06 October 2011

Sweeping up after the Poythress articles

by Dan Phillips

Since JT "still thinks" Poythress' post is worth recommending, and since Frank (and I) still think it's still hollow, and since I had the joyous chaos of a lot of welcome house guests and much happy busy-ness, I'll run my summary thoughts (which links to the previous three posts) by you once again. Because you really need to remember the startlingly scant garb adorning this particular potentate (I refer to the argument, not the arguer), I remind you of this from August, 2010.

Assuming the argument* of the three Poythress articles (starting here), let's look at two questions.

First: if they aren't spiritual gifts,
what are they?
There is no Scriptural authority for calling these activities "spiritual gifts," in the 1 Corinthians 12 sense. Anyone with a robust Biblical grasp of the sufficiency of Scripture should find that fact sobering, even pivotal.

But if you can't call these hunches, strong impressions, vivid dreams and all "spiritual gifts," then what do you call them?

I have a bold proposal: what if we call them hunches, strong impressions, vivid dreams?

The chattery negative reaction many would fling back in response is very telling. You'll note I've never argued that hunches, strong impressions, and vivid dreams are without any significance. I just argue that they have no divine authority, and often signify nothing of any import.

And there's the rub, for all sorts of Christianoids. To them, all this Bibley stuff is too cerebral and "out-there." They crave the vivid immediacy of feelings and experiences. More than that, they insist on attaching some sort of spiritual significance or divine authority to their vibrations and emanations. More than that, they like being able to imagine that they have an individual hotline to God, through which He whispers sweet nothings into their ears, and theirs alone.

And it's a nice plus not to have to make an actual rational, Biblical case for their opinions.  "The Lord told me" or "I felt the Lord move my heart to" or "I was praying, and I just really felt led" trumps anything short of a specific Biblical prohibition... and sometimes, even that.

But if we (novel thought!) begin insisting that everything we do in God's name be done only with express Biblical warrant, all that must change. Everyone will be absolutely free to say, "I just feel," or "I have a hunch" — but our feelings and hunches will have to stand or fall by their own merits. We'll have to make a reasoned case, or confess our inability to do so. If we have earned a reputation as Biblically-savvy, mature souls with sound judgment, they'll have some weight. If we're silly, shallow, emotional tumbleweeds, well, not so much.

As I said, if some sharp cookie like my wife or many of my friends says they have an uneasy feeling about something, I take it seriously. I consider it very possible that a dozen alarm-bells are going off at a subliminal level in their sharp, perceptive, Biblically-informed minds. I see the moving of their thoughts as being under the providential control of God (cf. Proverbs 21:1), and I'll factor it in to any decision-making.

But unless it's attached to some Bible verses, I'll not assign any Divine authority to it.
Second: what do we do about them?
My three thoughts will be fairly blunt and direct. (Readers gasp in astonishment.)

One: we need to bring our language under Biblical discipline. Don't call what isn't prophecy "prophecy." Don't say "the Lord told me" if you're not about to quote a Bible verse. Don't try to legitimatize silliness by forcing a Biblical label on it. Let a prophecy be the unique, enormous, stop-the-presses thing it was, and let a hunch be a hunch.

However, if you are a really-really "continuationist," then stop pussy-footing about. Get on with it, man! Have Crossway issue an ESV with lots and lots of blank pages in the end, so you can "continue" to ink in new Scripture. Just be sure to tell everyone that that's where you're coming from.

Two: we need to grow up. Repent of the paralyzing, navel-gazing, self-absorbed fascination with the murky world of sorta semi-gifts that impart sorta semi-revelation. Get into real revelation; get into Scripture.

You can take this to the bank: I have yet to meet the fake-gift-obsessed charismatic who is what he is because he learned and internalized all of Scripture, and just really needed something else to do.

We've got 66 books of pure, real, binding revelation. We don't know them like we should. We don't preach them like we should. We don't live them like we should.

So grow up, focus, and get with God's program.

Three: anyone claiming to speak for God apart from Scripture should be disciplined. The Bible is pretty fierce on the subject of speaking in God's name without authority, without authorization (Deuteronomy 18:20). Here's my reasoning: if in Israel false prophecy warranted the death penalty, should it not warrant excommunication in the Christian church?

We're going to have to cook, or get out of the kitchen. If we believe the Canon is closed and Scripture is sufficient, then we believe God is not speaking new words apart from Scripture. Anyone claiming to mediate such revelation is in serious error. If we won't get serious about that, we're not serious about Scripture's sufficiency.


Happy? Great. Mad? Oh well. Sorry.

But you won't walk off saying "Hunh, wonder what Phillips really thinks."

*That means, once again, the meta will assume that position, rather than debate it.

Part Three

UPDATE: Trogdor made a trenchant observation pairing two Justin Taylor posts, and probably making my point more briefly and effectively than I did. In fact, it may give me an idea for a Next!

Dan Phillips's signature


Robert said...

i would say that Poythress, Grudem, and others who play with words and definitions like this really have to look at the implications of what they are saying. They are saying that the definitions that Scripture provide are insufficient. And the implication of that is that Scripture is insufficient. And that is without even working our way to the actual idea of continuing prophecy and how it undermines the sufficiency of Scripture. All I can think of to ask these guys is...why? Why do we need a new definition for prophecy? Why do we need new revelation? Why do we need a sign? Doesn't the whole book of Hebrews tell us how Jesus is better than everything that Israel had in the past? Isn't He better than seeking for signs and wonders? Then why are people still looking for something better or more "authentic"? There is nothing more authentic than the Creator and Lord of the universe and He has given us what we need in Scripture.

DJP said...

Though they clearly don't see it, the whole lot of them, including the elitist enablers, have a great deal in common with the Gutless Gracers.

That lot looks at the huge mass of professing Christians who don't show the least spark of Gospel impact in their lives beyond bare profession. But they love them so, they just can't imagine that they really aren't save.

Hence, the Scriptures are ransacked to accommodate and beautify their defection.

Ditto enablers and leaky-Canoneers, and the whole mass of lame Clintoning-down that's been invented to lend their distraction a false veneer of respectability.

Daniel said...

Oh Dan. I don't often comment, but I have to say... I like.

Well done.

lee n. field said...

"But if we (novel thought!) begin insisting that everything we do in God's name be done only with express Biblical warrant, all that must change."

I chuckle silently. What then would become of evangelical worship?

James Scott Bell said...

Yes, use scriptural language. That, it seems to me, is where Poythress goes wrong from the get go. NOTHING is "analogous" to God's revelation. That's why it's God's revelation, by definition. Poythress is saying something like, "That child's lemonade stand is analogous to Apple Computer." But that analogy is false, because God is the only one in the revelation business.

I do think there is a place for what you call "strong impressions" and the source of that might be spiritual in some informing sense, but not in an authoritative sense. It should be the starting point for going to Scripture and to prayer for wisdom (Jas. 1:5), not the sole indicator of God's will.

Rob said...

So along the lines of part #3, if Hudson Taylor had told his pastor that he heard God call him to "Go for me to China", his pastor should have gone wild-eyed and excommunicated him on the spot?

DJP said...

Rob, I'm sure we can all identify with having strong emotional reactions and just blurting out the first words that come to us.

Now please read the four articles, think it through, and get back to me: how should the pastor in your scenario have responded?

David A. Carlson said...


I am curious. What do you believe is the role of the Holy Spirit in a Christians life? Basically, what are you for, not what are you against.

A link to a previous post would be fine, I don't expect a rehash in this post (just to keep things on track).

DJP said...

Johnny, I'm trying to go a step further. I'm asking: why go to such extraordinary measures to save what should be trashed?

If a friend commits adultery, we don't try to come up with an argument about how adulterous sex is analogous to married sex, do we? I'm absolutely certain Poythress wouldn't.

So when someone babbles gibberish, or pops off a hunch, and wants to call them "tongues" or "prophecy," how does it glorify God or serve the brother to try to salvage the aberration?

DJP said...

dac: in Google, enter exactly this --

"holy spirit" site:teampyro.blogspot.com

Also this, which I see has developed some format oddities I'll need to repair.

Now back to these posts' contents, themselves.

DJP said...

Oh, just because I don't think anyone needs the irritation, I'm specifying that I'll just summarily delete any further comments that do not interact with the actual contents of these actual posts, as opposed to "this is what I always say to sufficient-Scripture types" blurts.

Anonymous said...

Why do so many Christians prefer hunches, impressions and dreams which are vague, fleeting and erratic over the certain, unchanging, fully authoritative and at-your-fingertips Word of God?

Nash Equilibrium said...

I think it's a great, clear-thinking article, for those who would listen. I know several people who claim to have these so-called "prophecies," but it's basically useless to confront them with the sort of clear thinking exhibited here. When I do, they always hide behind the defense about old and young men dreaming dreams and having visions in the Last Days. In other words, they make me sound like the person who doesn't believe Scripture, and it's hard to really nail down definitively (using only that Scripture's context) in a way that's airtight enough to convince a person who is committed to themselves being a prophet, that they are using this Scripture passage wrongly.
I agree with your article, Dan, I just wish it were easier to use Scripture to incontroveribly defend its point of view.

Nash Equilibrium said...

If you have a link you can post that would address some of the Scriptural arguments against the existence of modern-day prophets, I will gladly print it out and memorize the substance of it. I think this is a subject that has caused so much damage to the Gospel that it's worth studying as a standalone subject. Thanks.

donsands said...

My business is hurting big time. I was reading Psalm 34 this morn, and it was very edifying. God's Word is truth. It is a light to my path.

I pray that god would help my business to be restored, and I believe He can do it. Yet, not my will, but His will be done.

Thanks for the terrific post. Well done.

Anonymous said...

To your points 2 & 3 and Rob's comment about Hudson Taylor.

It seems to me that part of what we need to grow up from is the "well so and so said...was he wrong?"

It's a bit like asking to go to the park and saying "Well my brother just went" without it ever occurring to you that your older brother, who you adore, was being disobedient to Mom & Dad, or that he didn't exactly explain his conversation with with Mom & Dad quite right.

Our siblings are not the standard, Mom & Dad are.

Older believers, however holy they may be and however actually fruitful their ministry may be, are helpful and wise but not the standard.

And sometimes they get it wrong.

Funny, I don't hear anyone teaching about the doctrine of inkwell-at-the-devil-throwing. (Although it's probably being taught somewhere...)

The trouble with you, Dan, is that when you write your articles, particularly on these kinds of themes, the light begins to shine on our assumptions and traditions. And not in a flattering way.

It's almost like you want people to make the Bible some kind of a fail-proof infallible inerrant always trustworthy standard or something.

What are you thinking?

Anonymous said...


I'm self-employed as well, and things are tight.

I'll pray for you this morning. (If I promises more than that I'll forget...)

Lori wife of 1, mom of 10 said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Wonderfully succinct.

Tommy said...

Tell me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Dan is saying that the Holy Spirit can’t move within us and guide us. Scripture is clear that He does. But He’s working inside of a fallen, fallacious creature, and so we can’t trust ourselves to know if we’re interpreting correctly, or even sensing Him at all. We need an external source to give us the boundaries we need. And while we’re at it, we can’t trust other fallen, fallacious creatures. We need something else. God’s Word is perfect. It can be trusted. God doesn’t need us to be His Robin, although I’m sure we think we look great in green speedos.

David A. Carlson said...

Just J said:
Why do so many Christians prefer hunches, impressions and dreams which are vague, fleeting and erratic over the certain, unchanging, fully authoritative and at-your-fingertips Word of God?
Because the Bible does not address every issue in the way we want it to.
First, it is all about me, after all. What my needs are. A fundamental point of human existence (w/o God and too often w/) is that we are selfish. One of the majority teachings of the bible is we, as Holy Spirit filled believers, is to be selfless. To think of others before ourselves. That is just not very satisfying sometimes..
Second, and very related, is that the Bible does not seem to directly answer many of my questions as specifically as we want. Should I marry Jane? The bible gives us direct guidance on the type of person we should marry, but we want more - we want the dove to descend with God's proclamation. And after all, why shouldn't we - it's what all those books and tv preachers say they get.

DJP said...

DAC, these words may come back to haunt me, but truth is truth: that is really, really excellently said. Direct hit.

Aside to all: note that the haters have taken over the star-ratings.

Sir Brass said...

What keeps befuddling me is, why is the Bible not enough for these people?

We, of all people, should find contentment in being guided by the completed, written Word of God for our spiritual lives. We, of all people, should be content with saying, "Thus God has spoken; and thus God has said; He has not revealed the hows exactly, but we will still trust Him for our bread." (hey, poet & didn't know it :P).

Let God be God and stop trying to go beyond what is written. Shouldn't calvinists be the first ones to recognize this?

DJP said...

Brass, I need to do this as a post. I think I have... sort of. But most things worth saying also bear repeating, so here goes:

FACT A: the Bible presents itself as doing an incredible array of things

FACT B: the Bible doesn't do everything we wish it would

Leaving two possibilities:

POSSIBLE INFERENCE A: the things we wish the Bible did aren't absolute necessities requiring revelation, and should be addressed another way

POSSIBLE INFERENCE B: I WANT IT AND I MUST HAVE IT!!! Invent way, sign God's name to it.

You're welcome.

Sir Brass said...

Dan, I agree, but my befuddlement is with those who would hold tightly to the wonderful doctrines of grace which are bound hip & thigh to a view of God which makes the non-cessationist view utterly irrelevant.

I don't "need" tongues when I know that if the Lord wills, He will provide them, and if not, then I still have everything i need spiritually to do what I am called to do. I don't need prophecy when the bible is packed with it and God's revealed will to man is complete on paper/papyrii/stone. There were times when the Lord was pleased to communicate His will by these things, but not now.

The view of God which the doctrines of grace necessitates is a view of God which makes "da gifts" to be like training wheels when "da church" (think the creedal definition of "holy catholic and apostolic church") has moved onto riding a full-on racing bike.

I can see how folks with a sub-biblical view of God and His freedom in salvation can then find need or use for "da gifts," but we calvinists should be the last folks who should be getting up in arms over this (except in defense against the silliness which is being propagated in the name of God by this stuff).

So, why are self-professed calvinists finding this stuff so important?

Matt Aznoe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Just like clockwork.

threegirldad said...

Aside to all: note that the haters have taken over the star-ratings.

I regret that I have but one vote to give for this post. Well, without cheating...

lee n. field said...

POSSIBLE INFERENCE B: I WANT IT AND I MUST HAVE IT!!! Invent way, sign God's name to it.

Indirectly, a third commandment issue.

donsands said...

Thank you Daryl. I know our Lord hears His saints when they pray. He truly does care. And sometimes we have not, because we ask not.

Sir Brass said...

"I don't need prophecy when the bible is packed with it and God's revealed will to man is complete on paper/papyrii/stone. There were times when the Lord was pleased to communicate His will by these things, but not now."

Okay, I just reread this and realized that this could lead to confusion.

I'm saying that the Lord was pleased to communicate these things (His revelation to us) by prophecy and other gifts, but not now. Just reading my words, though, that's not what was said.

Mea culpa. Mea clarified :P

Mike Westfall said...

This all has to do with a talking snake and its lies that we can be as God. No?

Strong Tower said...

"I don't need prophecy when the bible is packed with it..." Right!

Let me say this about that: I think this has been talked about here before, but isn't it the case that God has given us the means, His Spirit, and the Word, as well as the mind of Christ, to know the things that he has freely given us? And if it is true that the secret things belong to God and that the things God has revealed belong to us and to our children and that he has given us all the means to understand and we still don't as well as we should, why would we want to add to that things that we cannot truly understand and try to explain them by means that we are not sure work? Don't we have enough to do in proving what is true and holding to it? And since we have the revealed Word, and have those means to come to a complete knowledge of the Son, but haven't yet, don't you think it is a waste of time to abandon the ministry of the Word that we have been given for our peace for the mystery and misery of the unsureness of signs and wonders?

busdriver4jesus said...

Perhaps the reason we don't excommunicate folks for faulty prophecy (your suggestion) is because such a sentence has no express biblical warrant (your insistence)? Did you catch how your idea for punishment broke your principle?

Sir Brass said...

Strong Tower,

Pretty much exactly my point, but primarily emphasizing, "You who trust in a sovereign and almighty God who does as He pleases and all He does is right, why do you delve beyond what He has decreed to give you?"

DJP said...

So, busdriver, assuming you read the full article, are you saying we should stone charismatic false prophets to death?

kateg said...

I think the problem comes in when people ask "what then does the Holy Spirit do?" The question assumes (wrongly) that they can read and understand scripture, they can memorize and bring it to mind at appropriate times, they can apply the scripture to their lives, and do all that without the Holy Spirit, thank you very much. So if He is not prophecying and such things, it's like He's not even there. It has to do with a low, not a high view, of the Holy Spirit, methinks.

DJP said...

Yes, Kate.

Or how about this?

You sit down at a lavish feast a lady has cooked for you. It is multi-dish, multi-course. The room is full of the fragrance and mouth-watering aroma. The table groans under the product of her labors.

Of course, you look at her and ask:

"So... do you actually do anything?"

Anonymous said...

Or, you sit down at a lavish feast a lady has cooked for you. It is multi-dish, multi-course. The room is full of the fragrance and mouth-watering aroma. The table groans under the product of her labors.

Of course, you look at her and ask:

""So... do you have any spray cheese and crackers?"

Nash Equilibrium said...

So... does anyone know of a good summary of Biblical passages that support modern-day cessation, that I can use to silence self-styled prophets (or at least, send them away thinking)? Would be much obliged.

Matt Aznoe said...

Rather, you are being offered a tender steak, a lush salad, and an exquisite dessert and saying instead, "Thanks, but I'll settle for the dinner roll."

You presume that those who are non-cessationist are looking for things that are extra-Biblical, but that is far from the case. I read the Bible and take God at His Word that He will do all that He has promised. Why should I settle to have my hunger simply satisfied when God has promised to lavish us with every spiritual blessing?

But I realize that I am speaking to deafened ears and hardened hearts. I will look again to the saints of old who have gone before and finished the race with the praise of God on their lips, and I will cling to the promises and blessed assurance of scripture. My sufficiency is in the living Word, Jesus Christ.

David A. Carlson said...

Strat said:
So... does anyone know of a good summary of Biblical passages that support modern-day cessation, that I can use to silence self-styled prophets (or at least, send them away thinking)? Would be much obliged.

And the answer is….no

But of course, it is not a matter of biblical warrant, it is a matter that no one is delivering the goods… If you’re going to claim the gift of healing, you have to actually prove it. St. Joes Hospital is up the street – I have the video camera if you have the healer. Gift of prophecy? Bring it on Pat Robertson, cause so far all you have earned is a (metaphorical) stoning with your failures.
It ain’t braggin if you kin do it – I just ain’t never seen it done. If it ain't being done, well, then it's done (as in cooked, over, finito). Until God chooses for it to happen again.

DJP said...

That's simply untrue, Matt. You do your 2+2 = J(&*$Y#JLNBEMF every time this topic comes up; every time, you are corrected; every time it happens again, you tell us 2+2 = J(&*$Y#JLNBEMF .

And it is borderline blasphemy for you so to degrade the work of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of redemption in Christ. You've been rebuked, instructed, warned and corrected before. You need to stop, and repent.

Brad Williams said...

J.I. Packer's book "Knowing God" is pretty helpful on this issue. His chapter 20, "Thou Our Guide" deals directly with this issue, and unless I'm reading him wrong, he would have agreed with Dan at the time Packer wrote this. (I have no idea what he thinks on it now.)

Nash Equilibrium said...

dac - Thank you. I think that while that is a very good point (and one that I agree with), the real "stopper" for would-be prophets would be a good solid Biblical case against what they are doing. After all, they can always cite incidents (made up as they may be) that "prove" their case. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

Dear Strat:

From my personal experience of years in the charismatic church I humbly and gently submit that there is no "real "stopper" for would-be prophets".

Would-be prophets and those who embrace and perpetuate the error that there is direct, personal revelation outside of Scripture (like Matt) simply want what they want.

No amount of verses or instruction will stop them (like Matt). They will simply refer, again and again and again, to their feelings and experiences (like Matt).


Mike Westfall said...

You know, I m reminded of those who try to attack the Ontological Argument by conceiving of the greatest possible being as one who can make square circles. Because, being able to do something illogical is greater than being limited by logical possibility, apparently. They would have us believe that an illogical God is somehow greater than the God who created logic in the first place (of course, to attack it and say, "See! That's illogical!")

Now, I believe that the greatest possible Christianity is the one where Christ Himself is our ultimate and perfect Prophet. But there are others who can conceive of an even greater Christianity, one that has the followers of the Perfect Prophet spouting imperfect "prophecy" in addition.

Seems illogical to me.

St. Lee said...

Matt, you say: Rather, you are being offered a tender steak, a lush salad, and an exquisite dessert and saying instead, "Thanks, but I'll settle for the dinner roll."

So in your world the modern day charismatic gifts are a feast and Scripture is a dinner roll? Talk about a low view of Scripture!

DJP said...

As has been pointed out repeatedly. Check this.

Strong Tower said...

Spiritual experience can furnish no basis for instruction; for such experience rests on that which took place in our own soul. Certainly this has value, influence, voice in the matter. But what guarantees correctness and fidelity in interpreting such experience? And again, how can we distinguish its various sources—from ourselves, from without, or from the Holy Spirit? The twofold question will ever hold: Is our experience shared by others,
and may it not be vitiated by what is in us sinful and spiritually abnormal?

Altho there is no subject in whose treatment the soul inclines more to draw upon its own experience, there is none that demands more that our sole source of knowledge be the Word given us by the Holy Spirit. After that, human experience may be heard, attesting
what the lips have confessed; even affording glimpses into the Spirit’s blessed mysteries,
which are unspeakable and of which the Scripture therefore does not speak. But this can not be the ground of instruction to others. -Abraham Kuyper

Kimberly said...

"I have a bold proposal: what if we call them hunches, strong impressions, vivid dreams?"

Yea this!

There are churches out there that use these labels & what they do with them is abuse imo. I've had experiences in my former church of being publicly accused of being "in judgement" with no specifics brought up to show me any error on my part. Only a feeling & the fact that the accuser was "prophetic" were present. And everyone was ok with the verdict since that person was prophetic.

And I've also witnessed, in the same church, the pastor being publicly accused of being "in sin" with nothing presented to prove it so the congregation could even know WHY he was being accused. In fact he wasn't even there to defend himself. It was a "panel" (that churches version of elders) & they came forward in front of the entire congregation & told us that the Lord had "shown" them that he was in sin. It was really quite horrible.

I now HATE the use of those terms in churches & I really really hate it when someone says they're "called" to something or the lord "led" them to do or say X. Just say it like it is. You have a feeling or whatever. Fine. I can accept you have a feeling about something. But don't tell me you had a vision or a word or whatever about it because now you're just trying to make me think something in your head has some sort of authority over me. It doesn't & you've just offended me.

(sorry for the rant; I have passionate feelings about this particular subject)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Kimberly, you tell it and you tell it loud. The problem is the enablers who feel nuanced and deep and thoughtful because of the position they have taken in order to feel nuanced and deep and thoughtful without taking ownership of the real-life implications of their disastrous piddling with holy things. You lived it out, you suffered under it.

Thing is, I'd encourage you to tell them, see if you can wake them up.

To which I'm obliged to add: good luck with that.


Nash Equilibrium said...

Jules - thanks. I do know some would be prophets who might give pause if confronted with a strong scriptural admonition, but no doubt, many of them are just too steeped in this stuff to get away fro it. I was once mired in the charismatic way and so I know a person can see their way out of it if they take a good hard look at its fruits. it would accelerate things if I had some pretty specific scripture to back me up, is what I was thinking.

Anonymous said...

I'll try again... my previous comment was deleted... for no apparent reason. The author wrote about publishing a blank ESV bible so that the prophets can write their own scripture...

However I asked.. Seeing as no NT prophet wrote any of the NT Scripture, and NT scripture doesn't record all what the NT prophets said and did...why then do we think that modern prophecy is outside of the canon of Scripture?

DJP said...

Seems like a diversion from the post. But taking it as a stretch, it's simple enough to deal with and move on: prophecy was a foundational gift (Eph. 2:20). The foundation's now been laid (1 Cor. 3:11). Your assertion that no prophet wrote a book of the NT is just that: an assertion. For my part, I take it that Luke, Mark, and the author of Hebrews at least were prophets, since they wrote Scripture and were not apostles, since they imparted inerrant verbal revelation, and since the definition of prophecy is the reception and communication of inerrant revelation. Your other sentence is completely irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Dan you say Luke, Mark and the author of Hebrews were prophets. I'm not sure Scripture says they are prophets...so what gives you the indication they are?

However the NT tells us of other NT prophets such as Agabus and Phillips daughters...can you tell me what Scripture they wrote?

I would imagine the actions of Agabus taking of his belt and wrapping them around Paul's hands - telling him how he would be going to Rome - falls into the realm of a hunch / gut instinct...

Kimberly said...

Matt, I'm curious. Do YOU think it's ok for members of churches to have those they consider "prophetic" (or given "words", etc.) & encourage them to play this role in the church? The reason I ask is because I would like someone to explain to ME how one is to know if a vision is just a dream or if it REALLY is from God. Or how to know if a "word" is really a word from God or an idea or feeling someone just head.

Do you really think that just because someone says I had a vision about this, whatever this is, that it's really from God? And if you don't then what qualifies someone to be able to make such a claim?

I'm also curious about where one's own common sense fit in in all this. In Acts there was that guy Ananias whom God sent to go pray for Saul, soon to be Paul. Now that guy was allowed to use HIS common sense & say: Do what? He's been given authority to kill all of us. Are you serious? To this, the Lord explained that yes indeed he WAS being sent to pray for this man despite this fact & he was told that God had great plans for Paul. So he did it. But he was allowed to use his common sense & question the ridiculousness of the request. He wasn't forced to just believe what he was hearing.

What MY experience has shown me however is that you have to just believe the prophetic person. And that's a problem because I DON'T have to believe that person & neither does anyone else. It never says in the Bible we do.

And I'm also curious what you say about these verses?

Col.2:18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow."

You just said this in this thread: "But I realize that I am speaking to deafened ears and hardened hearts." Isn't this an attempt to disqualify people here?

Last but not least you compared the Bible to a dinner roll & ? (spiritual gifts or prophecy or what?) to the banquet. If that's true, which I will certainly not say it is, but if it is then I would prefer the roll. I like food I can actually eat.

Plus, didn't the Israelites complain about the boring manna (and that's bread right?) in the wilderness but when they got quail a bunch of them got sick & died as a result? Ok, for real I'm done now.

Anonymous said...

I would add this to Kimberly's thoughts:

"Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you." But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 5-13

What was the rebellion of Korah, Matt?

Robert Warren said...

"Spiritual experience can furnish no basis for instruction; for such experience rests on that which took place in our own soul."

Strong Tower:

Right. How can an internal experience, which can't be verified and therefore can't be an educational tool for others, build up the Body of Christ?

Pierre Saikaley said...

@JustJules:"Why do so many Christians prefer hunches, impressions and dreams which are vague, fleeting and erratic over the certain, unchanging, fully authoritative and at-your-fingertips Word of God?"

Cuz these Christians ain't satisfied with Scripture ALONE. They need the EXPERIENCE to go with it. Don't you know?:The man with THE EXPERIENCE™ can "TALK".

Listen. Some of these folks, far gone, which is where some forms of charasmaticism will take you, will challenge you to a fire-from -heaven contest to see who is LORD.

The Predestined Blog said...


John explicitly states the book of Revelation (ie Scripture) is prophesy. Remember, the OT is often referred to as the Law and the Prophets.

Brother, I think you have have some confusion about what prophecy truly entails that it is the very word of God. Now what is the difference between Isaiah's prophecy when he wrote it and when he spoke it? Nothing. The amazing things about verbal prophecy is that God is speaking authoritatively through a man. There is no difference (specifically no ontologic difference) between someone's written and oral words, hence Scripture is also prophecy.

I beg of you to read the story of Agabus again. This is no mere hunch and is completely different from the "prophecies" of today.

Robert said...

Just to add to the picture of the horrors of the practice of what is "analagous to prophecy" that Kimberly brought up...

Let us not forget what Mark Driscoll practices and encourages with regards to prophecy (which he calls discernment - talk about changing definitions of words!). He would have us think that if we see visions akin to watching TV and see detail that is akin to porn regarding matters of adultery or pedophilia, that we should act on them and talk to the person(s) involved in a direct fashion. And that is in spite of the fact that the "visions" are not always correct.

How would you feel if your pastor came up and told you sordid details of seeing your spouse having a sexual encounter with somebody else? Or how about if he said your grandfather molested you when you were a baby because he saw it in a vision? These are both things that MD said he has done...this is the road that is paved in the name of exercising the gift of prophecy in these times. And then if he is wrong what do you do? How is that edifying? After all, that is the purpose of spiritual gifts, right?

I think that DJP's reference to Ephesians 2:20 can not be overstated and is totally overlooked by continuationists. The foundation is laid...that work has already been done...so why exactly are we trying to add to the foundation instead of building upon it?

Nash Equilibrium said...

EXPERIENCE! That's the word I was looking for yesterday but couldn't grab hold of, in-between meetings - thank you all for jogging my memory. That's exactly why I had asked for some input on the best scriptural rejoinders with which to combat continuationists: I would like to counter their "experience" with something more solid than the bad "experiences" (or if you prefer, fruit) of the evangelical church with false prophets. Experience (good or bad) is a bad way to determine theology, in my opinion.

donsands said...

Experience is a good word, isn't it Strat?
Experience as in joy, or as in sorrow, or as in contentment, or as in righteous anger, can be a good thing indeed.
It in fact has to be part of our lives, as we walk in the truth by faith.

Man shall not live by bread, and food, alone, but by every book; every epistle; every chapter; every verse; every sentence; and every Word of the Holy Scriptures:-- the Word that proceeded from our Lord's mouth. And we dare not add to it, nor take away. Amen.

Have a terrific Lord's Day!

David A. Carlson said...

RW said:

How can an internal experience, which can't be verified and therefore can't be an educational tool for others, build up the Body of Christ?

The Holy Spirit indwells each believer. I believe part of that life is him adjusting our previous sinful nature to a godly nature (insert big bible word here). We become less selfish, more selfless, to build on my previous example.

As we seek the well being of others instead of ourselves, that will build up the body of Christ.

David A. Carlson said...

I think that believers suffer from (at least) two misconceptions about the Holy Spirit.

One is that, contrary to all evidence, that the sign gifts still are operational

Two, many believers, perhaps in over reaction to the above, I think denigrate the truly miraculous work of the Spirit by ignoring how how fundamentally God changes our very being, our minds, our thinking, the most internal minute electrical firings in our brain.

Forget Healing - that's easy. I can stitch a wound and slap some antibiotic on. Type in one language and have someone else read it another? Google does that. No one can change our minds in such a fundamental reshaping so that we now see what was unseen. Well, no one but the Spirit.

David A. Carlson said...

forgot a paragraph

The Bible is MEANINGLESS without the conversion of our brains by the Holy Spirit. The Bible has no life changing power without the Spirit indwelling that believer.

That is the Holy Spirit experience I want. Bring it on with both barrels. Cleave my mind to yours.

Stefan Ewing said...

I'm a bit confused by some of the scriptural arguments that are being advanced.

Dan, you wrote, "prophecy was a foundational gift (Eph. 2:20). The foundation's now been laid (1 Cor. 3:11)."

In Ephesians, Paul wrote of believing Jews and Gentiles being reconciled "both to God in one body through the Cross" (2:16), "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord" (2:19-21).

Here, "the apostles and prophets" are the foundation with Christ Jesus the cornerstone, and in the context, Paul clearly means "apostles and prophets" to refer to the dual foundations of the New Covenant apostles and Old Covenant prophets.

But in 1 Corinthians, Paul is rebuking sectarianism ("What then is Apollos? What is Paul?"; 3:5), saying that he laid a foundation (3:10), and "no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (3:11).

And here, Jesus Christ Himself specifically is the foundation. Paul laid the foundation in Corinth, but is not part of it; and the Corinthians are advised to take care in building upon it.

These seem to be two different illustrations. Although they are both ultimately about the building of the Church invisible and universal as the Body of Christ, yet Paul employs a similar metaphor for two different purposes in these verses, in only one of which "prophets" are mentioned, and that in the context of the Old Testament prophets.

Nash Equilibrium said...

donsands - Amen, and thank you.

DJP said...

Stefan, I don't take the genitive as appositional, but of source. In other words, it is not a foundation consisting of apostles and prophets, but a foundation laid by the apostles and prophets. This gels better with Matt. 16 and 1 Cor 3, as a bonus.

Matt Aznoe said...

The problem as I see it is that this argument is going from one extreme to another. Either there is prophecy so we need to believe everything or there is absolutely no communication outside of scripture. As I read Paul's exhortations and commands to the Corinthians, as I study the way that God has communicated with his people throughout the Bible, as John tells us that the Spirit will teach us, I cannot come to the conclusion that God can (or will) no longer speak to His children.

Obviously, we cannot just believe anyone who claims to be a prophet. It was asked what we should do if a prophet speaks something that isn't true. The answer is simple: "the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him." (Deuteronomy 18:22 NET)

As I have quoted before: "Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 ESV)

It is good to acknowledge that we should be content with what God has given us. We should not try to force the gifts as they can only come by the will and power of God. But to deny them entirely is to go to just as radical extreme and is damaging to the Church.

The foundation is laid -- the Bible -- but God is a living God who continues to dwell in and communicate with His children. This is manifested not just by experience but by the witness of the scriptures themselves. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to desire prophecy. We are told that Christ's followers can hear His voice.

Yes, we should encourage people who have the gift of prophecy to use their gift, but with discernment, prayer and humility, recognizing the seriousness of their charge.

I do not have a low view of scripture. I have an even higher view of the presence of the Living God and His Living Word, Jesus Christ. The love of the Bible can become a form of idolatry if you lose sight of its author (just as the love of the gifts is another form of idolatry). I strive "to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [I] may be filled up to all the fullness of God" (Eph 3:19) and "that [my] love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight" (Phil 1:9).

The sin of the sons of Korah was that they despised the anointing of Moses by God and wished to usurp his authority. You see this today by would-be prophets who speak what is on their minds and not what God has (presumably) spoken, but you also see it it in those who refuse to listen to God or acknowledge His work in their midst. "The prophets prophesy lies. The priests exercise power by their own authority." (Jeremiah 5:31)

I trust in God to fulfill the promises He has given us as we pursue Him as laid out in scripture. If He should see fit to give us the spiritual gift of prophecy, we should embrace it, but first and throughout, we must embrace our God and pursue Him with all of our heart wherever and however He may lead in accordance with His character revealed in the scriptures.

Stefan Ewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan Ewing said...


Thanks for the response. Are you referring to Matthew 16:18? That is certainly a good fit.

It still seems, though, that Paul is more likely to be referring to the Old Testament prophets in the context of that section of Ephesians 2.

I'm still having trouble seeing that verse as being the basis for establishing that the non-apostolic New Testament authors were definitionally "prophets" per se (even though they were clearly writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), and in contradistinction to others who are referred to as prophets by Luke in the book of Acts.

Robert said...

I would still go back to Dan's old post about how the fact that we have discussions about this kinda proves that the gifts are not continuing. We would see them in practice and there would be no argument...which is actually Biblical. Nobody questioned the sign gifts performed in the Bible because they were real and observable.

DJP said...

Right. Back to the post: leaky-Canoneers need to stop despising prophecy by redefining it to save face for modern fakers. People who say God talks to them, apart from Scripture, should be demanded to clarify whether they are claiming to be prophets, and then held to that standard if so. People who downplay the Spirit's magnum opus, as Matt did and does, should be rebuked, and should repent.

This and the 5:22 AM, October 06, 2011 comment, will be the last word.