03 August 2009

Continuationism and Credulity, East and West

by Phil Johnson

Last time we posted on this subject, I figured we had said enough about it, and I had no plans to bring it up again. But I get lots of e-mails from charismatics who want to argue about cessationism, and lately they have seemed to come more frequently and with more passion than usual. Maybe this will help:


've said in the past that I've never met a real continuationist. Every charismatic I have ever discussed cessationism with ultimately admits that certain key features of the apostolic era are no longer in operation. For example, no one is writing new books of Scripture. No one can credibly claim to have raised the dead. The gifts of healing and prophecy claimed by today's charismatics are not of the same character or quality as "the signs of a true apostle" (2 Corinthians 12:12).

In fact, all the charismatics I know who are basically orthodox when it comes to the gospel and the authority of Scripture will freely admit that there are not even any "true apostles" today—i.e., there is no one today whose teaching is infallible and authoritative in the same sense Peter's and Paul's apostolic ministries were.

What is that but a kind of selective cessationism?

I once also remarked that anyone who believes he truly does possess an apostolic-quality gift of healing ought to be exercising that gift in hospitals and in doctors' waiting rooms, where such a gift could do the most good.

A charismatic reader wrote to challenge that suggestion:

Where in Scripture do we find those with the gift of healing purposefully going around looking for sick people to heal, and then healing every sick person they find?


I wrote back:

It seems to me that is precisely what Jesus Himself did:

"Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them" (Matt. 4:23-24).

Sometimes the sick were brought to Him:

"They brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick" (Matt. 8:16).

Other times, He actively sought them out:

"Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matt. 9:35).

He also sent the disciples on precisely the kind of mission I proposed for those who believe they have gifts of healing:

"He went round about the villages, teaching. And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits . . . And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them" (Mark 6:6-7, 13).

Christ's reputation as a healer did not escape the notice of anyone, and Scripture repeatedly says He healed all the sick He encountered:

"And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole" (Mark 6:56).

"All they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many. . ." (Luke 4:40).

"And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all" (Luke 6:19).

"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him" (Acts 10:38).

Same with the apostles in the earliest days of the church:

"And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women. Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one" (Acts 5:14-16).

I defy any modern charismatic to demonstrate that anything on this scale this is happening anywhere today.



My correspondent replied:

Perhaps we in the West do not see much of the power of God because of the practical atheism of our Weltanschauung. We may fight for the inerrancy of Scripture, but do we not often turn the Bible into a catalogue for a museum of extinct species, rather than seeing it as a field guide to test what is happening in the world around us today?

Oh, brother.

Frankly, that sort of East vs. West rhetoric is a tired cliche that has been answered repeatedly. I think it was John Wimber who first popularized the "we're just too Western" argument among charismatics. I'm amazed people are still parroting the claim, because it is so easily refuted.

Over the years my ministry has taken me numerous times to India, Korea, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. And I can tell you definitively that Charismatics who have lived their entire lives in the East have no better success rate when it comes to miraculous healings than my charismatic friends who grew up in Tulsa, or those who hold healing crusades in suburban Los Angeles. People steeped in mysticism may be more credulous when it comes to believing outlandish claims, but that doesn't count. The point is that the miracles being done by charismatics in the East are no more numerous or spectacular than what Benny Hinn does. (In fact, Benny puts on a much more impressive show than the average Asian faith-healer, and that's why he attracts such massive crowds when he visits there.)

The opportunities for miracle-workers abound in some Asian cultures, if any real miracle-worker would step forward and seize the moment. For example, every train platform in every major city in India is swarming with beggars, most of whom are sick or seriously disabled. I have traveled extensively by train in India, sometimes with sincere charismatics (ranging from young YWAMers to old-line pentecostals; people coming from both Eastern and Western hemispheres). Never once have I met a charismatic who took the opportunity on one of those train platforms to perform—or even attempt—the kind of miracle Peter did in Acts 3:6-7. The only "healings" I've ever seen charismatics claim in India are the same unverifiable back-straightenings, leg-lengthenings, and other non-visible "cures" you can watch every week on Benny Hinn's program.

In fact, the most spectacular "signs and wonders" I have ever witnessed from charismatics in India are the same laughter and animal noises that were sweeping Western charismatic churches ten years ago. And those phenomena were imported to Indian churches from Western sources.

Non-Christians in India are totally nonplused by such claims, because these are the same sort of phony miracles routinely claimed by almost every guru and mystic in Hinduism. (Look up Sai Baba if you'd like to meet a particularly interesting non-Christian counterpart of Benny Hinn.)

Credulity may be more common among Christians in the East. Genuine miracles certainly are not.

Phil's signature

101 comments:

Jim said...

f someone could answer this question for me I'd be most appreciative -- how do cessationists generally explain those that do believe in/practice the gifts which are said to have ceased? I've found most cessationists will usually try and dodge this question rather than saying that continuationists are demon-possessed, simply acting upon psychosomatic impulses, faking it, that they are simply interpreting reality incorrectly, or some other reason, one of which or all always seem to be implied. I have known many Godly people who for example claim to exercise the gift of tongues and, while I can accept the possibility that their theology is wrong, the cessationist position seems to require saying something more about the continuationist than that (i.e., that they are demon-possessed, feeble-minded, etc.). Thanks.

Vico said...

Good post. Helped me a lot.

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

Jim:

If something is tested against Scripture and found rather clearly to not be 'of God', but is masquerading as such, then there are only a couple other options.

That doesn't require saying something about it at that moment though. Better to use wisdom in determining the time and place to challenge or correct someone.

PC said...

Please correct the Bible reference of "the signs of a true apostle" to 2 Corinthians 12:12.

http://bible.cc/2_corinthians/12-12.htm

Thanks!

stratagem said...

Was shocked this morning to find that my dog is a charismatic: She was down on all fours, barking and snarling. The "Toronto Blessing," without a doubt! Amazing!!!

stratagem said...

Jim
Most pentecostals do these things because they've been taught that God wants them to. In other words, they are the products of bad theology. Bad theology comes in many forms, this being one of them. We all have some aspect of our theology that is bad, but of course, not all errors are on the same scale. It does not mean that pentecostals are demon possessed or any such thing, so I'm not sure why anything other than the bad theology should be addressed or corrected (as with any other type of error).

Scott said...

While I have reformed and covenantal leanings in my soteriology, and so would agree with a lot of the theological thoughts that would be posted on Pyromaniacs in regards to such topics, I am usually discouraged when reading the thoughts on other particular theological viewpoints. There seems to be somewhat of an arrogant tone towards other beliefs outside of the neo-reformed views, as if others must be ridiculous to believe and confess other things. I am not trying to be rude but would encourage a little more graciousness in the writing.

Having said that, I would see myself as a full continuationist, even believing apostles still exist today. [I can hear the, 'Oh, brother!'] :)

And I think we can easily give room for apostles when we realise a few things: 1) Apostles are not first and foremost called to write NT Scripture. They were first and foremost called to be 'sent ones' into the earth with the gospel of the kingdom. It was similar to the great apostle, Jesus. 2) Most apostles wrote NT Scripture. 3) Not all NT writers were apostles. 4) There were actually more than the original 12. Paul was not of the original 12, nor Barnabas, nor James, and there might have been a few others such as Apollos, Silas, Timothy, etc.

And 2 Cor 12:12 is usually misunderstood. Paul uses the word 'sign' in 2 different ways in the passage. The first occurrence - 'true signs of an apostle' - refer to his willingness to suffer on behalf of those he worked with, quite unlike the false super-apostles. Then he said he was used in 'signs and wonders and mighty works'. The signs of a true apostle are not miracles. It is a willingness to suffer on behalf of those they work with for the sake of the gospel.

We might be able to claim that Jesus healed everyone (though that is not unequivocally true: 1) He did not heal the hard-hearted and faithless of one town (but my memory fails me to the Gospel reference) and 2) The use of 'all' is probably more summary than an actual making sure each sick person in the area was healed.

Also, there are cases even with the NT of people not being healed of their sickness: 1) Paul (Gal 4:13-14), 2) Epaphroditus (Phil 2:27), 3) Timothy (1 Tim 5:23), 4) Trophimus (2 TIm 4:20).

I would say that the east (and south - Africa and South America) are seeing more fruit in regards to the miraculous and healings, though I know such is taking place in the west. And I am not just talking about recovering from a cold, but major things. James Rutz recounts a lot of documented stuff in his book, Megashift. And such can be seen in the account of Chinese house church leader, Brother Yun, in The Heavenly Man.

Scott said...

This was a mistype - 2) Most apostles wrote NT Scripture.

It should say - 2) Most apostles did not write NT Scripture. Only 5 of them - Paul, Peter, Matthew, John, James.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Phil,

Do you think that continuationism is evil and adulterous?

stratagem said...

Scott - I'm not sure you can claim that the "documented" cases of the miraculous are real. Nearly all miracles are claimed to be documented - its the quality of the documentation that is lacking. Plus, your reference to Africa and S. America falls right into the usual pentecostal pattern of miraculous rumors that are always "far far away" or otherwise obscure and inaccessible. (I speak as a former pentecostal).
That said, I seriously doubt Phil would claim that God no longer performs miracles. But, he doesn't perform them at the consistent command of any present-day Apostle. I believe that's what he's saying, as I read it.

stratagem said...

PS: There is one phrase that no pentecostal ever says to another pentecostal, when outlandish stories or manifestations are claimed: "Prove it."

Frank Turk said...

I was taking this post seriously until your e-mail partner said "the practical atheism of our Weltanschauung". He might as well have quipped something in Latin for all the credibility that statement gives him -- "practical atheism"?

I'd counter that I'll take my "practical atheism" over his "practical folk religion" (or pagan spiritism) every day of the week.

donsands said...

Great post. Well spoken striaght forward words.

I always give way to my Charismatic brothers who I now love the Lord. But there's a time to be bold. But when you step on the toes of those who believe in the subsequent "baptism of the Holy Ghost", and healings, and tongues, it can cause some static friction and heat.

Especially if you mention a "performer" like Benny and the Hinns.

"You better not touch God's anointed", is what I hear every time.
I simply say, "Benny preaches a different gospel, which is no gospel."

Thanks again for this post. I hope to share it with some Charismatic friends.

The Squirrel said...

Phil, good words.

Jim wrote:
"I've found most cessationists will usually try and dodge this question rather than saying that continuationists are demon-possessed, simply acting upon psychosomatic impulses, faking it, that they are simply interpreting reality incorrectly, or some other reason, one of which or all always seem to be implied."

Jim, I’ve spoken to former Charismatics and Pentecostals, and I’ve had many of them admit that they were faking speaking in tongues because it was so expected of them. Some of the “manifestations” may indeed be demonic in origin, but the vast majority is likely to be a combination of wishful thinking, conditioning, susceptibility to suggestion, and trickery combined with simple human pride that refuses to admit to being taken in by con men and charlatans peddling mysticism and emotionalism as counterfeits for Biblicality.

Is that blunt enough for you? Or am I still trying to dodge the question? I agree that many have gotten timid in their opposition to the errors of Charismatic Theology, and have tolerated error in a misguided effort not to offend those who hold the errant beliefs.

~Squirrel

Frank Turk said...

| If someone could answer this
| question for me I'd be most
| appreciative

This is why we’re here: to answer for the appreciative.

| -- how do cessationists
| generally explain those that do
| believe in/practice the gifts which
| are said to have ceased?

We say you should stop practicing and start actually doing.

I know, I know: the word play is a harsh tone. Let me say it this way: Phil has explicitly said here what all of us at PyroManiacs have been saying for more than 5 years now on this subject: your practices don’t impress us or prove anything. When you can actually do what Peter does or what Paul does or what Jesus does and heal by command because you are so spirit-filled, or so therefore gifted, I will personally switch sides in this debate.

Because here’s the thing: the question IS NOT – I repeat, the question IS NOT -- whether God can do these things. God is God: God can and does do these things – sometimes by direct intervention, sometimes through secondary means like medicine and doctorin’.

The question is whether God has gifted you to do these things, or whether it is a necessary part of the life of the church for these things to be done.

| I've found
| most cessationists will usually try
| and dodge this question rather than
| saying that continuationists are
| demon-possessed, simply acting
| upon psychosomatic impulses, faking
| it, that they are simply interpreting
| reality incorrectly, or some other
| reason, one of which or all always
| seem to be implied.

Oh – I see what you mean: what do I do with a person “speaking in tongues”?

I try not to laugh, because that would be rude. And I side with Paul in saying that a tongue spoken without an interpretation is a meaningless and unedifying utterance. I think people who babble to make a prayer they think God wants to hear are people who don’t understand that God spoke clearly in order to be understood. And I feel sorry for them.

I blog so that some of them will have a chance to hear something they can understand which will change their lives.

| I have known
| many Godly people who for example
| claim to exercise the gift of tongues
| and, while I can accept the
| possibility that their theology is
| wrong, the cessationist position
| seems to require saying something
| more about the continuationist than
| that (i.e., that they are demon-
| possessed, feeble-minded, etc.).
| Thanks.

I think it’s fine to say they are self-deceived and move on. They don’t have to be riding the fast train to hell to be appropriate-chastized as being wrong. Presbyterians are wrong about baptizing babies – they’re not demon possessed. They’re just wrong. That’s enough, isn’t it?

Scott said...

Stratagem -

Thanks for the response. Your second comment about the joke between Pentecostals does seem typical of this blog. But I do apologise if I am misreading your heart.

By your words, I suppose you won't like James Rutz's book. He is even more extreme than I on his ideas of church. Still, the first chapter is what I find interesting. They are actually documented cases with doctors and other testimonials. Not just Billy said such and such.

I've also seen such things and my closest friends in ministry have been used in such things. So, for me, I need no proof. But I know you can't take my word. I'm just a guy in the blogosphere. :)

I also think that it is somewhat reductionistic to view true apostles as those who are able to be commanded miracles at any time. I guess most of this is embedded in Warfield's treatise. But, I would argue his view is also reductionistic. They weren't the author of such miracles. Someone Else was.

I don't believe the first apostles and their ministry partners could just go around as if they had some super-power that would shoot out of their hands to heal someone whenever they wanted. The healings had purpose. Yes, at times it was for attesting to the gospel message. But I don't believe that was their exclusive nor prime purpose. In the end, they attested to the fact that the kingdom rule of God had broken into human history and, with such, salvation was available to humanity in the unprecedented way of the inauguration of the new covenant. And that salvation consists of making people whole - in body and soul/spirit. I don't believe we will always be healed in this present age, as my previous comment shows NT passages where people remained unhealed (which also attests that healing was not some kind of super-power that the first apostles could just whip out any time). But healing is now available in this present age, for us to get a taste of the age to come.

The same Spirit who empowered those first apostles and their colleagues also empowers the ekklesia of today. I have no reason to believe why the Spirit wouldn't.

Frank Turk said...

And for those who are taking Kent's question seriously, here's the answer I think Phil should give:

"Continualism is no more or less dangerous than excessive enthusiam for the King James family of translations of the Bible."

Phil Johnson said...

Scott:

No one said all apostles wrote Scripture.

The point is about the office of an apostle seen in Scripture--the role Paul defended in 2 Corinthians, whereby his teaching was authoritative on a level no pastor today can rightfully claim.

Do you believe that office still exists in the church today, and that it is currently occupied by men whose teaching we ought to submit to in the same way the early church received the teaching of the Twelve?

Rome makes that claim. Certain extreme charismatics have tried to make that claim from time to time. I've never encountered a charismatic who is basically orthodox on the gospel and the authority of Scripture who will make that claim.

Jim: how do cessationists generally explain those that do believe in/practice the gifts which are said to have ceased?

Here's my main point: Charismatics today don't (on any wide scale) do the sort of miracles that require explanation. I think the vast majority of "speaking in tongues" is simply a learned behavior. I can do it.

Kent: Do you think that continuationism is evil and adulterous?

Not necessarily. I think it's fraught with some serious potential dangers, but so is a certain strand of Baptist fundamentalism. I wouldn't automatically anathematize everyone who is not a cessationist. Not everyone who is in error is evil. Lots of people are wrong because they are merely confused.

ulfbiggorilla said...

This debate is going to go on forever I think.

Its hard for Continuationists to be bothered by arguments against our position when the Bible is pretty clear in its instruction to pursue the gifts (side question, was Paul encouraging the Corinthians to pursue the gift of apostleship I wonder when he said to eagerly desire the spiritual gifts; or maybe there are different categories of gifts, some of which were given for a specific purpose in a specific time, and others were meant to continue?).

Given this instruction, and given that we do God bless us as we pursue them (try telling my mom that being told by doctors that she would be barren, and then being told by her sister that God had healed her, and then she gets pregnant a couple weeks later...try telling her that her healing isn't on par with a biblical healing. It would be funny)...look i know this is just one example that can explained away I'm sure, and then I could throw another, and another, and another out there and they could be explained in such a way as they don't count as actual healings, or least, not a result of someone having a "gift." That's fine but until cessationists can demonstrate from the Bible that the gifts have ceased, no amount of anecdotal evidence of abuse, or lack, in the charismatic community is going to be convincing to folks who have experienced the real thing. And so far most of the arguments I've seen against the gifts don't actually come from the Bible.

The Squirrel said...

I think Phil just wants to show that he can get the meta to 200+ comments faster then Dan did last week...

:o)

~Squirrel

DJP said...

Doggone it, Phil. You're talking about contiuationism, and you...

-use a bunch of Bible
-use facts
-use logic; and
-expect words to mean something.

Isn't that cheating?

(Having read none of the comments,) I predict the opposing presence in the meta will be about just about anything but answering what you said squarely.

How did I do?

ulfbiggorilla said...

Frank said

"When you can actually do what Peter does or what Paul does or what Jesus does and heal by command because you are so spirit-filled, or so therefore gifted, I will personally switch sides in this debate."

Why would you expect that for our position to be true, that we would necessarily need to receive and demonstrate the same measure of gifting and power and authority as...well the Son of God?

There is adifference between those you mentioned...and say, the Corinthians.

DJ said...

We have been grappling with the issue of continualism or cessationism for the past few months in my (Baptist) church. In fact, I have used many of team pyro’s blogs in my preparation (I teach Sunday school). I come from a charismatic background and have witnessed healings and miracles of providence. However, I have never seen anyone walk on water, heal leprosy, raise the dead, or speak in a different (actual) language. As Phil pointed out, the signs, wonders, and miracles are not of the same scale and scope as in the first century.

However, I cannot call myself a full blown cessationist because I do not see any absolute, resolute, and unquestionable supporting evidence in Scripture. I feel a strong case can be made from several verses, from history, and from experience. However, the Bible, IMHO, is relatively unclear. Therefore I have decided to label myself as a diminishmentist.

Diminished – Yes.
Ceased – Almost.

Calvary Chapel Tyler said...

I'm going to have to assume there's a lot more to Phil's argument for cessationism than what's listed in the article.

He argues:
(1) Jesus healed a ton of folks. (Amen!)
(2) Self-proclaimed healers today don't.

And that's it? That's the argument for cessationism? Surely not.

Very few here (I'm certain) would take the position that prophecy does not exist today. On the contrary, the debate would come in on what prophecy entails. To some, it would be a "word from the Lord"; to others it would be the weekly sermon that was based upon the word of God. And I can wager that most pastors here would love to have someone (or several) with the gift of giving in their congregation.

The NT makes it plain we are to desire the spiritual gifts. Why not just take the Bible for what it says. If God gives a tongue, praise God for it. If God gives a word of knowledge, praise God for it. Whatever God gives (and we know what is of Him via the Scriptures; not the Toronto mess), give God the glory.

wordsmith said...

It should say - 2) Most apostles did not write NT Scripture. Only 5 of them - Paul, Peter, Matthew, John, James.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the Apostle James (who was martyred early on, btw) and the James who wrote the epistle that bears his name are two different fellows.

Solameanie said...

Frank, did you just try to frank-privilege the meta into a KJV debate? I thought Kent's remark was just going to sail by into the ether until I saw your comment, which gave me tremendous enjoyment.

Scott said...

Phil -

If I keep posting comments, shall they be deleted. Don't know what happened to my last one.

I do want to dialogue. I am not trying to annoy or be weird.

Scott said...

wordsmith -

Yes, James the apostle (John's brother) was killed. I believe Acts 12 records that.

But James, the brother of Jesus, was an apostle. Gal 1:19 attests to such. And this is where the confusion begins. Most don't realise there were more than 12 apostles, or more than the 12 plus Paul.

Barnabas was also an apostle - see Acts 14:14. Actually Paul and Barnabas received their apostolic calling at the same exact time (Acts 13:1-4). Acts 9 was not Paul's apostolic commissioning, it was his conversion. And it seems that Barnabas was actually quite instrumental in the development of Paul (see Acts 11:21-26).

Brad Williams said...

This may make a 300+ comment section, but oh well.

If we take the hard line on the cessasionalist side, then we are forced to say that otherwise godly men/women are lying. It is just patronizing to say they are confused.

For example, and its a fun example, Mark Driscoll claims to have had direct, prophetic revelation from God concerning a certain false prophet in his church in "Confessions of a Reformission Rev." In chapter 3 he claims to have had a 'prophetic dream' whereby he was warned about a guy who would try and take over the church. He claims the scenario played out exactly as he dreamed it would.

Now, this cannot be chalked up to confusion. Either God gave him a prophetic dream, or he lied in his book. I can't imagine another option here. I don't think its any different for a fellow who claims to speak in a tongue or who claims other sorts of prophetic revelation. I'd say that the majority know if they are lying or not. And if we are serious cessionists, so should we.

Phil Johnson said...

Scott: "If I keep posting comments, shall they be deleted. Don't know what happened to my last one."

I don't know, either, but we don't generally delete posts without leaving the "this post deleted by a moderator" notice.

Also, no comments have been deleted from this thread as far as I can detect. Blogger sends me a copy of every comment by e-mail. Your previous comment ("the joke . . . does seem typical of this blog") is still there. If a comment of yours disappeared, it was either 1) a blogger error, or 2) a miracle.




No, I'm kidding about #2. That was another one of those jokes that is so typical of this blog.

stratagem said...

Scott
When I said that one pentecostal will never say "prove it" to another who is telling him about some so-called prophecy or miracle, I wasn't joking. I spent decades in pentecostal churches and know exactly what I am talking about.
As far as my dog experiencing the Toronto blessing, that was a joke - but if there is a difference in the dog barking and snarling, and the people who were in the Toronto "Blessing" barking and snarling (as they did), then I don't know what the difference was.
It seems to me you are very confused about the difference between God-performed miracles, and the public spectacles that pass as miracles these days. The latter are a mirage. There is a reason why the TV preacher charlatans gravitate to the pentecostal genre - its because that's where they'll find lots of unquestioning, gullible sheep to fleece.

stratagem said...

Everyone here should read "Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" Written by Mackay in the mid-1800s (its still in print - a classic). Particularly the section on prophecies. It will give you a good overview of how false Christian (and non-Christian) prophets have wreaked havoc upon society over the past millennium. False prophecies are not just harmless fun.

Chad V. said...

Tyler
Amazing that you don't also seek to accept that the same passage of scripture says that those sign miracles will cease when the completed revelation has come.

Notice Paul contrasts knowing and prophesying in part with the "perfect". The apostolic church had no complete new testament to guide them and we still relying on revelation. We however have the prefect or complete revelation of God. The complete scriptures.

The same passage also says that only faith, hope and love remain. Now if you want to argue that that is speaking of the eternal state then you will have to contradict the scriptures that teach us that hope and faith are distinctly things that belong to our present condition.

Rom 8:24 Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

That is the argument for cessationsim. The bible says plainly that they will cease.

Phil Johnson said...

Brad: "It is just patronizing to say they are confused. . . I'd say that the majority know if they are lying or not."

I dunno.

I do think there are lots of charismatics who are flat-out lying when they claim miracles, prophecies, and whatnot--and there have been many notorious cases where the lies have been exposed for what they are.

But let's face it: all of us are easily self-deceived and prone to confusion. I want to be as charitable as possible in making judgments about why people do what they do.

And consider the nature of glossolalia. Rational faculties are deliberately suppressed and the sounds seem to come spontaneously. The resulting "language" is nonsense to the mind, and remains nonsense even after every kind of linguistic analysis, but charismatics are repeatedly told NOT to trouble themselves with that. That kind of phenomenon is especially liable to produce confusion in the lay-person who practices it.

So I'm reluctant to accuse someone of lying on a matter if the problem truly may be only confusion. I know too many former charismatics who testify that they were genuinely confused by their own practices and feelings when they were speaking in tongues and being slain in the spirit.

Of course, self-deception is something we are culpable for. I'm not saying there's no evil in it or that it's not dangerous. Quite the opposite. But I don't think it always rises to the level of wickedness contained in a deliberate lie.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Phil, I was thinking of when Jesus said it was an evil and adulterous generation that seeks after signs. Can we separate continuationism from seeking after signs? Does that diagnosis by Jesus fit continuationism? Is continuationism modern-day seeking after signs?

stratagem said...

I want to say one thing in defense of Glossalalia: It is boffo good training for yodeling, if you ever care to take that up.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Phil, Frank, and Solameanie,

I always welcome hearing how I may have added or taken away from the Word of God. I sincerely want someone to tell me when and how I may have not rightly divided the word of truth. I would eagerly await and anticipate that. And I would desire that as the stewards of the manifold grace of God, that when any of you speak, you would speak as one who speaks the oracles of God that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

Lockheed said...

Two points...

I spent most of my childhood and adult life (until about the age 26) speaking in tongues and believing I was using some private prayer language. I was taught to rebuke spirits, not speak negatively (cause you would pronounce your own curse) and seek/listen to prophecy. When I was young I had several people prophesy over me saying I would have a "double mantle" of the prophetic ability that my father had. To paraphrase Paul, I spoke in tongues more than any of you.

I now believe it was gibberish, gibberish I used to pray, speak in church, when unsure what else to pray or say. We did read the Bible, but never considered the context of the passages we read nor the intent of the author of them. I was reminded of this style of interpretation recently during Dr. White's radio-debate with Harold Camping.

So how do I explain all those charismatics who speak in tongues? They, like I, are speaking gibberish because it is expected of them, they don't know what else to say, and they've been told that the truly spiritual do so.

My second point is, in regards to tongues, Charismatics cannot explain why "tongues then is a sign to unbelievers" nor why the only clear expression of the gift in the New Testament (Acts 2) differs so wildly from their supposed gift.

The Acts 2 gift of tongues was a sign to unbelieving Israel that the Gentiles (as evidenced by the Gentile tongues being spoken) were now being grafted in and that Israel herself was under condemnation. This is why Paul quotes Isaiah stating "BY MEN OF STRANGE TONGUES AND BY THE LIPS OF STRANGERS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, AND EVEN SO THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO ME."

Jim said...

Thanks to all who responded to my question. I have found the answers very helpful and much appreciate the continuing work of this website.

Calvary Chapel Tyler said...

Chad V -
You're making an unwarranted leap that "the perfect" (1 Cor 13:10) is a reference to the completed canon of Scripture. After all, mysteries & knowledge have not passed away - have they? Contextually, it makes more sense to think it is a reference to seeing Jesus face-to-face in heaven (1 Cor 13:12), where there will be no more need for spiritual gifts.

Let me say that I *greatly* appreciate the folks here at TeamPyro - this is a regular stop for me, and almost always has a challenging thought for the day. But this is one area in which I disagree.

My original point was that I doubt very highly that cessationists believe *all* gifts have passed. Just as Phil argued against continuists, there is rarely such a thing as a "full" cessationist. They also pick & choose which gifts they perceive are active today.

I believe it's a stronger argument to hold to the continuist position. Even if people disagree on the proper Scriptural application of the gifts (such as tongues), we must acknowledge that God does in fact give gifts to the church & expects us to use them to His glory & the edification of the body. The gifts He gives are simply up to Him.

Brad Williams said...

Phil,

You are probably right. I had to have a not-so-fun conversation recently with a brother about 'unknown' tongues. (Not the 'theory' talk, but the sort of "Are you saying this is a lie?" type of conversation.) It has bothered me a great deal and I think I brought my baggage with me.

Of course, if someone were lying for years about speaking in tongues and finally admitted it, then it would be much easier to say, "I was hoodwinked!" than it would be to say, "I lied about the whole thing because I caved to peer pressure and I am ashamed."

David said...

What a prophetic post!

Terry Rayburn said...

Watch and see the Double Trojan Horse.

There is a "Bottom Line" to the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement, which you will see appear and re-appear in various forms:

It inevitably leads to some kind of Extra-Biblical Revelation.

Even when Charismatics flat-out deny the concept of Extra-Biblical Revelation (as in, for example, a Reformed Charismatic [sic] church "Statement of Faith" which denies EBR)...

...you will see it creep in under some guise. One example would be "a prayer language" or some other "tongues" which is described as from the Holy Spirit, containing some kind of content, and yet supposedly not extra-biblical.

Fortunately nearly all of it is nonsense gibberish.

Still, the lie is perpetuated, and hundreds of millions are sucked into it (estimates are now around 400-500 million!).

And so "Continuationism" has become the Trojan Horse to sneak Charismatic "gifts" into the churches, and Charismatic "gifts" has become the Trojan Horse to sneak Extra-Biblical Revelation into those same churches.

Watch and see the Double Trojan Horse.

Frank Turk said...

Ulf:

It's nice that you consider Peter as the Son of God and all (which is what you have to do to make the criticism you make here), but my point would be summarized as you have concluded: the Corinthians were not Paul or Peter and neither are you.

You don't do apostlic miracles, and they didn't do apostolic miracles. End of story.

Frank Turk said...

Kent --

There you go -- asking for things you would never give others.

You invest too much in one translation, Kent -- one work of men who were self-admittedly fallible and uninspired. In that way, you invest theological energy into myths and stories, which I am certain Paul himself was against. Paul was against telling people things that were not true which divert from or corrupt the actual truth.

There you have it. Thanks for asking.

Scott said...

Strategem -

It seems to me you are very confused about the difference between God-performed miracles, and the public spectacles that pass as miracles these days. The latter are a mirage. There is a reason why the TV preacher charlatans gravitate to the pentecostal genre - its because that's where they'll find lots of unquestioning, gullible sheep to fleece.

I, too, agree that there are a lot of bogus and unhelpful people parading around on 'Christian' television. I don't agree with them or appreciate most of what they do.

But I still believe miracles and healings happen today. I have no reason to believe otherwise, as I believe Scripture does not say they will cease, I actually think it points to their continuance, and I have witnessed such.

But, again, I'm just a blogger in the blogosphere and you don't know me from Adam. So I suppose you would not trust what I have witnessed, and you definitely would see my theological views as askew.

Frank Turk said...

NOTE:

I personally believe that miraculous healings happen. I believe in a Sovereign and Supernatural God, after all.

I don't believe they happen in the way they happened in the NT and at the verbal command of the officers of the church.

Do you?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Phil,

Can you tell me how that the topic of the preservation of Scripture, the translation of the Bible, or Baptist fundamentalism fits within the topic?

Rule 4. On-topic comments only. If you have other stuff to say to one of us, send an e-mail.

Frank Turk said...

Kent:

You asked. That's how it fits in. It's wildly ironic that you want to condemn others as "adulterous" when the faults of your own errors as reflected in the camp where you live, theologically, are at least as damaging to the Gospel as the premises which cause people to mutter or yelp in tongues.
_______________________________

Phil:

Notice Kent isn't speaking to me anymore? I have my dream come true -- now if only he wouldn't speak to our readers, either, it would be like a Grand Slam.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

That would be something you would need to show me, that is, how I pervert the gospel. That is a very serious charge. Do you even know my actual position on the gospel?

And as far as my position on preservation, so that people will not believe your slander, I suggest they read your and my debate, which is available at your d-blog. They would find what I wrote to be quite different than how you are misrepresenting me here. We had our 10,000 words to hash this out. I'm leaving it alone with you.

I asked an on topic question, you took it to something completely off topic, breaking your own rule. If I try to answer your off topic charge, I have a difficult time doing so and staying on topic. I don't want to break rule 4. I'm sure I would hear about it. But it's difficult when you ignore it.

JR said...

Can I ask a missiological question?

What about frontier missionaries working in an area with no established church and no translated Scriptures? Would we call their ministry apostolic? And if so, wouldn't God use sign gifts to communicate Truth? And wouldn't that be consistent with the NT model?

Just wondering.

Scott said...

Phil -

I will try and repost the comment that 'miracley' went away. :)

The point is about the office of an apostle seen in Scripture--the role Paul defended in 2 Corinthians, whereby his teaching was authoritative on a level no pastor today can rightfully claim.

I do believe that Paul is spending some time defending his apostolic ministry with the Corinthians. But we have to read the text carefully to see what he was defending. I believe that, if you read the full context of 2 Cor 11 and 12, you will see that Paul is comparing his ministry with that of the 'super-apostles'. He is saying that he has a true apostolic ministry, not because he had some special canonical authority (though I don't doubt his words should be in the canon), but because he was willing to suffer for them and give his life for them. These were the 'signs of a true apostle' (not signs, wonders and miracles). He was beaten, left for dead, etc, etc. This was quite contrary to the arrogant and authoritative super-apostles. Paul was humbly saying I gave my life for you. That is his defense of his apostolic ministry, not that he had some special authority to speak (or write) the very words of God. (Again, remember, I do believe his words are good in the canon.)

Do you believe that office still exists in the church today, and that it is currently occupied by men whose teaching we ought to submit to in the same way the early church received the teaching of the Twelve?

Again, we have problems when we try to limit apostolic ministry to 'the Twelve'. Paul wasn't part of the 12. So do we submit to his teaching? What about Barnabas, since he was an apostle, though he never wrote any Scripture (though maybe he wrote Hebrews, but that is only speculation). What about John's brother James? Were they to 'submit' to his apostolic authority, since he never wrote anything that got into the canon?

To claim that apostolic ministry is first and foremost about speaking and writing 'the very words of God is a misunderstanding of the nature of the gifting. And I am not up for what Rome does. It isn't Biblical. Apostolic ministry is centred in relationship, just as the Trinity is based in relationship. I don't doubt apostolic authority. But I can't find anywhere in the NT where it lays out some doctrine that says apostles say things that we must do or be left out of the faith. Again, what those first apostles and their colleagues taught, that became Scripture, the measuring stick (canon) of our faith. But a canon is not first and foremost the fruit of apostolic ministry. Being sent out into the world commissioned with the gospel of the kingdom is the fruit of apostolic ministry (like we read in Acts). That's what the great apostle, Jesus, did. He went out proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. And that is what the Holy Spirit continued with in His apostolic ministry, since He was sent by Christ. He was sent forth to empower the apostolic (or commissioned) body of Christ to continue the work of the great apostle, that One who gave His life and rose from the dead.

I think we need a 'reforming' of our definition of what it means to be apostolic. I believe a study of the nature of the gift from looking at the life of Christ and the NT shows a radical difference than the doctrine that has formulated in many minds of evangelicals. I just can't see that the parameters and boxes used to define apostolic ministry is what those first Christians had in mind. Apostolic ministry was much more fluid, organic and holistic than what we have tried to push upon 'the Twelve'. Again, I am thankful for the apostolic foundation of those first apostles. But that was in retrospect to what they were going about doing as commissioned by Christ.

stratagem said...

Scott: When you write...

But I still believe miracles and healings happen today. I have no reason to believe otherwise, as I believe Scripture does not say they will cease, I actually think it points to their continuance, and I have witnessed such.

...you are demonstrating exactly the confusion I was talking about: We all believe that miracles exist! However, I don't believe that they are done in the public, spectacular way that they were in the first century, when God was establishing the church and God's word was incomplete. They aren't being invoked by Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley, Creflo Dollar, or your pastor. You aren't getting special revelation by speaking in tongues. People aren't getting accurate clues about what will happen in the future, via visions. Brother, I've been in many, many pentecostal churches and have seen it all. Everyone thinks they are a prophet to some extent, and in 99% of the cases they don't come true. In the other 1%, it is the laws of averages that result in one lucky winner out of 100. That's not the way it happened in the first century, 1/100 odds of a prophecy coming true.
Eventually, you are going to face up to this fact. I don't know when or how, but you will if you are honest with yourself about what is happening around you. Especially if you start holding some of these prophets to account: Do that, and it won't be long before you are asked to leave or shunned into leaving.

Scott said...

Frank -

You said: I don't believe they happen in the way they happened in the NT and at the verbal command of the officers of the church.

As I had mentioned earlier, I believe it is somewhat reductionistic to say that miracles were ever 'on command' with regards to the first apostles.

They had a purpose. They weren't super powers that just happened whenever they kind of wanted them. Gifts of healings and miracles are Spirit-empowered. The Spirit is sovereign in these things. Paul said the Spirit apportions as He wills (1 Cor 12:11).

Not only that, but there are cases even within the NT of people not being healed of their sickness: 1) Paul (Gal 4:13-14), 2) Epaphroditus (Phil 2:27), 3) Timothy (1 Tim 5:23), 4) Trophimus (2 TIm 4:20). And not to mention Paul's thorn in the flesh, whatever the substance of that might be.

So, healings and miracles were distributed then at the sovereign work of the Spirit, just as they are today. At least I would think that would be the case, since the same Spirit is active in AD 2009 as in AD 39. And I don't find the Scripture telling us that, since that was the great redemptive goal was to create a NT text, we should expect some kind of major change in these things once this was finally formulated. (Please note that I love the Scriptures and teach/preach from them each week.)

Andrew Faris said...

Phil (or any others, I suppose),

I suppose my question is, why must NT healing patterns (for lack of a better word) be what Paul calls a "gfit of healing"? Why are Jesus' healings, the NT apostles' healings, and current healings to look the same in terms of frequency?

I hope, by the way, that my quesiton qualifies as relevant to the original post!

I may be missing an obvious passage or an old post that tells me as much, and if so, I'd be happy for a simple link to answer my question. Thanks!

Andrew Faris
Christians in Context

P.S. I've seen a number of folks mention their frustration with the condescending tone of Pyro bloggers. I've even been one of them.

I've never read much of a response though, except for more snide jokes in response (e.g. in Phil's 10:03 a.m. comment).

You are thoughtful brothers who I am convinced are really seeking to do no more with your blog than to edify. On that note, I've seen you call out Driscoll et. al. on sins of the tongue.

So I ask: what do you actually make of comments about that? Is there a particular reason you find them justified, or do you just dismiss them as part of the blogosphere, or what?

And please note, I ask that in all seriousness and not as some backhanded rip on any of you. I really just want to know what you think of that stuff!

Scott said...

Strategem -

We all believe that miracles exist! However, I don't believe that they are done in the public, spectacular way that they were in the first century, when God was establishing the church and God's word was incomplete.

Unfortunately, Scripture does not differentiate between miracles and Miracles. Such a theology is inferred. I don't want to sound mean, but I can only suppose Warfield's treatise became the reformed authority on these things. He finally was able to articulate what others were thinking, and we haven't yet been able to break that box.

Again, I can only see it as reductionistic to say that miracles and healings (from your specific NT understanding) were only there to kick start the initial church until we finally had a canon.

Can we imagine the practical reality of this? Someone, moved by God in great faith, sees a woman suffering from demonic oppression. The faith-filled and Spirit-moved person says, 'In the name of Jesus I command you to come out of that woman.' But the demon never does, even after much calling on God. When they all gather together the next day, somewhat disillusioned, one stands up and says, 'Guys, I know why we could not cast that demon out of the woman. John died last night, and his words were the last of the NT that will soon be compiled. So we that is why she was not healed and set free.'

I know it sounds ridiculous, and I don't want to patronise you. But I share such because it really is ridiculous - to try and specifically tie all of these things to 100 years (or so) of time and only good until those exact 27 letters were written. Such is very reductionistic. It misses the holistic purpose of such.

Miracles and healings had a purpose. Yes, at times they testified to the message. But, even more, these things had a purpose of pointing to the reality that the kingdom of God had broken into human history in the most unprecedented way. The Messiah Himself had come and brought the kingdom, with one way this was evidenced is in miracles and healings. And even when He left, He sent His Spirit to empower His body to get on with the same work He did. They point to the fact that true kingdom salvation is here, and salvation is about the making whole of the whole person - body and soul/spirit. Again, I don't claim that we are going to be healed every time. But they are a taste of the age to come. This is the kingdom rule of God that has come into the world today. We must guard against reducing these to attestation for only 100 years until a canon finally came along. (I could point you to some wonderful church fathers who spoke of these things happening in their time as well.)

ulfbiggorilla said...

Cent said a couple things.

"It's nice that you consider Peter as the Son of God and all (which is what you have to do to make the criticism you make here), but my point would be summarized as you have concluded: the Corinthians were not Paul or Peter and neither are you.

You don't do apostlic miracles, and they didn't do apostolic miracles. End of story."

and

"I personally believe that miraculous healings happen. I believe in a Sovereign and Supernatural God, after all.

I don't believe they happen in the way they happened in the NT and at the verbal command of the officers of the church.

Do you?"


First of all, in your comment I was referring to you mentioned Jesus, along with Paul and Peter...I was simply drawing attention to the fact that to criticize a position based on an inability to replicate a level of authority attained by Jesus...or even Paul or Peter is making an argument that no one would disagree with. My question is then...if the Corinthians didn't do apostolic miracles...what were they doing? Because from what I understand of the cessationist perspective, there is no such thing as "lesser" gifts that continuationists maintain exist. But you seem to be implying that the gifts that Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to pursue (while correcting their idolatry of the sensational at the same time of course) were of a lesser type than what the apostles were practicing. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but I just hadn't heard anyone of the Pyro's say that the gifts the Corinthian church were operating in were lesser than those of the apostles. Which I would agree with.

As for your second comment I quoted above, I absolutely agree with you. I think where we disagree is that I would maintain that just because the authority that was given to the apostles was unique to them doesn't mean that the gifts were.

DJP said...

Very few here (I'm certain) would take the position that prophecy does not exist today....

Translation: "This is the first time I've actually visited Pyromaniacs, and...."

Frank Turk said...

Andrew:

When people will read what was posted one our blog and interact with that, rather than their parsing of what we wrote, and have written in the past, then they can get a more serious response.

There's no sense in replying in a serious, thoughtful, burden-bearing hope to someone who didn;t read the post or its salient points in the first place. This comment thread in particular in simply overburdened with this type of questioner, and for every response to those -- many of whom are, frankly, career practicioners of such things -- to be required to be completely sober and grimn-faced as if they were listening is simply nice-guy legalism rearing its ugly head.

For example, look at the guy here who wanted me to say, "gosh, you're right: I have wanted all people to be Jesus to denigrade the continualist position." is that what I said? Is that what Phil said? Can it reasonably be construed that way?

So why should my response treat that like a credible objection? And what if I find his trying to make me do so funny rather than edifying?

I guess I shouldn't laugh at them -- I should laugh with them. But that requires them seeing their statements as funny.

greglong said...

Scott, you keep saying that there were more apostles than just the twelve. Of course the word "apostle" is used in the NT in a generic sense to refer to someone "sent forth." In this sense it simply refers to a messenger of a person or church (2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25). In this sense, anyone who is sent by a person or church as a messenger is an "apostle", but no one uses the title in this sense.

But "apostle" in the NT is also used in a very specific sense to refer to apostles of Jesus Christ. Apostles of Jesus Christ were sent by Jesus Christ Himself. In order to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, one had to have seen Jesus Christ after His resurrection (been an "eyewitness to His resurrection"--Acts 1:21-22; cf. 1:2-3; 4:33). As Wayne Grudem says, "Paul makes much of the fact that he did meet this qualification even though it was in an unusual way (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:7-9; cf. Acts 9:5-6; 26:15-18)…These verses combine to indicate that unless someone had seen Jesus after the resurrection with his own eye, he could not be an apostle” (Systematic Theology, p. 907).

In addition, an apostle of Jesus Christ had to have been commissioned by Jesus Christ Himself (Mt. 10:1-5). Paul was personally appointed by Christ as an apostle (Acts 26:16-17; cf. Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11).

In addition, an apostle of Jesus Christ was accompanied by "signs, wonders, and mighty works" (2 Cor. 12:12).

So, Scott, are you prepared to argue that there are still today "apostles of Jesus Christ" who:

1) Have seen the risen Christ,
2) Were personally commissioned by Christ, and
3) Are accompanied by signs, wonders, and mighty works in the NT sense?

Phil's point is that if you aren't prepared to argue that, then you are indeed a cessationist.

greglong said...

(Oops, excuse me...that wasn't exactly Phil's point in this particular post. But it certainly pertains, and it has certainly been the point of previous posts by Team Pyro.)

Phil Johnson said...

Andrew Faris (regarding "tone"): "I've never read much of a response though, except for more snide jokes in response (e.g. in Phil's 10:03 a.m. comment)."

Arrrgh. See, Andrew, I know that's not true, because I've had an extended exchange with you on the matter of "tone" in the past.

There's also a convenient tag for articles where we have dealt with this question. See especially this post.

I honestly figured we've said quite enough about "tone" over the years, and a regular here ought to know the answer to your question: We don't automatically regard all humor, sarcasm, bluntness, or even harsh rebukes as inherently sinful. We think the standard that holds such things to be always inappropriate is unbiblical. And the postmodern reflex that recoils from a harsh "tone" sooner than it recoils from error and/or blind stupidity is a bad reflex. Again, I would expect a long-time reader to understand our position on that.

And if I may be completely frank just one more time in this thread, it seems a bit judgmental to characterize my joke as "snide" when in fact it was a simply lighthearted dismissal of a rather unfair and sweeping generalization about "this blog," based on something a commenter, not one of the blog authors, wrote. I could have taken offense, argued the point, delivered a lecture about the impropriety of such judgments, or demanded justification for the remark, but I didn't do any of those things. I brushed it aside with a smile. Do I get credit for my restraint? No. I'm told I'm being "snide."

Ah, well.

But if you'll follow the "tone" tag I have linked above and read all the posts it leads to, I do think you'll have to admit that it's a totally false accusation to suggest that we always ignore all questions about the candor and sometimes biting-edge style of discourse here.

Scott said...

Greg Long -

I live in Europe, so it's bed time here. Maybe I can answer your comment tomorrow, but if you are interested, I am providing a link to an extensive article I wrote that will have my full thoughts on apostles today.

Here is the link - http://theologica.ning.com/profiles/blogs/article-on-ephesians-4.

Frank Turk said...

This is my favorite graphic on this topic ever, and I can't remember if Phil made it or not.

It has great tone.

Scott said...

Ah, to get the link, double click on the line that begins with the http, then copy the link and paste it into your web browser.

Sorry for the complication.

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

Frank,

I've been unable to participate today, but I have time for a quick question for clarification:

"I don't believe they happen in the way they happened in the NT and at the verbal command of the officers of the church.

Do you?
[bold added]"

Are you talking about James 5, there?

If so, you mean that James said that elders had the apostolic gift of healing. Is that right?

Chad V. said...

Tyler
No that's not a leap at all, it conforms perfectly with the context and the purpose of sign miracles which was always to give authority to new revelation and as I pointed out, the text says explicitly that only faith, hope and love remain.

You have not addressed the meanings of the texts I cited which explicitly teach that faith and hope regard things specifically not seen. Since they regard things specifically not seen they can't possibly apply when we see Christ face to face as you suggest.

So until the charismatic can deal with that they don't have a leg to stand on.

Sir Aaron said...

Frank is on fire today!

Jugulum said...

Chad V.,

Wait... So you're saying that "Now faith, hope, and love remain" is referring to "when the perfect comes"?

In other words, you would rephrase Paul's point as: "The final canon will eventually be complete, and then the gifts of knowledge/prophecy/tongues will cease. But faith, hope, and love will remain at the point, and love is greater than hope or faith." Is that right?

So you don't think "Now faith, hope, and love remain" is talking about "now", but "when revelation is complete".

If I've misunderstood, please clarify.

The other option is that Paul was saying, faith, hope, and love are abiding now, because the perfect hasn't come yet--but love is greater, because it won't pass away or cease.

I could maybe see it go either way. These questions occur to me:

1.) What does "now" refer to? (Hmm...)

2.) Does "remain" mean, "These things are abiding with us", without implying that some things have already ceased? Or does it actually imply "Some things have already ceased, and these things are left over"? (I think that's how you were taking it. If that's the case, then you're right--this looks like a strong argument for cessationism.)

In English, "remain" sounds like it implies "left over". "Abide"... not as much. In the Greek? I have no clue. I wonder if anyone has done a word-study on this?

3.) Why does Paul say that "the greatest of these is love"? Does he give the reason in context, or not?

Is it because of the in-context reason that love will continue after the perfect comes? (After all--if the perfect is the final state of affairs after the 2nd Coming--then faith and hope will cease when the perfect comes, which fits Paul's logic very well.) Or is it a new thought that Paul is introducing at the tail end of the passage, without any elaboration of why love is greater?

If that's the case... Then Paul means something like, "Love never ends. Faith and hope last a bit longer, but not as long as love. Prophecy & tongues & knowledge will cease soon." That seems odd... Doesn't quite fit the passage. I could force it in, but I can't read it out.

But maybe you could put it this way, and have it fit the cessationist reading: "Love never ends. Prophecy & tongues & knowledge will cease soon. Faith and hope last longer, so they're better than prophecy, etc. But not as long as love--so love is the greatest." (But... That introduces the idea of faith & hope lasting longer but then ceasing--and in the cessationist reading, that's coming out of nowhere.)

4.) But then... Why does Paul single out "these three" at all?

A charismatic has to explain why these are singled out. A cessationist has an easy explanation--they stick around during the post-apostolic Church era. But for a charismatic... Why didn't Paul say, "Now all these gifts are abiding--faith, hope, knowledge, tongues, prophecy, and love--but the greatest of these is love."



Hmmm.... Good food for thought.

Jugulum said...

Chad,

One correction, which doesn't really affect your point:

"No that's not a leap at all, it conforms perfectly with the context and the purpose of sign miracles which was always to give authority to new revelation and as I pointed out, the text says explicitly that only faith, hope and love remain."

"Knowledge" and "prophecy" and "tongues" all have to do with revelation. Not sign miracles. Tongues it the only one that is a "sign"--and it's not a sign that attests to apostolic authority, even on cessationists' understanding of "sign to unbelievers". (Which isn't the only understanding, BTW.)

You should have argued that 13:8-12 is specifically saying that the revelatory gifts will cease.

Chad V. said...

Jug

I don't have time to comment on all of what you said but essentially I would say yes, you've understood me.

The thing is that the word for "perfect" is usually translated to me mean "complete: or "mature" and as far as I know never means "perfect in the eternal state". So you see how Paul is contrasting the partial knowledge of God's revelation know by the fledgling Apostolic church which had no complete canon and relied heavily upon revelation and the traditions of the Apostles with the complete revelation of God available to us after the time of the Apostles in the completed canon.

Frank Turk said...

Jug --

I'm thinking more of the book of Acts. All over the place.

Frank Turk said...

Kent:

You pervert the Gospel by lessening the declaration of it. You pervert it by condemning those who deny your frankly-hilarious claims to VPP in order to substantiate VPI -- when even the TR family does not demonstrate VPP internally. After all: it only takes one scribal jot or tittle to corrupt and therefore render some text useless -- let alone when someone actually adds a whole paragraph or a phrase to the text.

You pervert the Gospel by making a WORK (translation; preservation) on-par with God's promises.

But you'll never see that -- you couldn't see it in our debate, and you might die without seeing it. May God have mercy on you for believing such a thing and teaching it to others.

Jugulum said...

Frank,

OK. It was the "officers of the church" language that made me wonder. I thought you meant "local church"...speaking generally.

Jugulum said...

Chad,

"The thing is that the word for "perfect" is usually translated to me mean "complete: or "mature" and as far as I know never means "perfect in the eternal state"."

I'm not clear why you think that the "'perfect' has to do with completion, maturity, fullness, brought to its end" clarification argues against the other possibility. (I understand why it makes your version more feasible than it would otherwise be.)

As though that makes "the perfect" not fit with the final, completed, mature, reconciled, glorified state of the final restoration of all things, where all the promises of God are fulfilled--the objects of our faith & hope?

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

Phil - sometime I would like to hear your exposition on what it means in Zechariah where it says that in the last days certain people would have visions and dream dreams (I'm sure you know what passage I'm referring to). I've always wondered about that passage, how they last days could have included the first century but not the 21st century (or the future). I've heard what some others have had to say on its proper interpretation, but would be interested in what you specifically have to say about it. Thanks much.

Julius Mickel said...

Why in Galatians did Paul say if he or even an angel preached a different gospel then they are accursed? The scriptures are infalliable not the apostles--In this sense, why would the Bereans be commended for 'searching the scriptures to see if those things were true'? Why search? An spostle said it, so you better believe it!
The apostles could not at will perform signs. Did they never pray and get back a negative answer?

SOunds like the strawman created for a continuationist is likened to the strawman created for Calvinists. Variety and differences doesn't mean inconsitency or obvious proof for error.
COncerning tongues: you do know that not all continuatists believe they are really fast gibberish rather actual languages.

A little more balance and honesty please.

Solameanie said...

Kent,

The reason I got a chuckle out of Frank's remark is this: I have seen you in the past ask rather short, terse questions seemingly related to the topic at hand, only to somehow manage to divert the discussion to the Bible translation issue. It seemed to me that Frank was "heading you off at the pass."

Of course, I could be mistaken about your intent in asking the question this time.

Chad V. said...

Jug

I see your point and I've stated in the past here on Pyro that I may be misunderstanding precisely what Paul means by the perfect. In my own study on this I've found those commentators that interpret the text the way I've posted here to be most consistent. Calvin however has a different interpretation.

The fact remains that around the whole discussion of what the perfect is Paul says that somethings will pass but that faith, hope and love abide and there is it clear he is not speaking of the eternal state for as we have already seen, faith and hope have no part in the eternal state.

Jacob said...

Frank your post at 8:33AM is, in the parlance of the younger generation, epic. Much appreciated.

these3remain said...

I enjoyed this post; it helped clarify some of my own thoughts on charismatic gifts. I especially appreciated the point made about "selective" cessationism and that it exists on both sides of the argument. I'd like to suggest that there are no examples of believers being healed in the New Testament; all the healings that took place were of non-believers. Furthermore, all of the healings, without exception, were immediate; not one was "gradual" or over a period of time. I believe that God can and does heal miraculously today but I also believe that it will always be for His glory, in complete agreement with His Word and according to His purposes and plan, not ours.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

There were several things in your last comment that not only do not represent anything that I said in our debate, but are slanderous to the worst degree. And all of this has been totally off topic. I guess I shouldn't be amazed that you get away with it here.

Solameanie,

How about you were wrong. I didn't say anything about the text issue. I've always spoken on topic here. Always. And if it related to preservation (only one time that I remember), it was still on topic.

I haven't checked the history, but if you did, you'd probably find that if the text issue came in more than once, it was Frank that brought it in, just like this occasion. He does a good job of acting like it's something he wants to talk about, for saying that he doesn't.

Frank Turk said...

Kent:

In every single answer you gave at D-Blog, you condemned me as holding heretical views.

Every. Single. One.

You compared me to the likes of Bart Ehrman repeatedly.

So whatever it is you think you did over there, you should go re-read it now that you're not defending yourself to see if you played the role you thought you were playing. The role you played was to accuse someone of denying the Gospel because he knows for certain that there are no two extant manuscripts of the NT which are identical in every way and that we must, therefore, do something with that.

Here's the crazy thing, Kent: I think you believe you're an honest person. I think when you say things like I advocate for a "uncertainty spawned by modern criticism", you are doing the Lord's work. Yet anyone who has read even three random paragraphs from any blogging I have done about Scripture would laugh at you for saying something that intellectually ribald.

Check your e-mail. I am sure it is on-topic.

Pentecostal Refugee said...

As a fully fledged charismatic (in experience but not in theology) I couldn’t agree more with your thesis regarding the office of the apostle today and pseudo-miracles dominating charismatic circles suffering from the Christian celebrity syndrome. Any healing TODAY I would agree is not because of the ‘anointed’ person who prays but in spite of them. It is a direct, sovereign and merciful act of God.

However, your take on tongue speaking is moving from the ridiculous to the absurd. Sorry for the ‘tone’ fellas (Turk, Johnson & Co) but you are just too cocky and defiant and you invite confrontational polemics (your turf, your blog, I know). Frank wrote: I think people who babble to make a prayer they think God wants to hear are people who don’t understand that God spoke clearly in order to be understood. And I feel sorry for them. I am looking forward to some creative hermeneutics on 1 Cor 14:2 and the explanation to why the need to ‘interpret’ a tongue that can be understood?

It’s obvious that tongue speaking in church is pointless in terms of corporate edification, but in private prayer your spirit prays though your mind is unfruitful (1 Cor 14:14). “What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also” (v15)

Phil said: I think the vast majority of "speaking in tongues" is simply a learned behavior. I CAN DO IT.Can you really? Any genuine tongue speaking charismatic should be able to speak “on call” if they want to, without any special “manifestations”. The gift is always there 24/7 it doesn’t come and go. We’re not debating whether one “should” but whether one “can” here. Here’s a challenge since it’s so easy. Do a continuous 5 min recording of imitating tongue speaking and post the audio file on your blog. Not ‘sounds’ but anything that resembles a language. It should be a breeze.

If it’s “simply a learned behavior” I must be a genius then because I learned it in about 10 minutes flat at 11.30am March 19, 1987 and haven’t stopped since. Couldn’t string a few words together before that, because I too thought you can “make it up”. You are simply mocking things you don’t understand. A case of “confirmation bias” as Albert Mohler wrote in one of his articles.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,
1. I never condemned you.
2. I never called what you believed heretical.
3. I never compared you to Bart Ehrman as it related to the gospel.
4. I never accused you of denying the gospel.

People, yes, are welcome to read the debate to check that out. Those are false assertions you are making. I also don't appreciate some of your adjectives, but readers will have to judge. We both know who has the home court here, but that shouldn't mean that you can say whatever you want.

Frank Turk said...

1 Cor 14:5 is your answer, PR. If you read down the paragraph -- not even the page -- you'd find it pretty easily.

"The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up."

Paul's entire argument in 1 Cor 14 is against speaking in tongues in a mindless way.

You note here can't be even remotely serious since you don't even take Paul at his word -- why should you take me at mine?

Pentecostal Refugee said...

FT Paul's entire argument in 1 Cor 14 is against speaking in tongues in a mindless way.

Yes it is, but in the context of corporate NOT private prayer. If he objected private prayer then he is clearly contradicting himself (v.v. 2,15)

Frank Turk said...

Oh really, Kent?

1. I never condemned you.

[QUOTE KENT]
I am confident that my opponent will reveal greater trust in merely human statements of history and science than he does what God’s Word says about its own preservation.
[UNQUOTE]

I am sure it was said to commend me -- and that's just in your intro.

2. I never called what you believed heretical

[QUOTE KENT]
This represents the historic position of NT Christianity on the doctrine of preservation, simply fleshing out what Scripture says on this doctrine but sharp contrasting with Mr. Turk's neo-orthodox conceptual Word of God.
[UNQUOTE]

I am sure that contrasting "orthodoxy" with "neo-orthodoxy" is comparing "best" to "not that bad", right, kent? You didn't mean that I held an unorthodox position: you meant I held a position of a different kind of orthodoxy.

Right? Not heretical: differently orthodox.

This one is my favorite:
3. I never compared you to Bart Ehrman as it related to the gospel.

[QUOTE KENT]
He changed a few of God’s Words, caused uncertainty in Eve, so that what God said wasn’t authoritative to her any longer—you know the rest of the story.

Satan continues using the same strategy. Modern agnostic, Bart Ehrman, illustrates this by testifying of his apostacy in his Misquoting Jesus ...

Yet, that is the position that Mr. Turk takes in opposition to my affirmation.
[UNQUOTE]

So you're right: you didn't compare me to Ehrman -- you compared me to Ehrman -and- Satan. BTW, you compared me to Satan in your e-mails this evening, and I enjoyed it as much today as I did back in 2008. Thanks for helping me relive that.

And last but not least:

4. I never accused you of denying the gospel.

Now, before I get to the quote where you do this, even if there is no direct quote for this one, if I am taking human wisdom over God's wisdom (1), believing in something which is contrasted with orthodoxy (2), and on-par with Satan and Ehrman (3), isn't the right conclusion here that I'm denying the Gospel? Isn't it a fair deduction?

Let's not stick to fair deductions: let's see what Kent has actually said:

[QUOTE KENT]
Now the Bible was no longer holy, but a corpus of ancient writings to be assessed by secular criteria; therefore, instead of judging the culture, Scripture itself was judged. Now instead of the Christian reading, understanding, and the church teaching with authority, they all needed the scholar, someone competent according to a new secular creed.
[UNQUOTE]

"a new secular creed" if one believes that the text of the NT requires some work to be recovered from -all- of the manuscript evidence? That's not denying the Gospel, Kent? You're saying there's no connection between this statement and my views which you also called "heterodox" in the same leg of this exchange?

Please. Get a grip on yourself. You're wrong about all 4 of your denials. If your approach wasn't so systematic, I'd write it off as ignorance. But I suspect you know exactly what you're doing.

Frank Turk said...

Oh brother -- PR, no sense arguing with you. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

liedc kqwjkj cljjd aq, aiknf ck qajc. TAQUILA!

Pentecostal Refugee said...

Keep it up Frank. Mockery and recreational sarcasm are easier than thoughtful exchanges. Also...I recommend Vodka over Tequila!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Frank,

I'm happy to let all of those stand on their own, and let people judge them for themselves.

Andrew Faris said...

Phil and Cent,

Thanks for the responses. I've been away from the computer all day and haven't gotten to look back any sooner.

This apparently is an issue I need to think through a little more deeply, because sometimes I think, "That's harsh" and then I go read Galatians...

So anyway, thanks for the clarification, and I apologize if I was unfair. When I have a few moments, I'll go read the links. Thanks for supplying them.

Andrew

greglong said...

Scott, so would you agree that there are no more "apostles of Jesus Christ" (or "apostles of the lamb") today?

The gifts of apostles and prophets were clearly part of the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20), a foundation that has already been laid.

Frank Turk said...

PR --

Why I enjoy the Charismatic discussion so much.

PR: I am looking forward to some creative hermeneutics on 1 Cor 14:2 and the explanation to why the need to ‘interpret’ a tongue that can be understood?

FRANK: Read a little more of that chapter, dude. Paul tells you why.

PR: Yes, but Paul is talking about CORPORATE prayer. I'm talking about PRIVATE prayer.

Do you not see that Paul was talking about CORPORATE prayer in 1 Cor 14:2 as well, PR? So when you cited that passage, you were either also tlaking about CORPORATE prayer or else you were mishandling the passage?

You may change the subject, but that takes your first argument off the table. Therefore, kasdc olkdsfl oien ek pwmfe dkd until you put up your first argument for your case.

TAQUILA!

Frank Turk said...

Kent --

As I said in my e-mail, if after these 4 examples and the other three I have given your privately you don't see yourself as telling lies, I don't hold out hope for you to ever repent of your sin.

You can: Christ will accept it from you when you come around. I will follow Christ's lead. But until then, don't expect me to treat as as any more or any less than an unrepentant liar.

Sorry. I know it's going to egt in the way of your commenting around here, but so be it.

Jugulum said...

Chad,

Oh, I'm still trying to work it through myself. (That's why my first reply was so long--I was pointing out strengths & problems on both sides!)

"The fact remains that around the whole discussion of what the perfect is Paul says that somethings will pass but that faith, hope and love abide and there is it clear he is not speaking of the eternal state for as we have already seen, faith and hope have no part in the eternal state. [bold added]"

So, this is the (possibly wrong, possibly right) assumption I was trying to point out.

You're reading it as, "Some things will pass away, but then faith, hope, and love will remain. (And, by the way, love is the greatest.)"

The other possibility is, "Some things will pass away, like prophecy. And right now, we have faith, hope, and love abiding with us--but love is the greatest, because it will never pass away."

And those two possibilities each have the issues I talked about before.

Solameanie said...

Frank,

If you are a "different kind of orthodox," does that also make you a "new kind of Christian?" If so, let me know and I'll order you a pair of Birkenstocks immediately.

Just wondering. ;)

Frank Turk said...

Solameanie:

Everything must change, yo.

Except this thread, which is now closed.