21 August 2013

Showing the Spirit by D.A. Carson

by Frank Turk

1996 was a very pretty good year for the Charismatic, since that is the year Wayne Grudem came out with his book, Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?  However: I have been recently told that this book is actually far inferior to D.A. Carson's book, and refuting it is rather a pedestrian effort.  The real academic cherry is to prove that Carson may be toppled from his as yet unassailable position because let's face it: D.A. Carson.

So in 1996 1987, Carson also published a lengthy treatise on 1 Cor 12-14, entitled Showing the Spirit. Over the last 3 weeks, it has found new life among those who demand the necessity of the apostolic spiritual gifts, and the word on the street is that this book has never properly been reviewed or refuted by anyone of a Cessationist disposition, therefore Check and Mate: start speaking in tongues.  Roll into that the fact that the book is still in print (in Kindle format no less), and that Carson has never offered a revision, and perhaps the rest of us -- the ones who think that miraculous signs and wonders are not pedestrian but exceptional, and that God is not a blatherer who predates Twitter with his affinity for daily murmurings but in fact speaks first through the Prophets and then through His Son -- ought to simply apologize for our impertinence for raising an eyebrow, and the occasional meat chub.

Well, we do take requests here at TeamPyro -- and because my personal reputation among the people I am talking about here is already unquestionable (that is: I am unquestionably a "bomb-throwing waste of time"), this one seems also as good to me as doing another interview on this subject.  However, I think what follows is going to cause more mayhem than if I came out and panned this book for being virtually illiterate and unbiblical -- because I think what Carson does for/to charismaticism in this book is far worse for them than the people waving this book around would admit (methinks: if they had read it themselves).

Pack a lunch: this is a one-time event as I have a self-imposed deadline at the end of this month which I am not going to violate.

Usually, when I bring a book to this blog, I don't write a book report on it -- because usually  I'm recommending it, not trying to prove to you I have read it, and certainly not to give you everything you need to know about that book so you don't have to read it.  In this case, however, because this book weighs in at 230 pages of contemplation and exposition of the barely 4 pages of Scripture it is based on, it deserves more than a wave of the hand.

Carson, of course, does his homework for this book, and if I can be so bold as to recommend at least one thing for a revised edition, he could probably cut 30% of this book as it is not about the passage directly.  Sure: it's published by Baker Academic, and therefore it's got to tie and untie all the academic Gordian knots here.  Can we say why Paul wrote this passage in the larger historical context? Can we determine where, if at all, Paul is quoting a previous letter from Corinth in order that he may answer specific questions or statements from these people? Is the phrase "spiritual [things]" a highly-technical term or a broad term Paul applies to certain practices and ideas in this letter?  Some of these have some relevance in answering the question of how to "show the Spirit," and some of them, as Carson admits in his preface, are sort of meant for a more limited audience.  I think that maybe it would have been worthwhile to publish some of the more esoteric notions separately as individual papers and to boil this book down to something which, let's face it, would be a good service to the church at large, given its subject.

One thing Carson refuses to do is to settle the question of continuation vs. cessation.  Some people will deny that as Carson, in his reflections on the Charismatic movement, says specifically, "At the exegetical level, the charismatic movement is surely right to argue that the χαρσµατα (charismata), including the more spectacular of them, have not been permanently withdrawn."  But this statement is buried between mountains of warnings and pastoral advice against the fantastic and expansive errors and mistakes of those seeking spectacular outpourings of all manner of things.  What Carson does instead of seeking to settle the question -- and this is his trademark move, of course, because he's nobody to settle anything but simply to point at Scripture -- is to sort of work out the form of Paul's argument regarding the situation in Corinth and then offer those (in his view) wide boundaries to the situation today.

In that, here's a synopsis of where Carson goes:
  • In Carson's view, Paul is trying to settle a dispute between people we might call "charismatic" and people we might call "cessationist" -- though Carson himself thinks those categories are not really helpful.  The dispute, he says, is between those who seem to place a great deal on the acts of signs and wonders and those who don't have the time of day for them.  In that, Carson sees the dispute Paul is trying to settle as one between those who think the miraculous are a necessary part of every Christian's life and those who think, frankly, that those things are humbug.
  • In seeking to settle the dispute, it's clear (to Carson) that the miraculous camp are the ones in Corinth who are overplaying their hand.  That's what Carson means when he starts talking about how, in Paul's view, healing and prophecy are the same kind of things as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and so on.  That is: if we're going to talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we should talk about all of them, and not merely the ones which are the most spectacular.  That's the point, in Carson's view, of making the case that the whole body works together: to point out that if the miraculous stuff is a gift, surely the more mundane stuff are also gifts.
  • Carson's own words to sum up 1 Cor 12 point us in the direction he is headed:
    • "It would be premature to try to draw together many theological and practical strands; moreover, I have not yet attempted to identify the admirable features in the charismatic movement. But I must offer at least one suggestion. If the charismatic movement would firmly renounce, on biblical grounds, not the gift of tongues but the idea that tongues constitute a special sign of a second blessing, a very substantial part of the wall between charismatics and noncharismatics would come crashing down. Does 1 Corinthians 12 demand any less? Thank God that, beyond all the χαíσµατα (charismata), there remains a more excellent way."  (Kindle Locations 770-774)
  • Carson doesn't give is a lot of help understanding the transition from 12:31 to 13:1.  He surveys what was at the time all the sides of the arguments ranging from versions of the indicative to versions of the imperative, but in spite of saying, "The one question regarding the setting that we cannot avoid discussing in detail, however, is the meaning of 12: 31," Carson doesn't settle the meaning of this phrase at all. He merely shows it has a range of meanings which may or may not cause the reader to take sides in the discussion Paul is having -- even if he seems to have more sympathy for the idea that it is an imperative to earnestly desire the spiritual things. That's a huge disappointment.
  • Carson gets not only the meaning of 13:1-13 (mostly) right, he also gets the reason for Paul's excursis on Love exactly right -- which is, it's function as a validator of the spiritual gifts.  Paul's view is that without love the rest is trash -- but equally, that in the context of the problems in Corinth, love is actually the part they all lack.  Love is the solution to the problems they are facing -- not more miracles or signs.  Carson says it this way:
    • "By now you may be wondering if I have forgotten what this volume is about. I might be better occupied wrestling with the nature of prophecy and tongues, rather than chasing themes through the Scriptures, however interesting such themes may be. In fact, the point is immediately relevant. If this is the character of the love described in this chapter, we immediately understand not only how love can serve as the “more excellent way,” but also how the presence of such love is an infallible test of the Spirit’s presence. The various spiritual gifts, as important as they are and as highly as Paul values them, can all be duplicated by pagans. This quality of love cannot be. That is why Jesus himself declares it to be the distinguishing characteristic of his followers; for it is this quality of love he presupposes when he declares, “All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13: 35). Whatever theological and exegetical chasms divide charismatic from noncharismatic, none of us can afford to ignore what is central, characteristic, and irreplaceable in biblical Christianity." (Kindle Locations 1029-1037)
  • The last hope for the modern Charismatic is Carson's treatment of what Paul means by the relationship between "perfection" and the "imperfect."  Carson concludes that Paul must mean that all things will be made perfect at the parousia -- that is, the return of Christ.  Therefore, Carson is saying, the sign gifts will not cease until the return of Christ.  He says it this way:
    • "Two conclusions follow from this exposition. The first is obvious: there does not appear to be biblical warrant, at least from this chapter, for banning contemporary tongues and prophecies on the grounds that Scripture anticipates their early demise. This does not mean, of course, that everything that passes for prophecy or the gift of tongues is genuine. I shall say more about the nature of these gifts in the next chapter.
      "Second, there is a more startling implication. In the words of one commentator, “Now ... love and the charismata are set in antithesis to each other, and we have the eschatological argument that the latter will cease. They are accordingly, unlike love, not the appearance of the eternal in time, but the manifesting of the Spirit in a provisional way. Thus these very gifts hold us fast in the ‘not yet.’ ”(Kindle Locations 1207-1213)
    • Having said it that way, I have still a quibble with his reasoning there -- which I may get to on another day.
  • The extent to which Carson labors to justify the modern practice of tongues when he is open to admit it has no resemblance to either what happened at Pentecost nor to what was happening in Corinth is, frankly, painful to read.  His generalizations about it are all ipse dixit, based on a plausibility argument regarding whether or not these tongues -- in spite of (footnoted) linguistic analysis demonstrating they have no meaning or pattern -- might be somehow secretly loaded with information.  This is itself incredibly glib given the amount of documentation and academic cross-talk he devotes to items less central to the objectives of this book.
    • This is also true, btw, of his extensive review of what it means to have these gifts today which occurs in his final chapter.
  • Carson wraps up his analysis of 1 Cor 14 with this tale:
    • "Some time ago, a pastor in England discussed some of these matters with a well-known charismatic clergyman. The charismatic, doubtless thinking of Paul’s words, “Do not forbid speaking in tongues,” asked my friend what he would do if someone began to speak in tongues at one of the meetings of the church he served.The pastor replied, “I’d allow the tongues-speaker to finish, and if there were an interpretation immediately forthcoming, and no proselytizing in the ensuing weeks, I’d have no objection.” Then he paused, and asked in return, “But what would you do if there were no public tongues-speaking in your church for six months or so?”
      “Ah,” replied the charismatic, “I’d be devastated.”
      “There is the difference between us,” the pastor replied; “for you think tongues-speaking is indispensable. I see it as dispensable, but not forbidden.” And that, surely, is Paul’s distinction.(Kindle Locations 2201-2208)
    • He says further: "It is enough to remark that Paul’s chief aim in these verses is not to lay out an exhaustive list of necessary ingredients in corporate worship, but to insist that the unleashed power of the Holy Spirit characteristic of this new age must be exercised in a framework of order, intelligibility, appropriateness, seemliness, dignity, peace. For that is the nature of the God whom we worship. (Kindle Locations 2241-2244)
    • My concern here is whether or not these two warnings have their full effect on those who use this book as some sort of cover for modern charismatic practices.
  • After all his justifications of so-called spirit gifts today, Carson lays out quite a devastating historical critique of such a thing:
    • "What can be safely concluded from the historical evidence? First, there is enough evidence that some form of “charismatic” gifts continued sporadically across the centuries of church history that it is futile to insist on doctrinaire grounds that every report is spurious or the fruit of demonic activity or psychological aberration. Second, from the death of Montanism until the turn of the present century, such phenomena were never part of a major movement. In each instance, the group involved was small and generally on the fringe of Christianity. Third, the great movements of piety and reformation that have in God’s mercy occasionally refreshed and renewed the church were not demonstrably crippled because their leaders did not, say, speak in tongues. Those who have thoughtfully read the devotional and theological literature of the English Puritans will not be easily convinced that their spirituality was less deep, holy, powerful, Spirit-prompted than what obtains in the contemporary charismatic movement. The transformation of society under the Spirit-anointed preaching of Howell Harris, George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, and others finds no parallel in the contemporary charismatic movement.  It would be a strange calculus which concluded that a modern charismatic lives on a higher spiritual plane than did, say, Augustine, Balthasar Hubmaier, Jonathan Edwards, Count von Zinzendorf, or Charles Spurgeon, since none of these spoke in tongues. Fourth, very often the groups that did emphasize what today would be called charismatic gifts were either heretical or quickly pushed their “gifts” to such extremes that their praxis proved dangerous to the church. For instance, with varying degrees of rapidity, the leaders of the Evangelical Awakening came to warn people against the dangers of the so-called French Prophets. Even those leaders who at first hoped that they displayed the Spirit’s presence eventually concluded that at very least they were so unbalanced in their views, so desperately fixated on their cherished experiences, so profoundly unteachable, that young believers had to be diverted from them." (Kindle Locations 2780-2795)
  • Last, as I will review what this book says, Carson's "pastoral reflections" on this matter are also muddled.  On the one hand, he will have no part in saying that those today seeking so-called spiritual gifts are somehow misguided or self-deceived; on the other, his account of walking a local church through a crisis where the gifts were about to split the church is telling in the accounts he attributes to others regarding what real spiritual maturity looks like.
Now, look: that's it.  This is the book everyone wants us to review and refute (if possible) regarding the so-called Charismatic gifts.

Here's my rebuttal: if this is the best you can do -- that is, a book that agrees with any tenable natural reading of 1 Cor 12-14, leaves open the door to the possibility that daGifts still exist, but somehow downplays the entire operation for the sake of good order, maturity, and the defining virtue of Love -- then you had better reassess what you think you're trying to convince the rest of us to agree with.

If this is your go-to book, explain to me how it justifies any of the things Dan and I have been objecting to for the last 8 weeks.

And: keep it civil.  Those who simply want to cast me off as a bomb-throwing waste of time should simply go do something else rather than waste their time, and mine.  







36 comments:

CCinTn said...

“They are accordingly, unlike love, not the appearance of the eternal in time, but the manifesting of the Spirit in a provisional way. Thus these very gifts hold us fast in the ‘not yet.’”
What do you think he means by this? Is this a statement that in some sense the charismatic gifts are given to individuals so that the Church is ‘held fast’ as a united body or ‘held fast’ in some doctrinal or spiritual sense?
Does Carson lump together all of the spiritual gifts mentioned in scripture and by doing so, for example, places teaching on equal footing with tongues. Do I understand correctly that he tries to make the case the church is given and that the church NEEDs the all of gifts today whether they are gifts such as service and administrating or if they are working of miracles or prophecy? How does he understand the apparent historical lack of the spectacular gifts in church history until the last 100 years?

DJP said...

Shorter Carson? "Historically, the distinctives of Charismaticism have been directly responsible for no good and much harm. But that doesn't make them a bad thing."

Robert said...

Wow...it is almost like a kid plugging up his ears and singing so that he can avoid hearing what is being said. History is clearly against the continuationist position, but no continuationist has ever really dealt with that seriously. I'd include Carson in that list after reading this.

Thanks for this review. It almost makes me a bit sad, though.

Kerry James Allen said...

Great post, Frank.

"The unleashed power of the Holy Spirit characteristic of this new age must be exercised in a framework of order, intelligibility, appropriateness, seemliness, dignity, peace." Showing the Spirit, page 136.

Guess Carson just condemned 99% of the Charismatic movement. And you get extra points if you made the connection between "unleashed" and the Charismatic "barking."

A Patriot said...

Dispensable but not forbidden. That is a great line.

I know that some people have a gift for languages. My church has an english and spanish church service. Both of them run about the same numbers. On occasion we have a combined service with both language groups. The services are usually run in English with Spanish translation. If there where nobody with a gift for speaking 2 languages well then that would be impossible.

God has given some people the ability to learn languages and use languages better then other people. I know missionary who is translating hymns and the Bible into the common trade language used in Papua New Guinea. That is a talent(gift?) from God, but he also had to work to develop it.

However, I have never seen anybody get up and start talking in another language that they never knew before in church. If we ever have a large group show up that does not speak English/Spanish and somebody miraculously can translate for them and they get saved then I will rejoice. The standing up and babbling in a "heavenly language" with no translation though has no place in church.

Unknown said...

As a reformed charismatic-type, I'm comfortable with all of the DA Carson quotes you excerpted here, and I even think your assessment is fine. Maybe I'm in the wrong circles, or maybe instead of "charismatic" I should simply call myself "open to the gifts."

And to answer your comment from last week, perhaps someday I'll learn how to fix the fact that my google mail name doesn't show up here. If you have advice on this, I'd be happy to comply, but I'll warn you that I have no use for a blogger account.

Frank Turk said...

CCinTN:

I think he means that these are temporary means of grace and not to be grasped at as if they are the thing signified rather than the sign.

It's one of those phrases in this book that makes me think Carson actually wrote two books -- one in favor of daGifts, one opposed -- and then has some grad assistant edit them together. This is of course NOT what happened, but this book is so double-minded on this subject that, it seems to me, Carson would do well to take a second pass at it to see if his views have become less murky over the years.

Daryl said...

This won't add anything substantial to the conversation, but as the coach of our towns Pee Wee (12-13 year old) fastball team, nothing irks me more than an umpire who isn't sure.
Make the wrong call, miss the call entirely, whatever...but at least do it decisively. Don't throw up your hands as though you've never seen a force-out at first base before.

And, admitting that I've not read this book myself, it seems that Carson has looked at all the evidence and said "I dunno? Did anyone else see that play?".

As you say, Carson is loathe to nail things down too tightly sometimes, but if there is no conclusion to be reached, is it wise to take the time to write a book on a subject?

Michael Coughlin said...

Well done, Frank. I have nothing to add or subtract from the post.

To A Patriot: Being gifted in learning a new language is differentiated from having the spiritual gift of spontaneous ability to extol God's mercies in another language.

I felt like you understood that point, but just in case you were making a case for "modern day tongues" I wanted to point that out. :)

Robert said...

@Daryl,

As you say, Carson is loathe to nail things down too tightly sometimes, but if there is no conclusion to be reached, is it wise to take the time to write a book on a subject?

Exactly...isn't this the difference between people who write books to be studied and people who just sit in class? Not saying that Carson doesn't have books that fit the first description (I have a couple), but this clearly isn't one of them with regards to taking a stand and clearing up the issue.

Ken Rawlins said...

A member of my Sunday School class recently asked my position on this issue. My answer was that whatever God did in the first century he CAN do in the twenty-first century. HOWEVER, any claims to "da gifts" had better line up with scripture and not someone's experience. Also, as an ex-charismatic the biggest problem coming from the charismatic camp is a tendency to see those outside of their camp as second class Christians. As if spiritual gifts as defined by the charismatics are a sign of maturity, a deeper walk, a higher calling. If that was true, why did Paul have so many problems with this bunch?

Charles Putnam said...

Double dittos on Ken Rawlins comment - i.e. da Gifts better line up with scripture.

The opening synopsis nailed it for me - "Carson sees the dispute Paul is trying to settle as one between those who think the miraculous are a necessary part of every Christian's life and those who think, frankly, that those things are humbug."

I'm not smart - that's why I read Pyromaniacs.

Kerry James Allen said...

Carson seems to like this story to settle the matter:

"Some time ago, a pastor in England discussed some of these matters with a well-known charismatic clergyman. The charismatic, doubtless thinking of Paul’s words, “Do not forbid speaking in tongues,” asked my friend what he would do if someone began to speak in tongues at one of the meetings of the church he served.The pastor replied, “I’d allow the tongues-speaker to finish, and if there were an interpretation immediately forthcoming, and no proselytizing in the ensuing weeks, I’d have no objection.” Then he paused, and asked in return, “But what would you do if there were no public tongues-speaking in your church for six months or so?”
“Ah,” replied the charismatic, “I’d be devastated.”
“There is the difference between us,” the pastor replied; “for you think tongues-speaking is indispensable. I see it as dispensable, but not forbidden.” And that, surely, is Paul’s distinction.

Isn't Paul's distinction in 1 Cor 14:28 that if interpretation isn't present beforehand it is forbidden?

Frank Turk said...

Kerry --

To be fair to Carson and the Charismatic who wants to ride Carson's coat-tails, I think Paul's advice to the Corinthians is, in fact, that tongues are not forbidden but are also not necessary. That's what lies under the direction to can the tongues unless there is an interpretation -- they are not necessary and are in fact a distraction (or worse: a way to make much of yourself at the expense of others).

What I think Carson's overall analysis here lacks is a serious consideration of what Paul means by "not necessary," and whether that foundational matter has any real teeth as we think about this subject today. In his "pastoral reflections," he definitely walks through what one version of "not necessary" means, but after reading his application I felt like I was missing the last 3 pages where he draws "helpful" conclusions.

Aaron Snell said...

Frank-

Just keeping track of jots and tittles - the first χαρίσματα is missing the iota, the second is missing the rho.

I'm having trouble meshing the first of his conclusions in his historical critique with the following three - as in, "We can't say all the sporadic examples of charismatic gifts in church history are illegitimate, but most of them have been unhelpful at best and destructive and heretical at worst."

I haven't read the book (and I'd caution all of us from writing Carson off on this, as Frank certainly didn't do, without having read it), so correct me Frank if he builds up to his first conclusion differently than I'm assuming, but it seems like he's saying that the brute fact of the existence of charismatic-type gifts in church history MEANS that it is useless for us to dismiss them as illegitimate because of a previous doctrinal conviction. Is this what he's saying? If so, that's actually quite alarming, and wouldn't work for nearly any other question of orthopraxy.

jbboren said...

I just found this book is available as a resource in Logos. I'm picking it up and will have a read.

Frank Turk said...

Aaron --

I copied and pasted from the Kindle text, so if it's missing, it's a function of the ASCII conversion from source to blogger.

To your point about what Carson is endorsing (or not), I think his view is wrapped up in that anecdote and a very healthy gauze of irony. Someone has said it here, but I'll put it in my own words: what's the point of writing a book which doesn't really advance the discussion? I think, at the end of it, Carson is utterly ambivalent toward the whole idea of signs and wonders -- he doesn't really care, but, it seems to me, people (leading up to writing that book) keep asking him questions. And on the one hand, 1Cor 13 stands ups (in his view) the idea that these manifestations won't end until Christ returns; on the other, Paul is clearly concerned that no one somehow mistakenly relegate things like love, mercy and hope to second-class status when they are in fact the hallmark of Christ's presence in the church. So I think what Carson is trying to say is that *if* there are signs and wonders, the dipstick to test them is the hallmark of Love -- and let it go at that.

The idea that the signs and wonders may be fraudulent is dealt with by Carson by saying, effectively, mark the love in order to know the meaning of the sign.

All that said: Carson simply doesn't have it in him to say that God won't do any of these things -- or even that God mostly is not doing these things -- because, it seems to me, that he was actually writing to people who believe that these things are true. Whether Carson believes them, I think, is inconclusive -- you can't tell. But he's willing to say that if you personally believe them, at least find a place to believe them the way Paul did, which was to make them part of a full array of all the things the Holy Spirit does for us and not some kind of higher ground.

Aaron Snell said...

Frank-

I hear what you're saying, and your comments are helpful, but I'm still a bit perplexed on my original question. Maybe rephrasing it will help it come out clearer:

Is Carson really saying that the way we know it's wrong for us to write off charismatic examples in church history as "spurious or the fruit of demonic activity or psychological aberration" (even if this is done on the basis of prior doctrinal conviction) is because they actually do appear in church history?

I don't know if there was enough in the book for you to be able to answer for him, but that's my question, as well as my big concern if the answer is "yes."

Oh, and hi, Ken Rawlins!!!

Frank Turk said...

Aaron -- I don't think that's that logic stated in this book for not writing off those manifestations. However: I do think that it is simply assumed that these things exist, even if only in very small and remote doses.

Aaron Snell said...

Thank, Frank.

Just as an aside for the Commentariat, I also think it's good for us to keep in view that this post is as much about the people who appeal to Carson's book as it is about the book itself and it's author.

APM said...

The question behind the question is this:

Has the acceptable use of meat chubs ceased since the death of Bin Laden?

Robert said...

If the distinguishing characteristic is love and that is how we judge the authenticity of the sign gifts, I think we'd better be good at defining what is loving...and what the ministry of the Spirit involves. It isn't loving for me to pressure myself mentally into speaking in tongues or having a word from God. And it definitely isn't loving for me to stop a sermon in order to exhibit such activity or to impose the thoughts of my mind upon others as a word from God. We have THE Word of God...that is enough, plain and simple. Everybody looking for a sign needs to go see what Jesus said to those demanding a sign.

Tom Chantry said...

I'm away at a camp, but I'll raise my head to say this: DA Carson is to evangelical scholarship what Justice John Roberts is to the conservative judiciary. He has a phenomenal reputation which almost instantly tarnishes on close inspection.

Hate me all you want in the comment thread. I won't be listening. I'm busy.

Michael Bragg said...

“They are accordingly, unlike love, not the appearance of the eternal in time, but the manifesting of the Spirit in a provisional way. Thus these very gifts hold us fast in the ‘not yet.’”

I have no idea what Carson meant, but what those words brought to my mind is this.

Charismatic worship ( as also with icons, santctimony, extreme religious formality) is surrendering to the ways which were abolished with Christ crucified, an implicit acknowledgment of His absence from us, living in the "not yet" and having to dance the problem steps and recite the proper incantation to "experience" Him.

Instead of (while knowing we are in the "not yet") living and worshipping as if He has returned because His certain promise is, well, certainly honored.

"experiencing" Him is "Spirit and in Truth" is more real and abiding than the pretend and worked up fervor.

Ken said...

Frank,
You wrote:
So in 1996, Carson also published a lengthy treatise on 1 Cor 12-14, entitled Showing the Spirit.

Carson's book was published in 1987.

Frank Turk said...

Ken: According to Amazon.com, it was 1996.

However: in the Kindle Edition, the copyright is plainly 1987 -- and that's where I should have looked.

Duly noted, and I will correct it immediately.

Ken said...

Thanks Frank,
Another quibble -

Wayne Grudem was the editor of the book, "Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? ( Four Views)

There are Four Chapters with responses to each other.
Richard Gaffin offers the Cessationist position
Robert Saucy gives the "Open but Cautious"
Samuel Storms give the "Third Wave" View
And
Douglas Os gives the Pentecostal/Charismatic View

Ken said...

Samuel Storms actually makes the most forceful arguments for continualism.

I don't agree with him, and it was in 1996 when I read it; but as I recall, his arguments were stronger than Grudem, Carson, Jack Deere and others.

And Storms is Reformed in Election and God's Sovereignty and Salvation.

Frank Turk said...

Well, that settles or. Again.

trogdor said...

In sum, Carson argues:

1) Those who insisted da Gifts were necessary were flat-out wrong

2) Scripture explicitly denounces the idea that those gifts are a special second blessing for the super-spiritual

3) All spiritual gifts are a means of, and subservient to, the Spirit's greater work of turning sinful dead people into the living people of God marked by sanctified overflowing love

4) The post-apostolic history of da Gifts is that of small fringe groups riddled with rank heresies and abuses, while true revivals have been marked by love, piety, reverence for scripture, and have been lacking in da Gifts

But he thinks tongues may kinda-sorta exist in a form completely different from every Biblical example, requiring a decent imagination to conceive of, lacking any scriptural warrant, and reducing the gift of interpretation to an Ovaltine secret decoder ring.

And charismatics cite this book as their support?

Frank Turk said...

Trogdor:

Exactly.

Charlie Solomon said...

When I look at arguments against the supernatural gufts I see a lot of points about the abuses that have happened with them (and there are many) but looking from a purely scriptural point of view, I an utterly convinced that there is no way that somebody on a desert island with Bible would ever come to the conclusion that some gifts will cease. With all the talk about these gifts in scripture wouldn't God make tell us more explicitly if he wanted then to stop? But instead he tells us the opposite, don't forbid tonges and don't despise prophecy. I admit I have never spoken in tongues and have not first hand witnessed it in any convincing or edifying way, but having such a strong opinion that they are ceased, when the bible doesn't say it (unless you work hard to make it say it) is simply not being good exegetics.

Frank Turk said...

Charlie:

I think you need to re-read the review and these comments before you dive off that cliff.

DJP said...

It's a good thing that we already anticipated and dealt with the charismatics' sad attempt to turn around the trenchant observation that their movement lives on claims (or promises) of experience, and make it an anti-sufficient-scripture argument.

Otherwise, it'd just keep coming up over and over again.

Charlie Solomon said...

Sorry, I never caught that article. To be highy skeptical of anything charismatic seems to me to be a reasonable position. But unless the Bible says they will cease I think that a staunch ceasationist position is as unscriotural as what the radical pentecostals do. And you have to work very hard, and ignore a lot of clear scripture to say they will cease from a purely scriptural point of view. Don't despise prophesy but test everything. Thats the command that keeps us from going too extreme in either direction.

Danny said...

Charlie Solomon (Oct. 05, 2013) wrote: "To be highly skeptical of anything charismatic seems to me to be a reasonable position. But unless the Bible says they will cease I think that a staunch ceasationist position is as unscriptural as what the radical pentecostals do.... Don't despise prophesy but test everything. That's the command that keeps us from going too extreme in either direction."

We are, as earth bound creatures, more, rather than less, susceptible to doubt, misunderstand or outright reject the mysterious wind of the Spirit's operations (whether in the new birth [Jn. 3] or the "manifestation of the Spirit" [1 Cor. 12:7]).

I agree with you Charlie, that the biblical "command that keeps us from going too extreme in either direction" is the apostolic command to NOT "despise prophesy but test everything." We are, it seems, more adroit and have a stronger penchant for rejecting Godly things than learning how to test them and holding "fast to that which is good".