27 August 2013

The gift of Parbar

by Dan Phillips

At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar.
(1 Chronicles 26:18 KJV)

Mm. Parbar. Deep stuff, eh? Oh yeah.

Back in the 70s and 80s, this was a chucklesome verse to many. Some claimed it as their life-verse. If I remember, it was the "motto" of the Christian satire magazine Wittenburg Door.

Why? Well, because nobody knew what "Parbar" meant. The translators of the KJV apparently didn't, so they just transliterated it. Same with the ASV, the NAS, and other versions.

So you could expect "Parbar" to come up in conversations among certain wags. After all, it was the ultimately wild-card. Nobody knew what it meant; so it could mean anything.

See where I'm going with this?

Remember when Mark Driscoll claimed the Holy Spirit was showing him pornographic footage? Note that he just tosses out, "This may be 'gift of discernment.'"

It may? On what exegetical grounds, pray? Mark doesn't share them. He just throws that out there, and then does what Charismatics must do: he tells select stories.

Now, lesser mortals such as you and I dursn't criticize this practice, because
  1. At one point there was something called "gift of discernment" (?);
  2. That was in the Bible (if he means 1 Cor. 12:10);
  3. Nobody's absolutely sure what that is; so...
  4. Maybe this is that!
  5. You don't want to criticize something in the Bible, right?
Driscoll knows he's had the experience, it's got to be valid, we should probably call it something... so let's spin the wheel and pick one of those gifts concerning which Chrysostom, writing just a few centuries after the (hel-lo?) close of the Canon said
This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place. [John Chrysostom, Homilies on First Corinthians, Homily XXIX]
Because, who knows? Could be!

But then again, really, since the whole point is that we've got this imperative (we must validate the Charismatic's experience and his special powers), then heck: why not call it the "gift of Parbar"? I mean, do you know it's not the gift of Parbar? Well, do you? Of course you don't.

So there you go!

See, that's where the modern inventors of Charismaticism/"continuationism" went wrong. Parham and his poor dupes were originally seeking the Biblical gift of tongues. That is, they expected to be able to speak in unlearned human languages supernaturally. And when they started babbling and gobbling, they were convinced it had to be that, that Biblical gift, that falsifiable gift with defined contours and edges. So they went off to mission fields, expecting to be understood by the Chinese... but, yeah, you know how that went. Natives shrugged and, in effect, made little circular gestures by their temples. Incomprehensible babble.

So here's where the first-gen errorists went afield. They were sure their experience was valid (Charismaticism 101), so then took some large hammers and saws to the Bible, and eventually changed the interpretation of what "tongues" meant from, well, what it meant, to what they were doing. They took a well-understood gift and invented something that gave cover to their experience.

Never should have done it.

Should have just just said they got the "gift of Parbar."


Same thing for all their other redefinitions. If they wanted some holy status for their errant feelings and hunches and "leadings," they should never have assaulted the well-known and well-defined Biblical phenomenon of prophecy, and embarrassed themselves by trying to redefine it to suit their experiences. If they were unwilling to call a hunch a hunch and take responsibility for it, just call it "the gift of Parbar."

Same with these bizarre little clairvoyant parlor-tricks, called (with zero exegetical support) "word of wisdom" and "word of knowledge" — they could be just subcategories of the multifaceted and glorious "gift of Parbar." Who knows? Who can disprove it?

I know some of you are seething, but if you've been here any time at all you know: we have this discussion every time we talk about Da Gifts. Every time we're trying to talk God's Word, someone is sure to ask, "So, what about when X happens? or when Y happened in 1843? How do you explain that, huh?" As if this is what really should consume the Christian, because we already have so well mastered all that actually-in-the-Bible stuff.

So look, here's my modest proposal: If we aren't going to start with sound exegesis of the Bible and be content with that... well then, I've got my answer:

Got to be the gift of Parbar.

Hey. It's as Biblical as all the other stuff. Every bit as Biblical.

Dan Phillips's signature


Robert said...

What is the difference between this and people who say the word god without speaking about God? They just take a term and make it fit with their own feelings and experiences while trying to hold others accountable to their new definition of the term. I mean, doesn't their use/definition of the terms prophecy and tongues (which are gifts provided by God the Holy Spirit) really take aim at the character of God? Especially His immutability...He doesn't change...which means when He calls the gifts of prophecy and tongues something, He doesn't change His mind about that, right?

I think most people involved in this don't have any idea about the "strange fire" they are dealing with.

DJP said...

PoMo-ism strikes deep, into your life it will creep...

Terry Rayburn said...

Oh, here we go! I can see all the TBN preachers running to Godaddy now to grab up all the domain names with "parber" in them!

Terry Rayburn

P.S. Yikes! I kid you not, parbar.com is already taken!

Michael Coughlin said...

Pizza dope must pink cup craftily leading mug Miano.


Chris Connally said...

"I have the gift of Parbar" - that would make an awesome t-shirt. It even sounds like something people speaking in 'tongues' would say.

DJP said...

ROFL. From your fingertips to Turk's ear.

Michael Coughlin said...


Kerry James Allen said...

We might want to note that DJP would not be having this kind of fun without a King James Bible.

Although "the gift of colonnades" from the ESV might also work.

DJP said...

NAS also has Parbar.

Look, I'm enjoying the humor. But I hope nobody misses that I am making a dead-serious point, which I think has far-reaching ramifications.

So I hope some folks would like to talk about that, as well.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

I've been thinking about this throughout the series you and Frank have put on Pyro, as well as your posts from years back which helped my wife and I to recognize our own leanings. I remember being in a small group setting where the man who was teaching was a believer in the charismatic gifts, and was teaching on the role of the Holy Spirit. Direct from his mouth, he stated that scripture says that the Holy Spirit is a kind of employee to us, that we can tell Him what to do and He has to do it, because God has given us that power and made His Holy Spirit subservient to us. I was a young Christian at the time, but even so it didn't make sense how that could be true.

I say that to point out that the elevating of these gifts, and the goofy things that folks go through to work them up, whether unintentionally or premeditatively, makes the Triune Holy God who has no equal, who made all that is and holds it all together by the word of His power, makes Him our servant, our magical genie who has great big cosmic power, but no sovereignty - we become the sovereign ones. I feel like that is the consequence of ideas, when we go outside of God's revealed word that we make ourselves as gods.

Tom Chantry said...

But, Dan, you're wrong. Because I heard a sermon last week (no joke) in which a guy told a story about a missionary no one has ever heard of a hundred years ago who prayed for someone to be healed and it happened. So you're wrong.


Michael Coughlin said...

DJP - I'd love to comment but I'm very spiritual so I'm "waiting on God."

Spoudason said...

I have seen the Gift of Parbar. It enables the gifted to insert 'Father' at the end of every sentence in prayer. The super gifted use 'Father God' (and I suppose Son God and Soirit God). It also enables the speaker to used 'Praise God' and related as commas. Of course, 'we' is much more spiritual as 'we just' as in 'we just want to...'

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Maybe we should pray for a Acts 19:11-17 incident to fall upon these folks who prop up dangerous charismaticism. No really. Maybe that'd get them to shut up and do right.

Anonymous said...

This post has got me kinda fired up. In our IFB neck of the woods we share similarities with Charismatism in that we also redefine words so that we make them mean what we want them to.

For example: The screaming, ranting, slamming fists on the pulpit kind of spitting, red-faced shouting method of 'preaching' is substituted as the actual bible definition of preaching. If you object...voila! "What? You don't believe in preaching? What kind of soft, compromising, liberal are you, anyway?"

See, with this sort of sleight-of-hand all your dreams can come true.

Which is why I'll say again how much I like Dan's axiom that words actually, you know...mean things.

Dave Ulrick said...

The lack of Scriptural documentation regarding the gifts of discernment, word of knowledge, and word of wisdom is in itself a compelling reason to assume that those gifts have in fact ceased. How can the church possibly test a gift when it doesn't have a clue of what it's supposed to look like? Even if word of wisdom and knowledge are non-revelatory gifts, the lack of Scriptural detail leaves us clueless insofar as how we'd distinguish between the spiritual gift of the word of wisdom and the fruit of wisdom.

The situation with prophecy, tongues, miracles, and healing is similar but different. For each of these gifts, we do have Scriptural examples of how they operate: prophecy is inerrant, tongues are known human languages, miracles are unmistakably extraordinary, and healings are observable and lasting. If we compare the Scriptural instances of these gifts versus what's going on today, we see that although the name of the gift is the same it works entirely differently. This drastic disconnect between the gifts of Bible times versus those of today lends credence to the cessationist view.

To paraphrase the classic "Dragnet" narration: "the gifts are totally different, but the names have been kept the same to obfuscate the issue." :-)

jbboren said...

I don't know. I'm pretty sure the Blues Brothers used this word as a lyric in their song, 'Rubber Biscuit'.

DJP said...

BTW, every picture tells a story.

Michael Coughlin said...

Well, considering no one has offered a cogent argument to my first comment, I rest my case.

John said...


Sorry to interrupt your sermon to the choir here, but your understanding of early pentecostal missions is only partially true, it wasn't a consensus that missionaries should expect to supernaturally speak the languages on the field. Penetecostal men like AB Simpson warned that would be a mistake, also the rest of the story is Pentecostals provided some of the greatest mission work the 20th century saw.

DJP said...

Yes, Michael, that is how the intrawebs works.

You may now count coup.

Robert said...


Just getting back to the comments and find it a bit funny that the main proponents fo continuationism fail to heed the following advice:

"I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound. Everybody look what's going down."

Couldn't really make all of the lyrics from the rest of the song fit, but there is definitely something there. Biblical illiteracy is already a bad enough problem without men like Grudem and Piper running around trying to equivocate on the meanings of Biblical terms. If we say the Bible has ONE meaning from God in the passages of Scripture that we read, then who are we to go and try to redefine the terms in Scripture unless Scripture itself offers a clearer meaning? Am I missing something here?

Sorry if most of my comments lately seem to be coming from the same stream of thought...I'm working my way through the complete works of Francis Schaeffer and find a lot of my thoughts on the world and its approach to Christianity are being shaped by his presentation of history.

Aaron Snell said...

Well, obviously, a Parbar is where mediocre golfers hang out and imbibe beverages. It's a good idea to send guards there.

Eric O said...

How do you discern what happened to Driscoll?
Is he telling the truth about his visions?
If he is telling the truth....
It's from God or the evil one.