18 October 2013

What Lutherans have done for 5 Centuries

by Frank Turk

Yes, yes: I know I'm on Hiatus.  And I know I'm bumping today's "best of" post.  Stop.

This appeared this week on the internet, on the Facebook page "Ask Dr. Brown."


You know: he asked.  For those who can't read the tiny print or can't click the image to make it bigger, it says:

A question for all my cessationist friends: You constantly ask why I don't rebuke charismatic abuses (actually, I do), but I have not heard you rebuke the horrific writings of Martin Luther (against the Jews and others). Why not? What he wrote was far worse than a prosperity gospel.

Since it seems like an honest question, it deserves an honest answer.  I was tempted to pull a Cyrano for this one and give you 50 responses by topic because it's such a rich question, but I'll stick to the basics and avoid any appearance of ill-will or flippancy.

Theological

Dr. Brown, we here at PyroManiacs are all confessional baptists, and by definition and confession we reject all manner of Lutheranism in fact every day we exist -- including the proto-Lutheranism of Luther.  We reject his baby baptizing, his philosophy of the eucharist, his ecclesiology, and frankly his politics.  I'd be willing to roll in the fellows over at the Cripplegate as well even though I can't really speak for them.  We're all of the same stripe, and we;'re not Lutheran or endorsers of much of what Luther said or wrote apart from the Bondage of the Will.

Specifically to Luther's anti-semitism, I'd point you to our confessional eschatologies to see a refutation of Luther's view of Jews.  None of us have ever endorsed anything like anti-semitism, and to imply that we have, with mere silence, endorsed or overlooked his faults is, to say the least, the antithesis of generous.  Theologically, I'd compare that to your endorsement of the "Lakeland Revival" (or perhaps it is better call that, as you did, "treading very carefully").

CORRECTION: This weekend I traded e-mails with Dr. Brown, and his chief objection to this response is this claim. In his words, he has never endorsed the events at Lakeland. I accept his statement at face value, point the reader to the thread at his own website for supplemental information, and offer it as a correction here to be noted by the reader.

Our confessional rejection of all manner of 16th century racism and political cant is a lightyear ahead of your failure to discern many people and events which, frankly, are well known by their fruits.

Historical

What bothers me about this question, frankly, is that somehow the C.V. of refutations of a series of events 500 years old is here compared to the on-going blind eye turned toward the vast majority of on-going Charismatic theology and practice.

Let's think about this: 500 years ago, someone demonstrates that his view of people different than himself sociologically or politically is pretty provincial and, if we can say it plainly, insulting.  In every generation after him, because of his influence in general, every biographer of him points out the fault, decries it, and indicates we shouldn't be like him.  All the people who follow this guy theologically and denominationally all repudiate his faulty views, and they confessionally reject these views.  His 500 years of influence are thereafter gleaned for the best of his ideas and the worst are literally called out and rejected, and reasonably-healthy churches are thereafter grown.

On the other hand, three (maybe four or five, depending on how you calculate it) generations of believers have come and gone since the original Azusa Street Revival in 1906.  What has certainly happened in the last 107 years is that, in hindsight, there are a short list of major offenders which popped out of the theological progeny of that event -- and Dr. Brown might even express some concern and regret that someone with such potential didn't reach his (or her) highest and best for the Lord; he might even call some of them dangerous.  What you can't find, and can't demonstrate, is anyone inside the movement calling out the problem in a way that the denominations involved can wrap their arms around it and, like the Lutherans have for 500 years, ensure that wisdom, discernment, and the real pastoral care for the souls of human beings is demonstrated so that there are hedges in place to prevent men like Benny Hinn and Todd Bentley and the Bakkers and Pat Robertson and T.D. Jakes from doing what they have done to the church of God in the future.

No one, frankly, is asking Dr. Brown to refute Marcion or the Gnostics: the question stands as to whether or not he and men like himself who everyone will admit are the most-dignified and most biblically-sound of that movement will join together to do what even the Gospel Coalition is able to do for its movement: set the dividing line between broad orthodoxy and broad theological hooliganism.  Join with like-minded men to make sure that if their doctrine is Biblical, there are methods of making sure it stays that way.

Sociological

Dr. Brown obviously belongs to the school of Charismatics who think that their cautious and pious version of the movement represents most practitioners, but it doesn't by a longshot.  Let's assume for a second (and this is a mightily-generous assumption) that all the US congregations of the AOG, the Apostolic Church, COG and COGIC, International Foursquare, and International Pentecostal Holiness are all wholly and fully inside what someone might call the "cautious Charismatic" camp.  That is: let's say they never have anything happening inside them that looks like barking like a dog, or prayer for healing that looks like a slap fight, or preaching which equates personal prosperity to the objective of the Gospel, and they never have a substantially-false prophecy which harms anyone.  According to ARDA, a generous headcount there is 5 million people.

Globally, TBN reaches 100 million people.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, there are over 500 million sociologically-Christian people (PEW research says 517 million)-- and of that number, 15% self-select as "Pentecostal." (source: ARDA)  That's 75 million Charismatic adherents who, frankly, are not as cautious as Dr. Brown are.  My suggestion here is that it turns out that the cautious fellows have, for so long, merely sighed heavily when someone is exposed as a fraud that now they are in the tiny minority of people in their own theological camp.

Now, honestly: one might respond to this with a very sincere and sober, "So what? What is it to me that most people (who believe them) take these doctrines too far? In my view of it, the daffy enthusiasts are the least of our problems because let's face it: even at 100 million that means that something like 900 million people reject the work of the Holy Spirit altogether -- and that, frankly, is far more grievous to me than the idea that some people take the sign gifts of God to an ecstatic extreme."

I think that response exposes a huge swath of disingenuousness on the part of the so-called "cautious Charismatics."  If indeed it's a huge issue that most people with a Christian confession reject these doctrines and therefore they need correction, why is it any less serious that in the camp where these doctrines are allegedly affirmed that most -- by a long shot, north or 80% of all people who are under the sway of these doctrines -- get them entirely wrong by abuse and, let's face it, fraudulent showmanship intended to prey on the vulnerabilities of the weak?

This tactic to avoid responsibility always makes me see stars whenever anyone hides behind it.  It's a theme in some apologetics circles that they can't be held responsible for the abuses of some in their camp because those people have adopted one doctrine too narrowly at the expense of what Jesus called the "weightier matters."  It's a theme is some circles of evangelists and missionaries that they can't be held responsible for what their disciples do with their teaching when it turns out that they have produced a generation of verbal assaulters rather than ambassadors for Christ.

What it ought to mean to Dr. Brown and to those like him is that not many should become teachers, because those who teach will be judged with greater strictness, not less.  And if your tongue starts many fires by what it endorses or whitewashes, how strict the judgment, do you think?  Even if we concede that these doctrines are biblical, how biblical is a laissez-faire attitude toward discernment, correction, discipleship and rebuke?

This relates to the question asked in this way: we're not talking about an obscure problem (a minority of one man) or a remote problem (something happening off in a corner).  If the faults of Martin Luther raise this question to anyone not Roman Catholic, how can the sewer pipe of faults pouring out literally everywhere even today not require a response which does for it what Lutherans have done for Luther for 5 centuries?

Personal

Last, I would plainly appeal to Dr. Brown in his vocation.  This is what appears on the first page of Dr. Brown's web site:

Since coming to faith in 1971 as a 16 year-old, heroin-shooting Jewish rock drummer, Dr. Michael Brown has devoted his life to fostering awakening in the Church, sparking moral and cultural revolution in the society, raising up gospel laborers for the nations, and reaching out to his own Jewish people. He is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio broadcast, the president of FIRE School of Ministry, and a professor of Bible and Hebrew studies at several leading seminaries. He has preached in more than 25 nations and is the author of 22 books and numerous scholarly and popular articles. Dr. Brown has debated Jewish rabbis, agnostic professors, and gay activists on radio, TV, and college campuses, and he is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist. (all emph. added)

I find it hard to believe that a man who understands what is at stake in the Christian faith between Jews and the Church, and what is at stake when considering agnosticism and atheism, and what is at stake in the moral and spiritual  flaws endemic in LGBT political and philosophical advocacy cannot see what is at stake in the difference between John Piper or C.J. Mahaney or himself and the likes of Todd Bentley, Pat Robertson, Creflo Dollar, Joseph Prince, T.D Jakes, and so on.  I simply cannot believe that someone who can see how Judaism differs from Christianity -- to the extent that he recognizes Jews must repent and believe, that they cannot follow YHWH unless they follow Yeshu'a -- cannot see that those who do not rightly know and receive the Holy Spirit are in, to say the least, a lot of trouble.

The problems with Martin Luther's racism and politically-partisan polemics are well-known, and have been well-dealt with by those who follow his teaching.  Because the same can't be said about the Charismatic movement, and in fact often those who see themselves as apologists for this movement look the other way when the movement is promoting men who are simply frauds and con men, the question of what other should do about Martin Luther is, at best, a distraction from the wolf at the door.

Thanks for asking.







47 comments:

Chris Brannen said...

Thank you for writing this. I so often find myself stumbling over counter-arguments like the one Dr. Brown presented. I don't know why it doesn't occur to me to call it out as a Red Herring which you have done here.

Frank Turk said...

Because you do not carry the scars of 10,000 on-line apologetic interactions, my young friend. This one actually made my shoulder hurt, remembering the time I dislocated it tussling with an arminian and he shouted out "Servatus!"

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Dr. Brown has debated Jewish rabbis, agnostic professors, and gay activists on radio, TV, and college campuses, and he is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist."

Given that, isn't it reasonable to think that correcting the abuses and excesses in the Pentecostal, Charismatic, Continuationist churches would bolster his effectiveness and credibility as the world's foremost Messianic Jewish apologist?

jmb said...

Good points.

"Let's think about this: 500 years ago, someone demonstrates that his view of people different than himself sociologically or politically is pretty provincial and, if we can say it plainly, insulting."

Sorry, but describing what Luther said as "pretty provincial" and "insulting" is almost being kind to him.

After labeling Jews as "filth" and "swine" and many other unkind things, he "advised" that their synagogues be set on fire, their houses destroyed, their safe conduct on roads denied; in short, that their lives be made as miserable as possible.

I think a better word to describe Luther on the Jews is the one you used to describe phony charismatic leaders: "Dangerous." Though even that may be an understatement.

donsands said...

Thanks for your hard work n the Word, and for the Gospel; and fighting the good fight of faith in our Savior's loving grace and truth. Well done Cent. Keep on.

St. Lee said...

Interesting. Previously I was only familiar with one quote from Luther concerning Jews and Anabaptists, which, not knowing the context, I did not put too much stock in. When I read this post my curiosity was raised enough to find some other quotes (not hard to find - it seems the Catholics really hate him). Most of them seemed indefensible; unseemly at best and horrific at the worst. Again though, not much context.

But far worse than a FALSE GOSPEL? Not so sure about that one!

veritasdomain said...

Such a distraction and red-herring fallacy from the main issue at hand...we could condemn what's bad of Luther as well as the more urgent concern of Charismatic Chaos.

Burrito34 said...

Welcome back, Frank.

Thank you for taking a hiatus from your hiatus and posting this very appropriate reply to Dr Brown.

jmb said...

St. Lee -

What context would justify this?:

"Therefore know, my dear Christians, that next to the Devil, you have no more bitter, more poisonous, more vehement an enemy than a real Jew who earnestly desires to be a Jew. There may be some among them who believe what the cow or the goose believes. But all of them are surrounded with their blood and circumcision. In history, therefore, they are often accused of poisoning wells, stealing children and mutilating them; as in Trent, Weszensee and the like. Of course they deny this. Be it so or not, however, I know full well that the ready will is not lacking with them if they could only transform it into deeds, in secret or openly."

Or this?:

"If I had to refute all the other articles of the Jewish faith, I should be obliged to write against them as much and for as long a time as they have used for inventing their lies—that is, longer than two thousand years."

These are two examples among many.

According to Roland H. Bainton, in "Here I Stand": "His position was entirely religious and in no respect racial. The supreme sin for him was the persistent rejection of God's revelation of himself in Christ."

Carl Trueman writes: "Luther was no racist in the modern terms because he did not have the categories; rather, he was fairly typical of the kind of anti-Jewish sentiment which later morphed through a complex of contexts into modern, racial, anti-Semitism."

I believe that Luther's position was both religious and racial.

I agree that Dr. Brown's argument is a red herring, but, just as no context can justify the egregious excesses of some of the charismatics, there is none that can do so with respect to Luther's late writings about the Jewish people.

BTW, I googled "Luther and the Jews," and, in the first 7 pages (after which I quit), found no website that seemed to be a Catholic one.

5Solas said...

Let's not forget that Dr. Michael Brown was a leader in the Pensacola revival where the most gross and unbiblical practices of barking, body twisting, jerking, rolling, howling, laughing, violent head shaking, drunken stupors were not only permitted but showcased from the stage as something to be expected and if you did not experience this you were resisting the Holy Spirit. That movement died out, that church dwindled down to a handful in millions of dollars of debt and Michael Brown, Steve Hill, and John Kilpatrick moved on start their own ministries and spreading their brand of revival throughout the world. Here is what took place in Brownsville:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3v5jVbJhVI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tqOIfApAcw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgnQAdxTWGw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aix9SlcLrE

Frank Turk said...

JMB:

There is no context that justifies it, but a historical context which explains why Luther, and many Europeans, held the Jews in extraordinary-low esteem -- and let's be honest to say that the explanation is damning, not exculpatory. As I said in my post, it's not like Lutheran scholars are whitewashing or waving off Luther's words and views in order to ignore or cover for the majority of Lutherans who share this view. They are frankly honest about them, and in that way the vast majority of Lutherans would never say such things or act on such unbiblical thoughts.

Just to be sure to say it out loud and not let it be missed here: this is exactly what the so-called "cautious charismatics" ought to be doing for their movement. I actually had someone privately tell me that Charismatics should be given more time since the Lutherans have had 500 years to deal with Luther's worst words -- but ironically, at the 100 year mark, there is nobody doing what Melanchthon did in 1539 at the Frankfurt assembly. And today there is no one saying anything as strongly about the excesses of Charismaticism as Roland Bainton has said about Luther's antisemitism: "One could wish that Luther had died before ever this tract was written."

The question is, at best, an attempt to say that you can't spend all your time cleaning up other peoples messes -- but the comparison is so poorly-conceived that one has to wonder why Dr. Brown thinks anyone would feel abashed by it.

jmb said...

As I wrote earlier, I agree that Dr. Brown is using this issue as a "red herring." He's a brilliant scholar and apologist, particularly on the subject of Jewish roots of the faith, but he's yet another example of brain-power not necessarily guaranteeing discernment.

There's no doubt that Bainton and Trueman, among others, condemn what Luther eventually wrote about the Jews. It bothers me a little, though, when they insist that his prejudice was "religious," and not racial.

I recognize that Luther's cultural context was different than ours, and that he was extremely disappointed when most of the Jewish people did not accept the gospel - but it's also true that Luther employed every stereotype that is used by anti-Semites today, including the "blood libel."

I don't equate the views of Bainton and Trueman on Luther with those of the "cautious Charismatics" on people like Bentley and Hinn, but I wish that Trueman, and others of his stature, would admit that Luther's anti-Semitism was both religious and racial.

Christopher said...

Good response to Dr.Brown illogical and irrational charge which is a common logical fallacy used to evade and turn the critique back on the one making it and known as "Tu Quoque".

Frank responded very well but we should all remember in the first place that whether Luther was corrected enough times or not and whether rightly or not and by whom in particular has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the validity and truth of the critique of the shenanigans of Charismatic movement and is in fact utterly irrelevant to the substance of this critique in the first place.

This kind of logical error and fallacy only further underscores the weakness and inconsistency of Dr.Brown's position and his rather pitiful attempts at polemic.

Andy said...

Thanks for this post.
Haha, I think when Dr. Brown reads this (if he haven't already), "Yahshua" will make him cringe: http://askdrbrown.org/can-we-please-stop-with-this-yahshua-nonsense/

Frank Turk said...

Andy -- my ignorance of Aramaic is well-known, and I have made the correction indicated by the link you provided.

Frank Turk said...

Christopher --

The "what about you" defense may be a fallacy, but in this case it's not enough to say the magic Latin and let 'er ride. What we need to note here is that the objection itself is utterly void of content -- that to say that Lutherans are guilty of fostering Luther's antisemitism for the last 500 years in the same way that the so-called cautious crowd are guilty of turning a blind eye to the scam artists giving Christianity a wicked and false reputation is simply turning the facts on their head.

It may be a logical fallacy to say, "if the Lutherans did it, then who are we to question the Charismatics," but in fact the Lutherans did not do it, Lutherans are not endemically racists and antisemites, and to imply that there is a strain of Lutheranism which is points out what's going on in the culture of Charismatic apologetics.

John said...

Frank,

It's somewhat humorous to me that you represent yourself as someone who is knowledgable on this subject. May I suggest that you stop getting your information from TBN and do some serious study on the history of the Pentecostal movement especially the AOG.

No longtime Pentecostal would identify themselves as "open but cautious". This is relatively new term that I first heard from Wayne Grudem.

Pentecostals, especially AOG Pentecostals, do not even identify themselves as "Charismatics", the Charismatic movement began in the 60's early 70's, long after Pentecostalism was established here .
The A/G has a long history of policing themselves when it comes to abuse of the gifts, that information is also available to anyone who wants to study the topic in a serious and knowledgeable manner.

St. Lee said...

jmb, I did not mean to imply that the context justified the statements, nor was I in any way defending them. In fact I used the term HORRIFIC. As for my comment about the Catholics hating Luther, the first site I stumbled upon had about a 70/30 balance of quotes about Catholics verses about Jews. That lead me to assume that the site had a Catholic bias. I apologize for making that unproven assumption.

Personally though, I DO consider a false gospel (in this case specifically the health and wealth "gospel"),with its eternal consequences, to be more horrific than anyone's name calling.

But that's just me...

Solameanie said...

JMB, I had read the Bainton bio of Luther (considering it a very good one), and had wondered about the way it presented Luther's views of Jewish people. I haven't read the book in at least 10 years, but if I remember correctly, I think it argued that he didn't adopt those harsh views until toward the end of his life. Whether it had to do with increasing bad health or not is one question, but Bainton wrote that "one could wish Luther had died before writing such things" (paraphrasing).

It is tragic. He had done such a service to the church in pointing the way back to "the just shall live by faith," but it is perplexing that he held on to other Catholic ideas so clearly at odds with Scripture. And Luther famously argued, "If I can't be shown by reason and Scripture that I am mistaken, ETC." He often threw at his critics that they "cited no Scripture." Luther really is perplexing.

Frank Turk said...

John --

It's a shame that you didn't read what I wrote.

John said...

Frank,

I read it, it would have been so much better if you represented the movement you hate so much accurately.

John

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Turk: "This tactic to avoid responsibility always makes me see stars whenever anyone hides behind it."

Would you see stars in the responses in this thread conversation over at C. Michael Patton's blog whereby this fellow I was interacting with says that they do not have the duty to police the excesses. And he apparently resents the Cessationists for claiming that they do have a duty to police the excesses.

Here is what he wrote: "Charismatics are, like Protestants, too diverse to create the duty for one party to harp on another party for their heretical beliefs. I mean seriously tell me what John Piper and Oneness Pentecostals have in common beyond believing that the gifts are for today? Virtually nothing. Why should John have a duty, as a Reformed Baptist, to speak out against Oneness Pentecostals any more than Turk, as a Reformed Baptist, has a duty to speak out against Luther??"

Later: "this is quite beside the argument that Turk was making and furthermore, while some churches may vocally condemn this, this does not make it a normative duty to do so in all churches. Every church cannot spend its entire time condemning every false teaching."

From: Here

Frank Turk said...

John --

Do tell, then: where has my post misrepresented them?

John said...

I did, YOU didn't read what I wrote.

Frank Turk said...

John -- No.

You simply said that somehow Pentecostals and AOG are not related to each other. My post says that, no matter what stripe of charismatic you are, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and say you must be lily-white pure and not part of the problem.

How does what I said have anything to do with your waving about of hands?

Frank Turk said...

TUaD:

I always enjoy you stirring up trouble -- some times more than others.

I also love it when people who demand unity at any cost (not you obviously, but the people you're pointing out here) want that unity to be of the flimsiest fabric, the weakest possible substance.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I always enjoy you stirring up trouble -- some times more than others."

Heh. But seriously, I'm not intending to stir up trouble. I'm just countering or rebutting some groundless accusations lobbied at the Strange Fire Conference.

Heck, I could say the exact same thing to you: "I always enjoy you stirring up trouble -- some times more than others."

"I also love it when people who demand unity at any cost (not you obviously, but the people you're pointing out here) want that unity to be of the flimsiest fabric, the weakest possible substance."

You possibly missed the import of what my interlocutor was saying. He's saying that "careful" Charismatics don't have a duty (or a responsibility) to police the abuses and excesses of other Charismatics.

John said...

Frank,

"You simply said that somehow Pentecostals and AOG are not related to each other"

Not what I said, so I'm going to assume this is just a game for you, or you truly don't understand, most likely both are true.



John Futch said...

I don't understand all the accusations against Dr. Brown not decrying the abuses in the movement. I'm a charismatic and one of the things that drew me to Brown was his sobering corrections to the charismatic church articulated in his books: It's Time to Rock the Boat; Whatever Happened to the Power of God, etc., and also from his messages "Samson!" (a challenging message to all of us, which you can listen to on his website). Did I miss something? There's a lot here and this is my first post, so I very well could have.
God Bless!
John

James Swan said...

It bothers me a little, though, when they insist that his prejudice was "religious," and not racial.

Here's my 2 cents on this issue

Rather than being motivated by biological factors, Luther’s criticisms were motivated by theological concerns. Luther directed intensely abusive language against Anabaptists, lawyers, the papacy, and the Jews. Luther felt these groups were united in the conviction that men were ultimately made right before God by the law. Anabaptism held a moralistic view of the gospel with an emphasis on the heavy burden of righteousness placed upon men in order to be accepted before God. Lawyers made their living by imposing the law. The papacy was viewed as the antichrist, which promoted a false religion with a false view of salvation through obedience to the law. The Jews had a religion based upon works righteousness. When Luther attacked these groups, he felt he was attacking the devil- the underlying spirit of works righteousness.

JS

Link said...

Your math has a problem. You take US Pentecostals to get a 5 million figure for the conservative folks, but you include all TBN viewers including subsaharan Africans in your figures for the ones who aren't so careful.

TBN has some decent shows on it that I would imagine cessationist Baptists and Bible church folks would be comfortable watching. TBN doesn't come in here, but I've seen Charles Stanley and Adrian Rodgers on there. If someone in Africa watches TBN, it doesn't mean he's a prosperity Gospel adherent. I've lived in a country where TBN was on cable, but it didn't seem to be that influential. Most people didn't understand the English shows, and most people there didn't have cable.

Stereotyping all Charismatics to be like the WOF movement, or the more extreme elements of the WOF movement, or Crowder, or some of these other folks isn't realistic. You should do a little real research on what the movement is like before posting this stuff. I know lots of Pentecostals have a problem with a lot of the stuff on TBN. And there are Pentecostal preachers who address the doctrinal error. There are also Charismatics who have a problem with some of the stuff on TBN.

I don't like our using labels to divide ourselves. As far as a descriptive term goes 'charismatic' is fine. We should all be charismatic-- characterized by God's gracious gifts to the church. Peter says that as every man has received the gift, even so let us minister one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

And that's the problem with the cessationist position-- it promotes disobedience to scripture and bad stewardship of spiritual gifts.

The Bible says despise not prophesyings. Cessationism teaches people to despise prophesyings.

The Bible says covet to prophesy and forbid not to speak with tongues. Cessationism either redefines prophesying or else teaches people not to covet it, and has churches forbidding people to speak in tongues.

Link said...

Cessationism leads to disobedience to scripture. Let's face it. Cessationist really have no argument biblically.

Does it make sense to say that miracles were only done during times of writing of scripture? Where does the Bible state that?

This ignores the current dispensation of grace (notice charis and charismata, and the repeated references to grace in the passages about charismata). The time period argument relies on trying to apply principles from before the 'last days' when God pours out His Spirit on all flesh to the current era.

And dispensational cessationism makes no sense at all. You have to do away with revelation and miracles and then revive them so the two witnesses can prophesy and do miracles. If the miracles have ceased, why are the two witnesses doing them? If prophecy has ceased and is a challenge to the canon, why aren't the two witnesses a challenge to the canon.

And the Bible is clear that not all prophecy and revelation is in scripture. What were the prophecies Micaiah said about Ahab before the one we read in scripture? What did Saul prophesy? The seven thunders said something, but John wasn't aloud to write them down. What did they say? That's extra-Biblical revelation mentioned right in scripture. Probably the biggest revelation was the life of Christ. He who saw Christ saw the Father. Yet His works wouldn't fit in the Bible, or, John supposed, all the books in the world. So if someone gets a prophecy, they aren't automatically adding to the Bible.

If you redefine prophecy to mean preaching, then why don't you obey 'let the prophets speak two or three and let the other judge. and if a revelation come to one sitting by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy..."? That passage shows us that prophesying is revelatory. Why have one preacher preacher if two or three are to prophesy if prophesying is preaching? Why not obey the commandment of the Lord to let two or three preach, and to let 'every one of you' sing, preach, share tongues, revelations, and interpretations, in an edifying manner? The one passage that gives us any detail on what to do in church assumes the presence of spiritual gifts, but does your church even follow the principles that are there for the gifts that do operate like teaching, or is only one man allowed to speak? How is that Biblical?

The sufficiency arguments either twist scripture in a ridiculous way, or else an extra-Biblical argument about the place of scripture to contradict Biblical teaching on spiritual gifts.

If 'the faith one delivered to the saints' proves an end to revelation, then the rest of the book of Jude would not be prophetically inspired, and neither would that verse be, since it refers to a faith that was already delivered. If that verse closed the canon, why would Revelation be inspired?

If 'fully equipped' means revelation ceased, then the rest of the book would not be inspired, nor later books. If you give a Roman soldier in armor a sword (c.f. the sword of the spirit which is the word of God) so that he might be fully equipped, the sword is not the only equipment he has. He also has the armor.



Link said...

Another cessationist argument using II Timothy 3:

The word allowing us to be fully equipped doesn't mean we don't need the things in the word. The Bible teaches us the importance of spiritual gifts, so it makes no sense to use that verse to say we don't need certain spiritual gifts. Why not apply the same reasoning the other issues? For example, why not say you don't need love because you have the Bible now. So even though the Bible teaches us to love, we don't need it because we have the Bible, which makes us fully equipped. We could use the same argument to do away with faith and love and salvation. If the Bible making us fully equipped means we don't need the spiritual gifts the Bible teaches us we have and should desire, then wouldn't having the Bible mean we don't need the love or faith the Bible tells us to have? Why not be consistently nonsensical across the board in interpreting scripture? That's discrimination.

Oh, yeah, and the passage is talking about the scriptures Timothy read growing up, which were likely Old Testament scriptures. It talks about the word he heard, and the scriptures.

Before mentioning the scriptures, Paul wrote,
14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

The passage is talking about two forms of revelation here, the oral gospel Paul preached, and the Old Testament scriptures Timothy studied as a child. Paul's gospel opened up the mysteries of the existing scriptures. But Timothy was still to hold to this oral Gospel, which may not have been completely written down yet. Or if it were, Timothy might not have had access to all the written gospels.

This hardly a case for cessationism, though it gets misused that way.

Frank Turk said...

Thank John God is Right.

Frank Turk said...

Link --

re: TBN vs. African Pentecostals

(1) You're fooling yourself if you think TBN is a billion-dollar enterprise on the backs of Adrian Rogers and Charles Stanley.

(2) I find it amusing that you think that sub-Saharan Pentecostals are all as the same as you are, doctrinally. I'll bet you can't name two influential sub-Saharan pentecostals who are of the same stripe as even Sam Storms. You may wag your finger at me for stereotyping, but here's the thing: you can't produce any evidence that your view holds water. My point is not that no cautious types exist in Africa: it is that they are in the minority. Until you can demonstrate otherwise (and every poll or study you might find by people studying this will demonstrate my point, so good luck), saying I have produced a stereotype doesn't overcome the problem that whether it is or is not, most "charismatics" are not "cautious" charismatics.

(3) You don't like labels? Then you don't like doctrine - it is really that simple. Stop kidding yourself about your orthodoxy or your conservatism if you "don't like labels."

(4) I love it that people defending barking in the spirit, holy spirit face slaps, passing out under the influence of spirits, all manner of economic excessiveness and so on want to claim that "cessationism leads to disobedience." In fact, 1Cor 14 says that it's being too caught up in gifts causes disobedience. Now what?

(5) You obviously don't know what the words "scripture" and "sufficiency" mean, so I'm not going to refute arguments made in ignorance. I am going to point out to you, though, that the largest Charismatic organization in the world is the Roman Catholic Church, and let you sort out whether or not they have a sound doctrine of Scripture or Authority.

(6) Your third entry into this thread is frankly unintelligible. Get someone to interpret your tongue to me, and I'll come back to it. If that's not going to happen, thanks for stopping by. Don't come back.

Frank Turk said...

John Futch:

In Calvinist circles, we are constantly mopping up the messes our own are making. We mop up after Tullian Tchividjian's neo-free-grace excesses. We mop up after the mischaracterizations of ardent anti-Calvinist arminians and semi-pelagians. We mop up after our own who are likely to shoot the wounded. We mop up after our heroes, and after our goats. One of the very good things about Calvinism is that, frankly, we have a lot of mops and we care whether or not we're saying and doing what we mean to say and do.

From my perspective, I know a LOT of Charismatics. a LOT. Most of them are on the other side of "cautious", not on the conservative side of the line -- even though they see themselves as allegedly "cautious". The way they see themselves as cautious is with the classic Publican gambit: "Thank God I am not as crazy as that snake-handler over there." The truth is that they are full-on engrossed in hearing God's voice where God has not spoken, they are convinced there are miracles everywhere all the time, and they have a sense that they themselves are congruent to (if not equal to) the Apostles and Prophets because they have a batphone (small "b") to God.

The problem is so pervasive among Charismatics that, frankly, they cannot see it because they are actually participating in it.

So when you say what you have said here, I credit Dr. Brown for the part he has done, and I wonder why (given his concerns) he can't find enough like-minded fellows to have a sort of Gospel Coalition for the Charismatic team which can help the common person in the movement not be a dupe?

Frank Turk said...

"Link" --

Don't waste your time further. Anonymous people who want to consume my time are more than a little self-serving.

Your account has been labeled spam for comments in moderation. Thanks for stopping by.

Frank Turk said...

Someone dropped this is the comments and I thought I approved it, but it has not emerged from moderation:

"What do I think about Spurgeon's (alleged) experience of prophecy?"

I think of it what Spurgeon thought of it. Why should I think more of it than he did?

jmb said...

James Swan -

I appreciate the work you have done on this subject. I hope you don't mind the following admittedly simple exercise. If the following had been written by a Jewish non-believer, would you believe that it was only a matter of religious prejudice?

"The Christians' breath stinks for the gold and silver of the heathen; since no people under the sun always have been, still are, and always will remain more avaricious than they, as can be noticed in their cursed usury. They also find comfort with this: 'When the Messiah comes, He shall take all the gold and silver in the world and distribute it among the Christians.' Thus, wherever they can direct Scripture to their insatiable avarice, they wickedly do so."

"Therefore know, my dear fellow Jews, that next to the Devil, you have no more bitter, more poisonous, more vehement and enemy than a real Christian who earnestly desires to be a Christian. There may be some among them who believe what the cow or the goose believes. But all of them are surrounded with their blood and circumcision. In history, therefore, they are often accused of poisoning wells, stealing children and mutilating them; as in Trent, Weszensee and the like. Of course they deny this. Be it so or not, however, I know full well that the ready will is not lacking with them if they could only transform it into deeds, in secret or openly."

James Swan said...

James Swan -I appreciate the work you have done on this subject. I hope you don't mind the following admittedly simple exercise.

I don't mind.

If the following had been written by a Jewish non-believer, would you believe that it was only a matter of religious prejudice?

I think you raise an interesting issue. Luther at this point had come to believe the popular slanderous myths about the Jews. The question I believe you're ultimately getting at is thus: Isn't perpetuating slanderous myths against a group of people racism?

As I mentioned before, Luther's attitude toward the Jews was not based on biology. The Jews for Luther were not less than human. On the other hand (as you point out), his later writings perpetuate slander against the Jews as a group of people.

Perhaps I can use a recent personal example to explain why I think Luther was ignorant and sinfully wrong but not technically a "racist." Recently I met a conservative Muslim who takes his beliefs quite seriously. He happens to be one of the nicest people I've met in a long time. I spoke with two other people who new him, and they both said the same thing: "He's too nice, so he's probably a terrorist." Both of these people were perpetuating a popular stereotype, but neither of them had anything against this Muslim as a human being. While I can fault these people for being ignorant idiots, their beliefs were not based on biological factors.

I know this may seem like splitting hairs, but it's an important distinction when we're charging historical people with sinful behavior. Certainly Luther was wrong in his beliefs, but we need not make his sin equivocal to the beliefs of Hitler, who was a biological anti-Semite.

Frank Turk said...

I think it's funny that we're going to chase down the "how wrong does Luther have to be before we take a look at the comparison between Lutherans and Charismatics when it comes to running down fatal flaws."

The point of the analogy is very simple, very unassuming: Even Lutherans treat Luther's view of the Jews as utterly wrong. They have historically drummed those ideas out of their theology, starting with Melanchthon. Why doesn't the Charismatic movement care that much about the flaws in their camp?

Let me put it another way: if I did for Luther's execrable writings on the Jews what is commonly done for particular charlatans in the Charismatic moevement, I'd be called an anti-semite immediately. If I took a hands-off, wait-and-see, judge by the fruit and not by the roots take on Luther's anti-semitism, I'd be drummed out of the few places I am still allowed in nearly-polite company.

Yet: that approach is the common approach to Charismania and false prophets and fake healers. Why? Why is that acceptable?

DJP said...

Does the whole thing boil down to a shorter —

LUTHER HATED JEWS: YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID

?

jmb said...

I'm basically on the same page as you guys. Why haven't the "cautious Charismatics" held a well-publicized conference to call out the crazies? Why did they wait for MacArthur to do it, and then attack him as soon as the conference was announced?

Concerning Luther: Perhaps because I'm a Jew, I'm a little more sensitive (possibly oversensitive)to the issue of his late-in-life attacks on Jews.

I think Luther was a great man, for reasons too obvious to go into. I also know that the rhetoric of those times was rather unrestrained. What Thomas "The Man For All Seasons" More wrote about William Tyndale makes Luther seem almost prudish.

I know that Luther's espousal of Jewish stereotypes was a small part of his diatribe, but his getting into the sickening "blood libel" accusations reveals, I think, a deep, underlying racial anti-Semitism.

I agree, though, that this is splitting hairs, and the important thing is that this pamphlet by Luther has been universally condemned, except, perhaps, by anti-Semites.

Dr. Brown was reaching for straws when he acted as if this were not the case.

David Burkhardt said...

Frank, Dan,

What about the Lutheran view of "Law & Gospel" ???

RC seems to support it as I listened to a CD "Law & Grace" exposition of John 1:14. He gave an historical perspective of the concept!

In Zondervan's "5 View of Law & Gospel" I found the modified Lutheran expounded by Dr. Doug Moo to be the best of the 5!

Though overall I agree with your assessment of Lutheranism, having lived in Germany for 3 years via the US military and seeing the for the most part deadness of the Lutheran state church!

David

Frank Turk said...

I think "Law and Gospel" has its uses, but I think overall I repudiate it as the final word on how to make disciples with the Gospel.

I have explained why in the past, such as in this open letter. I think as a paradigm it can help us see where legalism creeps in, but in the end I think that forgetting that the Gospel makes us new creations with a new conscience and a new heart which brings necessary consequences is a big, big mistake.

For example, what shall we make of baptism -- Law, or Gospel? Or does it turn out to somehow be both?

benjaminpglaser said...

I have not seen anyone mention this, but folks seem to missing Dr. Trueman's point on "categories", racialism, and the Jews.

The point is those of us that live in the post 18th-Century divide think of people in different categories than folks pre 18th-Century. The whole idea of "races" of people is foreign to the 16th-Century mind of Luther.

jmb said...

Okay, so pre-18th Century people who thought Jews were the only *group* of people who kidnapped Christian children and used their blood in the baking of matzos should be referred to as "groupists."