18 September 2012

The pseudo-sufficiency Pushmi-pullyu

by Dan Phillips

In sum, it goes like this:
Of course I believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. It's just that we need to hear things from God that aren't in Scripture, and Scripture doesn't tell Christians how to get them.

So I'll tell you how to get them.
Just like that.

Dan Phillips's signature


Joel Knight said...

To my mind this is the strongest argument against prophecy today. On the ground, in the messiness of church life and difficult decisions, how does it not destroy the suffiency of scripture, if 'suffiency' is to actually mean something.
How do the Biblical principles of making decisions, such as 'gain wisdom' or 'you're free to do whatever isn't contradicted in scripture, doesn't cause a stumbling block for your fellow believers and isn't going to be a barrier to the gospel for unbelievers' make any sense when God may, or may not (but in practice probably will because we'd all prefer direct guidance on stuff wouldn't we?) simply tell us what to do through a dream, a vision, what God told someone else to tell us, our own subjective feelings e.t.c...

Linda said...

DJP, I would like to ask you if you are arguing from your position? Is your position~cessationist?


DJP said...

So, apparently... over the past eight years, I've failed to make my position clear from Scripture.

< facepalm >

David Regier said...

Maybe I'll just leave this little comment about your tone over here and make your day complete.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

And yet, year after year, they fail to add these little tidbits into the Canon. Don't they know if they did that you'd leave them alone?

Linda said...

dear DJP, I haven't been coming here that long at all maybe 10 months or so and I don't know you very well. I was asking in all sincerity

Joel Knight said...

Linda, a quick search of old blog posts from DJP would answer your question, hence the slight exasperation.

DJP said...

Ah, David, I know I can always count on you. (c:

Linda, here's a less exasperated-sounding response: click on any of the tags under the article to do research on those topics. An FAQ post summing up a lot of it is in the works for folks unwilling or unable to read the six years of work we've done on these topics, but I can't give you an ETA, sorry.

In the meanwhile, the post is under 50 words — any thoughts on it?

Jared Queue said...


FYI, the expectation around here is that you will read the other posts they've made on the topic at hand if you have questions before posting.

To a new person it can seem rude, but the bottom line is, they want to have a conversation/study in the comments and are too busy to address questions they've already made clear other places (and frequently link to) when they are available elsewhere on the site.

I hope that helps.

P.S. Yes, Dan is a cessationist.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

It's kindof like a holy-sounding "I don't mean to be mean but. . . (insert mean comment)" isn't it?

"I don't want to undermine the sufficiency of Scripture - it's got a lot of good stuff in there! - but it's just not complete enough for the contemporary Christian. They need this and that experiential knowledge to get them through the day. And yes, I know that God has finally revealed Himself in His Son Jesus, and I know that the eyewitnesses, the apostles, have written everything we need for Christian living and practice, and YES I understand that the Holy Spirit moved the authors of Scripture to write what they did, but c'mon! There's no way that an extra Word from God undermines all of that. . . is there?"

DJP said...

Oh thanks a lot, Jared.

Now the secret's out.


Anonymous said...

Dan! You're a cessationist!?

Mike Westfall said...

Ah yes. For some the Scripture is "sufficient" in the same way that the BIOS bootrap loader is sufficient for starting up your computer so that you can write whatever gobbledygook you want with Microsoft Word.

DJP said...

Jules! Shh!

Anonymous said...


At the bottom of each post on Pyromaniacs you'll see, in small text, the word Labels. Following it you'll see descriptors such as charismaticism, da gifts, sola scripture, sufficiency and the various authors names. By clicking on any of these label words you'll see a list of all the posts which were tagged with that descriptor. You can view all the posts written by Dan Phillips by clicking on his name in the list of labels.

Hope that helps.

Jared Queue said...


I know I was a little late with the comment, but the whole "prove you're not a robot" blogger has setup just about mistook me for a robot.

Besides, Linda asked the question. I was simply giving her a plain answer, as a courtesy to her.

As for the post at hand, those that take this line of reasoning frequently frustrate me (like the video of James MacDonald) because they fail to see how they are asserting themselves above Scripture. I.e. "Scripture is sufficient, but where it is silent, I will give you Scripture!"

Having said that, I do think there are more compelling arguments for continuationism than, "we need to know things God has not told us in Scripture."

David Regier said...

The apostolic gifts may have ceased, but continuationists never will.

Chris H said...

Tempted to leave one star, just for a mention. I've had a tough week already. :P

Anonymous said...

As an outsider not in your click i dont think you understand or see how rude you were to Linda. You deserve a face palm from someone actually. The fact you didnt see your elitist rudeness is simply backup to what is stated below. Pastor (loosely) your a little to impressed with yourself.

The problem is thus:
You have no self control because like a cult you are right and everyone else is wrong!
Your version of the holy writ is the only correct version, obviously, face palm duh.
Anyone who disagrees or doesn't understand is clearly stupid and doesn't understand the simplest of things.
And the biggeeee, what other christian sects confine their creator to a book who is incapable of doing anything outside of a book that is thousands of years old? Drrrr, duhh, facepalm, sigh.

donsands said...

"..we need to hear things from God that aren't in Scripture, and Scripture doesn't tell Christians how to get them."

I just heard this morning on my local "Christian" radio station here in Baltimore from one of the DJ's that the Lord spoke to her concerning her not having a job yet. He put His finger on her heart, and His hand on her shoulder and said, "Um, Tracie, ....."

These kinds of things are prevalent. And when i try to encoureg people to simply pray and trust the truth of God's Word, then they get all bent out of shape, and I'm the one who is all bent out of shape.

I simply love our Lord for giving us His Word. The Bible is His greatest gift to us, His people. What can be more magnificient than God's holy truth? And it goes without saying, God Himself, through the Spirit lives in us, and so we are able to worship and serve, and love God in Spirit and truth! To His glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Anonymous said...

"...what other christian sects confine their creator to a book who is incapable of doing anything outside of a book that is thousands of years old? Drrrr, duhh, facepalm, sigh."

I've never seen God and His Holy Word treated with such vile contempt.

LanternBright said...


Dan's response to Linda was exasperated (as he later admitted), but not rude. For example, Dan didn't insult Linda directly (the way you did to Dan), or have the unmitigated gall to cast aspersions on her character or use childish, juvenile, and asinine onomatopoetic words--the way you did to Dan.

...Not to mention the fact that you haven't bothered to respond to the content of Dan's actual post in any way. Do you actually plan to do so, or are you trolling?

Either way, the only person here who's being rude is actually you. You certainly need to repent, and you also owe Dan an apology.

David Sheldon said...

If the Scripture is authoritative, complete, and thus sufficient - we should be satisfied with walking by faith and not by sight in order to honor the God of that Scripture. The contemporary church - for the most part - is not. It is a vastly different thing to be "led" by the Spirit/Word than to be "led" by the "itch" either we or someone else put into the hearing.

LanternBright said...

With that out of the way: Dan, this was an excellent post, and the most succinct, elegantly simple argument I've seen on this issue in a very long time. Thanks--you always make me think!

donsands said...

"who is incapable of doing anything outside of a book"-Hillbilly

Surely God is capable of all things. And His Word is incredble, and perfect, and the awesome blessing of having the Bible is what is so good for us, so that we will not be "carried about with every wind of doctrine".

Anonymous said...

Back to the post...

I've taken the liberty of rewording it to reflect a Biblical position.

"Of course I believe in the sufficiency of Scripture."

Anonymous said...

Jules, please explain to me who God told this theory to? You cant, unless your reformed predecessors are nothing more than popes deciding that God put on his blinders after the church fathers assembled the Holy Scriptures. Oh no Im God and Im handcuffed because i forgot to tell Paul to put something in the bible. You folks sit on here and judge judge judge yet God who is incapable of talking to people has somehow told yall your version is correct just like He has used the bible to tell everyone else they are correct also. Do you not see the stupidity of sola scriptura, God NEVER said this unless you are in fact receiving private messages. Anyhow, just because the papists did stupid awful stuff is no reason to invent a false theory that chains God to a few pages in a book. Ok, start throwing the bible verses that everyone else throws that in no way validate your point.

On another point, seriously never seen? Do you have a television? Have you seen TBN? This blog is a prophet sometimes and a sewage pit at other times. You sound like a pharisee,maybe you can give me a christian punchlist of the right and wrongs lol.

Besides i see you ignored the most important point, the rudeness showed to the sweet Linda.The only person who has posted this day who wasn't arrogant. How can you repent when your always right and have nothing to repent of, correct????

LanternBright said...

Well, it looks like Trollbilly has made his position clear. Nothing more to see here, folks.

DJP said...

You will ask me why I don't delete Hillbilly, since he meets every criterion demanding deletion except obscenity.

You will tell me I am being inconsistent by not deleting him yet.

I will confess that you are right, I am being inconsistent.

It's just that he is so off the wall that I see him as entertainment, and not really as posing a threat to the meta. If the entertainment-value lapses, his rants will vanish.

Rick said...

Does the fact and truth that scripture is sufficient negate the responsibility to obey the commands of scripture (or to heed the warnings from scripture)?

1 Cor. 12:31 (ESV)But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way.

1 Cor. 14:1 (ESV)Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

1 Cor. 14:39 (ESV)So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

1 Thes. 5:19 (ESV)Do not quench the Spirit.

Consider a person reading through the scriptures (from beginning to end) for the first time (not having been exposed to arguments for or against continuationism or cessationism) - which side of the debate would they come down on? No doubt - the scriptures taken at face value - they would be a continuationist. Cessationists have to jump through way too many hoops and twists and turns to validate their position. And I've read many arguments for and against and Grudem's systematic theology is the best (addressing both sides of the debate) pages 1031-1046.

DJP said...

Exactly wrong, Rick. Nobody simply reading through Scripture would end up a Charismatic.

What's more, completely irrelevant to the post. 50 words. Please re-read.

Jim Pemberton said...

It really boils down to an issue of epistemology. If the voices in *your* head don't refer back to scripture anyway, I don't need to hear them too. In other words, if *you* tell me something the Holy Spirit told you and I can't verify it by scripture, I have no reason to think the Holy Spirit told you anything.

Mike Farrants said...

Who is it that will "tell me how to get them"? I want their email address. That way I don't have to read and study and dig and meditate on God's word. This is easy!

...signed Lazy Evangelical

donsands said...

"Do you not see the stupidity of sola scriptura"-Hillbilly

Nope. I see a blessed gift from our risen Savior and Lord of lords, and from His Father, and my Abba Father.

You might want to go to a Christian like a D.A. Carson, and see and hear his well founded expertise on this subject. Just a suggestion.

Robert said...

Dan...you've not even been in Texas for a year and you're already a secessionist? Oh, wait...you're a cessationist?

And I thought there was something new that I missed.

Paul told Timothy (and the church) that Scripture contains everything that is necessary for us to be complete and prepared for every good work. Revelation says we shouldn't add to Scripture. As we examine Paul's writings, we notice that his exercise of "sign gifts" disappears towards the end of his life...yet God continued to write Scripture through Paul. Yet, I am supposed to listen to somebody else who claims to have heard a word from God that is not in Scripture? And I need this guidance? That seems to contradict Scripture to me.

And if Grudem's watered-down definition of sign gifts in the current age are to be believed, then we should follow and listen to what the Bible calls false prophets. Again, this sounds contradictory to Scripture. And, as Dan alludes to in the last sentence, it leaves a sinful, imperfect person in control of telling me what God says outside of Scripture. Something seems wrong with that.

DJP said...

I'm afraid that, for many cases (including preachers) Mike Farrity's comment nails it. Not for all, but for many.

Mandi said...

I think so much of this desire to hear more from God than is in the Bible comes from an inability to believe that God would allow us the freedom to choose things on our own. So, I need God to tell me what job to take, how many kids to have, who to marry, what to study, etc., in a direct way. Yes, He has given me guidelines in the Bible that I can follow and I must seek His glory in all things - but the Bible doesn't say if I should be a teacher or a fast food worker, and how can God expect me to make this choice?

Rick said...

DJP - we'll have to agree to disagree - I think they would be a continuationist. Again, way too many hoops and twists (we also believe in the clarity of scripture). I think my comment and question has much to do with the 'spirit' of the post and the thread of comments.

DJP said...

Right, Mandi. And what I've been seeking for ways to do is to explore and expose that fork in the road.

In other words, we all agree that the Bible doesn't tell us whether to work towards becoming short-order cooks or brain surgeon.

The divide in the road is located precisely at the question, "And so...?"

One road goes, "And so we have to find some other way to make God tell us, even if it's lame and unreliable and muzzy and totally made-up."

The other road goes "And so He wants us to make wise, godly decisions and take responsibility for them."

DJP said...

Then why is ABSOLUTELY NO BIBLICALLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN a continuationist, Rick? Zero, none, not one?

Robert said...

Isn't this just the way the world works? People just want to be taken care of and have a list of dos and don'ts to follow instead of having to think for themselves. That is how you wind up with Obama as President and one of the main reasons that the RCC can attract so many people. Just remember to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Sadly, the ones who listen faithfully to people who talk like this wind up building the palace that the not so wonderful wizard of oz lives in.

Bill said...

Okay, seeing Dan's continual (not continuationist, humor intended) imploring to read, then possibly reread the post, the anvil hit. "Of course I believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. It's just that we need to hear things from God that aren't in Scripture."
One question, where in the Scripture that you agree in your first sentence is sufficient does it tell us to go elsewhere? Hmmm, is it not contradictory to then say we "need to hear things that aren't in Scripture"?

Mandi said...

Sorry if this goes off-point, but it occurred to me - I wonder how much of taking the road of muzzy, mystical "God told me so"-ness has to do with an insecurity in one's belief about the person of God. I believe that, if God has regenerated me, he will bring me through to glory. I attend a church where everyone (except me) believes you can loose your salvation. In my Sunday school class, I am constantly hearing people wondering how to figure out these life questions, and the advice of "love God, seek to glorify Him, use your brain, and go" is never well received. They want that special word from God (and we are not a charismatic church that goes around uttering prophecies all the time). I wonder how much of that is tied to the belief that any mistake, intentional sin or not, could take away your salvation.

GotToBTru said...

I have yet to see anything in the Bible itself that would explicitly argue that the canon is closed. I accept that it is, but I got that from wise people whom I respect and whose arguments I found compelling.

Anonymous said...

I have to second, Mandi as well as add, "How much of taking the road of muzzy, mystical "God told me so"-ness has to do with a lack of serious study of God's Word?"

I don't know a single, diligent student of God's Word who is running with the mystical crowd.

Bill said...

I'd start with: Rev 22:18-19, Deut 4:2, Deut12:32, and Prov 30:6. BTW, my comment was worded thusly...where does Scripture tell us to look elsewhere (for specific Divine revelation of course).

DJP said...

Got etc., I'd recommend you do some study on that, then.

But even that aside, and simply taking the Scripture we have as the Scripture we have, Leaky Canoneers still have to answer the question: what's missing?

Plus: the Leaky Canoneers as a rule formally affirm both a closed Canon and sufficiency. My repeated point is that the de facto is obliterating the pro forma.

Mike Westfall said...

> You will ask me why I don't delete
> Hillbilly, since he meets every
> criterion demanding deletion
> except obscenity.

Is it because you don't really believe in the sufficiency of the blog rules?

Jim Pemberton said...

The scriptural basis for the canon of scripture is clear enough that the early church agreed on it. Jesus identified the Apostles as the ones who would possess authoritative revelation from God. How do we know this? From their writings.

The argument against this at this point is that this is a circular argument. In other words there is logically no basis for authoritative epistemology. The problem with this observation is that while we point to the self-attestation of scripture to present the truth, we don't rely on the scripture to validate it. Rather, we possess the Holy Spirit who testifies to the veracity of scripture.

That's kind of ironic in light of this discussion. However, if the Holy Spirit went around telling us what we need to know that wasn't in scripture, He would defeat His own admonition to us that scripture was sufficient through the words of Paul. So, the role of the Holy Spirit is not to go around giving us new information, but to continually point us back to what has already been revealed.

We are not unified when each of us has a different word from God. We are unified when we have the same word from God. That's the crux of Paul's argument to the Corinthians who were divided over whether they were followers of Peter or Paul, etc. Paul argued that the message was the same regardless, that they were all unified by the same Spirit, and that this Holy Spirit was not the author of confusion.

donsands said...

"I have yet to see anything in the Bible itself that would explicitly argue that the canon is closed"-btru

How about: Rev 22:18

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

I would imagine John wouldn't want anyone to add to his other Epitles as well; nor any other book of the Bible, as the Spirit led him to tell us here.
The Holy Writ is closed.

St. Lee said...

I can think of a couple other people over the years who have felt that we needed to hear things from God that were not in scripture. Mohamed comes to mind, though he doesn't fit the theme of this thread since he "closed" the canon when he was done. Joseph Smith might be a better example. He certainly felt that he received a "word" from god, and in fact his followers still receive "revelation" through their "church" leaders. Does the absence of adding a whole new book plus the revelation being on a much smaller scale absolve modern charismatics from being categorized with them? Honest question.

Mike Westfall said...

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

What more does one need besides scripture?

DJP said...

Lee, in my unpub'd bk on the person and works of the Spirit, I quote a Mormon Scripture giving EXACTLY the same rationale about gifts that, say, Walter Martin once gave.

Irony, much?

trogdor said...

Important take-away: words mean things. It should be astounding to imagine a person in one sentence affirming that scripture is sufficient, and in the very next claim that there are things we need from scripture that it doesn't provide. If it doesn't provide everything necessary, in what way is it sufficient?

But hey, why can't we use "sufficient" when we mean "insufficient", when we can make other words mean whatever we want them to mean? Just think of all the fun we can have, Wormwood!

We can affirm God is sovereign while claiming there are really really important things He's not sovereign over

We can say Jesus is Lord while saying it doesn't matter if we obey him

We can affirm that God is three persons as long as we get to define persons as modalistic manifestations

We can take a message about gaining more of the world (and who cares about your soul?) and call it the gospel

We can call false teachers (including the papal cult) Christian leaders

As long as we pretend that words don't mean what they mean, there's no limit to what havoc we can wreak!

Joel Knight said...

If I was coming to the bible fresh I'd read all the stuff in the OT about what prophecy is and then I'd read the prophecy word in the nt and assume it meant the same thing. Then I'd ask what prophecy was for throughout the whole bible and conclude that since Jesus and his apostles are no longer around we no longer need new revelation, Since jesus is the final word, he's the end point of Gods salvation plan.

Jay Beerley said...

Didn't fully read every comment (sorry!) but here would be two cents (probably less) that I might add:

I think the authority of Scripture definitely plays a lot in this argument.

Which is the more likely scenario that is happening: people are elevating "words from God" to the status of Scripture or the status and authority of Scripture ALREADY has about as much authority as Oprah or your feelings in a very practical sense, even if they would use terms to suggest otherwise.

I believe the latter is probably the case. Scripture really isn't all that big of a deal to many people.

Kurt said...

DJP said:
"Exactly wrong, Rick. Nobody simply reading through Scripture would end up a Charismatic."

I think you overestimate human intellect there... Or I missed the irony in there somehow...

Well you overestimated mine anyway.

It happened when I was 23 (long time ago btw). I only read the four gospels and the beginning of Acts, cuz I knew that's where the red words are ya know...

And I then tried to speak in tongues, since the Bible obviously promised any Christian could and should, failed, and abandoned my (obviously false in retrospect) christianity.

I did convert to charismaticism and word of faith about six years later - this time I was able to speak in tongues - yaay..., but that is another (also sad) story.

trogdor said...

Missed this aspect the first time through. So we need this extra-biblical revelation, and scripture doesn't tell us how to get it. So this person will tell us how.

That means the method to get extra-biblical revelation is itself extra-biblical revelation.

So we could push back a layer and axe how this person got the revelation. Did it came to him without him knowing how, and if so why would anyone need to learn how from him - couldn't they just receive it themselves?

Did he figure it out, making his methods the product of his own mind - which means the fruit of the methods are the product of his own mind as well?

At the root, he's claiming that if you do X, you can get God to do something He has not promised to do, and reveal what He had chosen not to reveal. Any claim like this that makes God answerable to man is, how you say, problematic.

DJP said...

At the root, he's claiming that if you do X, you can get God to do something He has not promised to do, and reveal what He had chosen not to reveal. Any claim like this that makes God answerable to man is, how you say, problematic.

Epic. Excellent point, well made.

Anonymous said...

Dan, as I was reading through the comments, and came across Hillbilly, I immediately thought about how funny/bizarre his posts were. Further, those who know how to think through theology would see his posts as mindless diatribe. I then saw your post about the entertainment value of them and was glad you chose to allow him to continue. I think you should allow him to maybe supply a guest blog post sometime.

Anonymous said...

Rick, the idea that a person reading through the Bible for the first time might come to a conclusion is hardly proof of its accuracy. This might be a good time to point out that novices are not to teach for specifically this reason. People are to be taught the truth.

DJP said...


GAHCindy said...

Dan, you should delete Hillbilly. I am a hillbilly, and I don't like how dirty he makes me feel.

DJP said...

Boy, this whole blogging thing is complicated.

zamar said...

Sufficient means doesn't need ANYTHING else. If you understand the first line then the second line is clearly wrong. Any questions? Refer to the first statement. Scripture IS sufficient!

Carl C. said...

Despite your clear indentation, on first read-thru I saw "So I'll tell you how to get them.“ and thought, here's the punchline. Dan's gonna tell us how to trip up their logic, "how to get them.“
As is often the case with your posts, 3 reads later I got it. SemanticFail on my part, and since I don't think it's been said yet, "Nice post". But really, you keep putting enough effort into making your posts hyper-tersely condensified, and you'll have to go all out: start a regular DJP Proverb feature.

DJP said...

Absolutely seriously, Carl, thank you for giving the effort to be sure that you read and understood correctly. I really appreciate that.

Though my goal as a writer is to make it no harder of a chore than it is rewarding.

Er, if the syntax on that sentence isn't too dense...

Carl C. said...

Fair 'nuff. And yes, your case is very clear, and compelling -- we appreciate that you write with enjoyment, because that keeps you coming back, too! (Somewhat parallel to Kevin DeYoung's line re: blogging today.)

Barbara said...

Said it before, I'll say it again. Three little words that set me free from trying to figure out if that "little voice" was God or not:

God doesn't mumble.

And I seriously doubt that all these "words from God" are of the unmistakeable, fire-on-the-mountain, roar-of-the-ocean sort that lead the recipients of this word to despise themselves as men of unclean lips or with rottenness in their bones, making haste to bow low and worship.

I have known the revelation of the Holy Spirit through Scripture (Ezekiel 1 to be exact), doing exactly what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come to do: to convict me of sin and righteousness and judgment, and as I wept there agreeing with my damnation and yet more concerned with the righteousness and name of this holy God I had been a fool before for 40 years, to point me to the cross of Christ. It was powerful, it was death and resurrection, it was the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and it has borne much fruit, praise be to God. God did not mumble; neither did He speak apart from Scripture.

I think it's important not to get confused and think that cessationists believe that the words are dead and dry; the Spirit breathes life through the Word, illuminates it, applies it to our hearts, teaches us to live and love according to the Word that He has given us. And He is God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Morris Brooks said...

The reason Dan is a cessationist is because he is a sufficientist.

donsands said...

"...as I wept there agreeing with my damnation and yet more concerned with the righteousness and name of this holy God I had been a fool before for 40 years, to point me to the cross of Christ"-Barbara

Thanks for sharing your testimony. This is how we overcome, as we trust in the precious blood of Christ shed from His holy body for our filth and transgressions. Hallelujah!

This dark age can be difficult and even painful as we walk in the light, and it's the Gospel light that encourages us on our way, more than anything else.

"...if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."-John 1st epsitle

Rick said...

DJP -"Then why is ABSOLUTELY NO BIBLICALLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN a continuationist, Rick? Zero, none, not one?"
Try THE APOSTLE PAUL - to start with!

DJP said...

Do you have a serious response?

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

So here's what we do at points like this. We're not one of those blogs that serve as clearing-houses for unmonitored false teaching (read more here).

So, you don't get to repeat former misinformation.

You must answer the question. All evasive or irrelevant comments will be deleted. Keep it up, and you will be banned.

So, once again: if simply reading through Scripture would make one a Charismatic, why is ABSOLUTELY NO BIBLICALLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN a continuationist, Rick? Zero, none, not one?

That is the question you must answer, straight-up. It's short, it's simple, it's to the point. Like the post, which you are also ignoring — but we can get back to that next, perhaps.

Jennifer said...

I realize that just about every post here is either in total agreement or looking to pick a fight - hear this as honest quesions of someone wrestling with this very topic.

If by "BIBLICALLY ORTHODOX" you actually mean "people whom I agree with" then you may be right but do you consider guys like Piper, Mahaney, Grudem, Storms, etc. as BIBLICALLY UNORTHODOX?

Also, I assume from the many blog posts quoting Spurgeon that you hold him in high regard - I have been reading a lot of his sermons lately and he would seem to agree with MacDonald's chart that God's Word is our primary source and yet there are RARE times when the Holy Spirit leads in your life through what Spurgeon calls "impressions"

He states, “Sometime, too, but rarely, God guides us by very vivid impressions." (Spurgeon, sermon 2996) He then gives an example of a man being awakened in the middle of the night with an "impression" to go to a friends home thereby saving the man from a suicide attempt.

Is Spurgeon a "Leaky Canon" guy? Is he now unorthodox? He certainly doesn't sound as strict in his thoughts about the work of the Holy Spirit as you - or maybe I'm missing something?

Aaron Snell said...


I get your question because I've read this (plus probably another one you've written on the same concept that I can't find at the moment).

If Rick hasn't, the point underlying your question is probably going over his head.

LanternBright said...


Dan has addressed that issue here.

Hope this helps!

DJP said...

None of those people is a continuationist, Jennifer.

I see some brothers above have done a bit of footwork for you. This site has six years worth of teaching on this topic; a lot for you to dig into. No one post will say it all.

Aaron Snell said...

Yeah, that's the one - thanks, LB!

greglong said...

Charles Hodge would call continuationism "The Mystical Method":

The mystical method, in its supernatural form, assumes that God by his immediate intercourse with the soul, reveals through the feelings and by means, or in the way of intuitions, divine truth independently of the outward teaching of his Word; and that it is this inward light, and not the Scriptures, which we are to follow...

It follows from this theory,

(1) That there are no such things as revelation and inspiration, in the established theological meaning of those terms. Revelation is the supernatural objective presentation or communication of truth to the mind, by the Spirit of God. But according to this theory there is, and can be, no such communication of truth. The religious feelings are providentially excited, and by reason of that excitement the mind perceives truth more or less clearly, or more or less imperfectly. Inspiration, in the Scriptural sense, is the supernatural guidance of the Spirit, which renders its subjects infallible in the communicating truth to others. But according to this theory, no man is infallible as a teacher. Revelation and inspiration are in different degrees common to all men. And there is no reason why they should not be as perfect in some believers now as in the days of the Apostles.

(2) The Bible has no infallible authority in matters of doctrine. The doctrinal propositions therein contained are not revelations by the Spirit. They are only the forms under which men of Jewish culture gave expression to their feelings and intuitions. Men of different culture, and under other circumstances, would have used other forms or adopted other doctrinal statements.

(3) Christianity, therefore, neither consists in a system of doctrines, nor does it contain any such system. It is a life, an influence, a subjective state; or by whatever term it may be expressed or explained, it is a power within each individual Christian determining his feelings and his views of divine things.

(4) Consequently the duty of a theologian is not to interpret Scripture, but to interpret his own Christian consciousness; to ascertain and exhibit what truths concerning God are implied in his feelings toward God; what truths concerning Christ are involved in his feelings toward Christ; what the feelings teach concerning sin, redemption, eternal life, etc., etc.

Systematic Theology, 1:6-9.

greglong said...

Hodge goes on to say that Mysticism is different than spiritual illumination, the "leading of the Spirit," or "common grace." We can affirm the latter three without affirming the former. (1:67-69)

And to your point, Dan, he says,

Romanists, while admitting the infallibility of the written Word, still contend that it is not sufficient; and hold that God continues in a supernatural manner to guide the Church by rendering its bishops infallible teachers in all matters pertaining to truth and duty.

Mystics, making the same admission as to the infallibility of Scripture, claim that the Spirit is given to every man as an inward teacher and guide, whose instructions and influence are the highest rule of faith, and sufficient, even without the Scriptures, to secure the salvation of the soul.

He goes on to give the following objections to Mysticism:

(1) It has no foundation in the Scriptures.
(2) It is contrary to the Scriptures.
(3) It is contrary to the facts of experience.
(4) There is no criterion by which to judge of the source of inward suggestions.
(5) It is the doctrine productive of evil. (1:97-103)

But if only Charles Hodge had known men like Piper, Grudem, and Mahaney, I'm sure he would have changed his mind!

Rick said...

ok I'm answering in hopes that you too will answer my original question (posted 8:40 AM, September 18, 2012 and then recently restated but deleted by you).
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
D.A. Carson
John Piper
Wayne Grudem
Sam Storms
Now if you say that these men are NOT biblically orthodox - how so?

DJP said...

None of them is a continuationist. Not one.

Aaron Snell said...

Here you go, Rick.

(In case you missed it above)

Jennifer said...

Maybe I'm not understanding what you mean when you say, "continuist". You used James MacDonald's video as an example and yet I don't see any of the men I listed disagreeing with what MacDonald presented. Are they then what you label as "leaky canon" guys?

Linda said...

Does Lectio Divina =Continualist?

John Piper practices this

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

And again you're repeating yourself, Rick, as if nothing's happened. So I guess we have to do this more slowly.

So there ARE no Biblically faithful continuationists today, right? There IS no Biblically faithful (and responsible) man who would confirm that "the gifts" are operational and available, right?

Jennifer said...

Sam Storms is most definitely a continuist. I had also assumed that Grudem was as well. Maybe you are referring to a different level of continuist doctrine?

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
donsands said...

"Of course I believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. It's just that we need to hear things from God that aren't in Scripture,"

I don't think any of the Christian brothers that have been named here would agree with this. No way.

I was also thanking my Savior today for allowing me to have joy in Him, when I read His Word, which is the truth, and which sanctifies my soul. And there are times when i take time to worship my Lord in song, and my heart rejoices in my Lord, with the Words of the hymn.

here's one such hymn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfXuvsxt2JE

"My sin not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the Cross,
And I bear it no more!"

The Predestined Blog said...

The one I always hear is this -
"We believe in Sola Scriptura that is why all our prophecies must judged by the Bible." Oh boy...

Aaron Snell said...


Did you read the links?

Unknown said...

By definition, there are no Biblically Orthodox Christians who are full Continuationists. ALL Biblically Orthodox Christians believe that Scripture is no longer being written (that's part of the definition of Orthodox, after all), thus ALL Biblically Orthodox Christians are at least partly Cessationists.

DJP said...

Rick, your next comment here will be to answer that question. It's simple. If you're not getting it and don't want to do further research or thinking, read the links others have provided you and Jennifer.

There are no Biblically orthodox continuationists who think "the gifts" are operating.

DJP said...

Jennifer, you should not slander Sam Storms like that.

Please answer Aaron: did you read the links he and Lantern Bright found for you?

Jennifer said...

Hey Aaron,

Read the articles ... what I see is it is an "either/or" fallacy.

Dan has created a definition of continualist that states one must accept the extremes of the view. There are no degrees or no biblical exceptions. If this is the way we define these two options (cessationist or continualist) then one must be willing to accept the extreme on both sides.

Therefore, there are no Biblically sound evangelicals who hold to the position of cessationist. Not one.

If your definition is the extreme, all cessationists believe that God no longer works, no longer heals, His Spirit no longer leads people to act in any specific ways, no longer provides insights not otherwise explained.

This is why I asked about Spurgeon. He (like MacDonald) left room for God's Spirit to lead so he obviously would be in opposition to Dan's very strong position.

Jennifer said...


oh ... and I am smiling as I type ... I think I catch the "smirk" in your Sam Storms comment. I hope I do.

DJP said...

No Jennifer, you absolutely do not get it, and you do not get what cessationism is.

I realize it would be asking a lot to ask you to go back and read the 6+ years of writing we've done on this subject. You must also realize that it's asking us a lot to treat each (very welcome!) newcomer as if we've never written on the topic, and start all over, reinventing the wheel every week or two.

So in sum, no, what you are saying is absolutely wrong, and it isn't a matter of opinion or extremism.

If you want to say "the gifts" continue as in NT times, you must show me the Scriptures that have been written over the past 1900 years, and you must show me the 100% inerrant mouth-of-Christ apostles and prophets ministering today.

And if you do that, you are not Biblically orthodox. NONE of the men mentioned affirm that position, even if they mistakenly call themselves "continuationists."

Otherwise, you are a cessationist.

It's simply a matter of degree, consistency, rationale.

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bob Edwards said...

Dan, I am struck by how this argument resembles the one on Limited Atonement. The Arminians say that we put limits on the atonement of Christ because we limit who it applies to. We point out that they limit it as well, but in quality not quantity.

In the same way as cessationists, we say the quantity has gone down (admittedly to zero) while they say the quality has gone down. We say that God no longer speaks through prophets, you know the kind you stone if they are ever wrong as the OT demands and the NT authors write in light of. And they say there are. You can just never be sure if they are right and it is no big deal if the are wrong. In the end, we both reduce the gifts in some way, it is just how we do it.

DJP said...

Jennifer, I see you've got a lot to think about. Glad you're here. Check this, and you'll understand why we're going to stay on-topic and move forward. As we've been trying to explain.

DJP said...

Bob, that is a really, really excellent point, and well-made. It adds to the value of the discussion.

Thank you.

Jennifer said...

I read your "delete policy" article you linked and I'm not sure how my deleted comment fit that but I respect your right to delete anything you feel fit. I would humbly submit that if you continue to only allow those who agree completely with you the right to comment you will only increase the widely viewed opinion of Team Pyro as an echo chamber.

I will continue to study the Word and read discussions from both sides of this debate (your blog articles as well as stuff from Sam Storms, Wayne Grudem, et al).


DJP said...

"...if you continue to only allow those who agree completely with..." which just illustrates the problem you're having here. If you'd read the posts we gave you, you wouldn't keep making ignorant statements about "the gifts"; and if you'd read the post I linked, you wouldn't be saying that it's an issue of deleting comments I disagree with.

And THAT is the point of the editorial policy. This isn't meant as a bulletin board for anyone's ignorance.

Rick said...

DJP – I’ll take a crack at your question (couldn’t resist, nor do I think I should resist): According to YOUR definition and YOUR understanding of the terms (continuationist and cessationist) then yes you are correct, there are no biblically orthodox continuationists. However, when one redefines the terms to solidify their argument, then anyone who disagrees is going to be wrong (according to their understanding which happens to be the commonly held definition and understanding of the terms). YOU will always be right because YOU redefine the terms and tell all of us how we are to understand the terms, which differs from the commonly held understanding of the terms. No one can differ – we are forced to think the way you think, because you have fenced in your argument by redefining the terms. A little too Orwellian for my taste. This probably will be ‘removed by the administrator’, but I fell in line and answered your question. By the way (with all sincerity), the discussion is very helpful. It forces me to think through my convictions and beliefs (and challenges them in a good and healthy way).

Commonly held definitions which leads to a commonly held understanding, so an honest discussion (debate) can be pursued:
Continuationism is a Christian theological belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have continued to this present age, specifically those sometimes called "sign gifts" such as tongues and prophecy. Continuationism is the opposite of Cessationism.

In Christian theology, Cessationism is the view that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, prophecy and healing, ceased being practiced early on in Church history. The opposite of Cessationism is Continuationism.

Your definitions which supports and fences in your understanding which prohibits any disagreements or differences:
If you believe any of the miraculous spiritual gifts were operative in the apostolic era only,and that some or all of those gifts gradually ceased before the end of the first century, you are a cessationist.

If you believe all the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament have continued unabated, unchanged, and unaltered since the initial outpouring of tongues at Pentecost, you are a continuationist.

LanternBright said...


Dan hasn't redefined those terms at all. In fact, he's insisted all along upon defining both of those terms EXACTLY the way you have here.

What Dan and others here are pointing out is that the terms themselves are misleading: almost no one who calls himself a 'continuationist' defines that in the way that you have--namely, that "all the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament have continued unabated, unchanged, and unaltered since the initial outpouring of tongues at Pentecost."

Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and other men whom YOU have named in support of YOUR position do not define continuationism in this way--Grudem has to argue pretty forcefully that the gift of prophecy in the post-apostolic age is fundamentally DIFFERENT from what it was during the actual New Testament era. In fact (and this is the point of the Phil Johnson piece that's been linked to in the meta here), Grudem ends up arguing PRECISELY that the kind of prophecy seen in the Bible has--wait for it--effectively CEASED, to be replaced with the form of 'prophecy' he argues exists today.

This is why you're failing to make any real headway in the meta here--Dan hasn't redefined those terms at all, he's simply asking you to take a serious, critical look at what those terms actually mean.

LanternBright said...


Just to make my point a bit clearer: Dan isn't actually saying that Grudem, Piper, et al., are biblically unorthodox because they're continuationists...he's actually saying that they ARE biblically orthodox, and because of that they AREN'T continuationists in the sense that you have defined it here: every one of them has argued for the spiritual gifts in such a way that REQUIRES them to admit some degree of CESSATION among the gifts since the apostolic age.

Does that make sense?

Jennifer said...

Let me give a biblical example to answer the original post (rather than continue to argue the secondary stuff about certain theologians fitting into different categories).

Acts 21 is what I would think to be an example of non-Apostles getting revelation from the Holy Spirit. They were wrong on its application but it was still information that these Christians received from the Holy Spirit.

We for sure aren't told how they received this revelation from the Spirit nor did Paul rebuke them for being false prophets (even though they applied the revelation wrongly).

Did Paul need to "hear (these) things from God" that he was going to be beaten and imprisoned? Apparently, because God told him and a bunch of others.

We aren't told how "how to get them" but we are told what to do when we hear them: 1 Thess. 5:19-22; and 1 John 4:1-6. Why give us the tools to interpret and apply "revelation" if God's Spirit no longer reveals anything?

If I have further revealed my ignorance and am not contributing to the original past then delete away and I will find some other "full-on" cessationists to ask.

LanternBright said...


Good question. Nathan Busenitz has dealt with this passage in some detail, but since everybody (including me!) keeps linking you elsewhere, I'll summarize.

1. Nothing in the biblical text actually states that Agabus' prophecy was incorrect.

2. Luke's description of how Paul was captured in Jerusalem suggests that he agrees with what Agabus prophesied would happen.

3. When Paul re-tells the story of his capture in Acts 28, he does so in a way that, like Luke, suggests agreement with Agabus' prophesy.

4. Agabus claims to be quoting the Holy Spirit precisely when he prophesies about what will happen to Paul. (This is important, because if Agabus is quoting the Holy Spirit, and still ends up being WRONG, then it in turns means that the Holy Spirit Himself was wrong.)

5. The overwhelming opinion of the early church is that Agabus' prophesy ended up being fulfilled exactly. (Here Busenitz cites a number of patristic authors, but in the interests of brevity I'll simply refer you to the above link if you'd like to peruse them.)

In other words, then, what we have in Acts 21 is a poor litmus test for the present-day charismatic claim that the New Testament advocates an understanding of prophecy that need not be accurate.

Hope this helps!

Jennifer said...

Hey Lantern,

Appreciate your feedback. But it was not just Agabus who had a revelation from the Holy Spirit about the persecution coming - Acts 21:4 says that other Christians were telling Paul "through the Holy Spirit" not to go to Jerusalem. Again, they were wrong with the interpretation and the application but not the actual revelation (Paul being persecuted).

So it does still stand as a Biblical example of Dan's quick post.

We aren't told the how to receive as these believers did but we are told how to test as Paul did ... what are we testing if we aren't receiving?

LanternBright said...


In Acts 21:4, Luke expressly attributes this prophecy to the Holy Spirit. However, Luke does NOT tell us the exact content of that prophecy, so it's not a slam dunk that the Christians in 21:4 "received a word from God" that they felt was telling Paul NOT to go to Jerusalem. It's far more likely that what was happening was more akin to 21:8-11, where they were warning Paul what would happen if and when he did go to Jerusalem. If the believers' exhortation to Paul in 21:4 was itself a command of the Holy Spirit, then Paul sinned by rejecting it. But Scripture never really portrays his trip to Jerusalem as sinful, does it?

In other words, what we see in 21:4 seems to involve two separate things: a prophetic warning about the tribulation Paul would face in Jerusalem (which came true) and the reaction of Paul's friends to the news of that tribulation, which was to encourage him to not go to Jerusalem. I think the most reasonable way to read this is that the warnings were Spirit-inspired prophecy, whereas the pleas to not go were simply well-meaning exhortations from friends.

(Busenitz argues much the same in the comments section of his article.)

Jennifer said...


Yes, that is what I am saying - the revelation they received was correct - their application was not.

So, to point this to Dan's post - did Paul need this revelation from the Spirit through these Christians?

Is their experience something we can say we too will experience (such as Spurgeon's example of the man being waken up)? If not then why are we given the commands in 1 Thess. 5:19-22; and 1 John 4:1-6?

What are we testing if we aren't receiving?

Mike Westfall said...

The other thing you should note about the Acts 21 prophecy is that it was written down and became scripture.

"What are we testing if we aren;t receiving?"

What we are testing is anything that someone claims is the Word of God. If Pastor Dan gets up before his church and says something that he claims comes from God, it had better be in the Bible.

How can you use scripture to test what is not in scripture?

Rick said...

Lantern – thanks for the response – Question to clarify: Does he believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have continued to this present age? Or Does he believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased being practiced early on in church history?
I believe that the gifts have continued to this present age (and I believe those that I’ve listed would agree and I would add J.I. Packer) and I think Dan believes that they have ceased.
I call the first view Continuationist and the second Cessationist.

DJP said...

Jennifer: absolutely and completely irrelevant. You simply are not getting what we are talking about.

Rick, you need to stop talking, and start listening. There is NO BIBLICALLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN who believes that "the gifts of the Holy Spirit have continued to this present age."

There is NO BIBLICALLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN who believes that "the gifts of the Holy Spirit have ceased being practiced early on in church history."

That you are still saying this, at this point in the discussion, is marking you as simply not applying yourself. You need to read, listen, and think. At any rate, you're done repeating the same impenetrably ignorant irrelevancies.

LanternBright said...


Your questions have already been answered at pretty great length throughout the meta today. You can also check the tags on the original post for Dan's other statements concerning the spiritual gifts. Once more, though: the definitions you give of "continuation" and "cessation" are problematic--which is sort of the point we've been making all along.


Please forgive me for misunderstanding your post. I think I get where you're going now. Let's tackle the Acts question first: is the experience of the believers in Acts 21:4 something we can/should expect as believers today?

I'd have to say no, simply because there isn't anything in the text to encourage that. Frankly, I see no more reason for Acts 21 to describe a phenomenon we ought to experience in the regular life of the church anymore than I see Acts 2 describing such a thing. Do you see such a textual reason? It just appears that whether or not Acts 21 is meant to be a repeating, ongoing experience of the church is beyond the scope of that text.

I'll get to Thessalonians in a moment, but first it bears pointing out that the passage in 1 John you cite is clearly referring to false teaching, so to read that as John prescribing a practice for us whereby we can test experiences similar to those described in Acts 21 simply goes beyond the bounds of the text. John is simply telling his audience that everyone who claims to be a prophet isn't necessarily really a prophet, and that when someone DOES claim to be a prophet, their message ought to be tested against authentic apostolic doctrine. John simply isn't making any claims here about the ongoing gift of prophecy or about whether individual believers can expect to experience such things themselves.

And I think this is where we need to start with 1 Thess 5. It strikes me as altogether likely that Paul here is giving the same kind of advice that John is: just because somebody tells you they have a prophecy, doesn't mean you should take their word for it. Instead, test it against the indisputable truth. Again: I simply don't see that Paul is attempting to make a statement of any kind about the ongoing nature of the prophetic gift in this text.

Thanks for the interaction!

LanternBright said...

Dan's right, though--I think we've gotten off-course from his original point about whether or not a robust doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture is sustainable next to an insistence upon the need for extrabiblical revelation. Sorry for my contribution to that rabbit trail, Dan.

DJP said...

With that, we're done.

Sincere thanks to those who added such terrific content to the post. Golden stuff, amigos.