06 August 2010

Sweeping up after the Poythress articles

by Dan Phillips

Assuming the argument* of the three Poythress articles (starting here), let's look at two questions.

First: if they aren't spiritual gifts,
what are they?


There is no Scriptural authority for calling these activities "spiritual gifts," in the 1 Corinthians 12 sense. Anyone with a robust Biblical grasp of the sufficiency of Scripture should find that fact sobering, even pivotal.

But if you can't call these hunches, strong impressions, vivid dreams and all "spiritual gifts," then what do you call them?

I have a bold proposal: what if we call them hunches, strong impressions, vivid dreams?


The chattery negative reaction many would fling back in response is very telling. You'll note I've never argued that hunches, strong impressions, and vivid dreams are without any significance. I just argue that they have no divine authority, and often signify nothing of any import.

And there's the rub, for all sorts of Christianoids. To them, all this Bibley stuff is too cerebral and "out-there." They crave the vivid immediacy of feelings and experiences. More than that, they insist on attaching some sort of spiritual significance or divine authority to their vibrations and emanations. More than that, they like being able to imagine that they have an individual hotline to God, through which He whispers sweet nothings into their ears, and theirs alone.

And it's a nice plus not to have to make an actual rational, Biblical case for their opinions.  "The Lord told me" or "I felt the Lord move my heart to" or "I was praying, and I just really felt led" trumps anything short of a specific Biblical prohibition... and sometimes, even that.

But if we (novel thought!) begin insisting that everything we do in God's name be done only with express Biblical warrant, all that must change. Everyone will be absolutely free to say, "I just feel," or "I have a hunch" — but our feelings and hunches will have to stand or fall by their own merits. We'll have to make a reasoned case, or confess our inability to do so. If we have earned a reputation as Biblically-savvy, mature souls with sound judgment, they'll have some weight. If we're silly, shallow, emotional tumbleweeds, well, not so much.

As I said, if some sharp cookie like my wife or many of my friends says they have an uneasy feeling about something, I take it seriously. I consider it very possible that a dozen alarm-bells are going off at a subliminal level in their sharp, perceptive, Biblically-informed minds. I see the moving of their thoughts as being under the providential control of God (cf. Proverbs 21:1), and I'll factor it in to any decision-making.

But unless it's attached to some Bible verses, I'll not assign any Divine authority to it.


Second: what do we do about them?

My three thoughts will be fairly blunt and direct. (Readers gasp in astonishment.)

One: we need to bring our language under Biblical discipline. Don't call what isn't prophecy "prophecy." Don't say "the Lord told me" if you're not about to quote a Bible verse. Don't try to legitimatize silliness by forcing a Biblical label on it. Let a prophecy be the unique, enormous, stop-the-presses thing it was, and let a hunch be a hunch.

However, if you are a really-really "continuationist," then stop pussy-footing about. Get on with it, man! Have Crossway issue an ESV with lots and lots of blank pages in the end, so you can "continue" to ink in new Scripture. Just be sure to tell everyone that that's where you're coming from.

Two: we need to grow up. Repent of the paralyzing, navel-gazing, self-absorbed fascination with the murky world of sorta semi-gifts that impart sorta semi-revelation. Get into real revelation; get into Scripture.

You can take this to the bank: I have yet to meet the fake-gift-obsessed charismatic who is what he is because he learned and internalized all of Scripture, and just really needed something else to do.

We've got 66 books of pure, real, binding revelation. We don't know them like we should. We don't preach them like we should. We don't live them like we should.

So grow up, focus, and get with God's program.

Three: anyone claiming to speak for God apart from Scripture should be disciplined. The Bible is pretty fierce on the subject of speaking in God's name without authority, without authorization (Deuteronomy 18:20). Here's my reasoning: if in Israel false prophecy warranted the death penalty, should it not warrant excommunication in the Christian church?


We're going to have to cook, or get out of the kitchen. If we believe the Canon is closed and Scripture is sufficient, then we believe God is not speaking new words apart from Scripture. Anyone claiming to mediate such revelation is in serious error. If we won't get serious about that, we're not serious about Scripture's sufficiency.

There.

Happy? Great. Mad? Oh well. Sorry.

But you won't walk off saying "Hunh, wonder what Phillips really thinks."

*That means, once again, the meta will assume that position, rather than debate it.

Part Three

UPDATE: Trogdor made a trenchant observation pairing two Justin Taylor posts, and probably making my point more briefly and effectively than I did. In fact, it may give me an idea for a Next!

Dan Phillips's signature

120 comments:

nextverse said...

Well I guess that clears that up.
Amen!
Thanks Dan

Everyday Mommy© said...

"I have a bold proposal: what if we call them hunches, strong impressions, vivid dreams?"

Glory! Common sense is not dead!

JackW said...

Wow!

I think Dan just out DJP'd himself.

Everyday Mommy© said...

p.s. I spent many years in the Charismatic church and I can assure you, without hesitation, that the thorough study, interpretation and application of Scripture was not communicated, demonstrated or encouraged. Any Charismatic who says it was is speaking falsely.

Robert said...

I had a conversation with a charasmatic friend and asked him if they follow the instruction that Paul gave the Corinthian church (interpreter, one at a time). He said that even if they didn't, that he did not see where Scripture explicitly says that tongues have ended. I'd hate to think of where we'd be if we stuck with explicit statements only.

Also, I've been wanting to study church history for when and where sign gifts have popped up and if the instances where they have (if any) are in line with Scripture. Does anybody know what church history looks like on this subject?

Mike said...

This:
I've never argued that hunches, strong impressions, and vivid dreams are without any significance. I just argue that they have no divine authority, and often signify nothing of any import.
plus this:
I see the moving of their thoughts as being under the providential control of God (cf. Proverbs 21:1), and I'll factor it in to any decision-making.
are pretty important statements.

I think that if you had said them earlier on (of course you may have said them in another place and it's just slid out of the un-firm jello mold that is my memory...) I think it would have made it VERY hard for anyone to argue with you.

(Okay I don't really believe that because, well I'm not a pyro-newbie. Some of these people would argue with a free steak. It would at least have made it easier for the dumber of us (*read: "me") to disregard them!) :p

DJP said...

Some of these people would argue with a free steak

Phil, Frank -- I think we should put that in the sidebar somewhere.

Matt said...

There are two passages that give me great pause when it comes to the working of the Holy Spirit:

"Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good."
(1Th 5:19-21 ESV)

This was written to a Gentile church far away from the rest of the apostles. Acts records several prophesies and there are references to prophets and prophetesses whose prophesies were not all recorded in scripture but some of which were confirmed in scripture. Are we absolutely certain we understand the nature and relationship of prophecy with scripture.

There is a current movement of the Holy Spirit in the Middle East that has been confirmed from multiple sources and denominations. Islamic people are being drawn from Islam to Christianity though visions and dreams. These new converts continue to receive revelation from visions and dreams that are strengthening the church in the absence of Bibles. These are people who have converted at great personal cost; some of them have even given their lives in the name of Jesus Christ. Their faith is real and Biblical when you hear their testimonies.

What are we to say about this?

"And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."
(Luk 12:10 ESV)

Are we to deny this clear working by the Holy Spirit because of our interpretation of scripture? Are we absolutely certain that our view of the Bible's teaching regarding the spiritual gifts are accurate?

There is a disturbing trend against the Holy Spirit due to the excesses and yes demonic influences in the charismatic movement. But just because Satan has infiltrated the charismatic movement does not mean that we should throw out Biblical doctrine as well. Yes, there are many false prophets today, but there were many false prophets in the days of Elijah too. Can we be certain that there are not true prophets today that we are shunning and quenching due to our hardened hearts?

"Do not despise prophesies, but test everything."

I fully concur that we need to take a stronger stance against false prophets and drive them from the church. But I think we need to be careful to not throw out the "sign" gifts -- especially when the Biblical evidence for their cessation is limited. Just because the true gifts are rarely seen here does not mean they have ceased elsewhere.

DJP said...

I don't know anyone who despises prophecies. I sure do despise it when people give false prophecies, though.

As to stories: yeah, I loved stories when I was a child. I still like going to a movie theater, buying some popcorn, sitting there in the dark, and watching a good story.

But when it comes to theology and truth, I go to my Bible.

Wouldn't it be great if we all did that?

donsands said...

"As I said, if some sharp cookie like my wife"

I like to use that phrase, "sharp cookie".

Excellent post. Well done my brother. I shall have to share this teaching with some good friends, who need to hear this big time. Not that they will right off the bat except it. But hopefully they will consider it, and chew on it.

"Islamic people are being drawn from Islam to Christianity though visions and dreams." -Matt

I wish I could find some good evidence of this. I have heard of it, and you know how that can be. It could be like all those angel stories. You know the hitch hiker one, and so on.

Yet, God surely could be saving Muslems, but it will be through the Gospel. And how can they hear?

"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”" Romans 10

Just thinking out loud a bit.

have a great weekend and Lord's Day.

Frank Turk said...

I really, really, really, really, really, really like Dan Phillips.

I would shun anyone who argued with a free steak.

Daryl said...

I heard Mike Horton say something a while back that makes all kinds of sense to me.

He said that since Jesus promised the disciples that the Comforter would bring them into all truth, and bear witness to Christ. Then it is those very churches who preach Christ that are being led of the Spirit, and those who talk incessantly about the work and power (meaning cool displays) of the Spirit, who are completely ignoring the Spirit.

So, in answer to Matt, I'd say that there is a disturbing trend in the church to ignore what the Spirit is up to, and point to what they wish He would do instead.

If you put the preacher on a pedestal and talk only about what a great preacher he is, you are ignoring the preacher.
If you ignore that same preacher and talk incessantly about what he's teaching you, you are not ignoring him at all.

Daryl said...

Oh, one other thing.

A big problem I have with your "just because it's not happening here, maybe it's happening elsewhere" arguement, Matt, is that it's exactly the same argument that people use to "prove" that there's life on other planets.

Unfortunately that thinking gains a lot of traction in most parts, but that doesn't make it legitimate.

Mike said...

Feel free to put the "argue with a free steak" in the sidebar, but *imminent hi-jack warning* if you were to put the wisdomfail blog in your side bar, your readers would get a lot more quality statements just like that one...seasoned with yummy, practical, theologically sound goodness. (....am getting hungry now...methinks an early lunch is in order.)

Randy Talley said...

@Matt - "There is a current movement of the Holy Spirit in the Middle East that has been confirmed from multiple sources and denominations." That sounds rather dogmatic for an anecdotal report. I don't recall dreams and visions ever being described in scripture as spiritual gifts... or tools for evangelism... or relevant for the church outside of what scripture documents.

This isn't the best place to get detailed about NT prophets and prophecy, so I'll do my best not to hijack the meta. But Ephesians 2:20 still rings true - the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. If the foundation is still being built, we have a woefully incomplete Bible (uh, how about "no"?).

Dan, your statement about an ESV with blank pages is so true. Even what started out as "private" revelation in scripture didn't stay that way - it made it into the Bible. And when you look at today's claims about visions, dreams, revelations and prophecies happening all the time, that sure does stand in stark contrast to the limited amount of revelation, given directly to very few, from the time of creation to the completion of the Bible.

Matt said...

Daryl,

I would agree with your statement about the preacher, and I certainly agree. I think there are a lot of churches that simply follow God and His Word by faith and the Holy Spirit is active within that body.

My point in regards to it happening other places is that very often, despite our claims to the contrary, our theology can take on an western bent as if what happens in America is the norm of the faith. This is especially dangerous given the apostate nature of the church in America today.

I encourage you to listen to Paul Washer, a Calvinist and strong Biblical preacher, who talks about the state of the American church from the foreign perspective. We have a swagger and pride in American theology that is deeply disturbing given the fruit of the Church in America.

My appeal began with scripture, and in that I still rest. I see very little scriptural evidence for cessation and quite a few commands and exhortations for the gifts. Back to your first point, the reason we may not hear about the spiritual gifts as much in the later epistles is because it was taken for granted.

Matt said...

Randy,

I will confess that I am still developing my thoughts on this, but consider this: when the Old Testament prophets spoke, the Torah was complete. The Law was finished and perfect. Everything the prophets said was tested against the Torah to see if it was true.

Could it be that the New Testament is complete just like the Torah, but God can continue to use prophets to explain the scriptures, warn of coming judgement, and offer specific direction as the church moves through history?

As I have said before, I am not a charismatic, but I did find that Ephesians passage interesting: the apostles and the prophets. Not the OT prophets, but the NT prophets. It is much like the Law and the Prophets of the OT. The apostles (the written NT) and the prophets.

Just a thought.

Daryl said...

"Back to your first point, the reason we may not hear about the spiritual gifts as much in the later epistles is because it was taken for granted."

Again, not a good argument. You could say that about anything. Floating axeheads, chariots of fire, new apostles, appearances of Christ...anything at all.

I don't think you did begin with Scripture. At least, when you quoted verses, you didn't address any of the arguments given for why your take on them is incorrect.

Daryl said...

Matt,

If you go back and re-read Ephesians, the apostles and prophets are reference several times, always in the context of OT prophets.
I don't think it works to suddenly jump to a different breed of prophets (nowhere defined in Scripture) later on in the book.

Matt said...

Daryl, to your first response,

My argument here was specifically against an argument put forth for cessation -- admittedly, both are weak.

The only "strong" argument for cessation comes from 1 Cor 13, but it ignores the fact that the passage goes on to state that perfection comes when we see God face to face.

What are the arguments against the two passages I quoted? I do not believe I have seen them on this thread.

As to the latter, I admitted that it was just a thought that needs to be either ironed out or rejected. I am not implying a new breed of prophets. I was theorizing about the continuation of the role of prophet into the church age.

Jared Moore said...

Phil,

What do you say about the Reformed Charismatic Movement? Guys like C.J. Mahaney and Matt Chandler argue for such relative revelation that isn't equated with Scripture, but is rather in line with Grudem's occassionally correct prophets? During a worship service, they allow someone who has a prophecy to bring it to an elder, and they discern whether or not it is legit. I personally don't see such a category in the Scriptures. What do you think about this?

joel said...

Wait just a second. My Crossway ESV does have blank lined pages in the back, but probably only enough for a 3rd Thessalonians. What kind of a jerk would write in the back of a $180.00 Lambskin bible anyway.

DJP said...

Phil,

What do you say about the Reformed Charismatic Movement?


Yeah, Phil, I'd like to know, too.

Robert said...

Well I, for one, would like to know your take on it, DJP. Haha.

One thing that disturbs me is that I have seen a bit of an arrogance with some charasmatics based upon the fact that some popular reformed evangelicals are charismatic (Piper being the main one). Just wondering if I am the only one who sees this...

Matt said...

Robert,

I think there is a great deal of arrogance on all sides of this issue. I am seriously trying to wrestle with this issue because what I read in scripture does not line up with the party-line of what I have been taught. I simply do not see cessation taught anywhere in scripture until our resurrection with Jesus Christ, but I see many instructions regarding how to handle the gifts (most of which are not observed). I will fully grant and support the condemnation of such demonic movements as the "Toronto Blessing" and so forth, but I do not want to fall guilty of quenching the Spirit (with its explicit command against) either.

I do not claim to know the answer, but I am searching for it. If such pursuits are not welcome here, then perhaps I should go elsewhere.

Brian Roden said...

Daryl said:

"If you go back and re-read Ephesians, the apostles and prophets are reference several times, always in the context of OT prophets."

Eph. 3:5 says, regarding the mystery of Christ
"which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets."

NOW been revealed, not just to the NT apostles, but to God's holy apostles and prophets presently alive in the first century

Be careful when you say always

Daryl said...

"not just to the NT apostles, but to God's holy apostles and prophets presently alive in the first century"

Huh?

Who said that there weren't prophets in the NT, along with the apostles.
And, more importantly, who said they get to be redefined as something different than OT prophets?

Daryl said...

Brian,

Ahhh, I see your point. But my argument isn't that there were no prophets while the NT was being written.
No one has said that. But that they are somehow a different thing than an OT prophet can't be supported I don't think.

Also, those things were revealed...and then written down. It's not like anyone can equate the mystery of salvation with "God told me..." kind of stuff.

Gov98 said...

Look, the hard thing for non-cessationists is where are the sign gifts if they are still present. How come it is people like Pat Robertson with the gift of "Prophecy?"

Here's the thing, if John MacArthur starts prophecying or speaking in tongues, alright you have my attention, until then as long as it is the "Hour of Power" consider me cautious.

In relation to quenching the spirit, here's the way I see it, someone speaking in tongues without an interpreter is disobeying the command of Scripture, since the Holy Spirit cannot compel one to disobey Scripture, I'd be very suspicious of such a "drawing" by the Spirit.

On the other hand, when I feel in my gut that I need to share the Gospel with someone, that's probably the Spirit, because I can count on my flesh NEVER counseling me to share the Gospel.

SO, if I am led to do something "against the flesh" I feel pretty comfortable that's the Spirit's prompting, is that prophecy? Tongues? No and No, that's just part of the life of a believer.

ON the other hand, when I am "led" to rail against the evils of our current political environment I'm pretty sure that's not the Spirit, because I'm pretty sure that the Spirit has more concern for the Gospel then my need to vent (unlike my flesh). I of course could be wrong, but Scripture provides a very healthy (um the only healthy) metric or measurement of what's happening in my heart.


Which I hope comes across as me saying "Right On! DJP"

Jesse said...

Matt: As for the "dreams and movements of the Spirit are happening in the Middle East" line of reasoning, it just doesn't work. Having talked with many genuine Christians from Iran, they say that that movement is causing the same kind of damage and confusion there that you would imagine it causing here. People may be leaving Islam, but it is not for the self-denying and cross-carrying gospel of Jesus; rather it is for a mystical, self-invented and self-authenticated deity that generally goes with this sort of "movement." The true church there is left in a bind: speak out against the obvious abuses and risk showing the Muslim world that the body of Christ is divided, or stay silent and watch people go from one false religion to another.

stratagem said...

A confession and a compliment... I confess I didn't read all the Poythress articles (or Poindexter, or whatever his name was).

BUT I did read this article - which on a stand-alone basis made many excellent points that I will remember for a long time! Thank you Dan.

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

Matt,

I'd encourage you to read through some of the Pyro archives on "da gifts." Your arguments have been addressed time and again.

And I find your consistent line of argumentation puzzling. "I lean reformed, but I think they're really arrogant and I don't believe in the reformed definition of God's sovereignty and/or man's free will..." or "I'm no charismatic, but I think they're right about continuationism..."

It's like saying, "I lean Republican, but I think Republicans are all really arrogant and I don't agree with most of the party's positions..." or "I'm no Mac evangelist, but I think Macs are hands down better in pretty much everything in the computing world than PCs..."

Yes, I exaggerated a bit to make the point, but see what I mean?

Sir Aaron said...

Awesome conclusion, DJP.

Matt: (1)Most Charismatics place a heavy emphasis on tongues and prophecy almost to the exclusion of all else. This is madness.(2)If gifts are still continuing, why don't we see the gift of healing? Show me somebody that said, "Get up and walk" and it results in actual, permanent healing. (3)DJP doesn't discouint the importance of feelings, hunches, and dreams. Let's say I normally eat at Subway for lunch and one day I oddly feel a craving for Chinese food which results in my not being in Subway when there is a rash of food poisoning. Would I thank God for His providence? You bet! Would I ascribe my craving for Chinese as a revelation or feeling from God? Not so much, even though I firmly believe that God controls our minds, hunches, and dreams and can use such to accomplish his purposes. I simply can't ascribe it to divine revelation. I also believe that our hunches are subconcious renderings of that which we have studied and know, but can't consciously articulate at the time.

Brian Roden said...

Daryl,

I think you saw my point. Your argument to Matt stated that every referenece made by the writer to prophets was talking about OT prophets, and I was just pointing out that he was talking about NT prophets in that passage. I wasn't claiming that you denied the existence of prophets in the NT.

word verification: tarpitu --
Is that higher education for dinosaurs?

Mike said...

Greg, I don't think you're exaggerating at all.

Macs ARE hands down better in pretty much everything in the computing world than PCs. :p

Matt said...

Sir Aaron,

That is precisely why I do not claim to be a Charismatic.

Quite honestly, I find your view about hunches a little sad. In a real sense, you are taking the glory from God. While ascribing God's power to all hunches and so forth is wrong, to not acknowledge when God has actually worked in your life is ungrateful. Perhaps the reason why we do not see more of God's direct interaction in our lives is precisely because we do not give Him credit and honor for what He has done.

I get a lot of flak for not taking a hard stance for Calvinism, but the reason why I do not is because I do not believe that scripture, in fact, does. I say that I lean Calvinist because I ascribe more to God's sovereignty that man's will, but that does not mean that I do not believe that God, in His sovereignty, has granted men the ability to choose.

I think there is a lot more to the Christian walk than Calvinist doctrine allows. The scripture calls us to a life of utter dependency on God and to speaking the Gospel with power (see 1 Corinthians). I am not talking about the phony and sometimes demonic power of the Charismatics, but the true power of the Holy Spirit.

I think we have seriously diminished God by making Him reside inside a logical construct instead of letting the Word of God live, realizing that ultimately, the Word is Jesus Christ, a risen and living Savior who interacts and guides us in a personal relationship, and not just a systematic theology. It almost feels as if we are trying to redefine the New Testament into a new law of restraint rather than the walk of faith and freedom it was intended to be.

Sir Aaron said...

Didn't I say I'd give glory to God? What I would not do is say "God gave me a hankering for Chinese today."

Daryl said...

Matt,

I don't think you really read Aaron's post.

And, interestingly, I find that the further into these discussions you go, the more it becomes apparent that you don't understand what Calvinism teaches.
Especially when it comes to giving God credit.

Control is actively involved in everything, down to the least typo or pause between keystrokes. And so, while we give him credit for everything, that doesn't mean He told me to pause slightly between letters, He still controls that pause.
All while not preventing me from actively deciding what I will or will not do.

Daryl said...

...Ok, so I said "Control is actively involved..."

which, of course, should say "...God is actively involved..."

Matt said...

Sir Aaron,

Why not? In fact, as a Calvinist who believes in the complete sovereignty of God, how could you come to any other conclusion?

But even if you believe that God gives us a measure of free will, what is wrong with attributing that desire to being given by God? Cannot God direct us in such ways?

Canyon Shearer said...

I love how direct and blunt this is; those are needed characteristics when opposing the goofiness continuationists call gifts. The problem is that those who would learn the most from this won't see the bluntness as a serious concern for their soul. I've rejected any idea that Francis Chan could be a brother, I'm hugely weary of CJ Mahaney, and Matt Chandler has recently made me very uncomfortable...we must be clear that if someone thinks God is speaking to them personally, they very unlilely are NOT saved.

The 13th chapter of Zechariah speaks to this beautifully, that the retired false prophet counts them his friends who whipped him to confront him in his heresy. I've recently encountered this problem among my acquaintances; the most vocal of them concluded our argument with, "I guess we'll have to agree to disagree." I came back as forcefully as I could, "If I had authority to, I would burn you at the stake for this heresy, this is not a minor issue and if you will not repent we are not friends nor brothers."

Later I wrote that, "If you refuse to repent of speaking for God apart from his word then I pray you meet the end of Hananiah and Zedekiah, dead at least and burned in the fire at most."(Jeremiah 28:17, 29:22)

And yet they still think this is a non-essential.

Sir Aaron said...

Matt:

Because I also have sinful desires. Are those also from God?

Matt said...

Daryl,

Perhaps I should have said the Calvinism that is current practiced in America. I realize that I am straying some from the actual doctrines of Calvinism, but the effects of the doctrine have long reaching impact on how we function as a church. For example, prayer has been almost completely stripped of its power by some who look at it merely as fulfilling a duty rather than an expression of true fellowship with God -- not just as His servants, but as His children.

Sir Aaron said...

Canyon:

Really, you'd burn them at the stake? Not merely kill them, but subject them to one of the worst possible deaths?

Dude, I think continuationism is dangerous and should be dealt with firmly. But don't you think you've gone a bit overboard?

Gov98 said...

Just a thought- Soteriology really has little to nothing to do with this discussion so is it possible just for a little bit to keep Soteriology out of it?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Dan, where would you place Calvin's "illumination of the Holy Spirit" in this discussion?

Daryl said...

"we must be clear that if someone thinks God is speaking to them personally, they very unlilely are NOT saved."

Ditch alert, Ditch alert!!

Sorry Canyon, it's hard to imagine you being more wrong.

Canyon Shearer said...

I'm not being harsh, I'm being biblical.

Mark Patton said...

Dan,

I'm a pastor who needs pastoring every once in a while...well a lot a while. Thanks for doing that. These four post have been a very meaty, yet perfectly applied answer to why we all need to make sure we aren't removing the teeth from the full authority of scripture. Thanks

Mike said...

Wow, the meta has gone from mere disagreement to praying for fiery death.

*Lights a candle and begins to sing* I'd like to teach, the thread to sing, in perfect harmony. I'd like to buy the thread a Coke* and keep it company...

*That would be a de-caf Coke...

David said...

Dan,

I must say, you have been instrumental in clarifying this issue for me over the past couple of years. I really appreciate it.

There are things that you said today, in this post, that would have gotten me there a lot quicker, especially regarding the sharp cookies and the moving of their thoughts under the providential control of God. That puts a beautiful bow on top of the package (shall we say gift?).

As a songwriter, it is really, really easy to say "God gave me this song." I used to say that, and I stopped saying it, because while pretending to be humble, I was trying to make people listen to me by attaching God's name to it. Also, some of the songs I said that about were, as I look back, pretty bad songs. That wasn't God's fault.

Pretended humility only puffs up. If I say something was from the Lord, it justifies me in being angry if someone doesn't receive it the way I'd like.

Kevin said...

Excellent post. I just finished reading Gary Gilley's book, "Is That You Lord?", which addresses this subject. I grew up in cessationalist churches, but I discovered that, even so, I and everyone I knew used the "feelings/hunches/impressions" vocabulary concerning God's will for our lives, without realizing the implications -- that we were placing those feelings/hunches/impressions on equal level with Scripture. And quite a few times those "feelings/hunches/impressions" were dead wrong. Actually, when you look at how God speaks in the Bible, He never uses feelings/hunches/impressions to communicate with His children -- it's always unmistakably clear when God speaks -- no one in Scripture ever states, "I *think* God told me to do or say this...". They have absolutely no doubt about it.

Matt said...

Mike,

"*That would be a de-caf Coke..."

Talk about starting a flame war....

;-)

Sir Aaron said...

Canyon:

I was being polite before, trying to gently provide a way for you to realize your error and repent. Seeing as that is not going to happen, I must therefore confront you.

You aren't being Biblical. The Bible does not,anywhere, command Christians to put to death heretics, much less to burn them at the stake. For you to continue to say so is at least as heretical as any charismatic doctrine.

DaveS said...

Kevin,

I think Gideon might have disagreed. Not because it wasn't clear, but because he was afraid of the answer. I'm afraid many times we approach scripture the same way...

Daryl said...

God spoke to me just now.

Told me that decaf-Coke is of the devil.

Almost as demonic as the new-Coke.

Sir Aaron said...

That's why I drink Coke Zero. ;)

Matt said...

Canyon,

Are you certain that your views of scripture are so correct that you can judge another man to the point of death?

There is a reason why there are so many commands against making judgement against others.

"Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God."
(1Co 4:5 ESV)

If your only charge against Francis Chan is that he believes that God has spoken to him -- regardless of the fact that there is no other evidence of continual sin or doctrinal error in his ministry -- I do not see how you can claim scriptural support for the condemnation of someone who professes and magnifies the name of Jesus Christ.

That is very dangerous ground you are walking on.

DaveS said...

Great Post Dan, in fact all 4 were great.

Practitioners of the faux gifts feel the need to legitimize their actions with biblical terminology for the same reason that homosexuals feel the need to redefine the term marriage. As Frank said in yesterday’s post, “What is at stake here is that they want to enforce their choices on other people to justify their own behavior.”

Now where do I get that free steak? All this talk of burning and stakes is making me hungry.

DJP said...

I'm back.

Canyon, that's a trollish thing to say; the sort of thing a "plant" would say to discredit the rest of us.

The Bible says schismatics and heretics should be warned and then, if necessary, put out of the church. That's sufficient, and that's where our authority ends.

Now, everybody, back on topic.

Rob Bailey said...

Matt,
It seems to me all of your objections have been addressed adequately, either here or in previous Pyro posts.

My input would be directed toward your stories of "what's going on over there." Go to Asia with a native Asian man who truly fears God, preach the Gospel, confront those with the incredible Holy Spirit stories, and what you will find is that they do not hold water. I have been in several areas from Pakistan to Thailand, where stories like the ones you related have been reported. In large cities we would hear stories of a certain township that came to the Lord by a vision. The stories never hold water. Ask a truly, biblically trained native Asian pastor the nature of these reports, and to a "T" they would give you the same response. For the personal gain of the purveyors and originators of the stories because they know the gullibility of western Christians (and their wealth.)
Just so you know.

DJP said...

It seems to me all of your objections have been addressed adequately, either here or in previous Pyro posts

THANK you!

donsands said...

"That's why I drink Coke Zero."

Way too sweet for me.

Oh, back on topic, right.

"Practitioners of the faux gifts feel the need to legitimize their actions" -Dave

I suppose tongues is the only one that fits this discription?

I think those who pray in tongues, truly believe they have this gift, and are not trying to legitimize it.

I remember hearing CJ Mahaney addressing the faculty at Westminster Seminary how he has the gift of tongues, and he was simply convinced of his gift.

It was something that they allowed him to show from the Scriptures how he back his gift up.

I wish I had a copy of the teaching.

Have a great weekend: And Lord's day.

Sir Aaron said...

DAVES:

Free steaks at my house. You all are invited over.

Ok..now back to topic.

Jim Pemberton said...

Dan,
I have a very practical question regarding this. The scriptures give us very good general principles and applications. Given that SOME are pastors and SOME are teachers, etc, and that we are encouraged to seek the greater gifts, how do I know what I, PERSONALLY, am to do?

It's a matter that I struggle with constantly and without a clear direction from scripture I can't justify pursuing much of anything ministerially since doing so falls solely on personal preference.

This is where I see many people saying "God is leading me to..." when all it is what they really want to do. With this scenario one can pursue almost any ministerial goal foolishly. Some simply don't make good teachers no matter how much they know, for example. Or do we rely on other Christians for their extrabiblical preferences for our lives? It's all the same really.

JS Allen said...

Dan, thanks for doing this series. I was always unsure exactly what your position on things like predictive dreams was, and since you're usually right about things, I wanted to know.

I agree with your conclusions -- if someone has a predictive dream; best not to call it "prophesy", and under no circumstance is it allowed to add to or alter scripture.

DJ said...

Thanks for this post, and this whole series. I am currently dealing with these quasi-spiritual gift issues. My wife is a part of a recovery ministry. After a battery of multiple choice tests, it was determined that she has the gift of prophecy. She does not claim to have a direct line with God or be able to speak inerrant and morally binding commands, but nonetheless she insists on labeling herself a prophet.

It has caused some friction between us. Your posts have helped me to more clearly understand the Biblical truth.

Sir Aaron said...

DJ:

I also took one of those tests which labeled me as having the gift of prophecy. I told them...look, telling somebody that if you play in the street they'll get hit by a car is not prophecy. It's wisdom.

Canyon Shearer said...

Without going too deep into this topic, which is off the topic at hand, there are rules in the Bible for church government and national government. 1 Corinthians 5, which Matt so conveniently forgot is attached to 1 Corinthians 4, says to judge those within the church and purge the evil from among you. Now, the church government has no authority to put to death, but, if the national government is biblical then Deuteronomy 18:20 applies. Caveat: we do not now nor will we likely ever have that authority again. But to let an antichrist slaughter sheep and murder souls is not something that will be allowed in the kingdom...see again Zechariah 13.

Slightly closer to topic, the chapter breakup between 2 Peter 1 and 2 is one of the worst in scripture, we have one complete thought here that Christians will listen to the Bible and antichrists will listen to themselves, there is much warrant to say that someone who rejects Sola Scriptura is exposing one crack in their theology which likely extends to the core of their soul, exposing unregeneracy. Francis Chan comes instantly to mind with his mysticism that exposed his heresy for me, then upon further examination, the man is far from doctrinally sound, having never preached the gospel a single time in his life. I don't say that because his god told him to abandon his church, but because after he said that I researched him quite a bit. Case in point: http://www.newspring.cc/leadershipconference/

DJP said...

DJ, ouch, sorry bro.

donsands said...

"But to let an antichrist slaughter sheep and murder souls is not something that will be allowed in the kingdom...see again Zechariah 13."

I don't understand why you bring Zech. 13 in?

Jesus said let the tares grow with the wheat, and the harvesters will seperate them.

Surely we can note those who preach a different gospel.
I don't believe Francis Chan does.
He is a brother in Christ.

Canyon, you have some issues of your heart to get right, my friend.

wordsmith said...

if in Israel false prophecy warranted the death penalty, should it not warrant excommunication in the Christian church?

But...but...but...what would happen to brother Benny then?


/sarc

Word verification: endep

==> as in "END Extra-biblical 'Prophecy' "

Rob Bailey said...

By the way Dan, many times on this and various blogs a can of worms is opened up. I really think you just put all the worms back in the can.

Canyon Shearer said...

Don,

Have you read Zechariah 13? It says that the false teacher's own parents will pierce him for his blasphemy.

You are right about tares GROWING with the wheat, but we can see the men tossing in the weeds. There are considerably different commands for false teachers, addressed in most books of the New Testament.

Matt said...

"Francis Chan comes instantly to mind with his mysticism that exposed his heresy for me, then upon further examination, the man is far from doctrinally sound, having never preached the gospel a single time in his life."

This is patently false. Have you ever seen his "Just Stop and Think" video? How is this not the gospel?

http://www.crazylovebook.com/videos_stop.html

DJP said...

Stop! Enough about Chan and burning people!

Goodness!

greglong said...

But Dan, what if she's a witch?

Mike said...

Is she heavier than a duck?

Everyday Mommy© said...

Free steak? Did someone say free steak?

Mike said...

I honestly didn't realize you'd posted a video before I typed that...no, really!

DJP said...

Yes, IF we're going to go off-topic, Monty Python is always the preferred direction.

DaveS said...

donsands,

I agree with you completely about Coke Zero.

You said, “I suppose tongues is the only one that fits this description?” – donsands

I was actually thinking primarily about “prophecy” but it applies equally to speaking in tongues, though I tend to be more forgiving to those who speak in tongues unless they make doing so a litmus test for salvation.

I agree that they genuinely believe that they have this gift and I have friends that feel it has been a source of great edification to them. Perhaps I have too narrow a set of friends, but those that care, tend to agree that what is currently practiced is similar but not the same, and does not operate under the same rules of interpretation or expression, as what we see in scripture. Most don’t care if it is the same or not. So in that sense I do think that using biblical terminology to describe something that differs from the biblical gift is an attempt to legitimize their experience at the expense of scriptural clarity. There are groups that practice snake handling that would share Mahaney’s conviction and arguments for their “gift”. I don’t buy it for the same reasons.

I appreciated your last post. Hope you have a good weekend and there is a steak (not stake) in it somewhere for you.

donsands said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
scrapiron said...

Self discipline!

e.g. Refraining from slandering the brethren. To wit...."you stink"

donsands said...

"I was actually thinking primarily about “prophecy”" Dave

That makes sense.

I agree with your thoughts.

Man, would I love a T-bone medium rare, or a Rib-eye, on the grill. Sounds like a plan.

Kurt said...

Sorry I am a latecomer to this thread.

Allow me to say Bravo!
And thank you so very much!

I have felt so alone (almost like a pariah) for advocating that false prophecy is a discipline issue.

Been waiting for a bigger fish than me to say it for a long time now.

Barbara said...

Late to party but the coke/de-caf/coke zero reminded me of this from a new church plant up in the ATL:

http://www.blueprintchurch.org/media/video/114

Jacob said...

Well said, DJP. Thanks for posting this. Really fed up with all the emotion-driven experiential nonsense going on in Christianity today. The manifestations are NOT those of the true gifts. They resemble those found in Voodoo trances and demonic possession.
Also, all the "dreamers" love to dodge the prophet label, thinking that exempts them from having to be right or true. Frustrating. Slippery. Thanks for nailing the jello to the wall, so to speak.

Carlo Provencio said...

I'm still learning all of this, but let me get this straight,

1) The Holy Spirit lives in me, but he will not communicate with me at all, aside from me opening my Bible. He can't help me make a decision.

2) The Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Bible, and the canon is closed, I get that part. But He also communicated to them in different ways to help them fulfill their ministry and make decisions. But I should not expect the Holy Spirit to communicate in any way to me in fulfillinf my ministry, I either use my own wisdom, or open the Bible.

just some thoughts that come to my mind

DJP said...

All of which have been answered again and again, Carlos. Please click on the "sufficiency" tab, and read those posts, if you'd like fuller exposition.

B said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Read the posts, think about it, interact with the content. Don't just kneejerk.

Stan McCullars said...

Your bold proposal: what if we call them hunches, strong impressions, vivid dreams? is right on the money!


It makes perfect sense.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Calvin's "illumination of the Holy Spirit" seems to fit between two extremes:

A sound understanding of the Spirit’s work of illumination will safeguard Christians against two undesirable extremes. If we understand the need for the Spirit’s enlightenment, we will not expect too much from rational attempts to defend and explain the Bible. At the same time, if we understand the nature of the enlightenment the Spirit gives, we will not undervalue the work of interpretation and explanation of God’s Word. The Spirit makes it possible for our efforts to expound the Bible to bear fruit, but His work does not eliminate the need for careful, logical exegesis. In the design of God, the Spirit and the human mind are meant to work together, each performing its own proper function. Alwyn York

Garrett League said...

I'd say something meaningful (like, "Wayne H. Grudem! Not everything the Spirit reveals is canonical!") but I'd probably just be referred to a long list of previous posts. And why shouldn't I? You probably don't want to spin your wheels for the nteenth time. I'll just assume I'm wrong and be done with it. Just one quick question: how did Spurgeon know this stuff? In his own words:

"I could tell as many as a dozen similar cases in which I pointed at somebody in the hall without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved by the Spirit to say it; and so striking has been my description, that the persons have gone away, and said to their friends, ‘Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did; beyond a doubt, he must have been sent of God to my soul, or else he could not have described me so exactly.’ And not only so, but I have known many instances in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge their neighbours with their elbow, because they had got a smart hit, and they have been heard to say, when they were going out, ‘The preacher told us just what we said to one another when we went in at the door’"

Seems like God revealed specific stuff to him about specific people for specific reasons. Does that compromise the sufficiency of the bible? If you don't want to call it prophecy or word of whatever or direct revelation, fine, but seems like a distinction w/out a difference.

chrisstiles said...

"During a worship service, they allow someone who has a prophecy to bring it to an elder, and they discern whether or not it is legit."

Who discerns the discerners?

DJP said...

Johnny, I don't have an answer about Calvin since I'm not a Calvin student per se.

I'll tell you something, if you promise not to tell anyone. Much is made of the illumination of the Spirit. I have not seen that many passages that directly affirm such a thing; the ones pressed into service actually tend to refer either to inerrant inspiration of the apostles, or regeneration.

But a real-live illumination passage would be 2 Timothy 2:7, where it is ascribed to the Lord Jesus; or Psalm 119 (various), where it is simply ascribed to Yahweh. Illumination is opening our hearts/minds to understand inscripturated revelation. It is not the impartation of additional revelation. It is, if you will, a bright light aimed at a painting. It is not the creation of a new painting.

DJP said...

God can providentially direct our thinking wherever He wishes (Proverbs 21:1). Spurgeon, I think, claimed no more. I don't recall him ever claiming to receive verbal revelation to impart, or any such thing. If he did, I'd just say he was wrong. He's Spurgeon, all right, which is saying a lot; but he's not God.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Yes, well put. Shining light on a painting, but not a new painting. And God providentially directing thoughts...I would think most of the time this would be the granting of wisdom or insight (James 1:5)

Barbara said...

Illumination is opening our hearts/minds to understand inscripturated revelation. It is not the impartation of additional revelation. It is, if you will, a bright light aimed at a painting.

Hooowheeee, yes, and what a miracle it is, to have been dead and then to see the Word come to life and show us who we are and who God is, as it says, it really is living and active and discerns the heart, dividing bone and marrow. When that light comes on - - wow. His name is the Word of God and on His thigh is a name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And He gives us His word, which bears the image of Himself. Amazing grace.

Rob Bailey said...

What if my strong hunch contradicts your vivid dream? Or, my vivid dream is contrary to your strong impression? Are these terms even too weasely?

Jacob said...

Question: "If they aren't spiritual gifts,
what are they?

There is no Scriptural authority for calling these activities "spiritual gifts," in the 1 Corinthians 12 sense. Anyone with a robust Biblical grasp of the sufficiency of Scripture should find that fact sobering, even pivotal.

But if you can't call these hunches, strong impressions, vivid dreams and all "spiritual gifts," then what do you call them?

I have a bold proposal: what if we call them hunches, strong impressions, vivid dreams?"


That could be a NEXT! series entry right there. :)


Oh and Rob Bailey: That's precisely the point - it's simply one person's feeling/opinion versus another's. There is no trumping or authority in any of those things.

DJP said...

Doggone it, Jacob, you're right. I missed a bet.

Oh well, I may still use it. It's not like everyone (A) reads and (B) memorizes everything.

/c:

Jim Pemberton said...

I think a more refined epistemology is needed. God didn't tell me this, of course, so I may be wrong.

Carlo Provencio said...

Wow!! I'm blown away that Spurgeon, whom you all hold in such high esteem, may be guilty of having a "hunch" or two himself! I would love to see a post about how Spurgeon was wrong in this area.

I seriously doubt you would ever do that!

You guys are awesome, by the way!

Matt Kleinhans said...

Dan,

Thanks for this series.

Pastorally, few things are more devastating than this. I am not sure if continuationists see/understand that component. It's all ivory tower until a 20-something girl is called by God to marry a man she just met a week or two before. What happens when the idealistic young man suddenly is called by God to another woman? Who can argue?

There have been many nights of tear-filled prayer in my house over such foolishness.

Garrett League said...

"God can providentially direct our thinking wherever He wishes (Proverbs 21:1). Spurgeon, I think, claimed no more."

Whether or not he did, God revealed to him on a number of occasions the thoughts of men, including specific details that he had no natural way of knowing. So if God providentially directed his thinking in such a way that he felt "moved by the spirit" to give "striking" descriptions of people and events "without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right," and you still refuse to say that that is in any way revelatory, then fine by me. Distinction w/out a difference.

If it IS only providence, would you consider it ordinary or extra-ordinary providence? If the latter, then aren't you, by definition, calling Spurgeon's "prophetic" insights miraculous? If Spurgeon walked up to me and told me the secrets of my heart (we're talking specifics here) w/out anyway of humanly knowing them, and he was dead on, I'd first try not to faint, and then I'd probably echo the woman at the well's response.

lee n. field said...

Dan -- good post. Heartily agree. Late to the game as usual, 108 comments to wade through.

Early on, Matt says: "There is a current movement of the Holy Spirit in the Middle East that has been confirmed from multiple sources and denominations. Islamic people are being drawn from Islam to Christianity though visions and dreams. These new converts continue to receive revelation from visions and dreams that are strengthening the church in the absence of Bibles."

This always seemed to me like a tale that had grown (and mutated) in the telling. See the comments of Turkish pastor Fikret Bocek's here.

I quote: "Whenever I am in the US people in different churches tell me that thousands of Muslims are converting through dreams and visions. Some missionaries here are exaggerating the situation when they tell their tales in their own countries. Some missionaries even encourage each other to look look for those stories in Turkish villages where dreams are shared in public gatherings with some folk tales…etc. I have even seen some missionaries asking Muslim converts whether they remember seeing an old man in their dreams! And encouraging a form of deception.I don’t see people converting through dreams or visions here in Turkey. I have heard some people dreaming about an old man with white beard.

"Old man with white beard is common among the Muslim Arab, Iranians and Shamanistic Turkish cultures. When you encourage people to talk about their dreams they will tell you stories. But Christians should abandon this practice.
How can Muslims repent without the preaching of the Word? How can a Muslim become a Christian after seeing an old man in his/her dream without knowing anything about Christ’s substitutionary atonement?"

wordsmith said...

"How can Muslims repent without the preaching of the Word? How can a Muslim become a Christian after seeing an old man in his/her dream without knowing anything about Christ’s substitutionary atonement?"

Bingo! That is the money quote. If the Lord has ordained that the gospel be spread by the preaching of His Word, how can anyone be saved apart from His Word?

Indeed, how can one be saved from his sins without knowing that Christ paid the penalty for those sins?

DJP said...

Such fascination with stories.

Nothing Spurgeon said varies from what I'm saying. I think Phil has clarified this before. In retrospect, he sees that God directed his preaching. And so? The connection with claiming errant prophecy today, or calling non-gifts by Biblical names? Did you actually read the posts?

And yes, I'm a (hel-lo?) Biblical Christian, not a Spurgeon Catholic. If I can see that Spurgeon varies from Scripture, I vary from Spurgeon. I can see how that would shock someone... who had never read a word I've written.

And you, Carlo, did you actually read the posts? Your comment doesn't make any sense to me.

Jacob said...

"Whether or not he did, God [MAY HAVE] revealed to him on a number of occasions the thoughts of men, including specific details that he had no natural way of knowing. So if God providentially directed his thinking in such a way that he felt "moved by the spirit" to give "striking" descriptions of people and events "without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right,"... "

Yes, even if any of that is true, it wasn't similar to true Biblical prophecy (nor even the modern Charismatic "prophecy", so why are you trying to force it to be a parallel to such things when it clearly isn't?
And why refuse to recognize that there's a vast difference between YHWH making an eternal revelation of the ultimate sense and the Holy Spirit revealing something temporal
to a person?

The latter isn't binding, actual prophecy, nor true eternal revelation from God which would be something to put in written form tacked on as book #67, and I SERIOUSLY DOUBT that even Spurgeon himself would argue for that.

One wonders why Charismatics are so intent on trying to make mountains out of molehills and in doing so forget to stand up and look around and notice the forest or the trees.

Cathy M. said...

Thanks for this very useful post. I'm going to try and memorize sections of it.

evangelicalcalvinist.com said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
evangelicalcalvinist.com said...

Dan,

Why did you delete my comment? It was on point/topic, it offered reasons why I think your logic is unsound, and it did this all within the boundaries of Christian civility. In other words, I didn't violate any of your parameters relative to your commenting policy here at the Pyros.

Whether or not you like me, or my convictions, should be beside the point.

DJP said...

It was off-topic, and I am the judge. It doesn't matter how superior you think you are to all the little folks here, man of countless avatars, it's still not your blog, and it still has rules, and you're still under them.

evangelicalcalvinist.com said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
michelle said...

Dan - All I can say to this is: AMEN!

dan said...

dan,

i think it's time you capped every emphatic rebuttal of yours with, "This is an ex-parrot!"

great post brother.

DJP said...

Thanks, dan - but you know I'd be told that it was merely pinin' for the Fjords.