15 November 2013

A Cornucopia of Good Will

The complete text of this exchange can be found here for download for off-line viewing.

Back on 17 Oct 2013, Frank Turk issued an open offer to any Continualist/Charismatic who … Well, I'm not good at talking about myself in the third person.  Let me restate what I said then:

The pervasive complaint has been that there's all this talk "about" Charismatics, and not talking "to" Charismatics.

Let's change that.

I am willing to sponsor a conversation with any willing, serious and sober charismatic here at TeamPyro in spite of my alleged hiatus. I can record it as a podcast, or we can do it via e-mail as a written exchange. My only requirements are these three:

1. There must be a limit. If it's audio, it must have a time limit --60 or 90 minutes. If it's written, some sort of content limiter like 10 questions each and a max word limit for responses and questions.
2. There must be fairness. That is: I expect that you will ask me clear and direct questions, and I will answer them; but when I ask you clear and direct questions, you must answer them.
3. It must be completely and totally unedited after the sound check is complete via audio, or after the initial establishment of terms is complete via e-mail. And here's the massive bone I'm going to throw in:

I am willing to concede, for the sake of this discussion, D. A. Carson's interpretation of 1 Cor 12-14, so that we are not squabbling over the hermeneutics of the issue. That is: since you want that passage to say, "well, of course the gifts will continue," you got it, and there's a sober and serious person who agrees with you. I concede on that point--now let's talk turkey.

As a consequence, I did receive 5 or 6 responses to the open invitation. The most notable was Dr. Michael Brown who has since had a public debate with Dr. Sam Waldron on this topic, and gave PhilJohnson some time on his own radio show for this topic. Dr. Brown and I traded some e-mails, but I demurred when I heard he was going to talk to Phil. I think his interactions on this subject, and his forthcoming book (NB: which will not have a chapter in it from a cessationist) will be more than sufficient to understand where he’s coming from. I’m looking forward especially to his reporting on the demographics of the Continualist/Charismatic (hereafter: C/C) camp from a viewpoint of sorting out whether most in the C/C camp are “cautious” or something more enthusiastic and like what was denounced at the StrangeFire conference.

There were others who asked to be included, and frankly I have not had time to follow up with all of them. My hope is that I will be able to follow up one at a time with each of them.

The first that I have found the time for is Dr. Adrian Warnock. You’re all familiar with Adrian as he is literally world-famous and a published author.  He blogs here, and this discussion took place over e-mail due to my own inability to find time to get the technology worked out in a suitable manner. If I am totally honest, I believe that the written exchange will be far more useful in this case so that it’s obvious to the reader whether and to what extend the questions involved are actually answered. The format for the discussion was this: each person asked the other five questions and had a final opportunity to respond to the replies; we expanded that after the first round of answers to provide for some follow-up or explanation.  If it looks like the person asking questions is trying to give you whiplash, it's because the discussion moved, by design, to the next question.  Adrian has asked me to improve the format to show where the "next question" begins, and I have made an effort to do that.  

Adrian asks, Frank replies

Why do you think that John MacArthur appears to not be willing to discuss the charismatic issue face to face with a charismatic scholar, and seems to minimize or even deny the great good being done for the gospel by many in the charismatic movement? I am not only talking about Driscoll's invitation, but for example Justin Brierley's offer to have MacArthur or a representative on Unbelievable, and the decision not to include someone like Grudem to put the case for the alternative view at StrangeFire.

Answering for Dr. MacArthur’s motives seems more than a little presumptuous – and more than a little adolescent for you to ask it this way. To show you how unflattering the approach is, let’s consider the question turned the other way: what is Wayne Grudem’s motive, do you think, in never offering anyone on the opposite side of his Continualist views 20 or 30 pages in a future edition in his formidable systematic theology to represent their view there? Why doesn’t he recognize the centuries of good and great faith represented by the Cessationists who date back before Augustine?

The question ignores a cornucopia of good will and any reasonable approach to framing one’s own case in one’s own words, doesn't it? In the very least, one has a right to be wrong on his own – and it’s a right you demand to make your case in every attempt you make to establish it. In such a view of things, your question is petulant at best, and allows for yourself what you will not provide to others.

As to taking or making other offers, let me say this: you were very gracious to take me up on the invitation to dialog on the matter at hand, but look at my invitation for a second. Mine was not a calling-out of anyone specifically who ought to be the subject of my grief. Mine was an open invitation to anyone who thinks they have something to add to the conversation to (in fact) make a conversation of it. Part of the dust cloud here is that it seems that the Cessationists are painted as somehow insular or intransigent – so my goal was to simply let whoever will, come (as it were). I wanted to be free from the accusation of stacking the deck.

In the case of these other “invitations,” how many do you think contacted GTY first to check on Dr. MacArthur’s schedule or availability before making the public declaration of opportunity? If you can’t say since you don’t have first-hand knowledge of the matter, how about this: in what way would you invite someone – anyone – to your church or conference if you were serious and sober about having them – via Twitter and your Blog, or via private conversation first to make sure you were received in a serious an sober way?

These others should go and do the same.

 I know that both Justin Brierley and Michael Brown contacted GTY seeking someone to officially represent MacArthur’s position in discussions or debates that could be arranged to fit the schedule of whoever was proposed. I think it is sad that GTY have not seen fit to make such arrangements. In case there is any doubt, I remain willing to meet with anyone GTY wants to formally suggest via Google hangouts for an informal discussion at a time of their convenience, and I know Michael Brown is open to the idea of a further more formal debate. I am grateful to you for this opportunity to discuss at least some of these matters but I am sure you would agree there is much more to discuss. So, for example we won’t have much opportunity to discuss the relevant Scriptures here, nor to talk about what I see as the divisive language used during Strange Fire. I just want us to be able to sit down, talk about this as brothers, and then agree that while these things are very important, genuine Christians who love God and respect the Bible have come to different conclusions. Do you think that this is an issue that means we cannot share fellowship?

 Since you bring it up, it makes me sad that anyone wants to have this discussion and hang it on how it makes them feel.  I don’t mean to put too fine a point on it, Adrian, but what if the truth makes you sad?  Shall we toss it out to make you happy?  I know I offered the opportunity to issue a follow-up question to each of these answers, but it makes me sad that you couldn’t just ask one question to follow up my answer, above.  Shall I now rescind the offer because I am sad?

Here are the answers to the things you have turned out, above, in order:

-- Phil was on Dr. Brown’s radio show for an hour the Monday after the conference was over.  If you think Phil needed more time, I think that was at Dr. Brown’s discretion, and he seemed to want to say more than Phil.  You should time Phil’s contribution to that hour vs. Dr. Brown’s to find out what Dr. Brown intended to do in that time.

-- You should contact Phil directly if you think your engagement with him will be more productive that Dr. Brown’s was.  However, I think Phil has said everything necessary for GTY to say on this subject already.

-- If you wanted to discuss Scripture further, you had 5 questions to me to do so, and Scripture cannot be referenced by you as a basis for any of these questions.  Weeping about its absence now seems insincere at least.

-- At last, your question: can we not share fellowship? Well, I guess that depends on you guys.  Are the questions in-play here serious enough to be blasphemy or not? Does a cessationist commit the Unpardonable Sin or not? Are there miracles actually being performed today as in the NT, or not?  It seems to me that you guys want to create your apologetic as if the dignity and deity of the Holy Spirit are at stake – until that’s actually the argument on the table, at which time we’re unloving to you for pointing out that if these are the stakes, you cats are in very serious trouble.

From my desk, I am willing to count you as a deeply-disturbed and deeply-confused person who has faith in Christ. Jesus can get you out of all the messes you guys get yourselves into.  But you have to trust him and not your mistaken idolatry of things best called “providence” and “wisdom” rather than apostolic gifts.

 I hope you will allow me the luxury of a brief follow up here. I have never called any cessationist a blasphemer, and I certainly do not believe they have committed the unpardonable sin. You know as well as I do think that some form of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" was actually an accusation against charismatics made repeatedly in publicity supporting the Strange Fire Conference. To be honest, your offer of fellowship with me while you think of me as a deeply disturbed person isn't massively appealing to me.

 That’s a great rejoinder because it speaks to the kind of Gospel you think is in-play here.  For you, thinking of someone else as “suitable for fellowship but deeply disturbed/damaged” is somehow problematic.  Yet think about this carefully Adrian: that’s exactly the kind of Gospel we must have, if it is the Gospel at all.  Christ must be the basis of fellowship – not my suitability.  It’s funny because this is allegedly the basis for the call to “unity” your side makes all over the place. But here I spell it out explicitly and it’s “not massively appealing.”

For us to let Prostitutes and Publicans come to Christ, Adrian, we need to be willing to welcome those who are deeply damaged and deeply deceived in order that Christ will, as you say in your book, bring them to new life.  In my view, your scheme to label things fallible and subjective as somehow divine and necessary is the same kind of thing as calling sex a hobby or a profession or becoming rich on the backs of the poor.  It’s the same kind of damage – and the results are everywhere to prove it.


 Do you accept that many charismatics today are as committed to the gospel, as diligent about following the Scriptures, as defensive of the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Bible as other evangelicals?

 As a class of practitioners of Christianity? Nope.

Are there some? Yes. Are they the majority? No – not even close. However: for the sake of discussion I’m willing to invert what I would document to be the ratio of crazy-to-conservative and say that 30% are crazy and 70% are conservative – but the crazies get all the press. I would do so only to give you a chance to make some kind of argument or point regarding a movement that is 30% crazy and 70% cautious.

In that answer, I have given you all the room you need to answer the companion question I have in my list of questions, and I look forward to your candid, sober remarks.

 Frank, thinking about this question gave me an idea. I wonder, would you be prepared to spend some of your own time to visit a charismatic or Pentecostal church that we select for you within say an hour’s drive of your house? The idea would be for you to attend a service and meet with a few members of the congregation and the pastor, to help you see just how much they love the Bible and our Lord.

In fact, even if you don’t have time to take me up on this offer (and I do appreciate you are a busy man), I would love to make this same offer for all your readers. If any of them want to be introduced to a Bible-loving charismatic church in their area for them to make an honest and open visit to, I would be happy to try and get such recommendations between myself and my blog readers. I expect in most cases to be able to find a church that would challenge some of the cessationist assumptions that seem to be rampant at Team Pyro and in the comment section. What do you think Frank?

What I want to reader to do, as they read this exchange, is to watch Adrian’s interaction as the exchange unfolds.  He asks a question, I give an answer, and his follow-up ignores the answer and changes the subject.

--Is John MacArthur a bad man on the inside? I say it’s adolescent to ask, and effective invitations to public people are usually done in an orderly way.  Adrian’s response? Yes, but then what about Phil?

--Adrian asks if Charismatics are committed to the Gospel? I say no, but I am willing to say that only 30% of them are crazy for the sake of argument.  Adrian’s response? Let’s not talk about facts: let’s create an experiential anecdote.  Can I find one church that upends my assertion, and would I go there?

So to this end, I say this: no, I do not want an experience.  I want the charismatic, who demands somebody talk to him, to talk to me.  To participate in this conversation rather than in the one he seems to think he can have without me.  I have met charismatics, and the more of them I meet the more I am certain they cannot possibly imagine what people think of them – not because they are so holy or Godly or on-fire for the Spirit, but because they are babblers who are so self-absorbed that they simply cannot even have a conversation with someone about what they believe.


 Do you agree that the experiences charismatics describe as "gifts of the spirit" are often similar to what Spurgeon experienced, and related to some of the rich tapestry of experiential Christianity described by many from the past who were theologically cessationists? If so, do you think modern cessationism risks missing out on sharing in that rich experience?

Your question assumes Spurgeon gave up his “experiences” without any comment or reference to what we should make of Charismatic outbursts.

In fact, as I read the evidence on the internet, you are the person who invented the argument that Spurgeon was, in fact, some kind of cautious Charismatic – and for that, you should be hung out to dry. Only Sam Storms has had the temerity to say that even if we accept the reports with no comment, Spurgeon himself did not see them as “charismatic gifts,” but the army of people foisting this argument on the world cannot see this glaring problem. In the same way we should interpret Isaiah’s view of Isaiah as normative, we should see Spurgeon’s view of Spurgeon as normative and not make the man into some sort of imbecile who cannot detect the presence of God. We should interpret Spurgeon’s experiences the way Spurgeon did and not the way you (conveniently) frame them.

Spurgeon rejected the idea of ongoing Apostolic, miraculous gifts. Saying he didn’t because he had some experiences of intuition or wisdom is like saying that there are more prophets in the past we ought to be looking for because they had words from God --but because they denied they were actually God’s words, we may have lost them. That is: we can’t really trust people to know if God spoke to them or not. If I were looking to score points, I’d say, “but of course, that’s actually how you frame modern prophecy,” but I am not looking to score points. I’m trying to answer this question in spite of its lopsided and (it seems) self-ignorant biases.

Spurgeon rejects your argument here. I’ll let him speak for himself about his own life and experience.

 I was a bit surprised to see that you are perpetuating the myth that I believe Spurgeon was a closet charismatic. That would be anachronistic, as like almost all Christians of his time, he was theologically cessationist. The point I was trying to highlight was that he had a rich experience of God, and that this might be analogous to some of the experiences of charismatics today. It is difficult to explain Spurgeon’s insights without using the word prophetic. When I was discussing these issues with Steve Camp, who previously worked with MacArthur, he also reminded us of Huss’s prophecy predicting Martin Luther’s ministry. I have asked often, but I still don’t really understand what stronger Cessationists make of such occurrences, or indeed if they feel that they can still happen today. A few links may help our readers assess the experiences of Spurgeon and others for themselves:

Cripplegate
Warnie 1
Warnie 2
Warnie 3
Spurgeon Archive
Charisma News (Also a Warnie)

I believe God still gives these gifts even where people call them something else. Frank, have you had any similar experiences yourself, or heard about any in people you know personally, that would fall into a similar category?

I would think that this is a good place to ask the Scriptural questions about the matter rather than try to get me to admit that I have had the experience of the Holy Spirit but just can’t bring myself to admit it, Adrian.  However, no sense in trying to make your points for you.

Because TeamPyro has such an extensive history ofcommenting on this issue, let me point you to the affirmations and denials I have posted (about half-way through that open letter) regarding the dividing line between Cessationism and Continualism.  This should disabuse you of a lot of the vagueness in your approach here – if you read them.

To my personal experience, of course I have experienced the Holy Spirit.  I am regenerate; I have experienced a lot of sanctification through my 20 years as a Christian and expect to experience more.  Scripture has been illuminated to me.  I see that I have gifts useful for the edification of my local church.

The problem with your question, however, is that is stands on one faulty assertion: that if I have experienced any of the ordinary outworking of the Holy Spirit, I have to concede all on-going extraordinary outworkings of the Holy Spirit.  I don’t have to do any such thing – especially when they are allegedly presented to me for my personal “amen,” what I find is a list of hunches, anecdotes, oceans of people who cannot be accounted for, and not anything that looks even like the moment in Acts 3 when Peter and John healed the Lame Beggar – let alone Lazarus or Eutychus.

This, by the way, is how you try to make Spurgeon out to be some sort of Pre-Azusa Street Holy Roller: when he speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit – and means thinks like salvation, redemption, illumination, sanctification, holiness, and oneness with the body of Christ – you take him to mean all manner of twitchy exuberance.  You think Spurgeon would endorse the so-called Charismatic ministries today?  Or that Lloyd-Jones was somehow commending the Pentecostals when he was condemning them?


 Why do you think so few people today are willing to talk about their experience of God? Is it because they are afraid of being a chapter in MacArthur's next book, or at least of being perceived to be charismatics?

Personally, I think this question is utterly ignorant of the real world. You can’t hardly turn on TV or look at the best sellers lists for books without finding people on again about their experience of God – the problem is that you disqualify almost all of them because you disagree with some part of their experience (you say: because of the Bible; I say: because they make your views out to be what they really are).

The problem is not that people are reticent in talking about their “experience of God. ” The problem is that people are engrossed by the idea that God’s relationship with them is entirely for their personal benefit and entirely subjective. The idea that most of us are beloved to God but are somehow less than Abraham or Moses or Paul in God’s plan for all things is, frankly, offensive to them. The idea that there is an ordinary experience of God – or better still, an ordinary Christian life – strikes them as horrifyingly dull.

There is not any lack at all for people yammering on about their “Experience of God. ” There is a lack of God-ness in that conversation which is more than a little arrogant and shallow. I’d be much more impressed by all that conversation if any of those people found out that when they met God, they were somehow undone by the holiness of Him and also humiliated by the act of condescension He had to make to allow the meeting in the first place. Unfortunately, I am certain you can’t name three people in the last 100 years who, after their “Experience of God” – meaning what you mean by it -- turned out that way.

 I can assure you that there are many examples of people who’s experiences of God have led to good results in their lives and not pride. In the last 100 years the first names that spring to mind are, as follows, each with a link:




Terry Virgo One and Two

Frank, if I may ask you, are you familiar with the notion many Pastors have of a call to ministry? Do you agree that even for many who would not call themselves charismatic there is often a subjective sense of God compelling them to serve him? Doesn't that sound a bit like what the more moderate charismatics call prophecy?

 I think any fair reader of John Piper’s essay you have linked to will see immediately that while Piper would never be someone who would deny that the voice of God can be heard apart from Scripture, that essay speaks to his conviction that the primary and normative way to hear God’s voice is in Scripture, not in intuition.  That’s a far cry from what you want to say here in your view.

That said, you are tossing out an experience which, if we look at it with any kind of objectivity, has consequences which are startling and dark.  According to FASICLD, 50% of pastors would leave the ministry if they thought they could find other work, and 89% of them have considered leaving the ministry.  Barna says 80% of pastors think they are unqualified for their ministry; 70% fight depression.  1500 pastors leave the ministry every month.

If your position is that somehow a lot of people “feel called” into ministry, my response is that if this is the way pastors are self-selecting into the ministry, the results speak for themselves.  And those results, it turns out, look exactly like the kind of charismatic chaos the StrangeFire conference was pointing to in horror.


 If moderate charismatics and moderate cessationists are largely arguing over what to call experiences of God today, do you think we will ever get to the point where this issue is still passionately disagreed about, but with a broad acceptance that many on the other side are genuine believers who are simply following a different interpretation of the Bible to us. I am thinking about issues like baptism, church government, eschatology, etc where great fellowship and mutual respect often exists between people who think very differently.

I don’t think that’s the case at all. I have conceded for the sake of this exchange that Carson’s view of 1 Cor 12-14 is the unassailable view and we must accept it as the right understanding of whether or not the Gifts will continue. The problem, it turns out, is that you want to over-leverage that concession, pat the cessationist on the head, and expect him to accept a plastic tea service after you have promised him tea with the King.

My response is this: since I accept Carson’s reading of 1Cor 12-14, I demand the real thing. I want prophecies which God has actually said – not guesses that are wrong about 95% of the time (a ratio worse than most business forecasting) or intuitions which cannot be validated or interpreted more-usefully than a horoscope. I want healing so clear and real that it causes the public officials to flog the men doing it because they are disrupting the peace – not rumors from the unwired third world or fortunate timings for lower back pain. I want to meet the people who received the word of God in their native tongue when the evangelist came without any knowledge of their language – not gibberish murmured in private that calls itself the tongues of angels.

The problem you face with me is that I know and love comic books, but I would never mistake them or their claims for real virtue, real adventure or real triumph. And let me tell you frankly: you cats are selling something which, at the end of the day, compares unfavorably to comics.

The reason, if I may run a little long here, is simple: the question is not merely a secondary matter. Look: one reason we reject Catholicism is over the fact (or lack of fact) regarding a miracle – the transubstantiation of bread and wine into Body and Blood. In the Catholic mind, anyone who rejects this miracle – which is performed every day – is simply out of line. They are comparable to Muslims in God’s economy of salvation. They can’t really be Christian because they cannot receive God’s work in the Mass. For them, because it is actually a miracle, it’s blasphemy to reject it – and if they are right about the Mass, they are right about the blasphemy.

For you, though, the idea of the truly-miraculous is merely existential. That is, it’s your thing, do what you want to do. My world as a cessationist is less because I think there are no miracles today, but it’s not so far gone that I can’t follow Christ. There’s nothing necessary about any of these miracles for the normal Christian life –unless I reject them as fraudulent, in which case they just make it better in some yet-to-be-explained way and my view is therefore substandard, unorthodox (in spite of being the prevailing view since the Nicene Creed was written). And that you do have an “experience of God” only makes your Christian life slightly better – and it’s only as much better as the actual experience. You didn’t get a Prophecy this week? No loss. I get a prophecy not quite true next week? No loss. As long as one is committed to saying they can or could be available, one has the 64-color set of Crayons rather than the cheap 8-color set Frank Turk is using.

My greatest problem with the “other side” of this argument is very simple: it cheapens the truly-miraculous. It sets the expectation for God’s work and action so low that Criss Angel is more exciting to experience than Prophecy or Tongues. And as signs of the resurrection, they have to make you wonder what kind of resurrection Christ had if the best the Holy Spirit can do today is Pat Robertson.

 In reply I would simply say that I don’t demand God act in a certain way, nor do I command that he cannot act in another. I am content to allow God to distribute his gifts to the Church graciously as he wills. These things are only a foretaste of what is to come in any case! Surely a taste is better than nothing at all, Frank?

You have promised a taste of Kobe beef, then offer me the Nike-leather sandwich from some vagrant’s pantry, and smile and say, “well, a taste is better than nothing.” That seems shifty at best.

That doesn't hardly sound like faith in the God who promised a Savior at the beginning of the world and delivered him to us at exactly the right time.  And it makes that kind of faith – faith in a God who keeps His word, and who is Creator and Sustainer of all things – into less-meaningful than playing games at a casino.

Frank asks, Adrian replies

In my invitation, I have conceded for the sake of this discussion the interpretation of the NT that the sign gifts continue. Given that concession, isn't the more critical question whether or not they are necessary for the life of the church? Why or why not?

 To answer your question, let’s look at how the Bible describes the function of one of what you call the sign gifts but what the Bible calls the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The purposes of prophecy are defined as “upbuilding, encouragement and consolation. ” (1 Corinthians 14:3), these purposes do not seem to overlap significantly with the purposes of Scripture which are “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It seems prophecy takes the general word of God to all the World and applies it specifically to specific people at a specific time in order to give us the strength and the specific restorative word that we need. In my dialogue with Steve Camp (http://www. patheos.com/blogs/adrianwarnock/2013/11/strange-fire-dialogue-with-steve-camp/), he described occasions he had observed when preaching MacArthur seemed to be operating in exactly this way.

In the Scriptures prophecy also seemed to be strongly involved in prompting further missionary efforts (see Acts 13). Also, in Acts 2 we see that the Spirit is to be poured out on all flesh, and on everyone who God calls to himself, and a clear part of this in context is a broad distribution of prophecy. It seems that this to indicate that the relationship breach between God and Man has been repaired.

We do not enjoy the full benefits of a relationship with God before we meet him face to face (1 Corinthians 13) but we are all given the opportunity to “know in part and prophecy in part,” and to enjoy the sealing work of the Spirit in the here and now, which is described in Ephesians 1 as the deposit which guarantees the much greater inheritance that is yet to come (see Ephesians 1).

Essentially, the gifts are purposed to in a limited way manifest God’s tangible presence on Earth, giving us a foretaste of the enjoyment we will have of God’s presence in heaven. As such, the primary purpose is surely to inspire us to worship God in spirit and truth.

If those gifts were withdrawn in their entirety the Church would be infinitely poorer. But I am thankful that they have never been withdrawn. I believe that every true Christian experiences at least something of the touch of the Holy Spirit, even if at times we may not recognize it as such, or like Spurgeon, we may choose to call what happens to us by a different name. After all, Paul tells us that we are “not lacking in any gift” as we “wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:7) Yet, he also commands us to earnestly desire more of these spiritual gifts, a command that the Bible never rescinds. (1 Corinthians 14:39)

I take your answer to be, then, that the “sign gifts” are necessary for the local church.  Without them, the local church is “infinitely poorer,” as you put it – which may be an attempt to simply use nice words and not really reflect your view.  If I take your statement seriously, I think about the things which would make my local church “infinitely poorer:” the absence of God’s word (which is inclusive of the Gospel); the absence of men gifted to lead and teach the church; the absence of fellowship with other believers.

If any of those things were absent, the problem of being “infinitely poorer” becomes self-evident.  I don’t see that sort of self-evident problem in our church where we have never had a charismatic incident.  What do you mean, then, by calling a church like the one I attend “infinitely poorer?”

 You do have to remember that each time the gifts of the Spirit are mentioned in the NT included in the list are other activities not usually considered "supernatural."  In fact the dichotomy of "supernatural" vs. "natural" is unknown to the Bible. The Holy Spirit is actually powerfully at work in all kinds of ways in every Christian. In fact in your church He will be at work in each of the ways you mentioned and more. So I do not believe that any Christian is devoid of the work of the Spirit, just that many do not fully recognize his activity as such, and of course some do not eagerly desire his gifts as Paul urges us to.

You have to know that this is an equivocation. You have simply equivocated to say that all the Apostolic gifts (which were the subject of the StrangeFire Conference) are just like love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, self-control and so on when it is transparently obvious that there is a qualitative difference between sanctification and restoring sight to the blind.  There are no Cessationists who would say that the ordinary Christian life has no effects of the Holy Spirit – but when you claim extraordinary gifts (healing, prophecy, tongues, etc.) the objections come.

Why muddy the water?  Why intentionally make this discussion less-clear?

My point is simply this: the Spirit has not been withdrawn and works in all kinds of ways. Actually, I suspect that in most cessationist churches he is at work in what I would call prophecy. This is how I would describe what happens when a preacher finds himself saying something that wasn't in his notes and that is later found to have been especially relevant to a specific situation in one of the listeners' lives.

I just want us to become more aware of such things and even seek them or as Paul puts it "earnestly desire" them. So a cessationist church without the gifts at all would be infinitely poorer, but one where the Spirit is quietly and unobtrusively working may be just a little bit poorer, though of course if the church where gifts are encouraged unfortunately  aside their devotion to the Word, the cessationists will be better off. But in my view we should pursue all aspects of the Spirits work.


Assuming the sign gifts are necessary, what are the spiritual consequences for those who abuse them or are abused by them? Does the NT give any clue regarding what the consequences of misusing the sign gifts might be?

 We see in the New Testament some very specific examples of abuse or misuse of the gifts, or operating in counterfeit gifts. The consequences seem to depend on how severely those gifts are being abused.

Most people would agree that the Corinthian church was misusing the gifts as much if not more than some wings of the charismatic movement today. Yet Paul graciously says that that Church is a mark of his apostleship, and gently instructs and corrects them so that they could return to using the gifts more appropriately. Aside from a comment about some of them being sick because of the abuse of the Lord’s Supper, it seems that the church did not experience negative consequences, or at least not severe ones.

On the other hand, we see in Acts 8 that Simon the Magician receives a much more severe word of punishment, which surely must apply to some others who similarly abuse the gifts, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!” (Acts 8:20). This account is uncomfortable reading when you consider some of the most extreme examples today, but even more concerning is Jesus warning:

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. ’” (Matthew 7:22-23)

In the last question, you claimed the church would be “infinitely poorer” without these gifts, yet here you say that if the gifts are abused there are almost no consequences for the body in general – “no severe ones,” anyway.  As I think about that, when a pastor abuses the Word of God to his church, that church is always injured – not just eternally, but immediately.  When leaders abuse leadership, people are always hurt in real-time.  Do you really mean to say that the only consequence for those who abuse the spiritual gifts, which you say are of infinite value to the local church, is an eternal one which they cannot discern until the final judgment?

 Once again you twist something I said.  The point I made is that the consequences of abuse of gifts depends on the severity of that abuse and on the judgment of God.  It is beyond dispute that the Corinthians seemed to get off a lot more lightly than Simon the Sorcerer! Of course there can be negative consequences in the life of a church when gifts are abused, but I responded to your question more in light of the possible eternal consequences. Obviously more serious abuses of gifts are very damaging to a church in the here and now, this is less so with more minor abuses or errors. A well taught church is usually very able to weigh gifts and simply discard erroneous ones as we are told to in the NT.

I like it that you have claimed I am twisting your words – I think rather I am exposing the places you are evading my questions. Would you care to take another stab at the question then?  Does the NT give any clue regarding what the consequences of misusing the sign gifts in the local church might be?

Yes it does. You have the chaos of Corinth which needed correction but was not mocked or condemned by Paul. But as I said you have some situations where the consequence was eternal judgment which was in some cases affected the here and now. 


 If it is possible to abuse the sign gifts, using a broad brush, how would we size up the global adherents of the sign gifts? Asked another way, if you and I agree that some people today abuse this doctrine and others are faithful to it, what's the ratio of orthodox to unorthodox practitioners in the world today? How would we measure that?

 This is impossible for me to be sure of. In the circles I move in I would say that the proportion of people who abuse this doctrine is vanishingly small, to the point of it being almost invisible. But, there is a clear reason why I deliberately don’t watch Christian TV. There is so much material on there that would make me want to throw a brick at the screen, and I like my television!

But it is also too easy to quickly reject people, as we have precedent where some people who were condemned as being just another prosperity teacher, became much more committed to the gospel than it at first appears. Jesus warned us that the real wheat and the fake weeds will grow together. (Matthew 13:24-29). It is only the final judgment day that will reveal the answer to your question.

Well, that answer worries me for a reason I didn’t expect when I asked this question.  When I asked this, I figured you had some way of knowing what the mix is in your movement regarding some kind of cautious use vs. something which puts people in danger – and you had some sense of confidence that the movement was in good health.

You know: as a Calvinist, I take a lot of grief from people who say that I am part of a faction which, globally, is off the rails.  But I can push back on that because let’s face it: the heroes of the faith are overwhelmingly of a Calvinist stripe, and most Calvinists are not like the stereotype.

I don’t have to worry about being in the minority of a problematic group because I can know from facts that I am in the overwhelming (orthodox) majority.  How can you defend your movement when you have no idea whether, for example, Conrad Mbewe is right about the statistics or not?

 I don't really think of myself as being in some monolithic movement called the Charismatic Movement. There are many mini-movements who are charismatic. I can speak with most authority about the one I am in, and a few others I have had close contact with. There are many charismatic leaders who I have not really heard of, so for example I only got to hear of Michael Brown because of the online debate over Strange Fire. That meeting, by the way, is something I am very grateful to Dr MacArthur for kindly arranging. I suspect that the diverse groupings who are Charismatic may actually have more to do with each other as a result of all this.


If the ratio of unorthodox to orthodox is significantly out of balance --say unorthodox are 40% or more of the adherents --what is the responsibility of those with the orthodox position?

 I think that every pastor/elder in a local church has a responsibility to maintain the purity of that local church to the best of his ability and to protect the flock from wolves. But rather than trying to go outside the gate and hunt the wolves, the shepherd must make sure the walls are strong, and that he is among the sheep teaching them a compelling picture of the truth of Christ that will make the flock much less likely to be drawn away after false teachers.

At times, there will need to be a rebuke specific false teachers, especially if they are part of a denomination or family of churches of which you are a part. Sometimes it may also be appropriate to warn the flock, particularly if it becomes known to you that a group of your people are being drawn after a certain heretical teacher.

But the most important responsibility is to build the local church that God has called us into, and make it a model of how church ought to be, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.

I think this answer should check in with your first question to me – because they are not coming to the same conclusion.  That first question to me demands that someone is a bad person if they will not “settle up” across denominational or theological lines in the broader church.  Here, you think that as long as the people inside the four walls of your local assembly pass the doctrinal litmus test, all is well – and there’s no sense checking on others if they are well or if they are unwell and making others unwell.

Why should Dr. MacArthur or Phil or myself settle up with anyone over any issue if, as you say here, that the only responsibility people have is to their own local church?  Put another way, why are you so bothered by the activity at Grace Community Church if in fact your answer here is really how you feel about your relationship with the greater body of Christ?

 I didn't say we have no responsibility for what goes on outside, just that our primary responsibility is about what goes on inside our churches. I have been so concerned about the recent conference and book because it has branded me and many people I love as probably not saved. I feel this divisiveness has the potential for causing more damage to the global Church of Christ than almost any other recent controversy.

That doesn't really answer the question.  The question is that somehow you have a double standard about the apologetic encounter with Charismaticism – you will defend it even though you admit it is impossible to know whether it’s doing good or harm on-net, and you will reproach criticizers of the movement even though you say it is impossible to know whether it is doing harm or good.

How do you make sense of that?

I don't mean to sound pretentious but I defend charismatic doctrine like the reformers defended the gospel because "here I stand I can do no other!" I don't forge my doctrine from experience, so couldn't change my thinking even if the world was full of people abusing the gifts, and I knew nobody who used them appropriately. I would still have to acknowledge that passages like 1 Cor 1:7 and 1 Cor 13 directly teach that the gifts continue till Jesus return.

But the truth is I am in a group of churches that numbers tens of thousands of people who for the most part use these gifts to glorify Jesus and edify the Church. And I am aware of many other similar gospel loving groups. Whether they are in the majority or not makes as little difference to me as the fact that evangelical Christians in then UK are in a tiny majority compared to the secular majority. Numbers prove nothing.


What should be done by the larger body of Christ if the orthodox inside Charismatic circles aren't doing what is called for in your answers to the last question?

 I think that the response of the wider body of Christ should be similar to what I outlined in the last reply. What is not appreciated by some is that many charismatics do reject false teachers they just prefer to highlight the positive to their people. For example, with some exceptions, I have tended over the years to look for ministries that I can highlight and recommend where the vast majority of what is taught and practiced is commendable. I have tended to largely ignore those ministries I am aware of that I am less happy with, and I have certainly not made it my responsibility to spend a lot of time assessing ministries and criticizing them publicly. If I was to attempt to do that job properly, there are so many crooks, crazies, and con-men that I would have no time for anything else!

I do also believe that pastors who are more qualified than me should be reaching out in private to some over-enthusiastic preachers who are clearly gifted and influential, but lack wisdom, or indeed may be in significant error. Like a modern day Apollos there are many in need of a Priscilla and Aquilla to gently instruct them in the way of the Lord, so that far from being damaging to the Church, some of such people can become beneficial.

I have no idea whether this saying translates from American to British culture, but we have a saying over here that goes like this: There’s no such thing as “everybody’s cat,” because unless the cat belongs to somebody, he will certainly starve to death.

Your response, “If I was to attempt to do that job properly, there are so many crooks, crazies, and con-men that I would have no time for anything else!” is an example of why, at some point, somebody has to own the cat.  You know: in the States, we have Denominations, and Conventions, and Conferences (TGC, T4G, etc.).  In some sense, all of those have decided to be what D.A. Carson called “center bound,” which is his way of describing how to maintain orthodoxy without being a fundamentalist.  So while in some sense it’s nobody’s job to make sure that Mark Driscoll didn’t endorse a heretic when he met with T.D. Jakes, when he did endorse a heretic he was removed from TGC and (though it’s not told this way) Acts29.

I admit what happened to Driscoll was a pitiful and toothless act, but somehow Crossway isn’t publishing his new books anymore.  He’s not getting another shot at T4G or TGC or Piper’s pastors’ conference.  Everyone knows what this means.

UPDATED:  Off-line, someone has appealed to my conscience about the above statement now highlighted in YELLOW.  This person says that my account is rumor and not the facts, and that he has first-hand knowledge that Driscoll is in fact welcome to return any time to the roles he has vacated in these organizations.  If you review only the publicly-published documents about this matter, there's no question: my account differs from the one made by others who have merely wished Mark Driscoll well at a moment when his actions were under fire from many corners.

I would amend the statement, therefore, in this way:

I was never in the room when any of these people discussed these issues.  There is no written termination of anybody over anything regarding Mark Driscoll except this statement from Carson & Keller about Driscoll's departure from TGC.  In that respect, publicly there's no question that Mark Driscoll might return to TGC and T4G and Piper's pastors' conference any day now.  I look forward to that day to vindicate him and to incriminate me -- and also to incriminate those who gave me the information, above, in order to convince me that TGC had more starch in private than they did publicly when Mark Driscoll embraced a heretic in favor of the men who help him to have a stage in the first place.

Why is it that even D.A. Carson can find ways to stigmatize people who are out of center-bound orbit with him doctrinally, but you fellows in this situation in Charismania hide behind the idea that it’s nobody’s fault that Sub-Saharan Africa is a spiritual wasteland while at the same time demanding that all those heads be counted when you tally up your growth rates?  Do you guys own the cat, or not?

 I don't think you can write off a whole continent like that! There are many godly Christians in Africa. I do feel you are too swift to judge.

As far as calling out certain ministries is concerned, I think that many of us simply do not want to become watchbloggers. But if you look at our conferences (see for example http://300leaders.org) I think you will agree that we tend to promote and partner with people who love the gospel rather than the extremists.

Adrian's concluding comments

Thank you for this opportunity, Frank. I am very convinced that charismatics and cessationists need to talk more, in order for us to at least understand each other, even if it is too much to expect us to agree! That’s why I wish that MacArthur or perhaps Phil would agree to a debate or a less formal discussion with a charismatic.

I do also accept that there are many godly Christians who do not accept charismatic doctrine but diligently pursue a relationship with Jesus. Actually I even believe that many of such people are actually experiencing some of the gifts of the Holy Spirit but calling them something else. All I really ask at this stage is that we recognize that each other really are brothers in Christ, and that as with issues like water baptism, we accept that many on the other side love God and his Word just as much as we do.

Frank’s Concluding Comments

What I enjoy about this exchange is that Adrian is such a blithe spirit – such a credulous fellow toward his fellow man, and especially his fellow charismatics. Live and let live, he says – well, unless we ask him whether or not the Apostolic Gifts are necessary. At point he makes it clear that “the Church would be infinitely poorer” if they were ever withdrawn, utterly negating his chummy wave to “Christians who do not accept charismatic doctrine. ”

I’ve said what I have to say here clearly. The rest is left to the comments.








78 comments:

Unknown said...

"... full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Like Randy Alcorn says in his book, these two qualities that belong to Jesus as a matter of His perfect nature and who He is, are the qualities that should distinguish the believer in the eyes of the rest of the world. If that is true, I side with Adrian, who seems to me more biblically centered on the very narrow path that one must walk when walking and talking while "full of grace and truth." Mr. Turk obviously has lots of truth, but, where's the grace?

donsands said...

Wow. It will take me a good while to read all this. But just wanted to say when I read Adrian's thoughts I read them with an English accent for some reason.

Thanks for doing this Cent.

Frank Turk said...

Don: That's really the only way to make his arguments and thoughts compelling. When he's willing to say that the local church is "infinitely poorer" without daGifts but that he has no way to know how many churches are abusing daGifts, such things only make sense when a Matt Smith or a Tom Baker say them with a slightly-mad grin.

Frank Turk said...

"Unknown" --

Well, you're obviously new around here (or maybe not -- maybe you're just a troll who keeps his anonymous account open to accuse others of wrong-doing without any accountability) so let me help you see the grace.

This whole conversation today is premised on a spectacular concession on my part: the concession that the Bible endorses a continuation of the actual sign gifts. It seems obvious to me that if the other side has that in their hip pocket from me, the rest should be an intellectual whirlwind which blows the other side off the podium. Instead, we get what is present in this exchange: a list of experiences which are admitted by the other side nothing at all like the sign gifts of he NT, and then the expectation that we should credulously shrug and say, "oh. Ok."

The grace there is in not laughing like a drunk at such a claim. The grace is in asking questions which, without a doubt, point out how far from the biblical concession we have made the actual evidence has strayed.

Maybe the problem is that you personally, "unknown," don't understand the meaning of the word "grace." Grace is defined as "unmerited favor," right? But somehow one unmerited favor the Bible lists for us from God is his correction (Rev 3:19 at least) -- and the correction offered in Rev 3 is not hardly a mewling plea that reads, "Maybe I misunderstand you, but it would please me if you would reconsider the points."

Last: is my "tone" too harsh? Because I handed over any Bible-proofing here as a concession, I'll hand you one more: I will own that the tone in this post is the harshest I have ever been to anyone, at any time, in all contexts. Now what? Should you ignore the fact that my 5 questions form a pretty compelling argument which exposes the indolence of so-called "continualists" when it comes to the scope of the problem and the unavoidable solution?

You choose. You decide if my clear disgust with the sloppy and floppy excuses for why they seek earnestly after Prophecy but can't tell the difference between a lie, a scam, physical assault and God's truth spoken by a man is warranted.

Frank Turk said...

I am also aware, fwiw, that the "Warnie" links in one of Adrian's questions are not working. I can't tell why -- the URLs are copied and pasted from the actual pages at Adrian's blog.

I'll keep working on it through the day.

DJP said...

" Since you bring it up, it makes me sad that anyone wants to have this discussion and hang it on how it makes them feel. I don’t mean to put too fine a point on it, Adrian, but what if the truth makes you sad? Shall we toss it out to make you happy? I know I offered the opportunity to issue a follow-up question to each of these answers, but it makes me sad that you couldn’t just ask one question to follow up my answer, above. Shall I now rescind the offer because I am sad?"

Fort Knox.

Mark Hanson said...

One of the more interesting things I get from this exchange is that Adrian (and so many others) are sometimes willing to condemn excesses in retrospect, but virtually never while they are happening. I think it is because there is a lack of a "regulative principle" for the sign gifts, and because many actually think such a principle would be a bad thing. Because, after all, God might do anything.

I think this is at the crux of the matter - the idea that God is capricious, and to limit Him even to what he has already said or promised is spiritually dangerous.

And so Adrian won't speculate - won't even look - at what passes for sign gifts in the Continuationist realm he inhabits. As long as his church is all right, he can wave his hand at what else is out there.

One wonders - has he ever had a contingent of his church that wanted to go to a Benny Hinn crusade? Who have travelled across the sea to bark with Todd Bentley? And if so, what was his response?

Maybe the Brits are by nature less prone to excess than we are here in the U. S. of A. Maybe it's not such a problem there. But if so, there is still a consideration necessary for the weaker brothers, who are scattered all over the rest of the world. If refined British charismaticism has metastasized in Africa, shouldn't it be a concern?

DJP said...

"That would be anachronistic, as like almost all Christians of his time, he was theologically cessationist."

That Adrian would say that, for publication on our blog -- and not realize what a thunderously damning admission this is for his novelty -- is proof-positive of how completely deaf he's been to what we've observed over, and over, and over, and...

Kerry James Allen said...

First, thanks to both Frank and Adrian for what must have been a hugely time consuming project in the transactions.

Second, my concern here is the portrayal of Spurgeon as sympathetic to Adrian's position and Adrian's use of him as cover for charismatic experiences.

We already know that Spurgeon was a cessationist and we also know that Spurgeon undeniably had some experiences that were certainly outside the pale of the normal Christian life. Adrian cites some of those and we are not denying their existence nor their somewhat miraculous nature. But what would Spurgeon himself say about those experiences as relating to those who heard and read of them?

"We always get wrong when we say one Christian’s experience is to be estimated by what another
Christian has felt. No, sir, my experience is to be measured by the Word of God; and what the sinner should feel is to be measured by what Christ commands him to feel, and not by what another sinner has felt. Comparing ourselves among ourselves, we are not wise."
“Struggles of Conscience” sermon #336

"Few indeed are there in whom faith is wrought by signs and wonders; nor indeed is this the gospel way of bringing conviction to the soul: the secret force of the living word is the chosen instrumentality of Christ, and wonders are left to be the resort of that Anti-Christ by whom the nations shall be deceived."
“The two draughts of fishes” sermon #443

"What little I have ever had of experience has taught me that I cannot trust myself at all; that I can neither think a good thought nor do a right act apart from my Master. My experience teaches me to be sure of nothing, except I have it from my Lord’s mouth; and I think the more experience any man obtains the more will he be of that mind."
“Receiving the kingdom of God as a little child” sermon #1439

(Continued)

DJP said...

"It is difficult to explain Spurgeon’s insights without using the word prophetic."

Only if you invent a non-Biblical definition.

"...Steve Camp, who previously worked with MacArthur..."

He did? They shared employment together, or MacArthur employed him?

Kerry James Allen said...

(Continued)

"I am afraid some Christians in London have fallen into the same error of wanting to see signs and wonders. They have been meeting together in special prayer-meetings to seek for a revival; and because people have not dropped down in a fainting fit, and have not screamed and made a noise, perhaps they have thought the revival has not come. Oh that we had but eyes to see God’s gifts in the way God chooses to give them! We do not want the revival of the North of Ireland, we want the revival in its goodness, but not in that particular shape. If the Lord sends it in another, we shall be all the more glad to be without these exceptional works in the flesh. Where the Spirit works in the soul, we are always glad to see true conversion, and if he chooses to work in the body too in London, we shall be glad to see it. If men’s hearts are renewed, what matters it though they do not scream out. If their consciences are quickened, what matters it though they do not fall into a fit; if they do but find Christ, who is to regret that they do not be for five or six weeks motionless and senseless. Take it without the signs and wonders. For my part I have no craving for them. Let me see God’s work done in God’s own way—a true and thorough revival, but the signs and wonders we can readily dispense with, for they are certainly not demanded by the faithful, and they will only be the laughing-stock of the faithless."
“Characteristics of Faith” sermon #317

Sorry Adrian, Spurgeon may have described but he did not prescribe.

DJP said...

"Frank, if I may ask you, are you familiar with the notion many Pastors have of a call to ministry? Do you agree that even for many who would not call themselves charismatic there is often a subjective sense of God compelling them to serve him? Doesn't that sound a bit like what the more moderate charismatics call prophecy?"

I may have to go add this to THIS POST (which Warnock somehow overlooked), because it absolutely makes and nails and seals my point.

I actually agree with Warnock's point. It's just that he's dead wrong.

Kent McDonald said...

Thank you Frank for taking time away from your "hiatus" to bring us this important discussion on "daGifts". I wish more thoughtful, expositors of Bible truths were willing to engage in conversations of this sort instead of talking "at" each other or "about" each other. Bravo, for a compelling read. I hope that some of the continuationist camp will be pricked enough that they will seriously start questioning their normative practice of their Christian walk and check to see if they are aligning themselves with Scripture. I have enough to think about in my own walk and relationship with Christ. Thank you for shining light on this topic, and may God richly bless all your future endeavors to bring scripture to bear in the Iron Sharpens Iron debates.

DJP said...

Wow; so churches under Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Knox, Calvin and others were "infinitely poorer" than AoG churches, due to lack of gifts that only share a name with Biblical revelatory/attesting gifts.

Telling.

DJP said...

"But in my view we should pursue all aspects of the Spirits work" Adrian says; and yet: 100+ years since invention, and not a syllable of new Scripture.

"All" isn't "all" that, is it?

Kerry James Allen said...

And given the fact that the AoG's official doctrinal statement says that you can lose your salvation (salvation cessationists) you would think Charismatics would be more concerned about an eternal life that really isn't eternal (to them) than focusing on speaking in turkey gobble, producing bogus healings, and issuing failed prophecies.

And we who are secure in our salvation are poorer? How? If I thought I could lose my salvation I'd view that as being as poor as you could possibly be.

Kent McDonald said...

I don't expect this comment to be posted. I posted a complimentary comment on your conversation with Adrian Warnock and it has never left the approval queue. Just wondered if I was overlooked? or banned and didn't know it? Or am I being overly sensitive?

Dale Wilson said...

Wow! Just...wow! I was absolutely stunned at how shallow Dr. Warnock's responses were. So, so many things that could be commented on including the ones already mentioned above. But, I will choose this one from Dr. Warnock:

What is not appreciated by some is that many charismatics do reject false teachers they just prefer to highlight the positive to their people.

And how exactly do the Charismatics reject false teachers if they openly admit that it is perfectly OK (and even expected) that they are teaching false prophecies at least some and usually most of the time? Upon what standard do they determine a teaching (which includes prophecy as a subset) and a teacher must be rejected?

I think we see the actual response in Dr. Warnock's other comments. They don't really reject them, but just try not to talk about them and look the other way.

While listening to the Strange Fire Conference provided plenty of disturbing examples of the problems in the Charismatic movement, the responses to it have been 100 times more disturbing.

Frank Turk said...

Kent -

I blame DJP.

Selah.

Frank Turk said...

Dale:

That's the whole shootin' match I your last sentence. That their defence of their stuff is worse than we imagined or dared call out speaks to what is actually in-play.

Kent McDonald said...

Thanks for checking it out for me Frank. I was about to get paranoid! LOL! I love you guys!

DJP said...

Great. Now Kent will take you seriously and have even more against me.

Eric said...

As before, there is no indirect or direct rebuttal or even acknowledgement of brother Mbewe's talk and concerns, despite Frank introducing them. Only silence and lack of concern - "not my business". Conrad Mbewe documents with first-hand knowledge and accuracy the vast damage being done in the global church, and Warnock has no response other than to shrug.

Then he has the audacity to assert that he is responding to MacArthur because MacArthur's "divisiveness" (otherwise known as sounding the trumpet) "has the potential for causing more damage to the global Church of Christ than almost any other recent controversy".

So, actual spiritual damage being caused on a continental and global stage is worthy of nothing more than a nod. And MacArthur pointing out that damage and sounding the trumpet is labeled as "devisive" and capable of causing more damage to the Church of Christ than global-scale false teaching.

Un-be-lieve-a-ble.

Frank Turk said...

Sometimes just letting the other guy say what you know he will say is enough.

That's the art of the great interview.

Kent McDonald said...

Don't worry! I love you too, Dan!

David Kjos said...

"when a preacher finds himself saying something that wasn't in his notes and that is later found to have been especially relevant to a specific situation in one of the listeners' lives" is prophesy, eh?

That's the most extreme dumbing-down of the term I've ever heard.

Sammy L said...

Never commented before but couldnt resist.

Frank, Seriously. Choose someone of your own size(with no disrespect to Adrian). Otherwise it wont be love.

A part of the conversation had me in splits, but I realize it is not funny and it is so grievous(with so many souls in danger) after listening to Conrad's sermons at Strange Fire.

Rob said...

Adrian offered to locate a local "Bible-loving charismatic church" for folks. That sounds like a great offer! Could he recommend one around the Livingston, Texas area for me to visit, that is confessionally-centered (preferably on the WCF) with responsive reading, incorporates the Trinity hymnal, with expository teaching, and without any drums, rolling on the floor and barking?

If so I'd check it out!

Chris Hernandez said...

The thing i keep hearing from Adrian, Dr. Brown and a few others is the statement "I do not know of these abuses, i don't watch or listen to them on TV". The problem with this statement is that even if you don't, many do. Just because you don't listen to or buy their books does not mean there are not millions who tune in and consume their strange claims and doctrines that lead to abuses. The fact that you chose to not pay attention to them does not mean they are not there. There is a reason they remain on TV, there is a reason they are on best seller lists, because the consumers are there. This is why Pastor MacArthur and others spoke out because the "so called" discipline Charismatic crowds chose to ignore it, or even worse, endorse it

John said...

Frank,

SO you invited Charismatics in a discussion so you can be mean to them, for the record I warned Adrian of this.

John

Carl Daniel said...

The closest I've seen anyone come to figuring out this "cessationist vs. continualist" debacle is skipped upon in DJP's comment above but I'll go one tiny step further. If even the standard definations of words cannot be agreed upon, even arguing from scriptural truth will be frustrating. I'm no one important but even I can see that the continualist has added much to his own personal copy of the dictionary. This won't tidy up everything, but will certainly make it much easier to wade through.

Terry Rayburn said...

1. First may I say the formatting with the boxes, the "Next Question" dealies, and multi-coloring was awesome -- seriously.

2. One would expect poor Adrian to be ganged up on in the Pyro comments, but I can't help but add to the pile-on.

3. If the good Doctor (and that's his final point, isn't it? -- that we at least agree he's good, though Charismatic) had any credibility on the subject at all (which I for one think he does not), surely he squanders that credibility with his slip-sliding around regarding what "an experience of God" is.

That is, he veers entirely away from the real subject (miraculous sign gifts) -- to "gifts of the Spirit" in general (which most Cessationists will readily admit still exist) -- to "experiences" and "callings" which can't be pinned down as "gifts" at all -- to "All I really ask at this stage is that we recognize that each other really are brothers in Christ", as if we have the "gift" of discerning the new birth.

(For the record, I think Adrian is saved, and Benny Hinn isn't, but who am I to say?! If Adrian takes comfort in my opinion on that...yikes. It's quite irrelevant, except to say that the Gospel and pseudo-miracles are as far removed from each other as the Lord's Supper and Hindu fire-walking.)

4. Anyway, good job Frank. As you said, "Sometimes just letting the other guy say what you know he will say is enough."

DJP said...

Prophecy is "how I would describe what happens when a preacher finds himself saying something that wasn't in his notes and that is later found to have been especially relevant to a specific situation in one of the listeners' lives."

Since we're past caring how the Bible actually defines a term it defines as clearly and extensively as it does "prophecy," why not just call it... the gift of Parbar?

Sir Aaron said...

Prophecy is "how I would describe what happens when a preacher finds himself saying something that wasn't in his notes and that is later found to have been especially relevant to a specific situation in one of the listeners' lives."


That's absurd.

I teach and do training for work. Many of the topics I could teach without notes. I frequently add examples or personal ancedotes to my teaching. It's not uncommon for somebody to tell me thereafter, that I touched on something they are personally dealing with. Here I thought I just know my topic through years of experience and training and because I continue to keep up current events I know how to incorporate them into my topics. But I guess I was wrong. I now learn I have the gift of prophecy.

Frank Turk said...

John:

It's strange, but as I wrote my questions, there's nothing funny or mean in there.

As I wrote my answers, I felt like Adrian was actually making fun of *me* -- how do I feel? Would I like an experience? Aren't people afraid to talk about the experience of God?

Those questions were, I thought, the worst possible questions for Adrian to ask, yet he chose to keep them even after I told him he was doing himself a big disservice. If you think he was mistreated here, re-read this exchange in the reverse order -- that is, I ask first, the Adrian asks. Reverse the groups. That's the order the questions were dispatched in. Then ask yourself: who took this exchange more seriously - Frank, or Adrian?

I made all the material concessions, and I made all the direct pleas to Scripture. Let's not pretend that one side was pious and theological and the other (me) was clowning around. The exact opposite is true if you read this exchange with any degree of objectivity.

Eric said...

Dan,

I was also struck by that quote. It almost defies belief that trained pastor would actually say that.

Yama hama...that probably happens in most Biblical churches at least every week, both in and out of the preaching setting. My pastor will be so pleased to know that he is prophesying with regularity. And I suppose I have too, but I guess that was Warnock's point - that there is a lot prophesying and other such spiritual gift use that is just going on unrecognized or (by his figuring) improperly labeled.

Frank Turk said...

Carl -- That's why I conceded Carson's reading of 1Cor12-14. No sense trying to say that the Bible is on my side on that matter when in fact it is entirely on my side for a completely-greater point: what Adrian and his tribe say are the miraculous as so far lacking in real supernatural force compared to the Bible that they look rather pathetic when we give them the stage and ask them to give us what they demand we seek earnestly.

John said...

Frank,

Do you want me to count the condescending insults?

John

Carl Daniel said...

And there's the rub. Definitions. You nailed it Dan.

DJP said...

Eric:

Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.

Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

Frank Turk said...

John --

There aren't any. You can;t find any statements here which aren't warranted by the petulance of the question.

For example, you might say that my paragraph about how sad I am is an insult. But let's face it: Adrian dragged emotional states into the discussion. Should I just be burdened by how sad he is when in fact that has nothing to do with whether or not the Apostolic Gifts continue to today?

I think you read this as if Adrian is an innocent lamb who is only stating facts and hoping for benighted me to see the light -- but re-read his questions. The condescension in those questions deserved far worse than I gave, yet I'm the bad guy in your view. I'm the one who ought to have rolled up the carpets and plead for forgiveness.

Sorry: not going to happen.

Frank Turk said...

Can I favorite DJP's comment? That's pure gold.

Eric said...

Frank, on the internets they say: Dan Phillips (aka: Phil) FTW!

BTW Dan, are you saying I'm not special?...because that makes me sad.

sherylrydgren said...

I am stunned by **THE TURK**.HE does not have a gift...He is a gift. Well done! Fort Knox indeed!

Jared T. Baergen said...

This may have already been said somewhere in the comment feed, but I almost fell off my chair when Warnock said this:

"I don't mean to sound pretentious but I defend charismatic doctrine like the reformers defended the gospel because "here I stand I can do no other!" I don't forge my doctrine from experience, so couldn't change my thinking even if the world was full of people abusing the gifts, and I knew nobody who used them appropriately. I would still have to acknowledge that passages like 1 Cor 1:7 and 1 Cor 13 directly teach that the gifts continue till Jesus return."

I could add many of my comments to this, but for now I'll just add one:

It was utterly amazing to me when I read this that Warnock would put the continuation of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit on the same level as the Gospel, when just prior he seemed to be arguing that this issue was potentially a secondary issue.

When a cessationist critiques a continuationist, it's a secondary issues. When a continuationist defends his continuationism, it's a primary issue. I'll have to remember this logic next time someone brings up water baptism or eschatology.

sherylrydgren said...

That was stunning.The Turk does not have a gift...he is a gift! Fort Knox indeed!

Jerry Wragg said...

Adrian -
It still doesn't materially matter one iota whether you believe/assume/conclude that the Holy Spirit is offering supernatural experiences in cessationist churches which they otherwise mislabel and therefore remain "poorer" for it. You have no objective method for helping us poor saps know and accept it as reality. So...if, as you claim, the Spirit is offering such experiential encouragements for my "building up," but your only way of helping me see them for what you believe they are is your subjective assessment and conclusion, then I still end up with nothing objective! So in the end, all you really should be concerned about is praying that God would somehow bring a biblically defined OT/NT Prophet or Apostle who can add more objective, authoritative truth to Scripture by inspiration which will finally help me see what I've been missing. Until then, your subjective meanderings about me and my flock missing things the Spirit is doing in our midst will never be a spiritual help to me, nor could I ever be attracted to them for my Christian growth. I and my flock respectfully decline any subjective method for being encouraged because we already find, by faith, the richest and most satisfyingly powerful spiritual encouragements for all of life's challenges in the pages of the Spirit's objective work: God's written revelation already given!

Even if Grudem could somehow convince me that an inner notion or conviction of mine was directly and infallibly from the living God for His church today, I wouldn’t deliver the message for the sheer terror of fouling it up! This is the conservative charismatic’s folly. They run around speaking pronouncements to one another seemingly without a hint of reverence, holy awe, or concern that they might merely be verbalizing fallen humanity. Grudem’s view not only makes the evaluation of modern prophecies subjective but also puts the fallible prophet and recipient in the place of absolute authority for knowing the difference. He can’t have it both ways! Either his prophets are infallible and therefore subject only to the authority of God as to their content, or his prophets are fallible and therefore no determining authority at all. And if Grudem could “prove” a modern prophecy was truly from God, he then can’t deny that messenger the Apostolic title nor inclusion in the canon. My inevitable conclusion: If fallible prophecy exists for our encouragement, I reject it as unnecessary and potentially harmful because...well...it's potentially "fallible; and if a word proves to be “from God” by objective authority, I’ll acknowledge that 14th Apostle and expect a new version of the canon to arrive on the shelf soon.

Zach said...

So, Charismatic false teachers, destructive heresies, and ecstatic madness don’t warrant public criticism (per Warnock), but faithful Gospel preachers who confront those teachers, and heresies, and nonsense, do? I don’t get it. A commitment to Gospel-fidelity would be better demonstrated if Warnock & others would work to reverse this ironic trend.

julesdiner.me said...

This exchange shorthanded...

Frank: Bible, Bible, Bible, Bible, Bible.

Adrian: Me, Me, Me, Me, Me.

Kofi Adu-Boahen said...

Can someone address the abuse of 1 Cor 1:7 as a proof that daGifts persist until Christ's return? Not sure if bad exegesis or just the inability to read a text...

mennoknight said...

Great stuff Frank! I really loved the interaction and was utterly surprised at how Adrian went about arguing...

...and at how bad his use of scripture was. 1 Cor. 14:3 gives the purpose of prophesy? 1 Cor. 1:7 says that the gifts will continue until the second coming?

I don't know how he says things like that with a straight face...

DJP said...

Jules, be fair. "Me, me, me — and me hiding behind my interpretation of Big Name X's experience."

Frank Turk said...

I think it's kind to say that I was more Bible-centered than Adrian, but if that's true (I'm not sure it is) it's only in these two ways:

1. I conceded the key text, as far as I'm concerned, for whether or not the Apostolic Gifts continue past the Apostolic age. Given that thereafter Adrian never made reference to it, and the rest of my concerns flow from it, maybe that made me more Biblical.

2. I linked to the extensive history TeamPyro has in commenting on this issue, which has a lot of Bible in it.

After that, I would call Adrian's approach "experiential" (I called it "existential" in the post) and my approach as "logical". That is: I pointed to syllogisms and conclusions, he pointed to experiences and anecdotes.

Could this have used more Bible? I think yes, but sadly (yes: I am sad) Adrian only bemoaned the lack of Bible rather than going to it to make his points or challenge mine.

Frank Turk said...

The question has come up as to whether or not 1Cor 1:7 is a prooftext for continualism. Let me give you the tourist's version.

1 Cor 1:4-9 reads thus:

-----
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
-----

The cats who point there want you to use vv. 7-8 to say that Paul is here telling the Corinthians that the Christian Church is sustain by the (apostolic) Gifts until Christ returns. If I were them, I'd back up a verse and say that vv. 6-7 say this because only if v. 6 means that the Gospel was confirmed by Apostolic Gifts to the Corinthians can v. 7 means that the same gifts are the ones which sustain them until Christ returns. If I were a continualist, I'd insist on it.

Nevermind that nobody prior to the 20th century read these verses this way: Fiat Lux.

Christina said...

I find this statement to be pretty darn troubling:

"What is not appreciated by some is that many charismatics do reject false teachers they just prefer to highlight the positive to their people."

That doesn't square very well with Paul's counsel to Titus regarding false teachers in Crete.

"They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach." Titus 1:11

False teachers leave a bloody trail of spiritual carnage and chaos behind them -- but let's "highlight the positive". NOT!

secretwarnock said...

Well, it will come as no surprise to anyone in this trail that I am very disappointed by the willful misrepresentation and the hostility.

I do also feel that it is clear we are talking past each other, and that as much as the pyromaniacal tribe is jeering me, those from the charismatic side would have a different perspective, as seen in a couple of comments here.

I have posted a video of myself talking about my reactions to all this, as just maybe it will help y'all to think of me as a human being, perhaps even a brother in Christ.

Just a few things that seem to be being deliberately misunderstood. For a start I made it clear that I believe that NO TRUE CHURCH is entirely without the gifts, they are just not recognized as such and not pursued. Thus no church is infinitely poorer than a church with gifts. 1 Corinthians 1:7 is a promise, we are just told to also EAGERLY DESIRE them, a direct command from God that cessationists tell us to disobey on what biblical grounds? NONE.

BUT, I have NEVER EVER said that this is a gospel issue and I STILL don't. My comments about the reformation were solely to make the point that I believe what I do because my reading of the Bible leaves me no choice, not because I was told to believe it by someone else. And all the negative experiences so often cited will not shape my theology!

In fact some Christians do seek a relational experiential encounter with God without ever being theologically cessationist, and I don't have a major problem with that. I would sooner someone had the experience and a different theology about it than they had what I feel is the "correct" theology but no experience.

I was NOT trying to mock Frank or be offensive, and the reason I chose the questions I did was precisely because he said he had for the purposes of the conversation already conceded that gifts continue! So to mock me for not referencing the Bible in my questions is a bit ridiculous, especially when it is so obvious that I was constantly referring to the Bible in my answers to his questions. In fact I cite specific Bible verses in this exchange far more than Frank does.

I have no problem with admitting that theological charismaticisim is a relatively new thing.

When someone predicts something or reveals something they could not have known naturally as Spurgeon did, whatever other word should we use than prophetic to describe the phenomena???

juks said...

Getting tired of all the talk. If its about sign gifts it should be easy to resolve this issue. Come on Adrian and Michael Brown. Give us something more than Pensacola. Do the stuff! After all if Dr Mac is being "pharisaical" then the best way to rebuke him is to go and heal the paralytics - after all its easier to talk isn't it? Until we see a real baby in the dirty water we will continue to use our bible to test. So far .............................

Jared T. Baergen said...

It's really hard to take you seriously on some of these issues, Warnock, when you say that you are going to correct some things that are "being deliberately misunderstood", yet you go on to give examples of what you very clearly said either implicitly or explicitly.

For example, no you never said the cessation of gifts is a gospel issue, but you did say you would defend charismatic doctrine like the reformers defended the gospel. A paragraph or so earlier in the dialog with Frank, you were trying to get him to concede that this whole discussion was a secondary issue.

So while you never said the cessationist/continuationist debate is a gospel issue, by implication you made it a primary issue on the same level as the gospel just by what you said.

However, now you are accusing anyone who made that clear connection as "deliberately misunderstanding" your position? How do you expect us to take you honestly when you can't even admit a possible flaw in something you said or your theology?

Granted, some of us could be a bit more clear or a bit more Christ-like in our responses as Christians ought, but we also have to be honest in our discussion here. Thanks, though, for clarifying a bit.

Blessings in Christ!

Kerry James Allen said...

Strange. Adrian still wants Spurgeon on his side in spite of what Spurgeon said in the quotes above.

This kind of sounds like the hyper King James group. "Well, the translators WERE inspired and mistake-free, they just didn't know it." Even though the preface to the reader said otherwise.

"Well, Spurgeon was a prophecy, healing and signs guy, he denied it, but he obviously was one."

And Adrian says CHS was even though Spurgeon said not to follow his experience. Read the quotes again Adrian, you are talking like you didn't.

Mrs. Webfoot said...

Adrian really has no idea what the conference was about, since he will not examine what he calls the "fringes" of his movement.

Not sure why he has taken that stance. I really can't figure the guy out.

OTOH, MacArthur is clear as a bell. Why is that?

Frank Turk said...

Saith PseudoWarnock:

| Well, it will come as no surprise to anyone in
[snip]
| willful misrepresentation and the hostility.

We are disappointed by the questions asked and the answers provided.

| I do also feel that it is clear we are talking past
[snip]
| perspective, as seen in a couple of comments
| here.

I think you’re not reading the same blog entry the rest of us are – and if you are, then I wonder why you would answer in a way that “talks past” me when, prior to the actual discussion, I gave you the chance to come up with better questions and also I gave you the chance to ask clarifying questions?

| I have posted a video of myself talking about
[snip]
| perhaps even a brother in Christ.

It’s a shame that, even after what was said here specifically to that issue (whether or not you’re a Christian), you still use passive-aggressive language to say I don’t.

Which is worse I wonder: putting concerns in an open and honest way to a person, or surreptitiously claiming they are some kind of bigot?

| Just a few things that seem to be being
[snip]
| to disobey on what biblical grounds? NONE.

I see: so it is true that you think Spurgeon and in fact all cessationists are so sort of spiritual imbeciles when presented with miracles.

| BUT, I have NEVER EVER said that this is a
[snip]
| because I was told to believe it by someone
| else. And all the negative experiences so often
| cited will not shape my theology!

In a breathtakingly-surprising paragraph, it’s the last sentence there which really stuns. That actually sums up continualism in a single package.

| In fact some Christians do seek a relational
[snip]
| I feel is the "correct" theology but no
| experience.

It’s all a giant shepherd’s pie, isn’t it PseudoWarnock? Someone points out that there are no potatoes, you start talking about the veg; someone points out there are no veggies, and you proudly tout the meat; someone shows you there is no meat at all, and suddenly you say they have secretly eaten it all already, so as long as that’s done we can move on.

| I was NOT trying to mock Frank or be
[snip]
| specific Bible verses in this exchange far more
| than Frank does.

I have already granted, above, that Adrian did reference the Bible directly more often than I did.

| I have no problem with admitting that
| theological charismaticisim is a relatively new
| thing.

Well, except for the fact that you claim that Spurgeon was some kind of sock puppet of the Holy Spirit – and in that, a rather sorry one who could not tell that God had his hand in it.

| When someone predicts something or reveals
| something they could not have known
| naturally as Spurgeon did, whatever other
| word should we use than prophetic to describe
| the phenomena???

How about “providential,” which is the word Spurgeon uses? Are you really that biased against the man that you can’t use his word for his experience?

Frank Turk said...

FYI to all readers:

I'll be shutting down the comments for this post sometime before Wednesday. Please get your licks in while you can.

Adrian Warnock said...

I did have a comment turn up with "secretwarnock"" as the name for some odd reason. It has since been deleted. If you can reinstate that it would be awesome it was indeed me not someone impersonating me!

DJP said...

PA #26.

TP SockPuppet said...

Two things this morning:

1. Thanks to Frank for inviting me to be a contributor to this well-known, well-respected, and well-hated blog.

2. I'd like to take Frank up on his challenge to ask him 5 questions in exchange for answering his 5 questions.

I hope he doesn't chicken out.

Solameanie said...

This point has been made several times, but I'd like to make it again because it really is the elephant in the room. When all is said and done, this is really all about Scripture vs. experience. Within the charismatic world, experience dominates. I can even remember some in the past on TBN long ago talking about "Bibleolatry" or people worshipping their Bibles instead of God (the Holy Spirit), which is an odd accusation since the Holy Spirit himself inspired said Bible, which regulates sign gifts and describes the gifts of the Spirit. In personal conversations I've had (even in the past when I attended a Pentecostal church) when I would raise a biblical question, the experience would almost always be offered up rather than dealing with what Scripture said.

This troubles me greatly. I will pick the Bible first, and have the Bible judge my experience, not let my experience judge the Bible. The Bible validates or invalidates my experience. I can remember years ago listening to the late Derek Prince's tapes on demonology. Even in my late teens, when I heard him say "Now, you won't see this in Scripture, but I've learned it to be true by experience," a red flag went up. If I don't see it in Scripture, you'd better believe I am going to put up a red flag and scrutinize it.

I can remember (also in my teens) when a Mormon missionary came to the house. I was just coming out of being raised in the church of Christ (Restoration Movement) and had begun attending a Baptist church. My father and I let them in and began having a discussion (mostly me and the Mormon couple. My father just listened). They would make their statement, and I would reply "But this is what the Bible says..." Repeatedly. After about seven or eight times of this happening, the Mormon husband slammed his fist on the coffee table and said loudly, "I don't CARE what the Bible says!" His wife grimaced, and then finally Dad spoke up. He said, "My boy and I happen to care very much what the Bible says. I think it's time you both went on your way."

Sometimes our experiences can leave indelible marks on you, and that one did. So much to the point that anytime I see anyone evade the Bible (even those who are supposed to be fellow Christians), I get very, very disturbed.

Aaron Barker said...

So according to Dr. Warnock, we can simply change what the gifts actually were into something that is happening today and then claim that people really are in fact Charismatic and don’t even know it!
So:
Ad libs = prophecy
Mad libs = tongues
Misdiagnosis = healing
NOW I GET IT!

Frank Turk said...

SolaMeanie:

Just for the record, you have really nailed it in a way that no one else has yet.

In order to help the Continualist see what it is they are doing here, I have conceded Scripture to them -- that the Bible says that the Gifts continue. They think this is the massive victory for them, but sadly what they are then stuck with is what they have asked for: the experience.

The experience in Acts is that blind people regain their sight and men lame from birth are made well enough that they are fully healthy, not just pain-free, and the dead are actually raised with a word. The experience in Acts is that Aramaic is spoken but all the languages of the Near East are heard, each man in his own language. The experience in Acts is that Scripture is made, and no one has to equivocate over what it means to have a prophecy. And when Paul has a vision of God, he is struck blind, and is given specific instructions which he understands so well that he can, in fact, write most of the NT.

So when I conceded the question, "Does Scripture say that the Gifts will endure," I expect the Charismatic to have nothing left to do but produce them. That is: show me them.

When we get instead is Adrian Warnock telling us that it's all the same whether one is merely-repentant or one is gifted with on-command healing. And what we get, if I may be bold for a second, if John Piper reducing Prophecy to intuitions which he has no obligation to share or follow.

Look: let's forever concede D.A.Carson's reading of 1 Cor 12-14 -- and indeed the point of all the prooftexts of the Charismatic -- to say that the Gifts must continue. But then let's also hold their feet to the fire for these gifts. And let's treat the charletans who are trying to dupe people with counterfeits like people who are taking something which Scripture demands and twisting it into something which Scripture abhors.

In my view of it, the cautious Charismatic has a much worse place in the world when he gives cover to the crazy enthusiasts by "not having time" to refute their lies. In this place, where Scripture says the gifts exist, what should we do with someone defrauding people with parlor tricks? What does it say about the faith if we do nothing?

DJP said...

Frank's last comment alone is worth the price of admission. MORE, even!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

This reminds me of the original panel of judges for "American Idol."

Adrian Warnock is the American Paula Abdul. And Frank Turk is the British Simon Cowell.

Paula was nice, sweet, and affirming. Simon was mean and hard.

By the way, as a word of warning to all interlocutors of Turk, never accept an opening concession. He wrote this:

(1) "I am willing to concede, for the sake of this discussion, D. A. Carson's interpretation of 1 Cor 12-14, so that we are not squabbling over the hermeneutics of the issue. .... I concede on that point--now let's talk turkey." And...

(2) "Because I handed over any Bible-proofing here as a concession, I'll hand you one more: I will own that the tone in this post is the harshest I have ever been to anyone, at any time, in all contexts."

Why, you future thread combatants of Turk may ask, "Why don't I want to accept these concessions from Frank Turk?"

Because it's like this. Two fighters in the ring. Turk is the short bald guy. He gives you a concession by lowering his bald noggin and barreling in, saying in effect, "Here's my concession: Land the hardest punch you can on my lowered bald head."

So you do. Blam! You land a smashing overhand right. Right on top of his bald noggin.

Then guess what happens next. He has gotten close enough to you, and then he delivers a jaw-crunching uppercut to the bottom of your chin. Ka-boom! You're knocked out.

You're laying on the canvas with stars in your eyes, and a broken right hand. You wonder what happened. After all, you landed the first punch.

Adrian Warnock, you got all Turked up, dude. It was brutal.

Paula Abdul, do not accept Simon Cowell's concessions. Just edge away.

donsands said...

Some very good comments.

The Bible is an incredible masterpiece put together by God.

I have to think some Christians think God was thankful to us down here for putting all the writings together.
Thank for the printing press we invented, etc.

And yet if we sit back and see John begin to write his Epsitle, and how we have this holy truth in our hands, and right before us to read, and study, and love, and be taught by our Lord's pastor-teachers.

I would hope Adrian would mediatate on how our sovereign Lord gather His Word toegether for us, and how this Book, though not miraculous, is beyond comprehension.

It was God, thru His Spirit who has given us His truth, and He has also given us His Spirit.

I know my words are awkward and not well said, yet, the Holy Scriptures are truly our Lord's most magnificent gift of grace to us, His people, and of course His Spirit in us as well.
"Spirit and truth. ... My Word is truth"-Jesus

Solameanie said...

I can just imagine the Apostle Paul telling the church at Corinth that he didn't have time to deal with their errors. He was too busy doing things like ministry.

Seriously now, and speaking of Paul and Corinth. 2 Corinthians 2:17 and its reference to "peddling the Word of God" comes to mind. I think I'm on strong ground to say that nails a fairly healthy chunk of these folks. And what's worse, what we get is 3/4 peddling and 1/4 Word of God, if even that.

juks said...

I have noticed that a lot of the discussion concerning gifts has focussed on prophecy even though what charismatics talk about would look more like the gift termed "word of knowledge". When the movement started it was all about tongues as the evidence but that's impossible to defend today with technology so its shifted to "prophecy". So I think it is important to focus on the gift and prophets in particular. If we concede a continualist argument and take a parallel look at the OT ie Torah being the rule (canon) and prophets being those who would be sent to speak to God's people and bring them back to the ancient landmarks then the true prophets today would sound a lot more like John Macarthur than Rick Joyner. Just an observation - true prophets were generally not triumphalist and popular. They came with "THE WORD" and not "A WORD". False prophets did the opposite and there were plenty around even then - half the book of Jeremiah is on this very theme. There are many verses that could be used to explain what is happening on a mass golbal scale today where there are prophets giving words everywhere. And if the doctrine is out you can be sure the prophecies are also. Not to mention the moral issues that follow. These things were written for our admonition but it seemss we have a short memory.

donsands said...

One more quick thought.
I wonder if you, Adrian, have had some experiences that mean an awful lot to you, and they were simply your flesh?

I know a friend who will tell me, "I remember feeling the hand of God on my head! I could feel it press down on me, and it was incredible."
I simply think he imagined it. And it doesn't seem to help make him anymore Christ like to be honest, but sort of puffs him up, if you catch what Im saying.

There are those who seem they need to out "experience" the other experience.
I am so happy my Lord set me free from all this, way back when I was in a Full Gospel Pentecostal church, and was able to way all these experiences against the Word of our Lord.

I shall worship our Lord in Spirit and truth, for God is Spirit, and this is 100% grace, and I have a joy and peace, because of His great love, and becuase Jesus, the I Am, allowed Himself to be taken that night in the Garden.

Larry Geiger said...

So Frank, let me see if I understand what this means, not what it doesn't mean.

The "gifts of the Spirit" are basically twofold. One is salvation or justification. The Holy Spirit brings to us awareness of our sin, the need of a savior and the identity of that savior, Jesus Christ.

Second is sanctification. The Holy Spirit brings us to want to know and understand God's word and apply that word to our daily lives.

Would that be an accurate understanding of what you are saying?

Frank Turk said...

Larry:

In my view, it is utterly essential to say that the Holy Spirit is alive and works in the believer to call him to repentance, to give him new life (a changed life, a "second birth" as Christ says in John 3), to establish faith in the believer in an indestructible way, to illuminate the Scriptures, to work toward our holiness (which is called "sanctification"), and to give him fellowship with fellow believers.

So Repentance, Regeneration, Faith, Perseverence, Illumination, Sanctification, and the foundation and tools for Fellowship.

He;s a stingy old coot, I'll grant you, but those are His works in us and His gifts to us.

Larry Geiger said...

Thank you very much. Much better than what I said.

For some reason that's just fine with me. I never seem to run out of things to marvel at when I read the bible. And when I meet my "family" on Sunday morning (or the rest of the week). And the miracle of a Godly wife. And grandchildren sitting with me in the pew on Sunday morning. And, and...

What you have written here just makes perfectly good sense. I guess that I'm just not able to understand the whole tongues thing.

Frank Turk said...

Comments are closed.