08 August 2011

One More Repost in Reply to the Recent Nonsense

by Phil Johnson

Faith vs. Gullibility; Wisdom vs. Skepticism
Showing once more that we have already answered the fatuous charge that cessationism is a variety of atheism.

(First posted 10 August 2009)

    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 Thessalonians 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


Steve Berven said...

"Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." James 3:1

How much more-so a prophet! To me a prophet has the role to reveal God's purpose and will to people. Usually in a cautionary or rebuking way. As with any other teaching, though, the prophet's words have to point back to God.

A prophet doesn't so much reveal something new, something "special," he's usually calling us back to be doing what we shoulda been doing already.

So for a "prophet" to suggest that we should throw off the dusty old shackles of the Scriptures, and glory in some new revelation is harlotry and spiritual deception, plain and simple.

If it doesn't point back to God, and if it can't be supported by the Scriptures, then you can be pretty sure that it's not of God. In that event, we have only a duty, but an obligation to oppose such "teachings."

donsands said...

Nice repost. The sensationalism that people love really does cause problems for the Church. The flesh is weak.

"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."-Phil

You know, Joni after her accident here in Maryland, went to a Kathrine Kuhlman healing conferance to seek God's healing. She shares how bad that experience was for her and for the Gospel.

Thanks TeamPyro for standing on the Word. And for speaking the truth with grace.

Alex A. Guggenheim said...

There are hundreds of burn centers around the country, thousands around the world, that await these healers. None have showed.

Anonymous said...

"He did not need to prove that His miracles were genuine; they were obviously so."

'Nuff said.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Thanks. In saying that you understand the need to eschew gullibility while not crossing over into sheer skepticism, what you are describing is something known as judgement or discernment. And that is exactly the issue that most charismatics can't understand because those qualities have been trained out of them by bad theology. The more a person trains judgement and discernment out of themselves, the more successful they'll be viewed as a charismatic. I know from experience.

FX Turk said...


That's your best comment in 18 months.

DJP said...

Strat, I agree with Frank that it's a golden observation.

BY DEFINITION, those who most need to hear it will not hear it.

lee n. field said...

"A prophet doesn't so much reveal something new, something "special," he's usually calling us back to be doing what we shoulda been doing already.

The OT prophets had a pretty specific role. Some guy standing up in a congregation and free associating on scripture (at best), is nothing like an OT prophet.

hobo soup said...

Great re-post, the last point about Simon Magus and peter is in my estimation, powerful. Thank God for all of you at pyromaniacs.

Bill Honsberger said...

I knew an ORU grad in central Nebraska who was bragging/threatening that he could raise people from the dead. In fact he claimed he had already done so and heres the fun part - if the members of the Bible study he led didn't submit to him - they wouldn't get raised when they needed it! I confronted his arrogant self and asked him to come down to the cemetery and get to work. We had just lost a member of my youth group and this really was lighting me up. He backed off with the usual excuses about no faith, etc.
As a brand new Christian in the early 70's there were stories in my charismatic circles about all the resurrections, perhaps thousands, going on in Indonesia. Guess that didn't quite work out...
I am not against the possibility - God truly can do anything - but I am sick of the manipulation and hucksterism that seems to ALWAYS come with the healer. Can someone name one of them who isn't involved in sexual/monetary/doctrinal scandals?
If you really want some extra thick irony - check out Liardon Roberts (homosexual) video on "God's Generals" - a veritable who's who of moral deviants and great names in the pentecostal world.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Thanks Dan and Frank - appreciate it.

Bill H.:
I'm pretty sure the charismatics in Africa and Indonesia are also claiming that raisings are very common in America, and would also be common where they are, if only Indonesians or Africans weren't so doggone skeptical.
(It's always good to have signs and wonders a good safe, unverifiable distance away).

DJP said...

And aren't they always?

Just like in NT times!

Except, you know, totally different.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Yes exactly that, Dan.

"Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” John Ch. 3.

I notice Nic didn't say "For no one could perform the signs you are claiming to do if God were not with him."

DJP said...

Yeah; "You should have been in Capernaum last week, it was really TURBO!" was not a response Jesus or the apostles ever had to use.

donsands said...

"Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus"

And yet this man needed to be born again, which is a miracle of miracles. Sad, the charasmatics don't focus on this miracle. I would guess the Mahaney's and Grudems do.

The word gulibility sort of struck me, and convicted me of some of my earlier years as a Christian. I thank the Lord for His grace that helped me grow out of this.

I was just talking with a sister in our Lord, and she shared how two of her brothers had died from drugs; one with an overdose, the other shot a gun off in his mouth. And we were able to comfort one another in the truth of God, not any thing else, really, but the truth is amazing when the Holy Spirit fills us and moves upon our hearts and minds.

Aaron said...

It never fails that every time the gifts are discussed, somebody will mention Africa. Somebody always knows a friend of a friend whose fourth cousin's husband heard that churches in Africa are blessed with the gift of healing. Oddly, the anecdotes never end with large numbers of people accepting Christ and being baptized.

DJP said...

It never fails that every time the gifts are discussed, somebody will mention Africa

You know, for some reason this calls to mind a scene from Annie Hall, in a line waiting to enter a theater.

There are rich comic possibilities here. Ending with, "I'm Hutu M'bweebwee, and you know nothing about what is happening in Africa!"

Anonymous said...

And, they say "Africa" as if it isn't an entire continent.

Solameanie said...

Lee's comment about "free-associating" Scripture was pretty good, too.

davidinflorida said...

Great repost, those charismatics can be a real nuisance. It's so good that we have it all together.
How do you explain Mark 16:17-18 and 1Cor 12:27-29, as sometimes they bring up those scriptures in their defense?

Michael Lawmaster said...

One thing that appears to be overlooked by the charismatic world is that “all these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills (1 Cor. 12:11).” This was not self-appointed or ‘anointed’. It did not generate with the creation but it came from the Creator as He willed it to be so. There are too many people today saying “the Spirit told me this” or “God showed me that” or “God is going to show up at such-and-such a place on this date” or “the Holy Spirit is coming from the left side of the auditorium...He is passing this way” and yet, there are a multitude of inconsistencies, a plethora of ‘prophecies’ which do not come to pass, and a whole lot of hot air that contradicts Holy Scripture.

In contrast to what is ‘claimed’ to be from God nowadays, there is great beauty, truth, and consistency in the Trinity as revealed in Holy Scripture and verses 4-6 of chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians demonstrates it well: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”

Regarding the Spirit: The Holy Spirit is first of all God, He is Holy, He is the Spirit of Truth, and He is the Spirit of Christ. There is no darkness, confusion, error or division with the Holy Spirit [unlike what can be seen and heard and in charismania]. Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” In John 15:26 Jesus says; “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” And a vast host forget 27a; “And you also will bear witness...” The truth is the Apostle Paul did not go around the mediterranean world searching for the latest chariot he could con somebody into buying for him so he could say: “Hey look what God has given me.” Nor did he go on a free luxury cruise to Italy in order to check out the posh cribs in Rome and purchase one from the sale of all his parchments in order to validate his message. Reality is the Apostle Paul bore witness to Christ, boasted in the cross and proclaimed the Gospel. Such a different message than the one coming out of charismania these days.


Michael Lawmaster said...


Jesus goes on to beautifully display love, care, compassion and concern for those whom the Father has given to Him by sending them the third person of the Trinity, telling them who He is, of His work and what He will do in verses 4b-15:

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

Regarding the Lord: I don’t think “Lord” was arbitrarily thrown into this verse. The Lordship of Christ must be present. There must be a humble, submission to God. Abiding in His Christ’s Word and dividing it rightly is not an option for those who belong to Him.

Even a casual glance at what comes out of the charismatic world will reveal just one of the errors to be: their focus and worship is off of Jesus Christ and on self and this world.


BB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BB said...

Mr. Lawmaster,

Great points. I'll add another to the heap of straw that has already killed the charismatic camel.

That is this, that some try to ORDER around the Holy Spirit as if they were God's master???

Some thought, however unaware or not of this, that they could do such a thing. It came out in the way some talked about the Holy Spirit and prayer concerning the Holy Spirit.

It is really similar to how Roman Catholic "priests" think that they are ORDERING Christ to come down and sacrifice Himself again and again for the communion (Catholic Eucharist/Transubstantiation)???

Mr. Lawmaster has the real point, it is a Lordship and holy reverence lacking issue in the movement. It is very sensual, man centered, and God is my buddy type thing. And if you bring it up then some ask why you are being so serious???

It is the systematic watering down of truth and distain for doctrine and theology.

I really appreciate you all, very encouraging to see, thank the Lord for His Holy Spirit!

13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
John 16:13 (NASB95)


BB said...

"How do you explain Mark 16:17-18 and 1Cor 12:27-29, as sometimes they bring up those scriptures in their defense?"~Mr. David in Florida

Good question. If you have a newer English translation you'll notice that Mark 16:9-20 is contained within "[]". This is because those don't appear in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts. I will not be-labor the point, but the internal evidence and the external evidence points to this being added in later and not being inspired. One more reason that you can have confidence in your Bible - No one is going to be able to sneak something extra into God's word and when they do try it becomes very apparent.

This ( http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/41-85_The-Fitting-End-to-Marks-Gospel ) sermon will greatly encourage your faith in the word of God! Thank God for His Holy Spirit, for without God we would be blind and thank the Lord for a faithful Pastor and Shepherd as is Pastor MacArthur.

Secondly, 1 Corinthians 12. I'll address verse 29 and 30.

29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles , are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
1 Cor 12:29-30 (NASB95)

Paul was not really asking the out of control and immature Corinthians whether or not all were apostles, prophets, ect. in order to illicit the answer from them because Paul was confused or didn't know.

Paul was sarcastically rebuking them. They were all out of control.

22 So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?
1 Cor 14:22-23 (NASB95)

Sound familiar? Exactly, sounds like the charismatic movement of the 1st century. THEY DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THE PURPOSE OF TONGUES OR PROPHESY! Paul has to explain to them these things.

The point is that every time they met (extreme sarcasm about to follow), apparently, all were apostles, prophets, all were gifted as apostles, all were gifted as prophets, all were gifted as teachers, all were gifted as workers of miracles, all were gifted with healings,all were gifted with tongues, all were interpreters, AND ALL WERE USING THEIR GIFTEDNESS AT THE SAME TIME (1 Cor 12:29-30)!

And apparrently the women were getting in on the action (as in today), so Paul had to address that as well.

34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
1 Cor 14:34-35 (NASB95)

I would encourage all to pray and just read 1 Corinthians 12-14 and see what it says. This would set a lot of questions to rest and add a little order the this Charismatic Chaos.

40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
1 Cor 14:40 (NASB95)

2 "For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD.
"But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Isaiah 66:2 (NASB95)

Thanks Mr. David, great point, in Christ


Tyrone said...


In response to your comment, "BY DEFINITION, those who most need to hear it will not hear it."

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice."(Proverbs 12:15)
"Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you." (Proverbs 9:8)
Thanks Phil for the post and your on-going commitment to truth

LeeC said...

"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."

So is my God, but He has commanded me and all other Christians who believ the Bible to do it.

1 Corinthians 5
11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

So, are we you obeying Scripture? Benny Hinn is not my brother.

Jim Pemberton said...

Dan: "BY DEFINITION, those who most need to hear it will not hear it."

I've heard something similar before: Luke 11:29. Or even better: Luke 16:30,31.

The interesting thing is that Jesus performed all kinds of signs and wonders for people who didn't ask, but who believed. But He indicated that a sign would not be beneficial for someone who didn't believe and that the scriptures (Moses and the prophets) were sufficient, using the brothers in the parable as an example.

Thomas Louw said...

From an African in Africa.
I have lived in Africa all my life, born in Zimbabwe and now living in South Africa. I have never seen or heard from any friend or foe that has witnessed any healings. (The kind that you can actually see.)

I have heard of scores of healings that has happened in “Deep darkest Africa”

I must say I might have succumbed to plain scepticism.

(Again if anyone has the low down on Keith Moore please inbox me, e-mail @ my profile)

DJP said...

Thomas, perhaps you should write a book titled something like "Charismatic Miracles That Are NOT Happening in Africa: an African Speaks."

It would, I think, be a large tome.