10 August 2009

Faith vs. Gullibility; Wisdom vs. Skepticism

by Phil Johnson

    charismatic reader took me to task for using the word unverifiable to describe the majority of miracles claimed by modern charismatic faith-healers. That's the language of unbelief, he said. You are making a negative confession.

Extreme gullibility is not true faith, I answered. I have implicit faith in the Word of God. But when today's charismatic celebrities make fantastic or outlandish claims, it's appropriate to seek verification. After all, Paul cited more than 500 eyewitnesses who could substantiate the reality of Christ's resurrection. Why should I take modern anecdotal accounts at face value? Especially when someone with a questionable track record like Rheinhard Bonnke claims he raised an embalmed corpse from the dead and Pat Robertson promotes the story on The 700 Club. It's reasonable to scrutinize such claims with care instead of credulity.

He replied:

Forgive me, Phillip, but your demand for proof has the taste and feel of the devil in it. "Throw yourself down from here if you are really the son of God . . ..Make these stones into bread IF you are really the Son of God . . . Go ahead and prove that you can do these things!!!!!"

I hope you are not offended, but that's exactly how all your talk about "verification" sounds to me.

I'm not offended. I can understand how my position might come across like that, and I realize there's a danger of stepping across the line into sheer skepticism. Jesus Himself did not indulge the curiosity of those who wanted Him to show them miracles as mere novelties. He refused to turn His ministry into a traveling show where miracles were done on stage to heighten the sensationalism. (Again, that sets him apart from Bonnke, Robertson, Hinn, and friends.)

But try to hear what I am saying. I don't for a moment doubt God's power to do miracles or to heal. I am not asking someone to do miracles just to put on a sensational show. I don't think it would be right to do that, and in fact one of my complaints against charismatic media figures is their tendency toward sensational on-stage shows, while desperate people are suffering in real wheelchairs at the back of the auditorium. I am saying, "Come off the stage and go to the back of the auditorium and heal some truly disabled people, if you really have the power to heal."

There is no record that anyone ever made such a challenge to Jesus. There was no need to make such a challenge. He did not need to prove that His miracles were genuine; they were obviously so. Furthermore, He healed people who were truly in hopeless straits, and He healed them all, with a hundred-percent success rate. Scripture repeatedly stresses this (Matt. 4:24; 8:16; 12:15; Lk. 4:40; 6:17-19).

We are supposed to test all things by the standard of Scripture, and since there is a such vast discrepancy between the kind of healings that are recorded in Scripture and the stuff we see on TBN, it seems not only fair to ask for authentication, but also I believe it is our clear duty. Too many of these healing evangelists have already been unmasked as charlatans. They are a stain on the church and a reproach to the name of Christ.

Remember, too, that we are also—commanded—to test all things (1 Thess. 5:21).

Maybe it would be wise to concern yourself with your own stuff and leave Brother Hinn alone. If he is a fake, my God is big enough to take care of him.

And God will indeed take care of him in His time. Nonetheless, we are still commanded to test all things. Consider this: if Peter had taken the approach with Simon Magus that you propose taking with Hinn and his ilk, the early church would probably have been overrun with charlatans, too. Or if Paul had taken such an approach with the Galatian legalists, the church might not have endured through into the second century.

Phil's signature


mikehoskins said...

Amen! I left a denomination that did not properly discipline Benny Hinn for his tritheism (he taught that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each has a body, soul, and spirit as we do, in Good Morning, Holy Spirit).

Hinn was the same "preacher" that had his audience repeat "I am a little god; I am a little Messiah."

He also claimed that babies originally came out of the side of woman (like Eve), until childbirth was cursed. Hinn taught that Adam had the same power as God since he was created in God's image. According to Hinn, Adam had the ability to fly, since Adam had dominion over all creatures. He teaches the force of faith, via the spoken word. Numerous times, he had prayer cards robbed of their money and discarded without praying for people. Then again, he has prophesied death to those who speak against him ("the Lord's anointed") which never happened.

Last I checked, all that totally qualifies Hinn as a false prophet, according to the entirety of both Deuteronomy 13 and 18.

Brother? While I cannot rightly judge his soul, I am commanded in places like 1 + 2 Timothy, Titus, and even Matthew 7 to judge his actions and teaching. And, by the way, numerous times, people have gone to Hinn privately, with a witness or 2, and then publicly, but he refuses to either hold a conversation or to repent of his heresy.

As I alluded above, I left the Assemblies of God due to this and their lack of discernment with Hinn and the entire Word of Faith movement. How can I personally have far more discernment than denominational leaders?

I since have become Reformed, thank God.

Mike Riccardi said...

Well-tempered and well-reasoned response, Phil.

I really appreciate all the Pyros' teaching on 'da Gifts.' It's been a help to me.

And hey, enjoy your trip down under with Dr. O.

Jon said...

My parents and myself just watched Justin Peters series on the WoF movement. I also had my parents listen to MacArthur's first sermon on his Charismatic Chaos series. These false teachers need to be exposed, but what makes me mad is how a lot of the secular public thinks that the WoF and the charismatic movement in general are representative of true biblical Christianity.

Anonymous said...

FULL GOSPEL: Yeah? So what?


Mike Bickle took the words right out of my mouth when he said he can't stand most charismastics. (He and I both are charismatic believers, but we also recognize proper priority in maturity/wisdom/servitude.)

The difference is fruit.

Anonymous said...

Ironically Phil's own arrogant and quite silly call for "verifiability" is manifestly the very gullibility he claims to disdain in usual Romans 2:1 fashion that cessationists (like charismatics!) rarely admit in their sad spiritual blindness unwilling to admit to their own sin (1 John 1:10, like charismatics!), that one can truly and certainly know ALL that has happened in the world at any given time in any given place, something no reasonable person believes, only someone with an agenda/axe to grind and clearly not open to truth or reality, as is the case with most of the MacArthur/cryogenic camp.

Strange how groundlessly the cessationist arguments claim to be Biblical when one need only read them to see the agenda-driven anecdotal nature of them they claim to decry in others (e.g. TMS's Mayhue's embarrassingly specious and infantile "Alarmed By The Voice Of Jack Deere" hit piece that sounds like something from a Charisma or a Bible college freshman, not the dean and professor of a seminary), especially arguments from silence the pretend to be convincing about what actually has happened in either world history in general or Biblical history in particular. No doubt it will convince other cessationists, but only embarrass those who take God's Word of history (His story) rather more seriously and know the extreme difficulty (spoudazo, 2Tim 2:15) it is with which one addresses either; how vividly I remember my college days trudging home with countless books by which to make the sometimes vain attempt of deciphering what actually happened or was thought with major historical figures or events, e.g. how much Queen Elizabeth I' was involved in the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, and how much she herself was involved in plots on Elizabeth's own life, a task made no less easier by the inconvenient fact of history that the winner gets to write it!

Considering the tragic, irresponsible falsehoods MacArthur's "Charismatic Chaos" has related about friends, it's been some struggle to retain my respect for him as a Bible teacher, though my own sinfulness has been very helpful in that regard. Would that charismatics and cessationists were more inclined to keep that in mind when pointing the finger at one another as Word and Spirit are equally lacking and needed today as a bird cannot fly with only one wing, both sides sadly mostly oblivious to that very painful fact evidenced by the woeful state of the Church in the west for which both sides are guilty, the usual condition of a divorce that is only rarely if ever one party's fault.

Thank God Spurgeon was not a cessationist. It's remarkably ironic how the cessationist, like the synergist and papist they claim to oppose, use the very same approach to overthrowing Scripture for their own agenda that is so appealing to the slavers pride and flesh, as Sam Storms and others have remarked as God freed them from their enslavement.

I love John MacArthur for his Bible teaching, not the dishonest delusions of his anticharismatic agenda seen in Charismatic Chaos, not only with no basis in Scripture, but quite hostile to it when taken as a whole versus the usual proof-texting with which all are tempted to err. As with the fact that there are many inconsistent synergists and papists, how thankful I am that there are many inconsistent cessationists (and definitely charismatics!) on whom God has mercy, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, etc. (Eph 6:12).
Part 1 of 2 due to size limits

Anonymous said...

From Sam Storms's "Are miraculous gifts for today?"
“While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, ‘There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence!’ A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, ‘Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?’ ‘Yes,’ replied the man, ‘I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and, under his preaching, by God’s grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place; Mr. Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took ninepence the Sunday before, and that there was fourpence profit out of it. I did take ninepence that day, and fourpence was just the profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul through him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul’” (The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon [London: Curts & Jennings, 1899], 2:226-27).
Spurgeon then adds this comment:
“I could tell as many as a dozen similar cases in which I pointed at somebody in the hall without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved by the Spirit to say it; and so striking has been my description, that the persons have gone away, and said to their friends, ‘Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did; beyond a doubt, he must have been sent of God to my soul, or else he could not have described me so exactly.’ And not only so, but I have known many instances in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge their neighbours with their elbow, because they had got a smart hit, and they have been heard to say, when they were going out, ‘The preacher told us just what we said to one another when we went in at the door’” (ibid., 227).
John Piper has also related to receiving similar words from God about/for his congregation's encouraging/challenging. One can only wonder what God would have cessationist preachers like MacArthur share with their congregations if they didn't (for now) have Him locked up in their little cessationist box; may His irresistible grace many profess soon explode it as He did with Sam Storms and take them captive by His amazing grace as He has him! Soli Deo Gloria!
Russ Davis russedav@a4isp.com
Part 2 of 2 due to size limits

Anonymous said...

Mike Hoskins irrational hate for Hinn betrays him regarding "I am a little Messiah" since that is exactly what "Christian" means. Cessationist irrationality knows no bounds, just like those they condemn, as Romans 2:1 makes clear.
When will ALL the church repent and quite the sinful finger pointing with four pointing back at the satan (accuser) and the thumb pointing up to God calling down judgment on us, Lord have mercy.

DJP said...

Beauty. In one post, Russ pulls the cover off all the "reformed" "continuationt" cries of, "Oh no no no, I'm not with Hinn! Don't lump me with him!"

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

Oh, come on, Chad.

Every time Russ does that, (A) it's funny, and (B) it demolishes the ongoing attempts to make that marriage work.

You can't buy the damage Russ does to his own position from within.

Chad V. said...

Woops, hit the trash can button...

What I said was stop using the word "reformed continuationist". It's and oxymoron and it's isn't reformed.


I know Dan, I'm with you. It's a word that just grates on the ears.

Mike Riccardi said...

...Part 1 of 2 due to size limits...

The first sign that there's a problem...

Chad V. said...

Now thats' funny.

By the way, I never can figure out what Russ is talking about.

DJP said...

Chad, I'm here to help.

Here's the essential Russ:

1. He really, really wants you to know he's a "reformed" "charismatic"

2. He's really, really angry, with that kind of anger that destroys all humor and self-awareness

3. Anyone who disagrees with him is arrogant and a host of other baaad things (the irony here is completely un-self-detected)

4. Repeat #1 and #2 until he's through venting, then leave with some sort of pious phrase.

5. Next time modern Charismaticism is Scripturally critiqued, repeat ##1-4.

David Kyle said...

I for one, would like to see Russ come out with his own blog.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

What's wrong with warning against gullibility?

What's wrong with warning against false teachers?

Tom Austin said...

And a note to the "tone" police:

A reader says that Phil's position sounds Satanic, and how does he respond?

...I'm not offended. I can understand how my position might come across like that, ....

That tone is a whole lot more irenic than what I would have used, and much more so than the tone that those critics themselves often employ.

(Side note- Was comparing someone to Satan the pre-WWII version of Godwin's Law?)

olan strickland said...

Sorry Russ, but we are not even itsy bitsy teeny weeny Christs or gods - there are attributes of God that are incommunicable!

Chad V. said...


Thanks, that helps.

Bruce said...

Jesus did not heal everybody, the Evangelist's summary aside, but when he went to the company of unbelievers, he did no great miracles, only healed a few people, as the scripture says. Me, I'd love to "only heal a few people" but of course, IN GENERAL, Jesus healed everybody. Some of those he healed were hard cases too, I'm thinking of the blind man who took two or three passes.

Heretics and false prophets aside: There are incommunicable attributes of God, yet by the promises of God, we participate in his nature. Unless scripture taught otherwise, I would have assumed the present indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and His holiness would be one of those incommunicable attributes. As the church fathers teach, we are caught up in God by God communicating His nature to us in some real way, and this will be consummated at the final Day.

danny2 said...

i was raised from the dead.

at least, that's what ephesians 2 says. however, sadly when i speak to some who want to affirm these (physical) resurrections in third world countries, their response is to minimize the "spiritual" resurrection for the sake of the physical. "well, yeah, all believers are. i'm talking about something really special," they'll say.

isn't the physical less profound? for won't that body simply die again some day?

olan strickland said...

That same Holy Spirit is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent - attributes we'll never possess because they are incommunicable.

Aric said...

Phil said,"I am saying, "Come off the stage and go to the back of the auditorium and heal some truly disabled people, if you really have the power to heal."" Exactly.

Wouldn't it strengthen the validity of the WOF movement to voluntarily document and promote the actual healings being done? I mean, if you have this extra-special ability/knowledge, shouldn't you do everything within your power to make sure a dying world hears of it and knows that it is actually happening, so that people can flock to the meetings to be healed (and presumably hear the Gospel and be healed spiritually)?

Jugulum said...


Wonderful critique of gullibility vs faith. Whether we're talking about "gifts of healing" or simple cessationist-compatible claims of answered prayer, the issue is the same: Christians are not called to gullibility. (Your title is great.)

We should be willing to ask ourselves, "Is this obviously not psychosomatic? Is it obviously not just hyped-up?"

For that matter, if someone says that God healed their migraine... Our choice isn't between belief and disbelief. There's also, "I'm glad that your pain is gone; I don't know whether God miraculously healed you."

Jugulum said...


I can't really follow why you think Russ's behavior demonstrates anything about anyone other than Russ.

Chris H said...

In a study of Acts, one of my friends in my small group noted how amazing it was that Luke would be so specific about events. Paul left on this ship with this captain; it was this day in this city near this place; it was this ruler that Paul spoke to; etc. If anyone wanted to check up on Luke, he could have very easily done so.

Contrast that with Todd Bentley (remember him?) who claimed a number of people had been healed/raised from the dead. No names, no places.

Given the things we know about the "ministries" of Bentley/Hinn/Ahn/etc, it shouldn't any surprise they want nothing verifiable. Paul's ministry, however, had nothing to hide and needed no exaggeration.

Roberto G said...

"Extreme gullibility is not true faith, I answered. I have implicit faith in the Word of God."
What does implicit faith in the Word of God mean?

Jugulum said...

"Implicit faith" means trusting without question or doubt.

Anonymous said...

Further to Jugulum...it means trusting without question or doubt, because you have good reason to. (As compared to, because you'd really really like it to be true.)

Roberto G said...

I thought the concept of "implicit faith" was a Roman Catholic teaching that covered for RC believers' beliefs in the Church's teachings not explicitly known. In other words, "implicit faith" for protestants was synonymous for gullibility and ignorance.
If the good reason to beieve something is knowing the relevant Bible passage, isn't this just faith in the Word of God?

Jugulum said...


Are you sure? I thought "implicit trust" just referred to the level of trust. It could be justified implicit trust, or unjustified implicit trust.

Jugulum said...


Hmm... OK, I shouldn't have assumed. "Implicit faith" does seem to be a technical term. So I'm not sure how Phil was using it.

lawrence said...

chad v,

What term do you think reformed continuationists should use for themselves?

Mike Westfall said...

Talk about gullible, I thought this guy was shut down years ago after it was conclusively proven that he was a charlatan. Yet people are apparently still clamoring for a healing from him.

Tim Faulted said...

To heighten a physical resurrection over the spiritual resurrection is truly unpalatable!

David Kyle said...

The thing that puts this whole argument to bed for me is the apostles never needed to appeal for money and increased donations to get the word out. When have you never heard Hinn, Duplantis, Copeland, Dollar, etc ask (and even demand at times) for money?

There is no humility among this crowd, just prideful pushing and shoving to the be the next one on the top of the heap of extra-biblical revelation.

Their love of money and a high living lifestyle give them away... wolves... period.

I am tempted to past in here the entire second chapter of 2 Peter, but here is just a snippet...

By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; ~2 Peter 2:3a

They are not brothers, they are not Christians, they are wolves, false prophets, false teachers, liars, deceivers, and blemishes on all that is Christian.

Don't get me started.

Jugulum said...


By the way, regarding the idea that "reformed continuationist" is an oxymoron:

I'd encourage you to think about the difference between Sola Scriptura and Solo Scriptura. (i.e., the difference between "sole authority" and "sole infallible authority")

olan strickland said...

In light of the context of Phil's post, his use of "implicit faith" means "unquestioning; absolute" faith verses gullibility.

olan strickland said...

and skepticism - of which he was being accused.

The Squirrel said...

God never desires us to be gullible, as all the warnings against false teachers attest.

The two wisest questions a person can ask are, "Who says?" and "How does he know?"


olan strickland said...

Devour the nuts squirrel :)

The Squirrel said...

Olan, Nuts make good snacks, not good preachers!



olan strickland said...

Squirrel - LOL! I might twitter that quote!

David Kyle said...

It is foolish, I believe, when one fails to compare anyone's teaching with the Word of God. False teaching as a rule is forced to resort to extra-biblical revelation; when that happens all sorts of red flags and alarms should be going off.

The question is why would anyone not do that? And if one does compare and finds a deviation from the Word of God and chooses to ignore it, how does that constitute “faith”? At best you can only call that gullible.

Roberto G said...

"In light of the context of Phil's post, his use of "implicit faith" means "unquestioning; absolute" faith verses gullibility."
"and skepticism - of which he was being accused."
Why not just faith in the Biblical miracles, signs, wonders, etc.?
One thing is clear, the assumption we should unflinchingly embrace contemporary claims of miracles by those who's theology is sub-Christian is not pleasing to God and is contrary to His Word.

John said...

Hello Russ let me introduce you to the period (that thing that the grammar police tell us so viciously that I am perplexed and hurt that it should go at the end of a sentence) that you might want to put at certain spots "." where your ideas might at one point want to terminate because sometimes the egregious practice of reformational continuationist pigs is to Satanically presume to construct a thought in the form of subject, verb, predicate, and is all that they in their infantile minds can comprehend in the delusion of their demonic limitations.


Matt said...

I have a quick question for Phil or Dan. So my question is about how I always see charismatics quoting Spurgeon as one of their own. This dude Russ had some quotes from his autobiography where he claims revelation about specific people. I've heard a number of charismatics cite this past example.

However, from one of his sermons, The Comforter, I read-

"I have heard many fanatical persons say the Holy Spirit revealed this and that to them. Now, that is very generally revealed nonsense. The Holy Ghost does not reveal anything fresh now. He brings old things to our remembrance. 'He shall teach you all things, and brings all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have told you.' The canon of revelation is closed, there is no more to be added; God does not give a fresh revelation, but He rivets the old one. When it has been forgotten, and laid in the dusty chamber of our memory, He fetches it out and cleans the picture, but does not paint a new one. There are no new doctrines, but the old ones are often revived. It is not, I say, by any new revelation that the Spirit comforts. He does so by telling us old things over again...Believer! there is enough in the Bible for thee to live upon forever. If thou shouldst outnumber the years of Methuselah, there would be no need for a fresh revelation. If thou shouldst live til Christ should come upon the earth, there would be no necessity for the addition of a single word...still there would be enough in the Bible to comfort thee without a supplementary sentence."

So if any of you guys help clear up this apparent contradiction it would be much appreciated.

Jugulum said...

Revenge of the Nerdz,

Here's a possible resolution. I don't know whether it's the right explanation, but it's a suggestion.

In your quote, Spurgeon is talking about doctrine. Teachings. In the other quote, it's similar to John 4:17-19, and has nothing to do with teachings.

Those might have been distinct categories in Spurgeon's mind.

And if it's a valid distinction, it would play out like this: God might give someone information like "Someone in the room found out yesterday that she's pregnant, and she's planning to get an abortion." But if someone says "You should believe I'm right because God revealed it me me," you're safe ignoring them.

Chad V. said...


Way to torture a distinction.

What good does it do to say you got a revelation or a prophecy or knowledge from God but it's not infallible? A word of God not equal to the word of God?

Jugulum said...


Which distinction? Sola vs solo scriptura? Or the Spurgeon quote?

Because the utility of God informing you that someone in the room is planning to get an abortion seems pretty obvious. (You don't have to be an authenticated mouthpiece of God in order to use that information.)

Chad V. said...

Who gives a rip what Spurgeon said about it? Last time I checked he wasn't the authority by which we measure biblical truth.

Are you proposing God's fallible revelation to you over and against his infallible revelation which is the Scripture?

And umm... just because some one received information in a supernatural way doesn't mean it came from God. Satan speaks to people too you know.

Jugulum said...


I take that to mean you understand the distinction now.

As for taking fallible revelation over the infallible revelation of the Scripture--absolutely, I agree with you. In fact, I would say that if someone says "You should believe I'm right because God revealed it to me," then you're safe ignoring them.

But I think you missed the context. Revenge of the Nerdz asked if anyone could explain an apparent contradiction between the two Spurgeon quotes. I offered a possible explanation of how Spurgeon could say both things. That's all it was intended to be. Not a defense of whether Spurgeon was right; a suggestion of what he might have been thinking.

David Kyle said...

Hey Russ,

You defended Benny Hinn... Benny said this:

"Had the Holy Spirit not been with Jesus, He would have sinned" (Good Morning Holy Spirit, first edition, 1990, p135)

Do you believe that and if you do, on what grounds?

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...


I always understood the distinction. "Reformed Continuationist" is an oxymoron.

Matt said...

I had considered that distinction but came to disagree.

As to what Spurgeon meant, he speaks of doctrine but he also speaks of "comfort". The sermon is specifically on the Holy Spirits role as comforter. I should have included more context but was trying to keep it short. Directly before the quote I posted he says-

"The second thing is, the comfort. Now, there are some persons who make a great mistake about the influence of the Holy Spirit. A foolish man who had a fancy to preach in a certain pulpit, though in truth he was quite incapable of the duty, called upon the minister, and assured him solemnly, that it had been revealed to him by the Holy Ghost that he was to preach in his pulpit..."

I think this sets the context for the rest of the paragraph (which includes the original quote) as being not primarily focused on doctrine but on any modern revelation from God, be it doctrinal or practical. After the original quote in question he goes on "Now, let me just tell you briefly what it is the Holy Ghost tell us." This introduces his next paragraph where he describes the Holy Spirit "comforting" a believer by pointing him to the example and words of Christ in Scripture.

Also, I think that the suggestion you provided sets up a false dichotomy similar to the "logos and rhema" distinction pushed by many in charismatic circles.

Jugulum said...


What? I thought we were talking about the Spurgeon quotes.

You said I raised a tortured distinction. I asked which distinction you were referring to.

There's two entirely separate things going on. I had said to you that "reformed continuationist" is not an oxymoron--basically, that it's only an oxymoron if you get sola scriptura mixed up with solo scriptura.

I also replied to Revenge of the Nerdz, who asked a question about how to reconcile two Spurgeon quotes. (That's where I brought up the thing about abortion, as a comparison to the first quote.)

That's why I asked you which one you were talking about. I was trying to straighten it out.

I took your reply to mean that you were talking about the Spurgeon stuff. Now it looks like you were talking about my solo scriptura comment.

Which was it?

Anonymous said...


I see the distinction that you're offering but I have a question about it (understanding that I'm not asking you to answer for Spurgeon).

You said:

"And if it's a valid distinction, it would play out like this: God might give someone information like "Someone in the room found out yesterday that she's pregnant, and she's planning to get an abortion." But if someone says "You should believe I'm right because God revealed it me me," you're safe ignoring them."

My question would be, if it's really from God doesn't the last statement necessarily follow? And if the last statement doesn't apply, can it be reasonably said that it's from God.

I understand what you're saying, but I'd suggest that it can't be a valid distinction. More and more I have a hard time with anyone saying that anything at all is from God unless they have a chapter and verse.

Anonymous said...


If I may add to the reformed continualist discussion...

I'm with you that it's not hardly an oxymoron. Inconsistent and incorrect, yes. I think it is both those things.
But you're Solo vs. Sola Scriptura distinction is a good one if only to separate Piper from Hinn, for example.
Piper, I think, would get really nervous if someone said 'It's from the Lord' if he couldn't verify it directly from Scripture (as compared to just not contradicting Scripture), Hinn on the other hand....well we all know what he does, and it's not what Piper does.

I think they're both wrong on that but the degree and (I think) the nature of the wrongness is very different.

And yet, Piper is a reformed, continualist. I don't think one could credibly challenge his commitment to the TULIP (which isn't everything, I understand that) or to the 5 sola's. I just think he's inconsistent in his application of Sola Scriptura, or at least is pointing towards a dangerous road.
I pray that he never goes far down that road.

Carlo Provencio said...

I Believe God still does miracles and I believe in the different gifts that the Apostle Paul told us about, but the greatest miracle I have ever seen is the miracle of regeneration! If I can see the miracle of regeneration in the lives of the people I love, I would be absolutely amazed! I was a drug addict for many years, but God gave me a new heart and raised my dead spirit! Talk about signs and wonders! The miracle of the new birth is the greatest miracle that we will ever witness, and you know it by the fruit.

Anonymous said...

I was once a part of the WoF movement, and what really slays me (no pun intended) is WoF's reaction to any kind of criticism. Why such negative, defensive reaction if what is taking place is valid?

As I see it, the signs that were performed by our Lord and the apostles needed no validation for the simple fact that they were clearly identifiable on their face. There was no question whether the lame man was healed, or the blind man given his sight...or the Jairus' daugther was raised from the dead...and I don't recall the apostles ever having to "prove" that they did the signs. Far from it, their opponents sought to silence them for the very reason that their signs were so obvious, and they were performing them in the name of Jesus and preaching the resurrection. They did not have to hide behind threats of "not touching the Lord's anointed" and so forth.

And another thing - even in the face of such signs, people still refused to believe (see John 12:38 for an example). So...what is the purpose of the sign? And, what is more important - the physical manifestation of a miraculous healing or preaching of the Word that leads to repentance and faith and eternal life?

Just some food for thought...

donsands said...
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donsands said...

It's understandable that new converts may believe some of these false testimonies. I did.

However, after I grew in the knowledge of the Word, and saw the true fruit of these false teachers, which is filthy lucre, pride, and pompous attitudes, then the Holy Spirit opens my eyes, and now I'm able to mark those who preach and teach a perverted gospel.

The twisting of the gospel is the heinous sin with these phony balony preachers. They deceive others, and I believe they deceive themselves.

It's difficult to understand why a Bob Tilton, who bears no fruit, but instead ""bears thorns and briers" and so "is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing whose end is to be burned", will still be received by people as an "anointed" man of God. And that goes for so many of these false teachers in the charismatic and penecostal realm. And there are deceivers in every realm. Harold Camping is an example of that.

Jugulum said...


I said,
"And if it's a valid distinction, it would play out like this: God might give someone information like "Someone in the room found out yesterday that she's pregnant, and she's planning to get an abortion." But if someone says "You should believe I'm right because God revealed it me me," you're safe ignoring them.""

You said,
"My question would be, if it's really from God doesn't the last statement necessarily follow? And if the last statement doesn't apply, can it be reasonably said that it's from God."

I don't think it does necessarily follow, no. Or... Well, it depends on what precisely you're talking about. We might actually agree, but be talking about different things.

I've gone one kind of situation in mind--tell me how it fits into what you have in mind.

Situation 1:
Jesus is baptized by John in front of a crowd. God speaks from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son." The whole crowd heard God. They go their separate ways, and tell other people about what happened.

1.) They definitely heard God.
2.) They did not become authenticated prophets.
3.) Someone could ask them, "Why should I believe you?", and they would have no solid answer. Their testimony to what God had said would be fallible.

God can speak to someone without making them an authenticated prophet.

Situation 2:
While she's walking home, God tells someone, "That guy with red hair needs some prayer."

So she goes up and asks him if he needs prayer, and he says, "Yes! I was just asking God for someone to pray with me!"

1.) It's a revelation of information.
2.) The purpose of that information is only to move her to go talk to the guy.
3.) If that happened, why do you think that this would necessarily authorize her to speak for God? (Or is this different from what you had in mind, Daryl? It's what I was talking about, when you replied. It's also what I see in the Spurgeon quote about the shoemaker in his audience.)

P.S. To everyone:
1.) I'm not defending the idea that this happens; we're talking about what's necessarily implied by the idea of God speaking to someone.
2.) I'm not defending the idea that New Testament prophecy is this kind of thing.

Jugulum said...


"I'm with you that it's not hardly an oxymoron. Inconsistent and incorrect, yes. I think it is both those things."

What's the difference between saying it's an oxymoron and saying it's inconsistent.

I do disagree; I think people like Piper may be wrong in their "Reformed continuationism", but the idea is consistent. (Or it can be. I'm sure there are forms of "Reformed continuationism" that are oxymoronic.)

When I see people call it inconsistent/oxymoronic, it seems to be because of the idea that "any kind of modern special revelation whatsoever would contradict sola scriptura".

And the reason I disagree is this:
1.) In arguments with Roman Catholics, Reformed people repeatedly have to correct a misunderstanding of sola scriptura. Catholics think it means "Scripture is the sole source of information", or "the sole authority", or "the sole rule of faith". But actually, that's solo scriptura. Sola scriptura means that Scripture is the sole infallible source/authority. (Things like church tradition or science or philosophy can have some authority, but it's always subordinate authority; their pronouncements are always fallible.)
2.) People like Piper do not believe that there is any infallible source of revelation. They see it more like the two situations I mentioned in my other comment. (And they often say there's no special revelation of doctrine at all.)

That doesn't mean they're right in their Biblical arguments about whether it happens. But I'm truly at a loss to understand how it would violate sola scriptura.

Carl said...

I have to disagree with the Charismatic's analogy and feel it isn't a proper parallel. Looking for verifiable documentation of certain individual's claims of miracles isn't the same as requesting Jesus to perform miracles "if He is the Christ." When Jesus DID perform miracles, there were ALWAYS reliable, believable witnesses and I would imagine many of those witnesses were well-educated individuals. With much of the current crop of alledged miracle workers claiming things as resurrecting a corpse, there seems to never any witnesses nor any paper trail that one would expect if a dead person (whom in most countries would have a death certificate or something similar) was actual resurrected especially in a similar time frame as Jesus did with Lazarus.

Another disimilarity is that whenever Jesus did a miracle IT STUCK. Someone was healed, they stayed healed. However there is plenty of documentation of the people "healed" by such folks and Benny Hinn, Peter Popoff, Todd Bentley, etc. not remaining healed and in some cases, tragically dying shortly afterwards.

I believe God does miraculous healings in this day. Does He require it done through faith healers always? No. Can He use faith healers to do so? He can. However thus far I have seen no documentable evidence that the current crop of "faith healers" have healed anyone other than their pocketbooks and egos. We are to test all things and hold onto that which is good. Well the faith healers I mention above as well as many I haven't mentioned have failed the test and should not be followed. However they prey upon the gullible and the spiritually desperate and IMHO that makes them even more despicable than the typical scam artist.

Carl said...

Russ's fallaciousness makes his whole argument invalid and moot.

Carl said...

One other thought occurred to me (pardon me for the hat trick of posting) -- any TV preacher offering anything along the lines of "miracle water", "miracle cloth", "miracle oil", "miracle toilet tissue" or "miracle ___<*fill in the blank*>___" for a "donation" is pretty much guaranteed to be a charlatan in my book.

DJP said...

Ladies and gentlemen: The Book ... of Carl!


Mike Westfall said...

But what if the "miracle oil" is made from extra virgin olive oil and contains frankincense and myrrh? Surely, then, it's legit and worth the small donation???

Jugulum said...

Sure. Maybe pay for it with gold dust?

mikehoskins said...


Mike Hoskins irrational hate for Hinn betrays him regarding "I am a little Messiah" since that is exactly what "Christian" means. Cessationist irrationality knows no bounds, just like those they condemn, as Romans 2:1 makes clear.
When will ALL the church repent and quite the sinful finger pointing with four pointing back at the satan (accuser) and the thumb pointing up to God calling down judgment on us, Lord have mercy.

I do not hate Benny Hinn, and you don't have a clue what's going on in my heart. Ergo, you have violated Matthew 7:1. You have judged by a wrong standard. I rebuke you for it. May you repent before God.

In fact, I calmly typed those words this morning and slept well without raising my blood pressure. It's because I wrote them with concern and love, not hate.

This has nothing to do with Pentecostal vs. Charismatic vs Cessationist or Arminian vs. Calvinist, in spite of the areas where this blog has gone today. It is the difference between light and darkness, Scripture and false teaching.

Wow. I have pointed out extremely vigorously well-documented problems with Benny Hinn. The evidence is all over the place on the net, in newspapers, on video, news documentaries, apologetics books, on audio recordings, in Hinn's own books, etc.

The evidence is overwhelming, to say the least. You need to hear Benny Hinn's sheer repeated blasphemy for yourself. Get the tapes/CD's for Hank Hanegraaff's Counterfeit Revival and Christianity in Crisis. You need to hear Benny in his own words and his own voice. Then, go back and read those two books and MacArthur's Charismatic Chaos. Educate yourself before you are judged by following a false prophet!

Also, you cherry picked one problem and tried to dismiss all of Benny's false doctrine on account of it. Yet, you are still incorrect. Christian does not in any way mean "I am a little Messiah." It does mean literally "little Messiah" but was a derisive term used by Romans toward Jewish Converts to Jesus. The derogatory slur was worn with godly pride by believers of Jesus. To put it into context, their identity as "Christians" meant a follower/disciple of Christ. To them, they bowed the knee in humility to Christ and did not claim to be "little Messiahs."

To put Benny in context, he was declaring himself and his audience to be coequal with Jesus! Hear Benny in his own words (see/hear above).

The irattionality you vented on me in particular is because I am "more dangerous" than most here. Why would I say such a silly thing? It's because I not only came out of that background, but I grew up in the largest Pentecostal denomination, went to several of their churches, attended 3 of their colleges, graduated from one of their colleges, knew people at AG headquarters, was friends with many of its future and past pastors, read its books, was a tithing Church member, was involved in teaching and leadership, loved the worship, and on and on and on.

Yet, through God-given discernment, I had to leave. I could not sit idly by while denomination leaders "provisionally ordained" Benny Hinn (the first in AG history,) in spite of teaching tritheism and numerous other blasphemies. Did you know that the AG disciplined him over this? Are you calling them incorrect, too? What about the many others who left over this?

Why am I so passionate? It's because this is harming the Church I love so much. I love you and Benny, too, and pray your eyes will be opened as mine were. Please, please, please pray for discernment from the Holy Spirit and God's Word.

Chad V. said...
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Chad V. said...
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Chad V. said...

Sorry for all the deletes. My html skills seemed to have left me.

Chad V. said...


Ok, let me try it this way.

The distinction you draw between doctrinal revelation and situational revelation is dangerous. If God speaks he is to be believed and obeyed period. It's binding infallible and authoritative or God didn't say it.

A continuationist believes in the continuation of supernatural extra-biblical revelation. Even Piper who is a little softer and consequently more inconsistent than a full-blown charismatic gives tacit consent to the idea that there is still supernatural extra biblical revelation which may be known. He may not only believe it but he at least thinks it's possible.

See here.

Since a continuationist always believes that there is super natural revelation apart from the bible which may yet be known he denies the very heart of Sola Scriptura. The nonsense that men like Hinn and Wilkerson promulgate is exactly what the Reformers were combatting when they coined the term Sola Scriptura. Rome was and still is giving situational revelations as well as doctrinal ones.

Now in the true spirit of Sola Scriptura here's a good quote from A.A. Hodge on what the term precisely means concerning revelation. Hopefully this is helpful.

"It is not meant that the Scriptures contain every revelation which God has ever made to man, but that their contents are the only supernatural revelation that God does now make to man, and that this revelation is abundantly sufficient for man's guidance in all questions of faith, practice, and modes of worship, and excludes the necessity and the right of any human inventions."

A continuationist cannot maintain Sola Scriptura according to it's historic definition and therefore is not Reformed.

Anonymous said...


We're not far off. The kind of thing you were talking about is what I meant. It seems to me that any revelation from God, personal or "scriptural" grants some authority to the one claiming it because they are in a place where they can say "I don't care, God told me so it's true".
As you wondered, I do see those situations as the essentially the same thing. It's information that could not be known without revelation.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't see that kind of a thing happening in Scripture to anyone not labelled as a prophet.

Even in the example of Jesus baptism, wasn't it the disciples who understood and everyone else thought it was thunder? If so, it's a good example of God speaking to apostles and prophets. But either way, I'd say it's a very different situation, unlike any other.

On the inconsistent/oxymoron thing, I don't see those as the same thing simply because I see your example as being inconsistent. That is, I think it's fine to say the God gives no new revelation (as I believe Piper does) but then to say that he told me that you have green hair, and not call that new revelation, seems inconsistent to me.

The oxymoron would be a reformed believer that says "I don't believe in extra-biblical revelation, here's my book on what God is telling the church today, you need to read it."

I suppose the difference is between error and outright ignoring the obvious.

Or maybe I just like Piper so I won't call him an oxy-moron :)

Anonymous said...

This whole thing comes down to how one defines revelation.

SLW said...

When you said,

He healed people who were truly in hopeless straits, and He healed them all, with a hundred-percent success rate. Scripture repeatedly stresses this,

were you taking in account Jesus experience at Nazareth (Mark 6:4-6)?

Jugulum said...


Hmm... Still thinking about some of what you said. Mainly the first paragraph. I was thinking mainly from the perspective of other people being able to question someone who claimed to have heard something from God, not from the perspective of the person claiming it.

The person is a fallible source--but I suppose the person receiving the revelation would have to regard any real revelation from God as infallible. Which introduces another modern, infallible source. Posing a problem for consistency with the historic understanding of sola scriptura.

It raises the question of how people were ever supposed to verify that they were hearing God's voice, even in the Old or New Testament times. (Situations like God whispering to Samuel in the night come to mind--he didn't immediately know that it was God.) It's really not clear to me how that affects things. Reformed charismatics might still have some grounds for argument there; but I'll give it to you that you pointed out a problem that was slipping past me.


"Even in the example of Jesus baptism, wasn't it the disciples who understood and everyone else thought it was thunder? If so, it's a good example of God speaking to apostles and prophets. But either way, I'd say it's a very different situation, unlike any other."

No, not in Mark 1, Matthew 3, or Luke 3. They talk about a voice from heaven. I think you're mixing it up with Saul on the road to Damascus.

But even if it were completely unique in all history--even if God never spoke directly to a crowd like that anytime else--how would that affect the point I was making? That receiving information from God does not automatically imply that you are authorized to speak for him? Doesn't this demonstrate that the idea is coherent?

Are you saying, "But that's the way it always worked in Scripture--if God spoke to someone, then he did enable them to speak as a prophet"? In other words, are you agreeing that the idea is coherent, but it's not the Biblical example for how God actually worked?

Michael said...

Faith, gullibility, wisdom, Skepticism. Big words, loaded words.

I'm happy to talk about common sense and honesty.

If you are going to give glory to God then a healing has to be a healing, not just feeling better about myself or a showy prance around the stage.

Jesus said let your yes be yes and your no be no and I'm pretty sure that carries over into let your healing be a healing.

Michael Hutton,
Ariah Park, Australia

zostay said...

This all comes back to depravity for me. There are no perfect pastors, professors, or witnesses out there. There are no trustworthy authorities except for Jesus Christ and the Bible. Therefore, we all ought to humbly submit to the scrutiny others, especially if we want to lay claim to supernatural authority. These teachers ought to welcome, even demand, others test the strength of their miracles. Each of us are suspect in our motives and actions and the importance of personal accountability cannot be underestimated.

Too often, when I hear of miraculous things, I hear the miracle itself emphasized or the great work of some mission, evangelist, or missionary. What I rarely hear is how God is being glorified. I'd rather we concern ourselves with the souls of men than with some physical healing over which death will ultimately reverse anyway.

Thus, it's not so much that I'm skeptical of miracles. It's that it doesn't really matter anyway unless the primary content of your message is not all about Jesus Christ and his miraculous resurrection. Your miracles don't matter beans next to the gospel.

Chad V. said...


Also, I want to say, sorry about the "who gives a rip... " comment. In reading that back it sounds a lot harsher than it did in my head when I was typing. It wasn't intended to be mean at all but I realize it may have come across that way.

Also, sorry about the earlier confusion but that's just what it was, confusion. We both thought the other was talking about a different subject that what we actually were.

Phil Johnson said...

LW: "were you taking in account Jesus experience at Nazareth (Mark 6:4-6)?"

Yes, of course. Here's what that passage says:

"And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.' And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching."

See also Matthew 13:58: "He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief."

I hope you don't think those texts means the unbelief of the people in Nazareth somehow diminished Jesus' power to do miracles. I realize that a lot of people think those verses mean that in the presence of other people's unbelief, Jesus had limited access to God's power (as if He were impotent to heal without the power of someone else's faith). But that idea is easily refuted by several lines of argument. Among other things, it entails an awfully low view of Christ, who was Himself Almighty God incarnate. He was not thewarted by the limitations, unbelief, or opposition of people.

It seems to me that there are at least two or three more reasonable explanations of Mark 6:5 that do not impinge on a high view of Christ's deity:

1. It may suggest that because of the unbelief in Nazareth people refused to come for healing or miracles the way they did in Capernaum and Jerusalem.

2. It may mean that Christ deliberately limited His ministry--as an act of mercy, so that the exposure to greater light would not result in a worse hardening that would only subject the people of His own hometown to greater condemnation.

3. It may mean simply that because of the deep-seated unbelief and hostility Christ encountered in His hometown, "it would have been useless to the great purposes of his mission to have worked miracles there" (Albert Barnes).

In any case, my statement: "He healed people who were truly in hopeless straits, and He healed them all, with a hundred-percent success rate" is simply a paraphrase of the verses I referenced. All of them state that people with all kinds of afflictions came to Him to be healed, and "He healed them all." He never encountered a case He couldn't heal instantly.

Phil Johnson said...

(I'm reading the comment-thread for the first time today, and I'm answering things in more-or-less reverse order.)


Roberto G: "I thought the concept of "implicit faith" was a Roman Catholic teaching that covered for RC believers' beliefs in the Church's teachings not explicitly known."

Yes, in the mouth of a Roman Catholic, that's what the term means. I wasn't using the expression as a technical term in the RC sense.

The word "implicit" (in the sense I used it) means "absolute, unquestioning." I have absolute, unquestioning, unshakable faith in the truth of Scripture.

The problem with the RC concept of "implicit faith" is twofold: 1) it's supposed to be "absolute, unquestioning faith" in the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, rather than faith in the truth of Scripture alone. 2) The Catholic concept is also sometimes called "unformed faith," because the idea is that one can have this faith apart from knowledge or understanding. It's blind faith--gullibility--devoid of any real content. That's the real achilles heel of the RC notion of "implicit faith."

Calvin deals with this and refutes the Catholic idea of "unformed" or "implicit faith" in the Institutes (3:2:2): "Faith consists not in ignorance, but in knowledge. . . . When the Apostle says, 'With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation' (Rom. 10:10), he intimates that it is not enough to believe implicitly without understanding, or even inquiring."

Yet Calvin also immediately affirms the legitimate variety of "implicit (absolute, unshakable) faith" I'm talking about. He writes: "We grant, indeed, that so long as we are pilgrims in the world faith is implicit, not only because as yet many things are hidden from us, but because, involved in the mists of error, we attain not to all" (3:2:4).

Hope that helps.

Here's a link to that section of the Institutes.

Stefan Ewing said...
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Stefan Ewing said...


Amen. Keep it simple.

That should be the measure of everything a Christian (real or professing) does: does it reflect an awareness of our own sinfulness; and does it exalt Jesus Christ as our Redeemer, Judge, and King?

FX Turk said...

As a full-blown cessationist posting from my iPod, let me hand my continualist brothers a bone: God "saying something" to somebody today does not inherently overturn Sola Scriptura.

For example, if God appeared here in Northeast Canada right now and told me to drive to Montreal immediately, because there's a man with a red suitcase there he wants me to preach the Gospel to, there's nothing anti-biblical or super-biblical about that revelation -- and there's nothing binding in that revelation for anyone but me.

HOWEVER, seeking that kind of revelation is never implied by the Bible as normative. So wasting you time waiting for that stuff is, well, a waste of time.

God is able to communicate like that whenever he wants to. Stop thinking that somehow He's going to communicate that way with you because, biblically, the vast majority of people of faith never get the privilegde.

romans923 said...

Dear Sir:

I have another question. Forgive me, but it has nothing to do with the post, though I enjoyed it thoroughly. On occasion, I have searched your site for answers to questions I have or that friends have raised because I have found a lot of very clear answers here. Can you direct me to any post you have that addresses where the "sinful nature" we have resides? I have been reading a lot of sermons by Piper and John MacArthur to try and understand this concept, but I am looking for a clear explanation of what part of me consists of my "flesh" or "sinful nature". Would you assist me? Again, please forgive me for posting in this manner; it seems to be the best way to correspond with you. V/R

Anonymous said...


It seems a little problematic to say that God gives binding revelation to anyone aside from the Bible, even if it's the kind you're talking about.
If you didn't go talk to that man with the red suitcase, are you in sin? Is it enough to condemn you (pretending for a moment that you weren't already condemned)?

If so, on what grounds. Or at least, on what biblical grounds?

It seems to me that at least some of Scripture is of that nature. God told David to wait until he heard the sound of men marching in the mulberry trees, and then attack. Who is that binding on other than David? And how does that differ from your example?

Just trying to figure this out.

Nash Equilibrium said...

"A fool and his money are soon parted."

Not a Bible verse, but a wise saying nonetheless.

Anonymous said...


I have to admit I am surprised at your comment. I feel like you threw me a bone. A tasty one at that.

Nash Equilibrium said...

I only know of one time in my life when the Lord communicated to me in the way Frank describes. I wasn't seeking it - and I am not seeking a repeat.
I would dare say that if we are seeking it, it pretty much guarantees it isn't going to happen. So that is wise advice Frank gives on the subject.

Brad Williams said...

As a policy, I always wait until after 50 comments on something like this so I can speak and be safely ignored.

One can hardly read through Flavel's "The Mystery of Providence" or Spurgeon's work without running into examples of exactly what Frank is talking about. One that comes to mind especially is an example Flavel gives of the pastor who was stirred by the Holy Spirit in the dead of night to go and visit a man who, it turns out, was about to hang himself and was thus thwarted.

Flavel took such instances as clear evidence of the providence of God. And I do, too. It has never been a spiritual ambition of mine to fit into someone else's definitive category, though at times it has been a fleshly one.

In the course of my duties as a pastor, I have had many opportunities to call church members and offer words of encouragement, exhortation, and rebuke. Often, I have been sitting at my computer just as I am today when some particular friend or acquaintance would spring to mind and I would call just to say hello. Sometimes, they would say that the call was very timely and helpful for them.

Was that extra-biblical revelation of the Holy Spirit? Providence? Does this make me a closet charismatic? Well...honestly, I don't spend a lot of time fretting over such things.

The difference between what I'm talking about and what Phil is warning against here seems light years apart and should be obvious.

One last thing before I go. Dan, if you get this far in the comments, I think you are something else. And I mean that encouragingly. :) I often wonder what lunch with the Pyromaniacs must be like.

Phil Johnson said...

Brad: "The difference between what I'm talking about and what Phil is warning against here seems light years apart and should be obvious."

Exactly. See "Intuition and Superstition" for an extended discussion of this. Also, Here's another post where we discussed the issue tangentially.

SLW said...

Thanks for the engaging response.

Yes, I do see a causal link between the lack of miracles and the unbelief of the people. As you suggested, that was not due to a disruption of power on Christ's part, but I think it is clear (in contradiction to the possibilities you suggested) that Christ did not choose to respond miraculously to unbelief. When he met faith, there was a 100% solution. When he met unbelief, not so much.

I see no reason to not apply the same principle to our lives today, and think that it does just as well to explain the lack of miraculous experience among the skeptics and cessationists today as it did in Christ's. Credulity is a problem, that I will grant you, but it's not like snake oil is a new commodity, sold only since 1906.

Nash Equilibrium said...

but it's not like snake oil is a new commodity, sold only since 1906.

An obvious reference to the Pure Food and Drug Act (of 1906, hence the snake oil comment).

Stefan Ewing said...
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Chad V. said...


I agree with you completely. There is a huge difference between what you described and some one saying "Thus says the Lord, do such and such."

Stefan Ewing said...


Perhaps the place to start is with articles on "depravity," since that is the concept to which you're referring.

Start with this:

B-b-b-b-bad to the bone

And see also the articles linked to from that post.

For all posts under the category "depravity," try this:


Nash Equilibrium said...

PS: and obviously, snake oil sales actually went into rapid decline after the 1906 Act. Look it up.

Stefan Ewing said...

1906!? That's a rather curious coincidence....

DJP said...

....it does just as well to explain the lack of miraculous experience among the skeptics and cessationists today as it did in Christ's


"Just as well."

Which is to say, not. (Good luck fast-talking around why the Holy Spirit violated your principle, to give the gift of tongues to 100% unbelievers in the gift.)

SLW said...

And your basis for calling them unbelievers is... you don't abide the longer ending of Mark?

Regardless, faith or belief isn't in the gift but the person, namely Christ.

Honestly, that was a rather weak rejoinder.

DJP said...

Often one doesn't feel a razor cut right away. QED.

Not one believed, expected, or looked for the gift of tongues. The Spirit did it because He is who Scripture says He is, and does what Scripture says He does (1 Corinthians 12:11) — though not in line with modern fakers and their enablers.

Anonymous said...

Brad: "The difference between what I'm talking about and what Phil is warning against here seems light years apart and should be obvious."

Is the difference between saying "God told me to come over" and saying "It occurred to me that I should come over and, given what then happened, it clearly must have been God", equally light years apart or is it just terminology?

I ask because it's what I often run into when discussing whether God still speaks outside of Scripture. People seem willing to say that it's not the same as God speaking in the Bible until I suggest that it may then be more accurate to say "it occurred to me" and then chalking it up to His providence.

I don't think I'm splitting an unsplittable hair here as the same people also then make the leap to saying that it's OK to stand up in church and say "I have a message from God for our church", more often than not it's pure Scripture but still...that message didn't come to the church today, it came when Paul (or whoever) wrote it down.

Phil Johnson said...


Check out this sermon on Romans 7 for my reply to the question I think you're asking:

"Why Is the Struggle with Sin So Hard?"

Brad Williams said...


At the risk of being flogged after 100 comments, here goes my take.

I try very hard in my ministry not to blame anything that I do on God. Therefore, I never say, "God told me to (insert anything here.)" Perhaps it will turn out in the great day of judgment that the Holy Spirit did indeed prompt me to do things and I obeyed. More often than not, I suppose, my comings and goings will be terribly mixed with my own vanity. We will see what God has done in the Great Day. Until then, I try to walk in humility and with wisdom from the Scripture.

In the interest of total disclosure, I probably wouldn't even make the second statement. Not because I don't believe that God didn't 'prompt' me. I would just say, "Let's thank the Lord God that I came over to see you and disaster was avoided. I am so thankful."

After all, I believe even my breathing and typing is ordained of the Lord. He made my brain and my personality and my ability to emphathize. So, even if I did discern that something needed to be done out of normal human faculties, God is still at the bottom of it.

Probably not the most satisfying answer. But like I said, once you learn to eat and drink to the glory of God, making a timely phone call to a brother or "hitting the nail on the head" of someone's secret sin so squarely that they declare you a prophet is just, well, further evidence of God's ordaining all things for the good of those who love Him.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Stefan - curious: what 1906 event were you referring to that had something to do with snake oil?

Anonymous said...

Brad: "Probably not the most satisfying answer."

On the contrary, it's exactly the answer I had hoped for.


romans923 said...

Stefan and Phil, thank you very much. I appreciate you pointing me in the right direction. I look forward to reading through the material. V/R

Jugulum said...

Brad & Daryl,

Basically, it's about not putting God in a box.

In this case, that means: Don't put God in a charismatic box. Don't assume that if God's going to work, you have to talk about it in charismatic terms. Don't assume that if he isn't doing something on your terms, then he's doing nothing.

Stefan Ewing said...


The Azusa Street Revival, of course!

(And no, I am not knocking Pentecostalism per se...just that what happened in Los Angeles in 1906 eventually paved the way for such modern-day snake oil merchants as Benny Hinn and Peter Popoff.)

SLW said...


Anonymous said...



And, if he puts himself in a box, don't try and extricate him.

Aaron said...

I investigate frauds for a living, including those of a "religious" nature. These faith healers are frauds of the worst kind. They don't take advantage of skeptics, they defraud those who believe in them. It is heartwrenching to listen to people explain how they lost money during a time of emotional turmoil to a fraud. Anybody who defends these frauds loses credibility with me immediately because it violates what I can see with my own eyes. Scripture indicates that the healing by Christ and the apostles
were undisputable.

With respect to tongues, I see no examples of coaching.

mikehoskins said...

@Sir Aaron:
With respect to tongues, I see no examples of coaching.

I don't know if you were being sarcastic or serious (I don't want to misinterpret you, either way).

When I thought I got the gift of tongues at a junior high youth camp (age 12 or so), I heard a camp leader praying with another student around the altar.

It was literally a "repeat after me, you got it, you got it" coaching session.

I do believe the leader and student and I were all very well-meaning but were misled. This kind of coaching, though, was inappropriate.

It is done all the time by WoF preachers, like Rodney Howard-Browne.

donsands said...

I was blessed to fellowship with a missionary couple last evening, who are going back to Papua Indonesia to a tribe they have named "The Bayono tribe", where the Gospel has never reached this small people group of about 400-500.

There's a Christian brother from a near by tribe, the Yali, who has teamed up with this couple to love these people and share the good news of the Word of grace.

This Yali brother, named Benny, was asked to pray for a very sick women in the tribe. (A lot of people die from many illnesses here.) And he said to the elders that he would pray to the Creator God, but that they could not pray to their spirits, so that they would not be able to claim her healing. They said no. Benny said, "Then I can't pray for her."
The woman died.

Next morning they came to Benny and told him, and asked him to pray for her.
He simply knelt down and prayed a simple prayer to the Lord and she sat up, and she asked him to get her some sugarcane. And her stomach which had been swelled was now normal.

This tribe has much darkness, they sacrifice children, and they have sexual practices that are very ungodly, and much more. But God is taking His good news to this people to glorify His Son's name in all the earth.

The main reason these missionaries are going is to take the Word of God, and translate it into their language, which may take them 5 years or so. Incredible couple. The husband is from InterVarsity, and his wife was from the church of the Brethren. They both attended Washington Bible College,and he graduated with a MDiv, and a masters in linguistics.

I was very blessed and encouraged, and thought I'd pass it on.
All praise to Christ our Savior.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Ah, Azuza Street! Thank you. Although a real event, it's one that falls into the same category as other mass hysterias throughout history. Here is a brief article on other mass hysterias, including meowing nuns, and so on:


Aaron said...


I was serious. I have personally been coached to speak in tongues (or should I say attempted because I never did speak in tongues). you as well now. In Scripture, do we find any evidence that anybody was coached? In fact, wasn't the experience the opposite? Nobody was expecting it and it surprised them when they did it.

mikehoskins said...

@Sir Aaron:
Ah, I think your post about "no example of being coached" was merely a typo, then.

Yes, I have heard the crass "who stole my Honda" style coaching on tongues on more than one occasion.

That always bothered me, as did the less crass "just start speaking" to "you got it" version.

I typoed, myself, about supposedly receiving the gift of tongues (not to mention spelling and grammar typos). I meant "The Baptism of the Sprirt with the evidence of speaking in tongues," as I was taught in Pentecostalism. I no longer hold that position, of course.

Yes, in the New Testament, the Spirit simply came on people and they spoke in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. It wasn't some agonizing prayer for a gift you might or might not get. And then again, in 1 Corinthians, tongues are not for everyone: "Do all speak in tongues...."

The 120 in the Upper Room in Acts 1-2 did not ask for tongues as far as is taught in the Scriptures, nor were they coached on how to do it. However, people in other nations and tribes heard a fluent, intelligible message in their own local language and dialect, which surprised their hearers. There were no babbling repeats of short phrases but whole languages.

Even if tongues were for today, what's practiced in churches does not reflect the Scriptures....

Aaron said...


Then later when the Gentiles started speaking in tongues after Peter made his visit...No coaching there either.