02 April 2009

Non Sola Scriptura: the Blackaby view of God's will — 1

by Dan Phillips

The book. I am currently reading How Then Should We Choose?, edited by Douglas S. Huffman (Kregel: 2009), with a view to reviewing it ultimately. This a pre-review of one part of it. (Translation: I can't hold this back.)

The book allows advocates of three distinct approaches to the will of God to set forth their views, after which each is critiqued by the others. I will focus on the first only, which is called the "Specific-Will" view. It is written by Henry and Richard Blackaby, who are father and son.

I only barely began reading Garry Friesen's response and, frankly, was sharply provoked at its tepid tone. If the Blackabys' view is un-Biblical (and it is), a lot of people — and the cause of Christ — will be harmed by it. I find it hard to be chatty and blasé about that.

My plan. In this first part, I will set forth the Blackabys' view, offering some critique as we go. In the second part, I plan to delve more thoroughly into the nightmarish practical implications of this position, offer more critique, and a conclusion.

Prefatory
First, many of you have been looking forward to Phil writing on the Blackaby view. This is obviously not that.

Second, what I am about to write is not about the Blackabys, but about the view they advocate in this book. It is not about anything else they've ever written or done, nor is it about them as Christians or men. I know next to nothing about them.

This post is just about this one chapter.

Clear enough?
Bottom line
This chapter is just about the single most appalling trainwreck I've read in recent memory, whether viewed exegetically, hermeneutically, theologically, or pastorally. The implications, if taken and followed out seriously by anyone (—God forbid!), are absolutely catastrophic.

I find it impossible to be bland about it. As you will see.


More fully
Continuation with a vengeance. Foundationally, the Blackabys argue that there is a one-for-one continuation between all Biblical narratives and our lives today; we should expect no change. "[...N]owhere in the Bible are readers cautioned that they should not expect their walk with God to be like that of believers in biblical times" (p. 35). " In fact, "the only way for us to have a relationship with Christ" is if He directs our everyday lives by telling us specifically what to do in a detailed way, exactly as He did with the apostles (pp. 45-46, emphasis added). Because today "the Holy Spirit is to function in us in the same way that Jesus led his disciples," which involves very specific instructions not provided in the Bible (p. 52, emphasis added).

You may ask, "So, wait — you mean, every aspect of what God did for Abraham, Moses, Isaiah... I should expect all that?" Yes.

So forget Hebrews 1:1-2, with its portrayal of a purposeful revelation that is unfolded in differing portions and differing manners, coming to climactic fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Forget intra-canonical indications of purposeful ebbs and flows in the revelatory activity of God (1 Corinthians 13:8-10 [see here]; Ephesians 2:20; Hebrews 2:1-4). Forget the Biblical pattern of miraculous event, divine interpretation, verbal rehearsal of that interpretation (i.e. Exodus 10:1-2; 13:8, 14-6; Deuteronomy 6:20-25; Psalm 145:4-7, etc.). Forget even the successive covenants (Jeremiah 31:31-40 [old covenant, new covenant, hel-lo-o?]; Romans 9:4; Hebrews 8, etc.). All is leveled to make way for their theory.

Though Yahweh repeatedly points His people back to the given Word, even during the unfolding of revelation, the Blackabys would have believers keep looking for new words. In their hands, redemptive history becomes a block of cheese, with no distinct parts or movements. Each bit of cheese is the same.

Bad? It gets worse.

Non sola Scriptura. The insufficiency of Scripture is a major pillar to the Blackaby position. About this they are emphatic — in all but the use of that phrase. They do say many nice things about the Bible, allowing (for instance) that it is "the primary way God communicates with His people" (p. 55). "Primary," but not nearly the sole way.

Language that the Bible reserves for binding, inerrant, verbal prophetic revelation is repeatedly applied indiscriminately to normal Christian living. There is constant mention of God "speaking clearly" to people today (p. 33), of "His voice" (p. 39), of His issuing "divine directives" we are obliged to obey (p. 40), of Him having "told" people today to do things, expecting their "obedience" (p. 45), of Him "speaking" to us and our "hearing" Him (p. 53), of our "struggle to hear God's voice" (p. 54), of the Holy Spirit "speaking" to us through prayer (p. 56), of his sending us "a message through other people" just as He did through the prophets (p. 58), specifically of Henry Blackaby being "God's mouthpiece to someone desperately seeking a divine word" (p. 59; cf. Exodus 4:14-16; 7:1, to see what a reckless expression this is) — and on and on.

Note well: every one of these is in reference to revelation that is not in the Bible, yet is crucial for us obeying, knowing, and having a relationship with God.

Whatever nice things the Blackabys say about the Bible, then, it is clearly not nearly sufficient for Christian living — no matter what passages such as 2 Timothy 3:15-17 say.

Bible in 2D. In order to get here, a fundamental, grave and pervasive hermeneutical error is essential to the Blackabys' position. There must be a great and violent flattening of revealed, redemptive history. Pivotal moments in the Bible are pounded down, mashed and flattened into illustrations of daily Christian living. Direct, binding, inerrant prophetic revelations are radically down-sized into illustrations of God nudging us today towards a particular spouse or church ministry or university course major. Prophets who speak for God are shriveled into everyday Christians listening for that still, small murmur that the Bible never calls us to seek.

So Moses — a prophet without parallel until the coming of Christ (Numbers 12:6-8; Deuteronomy 18:15; 34:10; Acts 3:22ff.) — becomes merely another illustration for how we should expect God to speak to us (pp. 46, 64).

Having made a chaotic and hermeneutically irresponsible mish-mash of Scripture and its claims for itself, the Blackabys bear down on individual Christians. And what their theory does is terrible to behold.

How to divine the Divine? Say you are convinced that you must hear God's voice, must receive this flow of extra-canonical revelation that the Blackabys say is essential for a relationship with God. How do you do it? How do you hear God's voice?

I won't attempt to reproduce the Byzantine, convoluted — with less legitimate Biblical support than a Gummi Bear has hair — series of tests and checks and methods they lay out. I'll just say this: they are very much like Charismatics "explaining" to Christians how to get the gift of tongues, or how to speak prophecy, or why prophecy may be fallible. Similar in what way? In that they have cast aside Scripture in all but the eggshells — sometimes not even attempting a Biblical grounding (cf. much of pp. 57-59) — and so they have to make up what goes inside the shells.

Was it a "struggle"? For instance, recall their phrase, the "struggle to hear God's voice" (p. 54). But if we are to expect our experience to line up exactly with that of Biblical characters, we must ask: what "struggle"? God's voice in the Bible was always absolutely loud, clear, unmistakable, binding, arresting, and quotable.

"What about Samuel?" someone might ask. "Didn't he fail to recognize God's voice at first?" But note: (A) the voice Samuel heard was so audible, loud, clear, and quotably verbal that the lad thought it was Eli calling to him; and (B) the text does specifically say that Samuel did not yet know Yahweh (1 Samuel 3:7). Not that Samuel was a believer who just hadn't yet read the Blackabys' book on picking out God's whispery, shadowy, well-nigh indecipherable voice.

Hence the parallel with tongues. If you had to have someone explain how to get them, and if they aren't supernaturally-acquired human languages, they weren't Bible tongues. And if the voice wasn't unmistakable, (usually) unsought, audible, quotable, and absolutely binding, it wasn't God's voice.

And so I ask: does Scripture ever use the Blackabys' expressions — God's voice, God speaking, God talking to someone — in a sense other than revelatory, verbal, quotable, and utterly binding to believers? Is there an instance of "God speaking" in a manner that is 45% inspired, 62% inerrant, or only 39% binding? Are the Blackabys sending us off in search of 100% inspired, inerrant, binding extra-Biblical revelation from God? If not, if they're sending us after lower-octane revelation, whence do they invent this category? Not from Scripture.

Prophet-schmophet? Next I ask: if we're to hear God's voice constantly, then how is the office of prophet distinct? Biblically, what marks a prophet is that he receives direct revelation, and speaks it inerrantly (cf. Exodus 4:15-16; 7:1-2; Deuteronomy 18:15-22). If every believer hears God's voice and words, and receives individual non-Biblical guidance, what distinguishes each from a prophet? Is it the inerrant speaking of the message? But why, if "the only way for us to have a relationship with Christ" is to be directed by Christ exactly as He did with the apostles (pp. 45-46), and if we are to assume a one-for-one correspondence between their experience and ours?

Do you suspect I am caricaturing their view? But it is the Blackabys themselves who again and again indiscriminately cite the experience of prophets, seers and apostles as the patterns for our experience (cf. pp. 39, 45, 46, 52, 53, 54, 58). Are they our pattern, or aren't they? If they are, there is no "struggle" to ferret out God's voice, nor need of confirmation to follow a labyrinthine, slapdash path.

I'm with Peter, who says that
we have something more sure [than the loftiest experience], the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
(2 Peter 1:19-21)
Amen, Peter. That is the voice of God, speaking to us. And it is enough.


Dan Phillips's signature

157 comments:

cslewis3147 said...

wow....just, wow, good stuff Dan.

agonizomai said...

Dan,

Tomorrow will you tell us what you really think?

Tony

Luke said...

Wow. Not everybody shares the reformed 'silence' of God... Also, we did notice that you set up a difference between Charismatics and Christians...ick.

Marie said...

Thanks for this. It sounds like a Joyce Meyer book I once read on 'How to Hear from God'(when starting my journey as a charismatic-wanna-be). Sad thing is, people eat this stuff up and come away thinking they're Bible experts on the inside track with God - never stopping to consider this is ALL extra-biblical speculation (some dude's making it up).

I was going to ask what the tasty-looking cheese was about, but you explained the metaphor nicely (without spiritualizing the mention of 'cheese' in the Bible). But what's the deeper meaning behind the rabbit with the pancake on his head? Let's see...he's covering his head out of submission....with yeast-free pancakes, symbolizing the absence of sin in his rabbit-brain, therefore enabling him to hear prophetic rabbit words of wisdom more clearly.....

mKhulu said...

You seem like a man who may actually believe that the revelation of God to us (Scripture) is, afterall sufficient! Amen to you and Peter too!

DJP said...

Wow. Not everybody shares the reformed 'silence' of God

Wow. Sixty-six books bristling with inerrant, living, powerful, sharp-edged revelation = "silence."

If you read the Bible as poorly as you read my post - ick.

DJP said...

Tony, I know. Mush-mouthed lukewarm ambivalence is a besetting sin. Pray for me.

Matt said...

Whoooo baby! That's a zinger Dan. Exceptionally well done, and applies almost perfectly to a book and a practice that has [sadly] become vogue in my area - Brad Jersak's "Can You Hear Me: Tuning in to the God Who Speaks".

Christ is enough. Scripture is enough. Gimmicks don't make Christ Jesus better, they only serve to make Him look like some gaudy, maudlin side-show act.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Matt said...

Luke - reformed 'silence' of God

Does it 'silence' God to expect Him to work in the way that He says He will?

Notably absent from Jesus' description of the Spirit's work (John 16:5-15): giving new revelation.

andy spaulding said...

Luke,

If you are consistent in your thinking you would have to believe that the canon of Scripture is not finished/closed yes?

And if God does speak to you, are you writing it down so that you can give us a new book of Scripture?

btw-many Charismatics are not Christians. Just watch TBN.

DJP said...

I'll allow discussion of Charismaticism only so far as it is related to the post.

I hope NOBODY misses the significance of Luke's remark. To the Charismatic, if the Bible is all we have, then God is silent. He has nothing to say to us.

If that isn't damning to the position, I wonder what would be.

Eric said...

Luke,

Do you have any substantive disagreement with the actual content of Dan's post, namely with his characterization of the view in question, or with his commenting on the view? You seem to have reacted to an idea that you are not comfortable with (and maybe don't understand well), rather than interacting with the "meat and potatoes" of the post. If you can factually dispute Dan's characterization of the view in question or Biblically dispute Dan's commenting on the view, I urge you to do so.

danny2 said...

dan,

i know you don't desire to bring their other works into this thread, but your description is not at all different than the "experience" i had reading another famous work of theirs.

what i can't figure out is why we are so drawn to this sort of "revelation."

is it for the lack of accountability? (you can't challenge what i am saying if i can claim it came directly from God.)

or is it the lack of work that is necessary for it? (who needs disciplined, careful study when i can see/hear it from sources all around me?)

thank you for your boldness. people hardly tolerate a critique of a book that is critical of the Bible these days...let alone a critique of a book that is complimentary of the Bible, but not complete in its understanding of the Holy Scriptures!

Aric said...

Great post Dan. I grew up in charismatic/Pentecostal churches. It is only recently that I have graciously been given eyes to see how much (dare I say nearly all) of what I was taught was not grounded in Scripture. Unfortunately, most of my family still falls into the trap of seeking a “word” for their everyday life.

It is interesting to read your review. I guess the Blackaby’s take would be that all are prophets? Doesn’t that contradict some verses in one of the letters to the Corinthians? Where it really gets silly is trying to figure out which of the thousand decisions I make each day require me to wait on God’s still small voice. Can I pick out my tie? What about deciding to shower before or after I brush my teeth? Is my route to work worthy of silently waiting on God, or should I reserve that for the really big decisions like where to work or who to marry?

I guess I need to stop before I become overly sarcastic and angry. It grieves me to see the lack of trust in the Word God has given us. Truly sad. May we worry more about knowing God through his word than selfishly needing an individual revelation, personally tailored to our needs/wants/desires. Thanks again Dan.

DJP said...

Danny2 — good questions. I think the least you can say is that this sort of position feeds and enables all that. If God whispers and mutters just to me alone, I get to "play the God-card" on you. If it's all in that God-breathed, living Book we can both equally study, it's a whole different world.

DJP said...

Aric — very good observations and questions. I plan to get into a lot of that tomorrow.

The Blackabys do not say we are all prophets. That's why I ask - what's the difference? Prophets get high-octane direct revelation, while we non-prophet Christians get lower-octane revelation? Where's that in Scripture?

Z said...

"...if they aren't supernaturally-acquired human languages, they weren't Bible tongues"

"For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit." - 1 Cor 14:2

I'm not a scholar, but I don't see a way to interpret that scripture without directly conflicting your statement.

disclosure: I grew up in a Charismatic church, but now have a reformed theology.

Statements made here about Charismatics show that your knowledge of the Charismatic church is limited mainly to TV evangelists. I hardly know a Charismatic that even watches TBN.

DJP said...

Z — your statements about my familiarity with Charismaticism reveal your newness to this blog.

I am a former Charismatic, and never was fond of the TV variety.

Follow the links; that verse is discussed.

Solameanie said...

Unbelievable.

Then again, I ought to expect stuff like this to bubble up more and more these days. Every day, I feel more and more like Captain Renault. "I'm shocked, SHOCKED, that there's more heresy out there!"

Thanks for the heads up on this book, Dan.

DJP said...

While I share you horror at the view, Sola, I do want to point out that I did not call it heresy. I try pretty consistently to use that only of damning doctrine. I don't think that anyone who accepts this teaching will go to Hell because of it.

But I do think it's mistaken and harmful. (I did mention that, right?)

David S said...

Hope I'm proven wrong, but note the silence of anyone associated with the John 3:16 Conf - or for that matter, any SBC seminary other than SBTS - coming out in critique on the Blackaby's. Doesn't happen. The marketing of Experiencing God and other materials are far too profitable.

The insufficiency of Scripture has been the primary objection to them. Add Beth Moore to that list. Pray for the younger SBC pastors who accurately notice this and are preparing their own 95 theses for the eventual hammerstroke against the Nashville door.

Z said...

Interesting that you are a former Charismatic.

The church home I attended as a Charismatic was independent, as many are (was yours)?

As such, the doctrinal beliefs held by members of each church can vary significantly, and since (unfortunately) theology is not a common topic of discussion in these churches, doctrines held by individual members can also vary. It's a mess, to be sure. I guess that's why it concerns me that you lump them all together.

Regarding 1 Cor 14:2, I didn't see it addressed in the links.

DJP said...

Is that right, David S? I don't know much about that connection. I mean to raise this tomorrow, but there's one somewhat ambiguous passage where they actually seem to deny God's exhaustive providential rule over all that comes to pass. Do you know - is that their position?

witness said...

danny2, to answer your question...

what i can't figure out is why we are so drawn to this sort of "revelation."

The answer is inevitably pride and the elevation of self. Think about it...

God is talking directly to me and I have info you don't. SEE how much MORE close to the Throne I am than you!(this is only a characterization and no charismatics were injured during the use of these pointed words).

JackW said...

Yeah, it’s interesting that I’ve recently seen “Old Testament patterns” hermeneutics used to justify tithing and single-elder rule.

I don’t know if you plan on addressing this in a future post or not, but I would be interested to know just how God revealed to you that He was calling you to be a pastor.

Fred Butler said...

One of the true marks of a truly spiritual Christian is the ability to make wise, God honoring, biblical decisions in our daily life. I am afraid many of the Christians out in the world who take our friend Luke's view of spirituality are the ones who make some of the most disastrous personal choices imaginable. Believe me, I have counseled way too many who fall into this category.

Sadly, Christians who claim to lean more toward the position of God's will Dan outlines here are also notorious for similar "gut feeling" spiritual decision making and I have seen similar situations play out in their lives, too.

I guess I don't understand why an application of biblical principles from God's Word is never sufficient and certainly marked as "God not speaking." If the process of making choices isn't accompanied with a "wiz bang" move of God, well it isn't spiritual. I find such thinking sad.

DJP said...

Simple(ish). No direct "revelation" at all, but the guidance provided by 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:3-8, and related passages.

Bang! Next!

J. Brian McKillop said...

The view you critique is very similar to the view I knew as a child in fundamental Baptist circles, so it's not only charismatics who get it wrong.

The view I knew, I have referred to as "one school - one wife - one ministry for life."

We were taught that by the age of 18 you had to determine which Bible College God wanted you to go to. It was at that Bible College that you would meet the one woman God wanted you to marry, and would also find that one ministry that God wanted you to do.

If you went to the wrong school you would be out of the perfect will of God and into His permissive will, which put you in coach instead of first class for the ride to heaven. You would also never meet that one woman, and clearly miss that life ministry.

Friesen's book set me free from that false understanding.

DJP said...

J. Brian McKillop — absolutely right, and thank you for making that point.

While this view parallels Charismatic errors, and while the one goes well with the other, it by no means is limited to Charismaticism.

Thank you for making that point so clearly.

Phil Johnson said...

Excellent. Now I can put off my review of Experiencing God for another 5 years or so. Or maybe never have to do it at all.

Like most wrong views of divine guidance, the Blackabys' scheme is wrong from the outset because it fails to give proper emphasis to the doctrine of divine Providence. In the Blackaby system, faith in the goodness and reliability of Providence is replaced by fortune-cookie thoughts generated by one's own imagination--or perhaps by that tainted hot dog you bought from a street vendor.

Dan: You haven't overstated the danger of that kind of mysticism. That would be pretty hard to do, now that I think of it.

You've said everything I would have said in a review of Experiencing God.

One thing I don't understand is why someone who accepts Blackaby's approach to divine guidance wouldn't simply apply Balckaby's arguments on a wider scale and become a REAL charismatic.

On the other hand, perhaps that is the whole point: Blackaby has found a way to let Southern Baptists have Charismatic mysticism without glossolalia. This way the SBC loses fewer people to the Assemblies of God and the Vineyard.

DJP said...

Thanks very much, Phil.

You haven't overstated the danger of that kind of mysticism.

I plan to open that up more, er, vividly, tomorrow.

C.B. Shearer said...

I really needed to read this; I've spent the last several months running into Blackaby/Ortberg/Wommack/Bentley followers and I was getting to the point of wondering, "Why am I the only one that takes Hebrews 1:1-2 seriously!" Yesterday I heard a sermon from Piper that agreed with me (more importantly, with God), and now your post; it's an answer to a prayer really.

I'm thinking about getting Hebrews 1:1-2 tattooed on my forehead so I can just point to it when these heresies manifest, which is becoming more and more with this hyper-sensationalized "personal-jesus" fad.

Looking forward to the whole article,
Canyon

Rabbit said...

Dan, charismaticism is not my background, but this post was educational in the mostest. I appreciate it. I do shudder at your use of the rabbit, though. God told me you should have used a squirrel. :)

Danny2 said, what i can't figure out is why we are so drawn to this sort of "revelation."

I'd like to offer another possibility: when I didn't fully understand God's grace, when I tried time and again to drum up the piety and devotion I thought I should have, when I raised my hand to be saved again each time I lapsed into sin, when I relied on my own strength, God's Word was confusing to me. I sought "experiences" (Palau revival, concerts, etc) to give me emotional highs, and I'm certain in hindsight that, if I'd come into contact with a charismatic gathering, I'd have loved it for the emotionally-wrought experience.

But the Lord in His mercy brought me to the end of myself, and there I lay for quite some time, until eventually He brought me to Himself for strength. And it was then that His Word, all 66 books, opened up like the most beautiful of Michelangelo's paintings, in 3 dimensions, Technicolor, and IMAX intensity. I don't seek "experiences" anymore; His Word is sweeter, brighter, more pointed and yet more soothing than any of those (some better, some worse) counterfeits. I will take my hours in my cozy chair with my Bible and put it up against those emotion-driven, manipulative "experiences" any time, any day. He's telling me as much as I need to know about Himself, personally and directly. I don't understand every word, and there are far wiser minds whom I trust to help me, but I cannot imagine anything better than this Book.

C.B. Shearer said...

P.S. You haven't lived until you've eaten a gummi bear with hair on it.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Also a fan of Friesen's book.

Dan, I've heard Dr. MacArthur say, "God laid it on my heart..." I know he would not consider that Blackaby type revelation, but what might he have meant? Is there a role here for the "inner witness" of the Spirit?

DJP said...

Rabbit — what a wonderful testimony to the sufficient grace of God, and the sufficient Word of God. Thank you.

Rabbit said...

Oh, Dan...thank Him. :)

DJP said...

Oh, Johnny, I don't know that I want to go there exactly. I can't speak about MacArthur — I've only read a few of his books, heard a dozen sermons or so....

But while I'd use that phrase very sparingly, it may be used analogously to Nehemiah 7:5. I do not see Nehemiah claiming (there, or anywhere) to have received personal revelation of any octane. But retrospectively, he sees that God in His sovereign providence so directed his thoughts as to accomplish this task. Like Proverbs 16:9.

The Squirrel said...

Dan,

I have a feeling that God wants me to tell you that you're mean.

(c:

Great post. I'm running into people who think (have been taught to think) like this all the time. It's hard to tell them what the Bible says, when "God told me" or "God showed me" what they think they know.

It's "Luke Skywalker" Christianity, and it's dangerous.

~Squirrel

Johnny Dialectic said...

Yes, I like that. Thanks, Dan.

Rabbit said...

Johnny, I believe God does "lay things on our heart", but He does so in direct proportion to how much we have stored up His Word in our hearts. When my daily reading consisted of People magazine and various chick novels, I had no experiences of Him laying anything on my heart.

When I began to read and meditate on His Word as a regular practice, funny thing happened. The Holy Spirit within helps me (supernaturally) to remember the things I've read, brings them to mind at the appropriate time, even urges me to speak them.

His grace alone saved me; it also moves me to the obedience that results in His conforming me, and that includes using His Word, hidden in my heart, to motivate my thoughts and actions in accordance with Scripture.

Dave .... said...

"a great and violent flattening" (DJP)

Indeed. That phrase gave me shivvers. The tares are among us. The goats (with tickled ears) are better fed than the sheep. We love the idol of our imagined god - our secret, invisible friend. Shades of Jimmy Stewart in Harvey.

And in the church. For shame. There should be prayer and fasting. And the gathering of kindling. Well, pray and fast. Our adversary may not be mighty, but he is persistent. And he has infiltrated the "chrstian" publishing houses.

Good work, Dan. Elders should be doing this for their churches, but I see little of it.

Lisa said...

Wow. Thank you for posting this. I've got to say, your analysis is somewhat of a relief. I've read some of Blackaby's materials, and many at my church love him. I have complete faith in God; I just don't trust myself to hear from him in that way. I KNOW how deceptive my heart is (and that is what the Bible teaches, right?). For me, this view has lead to mostly paralysis (was that God, was it me, how do I know??).

This has given me a lot to think about. I look forward to future posts.

Frank Turk said...

40+ comments before lunch?

Where are the Crickets?

DJP said...

Well, that just proves that even when I say I'm going to be wrong, I'm wrong.

< /inside baseball chatter >

Scott said...

Many time lurker, (possible) first time commenter...

Loved this post Dan. When I first encountered this blog, read all the posts on this subject. I ate it up. This subject hits home for me.

I distinctly remember one night when I was involved in prayer meeting. It seemed like everyone around me was hearing from God like they got a postcard from him that afternoon. Except for me. I remember confessing to a friend later that night, "Why won't God talk to me?" I felt second-class and like my walk with God was broken.

Another distinct memory was during a hard time in my life 2 years ago. I was so anxious and worried about the future. I laid down for a nap one afternoon and had a dream where Jesus appeared to me saying, "it will done in 6 more months" Needless to say this didn't happen. Probably should have realize the dream wasn't real when I hadn't fallen on my face like a dead man. Repented of that one.

I've thought about this subject a lot. I know for a fact some people want God to speak to them directly because they genuinely want to follow the Lord and not make a mess of things. Others seem to want some assurance that they really are in Christ. These are just a few reasons I've found, I'm sure there are more. At the heart of it all, including my experiences, I think the answer is that we don't want to operate. We want something more sure. But Scripture teaches us again and again we live by faith.

Guess I'll have to do those "normal" things Christians are supposed to do: prayer, Bible reading and meditation, wise counsel, casting lots, tea leaves....oh wait...

DJP said...

Scott, thank you for that. I'm sure your testimony could be multiplied by the tens of thousands. It will never make it into a book.

I've sometimes thought of making a book filled with illustrations of people who knew God was "telling" them to... and were dead-wrong.

But who'd read it?

Matt said...

Johnny, I believe God does "lay things on our heart", but He does so in direct proportion to how much we have stored up His Word in our hearts. When my daily reading consisted of People magazine and various chick novels, I had no experiences of Him laying anything on my heart.

I've never liked rabbits before. This changes everything! Excellent, beautiful thoughts!

what i can't figure out is why we are so drawn to this sort of "revelation."

or is it the lack of work that is necessary for it? (who needs disciplined, careful study when i can see/hear it from sources all around me?)

I'm inclined to go with your second answer, Danny2.

In an age where the self and all its attendant moods, feelings, experiences, intuitions, hunches, etc. are the ultimate measure of truth, I think it is natural that there is a craving for a direct pipeline of revelation from God-to-Me.

We are a biblically illiterate people, and no doubt aware that biblical literacy takes work, and lots of it. Rather than doing the work required to go the distance, I just head off on the nearest "God told me" exit ramp. It saves a lot of work.

Unfortunately, the wages tend to match the work performed...

DJP said...

Good word, Matt.

Does it get more eloquent than Luke's response? Tell him, "Everything God wants to say to you now is in the Bible," and his response is, "So... God is silent?"

2saints said...

Have you ever read Experiencing God? I think you've really misunderstood their position. I admit I haven't read the book you're taking this from; however, it seems to me you're maybe reading some connotations into their terminology that they never intended.

Solameanie said...

Dan,

In my personal usage, I've always said that there is a difference between damnable heresy such as wrong teaching on soteriology, Christology etc..and other erroneous teaching on which salvation doesn't depend. I think any wrong teaching can be called heresy in a technical sense. However, the term can conjure up burning someone at the stake, so I certainly understand the caution in using the word. Perhaps it would be best to restrict usage to the "damnable."

DJP said...

2saints — from my post:

"Second, what I am about to write is not about the Blackabys, but about the view they advocate in this book. It is not about anything else they've ever written or done, nor is it about them as Christians or men. I know next to nothing about them."

2saints said...

I know. I read that. I asked because the content of their other book (I know another commenter [did I spell that right?] disparaged Experiencing God) sort of defines this position.

Your position as stated implies that God spoke, had it recorded, handed to us...and walked away to watch from afar with no direct interaction/communication.

How then will we "know His voice" if he only writes?

Do you ever pray for direction? Does God answer you?

Have you ever felt that God was telling you to go to someone, somewhere, do something, stay away from someone, get away from somewhere... Is that all extra-Biblical revelation?

This really took me by surprise as a long time lurker. It really seems, well, uncharacteristic IMHO.

Solameanie said...

By the way, the rabbit photo reminds me of "His Girl Friday" with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. In one momentous exchange, Cary told Rosalind that she "had the brain of a pancake."

Carl said...

If I am understanding the position of the Blackabys correctly then it sounds familiar - Korah's rebellion in Nu. 16. It's the same old rebellion against authority, the authority of the Lord.

lawrence said...

Dan, brah, you really need to stop sugercoating things. This is getting out of control. :-). Excellent post.

Although, in regards to Luke's comments, should you really have said "to the Charismatic, all the Bible...." when you very well know that most Charismatics don't believe that the Bible is silent, or whatever hair-brained point Luke was trying to make?

Even so, very good analysis and review.

Rabbit said...

Your position as stated implies that God spoke, had it recorded, handed to us...and walked away to watch from afar with no direct interaction/communication.

Only if we never crack open our Bibles nor kneel in prayer, and Dan never says that, implicitly nor explicitly.

How then will we "know His voice" if he only writes?

How do you know anything of what George Washington said?

Do you ever pray for direction? Does God answer you?
Yes, and yes. The living Holy Spirit within me uses the living Word to conform me to His will. This is His supernatural work in us, individually.

Any revelation is extra-biblical when it is outside Scriptural bounds. God isn't adding new stuff; He's clarifying and making real to us what is written, on an individual basis, whenever we obediently hide His Word in our hearts.

donsands said...

"But thanks be to God, who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you." 2 Cor. 8:16

God surely is at work in our hearts to will. I have seen the Lord bring His children through the Church, and in a few years with guidance from the pastors and elders, and friends, has put a particular people group in their heart to go to.
there's a trail and error thing usually as well, but in the end, in God's providence, the missionaries go forth in the power of the Spirit for the glory of Christ.

Very good post. Many today are going to prayer, "to listen" for God. It's a shame. My last pastor would do this. He graduated from Multnomah. It just seems the newest fad in much of the church to hear that peaceful small voice in my spirit.

I do believe the Holy Spirit surely is sovereign in our hearts, minds, and lives, and He can fill us with wisdom, joy, peace, and great sorrow as well, but I agree with rabbit, the 66 books of God's Word is our most needed sustenance for our soul today, and people are being deceived to leave the Bible, and listen to their minds.

Respectabiggle said...

WRT J. Brian McKillop's "one school..." experience:

A good friend of my wife was a victim of this thinking. She's a wonderful lady who would make a great wife for any Christian man, but she turned down more than a few proposals because she'd been taught that she would feel "led" to THE man that God had planned for her. Each time, she second-guessed herself, fearing that she didn't feel enough call toward this man - maybe he wasn't the one God wanted her to marry.

She's now almost forty and is desperately lonely.

Atone said...

Thanks for the review and the even-handed approach you took in wadding into such a critical, yet controversial area. I’m sure this compliment will be seen as vapid and vainglorious by some, but what can I say, I liked what you wrote and the way you wrote it. You pounded forcefully, but gently. Good stuff. Peace.

Brad.

The Squirrel said...

Is there a role here for the "inner witness" of the Spirit?

Of course there is. Whenever I feel the desire to obey the words written in the Scriptures, it is the Holy Spirit’s prompting. I know this because: in myself, I am unable to understand the things of the Spirit of God; in myself, I am unable to please God.

God is not “The Force” and “trusting your feelings” is usually not a real good idea…

~Squirrel

DJP said...

Respectabiggle - have her read today's post, and particularly tomorrow's.

SolaMommy said...

Dan,
I was just having a conversation with a brother last week about the Blackaby's! We were both sharing how people we know have made bad decisions using the Blackaby's unbiblical "methods." Thank you for this (and what will follow)!

gringa said...

Love this post. The evangelical church is just infected with this way of thinking. Every time we visit the bookstore in our former church, they have more books by Blackaby and others like him. It's so sad....I cringe every time I hear someone say something like, "I need to be still and listen for what God's will for me is." Read the Bible and you'll know...

The church really needs more people to speak up like you just did. Thank you.

~Mark said...

Continuation with a vengeance. Foundationally, the Blackabys argue that there is a one-for-one continuation between all Biblical narratives and our lives today; we should expect no change. "[...N]owhere in the Bible are readers cautioned that they should not expect their walk with God to be like that of believers in biblical times" (p. 35). " In fact, "the only way for us to have a relationship with Christ" is if He directs our everyday lives by telling us specifically what to do in a detailed way, exactly as He did with the apostles (pp. 45-46, emphasis added). Because today "the Holy Spirit is to function in us in the same way that Jesus led his disciples,"

That's really bad hermeneutics there. At the same time, while I freely admit that I may be misunderstanding something, I do NOT believe God has stopped speaking directly to His people. If He went through so much trouble to be our Father and make us His children it doesn't seem logical He'd never visit with His children personally by His Holy Spirit.

Is there new Biblical revelation? Absolutely not! There is however the direct communication of God with His people for whatever His purpose may be and nothing in Scripture precludes that.

God does speak specifically to people about things that in no way alter or add to Scripture, and I have seen it often enough to know it without any doubt. In fact, I'd stake my entire reputation on.

It's not an everyday miracle thing, and lots of people may not see it happen for whatever reason, but while I do NOT agree with what the Blackaby's have apparently written in this book it is impossible to say that God doesn't communicate with His children.

The Scriptures DO give us ALL we need to know and follow God, but they also show that it takes the interaction of His Spirit for us to even WANT to know Him, much less understand His Word.

Where is it written that such interaction stops at salvific action and understanding of Scripture? Has no one here ever been in a position of "sensing/hearing/being led" to do an action that seems completely out of the blue yet results in something glorifying to God that wouldn't have happened if that "leading" was not followed?

Again to be clear:

Scripture IS enough
God does guide us according to Scripture.
There is NO NEW REVELATION of new things of God.

Yet how many times has God sent inexplicable aid to someone via someone else and have led that person to do that thing? Sure, that can happen when He "merely" shapes the circumstances, but speaking from my life I know there are times when the call is clear as a bell.

I'm not Word of Faith, I rarely dance in the aisles, and I accept that the Scriptures are the barometer of any experience. In having placed things I have seen happen against Scripture they don't conflict.

~Mark said...

If God never specifically communicated another thing with me that would in no way make my relationship with Him lesser, or my view of Him any less. I'm just saying that His direct communication can and does happen. Should we base our whole walk on it? Absolutely not.

Again, absolutely not.

Still, we cannot (and it seems limiting to do so) rule out that it CAN happen.

Jim Crigler said...

Dan ---

Many thanks for tackling this subject. Thanks also go to Phil, who bore up with grace under the way I used to bug him monthly or so about this — the first obligation from this post on Pyro v 1 is now fulfilled, especially given Phil's endorsement. In that old post, Phil wrote, “I also intend to comment on Henry Blackaby's paradigm for being ‘led’ by the Spirit in Experiencing God.

But with regard to the second part, which of you is going to take on the BRN-meister, Bill Gothard? Phil's original statement (immediately following the previous exerpt) was, “If interest in this subject is sustained long enough, I may also point out some examples of how subjective impressions ‘from God’ are the basis for some of Bill Gothard's most questionable teachings.”

~Mark said...

A good friend of my wife was a victim of this thinking. She's a wonderful lady who would make a great wife for any Christian man, but she turned down more than a few proposals because she'd been taught that she would feel "led" to THE man that God had planned for her. Each time, she second-guessed herself, fearing that she didn't feel enough call toward this man - maybe he wasn't the one God wanted her to marry.

Now that's the kind of thing that causes people to fear believing that God can communicate with us; it goes too far.

If there's been no "On July 18 he'll walk in wearing a grey suit with a pansy in the lapel and a bee will sting his left ear at 7:04 PM" then the wise thing to do would be to just choose a good man.

Also, if it didn't happen after that, the wise thing to do would be to question all that you've learned about following God! :)

JackW said...

Concerning Blackabys’ view on God speaking through prayer; in my reading of him what I think he is presenting is two fold. One, you can’t go before the throne of God and not be changed, some of the things that led you to pray no longer seem as important and other things do. Two, if while praying a scripture comes to mind that answers or leads to an answer to what you are praying about, is God working in you? He considers that “speaking.” He points out that if anything that you think God is communicating to you about is in conflict with scripture, it is not from God. He is not talking about hearing voices or feeling something while you pray.

Is he always clear about that? No. His loose use of language can be confusing, especially when he redefines words like “speak” and “voice.” He also suffers from poor editing in his books, but I won’t get into that.

While I enjoy reading Blackaby because of the way he makes you think, I would not recommend him because Dan is right, there can be dangerous misunderstandings of what he is teaching that could result in bad choices by the undiscerning.

Daryl said...

JackW,

It seems to me that the real problem isn't those things that contradict/don't contradict Scripture. They are, or should be, easily dealt with and, in any case it isn't even necessary to say "God told me" when it's Scripture. If it's Scripture, he told everyone.

The issue is those things that are not in direct contradiction because they just aren't mentioned. Like the aforementioned husband seeker.

No where does Scripture tell you who to marry, So if someone says "God told me to marry Bob", the only real answer to that is "God never told us that he'd tell us those things, so quit asking him to tell you those things".
I've heard it said, many-a-time, that because something doesn't contradict Scripture, it must be God. Well Scripture doesn't tell us what car to drive so if someone tells me "God told me to buy car X" I can safely say "Where does Scripture say THAT" and walk away.

donsands said...

My wife just left my office. Before she left she said, "Should I go to Kohl's, or to TJ Max, Hmm?"

I said, "Well you can pray about it, and listen for that whispering small sound that comes into your mind to sya softly either Kohnls, or TJ's, that is if the Lord might abriveate TJ Max's, or you can just pick one and believe you are in God's loving hand of providence."

It's wonderful to know if we trust in the Lord with all we can, and we don't lean on our own mystical understanding, that He shall direct our paths, as we aknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and everything really. Sure the flesh is going to war against the Spirit, but the Spirit, who is the Lord, is sovereign, and will guide until the day is done.
Great is His faithfulness, even when we are not.
At times the Lord will even let us go off the path, and so bring us back on, so that we learn to be more like Christ our King, Redeemer, Brother, and Friend.

JackW said...

Daryl, I have not read the book that Dan is reviewing, so I have to trust what Dan is presenting. If true, it goes beyond what I thought he was teaching and I would have to agree.

Barbara said...

Here's how He "talks" to me:

I pray to Him and ask for help with understanding His ways, His will, some puzzling portion of Scripture, something like that - something that has direct bearing on knowing God and growing in grace/sanctification, and He answers me - through illuminating Scripture and/or through an expositional sermon and/or through some other means of godly counsel that is based on Scripture - and in that, He shows Himself to be amazingly faithful as He promises in His word to teach us if we fervently seek Him, and I am just so frequently blown away by that one fact. He is faithful to answer those things and the better I know His Word the better I know Him, the less confused I am about what direction or path to take when confronted with the need to make decisions. Since in the end our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and the reality of living with a new heart of flesh that He has given us, one that lives for His glory and for His kingdom and His people, just seems to reveal the error involved in being so incredibly focused on ourselves and our day-to-day stuff that we feel we must constantly seek a "still small voice" for direction.

I always grew up hearing that stuff too, and many of us are affected by that concept and don't realized how deeply ingrained it is in us, particularly when we are younger in the genuine faith (I grew up in church but was just reborn last year). I just went through a heart-wrenching decision regarding a change of church fellowship - one for which I could see a biblical argument on either side and for which I was faced with many of man's arguments for staying in my old church. The answer came through an eye-opening business meeting after the old church had been struck by lightning and burned down, a business meeting that left God out entirely, and I have been tremendously blessed by the steps that God's Providence has allowed me to take in joining with a genuinely Biblical church which feeds the sheep richly from the Master's table each time we gather, and I see the sprouts of growth in grace beginning to appear.

Ultimately, I think one of our fleshly frailties is that we are so busy seeking answers and direction that we don't seek God Himself. To quote Paris Reidhead, "the question you have to ask yourself very early in your Christian life is this: Is God an end, or is He a means?"

~Mark said...

...there can be dangerous misunderstandings of what he is teaching that could result in bad choices by the undiscerning.

I can agree with that for sure!

~Mark said...

Ultimately, I think one of our fleshly frailties is that we are so busy seeking answers and direction that we don't seek God Himself.

Very well said!

scitascienda said...

"Language that the Bible reserves for binding, inerrant, verbal prophetic revelation is repeatedly applied indiscriminately to normal Christian living."

Try normal occultist living. As a former paranormal experientialist, I'm with the Squirrel on this. 1 Tim. 4:1, for starters.

We're warned over and over: don't be deceived. Don't be taken captive by empty deception and vain philosophies. I grieve over the successful replacement of substitutionary atonement with substitutionary revelation. It's an open door to many voices--the world's, the devil's, the self--but not God's.

Kurt said...

Ok, I'll bite, I almost never post here (although I read every day).

I too am an ex-charismatic, and an ex-word-of-faither.

Been there, done that, commited the sin of false prophecy.

Question:

Is remaining in the sin of false prophecy, deliberately, unrepentantly, sufficient to keep one from Heaven?

I am thinking of those who deliver "words from the Lord", have been wrong, and aren't fazed.

To be clear, lets say I confronted them (yes I have done this), warned them they are in sin, and told them to stop. And no, their leadership doesn't issue such warnings.

This wouldn't be in question if it were adultery or fornication. Is false prophecy qualitatively different?

It seems to me that Blackaby, and those like him, are teaching the little ones to sin. So while not damnable heresy per se, it is still high risk to follow such teachings.

But how high is the question.

Frank Turk said...

100 comments is totally doable.

Bobby Grow said...

I'm not sure how Friesen is tepid in response to Blackaby. Gary's book Decision Making and the Will of God substantively body slams the Blackaby approach. Maybe Gary's approach or rhetoric may appear "tepid," but the material disjunction between his and the Blackaby's is anything but . . . (even though I don't agree with Friesen's broader approach, I find it more appealing than the Blackaby's --- I am kind of biased to Friesen, he was my teacher in undergrad ;-).

DJP said...

Did you read the specific pages I specifically referred to?

No?

Then you can't criticize my impression of them, can you?

DJP said...

~MarkGod does speak specifically to people about things that in no way alter or add to Scripture, and I have seen it often enough to know it without any doubt. In fact, I'd stake my entire reputation on.

Then, dear bro, you should not have any trouble providing me with five clear, specific Scriptural passages that promise that every Christian without exception can expect to experience God "speaking" to him apart from Scripture.

Or just three such clear, unambiguous, specific passages.

Or one would be great.

DJP said...

JackW — it's nice of you to try to save the Blackabys from themselves, but I'm afraid it isn't so easy.

"A second way the Holy Spirit speaks to us is through prayer. Prayer is a conversation betwen us and God. ...It is a time for God to speak to us.... Prayer provides a tremendous opportunity for God to speak to us if we enter our prayer times with the proper attitude" (p. 57).

Which is wrong in just about every way.

DJP said...

2saintsYour position as stated implies that God spoke, had it recorded, handed to us...and walked away to watch from afar with no direct interaction/communication

So this is twice you've commented on the post, and twice you've just shot wide of what I specifically said.

Could you try, please, actually interacting with what is in the post?

Or maybe wait for tomorrow's, read both calmly and completely, then please do feel free to ask anything about them that you would like to ask.

And as to whether it's characteristic, I've sounded this note both here and at my blog many, many, MANY times. When I affirm the sufficiency of Scripture, I don't wink or cross my fingers.

Bobby Grow said...

DJP,

I wasn't necessarily criticizing your impression; just stating the impression I got from your impression of Friesen's approach to Blackaby.

It just seemed like you were using Friesen as a foil to springboard to your own approach . . . and in the process marginalizing (for those who haven't read Friesen) the actual and substantive differences between Blackaby and Friesen --- at a macro-level. At the broader level, I just wanted to underscore that in fact Friesen's disparate approach is quite robust and "in the face" of the Blackaby's.

Sorry if I got too defensive, but like I said I have a little bias ;-). Everyone has a right to their own impressions, this is America after all :-).

Daniel said...

DJP - This was an excellent post.

What I find most disturbing in dealing with those believers who have been Blackabied, is that many learn to regard their own imaginations as divine promptings - even to the point of hearing voices - and cannot be dissuaded thereafter that these promptings are the vaporous musings of their own making.

<shiver>

DJP said...

That's what I hear, Bobby Grow.

When asked to list the most influential books I've read, I always list Friesen's first ed. of Decision-Making. Everyone who knows me, knows that.

But the first couple of pages of his response to this — which I was eagerly anticipating — appalled me. And they were, in part, the springboard of this post.

I see it, I call it.

And BTW, this post isn't about that. Wait for the full review, we'll see what I think of Friesen's overall contributions to the book.

DJP said...

And why not, Daniel? Given that I'm no longer looking for what the Bible describes, it could be anything, couldn't it?

I was about to get ahead of myself. LOTS more about that tomorrow, God willing.

Luke said...

Wow. Again, amazed at the response. Good thing I was the third poster.
What I didnt tell you is that I believe in the inerrency, sufficiency, authority, infallibility, and absolute necessity of the Word to live our lives (thanks for assuming otherwise). It is God's Speech and is accurate. Also it is enough for our needs.
My comment on the 'silence' has to do with the reformed (but also others hold it) idea, that for some reason, upon completion of the canon the words of God are ended. God's vocal function to man is ceased forever, and if he is to do a "New" thing it will be without words (mime-ish, you know). (This directly contradicts what the bible itself constructs, the picture of an activly speaking God, Eph 1:17, John 16:12-14,1 Cor 14, 1 Thes5:20-22).
DJP rightly cites Heb 1:1-2. This does clearly delineate the pattern of God's speech to the world.
In times past (OT) God spoke "bit by bit." In litle increments. However in Jesus, Jesus himself (NT) is the mode and pattern of speech for the NT world (note the lack of definite-ness of uiw, it is not just I who think this). Jesus himself brings a new era of communication from God to men. No longer is it God speaking directly to men, but it is speach which is deliever in Jesus. There is a switch in the way that God communicates.
Therefore, in the reformed view that God has ceased speaking, there is a demand that if he will speak, he will speak (OT), even in the (NT). When Heb 1:1-2 demands a change.
The canon is closed, very closed, and when TBN blasts "Thus Saith the Lord" they do so at their own detriment, but please, dont lump me into a group without hearing what I have to say first.
On a scholarly vein, these ideas arent mine originally, and arent only held by TBN luminaries. Check Grudem's Systematic Theology (but I would rather look at his thesis, its more in-depth).
Also, people think that they can cover their spiritual sin by saying that they "feel" a certain way, ought to be chided with the Bible. Listen, if someone has a "word from God" and it does not pass the 1 Thess 5:20-22 test, its gone. When people hold the Word high, we can tell whos "full of it." But the solution is not to eliminate God's influence in our daily lives?
Who here ministers? Are they "called?" Did God "speak" to them? Specifically? Johnny dialectic rightly askes, does God "lay things on peoples hearts?" Is that speaking?
Good questions....

Pevensie15 said...

Funny pics

Jugulum said...

"Are they our pattern, or aren't they? If they are, there is no "struggle" to ferret out God's voice, nor need of confirmation follow a labyrinthine, slapdash path."

Amen. I think that's one of the biggest flaws in Generic Evangelicalism (tm)'s use of the various "hearing God" references in Scripture, attempting to take them as a model for common decision-making.

Quite aside from the continuation question, the apostles in the NT do not display a general model of decision-making based on "hearing God's voice". They prayerfully make decisions based on the application of wisdom. Which is how Paul talks about decisions over whether to get married, in 1 Cor. (And on the NT occasions that the Spirit does tell them to do things, there is no hint of the subjective pursuit of confirmations. It's pretty clear.)

(As a side note, I have found charismatics who take Friesen's view of decision-making.)

jmb said...

Dan....:

"We love the idol of our imagined god - our secret, invisible friend. Shades of Jimmy Stewart in Harvey."

Excellent analogy, thanks. And in keeping with the rabbit theme.

DJP said...

That was Dave, but thanks!

2saints said...

I've learned a lot from you and readily admit that your intelligence and knowledge far exceed mine.

Maybe I am misunderstanding your entire position because I am not calling into question the sufficiency of Scripture. (I'm not real computer literate so haven't actually figured out how to italicize that last part. Sorry.)

You asked ~Mark to give you Scripture references of God speaking to His people. I'm wondering why John 10:27 doesn't count. Some of it also comes from the definition of rhema as opposed to logos in my understanding.

Maybe I'm jumping ahead in my thinking. I do that sometimes and don't communicate very clearly. (That's why I've not ever posted before. But you've been very gracious with me so far so I may post more often. Unless you don't want me to.)

I'm going to try to explain. Please forgive me if I seem to ramble. If one only has their own understanding of Scripture on which to base the assurance of their salvation, how can we truly be sure we won't be one of the ones who end up in the end saying, "Lord, Lord" but He rejects them?

It seems to me the reformed people should be strongest supporters of Blackaby's position.

You asked me to interact with what you posted. I'm first understanding you to question the fact that God doesn't change. The Bible says He doesn't so I believe Blackaby's position is that He deals generally in the same manner with all of His children. If there is no continuum then how can we know which parts apply to us and which don't? Seems to be too much of an open door to throwing out parts we don't like.

I have more questions but I'll stop there. This is long. I do apologize.

I may be misunderstanding you. You're a good teacher. It just seems to me you're not teaching the "whole counsel" of Scripture on this issue.

I'll reread and wait for tomorrow. Thank you.

The Squirrel said...

2saints,

Have you every tried to explain something Biblical to an unbeliever? Something that is just so crystal clear in the text, and they just can't get it?

His sheep will respond to His Word and follow Him, in person while He was here, by the written Word, now.

I've always thought that John 10:27 should be cross referenced to 1 Corinthians 2:14-16.

sean patrick said...

I have so many questions. A lot is heavy on my heart.

I ask these:

What sort of language do we use to say God answered our prayers?

Is there any true sense of "calling," apart from gifting and character? An elder, for example. Can one know he is called to be an elder, before he has been trained up in the faith and meets the criteria laid out by Paul? Or do we sum it up to say that if the brother has the character, and the gifts to teach, preach, lead, shepherd, then that's how to know if he is "called"?

What about the "God laid it on my heart," or "Having a burden for.....?"

Are those hyper-spiritual terms for simply sharing what is important to us, or can (will) God actually impress something on someone in a moment?

What I'm looking for, I think, is consistency in how we experience things and what to call those experiences, and how to explain the providence and direction of the Lord.

If the Word is what we have, and is studied, meditated upon, and ultimately to be applied to our circumstances/decision-making, and that's *it*, then I want to just call it that and be on my way, and not equate any of my creeping feelings/doubts to anything else except creeping feelings/doubts.

Because I want to know His will. But His will is revealed, so what I'm saying is I want to know how to carry out His will in my life. More specifically, I want to know how to use my gifts, passions, time, resources for Him. More specifically, I can go in a number of directions, all of which would be both encouraged and discouraged depending on the "flavor" of any individual respected Christian in my community.

sean patrick said...

Also:

How do we "experience" the work of the Devil in reality?

And, what would you call the feeling of "conviction?" Simply our mind/conscience weighed heavily upon by what we know of the Word? The Holy Spirit convicts sinners- is that supernatural? What do we call the experience? isn't that God "communicating?"

Sorry for harping, and for bringing this off topic. These things have been building on me for awhile.

Doug Hibbard said...

Sean Patrick--

I'd say that 'conviction' is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, and that it is God 'communicating.' Except that in His communication, the way I've experienced it, He brings forward the pertinent Scriptures. His 'speaking' is from the inspired Word, while the work of the Spirit is reminding me of what He has already written.

So, the essence is still that the Word is sufficient, that by the power of God, His Word accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it, to reprove, correct, instruct, discipline.

Specific case in point where He has done this within my own family: Proverbs 18:9 was brought up in my family, and his convicted all of us, in our various stages (from the 5 year-old to me) about being faithful to work harder in school, not spend so much time goofing off, getting to work and fully engaging with what I'm doing.

What's the verse? "He who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys." And the power of God helped my 7-year-old to understand, without mom's explanation, that this applied to her goofing off on math.

So the Word is sufficient. The Word said so, and there's an experience to back it up. Not that we should need it. Because we have the Word, and that should be enough. But I like hearing experiences too.

Doug
(note: there are far wiser people around here. They may have better explanations.)

Stefan said...

This is the first chance I've had to read the post and most (though hardly all) of the comments.

I agree with the gist of the post. And I'm struck that the "specific will" view seems to be quite pervasive in many quarters of the church.

From my brief glance over the publicly available portions of the book in Google Books, I'm more inclined to agree with the third ("relationship") view.

But among other things, ~Mark wrote:

Has no one here ever been in a position of "sensing/hearing/being led" to do an action that seems completely out of the blue yet results in something glorifying to God that wouldn't have happened if that "leading" was not followed?

Isn't this an outworking of divine providence? And wouldn't it be reasonable to speculate—if the results are furthering the kingdom of God, and conform to scriptural teaching—that such providential, God-glorifying events could have been the work of the Holy Spirit?

Testimonies of these sorts of "little providences" abound from believers who are solidly Sola Scriptura. The key is that they don't talk about "hearing a word from the Lord," and they don't actively seek these things out.

Stefan said...

As I think about it, a lot of what I just wrote can probably be explained by a combination of:

* Divine providence;
* Prayerfulness and/or answered prayer; and
* Walking (or trying to walk) in obedience to Christ; and
* The counsel of Scripture.

(The last point ties into something Rabbit wrote earlier.)

Of course, all of these are areas where the Holy Spirit plays a key role, according to the testimony of Scripture itself.

On the other hand, the problem with "promptings" and "being led" is that they might be from the Holy Spirit, or they might not be. Only discernment can tell, and the only sure standard we have for that discernment is Scripture.

For example, sometimes people claim that they were "led" by God to commit some sin, like, say, leave their wife, which would make God into someone who contradicts His own clear teachings.

I've gotta run; that's all I have time for.

Russ said...

I'm sorry your Bible is missing Matthew 11:11; it would put in place the bogus over-exaltation of OT prophets. Wayne Grudem and John Piper dismantled such sad antiBiblical cessationist delusions about things charismatic some time ago for those without a deafening eisegetical cessationist axe to grind and prefer God's Word to man's blind rant.
As a reformed charismatic I really pity the gross Biblical, historical, theological and spiritual ignorance this piece portrays (matched by its charismaniac counterpart errors to be sure, Romans 2) in order to ride the dead old cessationist hobby horse poor dear Calvin concocted centuries ago to explain away the Holy Ghost still working in godly Romanist priests he fought, as God said in 1 Kings 19:18-Romans 11:4 where God had to correct Elijah for his similar error. The nonsense about tongues is similarly pathetic, though I must grant you that those who believe in it and promote it and are so bad in explaining it are almost as harmful as its enemies, one of whom I've yet to meet who knew what he was critiquing or condemning. Strange the lies cessationists have told about my charismatic fellowship on the basis of second-hand information in the name of God and His Word of course. How strange those who pretend to be Biblical in their theology have 1 Corinthians 14:39 & 1 Thessalonians 5:19 missing from their text. Of course I also constantly grieve/marvel at "charismatics" pretending to exalt the Holy Ghost while despising His Supraerrant (above error, not just without it) Word in the process and evan-jelly-cals likewise pretending to exalt God's Supraerrant Word and quenching His Holy Ghost as that Word forbids. How tragic their blindness that each without the other is a dead joke. 1 John 1:10. God save us all and bring us repentance of our sinful pride. Because of the Biblically and theologically ignorant groupie babel common here not worth reading, those wanting to reply can click on my name and email me.

Frank Turk said...

Comment 101, dude.

And just in time to take out the meat chub for the concerned and troubled continualists.

For you guys who have a heavy heart about this post and its intention and sense, I have one fellow who has 5 more questions at the DebateBlog regarding limited atonement, and then one fellow who can be put off regarding inerrancy (that one will be a treat for the kids), so if any of you want to solemnly and seriously talk about the Gifts of the Spirit, I have a thesis I am willing to defend:

Charismatic enthusiasm is defined by the New Testament as a mark of spiritual immaturity.

if you want me to clarify that statement, or you want to reproach my assertion, e-mail me and we can set up an extended session at the D-blog: 10 questions each, 1000-word answer limit, 200-word question limit, and you can have the opening and closing statement each at 5000 words.

Visit the D-blog to get a flavor for how it works, and then e-mail me.

~Mark said...

~Mark — God does speak specifically to people about things that in no way alter or add to Scripture, and I have seen it often enough to know it without any doubt. In fact, I'd stake my entire reputation on.

Then, dear bro, you should not have any trouble providing me with five clear, specific Scriptural passages that promise that every Christian without exception can expect to experience God "speaking" to him apart from Scripture.

Or just three such clear, unambiguous, specific passages.

Or one would be great.



Please look back at what I wrote immediately after the portion you quote:

It's not an everyday miracle thing, and lots of people may not see it happen for whatever reason, but while I do NOT agree with what the Blackaby's have apparently written in this book it is impossible to say that God doesn't communicate with His children.

I said that lots of people may not see it happen for whatever reason, very clearly not "...every Christian without exception..." because Scripture doesn't say that as far as I see.

I said God DOES speak still to individuals though, and I have seen it. I have a friend who has offered certain things that while some could be an extremely sharpened discerning of spirits (accurately warning of dangers from individuals having only seen a picture of them or a glance at their face) others assuredly can't (saying "so and so is in trouble and calling them to find out that yes they were, and telling me "God has given pastor a reprieve from his new appointment but it's only temporary" only to learn from him hours later that he'd just gotten that approval to stay).

I've seen this in other faithful Christians, and I myself have been there a number of times. (Like the time I had very clearly in my head the statement "You're about to lose your job" despite being in very good standing with management, and less than 2 weeks later our processing plant was shut down.)

There are others but I'm not taking experiences and running with them. No, I can't think of a specific verse that says "For all time I will tell you what to do everyday", but based on principle and the fact that there isn't verdict to the opposite, I see this:

God is a loving Father. Why would He not talk specifically with His children?

His Spirit actually lives within His children. He's inside me.

I do know many faithful, mature Christians who firmly state that they've never experienced such a thing as "hearing from God" and I believe them and I don't doubt their standing with God at all. In fact, there are several whose maturity and grasp of Scripture inspires me.

In short, I believe God does directly communicate with His children. Not even in Scripture did He communicate directly with every servant so I don't declare that now, but His Spirit living within every Christian certainly makes it possible.

I agree with what I see you saying in that telling every Christian to expect this and that it's the only way to the fullest Christian life is not only wrong but harmful.

I agree that just because a perceived message from God doesn't clash with revealed Scripture doesn't automatically make it from God, which is why I also always asked people to pray for me when God put something major on my heart to do.

It's certainly true that "God told me so" has been massively abused.

I know for sure that if ALL a Christian had was the Scriptures and God's Spirit to lead him in understanding them he could live a completely full and rich Christian life.

Not all Christians will hear specifically from God aside from what He has revealed in Scripture. However, some do.

Should that be sought as an end goal in itself? No. God Himself should be sought.

I'm open to being proven wrong by the Scriptures because I don't want to walk in the dark, so if tomorrow's post shows me I'm wrong I'll be quick to admit it and certainly repent. I'll even send you a box of trout flies as part of my penance! :)

('Course I'd send those even if it doesn't happen, so I may have to find another recourse.;) )

DJP said...

Mark, you know you''re a dear brother and I love you, and I think your heart's fundamentally in the right place. But I've got to say — and you know I'm going to say —

1. You affirm that Scripture is sufficient.

2. You passionately believe in these instances of God "talking" to people apart from Scripture, sensing, hearing, feeling led, but...

3. You can't give me one verse about it.

Something there doesn't quite fit.

Susan said...

Dan: "I've sometimes thought of making a book filled with illustrations of people who knew God was "telling" them to... and were dead-wrong.

But who'd read it?"

Don't know the answer to that one, but you can put me in that book as a sad example of what not to do! I won't even try to say how many times I've had "confirmations" in the past (even from reading Scripture itself!) that proved to be dead wrong. A couple of those experiences and my choices/non-choices as a result of them nearly made the end of my emotional health, yet the Lord did not shield me from them. I think He'd rather tear me apart than to have me continue to believe falsely.

I agree with Rabbit--the more I read Scripture (the right way, the way it is intended to be read), the more God "speaks" to me by bringing verses to mind. And Scott made a good point when he pointed out that people want to know God's will for sure so that they won't mess things up--that's how I started in the very beginning (not to mention that I had charismatic/mystical leanings at first). It took some years to convince me that God does not have a Plan B, especially when things turned out for the worse. Until this day I continue to struggle with this in my heart even though I agree with it mentally.

2. ~Mark: "If there's been no 'On July 18 he'll walk in wearing a grey suit with a pansy in the lapel and a bee will sting his left ear at 7:04 PM' then the wise thing to do would be to just choose a good man."

Love the bee sting, ~Mark. Hilarious! :)

3. To all: Thanks for the good comments (even though I have read most but not all of them). Thanks also, Dan, for the great post. Looking forward to the next installment tomorrow....

integritydc_net said...

So, would that be a flap jack rabbit? :D

Mark said...

I grew up with the view of a specific will of God for my life, and threw away eight years of my adult life trying to live by it. I was constantly plagued by guilt for deciding one way over another, wondering if it was God's will. The voices in my heart told me contradictory things, so I wasn't sure which one to follow. I have a natural skeptical and doubting heart, even to myself, and this really was paralyzing and crippling when I see God as talking to everyone but me. Wouldn't God talk to me if He cared for me?
I would say this was part of the reason I walked away from God for a portion of my life, believing but frustrated that I was left out.
The truth is the only reason this way works for some people is they are grounded in the word, and it is actually the properly interpreted and application of Scripture that is going on in their head.
God now speaks to me everyday, some times more, when I choose to read His inspired Scriptures.
The freedom I received from reading Garry Freisen's book was incredible. My only fault with the book was his willingness to accept the other view because it doesn't do too much damage (my words, not his, it's been awhile since I read it). This may be why his response seemed tepid.
I wanted his response to be angry at them for leading people astray, or giving them false confidence, especially immature Christians like me, because I was angry.
While holding the view may not be damning, it can sure lead people there.

Mark said...

God's hand upon our lives cannot be seen presently, or in looking to the future, but only in looking behind. So stay close to His Word and follow after Him, and He will guide you. In doing this He is placing every step you take, but you probably won't feel it, and He definitely won't tell you beforehand.

beachbirdie said...

Umm...hmmm...what I think you are saying is that the Bible is all we need and we should read it and rely on it. Did I get your point correctly? (wink)

Excellent post; thank you!

Stefan said...

Mark, I think you summed it up best with your last (3:56 a.m.) comment.

~Mark said...

Mark, you know you''re a dear brother and I love you, and I think your heart's fundamentally in the right place. But I've got to say — and you know I'm going to say —

1. You affirm that Scripture is sufficient.

2. You passionately believe in these instances of God "talking" to people apart from Scripture, sensing, hearing, feeling led, but...

3. You can't give me one verse about it.

Something there doesn't quite fit.



I might not be understanding exactly what you're looking for in terms of a Scriptural example. In terms of God communicating directly with His servants there are the examples of every prophet, many of the Kings, and certain individuals all of these of course Old Testament.

In the New Testament Jesus promise of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-26) to each believer was to bring remembrance and understanding of what He'd taught. I think I'd ask about that whether it was an exclusive statement along the lines of "the Counselor will bring this understanding and nothing else."

That however can't be the case in the immediate sense because Acts 16:6-7 ascribes direct influence by the Spirit upon the actions of Paul and others so at least right after Jesus ascension the Spirit is described as directly communicating in some way with Christians.

Since the Holy Spirit has feelings (Eph. 4:30), and He sanctifies us (1 Cor. 6:11), matures us (Gal 5:22-25), gives us strength (Gal. 5:5) and guidance and assurance (Rom. 8:11-17), to do the works we were prepared to do (Eph. 2:8-10), these things and more all while living inside us, it seems that would allow great room for the possibility that at some point He's going to communicate something to us for some certain task at hand.

Setting aside for a moment those things that are explained/carried out as a function of one's particular spiritual gifting, that leaves "God told me so" as not only a very literal understanding of what happens when The Holy Spirit illuminates one on the meanings of Scripture, but also as a real possibility in the carrying out of a given special act.

The Christian who is in need of exactly $10 for a certain thing and then another is suddenly stricken by the desire to give it to that person fro reasons until that moment, unknown. (A friend's shared testimony and similar to one of mine)

The Christian who had no need of or real desire for a drivers license until God puts on his heart that He will have an important driving job for him, then hand-delivers the job "out of the blue". (That's part of my testimony.)

The realization sight unseen that my best friends dearly loved dog was going to die and the complete inability to pray that God would heal it but a restriction to praying only that He'd strengthen my friend through the pain. (This was not "with words" so to speak, that He did this, merely what I knew had to be.)

These are my examples, just a few on the list. The strong man in my house is definitely God so it ain't demonic possession. :)

To be sure, I recognize the danger in teaching people that this should be their everyday experience, especially if they aren't well-grounded and mentored. Even Moses, Noah and Isaiah had their very silent times and it was to them that God spoke most directly, not all the Israelites.

In the new Testament we see the need for men who've distinguished themselves in knowledge of the Scriptures, maturity and fruit of the Spirit to instruct us and the command for us to understand the Scriptures ourselves (2 Tim. 2:15, Acts 17:11) because that is how we will know the revealed will of God for us all.

I just have not been shown Scriptural reason that God will no longer communicate directly to His children, through His Spirit, to accomplish a certain deed.

Am I misunderstanding what exactly you are looking for as far as Scriptural example of God's direct communication into a life?

Still, it's there.

DJP said...

If John 14:16-26 is addressed to each believer, then it is a promise of inerrant memory of inerrant revelation. Is that what you believe? I don't think so. Apply it to the apostles (as I think we should), and it fits wording and context, and was fulfilled.

Acts 16:6-7 speaks of inerrant direct revelation to the apostle Paul, which I thought you said does not take place apart from Scripture today.

The other Scriptures speak of the Spirit's work in believers, which nobody denies.

None of the Scriptures is what I asked for: clear, specific Scriptural passages that promise that every Christian without exception can expect to experience God "speaking" to him apart from Scripture.

~Mark said...

None of the Scriptures is what I asked for: clear, specific Scriptural passages that promise that every Christian without exception can expect to experience God "speaking" to him apart from Scripture.

Ah, now I see. I can't imagine that the Holy Spirit would inspire any of the penners of Scripture to say "But despite this book, believe what comes into your head" or anything like that because Scripture commands that every thought/belief/action be brought under Christ and since we know Him through the Scriptures that IS exactly what must happen each time.

If I am understanding you correctly (and please correct me if I am misstating your case), you are saying then that the only time God through His Spirit will ever communicate directly to His children in this life, is through the written Word and no other way.

Then somebody out there brought treatment of my ADHD into my life through a friend who while praying for me felt led to a collection books her husband had under the belief that the answer for me would be there, and discovered a book by a Christian pharmacist which led to a complete turnaround in my life.

Somebody told me ahead of time I was gonna lose my job and that I should seek God before focusing on anything else and then supplied enough side work without me even searching for it that I could spend the next 3 months studying Scripture and in prayer for 8 hours a day.

Somebody told me when I printed up your excellent writing on why we need to be saved and how for a guy who works in my building to whom I'd been witnessing that I must add John MacArthur's writing on "this is how you know you're saved" even though I had only thought I'd give him your writing that night and after my vacation talk to him more. He said though while we read that he wanted to be saved now, and after explaining Christ to Him and him submitting to Christ, the first thing he asked was "How can I be sure it took". (Many might say this is just how it works, but I don't go around printing packages for people and it made NO sense to me that I should add "this is how you can be sure it took" when the guy wasn't yet saved anyway.)

No one has produced any Scripture excluding it and while clearly no immature Christian without a strong mentor should be given free reign to run with the idea, I have known the direct action of God in my life.

After taking then (now regrettably) teaching "Experiencing God" I did over-commit several times to waiting hear from God (though thankfully never to any disastrous results until I didn't listen to God about a thing) until I got older and out of that baby stage, but that doesn't remove the times He clearly did by His Spirit communicate with me.

I took these experiences to the Word of God to test them, and the result of each was to send me joyfully back to the Word for deeper and deeper study of this amazing God.

It's a lack of Biblical foundation that leads people to leave their spouses, commit adultery, shoot people and other sinful actions because they're acting on an impulse NOT submitted to His Word.

In short, take it to God through examining of his Word and prayer, if it don't fit you must desist (take that Jonnie Cochran), if it do fit you still hafta be careful in it, and the Christian devoted to God will come to know when it is His voice as opposed to their own sinful imagination and even THEN will still take it to the Word and prayer.

Even something so seemingly as innocuous as feeling "get back to the studio right NOW" and finding that the phone was ringing, answering it (which I rarely do at night) and finding a distressed father who'd mis-dialed the poison control number and having that number handy to give him.

Sure, we could chalk that up to coincidence, but should we?

If I am provided Scripture that excludes the possibility even by over-whelming principle I'll gladly spend the rest of my life wondering just how the many otherwise inexplicable events I've seen and lived, and erase from my mind the possibility that they were from God.

But only then. If I'm not mistaken, isn't that exactly the barometer I should be using? Many have made mistakes, but that doesn't write or erase truth. It only means they've been in the wrong, and I say that with all understanding that I have been wrong in the past at times and will certainly be again.

It's something that needs to be taught responsibly and very carefully, but not abjectly dismissed.

~Mark said...

If John 14:16-26 is addressed to each believer, then it is a promise of inerrant memory of inerrant revelation. Is that what you believe? I don't think so. Apply it to the apostles (as I think we should), and it fits wording and context, and was fulfilled.

It does indeed (at least v 26) seem to fit a specific promise to the Apostles, but then when I, who have a lousy memory, can be in either witness to an unbeliever or debate with a false teacher and verses come to mind that perfectly fit the situation, I can't see fit to take the credit.

Is it a misapplication of this particular Scripture to say that The Holy Spirit will bring also to remembrance of His children today the Scriptures they have studied at a time when it is needed?

I know that parts of the Scriptures cannot be applied to one as they are to the other, but does this verse, given our knowledge of the work of the Holy Spirit, fit that mold?

To be clear, I don't take this portion of Scripture as a proof text of God talking to us today, but that He can and has been willing to do so in regards to the Word. meaning for simplicity sake, He does own a phone. (I hope that doesn't sound crass toward Him, I don't mean it to.)

~Mark said...

None of the Scriptures is what I asked for: clear, specific Scriptural passages that promise that every Christian without exception can expect to experience God "speaking" to him apart from Scripture.

Again though, if you go back to my previous comments you'll see that I did not say "every Christian without exception" and even put forward not every Christian.

NOT EVERY.

That's where people go wrong on this. It's like it's must be all or nothing and it doesn't have to be.

I did NOT SAY "EVERY...WITHOUT EXCEPTION".

I did not.

DJP said...

I can't really keep up with comments that are 300-770+ words long on both meta's. To deal with a number of them, I'm posting this to both.

Here's a summary-response.

1. We should be very careful in what we say about Christian living, and keep our language as rigorously Biblical as we can.

2. Since Scripture does not lead Christians to expect, seek for, depend on, look to, or give credence to God speaking to them apart from inerrant, God-breathed Scripture, neither should we.

3. God can get anybody to do anything He wants, any way He wants. That's His business.

4. Our sole responsibility is to learn His will from His Word and do it (John 14:15; 15:14; 1 John 5:1-3).

5. If a decision or choice we must make is not spelled out in the Word, we should think it through rationally and responsibly (Proverbs 16:1, 9).

6. It is wildly irresponsible and un-Biblical to try to guess or divine God's sovereign will (which is 100% His responsibility) and do it as if it were His moral will (cf. Deuteronomy 29:29).

7. We should avoid "story theology" like the plague that it is, and strictly stick to the Word (cf. 2 Peter 1:16-21).

Michelle said...

Thank you for these two "Non Sola Scriptura" posts.

Several years ago we attended a Southern Baptist Church and went through the Experiencing God study. At the time I was very uncomfortable with the emphasis on receiving extrabiblical messages from God, hearing His voice for specific direction, etc.

Thanks for articulating so well what I knew then to be problematic.

~Mark said...

I'll shut up now 'cause these comments are getting long, but I'll say once last thing:

I actually do agree with your list as written Dan, I do. The vast majority of examples I've seen given in the meta of the dangers of this do not mirror my situation. Also, the first thing I always tell people who say "What does God want" in any given situation is "What does the Bible say?"

I don't seek after "words from God" as a norm, they have always just come to me, and then the process starts to decipher them.

Now I'm shuttin' up 'til I get the time to write a thorough post at my site. :)

Thanks for taking the time to work over this with me. It's hard sometimes to really debate a topic and learn it because one side or the other starts yelling (not me!) and I don't learn anything from it.

steveprost said...

For those interested in intelligent sober furtherance of the discussion WITHIN historic, Reformed, scholarly, evangelical perspective... and perhaps provides some peacemaking common ground the heated different sides of the debate in this blog string just might agree with... I strongly recommend making the effort to read Vern Poythress' "Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts:
Affirming Extraordinary Works of the Spirit within Cessationist Theology" that was published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society in '96. It is available here:
www.frame-poythress.org/poythress_articles/1996Modern.htm

Agree or disagree, I think at least understanding what Poythress is saying will help strict cessationists (who may see Poythress in a continualist camp) be more cautiously respectful of some forms of continuationist doctrine.

DJP said...

Yes, Steve, I think we're all aware that many people who aren't here have written many articles that aren't this one about many things that aren't this post.

Did you have any interaction you wished to give, here, about this post? You know, anything in-line-with-Rule-4?

steveprost said...

DJP,
You snarkily (which is fine, imho, but can I play too?) suggest my comment flagrantly violates rule #4 (“off topic”). Poythress’ article is actually demonstrably quite germane to what you‘ve specifically written:
Let me first make clear since you invite my own thoughts that I believe Blackaby’s approach at issue here is a very poor hermeneutic, and that seeking God’s voice apart from his authoritative Scripture-voice as ordinary and/or normative is immature and dangerous.
But you ask in the blog post: “(If the Blackabys are) sending us after lower-octane revelation, whence do they invent this category?... If every believer hears God's voice and words, and receives individual non-Biblical guidance, what distinguishes each from a prophet? Is it the inerrant speaking of the message?” In comments you similarly say, “… I ask - what's the difference? Prophets get high-octane direct revelation, while we non-prophet Christians get lower-octane revelation? Where's that in Scripture?”
So you asked about any basis from a biblical viewpoint for a distinguishment, a difference, between biblical prophets and something of a lesser degree. Poythress gives the best biblical argument to your specific question to what something short of biblical prophecy could be, how that could be in Scripture, what “category” that could be, that is from a holistic Reformed (and even what he claims to be a cessationist) view of Scripture. His evangelical Reformed argument is how one could hear from God at what you call a lesser (analogous) “lower-octane” level, at least as far as the person with this “analogous gift” of prophecy grasps it and communicates it. That is one aspect of what you therefore specifically object to about Blackaby, and provides answer to your questions not as easily targeted for derision. Poythress thus demonstrates a Scriptural argument for this lesser-octane divine communication; while this does not directly address the other prong of your objection -- how such an ‘analogous gift’ should be sought by “EVERYONE”-- it foundationally addresses even that aspect: if one agrees something of this “analogous” variety of divine communication exists today, is there an extent to some VERY secondary degree EVERYONE may seek to be open to that, to desire that, to experience that to some attenuated degree as diverse renowned Reformed men as described in the article like John Flavel, Sam Rutherford, R.C. Sproul and Cotton Mather have? Answering that is beyond the scope of this small space… but is it “on topic” with the heart of your questions/objections? Abundantly so.

DJP said...

If Dr. Poythress would like to come and interact with the post, he's welcome, and I'm sure we'd all benefit from it.

So far the Scriptures adduced for God speaking unclearly, undistinctly, unauthoratatively, and unbindingly stands at zero.

William Dicks said...

Hi Dan,

I wrote a 7 or 8 part review of Garry Friessen's Decision Making and the Will of God.

That book would most probably be a more comprehensive response to the Blackaby's.

What I like about Friessen's book, is that it clearly sets forth a Biblical model of decision making with proper Biblical exegesis.

Whether someone is charismatic or not, there can only be one correct way that God leads us. It is either the Biblical way, or hearing "voices!"

Everyday Mommy© said...

I have a friend who once said, "Ever notice how much God's voice sounds alot like your own?"

A much-needed post Dan. From my experience with the church over the last 20 years, the BV (Blackaby View) is the unquestioned standard.

Zib said...

JackW said...
Yeah, it’s interesting that I’ve recently seen “Old Testament patterns” hermeneutics used to justify tithing and single-elder rule.

I don’t know if you plan on addressing this in a future post or not, but I would be interested to know just how God revealed to you that He was calling you to be a pastor.

DJP response:
Simple(ish). No direct "revelation" at all, but the guidance provided by 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:3-8, and related passages.

Bang, Next.

My Response:
I see you making a distinction from "direct" revelation and application. You claim guidance provided by scripture that was specific and unique to you, else everyone who read it would be guided to pastor.

I don't believe Blackaby is claiming that God gives any new qualifications to the pastor position, but that God guides/speaks to us through scripture to how he desires us to apply it to our personal lives. That you would be guided to pastor is a new revelation in a sense to you, but not a new revelation about God. That is why I think you miss the mark thinking that if the spirit guides us in any way that it is equivalent to adding to the cannon.

Bang. Next. Humility in your responses is much better received.

I would like to see how your being guided by scripture to apply it to your life differently, isn't an act of God guiding you personally as opposed to just the right reading of inspired scripture.

DJP said...

Absolutely not. The guidance provided by 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:3-8, and related passage is given to every Christian. Only the application is individual. Any person who looks at those passages knows what God's will is concerning pastors. He applies those tests to himself to see if he is such a man.

If your definition of "humility" means pretending that Scripture's clear teaching is actually unclear, or that harmful false teaching is really innocent and harmless, then I pray God that I will always disappoint you.

Zib said...

I say humility, because there was much to your original response that seemed to lack humility. Bang, next, maybe being some indicator of what I touched on. Not scripture.

So if I understand what you are saying now, it is that anyone who reads this passage and meets these qualifications is called to be a pastor, and that is how you knew you were guided to be a pastor.

It would seem that there would be many men trying to pastor and having "missed" their calling. Also you are then implying that there are alot of Christians in churches everywhere that are walking in sin, because it is clear they are not applying such an obvious passage of scripture to their lives. I may have missed that post.

I must be missing something, because you are always very thoughtful. Help me understand how you explain how different people actually apply a passage to their lives differently without some outside "guidance" and without disregarding the scripture.

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.

DJP said...

That's right. I really, really, really, really, really, really do believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, and that the canon is closed. And so, I really, really, really, really, really, really do believe specifically, that 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:3-8, and related passages tell us what we need to know on that subject.

Find me a verse that plainly lists pastors as in some way exceptions to all the other gifts, and I'll reconsider.

Next.

Zib said...

It does tell us all that we need to know on that subject, yet how to apply it to your life seemed to involve the area of application not the subject of the pastor.

What is your response to those that meet the qualifications that are not serving as pastors. Are they clearly in sin?

DJP said...

How would you assess anyone who was making absolutely no use of the gift God gave him to use? Can you find Scripture that applies to that situation?

Zib said...

You fail to answer my question and then ask a completely ubsurd question back to me that has an obvious answer. It is my desire to discuss further and sharpen one another. Not just pronounce next, when there is real depth to the discussion.

I do acknowledge there are many abuses on both sides. Wrongly applying scripture to justify what we really wanted to do anyway, and those that don't care what scripture has to say, because they are only going to do what they wanted to do anyway and are looking for a "God said to me" card to play.

Those are not the questions I was asking you. You are a man seeking to live in a way pleasing to the Lord, just as many others do. And you were guided in applying scripture in a way that others may not be, by simply checking off the criteria boxes. That requires no "guiding". So how is one guided to apply scripture differently if it is not God himself guiding, by using scripture plus "His guiding" to lead you how to apply it in your life and unique setting.

DJP said...

I'm sorry you're dissatisfied with my answer, but I'm sticking to it. Every Christian with a Bible has access to exactly the same percentage of inerrant, binding, special revelation: 100%

I read exactly the same as any Christian woman does when I read the passages about what a Christian wife is to do. I don't need a special revelation from the Holy Spirit to tell me that I myself am not obliged nor "called" to obey those passages.

And I acknowledge NO abuses as necessarily coming from the position that affirms the sufficiency of Scripture; while the damage I just spent two posts detailing NECESSARILY inheres in the insufficient-Scripture position.

Zib said...

I am dissatisfied with your answer because you are not answering it at ALL, and I really desire to see this flushed out a little deeper for everyone's benefit including my own.

If you were "guided" to be a pastor because you could check off certain criteria, then is everyone who is above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, manages his own family well, sees that his children obey him with proper respect, not a recent convert, He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, called to be a pastor?

Are all men that meet this criteria but are not pastoring right now, are they in sin because they were guided the same as you, but yet are walking in disobedience. Or was there more to your being guided that I am just missing in your posts.

Thanks for the humility in advance to be transparent.

Zib said...

Is every single man who is "called" to be a pastor simply walking in sin, because he has clearly failed to be guided by scripture.

What about a young man who senses he is being called to the pastorate. Are they all just expressing their own desires, and are actually in sin for attributing something to God that is obvious to the rest of us not from God, because God doesn't "guide" that way for one and for two he is too young to be a pastor yet, and doesn't have a family either.

I ask these questions so that you would get a lot more clear how you were "guided" into applying scripture to your life without having to be guided by God, because that would need to be added to the canon of scripture.

Michelle said...

Pardon my interjection here, and I hope it's ok for me to refer to a teaching of John MacArthur. If not, please go ahead and delete this comment.

In his booklet "Found: God's Will" he gives six principles for finding God's will. From Scripture we know that God's will is that you be saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive and suffering, and he lays out the relevant verses. The sixth principle, he says, is this: if the first five principles are in place in your life, then do whatever you want.

He refers to Psalm 37:4 "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." He says God does not say He will fulfill all the desires there. If you are living a godly life, He will give you the right desires.

He goes on to say that when people ask him why he went into his present ministry, his answer is always "Because I wanted to."

I hope I have paraphrased accurately from the final chapter on pages 54 and 55, and that this is helpful to the discussion.

Zib said...

Thanks Michelle.

How is "Doing whatever you want because you should be desiring what God desires at that point" reconciled with Eph 4:11 where it clearly says God is the one acting by giving some to be pastors.

As well as, does that explanation hold for how God gave some to be apostles in the same giving context of that verse?

To me it seems that God "called" the apostles, not just them doing what they wanted at that point. And yet, Eph 4 draws no distinction in God's giving or calling.

Michelle said...

I'm no theological heavyweight to be sure, but I do know that Scripture reveals God to be sovereign and that nothing will frustrate His will. So I guess I don't see the conflict you see.

If I was to attempt to reconcile the two, I'd say that if it is a man's desire to pastor and he meets the Biblical qualifications, then his desire and God's will converge under the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

I'll leave it at that for now as keeper-at-home duties call!

Michelle said...

Correction:

If it is a man's desire to pastor, and he meets the Biblical qualifications, AND he is already obeying the will of God as revealed clearly in Scripture (saved, sanctified, Spirit-filled, submissive, etc.), then his desire and God's will converge under the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Zib said...

You stated:
So I guess I don't see the conflict you see.

The conflict that I see is:
to say that Paul became an apostle "Because he wanted to." would seem to be a little bit of a conflict from the story told in Acts. We actually know how it happened and that would not summarize that story. It does not appear to be an example of him just doing what it was that he wanted to do. That is not heavy theology to see that conflict.

Michelle said...

... and Noah didn't build the ark "because he wanted to" ... I know, I know!

But we're not talking about Paul and we're not talking about Noah. We're talking about 21st century believers, possessors of both the closed canon of Scripture and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

There is a difference, which is what the Blackaby viewpoint fails to recognise.

Someone, please correct me if I'm going wrong.

Zib said...

I pointed out in an earlier post that Eph 4:11 that lumped how it was God who gave some to be apostles and some to be pastors. It was the NT closed canon that lumped God as the initiator in both and it made no distinction in language. I was merely pointing out that scripture didn't

Not quite relevant to Noah, other than one could say that God called Noah to do it, just in the same way God "guides" men to become pastors and build churches they otherwise never would have built if left to do what they just wanted to do.

DJP said...

Michele — what are you asking, or wondering?

Stefan said...

Um, just to interject, would it not be fair to say that 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:3-8 should be read in light of Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12, and similar passages?

In other words, Dan is pursuing pastoral ministry not merely because he meets the qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus, but because he has discerned that he has the particular spiritual gift of teaching, by applying the whole counsel of Scripture?

Michelle said...

DJP, I was asking for correction if anything I have said in my attempt to point Zib in the right direction is wrong Biblically.

DJP said...

No problems that I see, Michelle. Paul and Noah both did what they did because of direct revelation; a pastor discerns his gift as I'd explained earlier, requiring no additional revelation.

SolaMom said...

Troll anyone?

no1here said...

Stefan said:
In other words, Dan is pursuing pastoral ministry not merely because he meets the qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus, but because he has discerned that he has the particular spiritual gift of teaching, by applying the whole counsel of Scripture?


The problem with this and the prevailing view here, for me, is the he has discerned. I submit that I am not capable of this discernment, but rather it is the Holy Spirit who guides me in Truth.

SolaMom: Are you serious? Because someone disagrees and seeks open discussion they are a troll?

Everyday Mommy© said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SolaMom said...

no1here: Dan has answered the question Biblically, directly and thoroughly. The reader's insistence that Dan answer it to his liking is trollish.

no1here said...

SolaMom,

If I correctly understand Zib's question, it is boils down to this:

I ask these questions so that you would get a lot more clear how you were "guided" into applying scripture to your life without having to be guided by God, because that would need to be added to the canon of scripture.

I do not think DJP has really answered this, other than "he discerned" his gifts. The question, at least for me, is this discernment. Was it DJP in all his human understanding and grasp of Scripture, or was it the Holy Spirit guiding him to make that discernment?

I may have misunderstood Zib, so this may not be the "real" question.

DJP said...

It's funny, no1here. You and Zib both have invisible profiles, and both have the same reading difficulties, and offer the same exact lazy misinterpretation.

I am calling quits on this. I did answer his question, fully. He didn't like the answer. That's okay. he doesn't have to like it. He doesn't have to read it carefully if he doesn't want, he doesn't have to look at all the words of all the Scriptures I refer to if he doesn't want. Neither do you, if you're a different person.

But you don't get to hijack the thread and make good folks scratch your personal insatiable itch.

And you don't have to like this, either.

But there it is, and I do mean it, and I will enforce it.

no1here said...

That's fine, this is your blog after all. It isn't that I don't like your answer so much as I think it is a non-answer. And that's okay too. My intent was not to "hijack" this post, simply to clarify what you meant. I understand I'm not going to get any more of a response that what you've already posted. I have no idea what "itch" you're speaking of.

I wish to assure you, however, that Zib & I are two very different people. Because my profile is empty it means I cannot post?

I will make no further posts to this thread.

SolaMom said...

I've read this post three times now, because Dan has precisely articulated what I have seen demonstrated in the church since my redemption in 1980.

It all goes to the same issue which was addressed in the rosary bead throwdown at my blog last week. It is self-willed worship. It is man-centered faith. It is worship of God as we see fit, not as He has instructed. They are all saying the same thing:

Let us make God in our image.

Zib said...

I am cracking up. You specifically stated that noone has come on here to defend Blackaby's view. I respectfully entered into an open biblically based discussion asking you to elaborate on how were you actually "guided". You stated you met the checklist of qualifications. I then asked if that was all there was to it, then was anyone who met the qualifications, but did not become a pastor just walking in sin? You clarified no more on your guiding and never answered the question of what about people who meet the qualification but don't believe they are called to pastor.

I thought the blog was for discussion about discerning God's will. Sorry if it was just a Kool-aid line and I mis-understood.

DJP said...

I've often said that, by God's grace, I've been able to teach something to every kind of person except dead people, people who don't want to learn, and people who think they know everything already.

I suppose for the purposes of blogging I'll have to add folks so arrogant that they will misrepresent what I say, cackle off the slightest correction, refuse even to read my answers fully, then make up a fiction about the whole exchange.

At any rate, it's all there for any to see. And now it's done.

christianlady said...

Wow, first of all...The Pancake Bunny!

I am so glad you wrote this. Seeing scripture diluted and twisted to mean something completely different is so frustrating. I've heard some whoppers, like Lazarus needed community to free him from his grave clothes and so we must also need community to help us on our journey to free ourselves from our horrible grave clothes. All I could think was, "what?"

Henry said...

Hi DJP

Interesting blog, and I think a very relevant one. I confess that I have not fully made up my mind about which side of this hotly contested debate (not just in this blog) is right. Let me explain.

I fully believe in the infalliblity of Scripture and consider it the inspired Word of God, as you clearly do, but this very fact brings me to a few problems with what you've said (not that I disagree with everything you've said):

1. Biblically speaking 'Sola Scriptura' can not mean that Scripture alone is enough. The Pharisees, for instance, had Scripture, but not life, since they did not experience what Scripture taught: 'You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.' (John 5:39-40) Just having Scripture or studying it is not enough, you must also experience it, though I'm sure you agree with this. This first point is important though, since it leads to the second point:

2. Jesus seemed to indicate that he would speak to His sheep through Scripture, but also in other ways. I'll give one illustration: 'To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.' (John 10:3) The Good Shepherd says that His sheep hear His voice and He calls them 'by name'. There is no place in Scripture where you or I are called 'by name', so Jesus must refer here to speaking outside of Scripture.

3. Also, if we want to fully obey Scripture, what do we do with all those Scriptures that speak of for example prophecy through the members of the Body of Christ, and even commands to desire prophecy? I'll give one example: 'Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.' (1 Thess 5:19-21) This Scripture seems to indicate that one of the ways to 'quench the Spirit' is if you 'dispise prophecies' and it qualifies that by saying we must 'test all things', in other words, not dispising prophecy does not mean blindly and indiscriminately accepting all prophecy. Also note that prophecy that needs to be tested is clearly not 'prophecy of Scripture' (2 Pet 1:20), since 'prophecy of Scripture' does not need to be tested.

I have not read the entire blog, but would like to hear your views on these points. I know it opens a can of worms to allow God to speak outside of Scripture, but if the Word of God in Scripture teaches that God speaks outside of Scripture we would have to reject the voice of God in Scripture in order to reject His voice outside of Scripture.

Thanks
Henry

DJP said...

Henry, in several important respects, you're exactly wrong.

1. The Pharisees were most certainly not adherents to Sola Scriptura. Christ specifically and repeatedly faulted them for adding to Scripture (e.g. Mark 7:6-13). He never once faulted them for cleaving too closely to Scripture. His complaint was that they didn't cleave closely enough (John 5:46-47).

2. As others have observed, there is no Scriptural warrant for taking John 10 in any other sense than the effectual, inner call to salvation (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5).

3. I don't know anyone who would prevent anyone from prophesying. But that is miles different from preventing anyone from faking prophecy, which the apostles in fact command us to do (cf. 1 John 4:1f.). See further this post and meta.