15 November 2005

Some said they blundered

PyromaniacThe 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 cessationism—not 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 series—we 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 fulfillment—even 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.

Phil's signature

118 comments:

William Dicks said...

Phil,

Your thesis here, which is not being followed by many of the charismatics reading your blog, is spot on.

I am not a cessationist (see my latest post), however, I am yet to find a prophet on this planet. In my own estimation, there is none!

Don't get side tracked by the charismaniacs! Do what you planned; it is your blog!

Strength to you!

William Dicks said...

I just thought of something Phil! I know..., it hurts!

Is the gift of prophecy as part of the list in 1 Cor 12 the same in quality as that of a prophet or are they different?

Meaning, is a person a prophet when he displays the gift of prophecy, or are they essentially different?

Please note, that I do believe that even if they are different, they should both still be 100% accurate.

Steve said...

Touche, Phil.

Seems the term "continuationist" applies in more than one way. Not only do many of them "continue" to argue for miraculous gifts today, but they also "continue" to insist on reading more into your blog than is actually there--no matter how many disclaimers you provide.

Their persistence and, in some cases, outright hostility makes it appear as if their total inability to point to any prophet who has a perfect track record (per the biblical standard) is a sensitive spot for them.

GL said...

I think you're way, WAY out of line here when you claim there are no contemporary prognosticators. How about this one?

http://www.punxsutawneyphil.com/

That's right, the *other* Phil, Punxsutawney Phil, is the Seer of Seers, the Prognosticator of Prognisticators.

Consider his success rate:
"Records from the National Climactic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina, show Phil's accuracy rate since 1980 to be about 59 percent."

That's nearly as good as the KC Prophets at their peak, and far better than some other prophets. Besides, who would stone a groundhog for mis-reading his shadow?

So, no more of this nonsense about the absence of genuine prognosticators these days. Punxsutawney Phil is as gifted and charismatic as they come.

Besides, in a head to head contest, who are you going to trust...
this Phil?
http://photos1.blogger.com/img/109/3752/200/Pyromaniac%20-%20Phil%20Johnson%20Link.jpg

Or this Phil?
http://www.groundhog.org/

C.H.H. said...

Phil,

I'm not sure I can totally see how a series on the total failure of modern prophecy can't stay separate from the issue of cessationism, but that being said, I have found the dialogue to be a little revealing- a bit like talking to Rev. James Jackson.

You: Modern-day prophecy has a hideous track record.

Them: You're just a cessationist! Show me a proof text! Here's 30 of my own!

You: That's not the issue. Modern day prophecy has a hideous track record.

Them: Yeah, well, Martyn Lloyd Jones agreed with my theology! Oh, oh, and John Piper! And John MacArthur has changed his mind before! Maybe he'll agree with me in a few years! What would you say then!

You: That's not the issue. Modern day prophecy has a hideous track record.

Them: (30 more proof texts).

You: I said it's about the lying prophets.

Them: Thank you for just demonstrating my point.

Sorry, it's late...

Mike Garner said...

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.

Alright, if beleving that gifts expressed today are not exactly the same as the apostles makes you a cessationist, then feel free to call me a cessationist. Obviously we are going to have the fallacy of the excluded middle, but that is for another day.


Lastly,
I think it is fairly clear that posts like this necessarily lead into a debate between cessationist and continuationists. However, it does make it a lot easier when you can just attack others rather than defining a biblically defensible view. It is very right to condemn JW theology (Arianism), but it would be absurd to never get around to defending biblical christology. So hopefully after this parade of stone casting ends, we will get to your view.

Brad Meyer said...

Phil,
I think your focus is off:
If you're citing Old Testament criteria for a "prophet" of 100% accuracy is still valid, then you MUST hold that the OT office of prophet is still active if only for those at 100%. Therefore, I must assume the purpose of your blog is to raise up those to fill this office- i.e., after calling out the false prophets, you will endeavor to raise up true prophets.

If you in fact believe there to be a new covenant, then:
Act 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the LAST DAYS, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall PROPHESY...

Jhn 16:13 ...when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: ...and he will shew you things to come
1Cr 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

Is this your purpose? If not, why not? Will your subsequent blogs encourage true NT-prescribed prophecy? If not, what are we left to believe?

William Dicks said...

Charismania MOTTO:
Quote first, think later!

BlackCalvinist said...

*sarcasm and comedic jest*
But Phil - the 900 ft Jesus prophecy DID COME TRUE!

We even got it on film!

see ????

*end sarcasm and comedic jest*

Libbie said...

My Vineyard friend says that her church has a prophecy policy 'No mates, No dates' which saves her from the worst excesses of the prophecy movement.

I once heard Gerald Coates say that it was really hard to be a prophet because you never know when God is going to change His mind. Now you know why open theism is so popular - it's the perfect prophet-get-out-of-a-stoning clause....

Tim said...

Brad,

You said, "I think your focus is off:
If you're citing Old Testament criteria for a "prophet" of 100% accuracy is still valid, then you MUST hold that the OT office of prophet is still active if only for those at 100%. Therefore, I must assume the purpose of your blog is to raise up those to fill this office- i.e., after calling out the false prophets, you will endeavor to raise up true prophets."

The true prophets have already been raised. The Scriptures declare them as the prophets and the apostles. Anyone, who proclaims the truth of the Scriptures is prophesying. If they deviate from that, then they are false prophets.

I also want to point out that many people in addressing false prophets don't make mention of the fact that if a prophet does prophesy AND THE THING DOES COME TO PASS, BUT HE LEADS YOU AFTER GODS YOU HAVE NOT KNOWN, THEN YOU SHALL NOT FOLLOW THEM. WHY? BECAUSE THE LORD IS TESTING YOU TO SEE IF YOU LOVE HIM OR NOT (Deut. 13:1-5).

I wonder if our nation stoned false prophets and "put away the evil from our midst" if these so called prophets would be so quick and so public to declare their message.

Tim said...

Brad,

One last thing. When did that 100% criteria change? Has God changed His mind regarding Deuteronomy 13? Did Jesus change His mind concerning what was written when He constantly quoted from Deuteronomy? Is Jesus the same YESTERDAY, today, and forever or not?

Jeff Jones said...

Phil:

Thanks for sticking to your guns. The Biblical standard of prophecy hasn't changed.

It seems to me that the argument common in continuationist circles about NT prophecy being different than that in the OT is wishful eisegesis at best. In order to validate the "prophetic" today, they're willing to cheapen and diminish it.

Those willing to "get a prophecy wrong" forget a very terrifying fact: to invoke God's name in a prophecy and then be proved wrong is to TAKE GOD'S NAME IN VAIN.

"And the LORD shall not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain."

I was on the fence at the beginning of this discussion, but the continuationists aren't winning, in my view. I simply cannot accept that the Biblical standard for prophecy has changed. If it has, how on earth are we to test the prophets? Even heretics get some things right!

As I see it, only one side seems to be upholding the value and perfection of words from God - be they enscripturated or prophetic. Ironically, the cessationists here seem to have a higher view of prophecy than do their opponents. It reminds me of the Calvinist's high view of a "limited atonement" which is effective, powerful and actually saves, versus the lower Arminian alternative which limits the effectiveness of Christ's work.

As I see it at this point, cessationists may not be able to prove Scripturally that prophecy has ceased, but they have definitely defined Biblically what such prophecy must look like. The burden of proof falls to the continuationists to demonstrate that such prophecy does still happen today.

My question to the continuationists, by the way: if prophecy and other miraculous, "sign" gifts are for today, is there Scriptural reason to believe they would be normative, or common, in the Curch at any period of time?

Or, perhaps, are these things meant to be very exceptional (say, as a means of authenticating the true message in times of great apostasy - Reformation, etc.) and thus are not to be expected in daily church life?

brad:

Acts 2:17 was fulfilled at Pentecost. John 16:13 is fulfilled in the establishment of the Church at the apostolic age. Even a continuationist must admit that this verse would have been fulfilled in that time.


Your reference to Corinthians would carry more weight if you'd:

1) answer Phil's challenge and present a post-apostolic prophet with a 100% track record; and

2) Demonstrate, with proof, what Biblical tongues actually were and a modern-day example of them. As it stands, I've read that tongues are a heavenly prayer language, a supernatural use of an unlearned human language, and even a very intriguing argument that NT "tongues" were actually non-miraculous use of vernacular languages (check out the Alliace of Confessing Evangelicals site - it's there somewhere).

Father Brown said...

It has been quite humorous to follow this whole "debate." Getting those "charismaniacs" (to borrow a term from william dicks) all worked up is funny to watch. But, I appreciate how you do a great job of pointing people to the facts.

One question though: What about those who say that the gift of prophecy was (and is) not the foretelling of events, but rather expositional insight and proclamation of the works of God (Acts 2:11)? I have heard many say that they are given the gift of prophecy because they have insight into Scripture and the exposition thereof. Biblical evidence seems lacking for such a point of view. Thoughts?

Steve said...

c.h.h. said: "I'm not sure I can totally see how a series on the total failure of modern prophecy can't stay separate from the issue of cessationism..."

Mike said: "I think it is fairly clear that posts like this necessarily lead into a debate between cessationist and continuationists."

A discussion about the dismal recoard of prognosticators does NOT necessary have to lead to arguing about cessationism vs. continuationism.

Such a discussion can naturally GO in that direction, but doesn't have to include it.

After all, we can talk at length about the attributes of God without ever pointedly discussing the Trinity. It's possible for the discussion to wander in that direction, but not a necessity.

All Phil has pointed out is that so far, he's restricted his comments to one specific matter, and hasn't moved on...at least, not yet. Either modern-day prophets (of the fore-telling kind) have an abysmal track record, or they don't. In Scripture, God gave a standard by which we should measure all prophets--a standard that, by all indications, still stands. What can we then conclude about modern-day prophets? Period.

It's totally possible for us to come to a conclusion about modern-day prophets without ever opening the door to the cessationist vs. continuationist wrestling room.

Paul said...

The 100% guarantee is rooted, not in the man uttering the prophesy, but the God working through the man. Consider A.W. Pink’s statement about prophesy: “The hundreds of prophecies which are found in the Old and New Testaments are not so much predictions of what will come to pass, as they are revelations to us of what God has purposed SHALL come to pass.” (“The Sovereignty of God” pg 76)

Steve said...

By the way, libbie, loved your comment on why open theism is so popular.

Jerry Wragg said...

I really hesitated offering this response because it is way too long, and is largely experience-driven (my own). But it raises questions that I believe have been on the heart of every believer on both sides of the continuation vs cessation issue (sorry, Phil, for bringing this up again). Incidentally, if you’re from a cessationist background but your claim is that your continuationism is only exegetical without having changed how you actually relate to God (e.g. revelations), then you either haven’t held the view very long or you aren’t practicing what you claim to believe. In fact, I can’t imagine why someone would conclude that scripture teaches continuationism without vigorously pursuing such interaction with the Creator, especially if it guarantees daily, albeit less authoritative and reliable, data directly from on high.

Be that as it may, on to my personal experience (what a knife-edge to walk). I have lived my entire Christian life being sanctified, making crucial decisions, raising a family, facing an evil culture, shepherding the flock of God, praying, seeing God work intimately in my life, knowing His pleasure, smarting under His discipline, learning to be selfless, cultivating humility, being powerfully led by His Spirit, becoming more courageous in bold evangelism, establishing deep doctrinal convictions, loving Jesus Christ and His cross beyond words, and experiencing the overwhelming wonder of worshiping my God---all exclusively through the instrument of the “living and abiding word of God” in His hand! What does this prove? Only that until its biblical arguments are convincing, none of what continuationism promises holds any necessary attraction for me. If God does reveal Himself “freshly” for my practical daily walk by some other means than the Bible I sure haven’t missed it. The Lord is as “fresh” to me now as ever! Does He strongly compel me to do this or that and go here or there? His word assures me that He does, by means of the Spirit’s sanctifying grace (as I yield to His written will – Eph. 5:18), by the mind of Christ renewing my fleshly reasoning (as I obey the truth - 1 Cor. 2:15; 2 Cor. 10:5), by doctrinal convictions cured over time (as I develop discernment – Heb. 5:14), and by the refining of my faith (as I entrust myself to Christ’s written promises, providential care, and saving love – Rom. 8:26-30). Some may ask, “what about those everyday practical ‘forks in the road’ where the dilemma of making a ‘wrong’ decision seems to demand ‘clearer insight into the future’”? For me, such cases are fairly routine and I resolve them in two ways: (1) I exhaust all possible avenues of wisdom commanded in scripture, namely, seeking wise counsel, applying any biblically explicit principles, examining subtle motives and unbiblical ideas that cloud my thinking, and trusting that the Spirit is working out His sovereign will in my life. Having first given the matter these considerations and found no more compelling clarity, I move forward in faith (even if I’m not quite sure, hence the faith!); (2) The previous steps build a deeper discernment over time so that such considerations begin to occur imperceptibly. No more “answer” is needed, nor do I believe one is offered by the Lord. Otherwise, how would I come to know and trust the promised goodness of God in the “waiting”?
On that note, I have often wondered why so many Christians seem to “need” specific clarity from God in the daily issues of life. If an intimate walk with Christ demanded a whole set of daily, personal revelations guaranteeing the “best path for me” how would I ever learn simple entrustment? Moreover, wouldn’t I be held responsible for carrying out every prescriptive detail of the revealed plan? And since I already lack faith where the scriptures are concerned, wouldn’t my immaturity quibble even more over God’s specific path for me because “His ways are not my ways…and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts”? In addition, how would I ever have enough spiritual insight to comprehend what He has ordained for me in each moment of my life, and how could I bear the burden of failing to line up with it all? And if inner promptings are direct revelations from God to me personally and I fail to obey to the detail, haven’t I violated His directly revealed will in the same manner as disobeying His written word? But some will say, “Isn’t it the same issue when cessationists fail to follow a “strong conviction” to witness to the guy at the bus stop”? No, because though God has directly commanded that we call all men to repent, He has not revealed his perfect and specific will for each circumstance. Upon further reflection, I may be guilty of selfishness and self-preservation by not responding to inward convictions I have come to believe over time (e.g. compassion for the lost, selfless and courageous evangelism), and must learn to respond more discerningly to Kingdom-opportunities. But I am in no danger of rebellion against a direct “word-for-the-moment” revelation. Quite frankly, I haven’t been able to keep up with all that scripture commands or promises as it is, so I’m compelled to believe that there is much more yet to be “experienced” as I behold wondrous things from His word and tremble to heed them. So far, God has strengthened my faith by His word alone apart from such specific revelations. If I’ve missed such a crucial resource as fresh, divine revelation for my sanctification during the last twenty-three years, you would think that glaring perversion, gross spiritual atrophy, serious doctrinal confusion, and frequent ruinous decisions would litter the landscape of my Christian experience (evidences all too common among many who live by revelations outside of scripture). After all, if a believer neglects any other spiritual discipline (including the use of spiritual gifts in the body), even for a short time, the watered seed of dereliction does bloom! Yet, in every persistent battle with the flesh (e.g. pride, weak faith, ignorance, laziness, unforgiveness, idolatry, and more) and my own daily struggle to humbly trust the Lord for His perfect will (a work-in-progress known all too well by my family and close friends) I have found scripture a ready and utterly sufficient weapon against the enemy, and a thorough implement for spiritual surgery. True, continuationists may make the same assertion, but not without being inconsistent. Continuationism necessitates the conclusion that cessationists have missed the personal work of the Spirit available to all believers, and therefore are floundering in a sea of non-dynamic adherence to ancient words alone. As a logical consequence, cessationist-churches must be “quenching the Spirit[‘s]” most significant work by emphasizing the specific application of ancient scripture over the contemporary and individual-specific revelations given directly by God. I fail to see how these conclusions can be avoided given the continuationist’s claim that private revelations occur today.

So what do we make of those nagging “checks and promptings” in our “spirit”? Are “strong impressions” (i.e. to witness to someone, to listen to a radio preacher, to be a missionary, to speak a serendipitous word of encouragement, etc.) to be taken as “direct” revelations from the Lord? For the continuationist, the answer is yes, not only because of an alleged lack of a verse or passage to the contrary (never mind that cessationism has yet to be dispensed of with so little an offering), but also because these revelations represent a needed specificity the Bible, it is claimed, never intended to offer. I would submit, however, that the answer depends on what is meant by “direct”. For instance, the singular testimony of scripture regarding Christian growth is that as one’s understanding of biblical truth deepens through obedience, strong conviction, passion, and discernment increases exponentially (Heb. 5:14; 1 John 2:13-14). Now, if I’m inwardly (indeed, almost audibly) compelled at some moment to share Christ with someone, must I conclude that the Lord has directly revealed His future will to me for that moment? Isn’t it possible (even more probable) that I am simply being “directed” through biblical convictions which the Spirit has seasoned through obedience over time, for His providential and effective use at that particular moment? Or, perhaps I’m experiencing a range of normal, biblical thoughts brought on by a combination of biblical truth and Christian experience? Our minds (inner man) work this way in every other arena of life, why must we suddenly spiritualize every strong “notion” and divinize each inner “impression”? Perhaps some clarity can be gained by looking at the way our conscience works. The scripture’s teach that the conscience strongly “condemns” or “affirms” us, depending upon how we respond to the strongest inner standards of conviction we believe (Rom. 2:14-15). Such condemnation and affirmation may be so inwardly powerful that it seems like audible “screaming”! Yet, no one would claim (I hope) that the promptings of the conscience are direct revelations from God. In fact, it is dangerous to give the conscience ultimate authority since it can be wrongly trained, sending false alarms where no sin exists, or no alarms when real guilt is present. It seems to me that inner convictions operate in a similar fashion. The more biblically refined my convictions, the more Spirit-driven my strong “impressions”. But if I mistake sensitive and mature spiritual convictions for “direct revelation” from God I will most assuredly “hear” God’s will where He has not spoken, and miss His clear written direction in pursuit of more than He offers in the Bible. Another example may help---if I have strong “impressions” about specific ways to apply the biblical admonition “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church”, am I receiving direct revelation specifically for my marriage? If not, how do I know the difference, since it is claimed that God gives “fresh revelations” for the practical areas of my life? And if, on the other hand, by applying scripture to my marriage I have strong convictions about ways to love my wife more biblically, what is lacking? As I see it, the idea of direct, divine, freshly revealed specifics for my life cannot be a both/and proposition. Either I believe that all inner thoughts specific to my life are directly given by God to complement the general principles of His written revelation, or they are the fruit of a Spirit-trained mind being “led” by obedience-produced convictions.
More to the point…these “promtings” and “impressions” are easily explained as God’s providential leading in a spiritually seasoned believer whose biblical convictions “speak to them” in the milieu of daily living. These strong thoughts can result in experiences ranging from the mundane to the seemingly impossible. They DO NOT demand the belief that God has directly spoken beyond scripture. His providence working through obedient believers is all that is needed (Phil. 2:12-13) to experience His leading. Lest we think this is only an issue of semantics, I believe what continuationists call “fresh revelation” is actually the Spirit’s providence combined with strong biblical convictions at best, or the accommodation of weak faith by desiring a “sensation” of knowing God’s specific will at worst.
In light of the above, my experience (apologies for the argument from experience) with Christ has now become the “trained-behavior” that keeps me wondering if continuationism is more the result of wanting something that obedience to the written word already affords.

My point is not that experience rules my conclusions, only that my experience continues to prove what God’s word overwhelmingly claims, namely that it provides everything the Christian needs until glory.

Ray said...

jeff jones comments --

quote

"As I see it, only one side seems to be upholding the value and perfection of words from God - be they enscripturated or prophetic. Ironically, the cessationists here seem to have a higher view of prophecy than do their opponents.

It reminds me of the Calvinist's high view of a "limited atonement" which is effective, powerful and actually saves, versus the lower Arminian alternative which limits the effectiveness of Christ's work."

/quote

Thank you for these comments they made me pause and think a bit more deeply about the whole subject.

Actually, outside of the occasional spurious stone lob, there are some well thought out responses here and I, for one, appreciate those contributing to the debate. Keep it coming, I eagerly am reading and listening...

DLH said...

Libbie, your observation about open theism is spot-on. Modern prophecy and open theism travel in pairs to keep each other safe. I once heard a long-haired, Australian (What's his name?) "prophet" on TBN explain his unfulfilled prophecies by actually chiding the audience. "For God's will to come true," he said, "you must cooperate with it." "If you do not do what God's wants you to do, then my prophecy will not come true." In other words, this man's prophecies were God's best guesses about the future given the information available at the time the prophecy is made. Sadly, the audience nodded in agreement, implicitly giving to the "prophet" the license to make innumerable false prophecies without ever being called to account.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Has the debate begun yet?

I've decided to sit back and watch and see what happens here.

I'm also offering a peace offering.
Phil,
I think we are going to end up agreeing on much more on this than either would like to admit.

But, with that in mind, change my mind.

Meanwhile, don't let me offend you by my arrogance if I do decide to comment.

Rose~ said...

Phil, are you reflected in the eyes of the grinch who stole Christmas? What face is that in your graphic?

passthebread said...

Phil,
The same is true about holiness. We see very little of it. Therefore, we should stop "pursuing holiness". So too just because we live in a backsliden era doesn't mean we shouldn't seek to grow in the grace of God.

Libbie said...

dlh, you be thinking of Kim Clement, I think.
I call his version of prophecy 'Christian Clairvoyance' and I've seen it done in person a number of times.

Steve said...

passthebread said: "The same is true about holiness. We see very little of it. Therefore, we should stop "pursuing holiness".

Huh?

Sorry, but that is poor logic. Holiness is explicitly and repeatedly commanded throughout the New Testament to ALL believers. Not so with prophecy.

Holiness is a moral issue incumbent upon all Christians, whereas prophecy is strictly an issue of spiritual giftedness and clearly doesn't involve all Christians.

Nathan White said...

PTB said:The same is true about holiness. We see very little of it. Therefore, we should stop "pursuing holiness".

This is faulty logic not only because of what Steve just pointed out, but because we DO see some holiness just like you said. Whether we see a lot or little I do not wish to discuss, but the fact is we do see practiced holiness in the lives of many Christians. Phil's challenge was to produce just one modern day prophet...just one. Because we have yet to see any since the first century.

LeeC said...

I think everyone who posts in this thread should preface their comment with "Hi my name is XXX and this post is NOT ABOUT CESSATIONISM."

It would make for much shorter threads though I fear.

Heh.

If Iam correct Phil is talking about clear fase prophets. What is a false phrophet? If you prophecy, speak for God and do so innacurately then yes, you are a false prophet.

Has prophecy changed? I do not think so, but even if it has I cannot believe that God changed prophecy so much that He allows for people to innacurately speak for Him.

The ssue to me is a 1 Cor 5:9-13 one.

9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;
10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.
11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?
13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

God is Holy, and we whether cessationst or continuist should have HIS GLORY as the first and foremost concern in our lives.
Are we so concerned about our pet beliefs so much that we are willing to sit by idly and allow his name to be dragged through the dirt by false prophets? To be made a mockery for unbelievers?

When I have been asked if I desire to be an elder I have told the person asking that of course I desire to qualify to be one, but I a terrified of being one. Not that terror would stop me if I was ever asked to become an elder, but instead that fear whch comes from not wanting to sully my Holy Gods name should spur me on to diligence, and purity.

Unless 100% certain, zero doubts I could never prophecy in the name of the Lord. I posit that those who repeadtedly prophecy with a claimed 2-1 ratio of accuracy need to fear God much, much more.

Rich Ryan said...

Not sure if this counts but I recently talked with a Sovereign Grace pastor who related this story; provided in summary for with the salient points.

A woman in Cov. Life Church approached CJ Mahaney and told him that God would "build a bridge" between he and John MacArthur and they would work along side one another in ministry. Apparently this occurred well before CJ began to interact with GCC.

Not sure if she has "prophesied" before or her over/under on other proclamations but she got this one 100% correct - see Resolved, Together for the Gospel, etc.

Honestly, when we heard that CJ would be in the GCC pulpit, which one of us was not surprised (both sides), based on John writing on the subject of gifts?

Obviously this “prophecy” is hard to validate objectively. Was it a guess based on much common theology? Was it because she talked to someone close to GCC and they stayed that there is much common ground? Who knows!

But if you had told me 2 years ago that a professed charismatic who affirms Grudem’s view on prophecy would stand on the platform at GCC and preach in John’s stead (conferences not withstanding), I would have said… “That’ll be the day.”

Does this count as one? ;o)

LeeC said...

Actually Rich no, I was not suprised at all. Even in Charisatic Chaos there are points where Pastor McArthur refers to having Charismatic friends.
It seriously seems like people often want to characterize Pastor MacArthur as some fire breathing, Protestant Inquisitor.

He doesn't agree with R.C. Sproul on some rather big issues also, in fact in many was his differences with Sproul seem larger than the ones with Mahaney are you suprised he will share a pulpit with him?

Are we not brothers, even if not 100% eye to eye on all things?

candyinsierras said...

First of all let me state again, that most people who are posting are basing their understanding on the apostate circus that is represented best by TBN. We are also swayed by our peculiar western mindset that gets innundated with sensationalism. I guess I am confused as to the level of prophecy we are arguing about? Spurgeon was called prophetic in his preaching. He warned, he encouraged and he exposed. I read something by Edwards I thought was interesting in light of the discussion at hand.

Edwards states (paraphrased): A vision of God removes the prejudices of the heart against the truth of divine things. The mind is naturally full of enmity against the doctrines of the gospel. There is a disadvantage to arguments that seek to prove their truth and it causes them to lose their force upon the mind. But when a person has discovered the divine excellence of Christian doctrines personally, his enmity and prejudices are removed, sanctifying his reason and causing it to be opened freely. This removal of prejudice makes a vast difference in the force of an argument. Christ's miracles had a different effect on the disciples than they did on the Scribes and Pharisees, who were influenced by blinding prejudices that clouded their reason.

Why can't God still do miracles in situations where there are no historical scholars and vast theology to rely on?

I notice that people who post are apologetic when describing experiences...as though experiences are somehow not a good thing. We get bogged down in our intellectual reasonings based on our particular western viewpoint. Perhaps there are miracles occuring in third world countries where there is a high rate of illiteracy.

Again, if the issue are those antics that pass as prophecy then I just don't think there are many arguments against. If the issue is the building up and encouragement of the Church with teaching that is prophetic in nature, or a word in due season for the building up of the saints, then what is the big deal? And please don't say that it is extra-biblical. A person who encourages another should always have Bible in hand and be right on scripturally.

puritanicoal said...

If you are limiting your Name-That-Prophet Challenge only to those who have correctly foretold the future, I think you are missing this important point.....

"One preliminary observation: be sure you don’t think of prophecy only as predictions. That is one thing a biblical prophet did, but not the only one. Prophecy is forth-telling as well as foretelling. An Old Testament prophet spoke for God, whether describing the moral condition of the people calling for repentance, or the warning of judgments to come." (John Piper)

Under that definition, isn't it possible to label the gifts of such people as Owen, Spurgeon, Edwards, MacArthur etc. as having a gift of prophecy, in the sense that they are "forth-telling" not just foretelling?

Piper goes on to preach, "Or it was probably the gift of prophecy when Charles Spurgeon, while preaching in London, pointed to a young man and said, “Young man, the gloves in your pocket are not paid for.” Or when he said on another occasion, “There is a man sitting there who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays; it was open last Sabbath morning. He took ninepence, and there was fourpence profit on it; his soul is sold to Satan for fourpence!” Both these words proved true and brought repentance."

Rich Ryan said...

Lee,

I should know better than to tussle with a man who wears armour but here goes.

I think maybe you misunderstood my point or I was not clear. Having been at GCC for 4 years and reading John much longer than that, and knowing people very close to him on staff (I even played golf with John once ;o) shameless plug) I know that John is not the man many think he is. Without a doubt, JM is a very humble, though very intense man. He might be gracious to a fault. My point was more that I was surprised that CJ was in the “pulpit.”

Context - Sure John has shared the stage with men like RC, White, Hunt, Mohler, Piper - (all having theological disagreements with JM) but preaching for John on Sunday morning is a whole other issue together, IMO. While I was there it was my perception that there was a very short list of men who got that opportunity…very, very short.

Even some of the great staff preachers at GCC had to go through the "Sunday evening to get to Sunday morning process." CJ seemed to bypass that and go directly to Sunday morning. It’s just a perception issue for me – maybe I’m way off. Maybe my question should have been, “were any of you surprised?” rather than “who wasn’t surprised?”

2nd - even though John would have eschatological differences with men like RC, Mohler, etc, I think it is fair to state that John's view on charismatic theo. is the most highly emotional/controversial subject he has written about and "The Charismatics" had a much sharper "tone" to it than CC did. Many people were REALLY offended by that first run.

That being the case, John has not been as dogmatic, in my opinion, on the issues that he does not share with men like RC. He has been VERY outspoken on the former and that appeared to me to be the deal breaker, for both sides.

Rich Ryan said...

Follow-up Lee,

Again, this could be way off but it is my impression that preaching for John on Sunday is akin to tacit approval for many. The eldership is very careful, from my observations, to not allow John to link up with others that might cause too much of a stir (see the BYU lectures for an example).

To my knowledge, RC, Piper, Rodgers, Hayford have not been given that opportunity, thought they have preached together in neutral venues. In fact, I can only think of one who has preached for John out of that group and it was Al Mohler.

Phil or Jerryw, please correct me if I am incorrect or overstating the issue here.

Dave said...

I have a few questions for continuationists:

1. What difference, if any, is there between an occasional miracle and an ongoing gift which would lead one to say that someone has miraculously uttered a prophecy versus having the gift of prophecy?

2. What evidence exists for the claim Old Testament authenticity standard does not apply to New Testament prophets?

3. What criteria should be used for evaluating New Testament prophetic claims?

4. Why do you think God would change the test from the fairly stringent objective one in the OT to something else?

Sincerely,

David (lapsed-Christian who made it to the big time by being blogspotted)

Rich Ryan said...

puritanicoal

If you have not read it already I would encourage you to read David F. Farnell's doctoral dissertation from DTS on NT prophets and prophecy.

It was a direct reply to this question and many others (specifically Grudem's view). It is compelling exegesis that shows prophecy is not forthtelling (teaching) but foretelling.

LeeC said...

No tussle here.
I just wasn't suprised personally.

I've never met Pastor MacArthur, except briefly at our churches 50th anniversary.I have spent the past nine years surrounded by TMS students, and professors, and I have read most of his books, peruse the TMS Journals etc.
I have the privelege to attend Calvary Bible Church in Burbank, founded by Jack MacArthur, and where John first preached.

It would have truly shocked me if say he let Jack Hayford fill his pulpit, but not C.J. Mahaney.

And although I could explain why better, I fear I don't have the time to do so and remain a good steward at my workplace. Like most discernment issues it isn't always easy to just blurt out.
Heh,heh.

MTG said...

Oh NO!! Not PROOF TEXTING!!!!

The church of christ works theology is here...

G-a-a-a-a-a-h-h-h-h-

LOL

Phil.... too bad your wonderful blog has become an arena for one-up-manship by the theologically inept masses.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

With all of Phil’s disclaimers I suppose it would be totally out of line for me to suggest that all, yes ALL, spiritual gifts ceased in the apostolic period?

It seems to me that the biblical evidence does not leave open the possibility of “partial” cessation. It is either all or nothing (with the exception of tongues).

Rich Ryan said...

Jonathan -

So you too are intrigued by the nepios/telios argument in Eph 2?

Careful, you just took your PhD orals. If "teachers" are defunct, what will you do with that education? LOL! ;o)

candyinsierras said...

Morgan states: Phil.... too bad your wonderful blog has become an arena for one-up-manship by the theologically inept masses.

It can be recognized when one compares himself to others when he thinks he is an eminent saint in comparison. This is the secret language of such a heart: "God, I thank You that I am not as other men"(Luke 18:11) But he whose heart is subject to Christian humility has a very different attitude. For humility,or true lowliness of mind, causes people to think others better than themselves (Phil. 2:3) This is how Moses and Jeremiah viewed themselves, although they were eminent saints and had great knowledge. Humble people do not naturally think they are qualified to teach, but feel the need to be taught; they are much more eager to hear and to receive instructions than to dictate to others: "Swift to hear, slow to speak" (James 3:1) They are not likely to assume authority, but subject themselves to others. "Be not many matsters: (James 3:1) "clothed with humility" (I Peter 5:5) they submit themselves one to another in the fear of the Lord: (Eph. 5:21)...it may be argued that a person's love of God increases in proportion to his knowledge of God. If this is true, why does an increase in knowledge in a saint make his love appear to be less? I answer that it is not just simply a question of an increase of knowledge or the sight of God. For the more the vision of God grows in a saint, the more he is convinced there is much more to see. - Jonathan Edwards

Sojourner said...

I didn't think so before, but now I definitely think that I am a prophet. When I read this post I thought, "Man, I bet the comments will go past 40 on this one easy." And look! I think I'm number 41. Now if you all will excuse me I think I need to check out some stock options.

Here's my second prophecy since I'm on a roll, "Someone reading this will be annoyed with my flippancy regarding such an important topic." To you, dear reader, I say relax. I'm only kidding. I know that this is a serious discussion. Can't a prophet have a little fun?

Brad Meyer said...

Tim:
"One last thing. When did that 100% criteria change? Has God changed His mind regarding Deuteronomy 13? "- just as Phil never argued for cessationism, I never said the 100% criteria changed for the office of prophet.

GOD'S STANDARD FOR EVERYTHING IS 100%! And the punishment for sin is DEATH! Can anyone give me the name of someone who has not sinned? Aha! Christianity today is a farse!

jeff jones:
"Acts 2:17 was fulfilled at Pentecost."- this is a completely unfounded, arbitrary position conveniently in line with your position.
"John 16:13 is fulfilled in the establishment of the Church at the apostolic age."- only if you believe the Spirit is no longer active after the apostolic age- also unfounded.

Nathan White said...

Brad,

"Can anyone give me the name of someone who has not sinned? Aha! Christianity today is a farse!"

One does come to mind: Jesus Christ; and God will look on Him and pardon me.

Also, how can you direct those words at Jeff Jones while failing to provide an objective argument to the contrary? You sound pretty arbitrary and convenient to me.

And if we interpret John 16 as an establishment of the written word and the church we have to deny the work of the Spirit? Certainly not. For John 16 verses 5 thru 11 teach that the Holy Spirit will come when Jesus departs and will “convict the world of sin”. Obviously with the object identified as ‘the world’ Jesus in these verses clearly talks about everybody in general. The Holy Spirit will convict everyone of sin, not just the ones who were sitting there listening to Jesus speak at the moment. But notice that in verse 12 Jesus changes who He is talking about: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” – here Jesus is talking to the disciples only. Certainly this can’t mean that Jesus had many things for everybody in the world to hear but that we can’t bear them! No, because Jesus then begins to say that [whoever the object is] will know these things in the future (note how Jesus begins the next sentence with ‘however’ therefore linking it directly to verse 12) which is an incoherent statement if true. If we are reading this in the 21st century, how is it that those things to be revealed in verse 13 and on are too much for us to bear back when He spoke then but are ok for us to bear now? –It makes absolutely no sense if we interpret verse 12 to mean Jesus was talking to us today.

Therefore verse 12 and following are directed only at the twelve who were sitting there listening. Jesus was referring to the writing of scripture that the Apostles would soon be lead to do through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus then continues talking to His disciples only by saying: “He will guide YOU”; “He will tell YOU things to come”. Jesus here is clearly identifying the object as you, meaning the ones listening, and not to the entire world. Otherwise, Jesus would’ve clearly said ‘He will guide the world into all truth’. Furthermore, if we take verses 13-15 to mean everybody, why doesn’t Jesus mention the different classes of people: the saved and the lost; the prophet and the layman? For how can an unbeliever be lead into all truth? So then we affirm that the ‘you’ can’t mean everyone because everyone isn’t lead into all truth, and it can’t mean all Christians because certainly Jesus would’ve clarified that the ‘you’ was only the redeemed; or He would’ve have clarified that this would only apply to the ‘prophets’. The only logical conclusion is that the ‘you’ means what it sounds like in plain English…the people He was currently staring at when He said YOU. Therefore, we must affirm that when Jesus changes His object in verse 12 He continues with that same object and doesn’t jump back to ‘the world’ He was referring to in verses 5-11.

Highland Host said...

I am a practical Cessationist, but can all claims for prophecy after the New Testament be dismissed? I may do a series on Alexander Peden, 'the Prophet of the Covenant' at 'Free St. George's', (http://freestgeorges.blogspot.com/) if I get ANY encouragement (shameless plug for new blog)

Brad Meyer said...

nathan white,
"But notice that in verse 12 Jesus changes who He is talking about: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” – here Jesus is talking to the disciples only. Certainly this can’t mean that Jesus had many things for everybody in the world to hear but that we can’t bear them!"

they can't bear them because they don't have the Spirit like everyone before them. We allegedly DO have the Spirit and are capable of bearing them. So the Spirit will convict the WHOLE WORLD of sin, but only guide the apostles into all truth?
Back up to Jhn 16:7:"for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you." Is the Comforter also only for the apostles?

Jeff Jones said...

Lest Sojourner be stoned for his transgression:

HOW DARE YOU BE SO FLIPPANT ABOUT SUCH AN IMPORTANT TOPIC!!!!

;)

Phil, don't let the heated discussion dissuade you (not that you would). This has been very helpful to me personally, among others. I'm glad you're willing to take on the tough issues.

ad brad meyer:

***quote:

jeff jones:
"Acts 2:17 was fulfilled at Pentecost."- this is a completely unfounded, arbitrary position conveniently in line with your position.
"John 16:13 is fulfilled in the establishment of the Church at the apostolic age."- only if you believe the Spirit is no longer active after the apostolic age- also unfounded.

***/quote.

Brad, if you had bothered to read Acts 2:17 in context, you would have noticed that it is a direct quote, by Peter, from Joel 2:28-32, at Pentecost. Peter quotes this verse, as part of his Pentecost speech, in order to explain what had just happened as the Holy Spirit was poured out. In short, Peter was saying, "This (i.e., Pentecost) just happened in fulfillment of prophecy, specifically what Joel said..." Your description of my statement as "completely unfounded, arbitrary position conveniently in line with your position" is actually hilariously funny - it fits your use of Acts 2:17 to a tee. That's the danger of "proof-texting".

Now, here's the NASB translation of John 16:13:

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

Now, brad, can you seriously argue that this prophecy is not yet fulfilled? No. So it is fulfilled, starting at Pentecost. Of course, the Holy Spirit continues to work to guide us and speak to us - both cessationists and continuationists agree on this. The dispute is about the nature of the Spirit's continuing work. Thus, my point stands: this has been fulfilled already, and cannot be used to justify continuationism. Perhaps other verses can; just not this one.

Jeremy Weaver said...

OK. I'm commenting.

Foretelling the future is a secondary function of prophecy. So why is the debate centering around that aspect?
The prophet speaks for God to His people.
He is a spokesperson. All pastors are prophets. Prophets are God's ambassadors.

Nathan White said...

Brad,

“So the Spirit will convict the WHOLE WORLD of sin, but only guide the apostles into all truth? Back up to Jhn 16:7:"for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you." Is the Comforter also only for the apostles?”

Of course not, the Comforter is for all who believe. But Jesus qualifies this by saying in the next verse: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”. Again, the object of this is the world. As I said above: “…John 16 verses 5 thru 11 teach that the Holy Spirit will come…with the object identified as the world…clearly talks about everybody in general…The Holy Spirit will convict everyone of sin, not just the ones who were sitting there listening to Jesus speak at the moment. But notice that in verse 12 Jesus changes who He is talking about…”

Again I will say: “we must affirm that when Jesus changes His object in verse 12 He continues with that same object and doesn’t jump back to ‘the world’ He was referring to in verses 5-11.”

Brad Meyer said...

nathan white,
you have an uncanny ability to interpret indefinite pronouns- is it a gift?

Mike Garner said...


Does this count as one? ;o)


No, remember? When you start with an a priori rejection of all gifts then when something like this comes up you do not test it but you begin to look for ways to explain it away. Now, I am not saying that it was in fact true prophecy, but I am saying that a cessationist would never give the time of day to evaluate it since they reject it from the start.

Steve said...

Brad said: "GOD'S STANDARD FOR EVERYTHING IS 100%! And the punishment for sin is DEATH! Can anyone give me the name of someone who has not sinned? Aha! Christianity today is a farse!"

This is yet another faulty comparison.

God clearly prescribed a specific punishment that the Israelites were to carry out against false prophets. In today's language, God permitted zero tolerance toward false prophets. Judgment was to be immediate.

But God never gave an all-encompassing command to immediately put to death someone solely because he or she was a sinner. By His grace, God has expressed, at least temporarily, a tolerance for the fact we are born with a sin nature. He's allowed us the opportunity to continue living and ultimately, to follow or reject Him. His standard against sin won't be applied until judgment day. That's why we can't compare God's standard against sin to God's standard against false prophets.

If we carry your analogy to its logical conclusion, Brad, in essence you're saying that because Christians do happen to sin, it's okay for a person who professes to be a prophet to "happen to be wrong."

eculeus said...

Doxoblogist,

You seem to want to remain aloof, but i'm going to drag you into the fray anyway ;)

I think your (and many others" definition of "prophet" is muddying the waters of this topic.

We are not speaking of a 'prophet' as one who simply proclaims God's word. No one is arguing that someone who speaks in line with Scripture can claim to be speaking 'for God,' because scripture is God's word. You may call them 'prophets' if you'd like, but that's not what is under discussion.

The kind of 'prophet' under debate here is the one who foretells the future. Correctly and consistantly foretelling the future is a method of AUTHENTICATING that a man speaks 'for God'. This foretelling should be objective, directly verifiable, plain to all, and also NOT something that can be simply 'guessed at' or derived by other means. It is only THIS way that we know it is from God.

Phil's point is that the people who claim to be prophets by THIS definition are phony nowadays. That's all.

I also note that no one has yet given an objective, verifiable example of an accurate future-foretelling prophet (by the second defintion) yet.

We should limit further discussion to THIS strict definition of 'prophet' (future-foretelling), or risk talking past one another by using the same language for different things.

Dawn said...

Jeff Jones: "My question to the continuationists, by the way: if prophecy and other miraculous, "sign" gifts are for today, is there Scriptural reason to believe they would be normative, or common, in the Curch at any period of time?"

I have no idea if the "gifts" would be "normative or common," but I do believe they come when they are necessary and when it is God's will. I also believe that much of the post-modern church is so totally devoid of true spirituality that they're not close enough to the Lord to get a word from Him. They don't spend the proper amount of time in prayer, in fasting or in studying the bible. I believe these gifts come at a price (i.e., strong faith). I believe the bible teaches that it takes work to build one's faith. E.g., the demon which could not be exorcised because the man had not fasted and prayed. (Matthew 17:21)

I am VERY leery of anyone who claims to be a prophet. In fact, I do not give them the benefit of the doubt because there are so many false prophets out there. I have a feeling that there ARE true prophets out there, but they're not shouting things from the rooftops. I think that maybe they keep a low profile and only those in the local church are privy to the information. But that's just my opinion. I do not believe the gifts have ceased since that which is perfect (the second coming of Jesus) has not yet come.

I'm not aware of anyone who claims to be a prophet since the time of Jesus who has been 100% accurate, but that does not mean they are non-existent. It, to me, simply means it has not been recorded that I know of. Though, I am not a very good student of church history. I believe the word of God and it says that the gifts have not ceased as described above.

I do know that the gift of healing has not ceased because I have been miraculously healed, my husband has been miraculously healed and miraculously delivered from cigarette addiciton (it was not a miraculous thing for me but rather a struggle).

I believe word of knowledge still exists because I have experienced it for myself (on the receiving end and it was spot on). Though I do believe it is grossly abused and many times falsely given. So, there again, I am VERY leery of anyone who starts spouting out words of knowledge and even tongues and the interpretation of tongues (though I believe in tongues and interpretation).

The gifts of the spirit are an area that I believe, but have a very hard time believing who is real and who is fake. Lack of discernment on my part, I sure. And there is a reason for that. I steer clear of those people these days anyway.

Jeff Jones: "Those willing to "get a prophecy wrong" forget a very terrifying fact: to invoke God's name in a prophecy and then be proved wrong is to TAKE GOD'S NAME IN VAIN."

Totally agreed. I've heard several times that, "you should just try to give a word. If you've missed God, well we all make mistakes. Sometimes you'll hit the mark and sometimes you won't."

HUH?! These people do not have a proper fear of God and do not have a proper respect for God. I know they think they're doing right (some of them, anyway), but if their error is pointed out and they continue in their sin then they are, I think, putting themselves in grave danger.

Jeff Jones: "Acts 2:17 was fulfilled at Pentecost. John 16:13 is fulfilled in the establishment of the Church at the apostolic age. Even a continuationist must admit that this verse would have been fulfilled in that time."

True, Acts 2:17 was fulfilled at Pentecost, but that does not mean it ceased. It was simply the beginning. Just as Jesus has fulfilled the law, obeying the law has not ceased. The same goes for John 16:13. It was the beginning of the Holy Spirit being with us. He is still here with us today: teaching, guiding and comforting.

Jeff Jones:

"1) answer Phil's challenge and present a post-apostolic prophet with a 100% track record; and

2) Demonstrate, with proof, what Biblical tongues actually were and a modern-day example of them. As it stands, I've read that tongues are a heavenly prayer language, a supernatural use of an unlearned human language, and even a very intriguing argument that NT "tongues" were actually non-miraculous use of vernacular languages (check out the Alliace of Confessing Evangelicals site - it's there somewhere).
"

Some of the prophets' prophecies in the OT did not come to pass for hundreds of years later. So there may very well be prophets alive today whose prophecy(ies) has/have not yet been fulfilled. And maybe they have only been given ONE prophecy from the Lord. We don't know. And who said that it had to be "recorded" (officially) for us to believe there are still prophets around today? I think that it is possible that local bodies may be the only ones privy to such prophets.

Tongues are exactly what the bible says they are: a heavenly prayer language (I Corinthians 14:18-28) and languages of different countries (Acts 2:4-11).

I don't know any other language, but my Bible study teacher (who is NOT a flake and very anti-charismania) has heard his wife praying in tongues. She was speaking German (she does not know German, but he does) and he said the German words were praises to God.

The bottom line for me is that God said it, I believe it and have experienced some of it. I am not a charismaniac in the least. I am very much a cynic of anyone who claims to be a prophet or has a word of knowledge or who speaks a "word" in tongues. However, I do believe these gifts still exist and that there are sincere men and women of God who experience them. Though they ARE grossly abused and misused in today's postmodern church.

candyinsierras said...

Romans 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

From my Bible notes: Prophecy involved prediction (foretelling), but ususally this was done in a context of declaring God's warnings and exhortations to His covenant people (forthtelling).

eculeus said...

candyinsierras,

Again, I don't think that "forthtelling" is the issue under debate here.

Phil is discussing prophecy under the "foretelling" definition ONLY.

I may be mistaken, but the argument here seems to be that since "forthtelling" obviously exists, it is okay to sweep the "foretelling" issue under the rug. This obviously makes no sense.

I think we should stick to the definition of:

prophecy = 'foretelling' :)

Even if it is not how some people are used to using the term, that is how it is used in the current context.

Mike Garner said...

We are not speaking of a 'prophet' as one who simply proclaims God's word. No one is arguing that someone who speaks in line with Scripture can claim to be speaking 'for God,' because scripture is God's word. You may call them 'prophets' if you'd like, but that's not what is under discussion.

The kind of 'prophet' under debate here is the one who foretells the future.


I suppose that the question becomes: "Are we concerned with what the bible has to say on the issue?" It would seem to me that we would try to find a biblical definition of prophecy. Since Prophecy certainly does show up in a non-apostolic sense in the NT, would it not be wise to try to get at a proper understanding of what Paul is talking about? Even in the OT, as Doxo mentioned, fortelling the future was often a secondary or tertiary concern.


mike

Brad Meyer said...

Reasonable, non-fighting word conclusions:
In the lack of producing a name of a modern holder of the office of prophet who demonstrates requirement of 100% accuracy for the office, the OT office is "dead" maybe to the extent it was before John the Baptist rolled in.

Unreasonable conclusions:
To extrapolate to exclude future foretelling prophecy from those now possessing the Spirit, risks arguing from silence something God did not explicitly say- i.e., false prophecy.

The reason for passionate defense is the ever-creeping encroachment toward cessationism which interprets verses ("you" sometimes means apostles, sometimes means all believers) conveniently to explain some people's cynicism which is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Scott Hill said...

Just when I thought Jerry W was going to get the Abanes award for the longest comment Dawn came along in the end and took it right out of his hand.

Phil Johnson said...

A point of clarification about something that is getting confusing in the comment thread:

What I am concerned with in these posts is prophecy as new revelation, period. The foretelling/forthtelling distinction may not be terribly helpful, because someone who claims to have "a special word from God" for you might not, technically, be telling the future; yet he is claiming to be an agent of new divine revelation.

I am planning to argue, in a future post, that Scripture often uses the word prophecy to designate the public proclamation of God's Word in the power of the Holy Spirit. So all preaching properly done is "prophecy" in the NT sense of the word. It has no necessary connotation of "fresh revelation."

In that sense, of course prophecy is still operative today. It is, however, more rare than ever, thanks partly to the charismatic corruption of the very notion of "prophecy"; and thanks also in part to the contemporary pragmatists' contempt for preaching.

As a matter of fact, this goes to the exact issue I think Paul was addressing in Thessalonica, and it is the true meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:20: "Despise not prophesyings"—i.e., don't hold preaching in such contempt.

As the Believers' Study Bible note on that passage says, "The word 'prophecies' suggests the public proclamation or preaching of the word of God. Attentive hearing must be counterbalanced with a coordinate truth; 'test all things; hold fast what is good,' i.e., what is true. The verb 'test' signifies "to approve after testing.' The aim then is to put into practice what God has said. It is never enough just to hear God's word; we must act upon it (cf. James 1:22-25)."

Micah said...

Phil,

In so doing, might you specifically address the grammar used in 1 Cor 12~14 regarding prophecy, especially in how it relates to folks like Agabus who was a known prophet yet of whom only two prophecies were recorded.

Thanks!
Micah

Rich Ryan said...

Phil,

I hope you will interact with R. Thomas and D. Farnell in your future thread. They would take issue with your view of prophecy as = biblical preaching.

they also disagree w/ ea. other about OT = NT prophet. It is a lively discussion.

Awaiting...

Mike Garner said...

I am planning to argue, in a future post, that Scripture often uses the word prophecy to designate the public proclamation of God's Word in the power of the Holy Spirit. So all preaching properly done is "prophecy" in the NT sense of the word. It has no necessary connotation of "fresh revelation."

In that sense, of course prophecy is still operative today.



As I suspected, as we start to clarify our terms it becomes clear that there is not as big of a difference as we originally thought. Now of course, SGM (and Co.) are still not going to agree entirely with Phill, but I do think that Doxo is correct in saying that our disagreements may not be as vast as we might like to think. There may in fact be much more agreement than disagreement.



And in reference to the original Thread - the reason that so many charismatics take issue with posts like these is because it necessarily leads into a Cessationist vs. Continuationist debate. The problem is that a series like this (which has highlighed much of the wackos who have abused "prophecy" and such) necessarily posisons the well for any cessationist debate. If someone legitamately wanted to have a discussion about the various views (and Yes - I know you have stated that this was not your original intention) then I do not think it is proper to start off with a series like this (Charismatic Chaos comes to mind).

Jeremy Weaver said...

See?
I knew I wasn't that far off from Phil.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Not that I don't believe in the fore-telling aspect, I just think it is extremely rare, and always will come in the context of forth-telling in the declaration of the Word.
Also there is a tiny difference between preaching and being God's spokesperson, but they walk hand in hand.

Jeff Jones said...

I'm cautious about applying the "prophecy" tag to preaching for the following reasons:

1) The priests and Levites of the OT era regularly taught the Law, and yet they were described in contrast with the prophets of their time.

2) More important, if "prophecy" is what we should call preaching, then doesn't it follow that we are then Scripturally obliged to hold preachers to the same standard of inerrancy found in Deuteronomy?

Again, I think we run the risk of cheapening prophecy by making it merely preaching.

I am surprised to be saying this, but a more convincing argument for cessationism, to me, would be similar to that Brad Meyer mentioned in his last post (although he probably didn't mean for it to be turned this way):

Prophecy has ceased before (between the return from Exile and John the Baptist) without a clear Scriptural warning, and so a cessation in prophecy after the Apostles' era would have a historical precedent.

Furthermore, isn't it reasonable to take Paul's lists of spiritual gifts and apply them to the Church as God would see it? That is, God is timeless, and would view the Church as one body of believers. If some in the Body are given the gift of tongues, and some prophecy, and it just so happened in God's plan that these particular believers lived only in the Apostolic era, that would not detract one iota from the legitimacy of Paul's statements. Yes, these gifts are given to the Church, and the modern Church benefits from these things, but it does not necessarily follow that they will be given to believers at all stages in Church history.

And finally, to convince this fence-sitter, the continuationists are going to have to show how continuing prophecy has any utility when the Scriptures are able to equip me completely, so that I am fully prepared, as Paul says.

If prophecy is something the Church "needs" today, then Scripture does not fully equip us, and then is not Scripture contradicted? If the Church does not "need" prophecy, does that not diminish its value, lower its worth? Why have it at all, then, if Scripture is more sure and certain?

This is the dilemma as I see it: if the canon is truly closed, what need of new revelation is there? God's Word is perfect and complete. If prophecy is for today, does that not imply that more revelation will be forthcoming, and that future additions to Scripture will be possible (or even likely?)

I have a feeling that this is where Phil may be driving...

Breuss Wane said...

Jeremy wrote:
"Not that I don't believe in the fore-telling aspect, I just think it is extremely rare,"

It's always been this way. The canon can be deceiving... it represents those rare occasions in which the forth-telling included foretelling. Most prophets, even in biblical times, were forth-tellers.

Like the Pennsylvania rodent who has his day in the sun (shadow) only once a year, Mel Kuiper........... :-)

Brad Meyer said...

Now that we've dumbed down the word "prophecy." Someone of good conscience, PLEASE, just do a search and see how many times "prophet", "prophesy," or "prophecy" in the NT refers to a preacher and not to someone whom God's miracles or revelation occur through. Please don't make me post them all here- it's not my site...

1Cr 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If [any thing] be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

Just so I can keep score... "Prophet" in the New Testament only means to preach... unless Paul is talking directly to the church (not apostles) in Corinth. So the Church in Corinth needed to be built up back then, but it no longer needs to be edified in this way today? Wow... and they even had the Spirit back then...

rabbi-philosopher said...

Prophet of our time? The increasingly mumbling, but still teaching (heresy), Harold Camping!

Catez said...

Hi Phil,
I haven't commented on your blog before although I often read your posts. I left the comment below on Adrian Warnock's blog and leave it here as it directly relates to what you say in the post about the fact you have not even posted on cessationism. I think I'd add as an observation on some comments here in this thread that the term "charismaniacs" isn't particularly helpful in my view

Here is my comment. Italics denote a quote from Adrian:

but from my side some of that and the intensity of the language has been a deliberate ploy to stir people into thinking about all this.

I need that deliberate ploy like a hole in the head right now. Why can't you just say what you really mean Adrian. You've no idea what I've struggled with reading posts on this. I'm sure you and Phil will be friends. But for me, I'm having my thoughts about this whole process. Phil didn't post on cessationism. It would have been helpful to see some posts saying he has a good point. There is far too much junk that is not addressed in Charismatic churches. I know - I spent years in them. I've spent more time as a Christian in Charismatic churches than any other kind. I've heard speakers who are internationally renowned. I've been in ministry teams with them. I've read their books. I've seen pastors swallowing their teaching whole and regurgitating it back to us without any solid assessment.
I know how it goes. Oral Roberts is not a red herring. Lots of people still think what he did was fine. TONS of people think Benny Hinn is "greatly anointed". Gerald Coates came here and said God was sending a devasting earthquake to NZ and we should not pray as God would not repent of doing it. Yes, he clearly said God did not want us to intercede.
Wonky. And there was no earthquake. I personally know numerous people who built earthquake cupboards and stocked up on supplies. No-one was willing to tell Gerald he was flat out wrong. In fact they got all confused at leadership level and said he's a Christian and a good guy and we shouldn't criticise him. Because at leadership level there was no understanding of assessing the prophecy itself, and no culture within the church that brought correction when needed.
People here thought Paul Cain was the next best thing since sliced bread and leaders fanned the adoration. Of course we now know he was living in homosexuality and alcoholism, and a critique of his prophecies shows they were not so incredibly marvellous at all. Let's not forget Bob Jones who had women undressing in front of him so he could could give them "words" while they were "naked before God". I could list others whose aberrations were taken up into mainstream Charismaticism and whose error was never addressed in a substantial way.
And people like me, going to church, believing the recommendations about these guys, where was the upfront answer for people like me? Where is it now? Do you think the danger is from those who are cessationist? It's not cessationists that have damaged people's lives, led them into unbiblical grandiosity and even shipwrecked some in the Charismatic movement. Nothing to do with cessationism. Phil was on the money when he made his points about false prophets. But what - he can't say it if he isn't Charismatic? Well why don't you say it then? Why is it so hard to agreee with something so many people need to hear?
Let's just say I'm feeling a bit heartsick that you think I need ploy. More than a bit actually.

Father Brown said...

Can we get Brad Meyer in the ring for 10 rounds with Phil? Quick, someone call Don King. I have 20 bucks on Phil...

Mark said...

So yer saying you've seen the track record of ALL modern day prophets?

You either get out a whole lot, or just made a huge generalisation which I find improbable, especially considering some of the prophets I have encountered from third world countries.

I guess using your reasoning we can toss out ALL teachers since none of them are perfect either?

DO ya thing your standard of measuring mught be a bit skewed since you apparently don't hold preachers to the same standard that you do prophets?

Do you suppose Spurgeon was always theologically perfect?

Be careful with what measure ye met.

Jeremy Weaver said...

This whole thread is way over the top. Except for Phil, because it's his blog.

Brad Meyer said...

Doxo,
Are you Mini-me?

Jeremy Weaver said...

Brad,
I don't know. Are you Maxi-me?

Mark said...

On another note, using your method of interpetation, we have to deal with a little prophet (whom Jesus referred to as a prophet) who's "word" was at minimium 2/3 right, 1/3 wrong...

Jonah.

"Yet 40 days and Niniveh shall be overthrown" ...apparently not all prophecys are intended to come to pass exactly as they are prophesied...or are they?

It apparently did not happen in the 40 days prophesied by Jonah, so was he wrong and no longer qualified by your standard to bhe considered a prophet?

Better ask Jesus, because apparently Jesus considered him one.

Bhedr said...

I can list two prophets and it is one reason I am not a cessassionist. Moses and Elijah in the Book of Revelation.

My only argument. The Holy Spirit is the whole purpose for His ascension and His work did not stop at the finish of His Scriptures and the second Adam who is a life giving spirit is the whole purpose of redemption. He is alive and active.

Trouble is you guys have your eyes on Benny Hinn and Oral. Most of you and this causes you to shut out the true Spirit of God.

I had a friend say the other day. The old wine is better. I guess it seems to be.

Jeff Jones said...

What a sight. I'm morphing into a cessationist before the eyes of everyone here...

mark,

You can't say Jonah made a false prediction. Maybe that's not what you're trying to say, but it's what I'm reading.

Leaving aside the fact that its New Testament prophecy that's supposed to be fallible, here's my take on Jonah.

First, God relented upon Nineveh's repentance. This indicates that there was an implied condition in Jonah's condemnation - repent or else. You may argue this, but why else would God have sent a prophet in the first place? To laugh at them as they burned? My reading of Jonah gives me the feeling that wasn't God's intent.

In short, Jonah's mission was an implied call to repent, which they did. Why else was there forty days?

Second, Nineveh WAS destroyed. God just did it later, after they returned to their old ways.

Third, God is portrayed speaking to Jonah verbally throughout the book. Jonah is told to proclaim the message that God "tells" him. There are no subjective impressions or fuzzy feelings here - and if I'm relaying a verbal message, even if I don't get it word for word, it's for darned sure that I'll get the gist of it right. Especially if it's as simple as, "Your wickedness is great. You will be destroyed in forty days."

To anyone who thinks that Jonah's, or any other prophet's, prophetic ability was less than 100% accurate, let me ask you this: do you believe that the apostles and other prophets got it right when they recorded Scripture? By this reckoning, a third of it should be wrong. But what third? Can you tell me?

See, this concept of divine inspiration implies that God cannot overcome human weakness to speak clearly. And if He can't get his message across clearly in prophecy, why should we trust Scripture?

Why trust God with anything having to do with human agency?

And here we slide toward open theism again...

Stephen A Morse said...

I don't know about you but that discussion we had when Phil was out about pteradactyls was a little simpler to me. Were they on the ark or not? Will they return when Christ does or not?
I am certain that they no longer 'continue' does that mean that they cessesed?
Just a question

Brad Meyer said...

Why do I suddenly feel like I'm on a Phil Hendrie radio show where the host says anything and everything outrageous to tick off his callers, just to see who will go along with the idiot or who will scream the loudest at him. An online version of The Game just to see who would eventually fall into a cult if given the opportunity.... Are all the "actives" behind the curtain laughing at the "pledges"?

Father Brown said...

Why do I suddenly feel like this has nothing to do with Phil Hendrie, cults, radio shows, or people behind curtains? I guess I mistook this discussion for honest inquiry into the nature of prophecy. Shows how much I know...

Steve said...

What I find very intriguing is that those who argue in favor of new-revelation prophets today are basing their arguments largely on hypothesis, experience, or bad logic.

They also say, in essence, "Hey, not everyone is an Oral Roberts or Benny Hinn. There are some good guys out there, too."

Well, who are they?

Among the responses so far we're seeing is this: "Well, there might be someone out there we don't know about."

In the Bible, those who were prophets weren't unknown quantities. If someone professes to have a message direct from God in the form of a new revelation, it'd be tough for that person to remain a secret for very long. That's how it was back in Bible days, and that's certainly how it would be today.

And remember, there is nothing in the Bible that would lead us to think that the gift of new-revelation prophecy might have changed in some way, shape, or form since the apostolic era. Therefore, it's not legitimate for us to attempt to find different variants or exceptions to the pattern that was exhibited by the prophets in the Bible. Either such prophets are still around, or they aren't.

Mark said...

Jeff thanks for your response.

I am fully aware of what happened to niniveh (see my point about Jonah being 2/3 right).

My thought here is that if you toss out a solid unbreakable rule about prophets without seeing the context of what the scriptures were teaching then you have to by definition toss out Jonah, because his exact word did not come to pass in the lifetime of the Ninevites he gave the word to.

And if you jump to the standard for Jonah that God relented then wht isn't that jump available now?

I am in no way defending obvious prophetic nonsense, Jesus commands us to "beware" of false prophets but the ultimate test that Jesus lays out was not a false prophets words, but rather thier fruit.(Matt.7:17-20)

And yes I understand words are a kind of fruit.

And while we're at it, if you hold the Old testament standard for the prophets to apply to the current crop, then perhaps we should disqualify everyone who trims thier beard or wears bi-fabric cloths as well.

At what point do you draw the line using an OT standard on a NT model?

What about teachers?

I would consider some of the current escatology as promoting teachings that lead people away from serving God, and instead teach them to serve thier fears...so should we start stoning teachers?


What about the verses in the new testament that encourage us ALL to prophesy? Whats the point?

One of the text that I find defends a continuation model is 1Cor.1:4-8 where Paul suggest that the Corinthian church was being confirmed by the usage of the gifts and that the confirmation would continue until the end...

Irregardless this is begining to border on an arguement and I haven't the liscense for that, I'm only liscensed to be grateful and give thanks.

Maybe I can graduate to argueing whan I'm more mature.

Its not really my place to convince anyone here.

Brad Meyer said...

Steve:
"And remember, there is nothing in the Bible that would lead us to think that the gift of new-revelation prophecy might have changed in some way, shape, or form since the apostolic era. Therefore, it's not legitimate for us to attempt to find different variants or exceptions to the pattern that was exhibited by the prophets in the Bible. Either such prophets are still around, or they aren't."
- Congratulations! This is the most immediately self-contradictory paragraph I've seen in print! Thanks for making our point...

Mark said...

I think it would be best if we we're able to determine what exactly the difference might be between a New Testament Prophet and the ability to "prohesy" in the church.

Agabus fortold a famine...how is that exactly "edifying" the church?

And the idea that the prophets stopped functioning prior to John the Baptist as a model for cessationism is kinda debunked by John himself and the rest of the newer guys like Paul and/or Barnabas and Agabus (generally listed as prophets and teachers in Acts)...perhaps there is credence to a non-linear history of prophetic activity in the New Testament, but the re-appearance of prophets kinda morphs the model into a continuational version rather than its counterpart.

Again I am not suggesting that Jonah or others got it wrong, what i am suggesting is its a little arrogant to say we know how its all gonna end and who's on first when most of us are barely in the stands to begin with.

Steve said...

Brad, if for some reason what I said isn't clear, let me repeat my point, only this time I'll simplify it by breaking it down into parts:

1. The Bible reveals to us both a standard and a pattern for new-revelation prophets.

2. The Bible does NOT give us any statements to the effect that this standard or pattern has changed.

3. Today's so-called new-revelation prophets, then, MUST abide by this same standard and pattern.

4. If continuationists cannot point to any genuine such new-revelation prophet today, then they're simply not around...affirming what the cessationists have been saying.

Brad Meyer said...

Could someone else let Steve know about the pile he's stepped into again. I'm wearing down...

Mark said...

I'm not sure the Bible gives a standard for "New Revelation" prophets.

Why is that even a question?

Are some suggesting that the Kansas City fellas (I'm not up on who all these guys are) and others are giving revelation equal to scripture?

Is that whats being implied by "New Revelation"????

Maybe my understanding is a little shallow but I've never been under the impression that Oral Roberts or anyone else is adding their words to scripture...did I miss something?

Because I certianly don't cotton to that idea.

But I can't for the life of me understand why we can single out prophets from the other ministry gifts listed in Eph.4 and say they don't exist but somehow others in the list do.

How is that rightly dividing the word?

I understand these ministry gifts to be a vital and NECCASARY aspect of building the body of Christ until we all come to the Unity of the faith, (which we apparently have'nt).

How come we getta keep our version of evangelist (which is a departure from what the book of Acts evangelist did) but we can toss prophets and apostles?

Are we continueing or ceasing I'm confused here?

We continue with gifts we water down and are comfortable with but cease with ones we don't fully understand, and might be more confrontational than we want?

If we cease, then lets get rid of the Pastor/Teacher cause its part of the Domai package that Jesus captured for us, but lets not pretend that we can keep one and get rid of the other, let your yes be yes, or let your no be no, but you can't have it both ways.

Dawn said...

Steve: "Among the responses so far we're seeing is this: "Well, there might be someone out there we don't know about."

In the Bible, those who were prophets weren't unknown quantities. If someone professes to have a message direct from God in the form of a new revelation, it'd be tough for that person to remain a secret for very long. That's how it was back in Bible days, and that's certainly how it would be today.

And remember, there is nothing in the Bible that would lead us to think that the gift of new-revelation prophecy might have changed in some way, shape, or form since the apostolic era. Therefore, it's not legitimate for us to attempt to find different variants or exceptions to the pattern that was exhibited by the prophets in the Bible. Either such prophets are still around, or they aren't.
"

First of all what is meant by "new revelation?" Can someone please give me an example?

As for your issues with my explanation on a prophet in general: I'm not saying that "NO ONE" is aware of any prophets. I'm saying that because they may not be nationally or globally known it does not mean that they do not exist. That changes nothing in the definition of a biblical prophet or how the prophets were known in the OT. If it does, then please explain how it does.

Did everyone know about Jonah at the time he prophesied? Probably not. It wouldn't be nonsensical to think that only those in Ninevah and the regions surrounding Ninevah were aware of his warnings until it was recorded in scripture.

If my pastor were a prophet, it would not necessarily dictate that he be "well known." He may only prophecy to his congregation. That scenario does not defy the scripture.

Since the definition of prophecy has been "defined" by Phil I won't go any further. Especially since I am unclear on the definition of "new revelation."

Steve Hill, I hope this comment wasn't too long for you (which you were wrong about the length anyway). :p

Doug said...

Stephen A Morse said - "I don't know about you but that discussion we had when Phil was out about pteradactyls was a little simpler to me. Were they on the ark or not? Will they return when Christ does or not?
I am certain that they no longer 'continue' does that mean that they cessesed?
Just a question"

FINALLY, someone asking questions that pertain to the original blogpost! I predict it's more likely that a smerodactyl will continue than a pterodactyl.

BTW - PHIL IS NOT BLOGGING ABOUT CESSATIONISM VS CONTINUATIONISM. He mentioned a few obvious false prophets who have at one time or another had a huge following among professed Christians and asked "what about discernment?" He did not say, "See, look at all those charismatics. This is why I'm a cessationist."

Me thinks thou dost protest too loudly.

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Brad Meyer said...

The irony of this discussion is amazing. The Sola Scriptura crowd is calling out charismatics for their extra-scriptural doctrine. Underlying their criticism is 1) an argument to be made at a later date, that "prophecy" in the NT is nothing more than preaching. 2)an implied Biblical concept of cessationism which borders on false prophecy (to use Phil's soon to be defined, definition of "prophecy")

I anxiously await this scriptural explanation.

Mike Garner said...

Steve,
The arguments FOR continuatists do not consit of "Hey everyone is not like Oral Roberts". Rather, we can point to pleanty of texts where we see the gifts in the early church, used by people other than the apostles, and a warning not to forbid such use. It is when the cessationists come along that the logic gets bad. A group that holds so closely to Sola Scriptura bases their entire argument on extra-biblical reasoning and tradition. If a similar claim was made to support some Roman doctrine (how about the Pope for example) then you can bet these very same people would be demanding scriptural evidence. If anyone is using poor logic here, it is not the continuationist group.

Brad Meyer said...

Steve,
"1. The Bible reveals to us both a standard and a pattern for new-revelation prophets.
2. The Bible does NOT give us any statements to the effect that this standard or pattern has changed.
3. Today's so-called new-revelation prophets, then, MUST abide by this same standard and pattern.
4. If continuationists cannot point to any genuine such new-revelation prophet today, then they're simply not around...affirming what the cessationists have been saying."

If "The Bible reveals to us both a standard and a pattern for new-revelation prophets" and "has not given us any statements to the effect that this standard or pattern has changed" then how could cessationists argue that it has changed????

Steve said...

Brad said: If "The Bible reveals to us both a standard and a pattern for new-revelation prophets" and "has not given us any statements to the effect that this standard or pattern has changed" then how could cessationists argue that it has changed????"

You're still not reading me accurately, Brad. You're taking my statement that "the Bible gives us no indication the original standard for prophets has changed" and giving it a completely different application that I intended.

This is the point I was making when I made that statement: Some continuationists are trying to justify today's so-called prophets by claiming it's okay for them to differ in some ways from the biblical prophets. We cessationists disagree. The Bible gives no justification whatsoever for modern-day prophets to differ in ANY way from the biblical prophets. We cessationists say that modern-day prophets MUST measure up to the SAME standard set for the biblical prophets. If they don't, then they're not prophets. And because we don't see any such prophets today, the use of this miraculous gift has ceased.

You've misinterpreted my statement and are making it seem as if I'm saying that a LACK of change in the biblical standard means that there are STILL prophets today.

That's not what I was saying at all. Notice that my #2 (which you quoted) was followed by a #3 and #4, and that my #4 disqualifies you from interpreting #2 in the way that you did. Let's keep my words in context. :)

Brad Meyer said...

Steve,
Please try again because this statement flies in the face of cessationism:
"The Bible does NOT give us any statements to the effect that this standard or pattern has changed."
To make your desired point of cessationism, you must now go on to contradict yourself and argue that the pattern HAS CHANGED.
This is obvious and you've inadvertently shown your hand.

Steve said...

I've already made myself plenty clear. This is PyroManiac's blog, not ours. We've already taken up more bandwidth than is necessary. Let's put the spotlight back on Phil, and let him have his say.

Bhedr said...

You said>They also say, in essence, "Hey, not everyone is an Oral Roberts or Benny Hinn. There are some good guys out there, too." <

I never said that. *You* made a prophecy and put words in my mouth.

Phil Johnson said...

Steve: I agree that your point is perfectly clear and the imagined "contradiction" stems from a stubborn refusal to hear.

The converse of your point is also true: Continuationists here and elsewhere have been insistent that in the absence of any explicit biblical statement declaring the cessation of miraculous gifts, we must remain open to modern prophecy.

Yet inconsistently, without any clear biblical statement or warrant for their opinion, they simultaneously insist that there was a major shift in the nature of the prophetic gift sometime between the Testaments—so that NT prophecy is supposed to be fallible and utterly unreliable, and yet be embraced as divine revelation.

That's why they insist that we should evaluate NT prophecy by a totally different standard from the one given to us in the OT.

And that, on the face of it, is an absurd position.

Brad Meyer said...

Phil,
Nice try at saving Steve. The ball is in YOUR court- you're the one making the biblical argument from silence NOW about cessationism- you bit into it. You're trying to make several extra-scriptural arguments while lambasting others.

Doug said...

Pterodactyls, people. Pterodactyls!

Brad Meyer said...

Furthermore Phil,
The very idea that you are requiring a name of a modern prophet, that you are asking for personal experience to validate scriptural interpretation contradicts your alleged, unshakable view that scripture stands on its own, regardless of our human, flawed perception. Check and Mate!

LeeC said...

If he "bit into it" he has done so only due to a very disconcerting, ad sometimes vitriolic unwillingness of some to stay on topic.

Does this change in prophecy and miracles from the OT to the NT mean that we have to flounder in sujectivity about what is true and what isn't now?

How does this reconcile with the "more sure prophecy" of 2 Peter 1:19?

You can get defensive and insist I have an agenda, or you could work along the lines of Philipians 4:8 and take my query at face value as one of genuine questioning.

Doug said...

Seriously,

The idea that the NT version of the prophet is somehow different from the OT version of the prophet has absolutely no biblical basis. Neither does the idea that tongues in 1 Corinthians is different from tongues in Acts 2 (but that's a different thread).

If you want to argue that prophesy, as foretelling, is valid for today, be my guest. BUT, you must argue from the Bible. AND you must be ready to answer the critics who bring up biblical objections to your modern-day examples of prophets.

Prophets must be 100% accurate in their prophesies. To compare them to preachers and claim that preachers have to be 100% accurate is a misunderstanding of the office. A preacher should strive to be as accurate as possible in his presentation of the already revealed message of the Bible, but he is not giving new revelation like a prophet. His message could be tested by the Word. The only way to test a prophet is by the coming true of his revelation. That is why 100% accuracy was so important. If his prophecy did not come true he was lying. The same is true today.

Dawn said...

I'm still waiting on an example of prophecy being a "new revelation." Phil, can you please give us one? Or at least go into a deeper explanation of what you mean? I have an idea of what "new revelation" can mean, but it may not be what you are trying to convey.

As for a prophet one who foretells the future, I am in agreement that NOTHING has changed from OT to NT. If they are not 100% accurate, then they are a false prophet.

Mike Garner said...

Continuationists here and elsewhere have been insistent that in the absence of any explicit biblical statement declaring the cessation of miraculous gifts, we must remain open to modern prophecy.

That is not entirely true. My position has been that gifts may or may not have continued but you cannot argue for Cessationism biblically and since we want our doctrines to be biblcial, this should not be a doctrine we hold to. In my open, the Open but extremely cautious position is the camp in which everyone should be in.

In Christ alone,
mike

Brad Meyer said...

Not to overstate this, Phil is correct that sometimes in the scripture, prophecy means preaching and the teacher has to some extent replaced the OT prophet. But not as a rule, it is a mixed bag with specific references to prophecy as revelation from God- and I might add, this revelation was not necessarily written into the scripture.

In the OT, there were offices of kings, priests, prophets- largely segregated and mutually exclusive.

In the NT, we have the fulfilled knowledge of Christ and the advent of the Spirit change things a bit- we have the High Priest living inside of us- the office of priest is no longer active in the OT sense. And it is not a leap to suggest that the OT OFFICE of prophet suffered a similar fate. But prophecy did not cease.

Dan Edelen said...

I posted a response over at Cerulean Sanctum if anyone is interested.

Jeff Jones said...

More points to ponder about an alleged change in the nature of prophecy:

First, all prophecy in both Testaments was inspired by the same God the Holy Spirit. God is immutable - He doesn't change.

Second, the human beings through whom God spoke, in both Testaments, were sons (or daughters) of Adam, and inherited the same sinful nature.

These two facts considered, I cannot understand why anyone would think that prophecy has somehow "weakened" since the coming of Christ.

Sinfulness has never been an obstacle to accurate prophecy. Reprobates like Saul and Balaam both prophesied in the Old Testament - and presumably under Old Testament rules. The suggestion that regenerate New Testament-era prophets would be less accurate than these two is hard to stomach.

If anything, having poured out His Spirit as a companion and guide to His Church in a manner unprecendented in the New Testament, one would think that prophecy would become MORE precise, relevant, and powerful through the lips of Spirit-filled New Covenant believers - not less!!

So to the continuationists out there: I'm still unconvinced that cessationists can Biblically prove a hard and fast cessation of prophecy -- but I have absolutely no reason, after 100+ comments, to change my view on the accuracy of prophecy. I can only speak for myself, but continuationists seeking to convince this fence-sitter are doing inestimable damage to their own cause by trying to justify this point. You can tell which way I'm leaning, and it's due far more to this factor than to any strength in the cessationist arguments articulated thus far.

As they told me in the Army: meet the standard -- or you fail. I suppose I'm sitting in the aforementioned "open but extremely cautious" position.

And I'm still waiting for the example Phil asked for...

Brad Meyer said...

jeff jones,
now we're making a little progress- except this demanding of a name is fruitless (&bears no impact on scriptural truth) & ignores the New Covenant. Question: Would the Spirit of God in a Christian ever lead him to commit adultery? NO! Do Christians commit adultery (for which the OT penalty was also death)? Yes. Is Jesus The Prophet? Yes. Does His Spirit live inside of you? Yes. Niether would He lead you to prophesy falsely.

Micah said...

The "God does not change" argument doesn't properly address the issue. God doesn't change, but over time He has spoken in "various ways". In fact, for over 400 years between Joseph and Moses God didn't speak (that we know of) and again during the inter-testamental period God seemingly didn't provide new revelation.

Nathan White said...

Brad,

I’m glad to see your last entry. You finally get around to sharing what you believe instead of condescending and mocking others who disagree with you. However, I am a bit amazed that you are willing to throw out the OT penalty for a false prophet on the basis of adultery demanding the same punishment and the relation of Jesus in the New Covenant. I guess I am wondering what is the standard now? How are we to know whether a modern-day prophet speaks the words of truth or not? We certainly cannot go by the outcome, as they are open to being incorrect, so where does the accountability lie?

Of course in your example of adultery we have the scriptures to say 'thats not right'. (Also note how Jesus handled the adulterous women He encountered). But in the case of prophecy, we have nothing to hold these 'prophet's accountable to if there is a possibility of error.

Brad Meyer said...

Nathan White,
I appreciate your comments, but would plead for a little perspective when posts regularly refer to charismaniacs, charismatic leaders as idiots and charlatans, ... As stated before, the true arrogance lies on the side of those attacking people for allegedly extra-biblical practices while making their arguments on extra-scriptural data- Give me the name of a modern prophet (demanding a sign- personal experience) to justify your scriptural interpretation! Gifts ceased after apostolic age...

Anyway, to your questions:
As soon as someone starts advocating the death penalty for adultery today, I'll start advocating it for false prophets.
"The Spirit will guide you into ALL Truth."

Just as in the OT, you DO judge the outcome.

My reason for passion is that I'm afraid that many people do not know the Spirit of God intimately and don't think that they really need to. If we're not "walking in the Spirit," we are living in the flesh. These are wacky, charismatic terms, I know, but they're true.

Brad Meyer said...

Nathan White,
sorry, didn't completely address your question. what do you do when someone lies to you repeatedly? Either you spank them or you protect yourself from them in the future.
And obviously, if something is prophecied that does not align with scripture, that person's a wolf or their unwisely speaking out of the flesh and not the Spirit.

Nathan White said...

Brad,

Thanks for clarifying the accountability concern. But I guess what I really meant to say was how do we know -immmediately upon hearing prophecy, what is true and what isnt? If a prophet says 'prepare for this, it will happen tomorrow', how do we know -right then- whether to listen or not? We certainly cant look at their track record. And if the Spirit will lead us into all truth, how does the deceitfullness of the human heart play into this (Jer 17:9)? If a prophet sometimes gets wrong signals because he is a sinner, who do we know whether the Spirit or the flesh is speaking to us inside our heads?

Brad Meyer said...

"How do we know whether the Spirit or the flesh is speaking to us inside our heads?"

Exactly! This is very close to the same question as whether to trust a prophecy.

I'd say that we DO take the person's track record into account. The scripture says to test the spirit.

1Cr 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

1Jo 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

GospelDrivenLife said...

Whoa, get in line for this one.

Fascinating discussion. I would simply note that gullibility and lack of discernment are not confined to any particular school.

The Galatians abandoned the Gospel in short order. The Corinthians embraced bizarre views of sexuality and resurrection. Colossian Christians got off on angelic mediators. John had to deal with sad behavior and doctrine too.

No one has a patent on stupidity and naivete.

Millions of people bought the Late Great Planet Earth -- proving that people are more interested in excitement than exegesis.

I had a friend who once declared that when jesus came back he did not expect to modify one point of his doctrine. Now that is arrogant too -- and he later repented in sackcloth and ashes.

This is the church! Human indwelling sin corrupts all it touches. We fight holy wars with dirty hands. I have never found an exception to this -- we are all a bit off center and will land on the eternal shores by grace alone.

And the apostles did not get angry or tell them off -- they knew we are all easily deceived except by grace and the help of others in the church. They patiently instructed them.

What if they refuse to listen? Well, they are proud folks just as I am -- and how many times do I refuse to listen? yes, we must bring correction, but with humility appropriate to the Gospel.

It all calls for gracious humility and patient instruction. Yes, yes there are extremes -- but if noting the bizarre disqualifies a particular group, then we are all disqualified.

GospelDrivenLife said...

and I forgot to add: I am am of all men the greatest sinner and need the most help

pastorgregdavis said...

Overstatement
Interesting post Phil. Your descriptions are valid...yet I'm not sure you can say God is not speaking in the examples you give. Your conclusions go too far, as do the use of prophecy by the people you cite.

The problem with these "prophecies" is in the delivery. Where is the humility? Think what a difference it would make if Oral or Benny or the others on TV would simply say, "This is what I think God has shown me..." Or, "I believe God has directed me to build a hospital- pray and see if he would lead you to join with me in this effort."

This caution is needed from the "prophets." Observe Abraham saying to Isaac and others, "We are going to make a sacrifice to the Lord." Even though God told him to sacrifice Isaac. This general description is not only humble, but recognizes the fallibility of humanity and the incompleteness of what we know or comprehend when God does reveal something of his will to us. Ab's obedience to the "word of the Lord" is wonderful. We honor God and Abraham in this story, even though things didn't happen the way God first directed.

Did God change his mind? Did Abraham only see in part? Or, was this simply a holy dynamic transaction that was progressively being revealed?

Perhaps we would look at modern day prophets differently if they were willing to admit that they only saw or heard a little, not the whole aspect of God's will.

Thanks for the dialogue!