21 January 2014

Why no "killer" verses against charismaticism?

by Dan Phillips

A lazy resting-place for the would-be propper-up of continusmaticism is to demand a single verse that states,  in so many words, "When John dies, the following gifts cease:..." Absent such a verse, the theological sluggard claims victory and goes back to his careening sleepwalk.

Like most (all?) questions, this one has been answered often from various angles. I wanted to have a specific post with this particular answer, so I reached back over seven years to this post, then this one, for the following excerpts slightly edited.


Adrian [Warnock, who's tried for years to iron-lung Charismaticism] then says,
I have also not seen [cessationists] give good explanations regarding the experiences so many of us describe or the benefits that those who speak in tongues receive from them. If the cessationist is correct, then the charismatic is, by definition, either deluded or demonised!
My first, honest, non-sarcastic response to this confession was to wonder how many cessationist books Adrian has read, and which ones; and how many cessationists he's talked with. But never mind that for now.

The question is simply answered.

Suppose you say, "Oh, look! A cat!" And you point to a snake. So I go fetch a textbook that we both respect, and I read, "Cat: mammal, possessed of four legs, a tail, a head, lots of fur, and an insatiable appetite. Purrs when petted." Then I say, "That thing you're pointing at doesn't look anything like a cat. At. All."

What do you say? "Yeah, but maybe it's a furless, legless, reptilian cat who never purrs! Or maybe it's just warming up, and one day it will be a cat! You have to give me a good explanation of what it is, or I'll pick it up and call it a cat!"?

No, actually, see: I really don't have to. I've demonstrated that it isn't a cat. In so demonstrating, I have demonstrated that, if you do pick it up, you won't be picking up a cat. My work is done.

You meanwhile, might call yourself a "Cat-ist," and run about, waving the viper over your head. You might persuade 100, 10000, even 1000000 or more people to do the same. "Cat-ism" might become the fastest-growing movement in the world, all of you waving slender, wriggling, scaled, cold-blooded, fork-tongued, lidless "cats" over your heads. You might "prove" your case by producing academic "Cat-ists" who produce literary passages describing cats as slinking ("Aha!"), and curling up ("Oho!"), and wrapping themselves around their owners' legs ("QED!").

You can call the thing in your hand whatever you like. You can get millions to call it the same. It still won't be a cat, and any decent description of a real cat will be a "killer verse" to your movement.

And what of identifying the actual thing you're holding? If I keep looking through my nature guide, I'll find several things that are long and thin and wiggly. It might be a worm. It might be an eel. It might be a snake. Ah, that's it: a snake. What kind of snake, though? Maybe I can't identify the exact species of snake you're pointing at. But I know that there are various venomous vipers about, and that's reason enough to worry. I advise you that it's best not to pick it up until we're sure what it is.

Doesn't that make good sense?

But at any rate, even if you pick it up, and suffer no immediate harm, and report that it gives you warm emotions to hold it, I'm still going to insist that you not call it a cat. And particularly, if you are going to take a job as a veterinarian, and tell others how to acquire and care for animals, I'm going to urge you in the strongest terms to get your head straight about the differences between cats and snakes. You really could hurt somebody with your wretched advice.

Why no "killer verses"?

Finally [of the challenges from Charismatic Adrian Warnock]: 
Most importantly of all, if the Bible never intended that we get the impression that gifts are for today, why are there not any real "killer verses" to make it clear to us that this is not the case?
There aren't? I believe I've given and/or linked to several such verses, already.

Every description of tongues and prophecy in the Bible is a "killer" verse . Allow me to allude to our "standard of proof" discussion from the previous post.

Every description of a real cat is a "killer verse" to anyone who wants to wave a snake around and call it a cat.

Similarly, anyone who wants to babble and burble, and call it tongues; or pop off gauzy generalities or inaccurate predictions and call it prophecy, is condemned and rejected by every Biblical description of the real, legitimate phenomena. No such widespread, well-documented phenomena as described in the Bible has ever characterized post-apostolic Biblical Christianity, from the second century to the present day. The charismatic movement has tried with increasing desperation for one hundred years, and so far the best it has come up with is an attempt to redefine everything, covering up its consistent failure by trying to define-down the Biblical exemplars.

And there is no Biblical explanation why this should be so—unless what Paul announced as future to him, in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, is past to us.

Which, I submit, it is.

Dan Phillips's signature


trogdor said...

But isn't a snake analogous to a cat?

DJP said...

In the same way is that a "no" is analogous to a "yes."

Rob said...

In terms of "killer verses", for me one of the best passages, mentioned at one of the strange Fire messages, was the fact that Paul instructs Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach, and doesn't say, "Well, go get to a healing service for your stomach, Timothy".

Fred Butler said...

AW opines,
If the cessationist is correct, then the charismatic is, by definition, either deluded or demonised!

Well, I believe it could be either one. Has he even considered that fact? I seriously doubt it.

Unknown said...

Would you please describe what your interpretation of the "perfect" is in 1Co. 13:9 (a link to a previous post is fine). I'm genuinely curious.

DJP said...

Unknown, I tend to be pretty strict about staying on-topic. Or I sincerely try to be. So let me stress: my view of "the perfect" has absolutely nothing to do with the point of this post. This post is equally true no matter what view one takes.

But to answer your question, I wrote on it here. That's very brief; I have an unpublished book in which I go into immensely greater detail.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

To your second point, I don't remember who made the argument, but someone said that if the sign and attesting gifts were still for today, you'd see them in every local body in some degree - because the gifts were for the whole church body, not just Downtown Charismatic Continuationist Christian Church of AnyCity.

DJP said...

Others may well have said it, but I've said that often. And in response to every excuse the continusmatics attempt, the damning refutation is: NONE of the original tongue-speakers believed in or sought the gift. God the Holy Spirit does what God the Holy Spirit wants to do!

Anonymous said...

I've asked several continust friends why they put such an emphasis on the "gift of tongues" when it is nowhere emphasized in the NT. Haven't received a straight answer yet.

Related, one friend who's a pastor at a Calvery Chapel church purposely DE-emphasizes tongues in his church, because he doesn't want it to be a distraction.

Michael Coughlin said...

All this, and I must say I find it odd to see you link to none other than Adrian Warnock ----->>>

Seems the blogroll needs an update after the past year.

rfb said...

Since when does anyone's experience ("...the experiences so many of us describe...) validate anything? The following is a question, really, a question, not a thinly veiled accusation: When does a teaching such as the instant one become classified as heresy? Does the fact that we seem to have lost the (small m) magisterial authority of the church lend itself so that there is no longer something like Dordrecht to authoritatively pronounce upon such issues?

trogdor said...

This argument of course reminds of the old counterfeiting illustration, that anti-counterfeiting agents don't study all the fakes, they just know the real thing so well that the fakes are obvious. We don't need to speculate about what modern 'tongues' actually are; we know what actual tongues as described in the Bible are, and the modern version ain't that.

As many have pointed out, attempting to re-define just admits the Biblical/cessationist case. To argue that modern versions are similar-but-lesser than the Biblical version admits the Biblical gift ceased. So the TrueBelievers need to argue that the modern tomfoolery actually is the Biblical gift. Either the authority of scripture or their personal feelings have to give - and we know which one it will be.

Trying to find the best illustration of the continuismatic view of scripture, I thought of the cartoon where a kid shoots an arrow, then draws a target around where it hit. But really, I think Jim Gaffigan nails it best.

Milton said...

About the only real characteristic snakes and cats share is that they both kill and eat mice. :) God the Holy Spirit can choose when or if He imparts any of the signed gifts now adays, always for His glory and usually in an isolated instance, not an ongoing practice. I'm with Paul in 1 Cor. 14:19 and would rather speak five words with my mind in the church than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Frank Turk said...

Because I don't see much of a difference between a cat and a snake, I am deeply confused by this post. However, the point that headaches end of their own accord all the time, as do back-aches, and that there are no people speaking in tongues they never learned to speak, and that there are no prophecies like the one Paul received when he was knocked off his high horse is, in my book, the final word on this subject.

Frank Turk said...


DJP's response to you is utterly sufficient. The answer to your question is this: "'Perfect' would be any actual prophecy in 2014 which looks like the prophecy Paul received in on the road to Damascus regarding his own blindness, or the announcement of the angels to the Shepherds in Luke. Everything else would be a phony imitation, and your problem is not whether the NT sets a date for the end of Apostolic gifts, but the lack of these gifts today given your view that they continue."

Robert Tingle said...

Entirely on topic to this post: those are some beautiful cats. As a cat enthusiast myself, I can say I do like those cats, and their metaphorically represented humans :^)

DJP said...

Thanks, Robert. Both purebred Maine Coons, they're really beautiful, really large, and really sweet. Hagrid would be a lot more majestic if he wouldn't keep resting with his tongue hanging out. What is UP with that? I talk to him, but does he listen?

Jules LaPierre said...

The assumption is that the Continusmatic has compared their e̶x̶p̶e̶r̶i̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ snake to the textbook, when in reality they've only compared it to other e̶x̶p̶e̶r̶i̶e̶n̶c̶e̶s̶ snakes.

Anonymous said...

I can hear some continuists, which I am not, making this rejoinder…
You are making an argument from experience by making this argument: The bible describes gifts this way. We no longer see that in our world. Therefore, the gifts have ceased.
That would be an argument from experience.

Any suggestions on how I could refute that?

DJP said...

Yes, 514c67c4-82d8-11e3-b711-000bcdcb2996 (— may I call you "5"?), from over a year ago.

Anonymous said...

"the theological sluggard claims victory and goes back to his careening sleepwalk." If I were charismatic, this statement would really hurt my feelings. And of course my feelings, being the arbiter of "my truth," would prove that I am actually quite ambitious and industrious, since there is not a Bible verse that specifically says that, I, personally, am not.

And not to quibble with Milton, but another characteristic common to snakes and cats is that both have tried to bite me every time I've stepped on either.

DJP said...

Well then, there y'go! "What further need have we of witnesses?" (See, it's Biblical.)

rfb said...

Pastor Phillips,

As I alluded to in my above post, when does some element of canonicity come into play. We have at a certain level ceded authority to this: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, no Book of Bob.

When (and if so how) does the the authority of historic canonicity stand athwart issues like this with a stop sign?

DJP said...

rfb, are you referring specifically to the close of the Canon? Then I'd agree; I've often remarked that, to continusmatics, the close of the Canon is just another "and then that happened event." Like revelation itself. And inscripturation. Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

Robert Tingle said...

I've come to the conclusions that cat's are the species of superior intellect. They know we desire their affection, so they give it to us only when they think their chances of getting fed in a timely manner is in question. I think science is on my side with this one (most notably the author of the critically acclaimed "Garfield").

Frank Turk said...

"May I call you '5'?"


Larry Geiger said...

His name is "GUID".
His individual version is " 514c67c4-82d8-11e3-b711-000bcdcb2996"
But, yes, as a matter of fact, you may call him "5".

I understand the choice of snake as one side of the analogy, but fail to comprehend the choice of "cat". Perhaps sheep or lamb might be more appropriate? Or would that be presuming too much?

donsands said...

Well done. Good post for our minds and hearts to embrace and chew on.

The truth of God's Bible is such an incredible joy to read, meditate upon, and hear preached on Sundays, and hear preached all week really.

Thanks for your hard work in the Word. Keep on. You are building us up and equipping us so we can give a reason for our hope.

Cathy M. said...

Great illustration! As I read it, the thought crossed my mind that it could illustrate any biblical institution or ordinance being counterfeited by a cult or culture.

"... if you do pick it up, you won't be picking up a cat. My work is done."

That statement communicates my suspicion that at a certain point, people actively reject manifest scriptural truth in favor of their trifling story. And, isn't that what it means to be delusional, to believe your own malarkey? "If the cessationist is correct" indeed!

Anonymous said...

This is "5". My name is Scott. I am obviously not skilled at this commenting thing. I tried to log in using my aim account and that long string of character is what showed up. It would be nice if instead of deriding me, someone could give me instructions on how to do it properly.

Eric said...

Definition of deride:

1: to laugh at contemptuously

2: to subject to usually bitter or contemptuous ridicule

Lighten up, 5. Nobody was deriding you. Besides, how was anyone supposed to know that you were having problems? Sometimes people sign in with some odd user names.

Charlie Frederico said...

I realize that your post was not about 1 Corinthians 13:8 and the "perfect," etc.. I also perused your other post on the subject and am encouraged to see your teaching on this what it is. I have written on this also, and attempt to go into more detail. Grammatically, the conclusions are the same. Very encouraging! The post is at www.proclaiminghisexcellencies.com posted November 19th (Forgive me, I don't know how to hyperlink that here).

Larry Geiger said...

Hi 5

Glad to meet you Scott. Sorry, couldn't resist the "Hi 5" thing. It's sort of like meeting your friend Jack on an airline flight. You probably shouldn't say, "Hi Jack!".

Glad that you are here. Sorry about your posting issues. I sign in with "Google Account" so I can't help you with your login but I would like to. Interesting problem. I've never seen a website do that before.

It's the "Please prove you're not a robot" thing that ties me up in knots.

Michael Coughlin said...

"5" - really, bro - I don't think anyone was seriously mocking you. I think they were having fun with your odd username.

I'd love to help you, but I don't use AIMID so I'm guessing that is at the root of the problem. My best guess is if you click your name "5..." you'll eventually be able to get to a profile page of sorts and edit that.

God bless.
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Jim Peet said...

Used on Sharper Iron here

Thanks Jim