not taking such aggressive stances as stabbing anyone or telling them they must die.

DJP said...

Wow.

That's certainly one of the most... er... original attempts I've seen.

/c:}

Jugulum said...

Libbie,
"I can cite you almost identical instances from a friend who operates in mediumship as part of her Wiccan practice."

Are you assuming that there's a naturalistic explanation? Or was it a lying sign from demonic influence? (I'm not suggesting that Satan knows the future--I'm conscious of Isaiah 41:21-23. Satan can't duplicate predictive prophecies the same way that he can duplicate some miraculous signs. But if I knew the content of your friend's 'fulfilled prophecy', it might turn out to be something that would be within Satan's power to predict.)

This might be a total rabbit-trail. I'm not putting much weight on the idea. But I have Steve Hays' recent post on the brain. (Particular point #3.)

Jugulum said...

Dan,

Before I respond, I want to be clear about something.

"2. "As a cessationist, what do you do with charismatic experience?" may or may not be a fair question, but it is exactly what I said it is."What precisely are you referring back to, with "what I said it is"?

Are you referring back to your use of the word "Yet"? (I took that to mean, "The question is a demonstration that they do give an unbiblical place to emotions and experience over against the data of Scripture." That's what you meant, right? You meant that the question was a case-in-point?)

Or are you referring back to, "it has nothing to do with the post"?

Or are you referring back to, "there's an area of your thought and life that needs reforming according to God's Word"?

All three?


Hmm... I should also ask: Point 1 of your reply started with, "You see me as an exception...". It seems like you took me to be saying, "You didn't answer his question!" Is that right?

Jugulum said...

Argh! It happened again. The line-breaks are disappearing, after italics. My comment should have started with:

"2. "As a cessationist, what do you do with charismatic experience?" may or may not be a fair question, but it is exactly what I said it is."

What precisely are you referring back to, with "what I said it is"?

KM said...

I’m not sure if I was misunderstood so I’d like to try to be more clear.

What I was trying to say was that what you - DJP - and others are “doing with those experiences” is similar to what those in that passage did with them. So it seems to me that your attitude about modern day prophecy is constant with something described in the Bible.

That comment was not made in reference to the Apostles teachings or anything like that. I believe those are infallible having been judged and proved as such.

KM

KM said...

To be honest I’m not really getting this “dodge.” Is this supposed to be a justification for accepting “prophetic” teaching over the Bible or over church’s teaching or what? Or is it a justification for “preaching” without using the Bible? I just don’t get this?

Anyway, this is what I think about prophecy vs. preaching:

There is a specific way we as the church are instructed to handle prophecy. That way is for a person to present the prophecy and the members of the congregation are to “judge” it. (1 Cor. 14:29) As I see it, if one is going to entertain the idea of believing a prophecy of any kind it should first have been judged by the congregation like Paul described. But, in essence the Bible has within it a collection of teachings that have been judged and found to be true. So there are some things that don’t need to be prophesied about anymore because that knowledge has already been recorded and is available for us.

So, for one to say that prophecy is just as infallible as preaching seems inaccurate. When one is relying on a prophecy alone we do not know if it is infallible until it has been judged and found to be true. But, when a pastor preaches, the words he is using come from a collection of teachings that have already been judged and found to be true. The one preaching is still fallible; he is just a man. But, the source he uses for his teaching is not and we are there to contemplate the Word, not him. If he is not using the Bible as his source then one should treat his “teaching” as a prophecy and the congregation should be judging it.

Jugulum said...

KM:

In the Challenge, they aren't saying that prophecy is "just as" infallible as preaching. It was "no more", not "just as". I'll explain.

Some--most--charismatics argue that prophecy in the NT was fallible. In Wayne Grudem's terminology, they say that it is a fallible report of something that God brings to mind. (The revelation from God was inerrant, but your report is not.)

They compare this to preaching. Preaching is a fallible presentation of God's infallible Word. Similarly, they say, prophecy today is a fallible presentation.

In other words, "Preaching is fallible, and prophecy is fallible the same way."

Dan's response is: That's not how prophecy is defined in the Bible.

greglong said...

Dan, what resources would you recommend to refute Grudem's view of prophecy as simply something God spontaneously brings to mind?

DJP said...

Mr. Greg, I'm away from my library. My honestest answer would be that the Scripture linked to in the post, with Acts 2:17, make such a Biblical a slam-dunk that I don't think any amount of additional argument would shift anyone.

Libbie said...

I don't know what it was, Jugulum. All I know is that I have seen impressive things done under the banner of clairvoyance, and the things which I have seen charismatics claim is what God has down-graded prophecy to looks exactly the same and has the same rate of accuracy.

Right now, the kind of God who asks me to rely on 'Christian clairvoyance' isn't one that fills me with the kind of trust I really, really need to have at the moment.

It's not faith in the sure word of God, it's faith in someone's clairvoyant abilities.

And, for what it's worth, My problem with point three in that article, is that I don't deny the existence of miracles - I've even seen an astonishing healing myself in the past six months.

My problem is not with the existence of the supernatural - my problem is the re-definition of the supernatural to mean something significantly less than scripture says.

DJP said...

...to give false legitimacy to dimestore imitations. Bingo.

KM said...

"Some--most--charismatics argue that prophecy in the NT was fallible. In Wayne Grudem's terminology, they say that it is a fallible report of something that God brings to mind. (The revelation from God was inerrant, but your report is not.)"

Really? That's weird. That explains a lot about why no one from my church ever encouraged me to read my Bible when I was a young. (I'm from a charismatic background).

I never once considered that some Christians didn't believe the Bible was exactly the way God intended it to be. I just thought they thought their prophetic "words" were infallible like the Bible. No wonder I didn't get this dodge.

Thanks for the explanation.

Andrew Faris said...

DJP,

I have not once argued that my experience should interpret the Bible.

My point with my #2 from the beginning, on topic or off, was to ask you, as a clear-speaking cessationist, how does the Bible interpret my (apparently false) experience?What do you think is happening when charismatics engage in "charismaticism" (for lack of a better way of putting it!)? Self-deception? Demons? What's going on in your view? That is not an argument for charismaticism. I know what you think about that. It is a question about what the Bible says.

So in fact it isn't "exactly what you said it was." Not at all. The Bible always, always needs to come first. I believe the Bible teaches charismaticism. You don't. Fine enough. I'm asking what the Bible teaches, in your view, about apparently false charismaticism.

And brother, no need for all the condescension! Weren't we have a discussion about what the Bible says where people were respectfully disagreeing?

Let me add one last thing. You said, "If you're ready to admit that 100 years of Charismatic efforts haven't produced one instance of prophecy that Biblically-faithful Christians have found broadly credible..."

I think you're completely wrong about this. I've personally seen too many instances of predictive prophecy being fulfilled.

That said, I don't think I could give you one, no matter how undeniably solid in my view, that you would think was legitimate. With all due respect (and let me say that I have much of it for you and your blog!), I wonder how instructible you would be in that case.

Which brings me back to the original point: saying I do come up with some experience like that, how do you interpret it?

Andrew

~Mark said...

So then if you have a person who has been 100% accurate in forthtelling/prophecy, what do you do with that?

Aside from saying it's not true, have them call you, and other such remarks.

DJP said...

Andrew, I think you've misread me at least twice. Maybe thrice.

1. You seem to read me as if I am speaking only to you, and I'm not.

2. I don't know you, Andrew, well enough to know whether experience comes first for you. But I mentioned a flat-out clear Biblical teaching, and your second question was, "What about experience?"

3. I did respond to that, if briefly, in the 5:21 AM, April 15, 2009 comment.

4. If (as I heartily doubt) you've known a hundred instances of Biblical-caliber prophecy, it still comes nowhere near what I said: "...100 years of Charismatic efforts haven't produced one instance of prophecy that Biblically-faithful Christians have found broadly credible...."

Here's the fundamental dishonesty of the Charismatic position. It is either dishonest about Scripture, or history, and necessarily so. If it isn't pulling Scripture into a back-alley for a mugging, it's saying "Look! a comet!" about history. Because any Charismatic who knows the first thing about church history must admit that there is no continuation.

As Phil has observed, both often and better.

DJP said...

Aigh, let me hasten to clarify: I am saying fundamental dishonesty of the Charismatic position, not of Andrew. There are many fine people who lend a greater appearance of credibility to a bad teaching than that teaching deserves.

donsands said...

"It's not faith in the sure word of God, it's faith in someone's clairvoyant abilities." Libbie

Nice thought.

The Word of God. Wow. We should all trust his Word, even more then we trust when we turn a light switch on, and trust the light bulb will work. How much more will god work His promises out?

Andrew Faris said...

DJP,

1. Fair enough. I may have jumped a little at that because I was the only one strongly voicing the "experience" issue. But point taken.

2. Since you don't know me, I suppose you'll have to take my word for it, won't you? Incidentally as a born-and-raised charismatic I myself have never spoken in tongues or prophesied, and may or may not have healed someone. I'm skeptical of most people's experiences first and find myself having to fight that to accept it, even if I know them well.

Even now I am an associate pastor at a small Baptist church that is in no way charismatic (which troubles me, but of course we disagree there). My major labor here, first and foremost, is getting people to read their Bibles more!

Further, in all fairness, my second question was about experience (sort of- and I've tried to clarify that it really is about how you interpret my experience Biblically...which means it's just as much about the Bible!). But my first and third were directly about the Bible.

3. So all that said, my question remains: how do you understand charismatic experience?

You say you answered that question in the 5:21 post. I went back and re-read it, and I don't want to misunderstand you. Are you basically saying that, despite my claims to the contrary, those experiences simply are not happening? That is, are you outright denying that it happens at all? No condescension implied: I just want to make sure I'm clear on what you think.

4. Maybe I'm dumb, but I don't understand what you're getting at with this point. By "Biblically-faithful", do you mean "cessationist"? Again, I really am, honestly, trying to understand you, so I mean nothing by it.

And I can't give you a hundred instances, nor did I say I could, but I certainly have some. They're real. They were done by biblically faithful people (and by that I mean godly, Bible-reading, Jesus-loving people who you would generally be more than happy to call "brother" or "sister"). I'm no prophet, like I said, which means that they weren't done by me, and in that since they aren't firsthand.

Regarding church history, fair enough. I'm no church history expert and I'll take the word of those who know much more than me on it.

But then, don't we have the same problem Dan? Isn't that an argument from experience, which I thought wasn't allowed?

Thanks for the response.

Also, as an aside, sometime tell me how you have worked it out with your wife for blogging at 5:21 a.m. to be acceptable. I got married a week and a half ago and I could use the advice...

Andrew

DJP said...

To the last: have a job that starts at 5am

/c:

Stefan said...

May I just offer something up here?

It might be worthwhile to consider New Testament instances of actual examples of apostolic prophecy, and compare them to what has been offered up as "prophecy" since the close of the canon.

Am I far off base in saying that most of the instances in the apostolic period involve predictions of a high eschatological nature, on the grand culmination of God's marvelous plan of redemption?

And what what we see in its place today are (a) mundane "words from the Lord" on this or that matter, or (b) specific end times predictions about how some specific contemporary event fulfills something in Daniel or Revelation (no offense, Dan)?

(And I can't help but note that there are also some very spooky Catholic websites out there, involving various kinds of esoteric Marian "prophecies.")

In other words, what is held to be post-apostolic "prophecy" pales in comparison to what has been preserved in Scripture as apostolic prophecy.

That said, can the Holy Spirit work in strange and mysterious ways? Absolutely! By its very nature (being a Person of the Holy Trinity), the Holy Spirit works always in a supernatural fashion.

But to call what is offered in this day and age as "prophecy" (in the Pauline sense of the term) seems to be a stretch, not least because it is arrogating something to us that would make the apostles just ordinary schmoes (which they were, in a sense, being redeemed sinners; but at the same time, God manifestly made them so much more than mere ordinary schmoes).

My verification word is "unboo." Is that like a verb for demystifying something spooky?

Stefan said...

The examples of prophecy I'm thinking of from the New Testament are things like Romans 11, 1 Thessalonians 4, 2 Thessalonians 2, 1 Peter 3, etc.

In the interests of full disclosure, I will say that I'm not quite so ready as Dan to dismiss out of hand, sight unseen, all stories of the Holy Spirit working in strange and wonderful ways today—if they serve to advance the Gospel.

But to paraphrase what Phil (and possibly Dan) have both written in different ways at one time or another, it is God's prerogative to do whatever He requires to redeem or rebuke one of His children, and He can bring them to repentance through any means He desires.

If he uses a human messenger to achieve that end, I wouldn't call the phenomenon equivalent to that messenger's having the gift of prophecy, considering all that prophecy entailed in the scope of the Biblical canon.

Stan McCullars said...

Andrew Faris:
So the question is: in my situation, where I've been around lots of godly, Bible-reading, prayerful, Jesus-loving, and edification-seeking charismatics, what should I do with my experience?Following Paul's instructions to the Corinthians is certainly a good thing. Regardless of one's opinion of modern day "prophecy" excesses are to be put down. At the same time, if prophecies are demonstrably false they should be rejected and the prophet should be rebuked.

And the broken clock analogy obviously won't do. Come on now Stan, you have to do better than that. We're talking about more than twice a day. We're talking about consistency.I think it's a fine analogy. If there's one thing modern day "prophecy" lacks it's consistency.

Rick T said...

DJP,
Thank you for the clarification DJP.
1. I have tried to read over many of the posts and I am probably covering already chartered territory but in your quote you defined prophecy as "direct, inerrant, binding Divine revelation" (Point 1). I guess I would wonder at how that could be the definition since women are said to prophesy (i.e. 1 Cor 11:5; Acts 21:9 Philip's daughters) and I don't know of any woman who authored any book of Scripture. I do agree that it can take on that definition, (i.e. 2 Peter 1:21), but as it does in Peter it says "holy men wrote" and not women. So, perhaps, if women are prophesying than it must be something less than direct, inspired, divine revelation.

2. It is interesting to note that in 1 Cor 14:29-32 2 or 3 prophets are told to speak. But if someone has a revelation than the first is to keep silent. Then there is instruction that "all can prophesy one by one." Is there an interchangeable nature to the events going on there? In all seriousness, maybe some of us are confusing "revelation" with "prophecy."

3. Cleon Rogers' simple gloss of "testing" prophecy means to approve after examination. I wonder why this would be necessary if prophecy always meant inerrant, direct, divine revelation. Also, Paul seems to not listen to what was continually said to him "through the Spirit" in 21:4, that he should not "set foot in Jerusalem." Is that a revelation rather than a prophecy?

Thanks.
Rick T

DJP said...

Rick, the issue of "testing" has already been discussed in this meta. The reason why women can prophesy is that prophesy by its nature — defined and described in the post and meta — is explicit not a product of the prophet's interpretation. That is what Peter underscores. So a woman who is a prophet is speaking by direct inspiration that guarantees inerrancy to what she says. This is not true of a pastor, who must use his judgment and interpretive abilities faithfully but erringly.

You do mis-state matters when you say that "it can take on that definition." That is the only definition the Bible provides for the gift of prophecy, and it provides it unambiguously and repeatedly. A redefinition would have to be explicit, plain, unambiguous. No such redefinition is ever given.

Joshua Elsom said...

I know you may not find the testimony of charismatic experience by people the likes of me or Andrew Faris credible, but what do you do with Charles Spurgeon? Spurgeon gave "words of knowledge" from the pulpit on multiple occasions.

I grew up a cessationist but have since left that view behind. I have seen too many evidences that the gifts of the Spirit are still being given to the Bride today. I have seen people spontaneously physically healed, I have experienced prophecy, words of knowledge, spiritual dreams, and visions personally.

Cessationism has since become an untenable postion.

DJP said...

Clearly it isn't an "untenable" position, since it is "ten"ed by some of the finest theologians and pastors alive, among many lesser luminaries.

That you say you left the position because you "have seen too many evidences that the gifts of the Spirit are still being given to the Bride today" suggests to me that you never understood the position you say you've left.

That you bring this up as if it had anything to do with this post or meta indicates to me that you haven't really thought about either, either.

If you have, and still think "but-but-but my experience!" is, in any way, responsive to it, then you're making my case against Charismaticism.

Joshua Elsom said...

First, my comments were in response to your dialog with Andrew Faris, not the original post.

Second I will respond by saying that I do believe that the cessationist view is defensible, scripturally speaking. That is it can be done. So in that respect in is not untenable.
My comment, in its context, should have been understood as, “My charismatic experience has made the cessationist view untenable. It is a closed case for me, there is no question."

Thirdly, I understood well the cessationist view before God sovereignly corrected my error. It was when being confronted by these very issues that God began to allow things to happen in my life.

Fourthly, when one is dealing with a theological issue such as this, in which both sides are equally supported, experience can be the determining factor which clears up the issue. As I began to study the controversy, from both sides, I became a fence rider. God knocked me off the fence and on the side of the Gifts of Grace by my experience. Experience will never trump Holy Scripture but experience can and does lend credence to the view that the Gifts of Grace are still active in the Church. The continuist argues from the position of experience, whereas the cessationist argues from the position of non-experience.

Finally, you did not address my comments about our hero C.H. Spurgeon.

DJP said...

Nor shall I, in this meta.

Again, you simply disregard the post and the meta.

So let's see if I can bring you back to participation: are you saying that people are receiving Canon-level, inerrant, morally-binding direct revelations from God today? Or do you disagree with the Biblical definition of a prophet as a recipient/communicator of the same?

DJP said...

(BTW, thanks again for making my point about the real [as opposed to claimed) role of experience in Charismaticism.)

Joshua Elsom said...

I disregarded the meta just as you disregarded my comments about not commenting on the meta in my last post. :)

Nevertheless, I will participate. Whatever the God of Heaven chooses to give a person through prophetic revelation is absolutely as inerrant as what He told the Old Covenant Prophets, the Apostles, and the prophets that we see under the New Covenant. Do I believe He does this today? Absolutely He does.
Now, if you would like to provide some Scripture that suggests that God has stopped this work then I would be happy to entertain it and would willingly submit to it if valid.

Perhaps in a future article you could explain Spurgeon’s experiences.

Be blessed brother.

(BTW, you are welcome for making the point. I freely concede it, though I am not certain what you believe that point serves to accomplish.)

DJP said...

I don't know what you're saying I disregarded.

You have a radical, dangerous, bizarre minority-position in believing that God is still speaking directly, apart from Scripture, in an inerrant, binding way. It has never been the position of most Biblically-faithful Christians. The next question would be whether the logic of your extreme position has yet forced you to believe that the Bible is still being written, and if so, where are those books?

But this specific thread is now officially played out.