22 July 2014

Charismatics degrading revelation? Must be a day ending in a "y"

by Dan Phillips

The speaker here is Jennifer LeClaire. She's not some obscure figure off on the fringe; she is news editor at Charisma magazine — which I guess is the leaky-Canoneers' organ of record? At any rate, she's written books, she's got an internet presence, and on and on and on.

Plus, she's a preacher. Plus, she receives direct, verbal, extra-Scriptural revelation from God. And we're not talking feelings, impressions, hunches. We're talking about words from God that she can quote for us. And we need her to, right? Because they're not in our Bibles.

They're just Jennifer.

Well, not anymore, because she's thoughtfully passed on to us what God bypassed His Bible and His body of believers to speak to her only. And here it is. These are, according to Jennifer LeClaire, the words of God:
There is a great awakening coming to this nation. For I have heard your cries and I long to heal your land. I am a covenant God and I will not forget the covenant I made with your Founding Forefathers. Yes, there will be a shaking, but the foundations will not crack and they will not crumble. Only those things which can be shaken will be shaken that the sin in the land may be laid bare.
Well, it's all there, isn't it? It is a direct quotation of God. "I have heard your cries." Read the article: there is no "I might have gotten this exactly right," or "You have to understand, I'm about to impersonate God, but I don't mean you to think that I'm, you know, impersonating God," or "Remember how Grudem made it okay for me to redefine prophecy? There's my get-out-of-responsibility card!"

But wait, there's more.

This isn't the mere rehashing of Biblical generalities that many Charismatic pop-offecies feature. It actually imparts newly-revealed information, information that changes everything. "God" here tells us that "He" made a covenant with America's Founding Forefathers. Those Deists and Romanists and all-over-the-mappers were "His" covenant partners. Covenant with Abram, with Isaac, with Jacob... and with America's founders. The texts are Genesis 12, Exodus 2:24... and Jennifer.

And where is this covenant? What was the ceremony? When did it happen? What is the exact wording? Is it unilateral, bilateral, or what? Are there promises? What are they? Sanctions?

This is heavy, immense stuff. It changes history and our view of it. It changes the way we see America, and the way we need to demand that everyone sees America — you know, demandin "God's" name, right? Because this is the Word of God. Like the Bible is.

And surely all the rest of us should put this in our preaching rotation, right? Because it's important. So: Proverbs, Ephesians, Gospel of John, prophecy of Isaiah, prophecy of Daniel, prophecy of Jennifer.

Plus, shouldn't living theologians schedule revisions of their texts? Especially Grudem? They weren't working with the full dataset.

There's a lot more in this prophecy. Interestingly, "God" calls the nation to repent — but "He" doesn't call this female preacher to repent of the obvious.

Are the high-traffic leaky-Canon-friendly reformed blogs all over this, either tearing it to shreds or preaching it up?

All right now, some of you are chuckling, some are groaning, some are gritting your teeth. Why am I doing this? (And this is nothing; we could go on, and on, and on.)

Because all of this is a perfect exhibition as to why the Strange Fire conference was necessary, and why conferences like Sufficient Fire are absolutely essential. The church has become inoculated and numbed to the outrageous audacity and distraction that is Charismaticism, and it has allowed its wonder and marvel and reverence over the Word of God to be adulterated down to the vaguest shadow of what it should be.

It's not a little thing. It's just treated like a little thing.

However, it is as if Christians who have a robust doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture have an unspoken agreement about our Charismatic siblings. When they start claiming direct revelation, or semi-hemi-demi revelation, we just smile with fond indulgence and wait until they're done. It's like Crazy Uncle Rufus. We all love him, so when he starts up about how President Bush ordered the bombing of the World Trade Center, or alien bovine probing, we just smile and wink at each other. It's just Crazy Uncle Rufus being Crazy Uncle Rufus. We love him. No harm done, right?

Not right.

Not right, and not to God's glory. Nor does it adorn our witness to the lost. Nor is it to the good of Christ's church...nor of Jennifer LeClaire, for that matter.

That someone should speak up is a given. That all who affirm Scripture's self-revelation should speak up, sound the alarm — also a given.

That so few do... that's the mystery, and that's the shame.

But one just has to do what one can.

ADDENDUM: this poor lady only blames a 360-word rant on God. Francis Chan now tells us God "asked" him to write a whole book. This isn't Chan's first irresponsible statement of the kind. What if these thoughts from 2010 had been echoed and made more of a focus among those with a robust doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture four years ago?

Dan Phillips's signature


Robert said...

This is like the modern-day version of replacement theology. Only instead of the Church replacing Israel, they implicitly make the claim that America has replaced Israel. When people invoke God's promise to Solomon that when His people (Israel) turn back to Him (towards the Temple) and pray to Him in repentance that He will restore them and apply that to the nation of America, they are making the claim that America is now God's chosen nation. And then you have to apply all of those covenants to America. I guess this lady is doubling down on that by saying she has received revelation from God about a new covenant made at the founding of America...which is just that much worse.

If we can't stand up and call this out as flat-out wrong and fitting in with the doctrine of demons, then shame on us. It isn't loving, but hateful, to sit silently in the name of peace. That peace is really just a form of self-love set above and against the love and fear of God. I really liken the situation we are in these days to the situation Jeremiah was in. Except for him being a prophet with God speaking to him in an audible voice. We do have God's revelation in written form to declare to this unbelieving world, though. And we are going to be mistreated by those who are in authority who choose to listen to all of the false prophets. And we won't have many followers or converts. But our charge isn't to try to have the best results and most fans...our charge is to be faithful to the Word of God. For it is the one true gospel that saves...Romans 1:16 and 10:14-17 shows us the gospel is the power God uses to save and that preaching the gospel to the lost world is the means (As DJP points out so well in GWiP, God is a God of means) He uses in order to do so. It is really quite a simple plan that he has set forth, but we choose to muck it up in the foolishness of worldly wisdom.

Dan (and others out there), thanks for answering the call to defend the truth and correct the errors that are being taught over and over again.

Michael Coughlin said...

I think it is appropriate for anyone wondering what to do in this situation in their personal life to refer to this post. by DJP which helps people to understand the seriousness of what some people call minor errors.

What is less striking to me, personally, than the apparent lack of outcry against this stuff is the seeming judgement of God on so many who follow these hucksters. My pastor really rebuked us Sunday about how if anyone is following any of these people they are in sin.

Praise God for His mercy.

Michael Coughlin said...

And I find it poignant that Robert refers to replacement theology because I find the charismania to go hand in hand with postmillenial theology which usually is accompanied by replacement theology.

A little leaven...

PaulT said...

Surely not, Michael. Most Pentecostals that I meet are not post-millennial. They are dispensationalists - very like Dr Macarthur on that issue!

PaulT said...

and most post-millenniallists that I meet are cessationist Presbyterians - often mixed with a little preterism.

DJP said...

There's no inherent reason why a dispensationalist can't be charismatic. I was both. But the dispensational view of Scripture ends up unfriendly to and unsupportive of charismaticism... as it was with me.

dalewilson13 said...


Thanks for continuing to highlight this issue. The battle over sufficiency is absolutely vital these days.

One of the (many) things that always baffles me is how would other Charismatics test a message like this? They often quote 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 as evidence that prophecy still exists. But among continuationists I have never seen a method for such testing that could be applied systematically. How would even a conservative continuationist test this message from LeClaire?

And the second question follows naturally from the first. Even if they had a method to test the message, what are the consequences, if any, in EITHER direction (true or false prophecy)? Basically they just shrug their shoulders and move on.

Despite their desire for these near constant messages from God, they treat them almost like the words from a fortune cookie. Hmmm. That was fun to read for a moment. What does the next one say?

Keep fighting the good fight Dan!

PaulT said...

"How would even a conservative continuationist test this message from LeClaire?" Simple. There was never a covenant between God and the Founding Fathers of the USA - most of whom were deists and/or freemasons. The Bible knows of 5 covenants - Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and Messianic, the latter of which supersedes the Mosaic. Therefore, this "prphecy" is unscriptural and a biblical charismatic like me would call it out.

DJP said...

IOW, a "Biblical" charismatic can't respond. After casting off a sufficient and closed Canon, all he can do is engage in battling assertions.

Randy Talley said...

I had never heard of Jennifer LeClaire until I read her article. So now we have Jennifer the Revelator (Revelatrix?).

But she needs to take a number and wait. Anne Graham Lotz did the same thing on June 18 at her blog (http://www.annegrahamlotz.com/blog/2014/jun/sounding-alarm/): the Holy Spirit whispering to her, others confirming that she has some direct marching orders from God (which she must obey, by the way).

I alternate between disappointment, frustration, sadness, and anger over the words people attempt to put into the mouth of my God.

Tom Chantry said...

This is truly pernicious, isn't it? In addition to all you've just said, what does this say to - for instance - a Canadian? Should a Canadian believer assume that God was in covenant with the American Founders when Canada declined to join the Revolution? Is the Canadian then uniquely outside God's covenant? Is he the equivalent of a Babylonian or - worse - an Amalekite?

Of course no one would make those assertions (I hope), but if the Bible is taken at all seriously, and if the Book of Jenifer is likewise prophecy, we would sort of have to go there, wouldn't we?

It earns us the label of "schismatics," but by all means, let there be a schism - a chasm, even - between the peddlers of such nonsense and the church of Christ. I'm glad you continue to hammer away at this issue.

DJP said...

Correct, Randy. What we need from those who know better is clear denunciation; instead, we get excuses. What we need from Charismatics is repentance; instead, we get "explanations."

Michael Coughlin said...

My reference to post millennialism has to do with the fact that if you follow that train of thought to its logical conclusions and applications, I believe you have to be open to new revelation today.

I don't believe there is room for new revelation in consistent premillennial theology (at least during this dispensation).

As far as PaulT goes - Paul I am wondering if you are more of a cessationist that you realize. I have read your writings on the matter and it seems that what you sometimes label as revelation or prophecy is actually just God's providence in your life as I know you to be a man who constantly refers back to God's Word as the source of truth.

Robert said...


In all honesty I thought she sounded like a Mormon with what she was saying. Mormons definitely believe that America is the new Israel...and they have a long line of prophets and new scriptures (small s purposefully). And really all this shows me is how narcissistic our culture is when people have to have a direct word from God apart from Scriptures. Just as Abraham told the rich man in the parable...if they don't believe Moses and the prophets, they won't believe even if a man rises from the dead. How is any charismatic who insists we need modern day prophecy, tongues, or healings not convicted by that statement? Heck, it is convicting to me because my life isn't perfectly lived out in faith and obedience.

Rowdie Jones said...

I believe it's fair to say that the average Charismatic's response to your challenge of Jennifer's 'word' would be something like,

"Oh, Dan...she doesn't mean it like that!"

DJP said...


"You must hear me! I have a word straight from God!"

"Really? So — Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Paul, Peter... and you?"

"Come on, you know what I meant."

Rowdie Jones said...

"It wasn't really GOD-God. It was just...like... god."

Rowdie Jones said...

As a former Charismatic, I think I can speak to the issue by submitting that the garden variety Charismatic simply chooses not to follow the thread to it's logical conclusion.

Ms. LeClaire has not reasoned through the consequences of her declaration, and contrary to the assertion of every Charismatic I've ever known, she has not examined this personal revelation in the light of Scripture.

Had she done so, she would have arrived at the conclusion which Dan has clearly articulated in this post.

Robert said...

You mean it is analogous to God speaking? I'm guessing that is how Poythress would reconcile this, right?

Eric said...

From the referenced article:

"On April 21, 2007, the Lord woke me up at midnight and I sensed Him offering this prophetic word:"

Three observations:

1) What did she do with this "prophecy" over the last 7 years? Did she keep this dire warning to herself?

2) She "sensed" God? I don't remember biblical prophets merely sensing God. I once sensed that someone was following me...I was wrong.

3) God "offered" a prophetic word? He didn't command or proclaim? He simply offered, as in "take it or leave it"?

Good words, Dan. Thanks for bringing much needed correction to this sort of mess. I wish the likes of Dr. Brown would be as concerned about defending God's Word as he is about defending his movement.

DJP said...

"Then the word of the LORD came unto Jennifer, suggesting..."

Excellent, Eric. Thanks.

Eric said...

Dan, your quotation of 1 Jennifer 1:6 gets me thinking. Perhaps we should have a more modern version of Psalm 119 to keep up. It might contain phrases such as:

"Oh, how I love your suggestions"

"My heart yearns for your advice, Oh Lord"

"The counsel of the LORD is sometimes good and worth following"

threegirldad said...

Robert beat me to it, and my cell phone is to blame. I will never forgive it.

Jonathan Walker said...

Anytime I get to thinking there's a "tone" problem with your posts on Charismaticism, remind me to find a faithful friend to smack me upside the head. Jennifer's prephecy is monstrous in its blasphemy.

Morris Brooks said...

The same issue behind people believing her is behind people believing some little boy's tale of going to heaven.

trogdor said...

God told Chan to write a book? Fortunately God didn't tell me to read it.

Robert said...


Running with that thought, one might say that God has told us not to read such things...or at least to worry about what they try to tell us. Something about false prophets and all.

That doesn't mean we aren't supposed to call them out, just that we don't have to worry about their "prophecies".

Brad Mason said...

I wish God would have told Chan to write a GOOD book.

Brad Mason said...

If all this jazz said above is true about postmils, where are the charismatic postmils? I've never met one, read one, or heard of one. They are almost entirely premil dispensationalists. I don't even see how it would follow. Strange stuff indeed.

Eric said...

Hi PaulT,

A couple questions:

1) Where are all the biblical charismatics who are "calling out" this "prophecy"? (since you say that is what they would do)

2) Is the whole "prophecy" wrong, or just the part about the covenant with the forefathers?

3) On what basis do you give your answer to number 2?

4) Is Jennifer just mistaken, or is she a false prophet and tool of the devil? How would you distinguish?

5) What type of rebuke is Jennifer due? What organization or authoritative church body would/should deliver that rebuke? Sincere her errant teaching is broadcast globally, must the rebuke be just as public?

Thanks for your consideration.

Randy Talley said...

Another interesting tidbit: this alleged revelation took place in 2007. Seven years ago. So a call to repentance, prayer, and a reminder about a covenant with the "Founding Forefathers" was kept in a drawer for seven years? I have a tough time imagining God telling Ms. LeClaire - a la Daniel - to seal up the revelation for a future time.

2007. Before the 2008 election. I wonder if she had another revelation saying the Messiah was right around the corner.

(note to moderators: If you decide to disapprove this one, I won't fuss about it.)

THEOparadox said...


I had a few little thoughts in response to your questions to PaulT and wanted to share them.

"A couple questions:" (um...8 by my count)

"1) Where are all the biblical charismatics..."
Probably unaware of this event because they are paying attention to the Bible and their local fellowship rather than chasing the national stage "charismatic" freak show they despise so deeply (per your question, we are talking about the Biblical ones here).

"2) Is the whole 'prophecy' wrong ..." Who knows. Biblical charismatics wouldn't even take it seriously enough to try parsing it. They are probably rolling their eyes and/or grieving over the deception.

"3) On what basis do you give your answer to number 2?" The basis for me is my 10 years as a conservative Pentecostal, then 13 years in close fellowship with Reformed-Baptist-type continuationists. NONE of my pastors or friends in either context would ever take this stuff seriously.

"4) Is Jennifer just mistaken..." Who knows. Let her be dealt with by proper spiritual authority if it is in place. Since it probably isn't, she is in God's hands. He knows, and he will deal in His way and time.

"5) What type of rebuke is Jennifer due?" I would think ignoring her would be the ideal route for anyone not in direct contact with her (obviously warn people you love not to follow her if they are tempted)

"What organization or authoritative church body would/should deliver that rebuke?" If John MacArthur went off the rails into heresy (me genoito!), who would deliver that rebuke? Same answer.

Just my two cents. Thanks for helping us to think through this together as brothers.

Blessings in Christ,
Derek Ashton

Eric said...

Hi Derek,

Couple: an indefinite small number

So, unless you consider 8 to be a particularly large number...yes, a couple of questions.

1) It was Paul T that said biblical charismatics would "call this out", I was just wondering where they are. These people that you are referring to may not be "chasing the national stage 'charismatic" freak show", but they would do well to pay attention and provide correction within "their" movement. After all, Charisma is not exactly fringe in the charismatic movement. Jennifer is a news editor of what is self-described as "the leading charismatic media source" and "the voice of the charismatic movement" which is said to be a "multifaceted media source that reaches millions each month".

2) "Who knows"? If the remaining portions could be actual prophecy, would that be important to know? Is God's word so unimportant? Also, if biblical charismatics are likely "grieving over the deception", shouldn't they be speaking up, as per question number 1?

3) Based on 10 to 13 years experience, you answer "who knows"? If the people you know "don't take this stuff seriously", on what basis do they make that decision?

4) Again with "who knows", as if it is unimportant whether or not the news editor at the "voice of the charismatic movement" is a false prophet? God knows, so fellow believers have no responsibility to respond to false teachers or false prophets?

5) You and I will have to disagree as to whether or not simply ignoring false teachers who reach millions of people is the proper response. I'm not sure I see this as the New Testament model, or the Old Testament model for that matter.

6) I would assume that Dr. MacArthur is answerable to his elders and that the publicity of any rebuke would match the publicity of any error. How is Jennifer answerable if she gets to claim divine inspiration for whatever she says based on charismatic teaching?

Blessings to you as well.

Your brother in Christ, Eric.

THEOparadox said...


Thank you for your reply.

A "couple" of comments in response:

Fred Phelps made a big splash *claiming* to be a Baptist and a Calvinist. I assume you also identify with those categories. Does this make Fred Phelps somehow significant to you? How much effort did you put into rebuking him for his errors? Did the Biblical Calvinist Baptists have to accept Phelps and his church as part of their own movement, and rebuke all of his errors? Or was it okay for them to largely ignore his very public errors while distancing themselves from him?

My point is that it is not necessary for Biblical continuationists to pay much attention to Charisma magazine or rebuke all of its many errors. They don't have to accept it as representative of Biblical charismaticism at all. Even my former Pentecostal associates hated that magazine and did not accept it as their own. In fact, my Pentecostal pastor spoke out publicly and directly against the errors he was made aware of in Toronto and Brownsville - and what is called the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement in general (while still calling himself a Pentecostal and a believer in the charismatic gifts as described in Scripture). Though a staunch Arminian, he had us singing Sovereign Grace music because it was more Biblical than the popular "praise" music of the day. I am not joking, this really happened.

Much more, a Biblical Reformed continuationist will speak out against charismatic error in general, and also very specifically when it is in plain sight of the sheep. However, he will spend more of his time and effort studying and applying Scripture. It is not that he doesn't care about error running rampant in a movement claiming to represent his theology; this simply isn't going to be his main focus.

For Biblical charismatics, Scripture is perfectly sufficient and prophecy is entirely subordinate to it. Thus, it is not going to make a whit of difference if some part of a false prophet's prophecy happens to be true. Some of what Fred Phelps preached was probably true, but that doesn't make Phelps' theology true, and it doesn't make it worthwhile for us to study (or "take seriously")the teachings of Phelps in order to find those bits that are true. Is truth so unimportant? In a sense, yes: a few twisted pieces of truth in Phelps-teaching are comparatively unimportant because we have THE TRUTH in the inerrant Bible.

In other words, Phelps and company are Calvinistic Baptists in precisely the same way Charisma editors are Biblical charismatics - by claim only. The response to Phelps that is appropriate for any Biblical Calvinistic Baptist is the response to Charisma editors that is appropriate for any Biblical continuationist/charismatic.


Michael Coughlin said...

Actually a not so extensive search would yield exactly what you are claiming did not occur in the case of WBC.

Click Here

I wouldn't call the results of that search ignoring his very public errors as he was publicly called to repentance often and in a well documented fashion for his errors and his scripture twisting.

Eric said...

Hi Derek,

I am Calvinistic, but not Baptistic, though that distinction likely does not make any difference for your comparison.

Has anyone yet postulated a corollary to Godwin’s Law for Phelps? If not, someone probably should.

I think you err in a number of ways in your response:

1. Fred Phelps was denounced soundly at many times in many ways by many people, lay and leadership. He was not “largely ignored”. Dr. Mohler wrote about “Fred Phelps and the Anti-Gospel of Hate”. Shai Linne rapped about Phelps being a false teacher.

The following quote comes from Phil Johnson, and many more could be found:

“Here's a Topeka, Kansas, "Baptist" church that has managed to mangle the gospel so completely that hate, rather than love, is at the heart of the message they proclaim. They picket funerals of AIDS victims, carrying signs saying "No Tears for Queers." This "church" is actually a small cult comprised mostly of "Pastor" Fred Phelps's own offspring and their children. An eye-opening expose of the Phelps clan ("Addicted to Hate," by investigative reporter Jon Michael Bell) is on line, Exhibit A in some court documents in a lawsuit involving a Topeka newspaper.
As a Calvinistic Baptist, I'm embarrassed by the Web presence of this "church." What you'll find here is a radically different gospel from the good news proclaimed in Scripture, so this is an apt candidate for the "really, really bad" category.”

2. It is false equivalence to compare Fred Phelps and Charisma.
• Fred Phelps had a following of perhaps several dozen followers, many of whom were family.
• Charisma claims to reach millions. Unless you can prove otherwise, their claim should stand as legitimate, since they are in a position to know their circulation and readership.
• Fred Phelps was not propped up by a single influential leader or well-known figure.
• Charisma is propped up by well-known and influential leaders such as Michael Brown, who took such offense at Dr. MacArthur pointing out charismatic errors. Michael Brown is a frequent contributor to the publication the Jennifer serves as news editor.
3. You say that it is “not necessary” for Charisma (and presumably like publications and media empires) to be rebuked/corrected. I won’t take the time to build the case in this response, but I would point you to much of Dan’s and Phil’s writing on the topic to dispute that assertion.
4. Your assertion that biblical charismatics instead spend their time “studying and apply Scripture” sets up a false dichotomy – there is no either/or here. Clearly there is room and biblical instruction to both study and apply Scripture and correct false teaching.
5. I think you miss Dan’s age-old argument that “cautious” charismaticism *necessarily* leads to this sort of thing. I won’t re-make Dan’s argument here.

Where you and I agree is that Charisma should receive the same response from biblical charismatics as Phelps got from Calvinistic Baptists. With Phil’s quote above as “Exhibit A”, I’d love to see prominent biblical charismatics responding to Jennifer and Charisma in like fashion.

Thanks for the interaction.


Michael Coughlin said...

Derek - You said "3) On what basis do you give your answer to number 2?" The basis for me is my 10 years as a conservative Pentecostal, then 13 years in close fellowship with Reformed-Baptist-type continuationists. NONE of my pastors or friends in either context would ever take this stuff seriously.

Let me clarify. I'm guessing you don't mean to imply that you, your pastors and your friends are the standard by which we would test prophecy?

Assuming that isn't what you meant - you didn't actually answer the question. The fact that you find this woman's prophecy laughable isn't a very good test. The Apostle Peter found Jesus' statement that He would die abhorrent, and he was wrong.

So, let's start this way - can you give me an example of a prophecy that "[your] pastors or friends in either context would ever take ...seriously."

Maybe if we have something to work from, we can understand better how to know which prophecies we can ignore, and which ones we should heed.

THEOparadox said...


You have made a lot of excellent points, and perhaps the Phelps comparison was not a great one. However, was there any merit in any of my comments? You may need to have the gift of discernment in order to answer that question correctly [wink].

I think you misquoted me as saying it is "not necessary" for Charisma to be rebuked/corrected. On the contrary, it is necessary for godly shepherds to protect the sheep from false doctrine, and I have already affirmed this besides mentioning how I saw positive examples of it firsthand within the more conservative charismatic/continuationist/pentecostal circles. Very few rebukes have ever been as strong as those issued by David Wilkerson against the shenanigans of charismatic false teachers. Additionally, one of the most powerful condemnations of Word-Faith heresy came from Pentecostal D.R. McConnell in his book, "A Different Gospel."

Apparently I failed to make this point with complete clarity; however, the intended message was that there is a proper time and place for all of these rebukes, and your everyday run-of-the-mill Biblical continuationist/charismatics (and even conservative Pentecostals) are still going to be too focused on other things to rebuke every single instance of error in parts of the movement with which they do not at all identify. There is no false dichotomy here, it is more a matter of emphasis.

I also appreciate the interaction and opportunity to think through these issues with you.


THEOparadox said...


You will need to refer to my answer to #2 in order to correctly interpret my answer to #3. I'll put both answers together plainly: based on 20+ years of experience with Biblically focused non-cessationists of varying theological stripes, I can confidently say that they don't spend their time trying to figure out whether some alleged prophecy made by some alleged Christian leader in some faraway place is legitimate. That is not where they focus their time and attention. They are invested much more in their Bibles and their local fellowships. Prophecies that are important for them are likely to be occurring in the place God has stationed them.

For those who believe the gift prophecy continues, the standard for judging any prophecy should be the same objective standard that must judge everything: the 66 books of the Canon. The Bible's teaching is the criterion.

According to the Bible (in I Corinthians 14) a prophecy must meet the following metrics before it can even be considered as potentially legitimate:
-speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation
-builds up the church
-not for unbelievers but for believers
-convicts unbelievers and calls them to account, disclosing the secrets of their hearts and leading them to worship God and acknowledge His presence among His people
-orderly (2 or 3 speak) and considered carefully (weighed by the others)
-all believers may participate
-leads to the learning and encouragement of all
-results in peace rather than confusion
-those who prophesy must acknowledge that the written Scriptures are God's commands
-done decently and in order
-occurs in the context of a genuine (though not perfect) local assembly

All of these can easily be picked out of the text, verbatim in many cases and implied in others.

I would suggest that this is a great starting point for anyone who believes that I Cor. 14 is a sufficient, error-free and reliable revelation of the Biblical way to handle the gift of prophecy, and that the gift continues today. If you want to make the subjective judgment of whether or not a particular prophecy ought to be taken seriously, first ask whether it meets the objective criteria given to us in the Bible.

Note that Paul says, "When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation." All of those things are to be judged by the Bible. Just as we judge a hymn or teaching by its agreement with Scripture and sound (i.e. Biblical) doctrine, any prophecy must be measured by the the same criteria.

As my Pentecostal friends used to say, "If it's new it isn't true, because it it was true it wouldn't be new." They were referring to the fact of a closed Canon, because they never viewed prophecy or any other gift of the Spirit as equal or comparable to God's objective revelation in the Bible.

Blessings friend,

Michael Coughlin said...

Thanks, Derek - so Prophecies that are important for them are likely to be occurring in the place God has stationed them.

Can you support that with scripture? And can you define "place?"

And I would still be interested to hear of a prophecy you think should be taken seriously.

And how do you know? I was at church the other night and one guy wanted to pave the parking lot and another guy wanted to wait and see what it would cost first. Neither of them stated it was a prophetic word from God...but what if we missed it and aren't in His will now? How is the church supposed to discern that? I don't know of any scripture which speaks directly against either of their ideas.

Enjoying the discussion, too.


THEOparadox said...


The "place" where prophecy properly occurs, if I am reading Scripture correctly, is within the context of the local church. This is supported by I Cor. 14 and every instance of the gift of prophecy in the book of Acts, unless I am mistaken in my reading of those passages. Do you see a different "place" for the gift of prophecy, as exercised by the New Testament Church, to legitimately occur?

The prophecies to take seriously are those that accord with the written Word, and which, at a minimum, meet the guidelines suggested in my previous comment (i.e. the teaching of I Cor. 14), or a more complete set of Scriptural guidelines if someone has developed it (and I would guess they have).

An example: should the Holy Spirit prompt someone in your church, in a more or less spontaneous manner, to speak out with strong encouragements about the need to trust God in the midst of suffering--and the next day our Sovereign God allows you to experience a car crash that takes the lives of your family and leaves you hospitalized for months--I would think that this was a legitimate use of the gift of prophecy which you should take very seriously. It would, of course, be a subjective judgment; however, since the prophecy encouraged you to obey the clear teaching of Scripture, it was at least not a false prophecy and something to grieve over or criticize, right? Or should such a prophecy be rejected as something which can no longer be done today because it threatens the integrity of the Canon and leads people into all sorts of theological messes, and is directly related to the kinds of things done by Charisma editors? I don't think the prophecy in my example would be any of those things. Do you?

Now, a cessationist might accept the example I have given but call it something other than prophecy. A Biblical continuationist calls it prophecy. Fair enough. Both, I think, would view it as bringing encouragement, consolation and edification to the church, and agree that this is important to do. Both would see it as subordinate to Scripture and something that should be weighed carefully in light of Scripture. Neither would call it a "false prophecy" (I hope). Both would roundly condemn the false prophecies and unbiblical theology of people like Rick Joyner. So, what were we disagreeing about again? Somehow I have forgotten.

I gladly fellowship with Bible-centered people on both sides of the discussion because, in practice, they actually agree on most points. I have never met a cessationist who does not want to have believers building one another up and encouraging one another, and to have unbelievers called to account and falling on their knees in recognition of God's presence, or for all things to be done decently and in order--just as Biblical continuationists do. And I have never met a Biblical continuationist who puts the gift of prophecy on a par with Scripture or allows unscriptural weirdness to occur under the banner of "spiritual gifts."

Whether or not to pave the parking lot is probably not a subject that the gift of prophecy is going to address directly (is it for the encouragement, edification and consolation of the believers? Will it call unbelievers to account?). However, the necessity of using wisdom in making such decisions might be an admonishment given through the prophetic gift. If Paul had listed "specific instruction to the church about practical daily decisions" as a subject of the prophetic gift in I Cor. 14, I would have to give a different answer. Fortunately, Scripture is perfect in the way it guides us on this topic.

I hope this long comment sufficiently answers your questions and is a blessing to you.

In Christ,