The continuationists' response to this series of posts continues to amaze and amuse me. No matter how many times I point out that I am not making an argument for cessationismnot trying to make one; wasn't planning to make one; wasn't talking about the issue; did not even intend to bring it up when I began this serieswe still have this flood of frantic comments from people who think cessationism is the issue and who demand to be given proof-texts so that they can dismantle whatever exegetical claims cessationism might rest on.
Let me say again: cessationism is not the issue here. I am simply pointing out the dismal track record of all modern prognosticating "prophets."
My point is not merely (as one commenter proposed) "that people sometimes claim divine inspiration and are lying." My point is that since the time of the apostolic era until now, there is not a single "prophet" on record who has proved to be a reliable source of "new revelation." Modern prophets don't just "sometimes" make prophecies that miss. When they make detailed predictions that are capable of being tested and verified or debunked, they are usually wrong.
And you don't have to be a cessationist to see the truth of that.
Now, I realize it would be impossible to get accurate figures on how many modern prophecies go unfulfilled. But if you really have the impression charismatic prophecies are right most of the time, you are naively gullible.
By the prophets' own testimony, their track record is lousy. The Kansas City Prophets, who rose to fame on the "Third Wave" tsunami in the 1990s, boasted that their success rate was about two-thirds accurate. One of their leading prophets said, "I figure if I hit two-thirds of it, I'm doing pretty good. . . . [T]hat's better than it's ever been up to now, you know. That's the highest level it's ever been."
Moreover, examine the "successful" prophecies, and I think you'll have to admit that many claims of fulfilled predictions are exaggerated. (I'm thinking of examples such as the one cited in Friday's post, where a non-disastrous earthquake was claimed as a fulfillment of a prophecy of doom. Or Oral Roberts's inventive reinterpretation of the Prophecy of the Nine-Hundred-Foot-Tall Jesus.)
Frankly, the statistical probability of successful results on random yes-no questions from a Magic Eight-Ball® is almost exactly the same: one-third yes; one-third no; one-third undecided.
Think of it: in very best of cases, modern prophets are dead wrong at least a third of the time. One of every three "prophecies" is totally bogus. That would be more than enough to get a seer stoned to death in Old Testament Israel.
I suspect that if the truth were known, far fewer than two-thirds of all modern prophecies ever see any kind of real fulfillmenteven if you count the liberally reinterpreted "fulfillments" like what Oral Roberts claimed after his 900-foot-high false prophecy.
So here's my challenge to those continuationists who insist that the problem of bogus prophecies pales in importance compared to the exegetical issues raised by cessationism: Name one faithful modern prophet whose prognostications are both objectively verifiable and always one-hundred percent accurate. Because that is the biblical standard (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
If you argue (as most do) that the gifts being practiced today are different in quality from the gifts possessed by the apostles themselves, you are actually arguing for a kind of cessationism yourself. If no one can identify a prophet who meets the biblical standard for basic accuracy, the question of cessationism is essentially moot anyway.